To the sound of muffled yawns,
the after-Christmas morning dawns.
Winter sunlight, wan and pale,
slides across the city jail,
kisses the Patapsco shore
and brings day back to Baltimore.
Frost melts away from windowpanes.
Rats slip homeward into drains.
The Yuletide ebbs, the year's complete.
Kris Kringle rests his aching feet.
Outside his door he's parked the sleigh.
Eight weary reindeer munch on hay.
Exhausted little girls and boys
sleep fitfully and dream of toys;
their parents, zonked with sleeping pills,
dream of ways to pay the bills.
Away downtown, near Pratt and Light,
a pigeon launches into flight.
He leaves his grimy high-rise perch
with a not-ungraceful lurch,
then practices a few quick spins
while watching out for peregrines.
Above the ancient city wards
he flies, then circles Camden Yards.
With effort, he gains altitude.
A passing starling chirps, "Hey, dude!"
If you were there to see this bird,
you'd surely gasp and say "My word!"
For he is exquisitely dressed,
in silk bowtie and tartan vest.
In the slightly toxic air
he seems to glow with savoir-faire.
A pince-nez rests upon his beak.
As pigeons go, he's rather chic.
Most know him as Plunkett, and as the year ends,
they hope that they're still on his long list of friends.
For his annual greetings, which fall from the sky,
are prized by insiders like Maryland rye.
They're badges of honor, recipients say,
and rarer than oysters in Chesapeake Bay.
Plunkett's notice means a lot.
In fact, it often hits the spot.
A source has brought me, in her fist,
copy of the bird's hit list.
I envy all those guys and gals
who seem to be the pigeon's pals,
and hoping that no one will sue
I'd like to recognize them too.
This year, let's drink and holler "Skoal!"
to those who made the honor roll.
A few are famous as can be,
power players from D.C.
(The pigeon will, if asked, confess
he learned about them from the press.)
The rest are mortals just like us,
who eat fast food and ride the bus.
Most of Plunkett's friends are locals.
So, pass the list, and my bifocals.
Happy New Year to Rush Limbaugh,
and to every cop and bimbaugh
with a story that rubs raw
the nerves of folks from Arkansas.
Cheers to hefty Janet Reno,
and to KAL's neat Kaptain Keno.
(Kaptain Keno's got a quarrel
with Jack Kent Cooke, who's buying Laurel.
The pigeon sent his best to Cooke,
but didn't take a careful look,
and thus he made a frightful goof.
His best just hit the limo's roof.)
Please remember Leo Green,
the Ripken clan from Aberdeen,
retired Circuit Judge Al Close,
O's boss Peter Angelos,
Roger Hayden (that old meanie),
acerbic Janice Piccinini,
Rocky Worcester, big John Cade,
Paige Boinest and John F. Slade.
Take note, as well, before you go,
of Stuart Simms and Raymond Ho,
Nathan Irby, Margaret Yewell,
Jack Lapides, D. Bruce Poole,
Leo Gomez, Elmer Horsey,
Johnny Oates and Charles H. Dorsey.
Pigeon-greetings can be swell!
Here's one for Judge Robert Bell,
and for Judge John Carroll Byrnes,
and the Joseph R.L. Sternes.
(If anyone should feel defamed,
Sterne indirectly can be blamed.
He hired the bloody nincompoop
who let the bird out of its coop.)
Let's all clap hands (clap REALLY loud)
for hard-to-find Michele McCloud,
a well-paid city employee
who (maybe due to modesty)
won't show the world her smiling face.
Heck, we don't even know her race!
Her tale is droll, and getting droller;
ask the city's (ex?) comptroller.
But all that's getting pretty tacky.
Let's move on from Jackie's lackey.
Wish good luck to Louis Becker,
Howard County's Charlie Ecker,
Marty McKibbin and Joseph Lutz,
Pete O'Malley and Harrison Utz,
Ron Smith, Steny Hoyer and, just to be fair,
Oakley A. Sumpter, the Perryville mayor.
All these receive plaudits rained down from on high.
Plunkett salutes you, as also do I.
No doubt you'd like to read some more,
but kindly wait 'til '94.
The pigeon's out of time and space,
plus he has an appointment in Havre de Grace.
Peter A. Jay is a writer and farmer. His column appears Sundays and Thursdays.