When I Was a Witness to Murder

I witnessed this on the

white stone steps of

a building named after

Walt Whitman.


Two hawks were

fighting to the death.

Flying in between and

over abandoned ten story buildings.


Vocalizing like seagulls,

but deeper and menacing.

The birds would arc higher than

skyscrapers, and then dive at one another.


And when they collided

mid-air my insides shook.

No other humans around seemed to notice,

but neither did they notice us.


Then the third joust occurred

and one of them made a triumphant screech,

a trumpet achieving beauty

in a single note.


But it was not finished.

They kept fighting, lower and lower,

until one fell.

Until it was silent.

About Sean William Lynch
Sean Lynch is a writer and editor who lives in South Philly. Lynch's first book of poems, the city of your mind, was published in 2013 by Whirlwind Press. His second chapbook, Broad Street Line, focusing on politics and public transportation, was published by Moonstone Press in 2016. 100 Haiku is his latest release, also published by Moonstone Press in 2018. Lynch's writing has been featured in numerous publications online and in print, including (parenthetical), Poetry Quarterly, and Tincture Journal.

14 Responses to When I Was a Witness to Murder

  1. Its sad to think we have to put a “like” on such a tragic and horrific scene…and yet that is life at its visceral and violent beauty.

  2. MB says:

    beautiful work. I love this! (Walt Whitman is awesome too)

    • Sean Lynch says:

      I definitely feel a special connection with him, especially because I’m always in Camden and I grew up in a neighboring town. I still refer to him because he is present around me, even if it is cliche for modernist American poets to reference him.

  3. For once I don’t need help interpreting this.

  4. pembroke5 says:

    Really good–you really have it.

  5. shonadaowna says:

    I found this compelling.

  6. Ah, but when it’s hawks, it’s not murder. Who is Lamont Steptoe? Liked the post!

    • Sean Lynch says:

      The use of the word murder was more allegorical than accusing the hawk of murder. Lamont Steptoe is a renowned poet that’s a friend of mine, google him. Thanks for reading and replying.

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