Archives for posts with tag: birds

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.

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).

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

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

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.

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


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.

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


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

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.


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

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

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


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.