Where the little stream tumbles
into the wide St. Croix, wild
as if in farewell to the flow
that fed its green life
that peaks now in light blue
with gold centering a small white star.
The water lily stems that bore their pads
up to summer sun in summer’s flood
draw fine arcs on reflected sky
as they relinquish strength to Autumn.
Twin arcs retain their difference
as do sisters: One embraces light,
the other shuns it, so to keep her mystery.
Kestrel’s breast presents fall leaves,
his wings blue sky.
I wonder, do the changes that he sees
with falcon eyes
say, “Time to fly”?
He can’t go south with kindred free
but he will thrive
though we cannot heal his injury.
Note: He is a rehabilitated teaching bird at Warner Nature Center in MN.
A little ruby meadowhawk
pushes his lifespan to the brink,
and why should he not?
He clings to a windsung pod
that will grow thistle seeds
that harbor the spark of life
that ruby hopes to keep.
New England asters in October
feed the butterfly and honey bee
after other sweets have done.
After he has drunk his nectar
green-eyed sulfur butterfly
will swirl up into air with maybe
mates and have done that urgency.
The honey bee has no mate to seek,
a spinster who never had a dream,
who was never fed the royal jelly
so she could grow into a queen.
Think though. Flowers fed her all her life.
The huge bird brushes turning leaves
as she lifts from marsh-edge trees
beating strong black wings,
primaries spread like fingers wide,
white head, white tail fanned,
she arrives above my craning eyes
and stays, or seems to stay.
I see that great gold beak from below
I see her turn her head to look down.
She flies ahead a bit, still with me,
and I am ready to lurch to land's end
if she will lead, but off she tilts then on a wind,
and I am left tangled on my road.
Note: I love these cryptic encounters, wild and brief. The eagle was no doubt curious about my limp and cane--whether I was about to become tasty carrion-- but I am honored by her attentions no matter the cause. What better way to share my energy? I am left goose bumped but warm.
Tiger salamander slow-crossing blacktop,
travels to softer den digging.
When I lift him in my hotblood hand
he is dry and startling cold
His small jet eyebeads see no part
of the lumbering mammal me
who holds old amphibian
loosely in my hand, who carries him
across the road, holds him awhile
and sets him down in grass
where with my borrowed heat
he scrambles down and beneath
where he will release my heat to earth.
In a half hour I still feel where he
pulled warm from out my delighted palm.
Note: Lives all borrow energy and swap it around; life is a grand energy exchange.
This exchange was a brief loan with high interest.
Warm sun today and sky
enough to contain leaves turned
golds and reds, betweens,
the tapestry the weaver dreams.
Her yarns are circle-spun,
the fibers are what falls away,
the fibers made of yesterdays.
Her loom is long cool nights
and shorter suns, each leaf once green
transformed by cyanins and carotenes.
The tapestry the weaver dreams
is red of maple, red of oak,
gold of aspen, gold of birch,
red of sumac at the base
released from greens
that mask the weave
I drink today in sun
against the moving sky.
Baneberries plump and white
crown the underbrush of fall
hoping for bird beaks to spread their seeds.
White fruit is somehow creepy, wrong to eat,
and well you don’t, for this baleful berry will
race your mammal heart then stop it cold.
No berries have been plucked as yet.
Birds will eat them later, with the poison ivy berries,
when they have spread on snow more tasty seeds.
That little black dot on every berry seems
the iris of a white and bulbous eye
that watches and keeps All Hallows score.
10.14.2011 INVITE to WRITE #28 and RESPONSES to INVITE #27
Autumn is a time when
leaves and light and water combine
to bring color to heights sublime.
For some, Fall is bittersweet, taken largely as a prelude to winter. For others,
harvest and seed and the swell of buds for spring reassure with the knowing
that winter is prelude to rebirth. Please reflect on where this reflection carries your sensibility and your writing. This photo is by John Caddy.
HATCHLINGS IN A NEST
So ugly! says my eight-year-old granddaughter.
How can their mother love them?
She cringes at the gaping beaks, yellow throats
attached to hairless heads,
the bulging lidded eyes,
the slack bodies, the transparent skin,
the dark, throbbing veins.
Oh, child. Some years from now
you may hold naked new life
and find the beauty no one else can see.
You will know a fierce hunger to serve,
and in that service
you will be pulled
and swallowed up
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Eat, Pray, Fly
Such primitive love.
All eggs hatched, yet the widest
mouths will survive.
For peril comes at night from cold,
and bigger beaks and
not making it to the top of the heap.
I see nest lined lovingly with feathers
plucked from mother’s plumage
providing softness to naked hungry bodies.
And what is that? A delicate white thread intricately
intertwined amongst feather and twig, holding
all together. Birdie brick and mortar and lovely as lace.
