Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 21 . . .

bird of paradise

     by Wyk McGowan

a boy at my school

got his nails done

got weave

got dangly earrings

and heels

and boobs

the students


and the staff

shook their heads

he didn’t get beaten

but hate cannoned

like fireworks

in the halls

i didn’t notice him at first

didn’t recognize the ram

in ewe’s clothing

and when i did

i didn’t care

it makes me sick

ms. jackson

venomed into the staff room air

he’s only doing it

for attention

i couldn’t be silent

teenagers and birds

have two purposes for

their garments

i said


they quail themselves

into the background

pheasant in the field

a camouflaged blindfold

avoiding their

peers’ damnation

i am scenery

i am grass

i am shadow


they dandify themselves

tailfeathers and plume

miniskirts and hairdos

peacocking the world’s eyes

hey, look at me

i am cardinal

i am macaw

i am paradise


the boy who no longer feels like a boy

and the girl with chain-dragging jeans

are not special

they are mohawk

they are sag

they are tattoo

they are as normal as the quiet girl

in the library

with twilight in her eyes


the boy in the bleachers during recess

hands without balls in his lap


Wyk McGowan is a senior English teacher at Eastmoor Academy High School in Columbus, OH. He has been teaching for thirteen years and is a National Board Certified Teacher. He is also the creator and coordinator of the Columbus City Schools District Poetry Slam which is in its third year. Seventeen of the district’s schools will be competing in a two day event. He has been writing poetry since the first grade—his mother was his teacher and loved to read Emily Dickinson to him. He has two unpublished manuscripts and a self-published chapbook: corpse flies. He was on the National Poetry Slam team for Columbus in 2009 and has been slamming for three years although his true love is the written word.


© 2011 Wyk McGowan