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

the way.


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

its nave.


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'

outstretched palm.


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

and massacre.

Do we defile?


No - your constructs are not ours, but we will be contented to live in the

corners you cannot, feeding off your