Why You’re Going to Eat That Pelican

By Jon Fischer

Your lunch at the French bistro was more essence

and foam and reduction than food, and that pelican

is the size of your remaining hunger.  He surely tastes

like the history of the sea and especially the doubloons

nestled in the sand in busted buccaneer sloops. 

There’s the miraculous skeleton you can pick clean

and tame for domestic use, his ribcage a bowl for walnuts,

his serpentine spine a backscratcher, his clownish mug

a conversation piece protruding from holly and pinecones

in an elegant crystal chalice on the dining table. 

You’d like to lead his dark and bent-over soul into the world,

a jack of spades drawn from a deck of feather and bone. 

But mostly you’ll eat that pelican because he gave you a look

that said he might soon test the food chain, that it might

be you or him, and you don’t like to think which parts of you

would fit best down that fanciful gullet—your favorite finger,

the studied furrow in your brow, the kneecap you drove

into the groin of a kid who had it coming,

the part of your tongue that can almost

speak Spanish, your fleeting notions of the sublime

and memories of jacaranda, the patch of chest

where you’d pin a carnation if you had anyone to meet,

the last of your fighting spirit.


A native of Washington State, Jon Fischer has lived and worked in Japan, India, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Egypt since getting his MFA from Eastern Washington University.  His poems are forthcoming in New Ohio Review and have previously appeared in The Seattle Review, Quarterly West, Willow Springs, Cimarron Review, and several other journals.

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