Airport Pigeon by George Longenecker

Airport Pigeon

A pigeon picks for scraps of burritos,
chips and hamburger buns on the carpet
near Gate 73—white with black feathers
on her wings and head— she ekes out a living
trapped inside Newark International Airport
hopping around the feet of weary passengers.

She thinks she came here willingly, perhaps
through an open passenger gate, but now she’s
trapped like us, eating what she can find.
She can fly miles inside the terminal,
up over Hudson Books and Vino Volo,
but she can never reach the sky.
Meanwhile we’ll escape, board
our jets and— for a few hours—
soar for miles over mountains and tiny towns,
thinking we’re free as birds.

by George Longenecker, first published in Santa Fe Literary Review

Editor’s Note: This poem is a perfect demonstration that verse can encompass the most ordinary of things with brilliant emotional insight.

2 thoughts on “Airport Pigeon by George Longenecker

  1. I agree with the editor that one can find insight in a seemingly ordinary event. This poem speaks to me in more ways than one. When I read between the lines, the bird can be anyone with a capacity to soar, to even reach the sky but limitations (real or imagined) prevent it from living out its destiny. I love accessible writing and this poem is a great example. Well done.


  2. You don’t have to have spent countless hours in airport terminals (like I have) to appreciate this poem. It is so well structured, so balanced, that it’s a comfort to read and then reflect on afterward. Thanks.


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