RAPHUS CUCULLATUS OR EVERYTHING TURNS AWAY by Mike Maher

Coyotes and wolves are nearly identical
except the coyotes have developed the ability to adapt,
to learn to eat garbage
and sleep under your shed.
Tom says pigeon parents push
their young off bridges just to see if they are ready to fly.
And if they aren’t?
It is no surprise they are related to the Dodo,
millions of miniature Prince Prosperos leading their people to doom,
tiny Icaruses splashing into seas of New York City taxicabs,
though it is doubtful Breughel would take the time
to illustrate their unnoticed fall
nor Auden or Williams to sit down and illustrate the illustration.
This is hardly a dreadful martyrdom,
but is it an example of evolution, modification,
a malevolent twist of Darwinism,
of how most adaptations are less than beautiful,
far from practical?
The man with a coyote under his shed will most likely say “What is that damn coyote
doing under my shed?”
and not “What have we done to the world that coyotes are relegated
to sleeping under our sheds?”
And that is why,
when Tom tells me about the pigeons,
a girl in the room,
quite possibly with a coyote of her own in her backyard
and obviously unaware of the significance of these tiny birds,
merely says, “What did they do before there were bridges?”

MIKE MAHER is the founder and editor of Sea Giraffe, an online literary ‘zine. He currently reads, writes, edits, and walks his dog in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains. His poetry, fiction, and personal essays can be seen in publications like The Smoking Poet, The Ofi Press Magazine, Calliope, and Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure. While earning his BA in English from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, he served as the Vice President and Forum Editor of The Stroud Courier, winning the Jim Barniak Award for journalism twice during his time there. He also won the Martha E. Martin Award for poetry while at ESU.

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