Archives for posts with tag: birds

The Falconer
by Sylvia Cavanaugh

     After Gerard Manly Hopkins

I refuse to be ground-bound like some king
rooted by weight of castle stone, riding
some cartographer’s stilted latitude, striding
through illusion. I will take wing,
soar as if on skyward wooden swing,
arm outstretched; my eyesight upward gliding.

There will be no more malevolent hiding
of small-drone military-industrial things.
My falcon will deliver them broken, here.
A million aluminum eyes, titanium lies; a billion,
spy flies, shattered at my feet. I, Luddite Chevalier,
forge only the shimmering sheen of sillion.

O, the rip and tear of beak and talon, dear;
and my closed fist, firm wrist, against imperial gates vermillion.

PHOTO: “Evening Hunter” by Buddy Mays. Prints available at (A falconer holds her red-tailed hawk as the full moon sets over the red mud of John Day Fossil Beds in central Oregon.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved the poem, “The Windhover,” by Gerard Manly Hopkins. My mother used to recite the poem to me when I was a child. Hopkins was a nineteenth century poet who pioneered the use of “sprung rhyme.” I recently read H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and was quite captivated by her description of training a goshawk. It made me want to become a falconer. Finally, I read in the news, recently, that trained eagles are being used to capture and destroy small drones. The technique used in writing the poem is called “The Golden Shovel.” The final word in each line in my poem is the exact same ending word as in “Windhover.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies. She is the faculty advisor for break dancers and poets. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, Gyroscope review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse Wisconsin,and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual, and a member of the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, is available from Finishing Line Press.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Striking the pose in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.


Dream Revamped
by Munia Khan

I was named after a bird —
a dead pet of my loving, late father
I wished to meet its tiny feathered body
so lifeless in the cage
(but unfortunately, after a few days I was born)

Perhaps a reincarnation I wanted
as I desired to fly in my mind
in quest of my own soul-bird,
all severed, but unlike human
whose every dream
would be the beginning of a new life
with or without a name…

but that remained a pipe dream

Now, in the course of time,
I’ve become a cold blooded toad —
‘Bufo melanostictus’
as the alleged scientific world labeled me
I love to live double lives,
being a nocturnal amphibian.
Hiding myself in a dark lowland area
I love to make friends with
the dirty-pond-inhabitants hydras:
my faithful neighbours!

I’m proud of my pale, yellow-brown colour pattern,
marked boldly with dark, reddish brown streaks and spots —
a constant reminder of
how fortunate I am,
to be able to escape from
the human dominated, so-called ‘clean earth’

I’ve recently buried my avian dreams
in the dingy slum near my abode
Nature, at present,
is a heaven of luxury for me
where I love to make love
to my water-dependent breeding,
allowing the lunar cycle to dictate my ovulation
(Yes, just before or after a full moon occurs)

I dream to lay a long string of black eggs
And I trust, in time my offspring
will begin to reign over humanity
through our sweet sojourn, the vernal pool —
A peaceful place
far away from the manmade world!

IMAGE: “Blue Bird” by Sergei Solomko (1867-1928).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I cannot escape from the ‘escapist’ in me who really inspired this poem. We, being proud human, have failed to heal this tyrannical world filled with oppression. My imagination strongly believes, perhaps, an innocent toad could help when everyone fails…to make this world a perfect place to live in. What if I become that cold blooded toad…?


Munia Khan
 was born on a spring night of 15th March in the year 1981. Her poetry is the reflection of her own life experience. She is the author of two poetry collections — Beyond the Vernal Mind, published in 2012 and To Evince the Blue, published in 2014 by Xlibris Corporation, USA. Her poems have appeared in several anthologies. Her works have been translated into various languages: Japanese, Romanian, Urdu, Spanish, Bengali, Irish, and so on. She is a member in The Poetry Society, UK and also a founding member of Poets & Artists For A Different World Movement. Visit her at

On Becoming Birds
by Elaine Mintzer

See how thin
      our old bones are,

long batons of ulnae,

tibias sharp
      and delicate.

