Simply and without explanation, this week’s poem brings together Big Bird, “Sesame Street’s” childlike language play, war, politics and adult concerns.

And who are the “fabulous ones” referred to in the title? By implication, we’re reminded that we ignore the wonder and innocence of children at our peril.

Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist and translator, and is the author of multiple books including, most recently, “The Belfast Notebooks” and a memoir, “fragile.” He has been an National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar and is a professor at the University of Maine Farmington.

fabulous ones

By Jeffrey Thomson


This poem is brought to you by the letter C.

Cattle egret, Big Bird says, cetacean,

the word squeaking like wet whale skin.


Big Bird keeps it real – his thug-life strut.


Do you like giants?

Only the small ones, the boy says.


Chinese catfish, cassava, cassowary.


He’s an intellectual, spends his days off

in coffeehouses, crossing and uncrossing

the long orange tubes of his legs, discussing


Chomsky, conditional freedom, and Cervantes


with anyone who will listen. He marches

against the war, a thousand people

at his back, chanting


Catastrophe, cruise missile, children.


Big Bird refuses to fly south for the winter,

puts on his scarf and heads out the door.


You can’t fool me, the boy says.

I know Big Bird’s not real.

It’s just a suit with a little bird inside.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2009 Jeffrey Thomson. It appeared originally in “Birdwatching in Wartime” (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2009) and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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