“Birds Aren’t Real Abecedarian” by Devon Balwit

Devon Balwit


Admit it. There’s always one outside your window
bobbing on a wire, wearing one, broadcasting back to
Central Command: You in the coffeeshop
dissing POTUS while a crow dithers by the dumpster,
evanescing as soon as you emerge. A cloud of
finches follows as you stroll with a friend
griping at the grim state of the union. Or those geese
hovering in the park at the BLM protests, hashtag #
inching closer, faking a grab at some
Jack in the Box scraps while measuring jawlines beneath
knit balaclavas, stooges of the kakistocracy.
Lilliputian hummingbirds locking in on your subletters,
making note of who and how many enter and leave.
Note the ridiculous number of robins next time,
one under every tree, openly
provoking with that repetitive peeping.
Question the downward judder of the flicker—QED,
radio equipment is heavy. There you have it,
spies to a one. Even the peacocks, how they seduce you
to scrutinize, to lean in close to the iridescence,
unaware of the pupils measuring your own.
Very clever, I say. And look at the vast supportive armature, the
ways they mask artifice—David Attenborough, posh in the water,
XXL t-shirts of the “national bird,” Audubon “birder’s” Xing off examples.
You don’t want to be a sap, do you, filling feeders while the Feds
zero-in on your whereabouts, readying to zap your whole cul-de-sac?

from Poets Respond
December 14, 2021


Devon Balwit: “My head whipped around the first time a saw a Birds Aren’t Real bumper-sticker. I appreciate Peter McIndoe’s intricate and playful attempts to call attention to conspiracy theories.” (web)

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