Herbert Spencer Theory

Dee Allen

Just when I thought this would be
Another boring
Sunday morning
Washing & drying white clothes,
The unusual made an intrusion on my life.

Upon leaving the coin-op launderette
Right next door
To the liquor store
[ Same Yemeni owners ] I made my way crossing
MacArthur Boulevard, eyes toward home.

My neighbour’s dented silver van
Was parked halfway
In a driveway,
Rear half in the street,
With its driver,

My anti-poverty activist,
Blond, thin
Puerto Rican
Neighbour, in wide-eyed excitement,
Summoning me closer to see the unusual:

Two birds—
Brown hawk and grey pigeon—
Struggled in the dust,
One forcibly
Pinned down the other.

Brown hawk
Of unknown breed,
Unlike the red tails
Seen in my part
Of Northern Cali, overpowered

Grey pigeon
City scavenger bird,
Struggled under
Hawk’s weight,
Squirmed in talons’ vice-like grip.

Movement ceased
In pigeon prey.
Brown hawk
Predator spread
Bold wings

Flew away to the north of us,
Lifted and carried
Its dying prize.
Animal scenes that look so unusual to humans
Are all too common in the wild.

My neighbour
Is a big believer
In the West African
Ifa faith and she
Insisted what we saw

Was a message
From Eshu*,
A sign of something ominous to come.
Was it a message?
Was it a sign?

I’m agnostic.
I don’t take stock in
Such “signs”.
What happened to that poor pigeon
Was Herbert Spencer Theory

In action:
Survival of the fittest, as in:
“Only the strong will survive
This dangerous world.
The weaker won’t.”


*Trickster god of the Ifa faith. A protective,
benevolent spirit who serves the chief god Ifa, as a
messenger between Heaven & Earth. Epitomises order.
Also called Elegba.

Dee Allen is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on creative writing & the Spoken Word scene since the early 1990s. Author of 5 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten LawStormwater and Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press, and from Conviction 2 Change Publishing, Elohi Unitsi ] and 40 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.

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