Archives for posts with tag: birds

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Waiting Out the Wind with Grackles
by Jessica Purdy

The wind that frightens me now
will quiet. So will the hours
spent waiting at the height
of fight or flight that do no good at all.

All those times you panicked
before crossing a bridge
or going through a tunnel have gone.
Your mother’s dying took years.

Now she comes to me in dreams
still alive and just the same
as she was, only now she’s
a piece that won’t fit this life’s puzzle.

I’ve packaged winter in a ziplock bag.
It leaves an imprint of toasted
bread and butter. Leftovers
and vestiges. The black

wings of a plague of grackles fling
up from the trees like a magician’s
sprung deck of cards.
They spin like a van Gogh sky
encircling the map of the world.

The wind made visible, they tilt and shift,
until their wings fold and their feet grip
the grass. Their squabble
of squeaks in chorus
sound for all the world like a warning
masked as exaltation.

And then I notice red-winged blackbirds too,
their epaulettes distinctive in the crowd.

I stand at the doorway looking out.
It’s for these inevitable
disappearances I am still waiting.

PAINTING: Grackles and Angus by Jamie Wyeth (1974).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I had been reading Galway Kinnell’s poem “Wait” when I saw the prompt for this series. The line in his poem: “Only wait a little and listen” gave me comfort. The lament in Ferlinghetti’s poem is borne of frustration and impatience with the world’s injustices, and I felt that too, while writing. Ultimately, comfort is what I am waiting for in this poem. The grackles experience of the wind was the opposite of mine. They embodied it, while I cowered. I found myself hoping for the fear to pass, but in the meantime previous and future traumas kept appearing. Like any strong emotion, the wind did eventually die down.

Bio pic for Telephone Game

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Purdy teaches Poetry Workshops at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Gargoyle, gravel, The Plath Poetry Project, The Ekphrastic Review, The Light Ekphrastic, SurVision, The Wild Word, isacoustic, Nixes Mate Review, Bluestem, The Telephone Game, and Silver Birch Press, among others. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her books STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House were both released by Nixes Mate Books consecutively, in 2017 and 2018. Visit her at jessicapurdy.com.

robin by a michael brown
Under Construction
by Kim Klugh

I watch a robin gather small sticks and stalks
from the rain-soaked garden. As she walks about
the muddy soil, she plucks up twigs in her beak
until her bundle is sticking out from both
sides of her bill. She flies to the juniper bush
and disappears into the thick cover it offers.
There she adds to her nest’s construction,
poking and nudging into place each new piece,
rounding out the cup she’s fashioned
with the wrist of her wing.
She’s built her nest from inside out,
adding dead grass and moss then soft mud
for underpinning. Then she sits and waits.
Her industry reminds me of my attempt
to build a different type of construct,
for like the robin preparing for her clutch, I root
and rummage among the muddle too, plucking
snippets of language overheard here and there,
found words and discarded phrases to arrange on my pages
I stretch and twist and mold these into place hoping
a vessel takes hold so that after breaking
through its pale blue shell, a small egg
of a poem, laid with care, hatches
and flutters its new wings like a fledgling lifting
off into air. And like the robin, I am still waiting.

PHOTO: North American Robin Building a Nest by A. Michael Brown, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Spring’s arrival is always welcomed, but particularly after this winter, I have been waiting to observe signs of life and renewal. Many times the chances come when I linger in a moment and snatch the opportunity to witness nature right before my eyes. One morning while watching my husband drive off to work, I caught sight of a robin collecting nesting materials from my flower bed. Before long, she was sitting on the nest, waiting. Her flurry of activity spurred this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Klugh’s poetry has appeared in two craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet and The Crafty Poet II. Her work has also been published on Vox Poetica and Verse Virtual. Her haiku has appeared in her local paper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In May 2020, she was a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition community poem for Ahmaud Arbery “Running for Your Life.” She also enjoys writing silly short stories and poems for her four-year-old grandson.

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All Things
by Jenny Bates

This year, everything seems to hang on the return of the Hummingbirds.

There have been neighborhood sightings. I think I heard…that small chitter

and squeak,

yet, none at the feeder.

          Last year, we named our first hummer, Hubble.
          She should come back, females are always first.

Once Hubble does arrive I will listen.

Stories of her travels, sadness and struggle.

As she sips the sugar water
I especially prepared.

Look up. I am still waiting for her return.

I’ll be silent amidst all death listening to her hum.

