Archives for posts with tag: birds

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Vulturine Vespers
by Jenny Bates

On the third day without power
they came to roost by the house.

They’re here for me, I shivered.

Kept a close eye as they circled,
landed in the yard.

Someone died in the freak storm,
It was not me.

As the Vulture spread its wings
shrouding, hiding the dead

I fell in love with that embrace.

Later that night, and before expected,
the power came back on.

The world had not ended.

I will return, just like the trees
and the birds.

The cold clasp of sound-wind gone,
sunlight and house-bound vibration

sing our evening vespers once again.

Tide of the forest flows forward, the Vulture’s
frosty breath rises sotto voce

Humans don’t own the Earth.

Yet I hope we have a lovely long Summer
together.

PHOTO: Vultures watching the sunset by Val3re.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, North Carolina Poetry Society, and North Carolina Writers Network. Her published books include Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, NC,  2010), Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC 2014), Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019), and Slipher new collection (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020).

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Encore
by Julene Waffle

Stretching a path toward far-off hills,
the thunder clouds, like giant snails,
leave their marks on earth.

On the horizon the rain hangs,
silver-gray drapes.
And turkey vultures—

backwoods revival pastors
raise their arms in blessing—
are frozen in horaltic pose,

wing-dry their great fans of feathers
in the top of a bony tree.
Their empty nostrils, catching sky,

eagerly working olfactory bulbs—
do they, too, feel the bliss
of ozone and wet earth?

And when the storm curtain rises at last
and tucks behind the stage of the universe,
the great show of sunset begins

its lacy yellow steps and grand jetés,
red across the sky, its sweeping
orange grand révérence before purple night.

I applaud,
stand,
beg for more.

PHOTO: Turkey Vulture drying wings in tree (Central Massachusetts, Feb. 26, 2011). Photo by Mcvoorhis.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired to write this poem after a soccer game my sons played in a rain storm. The storm cleared after the game and while we were waiting for the boys to gather their things, I saw these strange shapes in a dead tree across the street from the school. I knew they were birds, big birds, but I didn’t know what kind. I was drawn to them, so I got out of the car with my camera and zoomed in. They were turkey vultures with their wings spread wide to dry. As I returned to the car, the sky broke out in a most lovely sunset. I wanted to capture the retreat of the storm, the vultures, and the setting sun and after a little research on the vultures and ballet, “Encore” was born. I like this one because I think the vulture has a bad reputation when in reality they are a very cool creature.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julene Waffle, a graduate of Hartwick College and Binghamton University, is a teacher in a rural New York State public school, an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother of three boys, two dogs, three cats, and, of course, she is a writer. Her work has appeared in NCTE’s English Journal, La Presa, The Non-Conformist, and Mslexia, among others. She was also published in the anthologies American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery and Seeing Things (2020)and her chapbook So I Will Remember was published in 2020Visit her at wafflepoetry.com.

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Warblers, Ibis, Sparrows, Bittern, Kingfishers
by Ed Ruzicka

Even swaddled, Baby Henry wriggles
as if a worm works inside him.
He spits up onto cotton draped
over my daughter’s shoulder.

I call Baby Henry “Killer” because
my daughter is one of the new-minted
Fatima’s whose eyes flash above masks
as she whisks into patient’s rooms,
attends them bedside, orders new meds.

Martin, her husband, is even more at risk
in the ICU where he has to force tubes
down sedated throats so a machine
can fill failed lungs. Both carry
the hospital home to wee bean Henry.
Neither lets us within ten feet of our little pip.
No telling what might have found its way
into the frail birdcage of his ribs.

Renee and I stand on the lawn.
The three of them stay by the door.
Martin shows us what they call “Superman.”
Martin puts Baby Henry tummy down
over his shoulder. Sleepy Henry stretches
halfway straight, maybe too dangerously close
to an unseen load of Kryptonite.

The next weekend we take the canoe out.
Oars on knees, wind nudges us under
cypress branches luminous as lettuce.
A yellow bibbed bird lights, fluffs
six feet above Renee’s shoulder. Maybe
a vireo, maybe a warbler? Let’s go with vireo.
Back out in the lake we drift through dozens
of birdcalls, each an illegible signature
with its own set of runs, quavers, fades.

I barely know a handful. Maybe I’ll
recognize more by the time I get young Henry
into a boat, row him around, teach him to keen
into the silence behind all the birdsongs
that will have gone extinct before he
learns to tune his own ears up.

PHOTO: Philadelphia vireo. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem moves from the early Covid period to the amphitheater of a nearby lake where birds still thrive. Every year now I listen deeper and deeper into our mornings and try to hear just a few shrill notes from the bushes. We used to have so many birds that crossed over or stayed in our yard and neighborhood. Now though the city has learned better how to quash the mosquito population, though ants choke to death on pesticides in underground chambers and hallways, though the lawns are lush with chemical nutrients and weed killers, the birds are few and are dwindling.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka’s most recent book of poems, My Life in Cars, was released a year ago. Ed’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Rattle, Canary, the Xavier Review and the San Pedro River Review, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. A finalist for the Dana Award and the New Millennium Award, Ed is an Occupational Therapist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he lives with wife, Renee.

