When I was still very young
(my adult feathers had just become permanent)
I heard that there were a lot of animals like me
in big New York City.
NYC became some kind of magic kingdom for me then
and I knew I had to go.
It took me a few years to get there
I was still learning how to survive
I couldn't read or write
I could scratch around for bugs in the dirt
but getting a straight meal wasn't so easy
but I finally found my way to the Big Apple.
It was winter and New York is cold in the winter
I had a thin coat and puffed up my feathers
but I was freezing.
I found the little strip in the Village
where the signs said "Animals Welcome"
and I stepped inside a small bar.
For the first time ever, nobody seemed to give a crap
that I'd just walked into a bar.
There were some dogs drinking beers at a table
and a doe was sitting at the bar.
There was a human with the doe
and it looked like he was trying to pick her up.
He bought her a drink,
which the bartender, a lynx or some kind of wild cat
wearing a bow tie
served to her in a small bowl
because her hooves had no thumbs to lift a glass.
The bartender looked like her wanted to kill the man
who had slicked back hair and a thin mustache
and he looked like he wanted to kill the deer too
and maybe the dogs
and when he looked at me
I thought he wanted to kill me too.
Maybe it was just the look on his face.
I sat at the bar and counted out my nickels for a beer.
The cat didn't talk to me except to serve my beer.
Other animals came and went
A few humans too
and nobody talked to me
and I didn't see anyone I wanted to talk to.
I thought when I got there I would feel
like I was with my people
like I belonged
but I felt just as alone there as ever
maybe more so
I counted out a few more nickels
and had another beer
and then I left
and just like any other night
in any other city
I tried to figure out where I was going to sleep.
Jerry the Bird, 1973.