The Trouble with Wings



At first

They were just nodules

Protruding from behind his shoulder blades

And after that

The rapid growth of membrane and quill

Was not an unpleasant sensation.


But having wings

Can create all kinds of problems:

His wife refused to sleep with him;

He was made suddenly redundant;

Children followed him silently

Through the streets.


So he flew

Fishtailing and chandelle

After the wild geese

That drew him with their cadences

As sirens drew sailors towards a promise

They could never keep

Only to return


To avoid the guns of frightened farmers

And the cautions of police.


Finally, tired and hounded,

He went to a surgeon,

Had his wings removed and burned.


Now he’s got a new job

With good prospects for promotion,

Makes love to his wife three times a week

And children no longer regard him with awe

But sometimes

He’ll look up towards the sky

And the flesh

Between his shoulder blades

Will tug and ache.



Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor

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