Pigeons | Ted Frisbie
intruders - moving slowly, haltingly in ragged clothes, wilting flowers, pilgrims
to the sinking Iglesia de Guadalupe, kilometer of blood from penitent knees,
short as children, theyareeasy - lots of time to gather scraps, and get out of
You come daily, come to claim wherever we rest. We share these park benches of
Athens or Atlanta with the sleeping drunk, the international stove-toting
backpacker, other homeless. Some of us, though, are always awake.
Little bird lives on the back of the rhino, heart racing, cleaning the cavernous
old man with the small woven sack of seed, umbrella held between chin and
collar-bone, his trembling, cold-mottled, translucent hand carefully reaching
in as we watch in contained frenzy. Friends and cousins quickly descend,
shining grey against the black-and-white striped basilica of Siena, its grand
design and coffers plundered to fund a feudal war, its transcept quickly became
And the children chasing and chasing, winding circles around us, fluttering,
landing, scratching, goading,
tearing stockings, staring blankly, parents scolding or snapping photos of us
together, the 5 gold domes of San Marco reflecting clouds behind as we shit on
the green wool coats of Milan. Only the November floods can keep us away.
Ours are the campanile; 75 meters above pedastaled saints of Theodor and Mark's
Lion, above the silly bronze horses, above the moorish mosaic of the floor with bits
of rare Egyptian red porphyry, we are the true guards of piazza San Marco, and
all of Venice.
Lumbering Quasimodo would have caused no problem if he'd not left his asylum for
his sanctuary, stayed in coarse cotton gown, chained to a hallway wall, eating
ear wax, murmuring to the pool of urine around his grey, sore-covered thighs.
Who but we perched on his shoulder as Paris ran to the river, horrified, amazed,
transfixed by the clanging passion madly pacing within the heart of Our Lady,
this fantastic ringer of bells. He was a true brother, we were his angels.
The gothic spires, the flying Buttresses, stretching ever higher; names of
Chartres, Lourdes, St. Paul's, Sagrada Familia, - all that turns your minds
heavenward is our domain;
wings smacking as we claim the uppermost reaches of Brunelleschi's monument to
his God, his pride; we fly noisily about the top of the duomo like incontinent
cherubim, alighting as we wish on evangelists' newly- washed feet, hair-shirted
fire-eyed John's staff, Theresa's head rolled back in exquisite ecstacy, the
nail in the Messiah's wrist and of course, obiedient Fratello Francis'
We leave our offerings as we go, per grazie ricevuto.
Michelangelo's majestic cupolone of St. Peter's, crowning jewel of the Roman
skyline, is covered with our
Do we then blaspheme? Looking down upon your heads as targets, like God?
Do you know we'd just as soon take up refuge in an empty warehouse, the
underbelly of a bridge, a decrepit
marina. True, we spend our days painting your bronzes, shitting upon the frozen
likenesses of your heroes,
magistrates, Indian guides, inventors and admirals, presidents and pioneer
priests, emperors past and present, rebels and revolutionaries, the recently
forgotten, the oxidized green slowly staining the marble platforms.
Though we claim your porches, museums, and belfries, we'd each be happy in the
heights of an abandoned
grain elevator, exposed ribbed frame still stately against the burnt yellow
Do we do harm?
"Peace" and "Mourning" are terms kept for the graceful doves. We, the in-bred
in-laws, are good enough only
for abuse, for a laugh, for scattering at your approach, a diffuse cloud of
snapping electrons, obeying some mute law of community bondage; for messages
Do we defile?
No - your constructs are not ours, but we will be contented to live in the
corners you cannot, feeding off your