See how the wings
      of our hips

turn to lace,

to release us from the gravity
      of floor and earth.

See how the loved ones
      anchor us in beds with rails,

tie us with threads
      of air and seawater.

Stay, they say,

even as we prepare
      to touch the clouds,

to break free.

IMAGE: “A Black Bird With Snow-Covered Red Hills” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1946).

PHOTO: The author in the backyard, 1954.

Version 2 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Mintzer has a BA from UCLA in Creative Writing and an MS in Education from USC. She has written poetry for Ballet Randolph in Miami Beach, has been published in print journals and online, and was anthologized in 13 Los Angeles Poets. Elaine’s first collection, Natural Selections, was published by Bombshelter Press in 2005.

by j.lewis

books portrayed
a thousand different birds
color-plumed beyond imagination
yet new mexico
would show me only two

feathered icons of a lonely world
seen through childish eyes

every day was presaged
     by dark depression
       as though poe’s raven
       had sadly adopted me
       sorry his first victim
       had slipped the noose of reality
     or by the common
       cheerful smallness
       that made chickadee and me
       twins of different species

so it was then
when my days were made
of two colors only
     as the crow flies
     as small birds pecking
     in the snow
     for seeds of happiness

new mexico
did not know

PHOTOGRAPH: “The Chickadee,” age 12.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Not until I was an adult, trained as a registered nurse, did I begin to realize that I had suffered from depression as a child. During my childhood, the notion that children could have mental illness was considered silly, except in extreme cases, so there was never any thought given to my behavior, other than the exasperation of parents who already had too much to deal with. Looking back to that time of my life, it is clear that I had perceived it as being very bleak. My poem “birds” uses the darkness of a raven and the dull coloring of a chickadee to illustrate those feelings. I am fortunate that the depression didn’t stay with me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the complexity of human interactions, sometimes drawing inspiration from his experience in healthcare. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.

Cathy on bike
All day by the mirror—
by Cathy McArthur

my parakeet looks at himself
his tail waving
two small feathers on his wing.

I draw us while he sings,
a white and yellow hat
on my head.

this simple happiness.

His beak is a fine comb
teasing, dressing me up
for dancing,

I laugh at my tangled hair,
by the table in the sunny kitchen,
holding crayons, paper.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age 11 in Woodside, New York.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The above poem is part of an early childhood memory. As a child, my home was always filled with family pets, and they seemed to be a part of my creative life. I couldn’t locate an old photo of my parakeet, Melody, with me in that kitchen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cathy McArthur’s (aka Cathy Palermo’s) work recently appeared in Barrow Street and is forthcoming in Blueline. She has also published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Hanging Loose, Blue Fifth Review, Gargoyle, Lumina, Jacket, WSQ, and others. She teaches creative writing and composition at The City College of New York.

Simmons family group1 Danville cropped
by Katherine Simmons

Mother was in the kitchen when I came down, Peterson guide in hand.
Thin and perky like a shorebird, Mother plucked our thermoses from the      shelf
and poured hot chocolate for me, black coffee for herself.
She hummed and smiled, and helped me tie my ankle-high hiking boots.

Together, as though we had rehearsed our quiet exit in advance,
we cooked and wrapped egg sandwiches while the family slept,
then slipped out and slid into the old gray station wagon.
We heaved its heavy doors shut and rode into the black morning.

Mother sang with the radio as we drove through dawn
to the city sewage treatment plant. Cars congregated in the lot,
birdwatchers hunched within, nursing the thermoses they had brought,
savoring the last bits of warmth until the time to start.

