Bird with Two Right Wings
1. And now our government
2. a bird with two right wings
3. flies on from zone to zone
4. while we go on having our little fun & games
5. at each election
6. as if it really mattered who the pilot is
7. of Air Force One
8. (They're interchangeable, stupid!)
9. While this bird with two right wings
10. flies right on with its corporate flight crew
11. And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
12. And next year its the great Bush pilot
13. And now its the Chameleon Kid
14. and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
15. and now its a donkey and now an elephant
16. and now some kind of donkephant
17. And now we recognize two of the crew
18. who took out a contract on America
19. and one is a certain gringo wretch
20. who's busy monkeywrenching
21. crucial parts of the engine
22. and its life-support systems
23. and they got a big fat hose
24. to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
25. And all the while we just sit there
26. in the passenger seats
27. without parachutes
28. listening to all the news that's fit to air
29. over the one-way PA system
30. about how the contract on America
31. is really good for us etcetera
32. As all the while the plane lumbers on
33. into its postmodern
34. manifest destiny
“Bird with Two Right Wings”, written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a good demonstration of beat poetry. Throughout this poem it is evident that Ferlinghetti isn’t satisfied with the American government at the time, this idea is reoccurring within his numerous political poems. The main theme that is illustrated in the text above, is that the democratic and republican parties are both right wings, therefore it does not matter who is in charge, the country will operate the same order either way. In shorter terms, The United States future only has one direction and Lawrence Ferlinghetti believes that direction is south.
Immediately from lines 1-2, a metaphor is used comparing the American government to a bird with two right wings. The “bird” is not identified, thus it may be the bald eagle, which is a symbol for The United States as it is their national animal. The quote “Two right wings” may refer to American flying in circles and achieving nothing. Meanwhile, each wing may resemble a party, the Republican Party the “right wing” and Democratic the “left wing”.
It is then demonstrated that it does not matter who runs the country, they’re all the same in the end (Line 6). Ferlinghetti then made a reference to Ronald Reagan “Great movie cowboy” since he was a movie star, followed by “Bush Pilot” which was a reference to George Bush, an air force pilot. Lastly a third reference was made to George Bush Junior in line 13, notice all three presidents mentioned were republicans. The tone used in this section is rather bland and dragged on, in comparison to how the presidents are "bland" and the changing of them is "dragged on".
Shortly following the president references, Lawrence Ferlinghetti mentions “Donkephant”, which is a combination of the democratic donkey and the republican elephant. On line 19 the author uses the term “Gringo Wretch”, by doing so is referring to Newt Gingrich “Who’s busy monkeywrenching crucial parts of the engine” (Lines 20-21). Finally after criticizing the government, Ferlinghetti states that the people are just along for the ride thus not caring about their well being (Lines 27-28). He demonstrates this idea through strong diction choice like "We just sit there" "Without parachutes", this sets a careless mood despite this serious situation.
In the last few lines it is illustrated that citizens only hear what the government wants them to hear, and that essentially The United States will head into its “postmodern manifest destiny” (Lines 33-34). This was the time period when America believed that they controlled North America. In conclusion, it is evident that the historical references throughout the poem help enhance the readers understanding of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s distress with the government at the time.