To the Baby Pelican by Willy Palomo

praise the baby pelicans
salt-white feathers tarred
like filthy and immaculate
prophets. we must all
be notorious, ready to die
for your gospel of crack
and eggshell. each of
your feathers is a quill,
a page of the book of life,
black with our gasoline.
nobody reads books
anymore for fear of what
is written about them.
heirs of air and cloud,
blood brothers of breath
and wind. your bones
are snow that never melts,
only glistens. you are
disgusting and pure.
the guilty condemn you
only because innocence
pains them. it pains me
to see the twisted hay
of your feathers, the weak
air melting beneath your
wings until you land like
a ripped grocery bag,
eggs broken, milk claiming
a continent on the tile.
ravens will dive. foxes sniff.
they will join you in your
sticky grave, devoured
by their own hunger.
Rest now, young one.
This pain is for the living.

Willy Palomo (he/they/she) was raised by Salvadorans on occupied Shoshone/Goshute land near a salt lake his ancestors likely called Teguayo. They can be found writing, organizing, or on

This verse is part of irreplaceable, a collective praise poem for Great Salt Lake.