On the grass under the trees, a mumbling woman
scatters seed for pigeons—whole bags of it—
which makes them lazy, trusting, unafraid.
She sprinkles her feed, not noticing a squirrel’s
torn-off tail—mistaking for a root the skeletal
pinion rolled in dirt. She is a merciful god.
A pigeon’s wings are bigger than you’d think,
the ball joint whiter, smoother—oiled
and lacquered for a lifetime of flight.
I first noticed this while watching
the hawk lofting in the clocktower fry
the air—fast as light—a small red sun
slung from the cloud of a cruel universe.
It grabbed a fat pigeon and instantly tore
free its useless, non-nutritious wings.
Once I found a carrier pigeon sitting broken
on a slate staircase—I stared into pink
holes the playful predator left in his body.
He held a message in his red-glass eye:
the pigeons we love are loyal, smart,
can carry our missives covertly—
but even the cleverest, who travel miles,
globes of bone turning a million times
in their sockets, are no match
for the hawks. Yet, pigeons understand
the black flash of shadow on their backs,
the puncture of blades, and the loss
of wings much better than the epistles
attached to their feet—
much better a god who mumbles
and scatters seeds.
John Thomas Wetmore received his MA in Secondary Education from the University of Connecticut. He now teaches English and creative writing at Arts at the Capitol Theater in Willimantic, CT. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in the publications Bop Dead City and Liminality. Thanks to his teaching position, most of his poems receive thorough scrutiny from a crack team of high schoolers before reaching later drafts. He is very thankful for the opportunity to witness brilliance on a daily basis with his students, and to provide a space where art and performance are a regular part of the day.