Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 7
Fall 2013


by Sean Gunning

A jagged-edged charcoal line in the sky—
three, maybe four dozen birds flying north,
a mile above the 22 freeway
five, maybe six miles south of Garden Grove.

Ahead, just hours into its rise, the sun, 
a goddess, naked and burning with life
behind a thin swath of white chiffon cloth;
blinding; illuminating creation.

Almost invisible, like kite strings caught 
in some holy pull, side-by-side for miles,
thousands of migrating gulls; each beating 
heart a part of a family heading home.

To the north, mountains. To the east, mountains.
To the southwest, the weight of an ocean.
An avian etch-a-sketch in the sky.
God shaking out his electric razor.

How do they know when everyone’s leaving? 
How do they know about wingtip vortex
and drag? Do they really communicate
on such an advanced, organized level?

Did they know to wait for yesterday’s rain 
to wash the dark choking smog from the air?
So they could breathe in the full majesty
of late-fall snow-tipped mountains as they flew?

How many here could take it on the chin
and lead from the front for hour after hour
then rotate back to help the weakest wings
and not veer from the plan to act as one?

Cars and trucks passing me on both sides.
Voices urging me this is neither 
the time nor the place to daydream and dwell
in cool metaphors and cold memories.

Do you know this feeling? To want to slow 
when all around you is a blur of speed?
When the firemen climbed the Towers that day
did they feel that sense of another’s hand?

And amidst waves of terror rushing down,
when everything beneath them fell away,
did they agree, like birds, on what to do—
to hold formation through the ashen cloud
and keep on climbing.



SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Sean Gunning

discovered how to hear the weight of a poem’s waves somewhat late in life. He is indebted to Long Beach luminaries Frank Gaspar, Charles Webb, Patty Seyburn, and Bill Mohr for guiding this discovery. Sean’s poem, “Waiting for Snow to Fall,” won the 2008 Real New Music Poetry Contest. He has been published in Verdad; RipRap; Moon Tide Press [Poet of the Month, August 2011]; and Long Beach, California—Past, Present & Future: The Anthology.

His poem, “Judas,” won Utmost Christian Writers’ 2012 Best Rhyming Poem Contest. His first collection of poetry, No Samaritan, is scheduled for publication with Tebot Bach in April 2013. Sean is currently seeking representation for a creative non-fiction book titled: Walking on Holy Land: An Irish Catholic’s Unpurified Account of a Pilgrimage He Didn’t Want to Make.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury