Aborted Bird Breakout on Flight 28 to Minneapolis

Dan Branch


This is a cross-genre piece, part nonfiction, poem, and fiction. It fully complies with the nonfiction ethics code. (See disclaimer following piece).

Aborted Bird Breakout on Flight 28 to Minneapolis

You are Petey, an iridescent blue parakeet
content in your Seattle pet store cage.
A large messy man buys you unwanted freedom.
He calls you “Frank” after his dead uncle.
You protest, “Petey, Petey.”
He strokes your beak and coos, “Frank.”
You try to bite his finger. He sings, “You will fly without wings.”                                                                            You chirp, “Petey?”

You are now Frank in a small cheap cage bagged
next to a Supersized Number 5 McDonald’s dinner.
You sing the small bird blues in the boarding line.
A foolishly nice flight attendant lets you board
without a transport permit or payment of the $100 bird fee.

You are a bird with an escape plan.
You sing the parakeet’s funeral dirge
until Mr. Messy opens your cage
so you can you drink water from his plastic cup.

You are Frank, not a fool.                                                                                                                                             You don’t drink from the cup.                                                                                                                                 You fly away.
Wait, you are a fool.
You’re in a sealed plane.


You are an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, tall and blond and beautiful. You are also smug knowing that you would not have let the passenger in 11C bring a bird on board without permit or payment of the $100 fee. You are practical, not scared even when an iridescent blue blur lands in the hair of the screaming man in 10D. It flutters along the ceiling until turned back by the bulkhead at row 6. You stride down the aisle, past the emergency row where14A has rung his flight attendant call button because the bird pooped on his Brooks Brothers shirt. You turn off the call button without slowing your walk to the rear galley where the bird tries for a purchase on the stainless steel. It chirps fear as you grasp it with a white cloth that you carried from first class. You are gracious and slip the undamaged bird into its cage. You are efficient and let 14A clean up with the cloth. You are firm and arrange for 11C to be met by law enforcement personnel at Lindberg Field.


With the exception of the following facts, the piece set out above is the product of extrapolation and imagination:

  1. There was a blue parakeet that escaped while Alaska Airlines Flight 28 took me to Minnesota,

  2. A beautiful blond flight attendant captured the bird with a clean white towel,

  3. There was a McDonald’s Number 5 meal and a small cup of water,

  4. Someone did scream,

  5. And, I heard the chime of a flight attendant call button.

Dan Branch lives in Juneau, Alaska. He is currently a student in the University of Alaska Anchorage MFA program which awarded him the Jason Wenger award for nonfiction in 2016.