North American birds were his favourite;
sitting by the fountain of Memorial Park, his father gave him his first binoculars,
chrome and black, state-of-the-art technology.
An only child, he loved those birds like brothers—
they were his comfort
when school went wrong and
he stuck out like a sore thumb.
Bowers knew him as the spoilt Jewish boy back in ‘57,
only because his father was a lay-about and
hadn’t a penny to his name.
His faith had nothing to do with it;
he was just a Loser in need
of feathered friends.
Spying on the mating of the warbler species,
he was covered in hues of purple and green,
black and blue.
To go home and complain of discrimination
was painful, embarrassing.
Tears were shed, but not his own;
it would only hurt his parents.
Who said prejudice would stop at the end of World War II?
The hatred never ceased.
Not for one moment.
Blood ran cold
as dead fingers beckoned
from that old, rich house in the posh district.
They were icy, dripping wet,
almost scaly as they giggled and begged him to come;
be their friend!
“Finch, sparrow, robin, warbler!”
He screamed as they closed in on him.
To him it was only a bad dream;
there was a reasonable explanation for everything.
Sunshine escaped the melancholy mask of clouds
in the summer of 1958
when the Losers were united in misery.
He kept his birds,
but only as second best;
for now he had allies in the war of education.
In the sunset of the dog-days
they defeated the beast,
scratching two bullies off the face of the earth forever,
plus one clown.
This was thirty years ago…
But he couldn’t do this anymore.
The game of Life was too much; he gave up
with a sharp, bleeding scrawl of scarlet ink;
“IT” screamed from the wall
like an owl in the night.
And down in the sewers, the clown cawed with laughter:
1 out of 7 ain’t bad.