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What Is a Pelican?
By Matthew James Babcock
after Susan Elizabeth Howe’s “What Is a Grackle?”
From the ground, a particle wave
crossing humid noon. Stern sage
in repose among the moorings,
tourists murmuring concessions
into coffee cups. In motion,
a Da Vinci diagram streaming
in daydream stage. Pelicans unfurl
more than ascend, launch
like unbound manuscripts
hurled into headwinds. Their wingspans
plane edges from storms.
Presume a uniform procession,
and they assume more roles
than the red horizon holds:
staunch reformer, serene wingman,
ascetic in the senate of sky,
outfitted with the evolutionary wonder
of gold cutlass and swag bag,
the endless sunrise in the mage’s eye.
Adopt one as cosmic consort,
or anoint your dozing confessor.
Recall the stately white male scarcely
audible on the mirror lake—
lull, charm, and descant: Stay stoic,
came the telepathic trace. You are
the marble before the temple. Always
sculptor and sculpture in the air,
the everlasting space spanning here and there.
Philosophy of the Pelican
the three creeds
The needless thought ever encumbers.
The seedless heart never numbers.
The heedless soul forever slumbers.
Idahoan. Writer. Failed breakdancer. Books: Strange Terrain (Mad Hat Press); Four Tales of Troubled Love (Harvard Square Editions); Points of Reference (Folded Word); Heterodoxologies (Educe Press).