- The Great Horned Owl
He glides, descending to the forest floor—
his hard face like an African
mask, carved out of soft wood.
He glides, descending— (his face as wide
as his shoulders with big ears
jutting straight up like horns)—descending
to the forest floor where a mouse
is stuck in naked air. And the wing span
of the great night bird spreads, showing
his white plumage in this, his pale phase,
as he snatches the mouse, scattering dry leaves,
spreading again those great wings,
fanning his fluffy black and white tail
on the take-off
Clarence Major, who has won awards for his poetry and fiction, recently published a novel, Dirty Bird Blues, and edited two anthologies, Calling the Wind: Twentieth-Century African-American Short Stories and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth-Century African-American Poetry. His books include Some Observations of a Stranger at Zuni in the Latter Part of the Century, Surfaces and Masks, Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar, Fun & Games, and Swallow the Lake. He teaches at the University of California-Davis.