PHOTO: The author on a lake near his home in Louisiana. 

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Apopka Wildlife Drive
by Michele Cuomo

The farmers slowly murdered the Lake
The ploughs spun soil in alligator death rolls
draining the swamps while salting poison.
The Lake let go, and the wood storks and the pelicans
were collateral damage. No charges were filed.
The land began to sink back under water
but there were no short sales. Abandoned
left like a cancer patient who goes to chemo
alone, and must wait long in the hallways before
she has the strength to shuffle to the bus stop.
She died, was buried and rose again.
She has been reclaimed, and over the burnt sticks
like old bones, the anhinga provides benedictions,
the water lilies lace the edges of the drowned fields.
the great blue heron trots across the bridges
with outstretched wings and tentative steps.
The small alligator bobs his Brancusi head.
The bobcats stretch and loll at the edges
with fat cat Cheshire satisfaction
and all the birds chatter and gloat at us
We’re here. We’re here. We’re here. We’re here.

@MicheleCuomo2021

PHOTO: Tricolored Heron, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive by OHFalcon72 (January 21, 2022).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took a drive on the Apopka Wildlife Drive last year. The land is slowly being healed. The birds rejoice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michele Cuomo lives in Winter Springs, Florida. Her poems have been published by Raven’s Perch, Prolific Press, and the Bard’s Initiative. 

D O'BRIEN
Clothespin Nightlife
by Katrin Talbot

They hang like
ripe fruit,
waiting for a
twist, a
release, listening to
the owl song,
then back to
the morning’s joyful grip,
dancing, conserving
under the scallop of
goldfinch

PHOTO: Hummingbirds and Clothespins by Denise O’Brien (2007).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve hung my laundry out for decades, composted since the 70s, and ridden my bike when I can, but I thought the clothesline might make the best poem!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Australian-born Katrin Talbot’s collection Wrong Number is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, and she has six other chapbooks, including The Blind Lifeguard and Freeze-Dried Love from Finishing Line Press, Attached—Poetry of Suffix, The Little Red Poem and noun’d, verb, all from dancing girl press, and St. Cecilia’s Daze, published by Parallel Press. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including Main Street Rag, Fresh Ink, Bramble, and Your Daily Poem as well as many anthologies. She also has two Pushcart Prize nominations and quite a few chickens.

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First the Flood, then the Fire, the Fire, the Flood, the Earth’s Shawl of Air, the Hunger
by Christine Gelineau

Exhausted survivors of Harvey survey the mud, the ruin,
the bloom of mold already decomposing
what had taken a lifetime to compose, even as Florida
and the Caribbean batten down, sandbag, pray :
Irma raging, Jose cocked and coming; while
the Columbia River Gorge, Yosemite, Glacier,
Seely Lake, Montana, California, Idaho, Oregon,
Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon, erupt
into our worst nightmares of hell : unleashed, devouring,
everywhere not yet on fire a purgatory of acrid air and ash :
even indoor smoke alarms in the cities keening
for the greenwood world turned to smoke : which does not begin
to account for Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, inundation,
mudslides : or Kenya where the people have begun
to hunt and eat the hyenas and vultures
—the only creatures to thrive in a famine, all
that is left to eat before death.

Meanwhile, the ones who imagine themselves
as Zeus sit on their mountaintops relentless
in their refusal to make connection,
ruthless against their own
grandchildren, and mine.

Here where I am in the yet-to-be-ravished
zone what am I to make then
of the ministrations of goldfinch
to the open countenances
of sunflowers, their swoop, soft cries;
of the praise song of grass blades
under the palm of the late summer
afternoon; of evening’s pastel
flush, the gathering dark, the shimmer
of the skies, their dusting of stars?

PHOTO: Mr. Finch admires Ms. Flower’s choice of color. Photo by Jeffreyw.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This series asks how to heal the earth. The most obdurate obstacle is politics—greed and short-sightedness. The poem points this out while suggesting it is nature we need to turn to, to listen to, if the most invasive species of all—homo sapiens—are to be kept from destroying themselves.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Gelineau is the author of three full-length books of poetry, most recently CRAVE from NYQ Books.  Other books include the book-length sequence APPETITE FOR THE DIVINE, published as the Editor’s Choice for the Robert McGovern Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and REMORSELESS LOYALTY, winner of the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize, also from Ashland Poetry Press.  A recipient of the Pushcart Prize, Gelineau teaches in the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University and has recently retired from Binghamton University, where she taught for 26 years and served as Associate Director of the Creative Writing Program and coordinator of the Readers’ Series. Visit her at christinegelineau.com.

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Falling Off a Log
by Lynne Kemen

Diesel truck
struggling up the hill.
Chainsaws clammer.
Horrible ripping sounds.

My living neighbor
luckily still lives
mostly on Long Island.
He’s 210 miles,
or three and a half hours,
away.
Not hearing. Not seeing.
Not horrified for what he’s done.

He sold the land’s soul in
logging rights.
An ass, a pretty pass.
Wish he’d sold to me,

Poor, poor Johnny Appleseed,
Wish he’d sold to me.
Instead, he spiritually seceded.,
leasing off what the future needed.

Stingy, greedy
Ebenezer Scrooge from bone
to the bark. Bah humbug
to the habitat here.

Melvillian long months,
the rolling tide of
splintering wood.
Shipwrecked by sound.
The shrieking of trees.
Branches broken.
Roots wrenched.
Trees toppled.

As a getaway,
I gaze at a goldfinch.
He quietly bubbles
po-ta-to-chip
po-ta-to-chip
in a clean cadence.

The woods will revive,
regrow on its own.
Twigs sprout and tweak.
Not in my lifetime.
The earth grows to glory,
but not in my lifetime.

PHOTO: Male goldfinch (spring plumage) on forsythia bush. Photo by Jill Wellington.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about the land across the road from my home in the Great Western Catskills in Upstate New York. The logging went on for nearly two months and all the wildlife was terribly disrupted.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Kemen lives in Upstate New York. Her chapbook, More Than A Handfulwas published in 2020. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in La Presa, Silver Birch Press, The Ravens Perch, Fresh Words Magazine, Blue Mountain Review, and the anthology What We See on Our Journeys. A Runner-Up for The Ekphrastic Journal’s competition of Women Artists, she is an Editor for The Blue Mountain Review and The Southern Collective, both in Atlanta, Georgia. She is on the Board of Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, New York.

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The Little Things
by Jay Passer

what I do is
feed the pigeons
my leftovers,
I toss them out the window
from 4 stories
up
to the fluttering flurry
of a flock of gray-blue
white and
pink.

the daily ablution
means
I sponge off
quickly
in the pious porcelain sink
like
some stupefied
monk.

shopping is seldom,
my mail bag of
13 years
instead of paper or
plastic
suffices.

it’s the little things
we can do
to break the cycle
of destruction
the industrial class
gagged by dollars
is blinded to.

I steam brown rice
over the single
burner
in my SRO;

I have no progeny
only the
pigeons
diligently
waiting
because they
recognize

me
emergent in the window
above the
fire escape.

PAINTING: Studio (Pigeons) by Pablo Picasso (1957).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem represents the fact that as an older man living on the fringe, with little means and zero bank account, fading ambition and kaleidoscopic hopes for future means null and void, can still offer a sliver of promise, of do-right-by-others, by karmic reward, and a bit of philanthropy to the truly needy creatures; in this case, the pigeon, the dove in disguise, and with a bit of imagination, exultation, and grace, the eagle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jay Passer’s poetry and prose have appeared online and in print publications since 1988. He is the author of 12 chapbooks and his work has appeared in several anthologies. He lives in San Francisco, the city of his birth. Passer’s last three collections are available from Alien Buddha Press.

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Climate Change
by Ed Meek

You woke me up to talk again
about the need to move
when our cat, Isis,
proud as a peacock,
presented us
with a purple finch
she must’ve caught
outside the window
of our cottage on the coast.

She leapt onto the bed
and dropped her gift
between the white silk sheets.
The bird was as stiff
as a homeless drunk in winter.

Isis returned to her perch on the ledge
and purred with the satisfaction
of a job well done,
while the finch, to our delight,
popped up to its feet,
took to the air and flew out the window.

Was it stunned or playing possum? I wondered.
We have to talk, you said
as I rolled back over feigning sleep.

PHOTO: Male Purple Finch by Stan Lupo (Peace Valley Nature Center, Oct. 19, 2016).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Many people who live in houses on the East Coast are in denial about climate change. I remembered this incident where our cat presented my wife and me with a bird that appeared to be dead but was actually just stunned, and I thought that a lot of us are sort of stunned by climate change. But maybe we’ll wake up.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Meek has had poems in American Poetry Journal, Plume, and The Sun. His new collection is entitled High Tide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his wife Elizabeth and dog Mookie. Visit him at edmeek.net and on Twitter.

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Punched in the Face by a Crow’s Perplexity
by Catfish McDaris

A bit of dirty snow, melted.
A giant crow watched me
from a telephone line that
marked the sky with talk.

When the bird took flight,
its wings were black blue.

I asked, “How can the earth
be healed?”

It replied, “The earth is
fine, it is humanity that is ill.”

PAINTING: Crow on Snowy Branch by Ohara Koson (1877-1945).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem while thinking about the sad times we live in. All that needs to be done for our children and all the creatures of the Earth. I watched a crow looking at back at me through the snowy November air.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. His 30 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Catfish is from Albuquerque and Milwaukee.