PHOTO: Hummingbird in the Rain by Coco Parisienne, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: All humans have learned about being human by what we have gained from observing our fellow animals. With a much longer history than humans, animals have learned not to accept, but to respect their differences. My poetry is based on this philosophy. I start with animal. To see the world through their eyes, and to understand it through their souls.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates, born and raised in Michigan, is a poet from the foothills of North Carolina, and a member of Winston-Salem Writers, North Carolina, Poetry Society, North Carolina Writers Network. Her published books include Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, Raleigh, NC), Coyote with Coffee, a single poem fine craft volume (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, Tobaccoville, NC), and Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, 2019). Her work has been published in Flying South, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Old Mountain Press, and Hermit Feathers Review. She is a consecutive contributing poet in Poetry in Plain Sight, and in 2017 she was a Top-10 Finalist in the Press 53 Single Poem Contest. Jenny’s poetry appeared in laJoie 2017-2019, a quarterly publication of Animals’ Peace Garden, dedicated to promoting appreciation for all beings. Her work also has been featured in Ought To Be Magazine, Poetry That Sustains Us, and Word Doodles Literary Magazine, 2020. In 2019, her poem “Fame Looks Both Ways” was included in the Walt Whitman Bicentennial Celebration for publication in Poets to Come. In 2021, her work was published in the inaugural issue of Self-Educating Poets Network, and her poem was First Prize winner in the “Love” Category in Pinesong, the premier journal of the North Carolina Poetry Society. In 2020, her latest book of poetry, Slip, was published by Hermit Feathers Press. In local circles, she is known as an animal whisperer to Donkeys, Coyotes and “Crow Folk.”

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The Point Where the Circle Begins
by Kerfe Roig

I am still waiting for the moon—
face against the window,
staring between the buildings
to where it appeared once before.

I draw
a circle not quite
an enso but still
opening
to let the inside out.

I am still waiting for the night
to grow ravens’ wings—
black on black, glittering, quivering—
almost a color, escaping form.

The inside
is never really empty—
there is always more
to reveal
always more to hide.

I am still waiting for the wind
to take the shadow branches
and dance against the sky, against
the moon, flying on ravens’ wings.

Those gestures
turning on nothing
at all and then
suddenly
returning to all that is. 

PAINTING: Moonlight Crows by Bernadette Resha (2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first moved into my current apartment in August, I could see the moon out my window between the buildings across the street. Although I still look for it, I have never spotted it there again. The night still shows up regularly, though it has yet to grow wings. And the street trees wait beside me and my paintbrush for the wind and the moon to illuminate their dance.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on her blogs, methodtwomadness.wordpress.com  (which she does with her friend Nina), and kblog.blog, and see more of her work on her website kerferoig.com.

Self-portrait by the author.

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Waiting for the Doves
by Laurel Benjamin

I am still waiting for the doves
Everything else returned
Train rattling the tracks
White crown sparrows molting.

Everything else returned
Even the wind remembered
White crown sparrows molting.
We wondered what happened, drinking our tea

And even the wind remembered
Guatemalan cloth on wood table,
We wondered what happened, drinking our tea.
The roof made no remarks,

Guatemalan cloth on the wood table.
Out the picture window a woman walked past.
The roof made no remarks,
Did not swing its arms.

Out the picture window a woman walked past.
The town became a silhouette
Did not swing its arms
Mouth masked but not silenced.

And the town became a silhouette—
Until construction workers resumed
Mouths masked but not silenced
Stacks of two by fours littering driveways.

Until construction workers resumed
And the grocer’s inventory changed overnight
Stacks of two by fours littering driveways
Bottled up, now exploding.

And the grocer’s inventory changed overnight.
We did not cease fighting, name calling
Bottled up, now exploding
An army, sent out

We did not cease fighting, name calling
Could not suspend hostility
An army, sent out
Protestors packed into a van

Could not suspend hostility
Did not carry white flags
Protestors packed into a van
Did not demand peace

Did not carry white flags
Instead saying to the police
Did not demand peace
Leave Black men alone

Instead saying to the police
Past steam trains, gas lamps, expanded empires
Leave Black men alone.
We should have been ready

Medieval cobblestones more firm
In our minds than ever
And I am still waiting for the doves.

PAINTING: Bird by Kunihide Matsumoto.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process and experience with this material: Dovetail (no pun) pandemic with protests and the experience of what’s amplified versus what’s missing, both aurally and emotionally. And then there’s everyday life, which for some us still goes on.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Benjamin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, California Quarterly, The Midway Review, MacQueens Quinterly, Wild Roof Journal, Silver Birch Press, Poetry and Places, WordFest Anthology, Global Quarantine Museum Pendemics issue, including honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Poetry Contest, Sunspot Literary Journal’s long list, among others. She is affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers. More of her work can be found at thebadgerpress.blogspot.com.

