Stephen Jarrell Williams


The Pelican

Near sunset,
sapphire sea streaked with black ooze.

On shore the pelican sits
covered in oil,
eyes staring, unseeing.

An old man standing above it,
poking the pelican with a sharp stick.
“What’s wrong you ugly bird?
The world got you down?”

He snickers,
the bird still breathing.
“Should I put you out of your misery?”
He pushes the stick into the pelican’s back.

The bird flinches, too weak for escape,
its wings closed, coated in sticky goo.

“Yeah, you’re close to dead,” says the old man.
“I’ll be like you in a few years,
lying in my room, gurgling, all alone…”

He pulls the stick away, blood mixing with oil,
the pelican still alive…

“You’re a tough old bird like me.”
The old man tightens his jaw, “Damn world.
I hate it here.”

He shakes his head, takes off his coat,
wraps it around the pelican,
takes it home to clean and nurse it back to life.

Stephen Jarrell Williams has been called "The Poet of Doom," "A Voice in the Wilderness," and "A Minstrel for Love." He was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His parents are native Texans. He has lived most of his life in California.

(author retains copyright)