War of the Martins and Sparrows (honorable mention Houston Writers Guild Press 2017)

In my side-yard, there’s a birdhouse we put up for purple martins.
We like hearing them chatter and burble,
seeing them soar and swoop and
land like fighter jets on an aircraft carrier.
The sparrows came; they built a nest,
then two martins returned from South America
and they built a nest, side-by-side with the sparrows.
Now it looks like there are two sparrow nests,
one on each side of the house,
and both sparrows and martins have cropped,
and there are birds all over the house,
both house sparrows and purple martins.
They fight all the time,
on the porches, even inside one of the holes with feathers poking out,
these two tribes of ex-dinosaurs.
Why can’t they live like humans, in peace and harmony?
There’s plenty of room for all,
twelve holes, six to a side, and two floors.
But the agile and vocal purple martin
(not so pretty a specimen)
and the common sparrow, who only chirps and chirps and chirps
(but the male is quite striking seen up close
and tenaciously holds his ground—
and breeds prolifically),
they, the martins and sparrows,
waste their time and energy fighting over this one house
that we bought just for the martins.
And there’s danger to both:
the hawk giving its piercing call above,
the snake that coiled its way up the pole at my former house
and cleaned out the martin nests
and not even the sparrows would come back.
If they had complex brains and thought and religion,
each tribe would probably justify its claim to the house
by some divine right,
a gift from some god for who knows what reason,
and rationalize their instinctive struggle for nesting turf and survival
by some mystical, mythical divine dispensation.
But this god, who put up the house for the martins
and wanted the martins to come,
and they did come,
wishes they’d all just shut up the infernal racket
and share the damn house already.