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Like the Scream of the Rising Moon
by Jonathan Yungkans

after John Ashbery

I am still waiting for the gloaming to rip like a fabric bolt
even before it finishes unrolling from a pair
of owls slashing it top to bottom—
shrieks sharper than talons, bodies blurred
into long streaks between buildings, leaving not a whoosh

or other sound betraying pure force that almost scalped me
just going close overhead one night. A long
time after that, nothing. The other
night they were back, and I felt ice thicken
beneath my skin—the terror of unmistakable suddenness—

invisible in a sky of colors pooling together, hemorrhaging
from beak and speed. Safe under the porch
roof in waiting’s stillness, watched
with a friend who thought me crazy for fear
of a bird. We’d gazed at hawks spiraling, heard eagles keen,

and when she saw the owls, her breath froze inside her chest,
observing their swift, surgical precision.
The neighbor’s cat was nowhere.
Waiting, still, to catch sight of it padding
near the pomegranate tree. As if it will. As if night were still.

IMAGE: The Enchanted Owl by Kenojuak Ashevak (stone cut on paper, 1960). (Collection of The Brooklyn Museum of Art, © Kenojuak Ashevak, courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Living near Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, California, we get a tremendous amount of wildlife passing through. Hawks and coyotes are a semi-regular occurrence. Golden Eagles have also flown past and we have a large population of ravens. The owls are less frequent and more frightening. Have one fly past your head and you’ll be feeling your scalp with your hand for days afterwards to make sure it is still intact. They are tremendously powerful fliers and their screech just before they take flight is bloodcurdling.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who earned an MFA from California State University, Long Beach while working as an in-home health-care provider, an occupation he still practices. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in 2021 by Tebor Bach.

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Poem Incorporating a Line from Ha Jin
by Barbara Crary

And I am still waiting for grief
to overwhelm me or perhaps
to disappear like the gray mass
of snow on our neighbor’s side-
walk, snow in the pine tree’s shade,
no longer fresh and white.

The red-tail sits on the barren branch
he favored last year and the year
before when he screeched for hours
seeking a mate who would brood
on the nest for weeks, waiting
for their hatchlings to appear.

Red-tails watch over their young,
until the fledglings learn to soar,
despite their inept first attempts.
In a week or two, they depart for good.
After all her vigilance, does the she-
hawk stay to mourn the empty nest?

As I sit and watch the hawk, I think of
pandemic’s early days when we planned
a hundred things to do — there were,
heaven help us, lists on the internet —
no, I did not learn calligraphy or how to
juggle, not exactly anyway. But

I have learned to be still, to watch and to wait
for whatever grief comes my way next —
a slow growing cancer caught too late;
the stillbirth of a much-wanted baby girl;
a sudden suicide (the rowboat empty
on the half frozen lake).

Sometimes I remember that we used to
like talking about grief when it was a
hypothetical, a distant abstraction and not
the ache of emptiness, an unseen clump of
wayward cells, or a barren branch
where a nest used to be.

PAINTING: Hawk by Xu Beihong (1946).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As I was thinking of how to respond to this prompt, I came across a poem by Ha Jin, “Ways of Talking.” The first line, “We used to like talking about grief,” really resonated with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and kept incorporating it again and again into my poetry practice. I decided to use it here because I know I am still waiting for that full weight of pandemic-related grief to appear whether I choose to talk about it or not.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crary worked for thirty years as a school psychologist in southeastern Pennsylvania and  began writing poetry after her retirement. She has participated in writing courses through the University of Iowa International Writing Program and was a contributing poet to Whitmanthology: On Loss and Grief, as well as to Silver Birch Press. She especially enjoys writing found poetry and participated in thepoeming during April 2021, using Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs as a source text.

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I Am Still Waiting for Spring
—a villanelle
by Jeannie E. Roberts

I am still waiting for spring on the lake.
Lesser scaup lands near merganser and loon.
Open water invites migration breaks.

Frozenness thaws into lunarlike shapes.
Surface reflections resemble the moon.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.

Ruddy ducks dip and dabble with drakes.
Pelicans float as if primal pontoons.
Open water invites migration breaks.

Horned grebes trill to attract likely mates.
Geese honk alongside a cover of coots.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.

