Beggars in the midst of plenty: fluttering, pecking furiously,
as if there were no tomorrow, pestering us from benches
where we had thought we had settled comfortably,
plastering our shirts and the heads of statues
with their white leavings. We retreat, sullen, petulant,
and they, for the moment, are victorious.
“Vermin,” I say. “Worse than the rats along the river.”
An official nods, scattering crackers laced with arsenic.
His thin hair is protected by a hood from the cold weather,
and from aerial bombardment. We watch him and we shiver.
He says, “Clean streets make happy people
Curb your dogs, and keep them away from the poison.”
He drives away in a sanitation truck covered with graffiti.
There is no immediate effect on the pigeons.