The Undocumented by William Keener

The Undocumented

This formidable dark falcon,
aptly named the peregrine,
after wintering in Chiapas
crosses back sin pasaporte.
He ignores borders and patrols
to mount his surveillance of
our plump American ducks
from a private fence post
in the heart of Alta California.

Never owning property,
he speaks eloquently
for both of us when he lifts
the feathers of his proud tail
to spray whitewash
on the anti-welcome sign
nailed below. Obliterating its
NO TRESPASSING printed there
in clear imperative English.

William Keener is a writer and environmental lawyer living in Marin County,California. His chapbook, “Three Crows Yelling,” authored in collaboration with poets Bill Noble and Michael Day, won the 1999 National Looking Glass Award sponsored by Pudding House Press. He can be reached by e-mail at .



It’s one of those days of faultless blue and pouring sun
that happens, even in the city, and I’m walking home
ten or fifteen plum-blossomed blocks from the store
as content as living creatures have any hope to be.

Who knows why I look up? But I do—at the backdrop green
of hills, at the flowering passion vine scrambling up a roof,
at all that vaulting blue—to see, soaring at the summit
of the morning, soaring, circling, a thousand feet above me:

Pelicans. Snow-white silent creatures, huge, effortless, remote,
wings held like hosannas, beaks upon their breasts,
their fingered, separate pinions black on white. Pelicans,
two dozen all together, wheeling through the heavens.

“Look!” I say to the woman with the toddler and the beagle,
and one block later holler all the way across the street,
“Look!” at the ponytailed UPS man leaping from a porch,
“Look!” I point my finger upward for the worried fat man,

two winsome girls in tee-shirts I nearly fall in love with.
Some look, fearing something falling on their heads, perhaps,
but as alarmed at my exuberance as at any hazard from the sky.
The girls, beguiled, nearly grin. The UPS man roars away.

No one is diminished by the lack of wonder on this day. No one
sees pelicans, or seeing them, becomes transfigured. No one thinks,
“If I could fly!” But I tread homeward, sun-washed, certain,
homeward, trembling, home at last, through the petal drift of plums

Bill Noble