Archives for posts with tag: birds

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GRAVEYARD CROWS
by Ja Lorian Young

What is it, do you suppose,
that goes on in the heads of crows
that sit upon the graveyard gate
and patiently commence to wait
for spirits gone awandering;
these crows in solemn pondering.
They sit together, wing to wing,
and sometimes they begin to sing
in cawing cries the living hear
as pestilence upon the ear.
But spirits drifting to and fro
are savvy to the words of crow.

“The leaves are gone, the trees are bare,
a chill has settled on the air
and here we are, past Samhain’s gate
and so the hour has gotten late.
Come on, come on, it’s time to go
if we’re to beat the coming snow!”

But spirits rambling toward the door
are hesitant, all wanting more
of all the things they leave behind
and fearful of what they may find;
what fate awaits them where they go
upon the midnight wings of crow?
They crouch behind their weathered slates
and silently begin to wait;
resolving simply to forego
the cautionary tales of crow.
But cutting through the creeping mist
the crows continue to insist:

“The veil between the worlds is thin
but if you’re late you won’t get in
then wandering will be all you’ll do
if you stay here and can’t get through.
Come on, come back, “the crows all cry,
“There are worse things than just to die!”

But spirits do what spirits do.
Some wait too long and don’t get through
and so, unto the earth they’re bound
and left to molder on the ground.
They cannot know the sweet repose
that flew away on wings of crows.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ja Lorian Young, known as Janice to her parents, grew up in a small, New Hampshire town about 10 miles from where the first American potato was planted in 1719; she was sorely disappointed during a second grade field trip to find that they hadn’t kept it. In high school, she was he winner of the Voice of Democracy Essay Contest and was obligated to ride in the Labor Day Parade. The kids who made the posters to hang on the car had drawn very large V’s, little tiny o’s and very large D’s. She spent the school year being known as the VD Princess. That wasn’t enough to deter her from writing, and she has written many poems and short stories since — though only lately feels compelled to publish. Ja Lorian still lives in southern New Hampshire, now with husband and grown kids and assorted cats and an ancient dog, though now she’s considerably further away from the potato.

IMAGE: “Crows Fly by Red Sky at Sunset” by Shibata Zeshin (1880).

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The one named Thom
by Michael Mark

If you want to find me in my poems
I’m the buck teeth
And the weather—
That’s about to change

I want you to know that I write
To find you
In fact I put you in them
Like the lost dog’s itch
And the unspecified fragrant powder
That sticks to the sink
The one named Thom, he was you
And the hummingbird
Who hovers and never lands
Sometimes you are the one I call I

You take over and write the poem
About anything I want, as you

SOURCE: “The one named Thom” by Michael Mark originally appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual: The Best Poems of San Diego (2014), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Hummingbird” by Sharon Cummings. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long-distance walker—his latest journey was the Camino De Santiago. His poetry has appeared in Angle Journal, Awakening Consciousness Magazine, Empty Mirror, Everyday Poets, Forge Journal, OutsideIn Magazine, Petrichor Review, San Diego Poetry Annual Scapegoat Journal, Spillway, Red Booth Review, Red Paint Hill, Sleet Magazine, The Thing of it, The New York Times, UPAYA, Word Soup End Hunger, and other nice places.

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SELF PORTRAIT IN THE SHAPE OF A V
by Daneen Bergland

What is wrong with the geese
is how they appear
versus how they sound
piercing the clouds
with that bottled noise
like a bell rung backwards.
Their necks push
into different weather.
I remember how that feels,
waiting for my body
to autumn exotic.

IMAGE: “Wild Geese,” art print of original collage by Laura Wooten Studio. Prints available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daneen Bergland‘s poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Cerise Review, and Poet Lore, as well as in the anthology of Pacific Northwest poets Alive at the Center. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received awards from the Academy of American Poets, and earned a Literary Arts fellowship. She teaches in the University Studies program at Portland State University.

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SELF-PORTRAIT WITH CROWS
by Joannie Stangeland

Wings wipe the sky, smear and gone
leave the raw caw cry behind,
a fluid composition after rain
        rinses the high gray,

a day smudged, flood by light diffused,
no shadows but these black rags,
murder witness spelled across the canvas,
        incantation canted.

Tricksters in triplicate, carbon copies crease
oil shades I blotch below my eyes.
See the years fly, feathers brushing
        up against the fence,

the dead tree left.

SOURCE: Valparaiso Poetry Review

IMAGE: “Patched Quilt” by Gothicolors Images. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joannie Stangeland’s new poetry collection, In Both Hands, is available from Ravenna Press, which also published Into the Rumored Spring. Joannie’s the author of two poetry chapbooks: Weathered Steps and A Steady Longing for Flight, which won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Joannie’s poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Tulane Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other publications, as well as in the Rose Alley Press anthologies Limbs of the Pine, Peaks of the Range and Many Trails to the Summit. Her poems have also traveled on Seattle-area buses. Visit her at joanniestangeland.com.

