Philadelphia Geese

In Fairmount Park the Canada geese

migrate from the west side

of the river to the east, from sun

to grass to shade across azalea-

crazed spring days.


These geese roam only the Schuykill River.

These geese will take your offered treats

then bite the hand that feeds them.

These geese will get all up in your business.

These geese leave landmines

of bacterially-loaded fecal matter clusters

in clumps of hundreds everywhere they go.

These geese do what they want, don’t care

what you think, and will give

as good as they get any day of the week.


These are Philadelphia geese.


Our geese—most days

we ignore them, or complain about

their shit and their attitudes.

But in May we watch, needing

the yellow-green gosling announcement

that spring has fully ripened, needing

the traffic-stopped for goose-crossing excuse

for staring at the river rather than hurrying

to work, needing the honking sunset flight

as witness to day’s passing, needing the shock

to our hearts as our geese

fly so close overhead we feel the beat

of their wings through our shared air:




Elliott batTzedek is surprised to find she has lived in Philly for 30 years and probably always will. She holds an MFA in poetry from Drew University and is a bookseller by trade and a liturgist by passion. Or maybe the other way around. Her work appears in: Sakura Review, American Poetry Review, Massachusetts Review, Cahoodaloodaling, Naugatuck River Review, and Poemeleon. Her chapbook the enkindled coal of my tongue was published in January 2017 by Wicked Banshee Press.