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on pigeon « Theo Bremer Bennett

on pigeon

theo and his pigeon friends photo by David Houk

A Pigeon in the Wilderness is about water, and eyes and of course, birds– pigeons to be exact. I see pigeons in the desert often and wonder how they made it here. I saw one yesterday, pecking around in the red dust, when I was filling up on gas on my way to Albuquerque. He didn’t ask me for anything or really make any sort of eye contact. I think he understood I was in a hurry. Maybe I just look like a cheapskate, or maybe he was satisfied– he looked as healthy and fat as any city bird.                

A desert is a place where you think you can escape, and then, when it has you, makes a serious attempt on your life, or reputation. Just when you think you’re alone, familiar, cool characters pop up out of the brush and try to get you to eat rocks, or fly from tall buildings, or encourage you to give up your driver’s license and social security card for cash money. And it’s a place where you find yourself seriously contemplating all those normally outlandish options. Just for some AC and an afternoon of color television.

On 9/12 I heard Tom Brokaw describing Manhatten’s “canyons,” which at that time had just funneled great flash floods of dust and debris and running people through their grid. I’m sure the pigeons had the sense to clear out too. But it got me thinking about the homeless again, hanging out in canyons– solitary. And I wondered if the desert held more homeless than a place like New York or LA– not that it’s a contest or anything. It’s maybe an American tendency to wonder which desert is bigger or has more of something. Size matters for some reason. Those NY buildings are pretty big. And also it’s good to see that when tragedy strikes close, even newsmen become poets. 

Often the homeless in the desert and canyons of New Mexico get blown in and collect around the doors of Albertsons and Walmart. They know where crumbs fall.

This album resides somewhere in amongst all that, all that except the 9/11 stuff. Pigeons don’t worry about planes or backpacks, or canyons.

It’s funny what makes it into your songs– funny because I’m quite sure I’m not in control of it. I must admit, this collection is highly autobiographical and mostly about things that have happened to me through the people I know. They’re all love songs really when you get down to it. Every last one. But I didn’t know that until I was done. I know you’re supposed to remain a bit aloof and mysterious about such things, but it’s only the truth. Sadly, rock and roll love songs are the biggest cliche in the book. Nothing special here. Don’t mind us pigeons!

Or maybe it’s just about water after all; when you’re in dry places, it’s always in the back of your mind– gratitude floods you when it rains gently, and you remember that hopeful smell as it washes over you and sticks to your skin. You pray it will last all night. Or eyes, the most intimate act– the naked gaze when someone looks so pleasing to you that you don’t care if everyone sees your admiration. There’s lots more space between eyeballs in a desert. You get used to not meeting a person, but you feel like you’re being watched more than ever, and you most likely are! Or simply about mere pigeons. Because, you know, a pigeon is just a dirty dove after all, a common expendable thing who is everywhere– the house fly of the avian world. BUT– if you look closely with your open eyes, especially on a damp day after you’ve been adequately moistened and refreshed and when things shine brighter for being wet, you’ll notice most clearly that curious and iridescent splash of color around his throat. It will arrest you suddenly, like a vision. And you will realize that the distance between heaven and earth is just a breath. And you will wonder.    –theo