Something to Expiate, by William Cullen, Jr.

William Cullen, Jr.

Digging for bait
I envy a small robin
just twelve feet away
pulling up worm after worm
I’d hire him if I could.

Instead I wait
until it starts struggling
to yank up one more
then I charge the bird quickly
and grab the old night crawler

But I’d like to think
that she showed me some pity
and it wasn’t just
haste alone that made her leave
her children’s meal behind.

Bio: William Cullen, Jr., is a veteran and works at a non-profit in Brooklyn, NY. He’s married and has two college-age sons. His writing has appeared in Asahi/International Herald Tribune, Boston Literary Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Farming Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, Home Planet News, Willows Wept Review, Written River (Hiareth Press), among
others. He was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2010.

4 thoughts on “Something to Expiate, by William Cullen, Jr.

  1. >haste? not intimidation?

    The “intimidation” is explicitly acknowledged in the second stanza and the “haste” follows the intimidation as a direct downstream consequence. But “haste” also softens the blow to my conscience as I try imagine the bird feeling sorry for me when I’m feeling sorry for myself and a bit guilty as well.

    Thanks for your kind comment about liking the poem.


    Bill Cullen

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