290: The Birds of New York

290: The Birds of New York

290: The Birds of New York

The Birds of New York
by Francisco X. Alarcón

the birds of New York
live out on cornices
chimneys and roofs
on top of tall buildings

amid granite and cement
every morning they sing
thanksgiving chants to
the busy sun of Summer

the birds of New York
are confused by so many
city lights and take turns
flying around day and night

trapped in cages they die fast
they’ve never known wild grain
but they are true culinary
connoisseurs of city garbage

the birds of New York
make love in full flight
because there’s no space
reserved for them on the ground

playing they chase each other
around the tips of towers
waving their wings they laugh at
the traffic of the avenues below

the birds of New York
dream of being poets of the air
artists that paint with their feet
masterpieces nobody sees

some mischievously dive
like kamikaze fliers
and bombard disgruntled
executives crossing Wall Street

the birds of New York are
the most streetwise in the world
the cruelest and yet in the nest
the tenderest of all as well

some grow tired and crash
against glass windows that prevent
them from entering and smelling
the fresh flowers in vases

"The Traveling Onion," by Francisco X. Alarcón, from CANTO HONDO: DEEP SONG by Francisco X. Alarcón, copyright © 2015 University of Arizona Press. Used by permission of University of Arizona Press.