Buffleheads shine like the icing on cake.
Mallards illumine in plumage platoon.
Open water invites migration breaks.

April arrives to dissolve winter’s weight.
Birds nod in respite on warm afternoons.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.
Open water invites migration breaks.

PHOTO: Duck in a mystic morning light by Iron Trybex, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am still waiting for spring! Aren’t we all after this long, unusual winter? Living near a lake, I feel lucky to be able to experience the spring migration. We’ve already seen a few lake gulls. In 2018, our first year on Lake Wissota, I created a list of waterfowl arrival times. Though it varies, typically, the loon, mallard, osprey, bufflehead, pelican, blue-winged teal, lesser scaup, and American coot arrive in the third and fourth weeks of April. May brings the horned grebe, greater scaup, ruddy duck, hooded merganser, Northern shoveler, and others. They rest on the open water for a few days and then continue on their way; however, the osprey stay and return to their nearby nest, and geese are a year-round fixture. Also, depending on the snow level, the air temperature, and, of course, the amount of sunshine we receive, the lake ice melts between the end of March and the end of April. Lastly, I’ve been on a villanelle roll, so this poem follows that form. For more, here’s a link to the rules and history of the villanelle: Villanelle | Academy of American Poets.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored four poetry collections and two children’s books. As If Labyrinth – Pandemic Inspired Poems is forthcoming in May 2021 from Kelsay Books. She’s listed in Poets & Writers and is poetry reader and editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. To learn more, visit jrcreative.biz and Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (pw.org).

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How to learn to fly
by Mathias Jansson

Throw yourself to the ground
and miss
Create an anti-gravity space
in your backyard
Transplant a pair of wings
from a pterosaur
Be born by parents
that are birds and can fly
Study for a year
and take a flight certificate
Or take the hard way
close your eyes and use your imagination.

PHOTO: Escaping from Alcatraz by Espen Sundve, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I started to think what I wanted to learn. And I wanted to learn to how to fly, but biological humans cannot fly by their own, so the task is impossible. The poem is about an impossible dream, but even if we cannot fly we can use our imagination to work around the problem and find new solutions to problems that seems impossible and against our natural boundaries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and poet. He has contributed with poetry to different magazines and anthologies as Maintenant 8, 10 & 11: A Journal of Contemporary Dada. He has contributed to anthologies from Silver Birch Press and other publishers. Visit him at  mathiasjansson72.blogspot.se. 

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Morning Ritual
by Jonathan Yungkans

Open the front door at six a.m. See if the dead still stir. They never keep to a regular schedule.

Swallow hard to move sinus pain from skull. Keep swallowing. Eventually, it might work.

Walk into bathroom. Splash face and back of neck with cold water. Whatever you do, don’t breathe. Gasp for oxygen, your face buried in a towel, once you’ve finished.

Do not notice the dead, laughing.

Make coffee. Two rounded scoops of grounds, three cups water, and who knows how much gravel from ancient water pipes.

Close eyes. Thank God the neighbors are quiet. They dragged trashcans along their driveway, dropped boxes from their second-floor balcony—all of this well after midnight. Hopefully, not even the dead are up over there. Purple nightshade twists through chain link, the fence one solid bloom; the vine has wrapped itself around the plum tree in a backyard shotgun wedding.

Pour coffee. Take it black. Sip. Feel tiny gravestones down your throat.

Notice seven large parrots perched on a line between two phone poles. Their feathers glow green, brighter than money.

Fill large salad bowl with Cheerios. Add milk. Shovel mechanically into mouth.

Do not notice the parrots are now shiny black, look more like falcons.

Ingest two pills of sanity—one nightshade purple, one bleached bone—and a multivitamin, just in case you should live so long as to enjoy that sanity, whenever it might come—you’re pretty sure it’s not going to be today. The pills feel like larger chunks of gravestone going down.

Do not count the parrots. Do not notice there are only five now, or the two large splatter patterns below them, like when liquid-filled balloons are dropped from high above.

Drink more coffee. Keep drinking. There is only so much solace in the world.

Previously appeared in The Chachalaca Review, Vol. 5 (Fall 2019)

PHOTO: Lost Conure, Tarzan by Nancy L. Stockdale, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is how to get through the morning on days I have to force one foot in front of the other. This happens a lot more often than I let on. The weights of depression and unreal expectations for myself can be crushing in themselves. Together, they become almost unbearable. Thank God for coffee.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who earned an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, while working as an in-home health-care provider. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and is upcoming from Tebor Bach Publishing.