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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 181 words
By Roy J. Beckemeyer

Starlings: Ode to Murmuration

“The act of murmuring” states 
Merriam-Webster, as if mutters 
were actions to be taken, tactics 
to be executed. Instead, I think 
of scattered groups of Jewish 
elders in Temple, bearded, 
their intermingling voices rising 
and falling like wavering 
on oscilloscopes, like radio 
waves of stars intermixed 
so thoroughly galaxies 
become indistinguishable, 
like the reverberation of rumors 
welling up as low hums from 
a thousand throats in crowds 
in squares—anticipation, growing 
expectation, gargled growl, white 
noise of whispers, anguish, snarl, 
hosannah, voiced or yowled, 
rising like dust from the face 
of dune, like bee swarm emerging 
from tree hollow, like great flocks 
of starlings in winter, cloud bank 
of birds, black specks building 
into breathing flexing organic 
masses of sky seeming to be 
searching for words, some 
way to articulate the feel of dive 
and swoop and dervish, wing 
flap and fling, each black shape 
a separate consonant or vowel 
seeking a way to join, to be voiced, 
swelling lunglike with inhalation, 
utterance made visible and nearly 
intelligible by a great and ghostly 
act of murmuration. 


Roy J. Beckemeyer’s
Issue 11, January 2022

latest poetry collection is Mouth Brimming Over (Blue Cedar Press, 2019). Stage Whispers (Meadowlark Books, 2018) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) comprises ekphrastic poems inspired by modern artists’ depictions of angels. His first book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014), was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited (with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg) Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017). His poetry has been nominated for Pushcart (2015 and 2020) and Best of the Net (2018) awards, and was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019.

Beckemeyer serves on the editorial boards of Konza Journal and River City Poetry. A retired engineer and scientific journal editor, he is also a nature photographer who, in his spare time, researches the mechanics of insect flight and the Paleozoic insect fauna of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama. He lives in Wichita, Kansas, where he and his wife recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Please visit author’s website for more information about his books, as well as links to interviews and readings (scroll down his About page for the link-list).

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Color of Blessings in MacQ (Issue 5, October 2020)

Featured Artist in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019); showcasing Beckemeyer’s poetry, prose poetry, and insect photography

Words for Snow, a prose poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 9, Spring 2018), which was selected for reprinting in The Best Small Fictions 2019

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