Bad Eagle

On the café patio, in the plaza lined with trees, he wondered how to compare the ambivalence of deer to the exuberance of politicians. He wondered about all kinds of things, like the pressure of a new pair of shoes. Or the amusing prank of writing poems on napkins and leaving them on the table to become someone else’s problem. He liked to leave the napkin a bit crumpled, so that it would appear used, but if he was going to write a poem on it, he would never use it to wipe his hands or face. He only left the napkin partially crumpled. A partially crumpled napkin was the topic for a poem, particularly if the napkin unfolded to reveal a poem written inside of it. But what would the poem inside the napkin be in the poem about the napkin with a poem inside of it? Nothing accusatory, he hoped. Nothing congratulatory, either, nothing that stroked the vanity of curiosity, nothing that reinforced the prideful sense of eccentricity that surely drove the person who’d unfolded an apparently used napkin just on the off chance that it contained a poem. Or a map. He liked the idea of a map better.


Some tourists were pointing to the sky. A bald eagle.


He wrote “bald eagle” on the napkin, carefully omitting the first “l” in the animal’s name so that it read, “bad eagle.” Then he crumpled the napkin.

Chicago, IL