By Allan Lake
On the footpath beside the pond
in the idyllic botanical garden, poppadums
fallen from heaven or thrown for the hell of it –
likely source the small Indian cafe nearby.
This is not a poem about South Asian cookery.
Pigeons trying, with difficulty,
to peck off enough to get a beakful.
They know edible when they spot it
but the scale is puzzling, problematic.
The fittest intent on getting as much
of the tasty treasure as possible.
This is not a poem about Darwin’s theory in general
or, more specifically, lack of cooperation among pigeons.
The sometime socialist St Francis in me got off
the bench and stepped on those giant crisps
crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch
enabling all to partake of the manna from god-
knows-where as I sipped my overpriced coffee,
feeling that the world was a marginally better place.
I voluntarily divulge here that I kept homing pigeons
as a child, valued racing homers and fantails
so I have some knowledge regarding this species.
This poem is not about my childhood or hobbies.
The mob (technically “flock”) of scroungers
got fairly frenzied with every bird tucking in until one,
an impressive grizzled male, decided to dominate.
This poem is not about gender inequality.
He started pecking to the right, pecking to the left
and even plucking bits of feather from the heads
of others that tried to stand their ground.
This poem is not about the propensity for savagery
where competition for a resource is at stake.
Cooka coo Cooka coo Cooka coo
inflating his gullet, doing crazy u-turns
to accompany a threatening song and dance.
He couldn’t oversee all that was left and re-takeaway
beyond his superior powers but still he objected
to others of his kind enjoying a meal.
Hungry, the nervous others snaffled one here,
one there while trying to avoid that aggressive,
busy beak, the violent wing judo chops.
This poem is not about collective bargaining/social justice.
Anyway, that’s how things were going
in the free-for-all until a seagull opportunist
with much more threatening beak landed
and laid claim to all bits remaining.
Let’s just say this poem gives voice to a serve
of dumb poppadums, their short troubled lives
that somehow moved so many.
Image by: Patryk Sobczak