Mother and I plunged out into the cold and earthy air, binoculars      dangling
from our necks, faces opening to morning light and the waterfowl      chorus of chortles
all around. I fell in with the grownups, whispered and pointed just like      them,
walking the labyrinth of lagoons. Far within we came upon a dainty      wading bird,

slicked with oil, stuck and flapping in the mud. Mother saw her first.
The leader strode out in tall farm boots, pulled the bird from the muck,
inspected her through squinted eye, then wiped her neck with his glove.
A Lesser Yellowlegs, he said. We need someone to clean her up then      set her free.

I clasped her in my lap, wrapped in a dirty towel, as Mother drove us      home.
I felt her pattering heart and feather-weight warmth; her frozen gaze
revealed no trace of gratefulness. I shivered with dread. Do you think      she’ll live?
The smell of wet wool and drying mud filled the space of our car.

We bathed her in the downstairs sink. Mother’s firm hands held her still
while I poured soapy water through the oil. We wrapped her in the      towel,
hurried to our car, then drove in bright sunlight down the hill to Crooked      Creek.
I held her on my lap, keeping still with hope, to soothe our beating      hearts.

Mother and I walked to the gravel sandbar where the creek bent west.
She stepped back as I stooped down and placed my bundle on the      ground.
My Lesser Yellowlegs stood paralyzed at first. Then her bright black      eyes
came alive, she took a step, stretched her wings, and flew away across      the creek.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author (fanning her skirt) at age six with her parents and siblings in Danville, Indiana, on Easter 1958.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As the middle of seven children, every moment with my mother was precious and guarded with a certain greedy need. Imagine the extraordinary delight I felt in saving a small helpless bird, Mother and me working side by side during our early morning adventure. Sometimes we save more than we realize.


Katherine Simmons
was born and raised in Indiana, but spent much of her adult life in New York. A practicing lawyer, she recently returned to her native state where she has had the good fortune to encounter other poets from whom to learn and with whom to share the art. She enjoys her three grown daughters, the Indiana woodlands, her very smart Australian Shepherd, the changing seasons, and oatmeal sourdough bread.

by James Ross Kelly

Four pelicans on a log downriver
Sit like squatting men
this crimson Sacramento River evening,

& one rises up a sleepy watchman
& slowly waves his wings,
As a good breeze blows up river,

Paired mergansers begin to move away
As I sit down and look at the pelicans
Whose white through binoculars
becomes pink for a moment
With changing clouds & sunset

I’ve never wanted flamingos,
I’ve been waiting
For these damn pelicans to show,
& they sleep on the log

All the while I’m sitting under cottonwoods
That release a snow like namesake floating &
Blowing up river, & mallards
Begin to sound and take air across the river

Two pair wheel & move up river
Then turn again, reverse & land
Near the shore below me
Across from the pelicans,

By me the wild grape from
The cottonwood hangs dead
In the river having
Been broken from some flood,

The mallards wing away
Again, I catch them in flight
With my glasses,

These green-heads
Winging with their brunette wives
Paired up noisily and across the river
I see the soil layers on the eroding
River bank that each lay down
On the valley long
Before the dam

There are two surfaces
Shimmering streaks with
After breaking water
Lines on the river
In front of me now,
& ten minutes ago,
There were three others, &
A ways down river
I see two more, &
I walk to get oranges
From the neighborhood
Communal tree
I now know what the pelicans know.
the shad are in.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Pelicans on Sacramento River” by Ken Doty.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California. He has been a journalist for Gannet, a travel book editor, and had a score of labor jobs — the in-between, jobs you get from being an English major. Most recently, he retired as a writer-editor for the Forest Service, where he spent the better part of the last decade in Alaska. He started writing poetry in college, and after college continued and gave occasional readings in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s. His poems have appeared in Westwind Review, (Ashland, Oregon), Open Sky (Seattle), Siskiyou Journal (Ashland, Oregon), Don’t Read This (Ashland, Oregon), Table Rock Sentinel, (Medford, Oregon), Poetry Motel (Duluth, Minnesota), Poems for a Scorpio Moon & Others (Ashland, Oregon), The Red Gate & Other Poems, a handset letterpress chapbook published by Cowan & Tetley (1984, Vancouver, B.C.).

by Hedy Habra

An Egyptian sculpture
lost in the Northern wilderness,
the blue heron stands out
in the whitened landscape,
mimics an ibis’ fixed stare,
studies the frozen creek,
sensing trembling gills
beneath the transparent sheet.

