The Auguries Road-Kill

by David W. Landrum

Pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta.
—Virgil, The Aeneid, IV, 64

Prophets must not be obvious. To say
the highway’s reeking viscera inform
how natural processes have given way
to unnatural technology would harm
a seer’s good name—an all too obvious
interpretation, easily yawned off
by the disinterested, the impious,
the gainsayers who only know to scoff
and mock. I read these serious auguries,
along the roadside—omens of sure doom.
Their sight (if I interpret properly,
receive the given signs and don’t presume
to deny the word the roadside corpses tell)
claws at the center of my serious soul
and harrows like a wraith come out of hell
speaking its warning in prophetic role;
they witness to a more disturbing thing
than the displeasing sacrifice of Cain;
or when the offering of the Theban king
sputtered and died. Driving a wooded lane
I see them by the score, mangled and spent
on tarmac altars, organs crushed, unsound,
an inauspicious witness, twisted, rent—
the blood of Abel crying from the ground.