BirdCity
where the grass grows
by Mark Erickson

forever starling in the darkness
soaring high and settling for the low hills
fortunes eyes on the farthest
lands off the western slopes
in the gallery of the windmills,
five days spent in the wilds
almost half way there
lost in the savage memory of the sun
where she walks the streets
still graceful in her beauty,
along the shadowed light
it’s always been the same old story
in the coolness of the gray
and the frightful coming of night,
the last time I saw the birds
they were circling above
scratching for the words
that I could never think of

IMAGE: “Bird City,” mixed media on canvas (24″ x 24″) by Mark Erickson (2008), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Artist/author Mark Erickson was born in Hollywood, California, and lives along the West Coast of United States. After growing up in Hollywood, his family moved to Germany and then onto Italy. Living in Europe for almost six years opened his eyes to art and words. On his return to the States, he settled in the Bay Area to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco Art Academy. Mark paints in his studio in Oakland and exhibits in galleries around the U.S. He continues writing poetry and short stories that often provide inspiration for his paintings. Mark has self-published numerous books on painting, photography and poetry in collaboration with Katy Zartl of Katworks Graphics in Vienna, Austria. He is presently working on a book, An Aviator’s Dream–The Man From Painted Woods, a tribute to his father’s Air Corp exploits in World War II. You can view Mark’s work at  markerickson.com.

IMAGE: Self-portrait by Mark Erickson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE DUCK
by Ogden Nash

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

IMAGE: “Mallard Duck on Pond 3 Square,” watercolor by Amy Vansgard. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet known for his light verse. The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry.” Ogden Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.

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THE DUCK AND THE KANGAROO
by Edward Lear

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
‘Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

‘Please give me a ride on your back!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
‘I would sit quite still, and say nothing but “Quack,”
The whole of the long day through!
And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land, and over the sea;—
Please take me a ride! O do!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
‘This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you’ll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!’ said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, ‘As I sate on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web-feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I’ve bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I’ll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo!’

Said the Kangaroo, ‘I’m ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!’
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy,—O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

SOURCE: Lear’s Nonsense Drolleries (1889), available free at gutenberg.org.

DRAWING: “Duck and Kangaroo” by William Foster from original text.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edward Lear (1812–1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet, and is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularized. His principal areas of work as an artist were as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals, making colored drawings during his journeys, and as an illustrator of Alfred Tennyson’s poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense works, which use real and invented English words. His most famous poem is “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

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Grey (doesn’t always) Matter
by Jacque Stukowski

G is for this dull grey April day.

The blanket of solid clouds as far as the eye can see, dampens my mood severely. Even just a thought of small ray of May sunshine gives me the tiniest glimmer of hope that my grey-matter is so desperately in need of now.

As I sit staring out at the frigid, icy waters of the Fox River, the ducks seem immune to the dark slate skies. The Mergansers are back in town, and as the dive and duck under the cool semi-flowing waters, they seem glad to be back to this river they call home. Their quacks tell me that spring is coming soon-but not today.

The horizon speaks of what looms, yet those dark gloomy storm clouds can’t suppress the many signs that spring is near.

The ducks arrival on the river, small buds forming on the trees, birds chirping happy sounds, the cool crisp Northern air smell sweet like spring dew.

Even while my mood is somber from the blanket of grey overhead, I wrap myself up in these other signs of spring, knowing that even the forecasted winter storm can’t get me down!

The signs are clear SPRING IS NEAR!

Signs of hope, but only if we look and listen quietly to see the signs…

Today, my hope came in the form of a quack, quacking!

Thanks to the playful splashing of Merganser ducks, I’m smiling
those clouds of
 grey away because May is almost here!

PHOTO: “Common Mergansers, Fox River, Illinois” by JPatR, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacque Stukowski‘s blog God[isms] is her personal space to vent and share stories of growth through life’s ups and downs living with BP and ADHD. It’s a place where her writing and photos collide with spirituality, a dash of 12 steps, and a sprinkle of the daily trials of being a Christian wife, mother of two boys, and a full-time graphic designer. She frequently uses metaphors and symbolism to connect the reader to real life things in nature to convey the message she’s writing about.

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WHAT WE NEED IS HERE
by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

SOURCE: “What We Need Is Here” appears in The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982 (North Point Press, 1987), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: “Geese in Flight, Oregon” by Catia Juliana. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendell Berry is a novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written dozens of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry has been named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

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THE GEESE
by Jane Mead

slicing this frozen sky know
where they are going—
and want to get there.

Their call, both strange
and familiar, calls
to the strange and familiar

heart, and the landscape
becomes the landscape
of being, which becomes

the bright silos and snowy
fields over which the nuanced
and muscular geese

are calling—while time
and the heart take measure.

PHOTO: “Snow Geese over New Melle, Missouri” by Bill Tiepelman. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Mead is the author of four poetry collections. Her poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals and she is the recipient of grants and awards from the Whiting, Guggenheim, and Lannan Foundations. For many years, she served as Poet-in-Residence at Wake Forest University. She now farms in Northern California and teaches in the Drew University low-residency MFA program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. Her latest collection is Money Money Money Water Water Water (Alice James Books, 2014), available at Amazon.com.