Archives for posts with tag: birds

Sandy Loxton
Living the Dream
by James Ross Kelly

I entered a fast-food restaurant,
My brand, where they will serve
Breakfast 24-7 & where I’ve never
Been sick afterwards, & this knowledge
Is valuable much like entering
An area in remote Indonesia & figuring out the
Friendly tribes & how to avoid the cannibals,
I & my wife walk up to the counter,
an affable Chicano dude
Takes my order, while giving others in the
Kitchen orders & I ask him how he is doing?
“Living the dream,” he says,
“Living the dream,” he repeats,
& I’ve been around the block & know
This is jail speak for doing the best you can, after you get out
“And you sir?” he asks.
“Wonderful!” I reply, “Wonderful!” I repeat.
I’ve been sitting in my backyard
Remembering this and taking in my
Flowering light lavender purple crepe myrtle,
with finches eating
Thistle seed from the hanging socks,
my wife has tied there,
In this twenty-foot tree the finches are hanging
Upside down on the sock like little yellow monkeys &
Loud red and orange Canna Lilies
in the corner of the yard and now bright
New Red Crepe myrtle, is coming in
beside the compost box, at breast height
Flowering for the first time deep purple red,
I am making small talk with my wife &
We are on a back deck under an umbrella
at 10 am drinking good coffee
& it will be 104 degrees today, but now it is so pleasant &
I am remembering this breakfast two weeks ago &
Thinking about “living the dream,” this gentleman
Had tattoos, and deep scars on his face
& forearms—clearly some of his dreams had been
Nightmares, & there was a humorous good-natured tone of
Sarcasm in his reply, yet
I am living the dream, while the poems
& stories come out & scream out sometimes
or sometimes softly, but I am finally living the dream
& with a small pension and social security
Becoming like a Guggenheim
I never applied for, nor even wanted to apply for,
& this notion of the artist’s life having to have
the day job, & wait,
I did both, I waited, did the bidding of others
for decades now I’m writing
& now I get to fish when I want
Drive this word processor all day
Or fifteen minutes if I want
& I am taking all this in and paying
Attention dutifully to what my wife is saying,
& then she leaves & more
Finches come, a beautiful small red
& blue grosbeak comes to the
Bird feeder & peeks around the foliage,
leaves, comes back leaves again
& comes back and feeds, then I notice robins
in the grape vines on the white picket
Fence & realize they are eating
our grapes that have just ripened, I yell
At them, my wife has come to find out what is going on &
I tell her about the grapes & we both go to inspect, &
Well, they have hammered all fifty or
sixty bunches of table grapes
That we were waiting to pick tomorrow,
my wife is mad
& I’m out on the other side
of the fence laughing at the birds & they picked
Clean clumps that were just yesterday
pumping up their white green
Sugary goodness & are now skeletons
beneath the yellowing leaves
I am living the dream & I too have scars to prove it,
I have escaped death by cancer, car wreck, & war
& like the sweet gone grapes
It is particularly good now this given life
& its mortal expanse &
Last year the neighbors picked the grapes
while we were on holiday—& I laughed about that too

PHOTO: Green bird with green grapes by Sandy Loxton.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem spilled out quite fast, then needed tending like grapes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California, next to the Sacramento River. UnCollected Press published his first book of poetry, Black Ice & Fire. in 2021—a collection that includes “Living the Dream.” He has been a journalist for Gannet, a travel book editor, and has had a score of labor jobs—the in-between jobs you get from being an English major. While in college on the GI Bill, he started writing poetry and short stories in college, and during the 1980s gave occasional readings in the Pacific Northwest. He worked as an environmental writer for the US Forest Service in Oregon and Southeast Alaska, where he retired in 2012. Born in Kansas, he was a long-time resident of Southern Oregon where he grew up. Recent publications include Silver Birch Press (Los Angeles, California), Cargo Literary (Prince Edward Island, Canada), The Galway Review (Ireland), Rock and Sling (Spokane, Washington), Edify (Helena, Alabama), Flash Fiction (San Francisco), Rue Scribe (New Mexico), True Chili (New Mexico), The RawArt Review (Ellicott City, Maryland). and The Purpled Nail (New Mexico). And the Fires We Talked About, published by Uncollected Press in 2020, was his first book of fiction.

by Jenny Bates

You came so close, Crow.
The empty branch surrendering
to your grip, shuddering in still
minutes after liftoff.
I suppose I live in an idiot’s
false security. Dreaming of Crow
flying to my hand. When really,
all the wild things want or expect
is to be left alone. Live their own
lives the way they were intended
to be lived. If I extend them this
courtesy, they would reciprocate
in kind. Both of us could have
clear conscience.
Shame though. I’d like to spend
the day with Crow. One of ramble
and mischief. Bad manners takes
over — I can’t help sounding out
Instead, I’m tossed out flopping
back to my natural element.
Then the whole thing has to start
all over again.

