Above a field near a deep royal bay,
A kingdom of birds flew, frolicked, and played.
In this sky kingdom, were birds of a feather,
Blue birds, red birds, some even looked heather.
The blue feathers ruffled the square feathers’ tassels,
Left feathers rumbled with right feather rascals.
Gray feathers warbled of bright feathers’ whistle,
Bright feathers squabbled at green feathers’ bristle.
Though grumbles and sighs and prickles and cries,
All birds held faith in the song of the sky:
That all birds, all birds, have a right to fly.
Among the birds, there was a special lot,
Long feathers were game from every flock.
Long feathers soared to a song of their own,
To serve and protect flights of the kingdom.
Behold, the long feathers. The hardest job of all.
They are brave. They are noble. They answer the call.
But alarmed word spread with tales and utters,
That wings of red birds were clipped by long feathers.
“How could this be?” Barked the birds of a feather.
“It doesn’t make sense. Long feathers don’t fetter.”
So chose many birds to ignore the sad plight.
“Those red birds don’t get it, don’t put up a fight.”
Yet more birds tumbled, and aloud they cried,
“It’s true. Look! Another red bird can’t fly.”
“No!” Said the square feathers. “Red birds don’t get it.”
Follow their orders, and you won’t regret it.
“Rules and flight orders,” the red birds declared.
“What good do they do if they are not fair?”
“Stay in your lane!” Privileged feathers retorted.
“This fury is ugly and makes you revolted.”
Anger, it deepened, for no one was listening,
The kingdom divided with all feathers quibbling.
For no one could guard against fear and distrust,
It grew and spread until the kingdom went bust.
Trees were uprooted, and bushes defrocked,
Red birds screamed, “this injustice is a crock.”
We fly and we fall while our tears we must dam,
Enough. Enough! No more timid as a lamb.
Sadness came, but still no understanding,
Just shouts and points and further dividing.
Till one day a long feather flew to the middle,
Removed his long feather with offer to settle.
I am here, will listen, I will not ignore,
For justice, I make the first step to restore.
A red bird joined him, in the act of accord,
“This hurt runs deep, and will be hard to explore.”
The red bird, she pointed to ghosts in the sky,
“Can you see? Can you hear? Do you feel their cry?”
“I can’t fly.”
“I can’t fly.”
“I can’t fly.”
“I see. I get it. We’ll make rules to fix this.
So please, settle down and stop all this protest.”
“Rules? Yes! But no. It must go far beyond that.
Empathy. Conversation. Transformational act.”
“Break bread. Walk beside. Listen to our stories,
Breakthrough. March forward. And demand just juries.”
“Justice is action, a revolution of the heart,
Be still, be uncomfortable, find unity through art.”
“‘Love thy neighbor’ He said, is not a suggestion,
It’s a command to obey, without apprehension.”
The long feather, he paused, not sure what to say,
The red bird proposed, “fly together this day?”
Up they soared, towards heaven, the wind lifted them high,
A new era was born in that wide open sky.
“You are right. It is ugly and painful to admit.
For so long, for too long, we’ve lain complicit.”
“Frustration today, with heartache and tears,
Come love. Come peace. Come justice all year.”
All birds of a feather watched the two glide,
Together, they flew, with nothing to hide.
Behold, the long feather, the hardest job of all,
With humility and action, you answered this call.
A WRITER AND TRAVELER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES