Resentfully, a Poem about Pigeons

Columba livia, rock dove, rat with wings,
the signature on London’s every corner.
No animal ever filled our eyes with filth like you –
at least the rats scurry with shame on their backs.
(Your neck gleams like ornamental armour)

You don’t deserve those wings,
The way you reluctantly pull them out
Only after you’ve tired of hobbling in front,
and then you burst up
like disturbed dust
as I hold my breath against feather-mite wind.
(T. H. White’s Merlin praised your prey’s wiles)

Whoever saw a pigeon chick?
Perhaps you spontaneously animate
from our crisp packets, newspapers and fags.
(How do you hide your babies so well? How?)

Perhaps my heart would sink less to see you
if you were not alone –
if London’s skies rang with birds of all kinds,
if the city was all sold out of grey.
(Genetic variation’s splattered all over your plumage)

The squares and pond- and canal-sides fill
with your on-the-dole idleness,
comments slinging from the railings
at all the flirting and fucking.
(You posture to your woman like a great-throated dinosaur)

You’re born to live on my species’ sin,
condemned to walk on missing toes
and pick at stale bread
and yet, beget all your sons and daughters –
a Darwin head-scratcher
that’ll shit on all our graves.

(How we curse that Perfection
turned out to be a pigeon).


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