A tender beautiful species,
Dovelike grace
to sail the winds of northern space.
Reckoned in billions
down to one.
I wonder, Martha,
did they tell you,
did you know,
you were the last one?

Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, died in captivity in the Cincinnati, Ohio Zoo on September 1, 1914. There were other notable events in 1914, but this one captured my sensitivity like none other. And so another species has gone the way of “sport” hunting and casual indifference. Go figure.


    1. Wow! I knew it was bad, terrible in fact, but not this horrifying. We are living in catastrophic times, aren’t we? More than most will ever admit, until it’s too late. In fact, I think it already too late.

      Thanks for the link.

      Peace, Carol.


  1. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that there are animal species that future generations will never be able to see for themselves due to human waste and callousness. Wonderful verse, Peter.

    By the way, my wife and I are planning to get 1 or 2 chickens this summer. It’s my job to put together the coop. This should be interesting…


    1. Thank you, Jeff. When a writer of your intelligence and extraordinary caliber complement me, it means something.

      I’d like to commend you on your progression to compassionate eating. I wish I were there to help you build your coop. Although I bought ours Amish made (they are the experts), I did fashion one rather nice matching tin-roof run. I have a level eye and a fair hand at such matters requiring physical exertion; a generational curse I can’t shake off.

      Yes well, enough of that, I’m off to work on the patio.


      1. I actually grew up in PA where there was a large Amish and Mennonite community. Then I moved to Florida where once again there was a Mennonite and Amish community. I know exactly what you mean when you refer to their craftsmanship.

        Good luck on the porch.


  2. So poignant. An an extinction that wasn’t publicized much I’d say. Your words made me think of that song Starry Starry Night, Peter. You have a wonderful way of bringing out the humanity in animals that it makes it very difficulty for us humans to not see ourselves in them in your writing.


    1. Hi Diahann.

      Thanks for reminding me of such a beautiful song, I have it by Don McLean, and I just listened to it. It is a lovely tune, and a fitting tribute to Martha and her species.

      There’s a good write-up at Wikipedia on the passenger pigeon, how they numbered from 3 to 5 billion. How in 1878 at one nesting site in Michigan 50,000 birds were killed each day for nearly 5 months. And how when their numbers reached a few thousand they stopped breeding.


    1. Hi Emy.

      I think you correct. Humans are a virus, and I don’t mean that metaphorically. If not a virus, then we must be some other oddity; perhaps an alien experiment gone south. Sounds crazy doesn’t it. This was on my mind when I wrote Mirror, mirror. How different humans are than all other creatures. Our special needs. Gods, clothes, stuff, and more stuff. Oh yes and our proliferation. And, our special abilities, reading, writing, speech, and greed, all of which has only managed to take us to the brink of annihilation, destruction, and murder and I could go on.


  3. Loved your piece, and wasn’t even aware of the facts. Which are just stunning. There were so many of them. Wiped out in a flash. Tragic. Humans can kill all of anything when they set their minds to it.


    1. Hey Michael, how’ve you been?

      It is tragic, isn’t it, this callous cold-hearted disregard for sentient life. I read something today of interest. It’s a political piece. But what struck me was a paragraph I think relevant to the vegan movement. “Political movements must by necessity start with only a minority of individuals working very hard for very many years to push forward on an issue. For a very long time it can appear that little or no progress is being made, but below the surface opinions and minds are slowly shifting. This slow progression continues in the background, almost imperceptibly until some sort of tipping point is reached and a sudden shift in the public and political sentiment can occur.” Here’s the link if it should be of interest.

      Thanks for stopping by and the best to you!


  4. Thank you for writing “Martha,” Peter. Your words inspired me to reflect on how I need to make some personal changes. I was a vegan for many years and one who ran through and appreciated the great garden of the world. Time to get back. Amazing to think that your profound little poem has changed my world. ❤


  5. Peter, excellent work.
    Tubularsock once lived with a “house pigeon” who had a broken wing. I had saved her from a group of cats that had surrounded her and was fighting them off with her good wing. A brave little sucker!

    That bird taught me a shit load of useful information and she made friends with both dogs and the “house rabbit”.

    It was like living in a free-range zoo.

    All that was many moons ago now.


  6. “10,000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one species. We are now facing the 6th mass extinction in cosmological history. If any other organism did this a biologist would call them a virus.” ~ Philip Wollen

    Blessings on the Spirit of Martha. More than her life, her earthly passing became a testimony of the thousands more species that have since disappeared into extinction because of the actions of the human species. Will the collective human species awaken and become conscious of his/her responsibility in time to change the destructive course we are on? It is the 6-gazillion-dollar question.


    1. I suspect you may have read or heard Agent Smith’s quote from the movie Matrix, so profound it is it’s worthy of repeating here:

      “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

      And no, I do not believe the human species will awaken without a calamity to bring them to their senses.

      But until then, it is good to associate with those of good sense, Gerean.


      1. Peter ~

        Humans…We are labeled under one species, but we are radically different, one from the other. Perhaps some are the disease and some are the counter to the disease. I don’t know. I don’t know anything for sure actually. There is only an innate sense that I am here for a reason/purpose, so I continue to observe and “bend” myself around the realities of my personal perception/illusion. And . . . I hold to hope that there is no beginning and no end…that this earthly life is bleep in time and that the infinite tomorrows offer renewed experience. Therefore, I desire to wake up each next day.

        From “The Matrix” ~

        Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
        Neo: What truth?
        Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
        Neo: There is no spoon?
        Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

        Thank you so much for your written messages. Be encouraged. Your writing does not fall on deaf ears. It has made a difference to me.


        ~ Gerean


  7. Passenger pigeons were low-flying fast food for the wildly invasive “settlers” below. A random shotgun fire, and a fire to roast the corpses qualified you as a “sportsman” and “breadwinner.” Several billion aviators to a single taxidermied bird at the local zoo, and within a soul-wrenchingly short time too. I agree with others here, our species gets the job done using the same MO as a virus. I could go on, and, of course, I will.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the kind compliment, Peter 🙂
    Thanks too for the Zinn link; Howard Zinn speaks truth with the authority and the confidence of the genuine researcher who does not redact and falsify for a living. Vegans, as you know by recognizing truth, are also that way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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