Golden-eyed pigeons fly in pairs
grey squeaklings
linking space

"Swans mate for life,"
the old git on the news turns to the camera
for the last word

Even the wizened are media-savvy
Swan families sticking their beaks
mounted on long thin necks
into other family members’ business

the sickness of one means the rest
won’t go to fill their

No they’ll stick together
floating around until the poison kills
That bullet was outlawed years ago
lead shell-casings litter the area

The damaging quotient can’t be picked up
can’t be totally removed
with even the best of the finest-toothed combs

He was a family-swan
bit the bullet
heavy head hanging on a long limp neck

"It’s hard on your mother
It’s hard on your mother, you know."
In my head I say
(yes, you are hard on my mother)

He wants to shout out
(you’re killing your mother!)
(you’re killing your mother!)
Family-man tried to down a bottle of pills

Family-mother had to get farm-woman
from next-door
to come and get the pills out of his mouth
Flipping him over, cursing
pulling out the fringe of a rug caught in the vacuum cleaner

his lips tightened over dissolving pills
white, cream, blue pills
tiny logos carved into them
tiny logos carved in the dissolving pills

"Are you trying to kill your mother?"
That was his crazy cry when at twelve
I got caught playing nicky-knocky-nine-doors

Seemed absurd
Mother passed us in the hall
heading for her hot bath
for the first time I noticed and wondered why
a woman’s ass is wider than a man’s

Foolishly I’d asked "How did mom get cancer?"
Turned out I was to blame
The answer:
"Having a child later in life and not breast feeding
caused the cancer."

Oh, bitter pill
Oh, bullet with a name on it
a tiny message carved into it
a tiny message carved in my dissolving heart
I think I’ll go to my room now and set a spell
please pass the smelling salts

When I moved
away from their madness
Family-mother put on her tweed going-to-the-doctor suit
and came to my little attic apartment

She didn’t say hello to my boyfriend
sitting on the edge of my bed
she was there to inform me
that I would have to move home
my leaving had affected her sleep

Oh, now she’s eighty, she has terrible nightmares
I prompt her to reveal them and
I learn that she’s integrating me
into the disasters she sees on TV

Family-man tells me a million terrible things
all at once one after another
my stature decreases
I become short and ugly again

Oh, my voice is hollow small
I can’t do anything right
I am worthless
hanging on
to blame

My thinking forms awkward words
to be twisted and thrown back
in my tiny 41-year-old face
Family-man sets me straight

‘Your mother is going to live another twenty years
she’s going to live to 100.’
Family-man rants, family-man gets confused
"She’s going to live another 100 years."

Oh, I wish he’d make up his mind
I wish he’d make up his mind
either I’m killing her
or she’s never going to die

Family-man tells me a million terrible things
all at once one after another
Family-man sets me straight

Lyrics submitted by PLANES

Family Swan song meanings
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