Carnival Pigeons. by Craig Kurtz

SAWDUST. Come along and revel, I’ve got a tale for you;
(Excuse the carny humor; what can a tent mouse do?);
A sentimental story, fit for kids and grown-ups too;
I’ll ringmaster this lyric (and, for now, louche rhymes eschew).

LOUIE. You may think pigeons are all alike —
and you’d be wrong. A rube, in fact.
Louie is my handle and I’ll tell you off the cuff
location sets the destiny —
there’s creeds and breeds and sects; indeed,
classes. Me, I’m from the roughest town
and I’m the crown of the riff-raff.
I take no guff, I’m puffed and loud,
I’ll peck and gouge. (This here eye-patch?
You mind that I prevailed that flap.)
I assume the center perch in gothic spires
where I reside. I eat first and I sleep higher.
Quasimodo Corners is my alma mater
and gargoyles are my gauche ancestors.
I’ve sat on saints, I’ve crapped on kings,
I’ve commerced in convents and jails.
I’m the hoi polloi,
I ain’t your pretty boy.

SAWDUST. Louie rules the rooftops like a kingpin, that is true;
A scrapper, a truant, an author of hullabaloo;
Your food, your nest, your mate — adieu!;
He’ll strut on your beak and then coo when he’s through.

LOUIE. What do I spy, from my one plaguy eye?;
A situation has come into view.
A traveling circus has rolled into town.
Oh, might this be rich! May not this be loot?
There’s whistles and bells and hot blinking lights
and popcorn aroma which fires my flight.
There’s banners and gears and ramshackley tents,
calliope noise and peanut brittle segments.
Damn! I love this country!
I hit the jackpot, the vittles are grand,
I better chow now; this secret won’t last.
But, waitaminute, pal — I smell something else.
Oh, yes. Ring-a-ding-ding. Soft focus, maestro.
A ravishing femme, with powdery plumes,
the fluffiest tail, the dreamiest wings.
This is a goddess, an avian Venus!
But, hey what the hey, she’s cooped in a jail!
What sort of crumbum imprisons a female?

FRANCINE. My name is Francine and I’m awfully fancy,
a pedigree circus bird, avian artist,
a delicate mechanism of nature.
I ride the tightwire on a unicycle
and somersault through a hoop,
twirling midair.
Then there’s the polka with fantail
refinement, engaging in curtsies
in a spinning ballroom. It’s immensely terrific!
Carny life, wooden nickels, travel by wagon,
up past our bedtime to glitter like gypsies.
And it’s a swell life … although there are times
I look to the sky and it whispers to me.
The clouds curl and surge forming fantastic shapes
of chariots pulled by aerial dolphins
through comets that rocket with unfettered colors.
The sky is a dream, a mirage of chimera
but … then again, my dinners are here.

SAWDUST. So here we are, my friends, acquainted with our characters;
A boy, a girl, an obstacle, the rudiments of literature;
Few themes soothe our sensibilities as the labors of young paramours;
Such impractical endeavorments define love’s fine surrender.

LOUIE (Leaping on top of Francine’s cage). Splendiferous bird! Inimitable girl!
How could you be so cruelly boxed in a trap?
What purposes such malefactions as this
and how do I get my heartbeat next to yours?

FRANCINE. My! But I say! You’re a froward old rogue!
Besieging and rattling a damsel’s reserve,
audaciously preening and importuning,
I ween I have never seen such a bluff!

LOUIE. Calm down my dear, my intent is sincere
for here is the paladin who sets you loose!

FRANCINE. Loose! I should say! Who’s looser than you
presuming I petition such liberties with you!

LOUIE. Termagant!

FRANCINE. Scoundrel!

LOUIE. Harpy!

FRANCINE. Villain!

LOUIE. Felon!

FRANCINE. I dare say!

LOUIE. I love you!

FRANCINE. I know that!

LOUIE (Grasping cage bar with his beak). Accursed cage!

FRANCINE. Release me now! Notarize love;
alight, alight, and clear me for flight.

LOUIE (Grappling with the cage door hook). Grr, vexatious vault!
Capitulate this treasury
and yield me my mate!

POP! (Door swings open; they both fly up into the sky.)

FRANCINE. So … this is the sky
and my wings engine it;
The further I fly, the more it expands.
And you, at my side, dilate it above
any speculation I had of ‘above.’
It’s truly numinous!
And, here, the magnet’s momentum dissolves
whilst I feel the springs of your pinions near mine.
This is abandon, my only location
is flying with you … illimitably.
How little I knew before in my bounds,
exertions in jest, exercises of sham.
This is quite unexampled.
The unknown astounds me
as I quiet my vision
to ken that of yours.
Destination immoment,
intuition profound.

LOUIE. Now, where shall we dwell
and who shall we be
once we arrive?
We are renewed,
creatures of
fused design.
Where do I love you,
my intrepid partner?
Where ever we land
we double our lives.

SAWDUST. Ending this lay, I’ll just have to say
our protagonists twice made a circle of earth;
Exchanging a glance and vanishing hence,
they multiplied futures with uncontrite mirth.

Craig Kurtz lives at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously handcrafting hammocks. Recent work has appeared in Outburst, Regime, Indigo Rising, Harlequin Creature, Otoliths, Randomly Accessed Poetics and Reckless Writing. Music work featured at FishFood & LavaJuice.