Monday, May 24, 2010

most interesting of our american birds (16)

most interesting of our american birds

the gooey oil washing into the maze of marshes along the
gulf coast could prove impossible to remove, leaving a
toxic stew lethal to fish and wildlife...
government officials & independent

most interesting of our american birds
whose iconic flight & voracious appetite
inspired no less than audubon to inscribe
rhapsodically in his journals:

listen to the sound of the splash they make
as they drive their open bills, like a pock-net,
into the sea…

a pelican feeding its young embossed on
louisiana’s state seal by 1804 & on her blue
unfurling flag by 1912, a fitting perch for one
who’d tear her own flesh to feed her young.

one of ornithology’s most astonishing events,
in 1966, the year it became louisiana’s state
bird, pelecanus fuscus vanished like the hero
in a novel from the state’s entire coast.

did concurrent tropical storms savage vulnerable
nests in its overwash? perhaps some pathogen
or virulent human encroachment struck? or
more likely the toxic pesticides from

agricultural plains, drained into the mighty
mississip, got absorbed by anchovies &
other favored fish -- did an inside job on
eggshell formation, on eggshell thickness,

& caused the heroic pelican – the same who
would destroy itself to feed its young -- to
destroy its eggs as it sat on them within its
nest to incubate & protect them.

thus did the brown pelican become like a
novel’s anti-hero whose one abiding trait
is bewildered & anxious uncertainty about the
futility & fundamental amorality of life.

for despite efforts to transplant fledglings from
florida’s peninsula, at hundreds per year, or
banning ddt, the pelican will never see any
pattern in life & rarely its destination.

we can see this now in the frightened eyes of
oil-soaked birds who hobble like drunks at dawn’s
break on barataria bay because they cannot fly;
whose brown & white feathers, are now jet black.

whose nests & new hatchlings are coated with
crude, whose gunk-glazed eggs, like their habitats,
may never be cleaned or saved, whose offensive
images are the new expletives for corporate greed

& signs of our failure to live in harmony with nature,
symbols of our disdain for ecological balance,
signifiers of our suicidal self-absorption --
new metaphors for our insanity.

© Joseph McNair;2010


  1. i think that this is a perfect example of whats happening with the oil spill caused by the franchaise BP. Because they have nglected to take precautions thousands of birds and even hatchlings are dying. even though we are trying to do everything we can, it won't save merely enough to stop populations of animals from becoming endangered. i think this is more than enough of a reason to ban off shore drilling and find an alternative. instead of searching for oil outlets we should focus on how we can transform our waste into fuel. we would be saving ourselves literally from becoming a massive landfill.

  2. Upon conclusion of this poem I found myself rather confused as to the message behind it. Though after a second gander over it, I was able to see it’s a relation to the oil spill that occurred not too long ago. Once I was able to grasp at the pieces connection, I found that this poem holds much validity; for the oil incident is one that has and will have a detrimental effect on nature and all its elements. From my interpretation, the bird in this piece represents nature as a whole entity and it is this same entity that is now damaged in a distraught manner that can never be restored to its earlier condition. The same way the cause of this situation to the bird was caused by man is the same way the condition of the environment right now is caused by man. After reading this piece though, one element continues to stand out, what are we going to do to fix it since we caused it?

  3. What this poem is about is the pelican and how it is becoming extinct because businesses destroyed and is continuing to destroy its habitat. J. Mcnair is explaining how the pelican has come to the point of where it is now. It has come to this point because of what happened in the past, with pesticides and what is happening now with the oil spill in the Gulf coast. He feels that these events are tragic and unfortunate that this has happened to the pelican. He also feels this is a failure on our part to live along side of nature and to protect it.

  4. The poem “Most Interesting of our American Birds,” is literally about pelicans, but as I continued to read I realized it was about way more that that. The author expresses a deep sentiment for these animals. This poem brings to our attention the cruel reality that animals or in this case the pelican is being hurt because of us, humans. The pelican is a nurturing bird that as the poem says, “Who’d tear her own flesh to feed her young.” Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tries to protect her young, they are all still in danger. The poem also touches upon how oil spills are affecting them. We can relate to this very closely because of the oil spill that is going on right now. Thousands of helpless animals are dying because of it. It’s really sad to read things like this, because it is our fault that all these animals are suffering. They deserve to be helped and taken out of harm’s way. Being an animal lover, I am very touched and saddened by this poem, because it depicts the cruel reality. I believe that if we don’t make a change now, nature will continue to suffer greatly, and it will be all because of the human race.

  5. This poem happens to be very touching because it describes the horrific life the American birds are living due to our actions – intentional or unintentional. Most people are aware of the tragedies that are occurring today, but it isn’t until you see it firsthand that you are able to fully understand the pain that we are causing these animals. Just as the poem explains, birds are willing to do anything for their young. They protect them and are even willing to sacrifice themselves for the safety of their family. It is heartbreaking to see such innocent creatures go through such pain when they are playing their part very well. Their lives are in danger because of the decisions and actions that the human race makes. Some decisions may be irresponsible and others unintentional, but in the end we have to realize that we are putting other lives in danger. Whether they are birds or any other kind of animal, they deserve to live to their heart’s content.

  6. The Birds are endangered. They were once so free living their lives peacefully. The question in poem is that is it nature who is killing them off or is it the human race. Now this part right here "the same who
    would destroy itself to feed its young -- to
    destroy its eggs as it sat on them within its
    nest to incubate & protect them." Okay this is profound the pelican were once living so well that they wanted their children to have the same life they did. But now that they are being destroyed by man and oil leakage they are killing their unborn so that they don't go though the same pain they went though essential protecting them. Then we humans realize this but it is too late the damage is done already. What can we do?

  7. Most Interesting of Our American birds is obviously referring to the recent oil spill in the Gulf Coast caused by BP. To me this is a sad situation; the habitat of numerous animals was destroyed because of human error. Oil is a very lucrative business and sometimes when people see the dollar signs they fail to see the reality of anything else. This most likely could’ve been prevented if stricter drilling laws were in place. But because somehow oil lobbyist end up running government, the laws become lax and no one cares because there’s nothing they can do.
    I must be honest though, I sometimes wonder if this was planned so that gas prices could go up this summer; although that would be a very sinister trick.

  8. This poem epics very well the damage that greed and carelessness can cause our environment and economy. Brings forth conscious awareness. I pray a solution is forthcoming very soon to this debacle.

  9. I do not really understand this poem but I think it’s about what’s happening with the oil spill not to long ago. I think it’s very sad to read about how animal are mistreating and killing their own children. And I think it’s our fault because we people when we doing things we don’t think about the outcomes. I think it’s going to take a long time to fix this, but I have no idea on how we going to fix it. In addition, all that happens because of our ignorance.

  10. I think there is a huge problem of people just not being knowledgeable in subjects like this.
    I mean, I didn't know about the topic of the birds until now.
    If we were to spread the word and explain what is happening to these poor creatures then I think more would get done.
    For once you explain the importance in something, then people begin to take it more seriously.
    I know now that this will be something in my head that I will G-d willing explain to others to see if there is something that can be done for these innocent creatures.