But why land in my backyard
I wonder, where no lotus ever grows?
Unless he sees his own ancestral roots
in my wide-open eyes lined with kohl,
and knows that water from the Nile
still runs in my veins since birth.

In warmer seasons he has seen me
feed the silver fish,
tend the vegetable garden,
bend over perennials
springing stronger each year,
add more seeds,
making this our home,
where we’ve lived the longest ever.

Today he saw me walk in circles
in the stillness of barren trees
over crisp snow flakes
masking all signs of life,
the forget-me-nots throbbing
under their icy coat, scintillating,

a thousand suns
opening a dam of flowing memories
on sunnier shores
promises of blossoms to come stanza break

until suddenly, as if pulsated by an engine,
statuesque, the migrant bird deploys gigantic
wings, disappears through the dead branches.

SOURCE: “Blue Heron” appears in Hedy Habra’s collection Tea in Heliopolis (2013 Press 53). The poem was first published in Come Together: Imagine Peace, Philip Metres, Ann Smith and Larry Smith eds.

IMAGE: “Great Blue Heron” by Suzanne Gaff. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hedy Habra was born in Egypt and is of Lebanese origin. She is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards and finalist for the 2014 International Book Award; a story collection, Flying Carpets, winner of the 2013 Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and finalist for the USA Best Book Awards and the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award. She is a recipient of the 2012 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award. Her multilingual work has appeared in more than forty journals and fifteen anthologies, including Connotation Press, Poetic Diversity, Blue Fifth Review, Nimrod, New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, The Bitter Oleander, Cider Press Review and Poet Lore. She has a passion for painting and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Her website is

by Jackie Fox

Like heaven’s beating heart
they arrive by the thousands,
until the swirling sky glides
to a stop.

They leap for sheer joy,
curtsy on black twig legs,
heads touched by God’s

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after my husband and I spent the night in a private blind on the Platte River watching sandhill cranes a couple hours west of Omaha, Nebraska, where we live. (It’s a real bucket list experience!) Every spring about half a million sandhill cranes spend a few weeks where the Platte River runs through south central Nebraska to rest up before heading north. The cranes spend the days in nearby cornfields eating, and they roost in the shallow river sandbars at night. They talk all night; it’s like a noisy cocktail party. When they stop talking it’s because a predator is nearby. People come from all over the world to see them, and now that we finally did it I understand why. Poems and pictures don’t do it justice (although it’s fun to try!).

PHOTO: “Sandhill Cranes, Platte River, Nebraska” by Bruce Fox.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Fox lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband Bruce. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, most recently in Bellevue Literary Review, LitRagger, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, and is forthcoming in Rattle. She has completed one semester toward an MFA in the University of Nebraska creative low-residency writing program.

Waiting for the Blue Wren
by Merlene Fawdry

I wait for the blue wren
to emerge from his nest
for it is as good as any intent
when apathy threatens and
in the waiting, I notice
other small things
of haiku brevity
a spiral of butterflies
a rose petal adrift
a rain spider peeping
between rungs on a chair
blades of grass waving
in low level breeze
ants on the march
and bees hard at work
the blue wren stays home
but I thank him, in absentia
for the waiting

IMAGE: “A Little Blue” [male splendid fairy wren, Australia] by Wendy Slee. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merlene Fawdry lives in rural Victoria, Australia. She enjoys the diversity of writing poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, and provides an editing, manuscript preparation, and writer mentoring service. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is committed to giving a voice to the oppressed through her writing.