PAINTING: A Murder of Crows by Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Forestall” the poem came out my emotional indulgence for my local Crow family. Knowing my house may be considered by them a giant “Crow’s nest” in our forest. Longing to communicate with them on the highest level, yet knowing I may just be as close as I’ll ever get. Emerson said, “…nature’s secret is patience…” perhaps that is the greatest friendship lesson Crows teach.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates lives in North Carolina. She is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, NC Poetry Society, and NC Writers Network. Her published books include Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC 2014), Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019), Slip (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020). Her newest collection is Where the Deer Sleep (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2022). She is known as a local animal whisperer to Donkeys, Coyotes, and “Crow Folk.”

by Erina Booker

There it was
among the ruffled violets,
a little head
with black beady eyes
prominent within surrounding
white feathers

I drew back behind
the wall so as not
to frighten it, then
slowly moved forwards
approached, and
crouched down level
with it, this injured
chick, this Sacred Kingfisher
cushioned in the flowers

my favourite bird had known
exactly where to land

I picked it up and
stroked its back, it was
content in the cup
of my hand, but so as
not to overheat it
I placed it in a cardboard box
lined with a towel of its own
colour: essential Teal Blue

Wildlife Rescue collected it
healed it and released it
into its homeland bushland

it stays with me, this
piece of my heart,
this piece of the rainbow
snapped off between
Blue and Green,
this gem of joy
this pleasure,
this bird which bloomed
in my garden.

©Erina Booker

PHOTO: Kingfisher by Ralph Klein.

Sacred kingfisher chick

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always adored kingfishers. Chance sightings of them always give me a profound sense of great fortune. I am stunned when I see one, and the world stops while I watch. Paintings, prints, and a weaving of kingfishers adorn two walls in my lounge room. To have had a Sacred Kingfisher chick land in my garden was a supreme highlight of my life. I have rescued many birds and chicks, over time, but to rescue a kingfisher chick was a pinnacle event. The subject of this Series, ONE GOOD MEMORY, was the perfect opportunity to write this poem.

PHOTO: Sacred Kingfisher chick by Erina Booker.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erina Booker is a poet based in Sydney, Australia. Her life revolves around poetry, from publishing books, contributing to journals and anthologies, as well as editing. Her work has appeared in many journals, including those that publish the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka. Erina regularly recites her poetry at public events and enjoys conducting seminars. She contributes ekphrastic poems to art galleries, works regularly with artists and craftspeople, and actively supports poetry within her local community. Her work can be found on Amazon, Lulu Press, and InHouse Publishing. Her qualifications include a major in Literature within her Bachelor of Arts degree and a Post-graduate degree in Counseling. Erina knows the value of words and the pauses between them.

Hummingbird Wars
by Robina Rader

I could have mopped the kitchen floor,
but I sat and watched the hummingbirds.
One sipped at the feeder until another
zoomed in, and they took off
chasing each other, each claiming dibs.
They put on an aerobatic display
as they jousted, feinted, parried
and zipped away, their wings a blur.

In the background, a blue jay complained
as he flew from tree to tree.
A groundhog appeared from under
the neighbor’s shed, looked around,
and waddled toward the tree line.
Overhead, a crow flapped steadily.

It was a beautiful summer morning
with plenty of entertainment,
but my chores were waiting.
Then the hummingbirds started in again—
zip, zap, zing!
And the to-do list was back on hold.

PHOTO: Hummingbird Standoff at the Feeder by Stan Lupo.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I find that observing nature, especially when it allows me to postpone housework, can be relaxing and refreshing. Pleasant memories.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robina Rader, a retired librarian, lives in State College, Pennsylvania, and belongs to the OLLI writers’ group there. She writes short fiction and poetry in the stimulating atmosphere of a university town.

house sparrow australia
by Marilyn Humbert

A host of brown-winged angels
sissonne* across the lawn,
forage on dewy grass.

The sparrow choir’s crisp notes
vibrates through my hollow bones
fills the spaces I leave
moving towards day.

My footprints overlay
tiny prints, scattered leaps
among leaf litter
piled by the night wind.

I wonder in passing,
about their exiled ancestors and mine,
released to settle among kookaburras
to learn new rhythms

of the red-dust heartland,
between wind-worn granite ranges
the gidgee thickets, Gondwana forests.
Times of drought and plenty.

I glance over my shoulder,
their jeweled sparrow eyes
fixed on swirling insects
ignoring me.

* sissonne – a ballet step, the legs are spread in the and air closed on descent.

PHOTO: House sparrow (Victoria, Australia) by

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Australian sparrows were introduced from Britain between 1863 and 1870. Their species name is Passer domesticus. Read more at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Humbert lives on Darug and GuriNgai land in Berowra, New South Wales, Australia. Her tanka and haiku appear in International and Australian journals, anthologies, and online. Her free verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions, published in anthologies, journals, and online most recently in FemAsia Magazine.

Blam Goes a Tufted Titmouse
by Ruth Weinstein

I see the sound BLAM in big bold balloon caps,
in comic-book pop-art bright primary colors,
in the asterisks ampersands and exclamation points
Roy Lichtenstein would use to cloak an avian superhero,
and go outside to seek a small feathered projectile—
a cardinal or one of subtler color—stunned but not dead,
I hope, on the deck outside my bedroom windows.

Nothing on the wooden boards or planting table,
no cat with little gray or brown bird in its mouth.
A quick scan reveals a tufted titmouse, hooked
at an odd angle to the screen door, where it landed
in rebound from the window and clutched the fine
metal mesh so hard that it cannot set itself free.

The obsidian bead of its eye pierces me.
I fear its tiny heart might beat too fast
in its chest if I touch it, this intricate machine
made for flight, but it struggles piteously.

I hold it with one hand, writing reassurance
in animal braille, and with the fingers of the other
I release curled claw toes from the web of screen.
I surround it with the loose yet firm clasp of freedom,
the cupped harbor of my own, now trembling, hands.

I blow warmth from my lungs onto its body and breathe
a good liftoff to launch it safely. Suddenly it knows that
it can fly again, and its gray white and rust-sided plumage,
its punk feathered-do, the prodigious sound it made,
its tribulation—all are gone as if nothing ever happened.
The window the screen door the deck bear no trace.
Only the electric vibrations of my still trembling hands.

PHOTO: Tufted titmouse by Jack Bulmer.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem in the autumn of 2021. The south wall of our bedroom is filled with windows, on which I have taped cutouts of hawk shapes and adhered butterfly decals to prevent songbirds from slamming into the windows when they mistake their own reflections for other birds. Many have broken their necks, one or two have been caught by now aging, no longer quick or agile, cats. If I hear the sound, I rush to the rescue. The sound this small bird made was so huge and visual and made a great prompt for a poem. The poem came together rather quickly. Somehow, a line from the old Roberta Flack song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” came to mind and the “trembling heart of a captive bird/that was there at my command” translated to “my trembling hands” holding a rescued bird. The event is a treasured memory of this avian save.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Weinstein is an octogenarian organic gardener who lives with her husband on 40 hard-scrabble acres in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Her back-to-the-land life is often at the center of her poetry and essays. A family history/memoir of her first 18 years, Back to the Land:  Alliance Colony to the Ozarks, was published in 2020 by Stockton University Press. In it, she connects the dots—beginning with her ancestors, who helped found America’s first successful, Jewish agricultural community in southern New Jersey in 1882—to her own chosen life of nearly 50 years. Her 10-poem collection, “The Legendary Tomatoes of New Jersey,” is the current third-place winner of the annual Miriam Rachimi Micro Chapbook Poetry Prize, published by Poetica Publishing. Her poetry appears online and in print. Ruth is also a life-long textile artist who paints floor clothes, weaves, quilts, designs, and constructs one-of-a-kind clothing and articles for the home, as well as nonfunctional art pieces. Ruth has a low social media presence but can be found on Facebook. If interested in her memoir, please DM her for purchasing information. She urges that you do not buy books from Amazon if you can purchase them from the author.

One Good Thing
by Catherine Klatzker

I hear the tree-trimmers
before I see them. Workmen
in fluorescent lime green
jackets and bright blue
helmets position traffic cones
in the street, already raising
one worker in the squeaky
cherry picker, ready to slash.

Heart racing, unsure if the tree
with the new crow’s nest will
be spared, I slip into my shoes
and face mask and speed down
to the street—to what? To stop the
timber slaughter? I did not imagine
myself as tree monitor and bird
protector this day. It seems
frivolous. I know it is not.

There is so much needless death
and destruction in this world. Maybe
not today for this crow family.

The tree-trimmer axes branch after
branch from the neighboring palm
trees. He sways closer to the nesting
Corvus, ready to hack. Two crows
instantly sweep up and circle above
his head. The mulcher devours
fallen palm fronds as the defeated
worker descends to the ground.

The crow pair has not dived
at the worker, nor vocalized,
but it is well known that crows do
not forget a face. They will
remember a dangerous person’s
face and get the word out.

All night, I watch for the crows’
return, alert for swooping wingspan,
their flapping plunge. I anticipate
my joy when they reappear.
All night, the sky is empty.

At daybreak, one crow drops
gingerly onto an upper palm
branch, a ramp to her rugged
nest. I hold my breath as she
inches her way down, slow
as parched creek mud, and
in the pale dawn she reenters,

PHOTO: Mother crow feeding her nestlings by Sally Wynn from Pixabay.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Klatzker is the author of You Will Never Be Normal (Stillhouse Press, 2021). She lives and writes in California in a fourth-floor condo that resembles a tree house. Her prose and poetry have appeared in mental health anthologies as well as a range of other publications, including Atticus Review, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Tiferet Journal, Please See Me, River Teeth‘s “Beautiful Things,” The Forge Literary Magazine (upcoming), and others. Visit her at

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

PHOTO: Vultures watching the sunset by Val3re.

BATES1 copy

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).

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,
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

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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.