Perhaps that thread came from my sewing
basket that lay beside me as I sat
dozing in the warm sun of a new spring.
I think of another nest. One that I
once feathered and fed now empty.
My wide mouthed babes flown to make
nests of their own. Some already filled
with demands for food,
the car keys.
Perhaps next spring I will fill
my sewing box with colored threads of
red, blue and gold. And as I doze
a new generation of feathered thieves
will pluck my finery to
adorn a new, twiggy nursery.
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
Their mouths gape without end, their need all encompassing.
Their mother's mission to find more food more food more food.
No time for a considered morsel - "try this my dear, you might like it."
No time to sit at the rim of the nest, to tell of legend, story,
Bird lore will be imparted with the food, and a nestling's blind eyes
must trust and learn.
Finally, when sunlight dims, she will settle over them her body's
warmth, her female joy,
to revel for a while in motherhood, to sleep,
and then begin again.
Mary S. McConnell, Wisconsin
Do we cringe when we see
these little gargoyle wrens--
all mouth, eye-bulge and
Not cute, like we think
bird babies ought to be.
Such fierce need
makes me queasy.
I see myself this way,
when I was one,
when the most luscious,
milky bottle on earth
would not shush
my orphan shrieks.
When yours returns,
little house wrens,
~~Maggie Gallivan, San Juan Island, Washington and British Columbia, Canada
Those Who Survive
All that are left of the dinosaurs.
Small, beautiful, and tough
A life of rigor from the beginning
Jockeying for position to be first
In line for feeding
That eternal scramble.
They do not fall from the precarious
Though safe, nest
Quickly learn to fly
Dive from the board without fear
Flex the air--
Wonder of wonders, there
Too soon the summer ends
Early they start the long journey
Impossible to stop
Impossible to hesitate
Life is only for the relentlessly
They pause for beauty
A paradise of constant warmth
Before the trip back North In Spring
To mate, nest and nurture once again.
There was a "great generation" of men
A few decades ago
A childhood of hunger and want
Ten- year- olds sent out to milk at dawn
The clean cloth and covered bucket
For spotless milk
Then fire to stoke and at last
Off to school.
Only a few miles to walk there and back
Then feed the stock, wash up, eat quick
Sleep sound for the next day’s start.
When war came and barely grown
They plodded in step off to fight
In muddy trenches and jungle ground
Small hours of sleep and little food
Marked for death from every branch and mound
They weathered the impossible
Came home to joyous jobs
Mate, child,car, house
"Overtime, please God," for the hungry mouths
And they carried on, fit as the
Centuries of dinosaurs
Strong because of practice.
Only the best and luckiest were left
To see the light of their first child's dawn
There is a lesson to be learned
From the birds
From our generations:
Hardship and trial mark the survivors
Nothing easy is of avail
Plod slow but sure
Fly tough and high.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
There is something unpleasant
about beaks agape, begging
featherless skin next to skin of those sated
strong by chance and blind in sleep.
Perhaps it is the random nature
at both ends of life’s story that feels awkward
as each bird of maw, cartilage not yet bone
and shadow of eye under a film of skin
arouses the urge to nurture.
Hatchling and infant have hunger
and mortality in common.
If fate was choice
would favour rest on the chicks
needing relief from distress,
or those most likely to succeed?
Whichever, in the world of half ounce wren chicks
humans are no match
for bird brain and flight feathers.
In fragility is also perfection.
~~Jenny Wolpert, Hope, British Columbia, Canada
KID’S POEMS from Tim Deyle’s fifth grade classroom, Fargo, North Dakota
They chose to write from the eagle
This is an eagle high in the sky.
With her beautiful wings stretched out like airplane wings.
Her back feathers feeling the wind guiding the eagle.
Her body is silent soaring high in the sky.
She spots something far down below,
With her brilliant eyesight.
Whoosh! Like a missile in the sky
Diving right into the water.
Splash, Wow! Look at that.
Now she returns to her nest to feed her babies.
This is an eagle soaring, rising in altitude.
Searching for food it waits patiently.
As quick as lightning it bolts,
Vertically toward the water!
With its razor-sharp talons it catches its food.
These are such beautiful animals.
American Bald Eagle
Here we see the great bald eagle.
Symbol of America,
Because of its magnificent strength.
As it flies majestically in the cloudy skies,
It gives out screeching cries.
It has found a meal.
The eagle begins to dive, dive.
The eagle beckons its meal.
Before the small creature can scurry away,
The eagle swoops down,
Snatches the mouse and devours it.
Gratifying hunt, satisfying hunt,
The eagle is happy with itself.
The eagle soars high through the sky.
Big and beautiful,
Giant and gorgeous.
White head white as snow.
Black body black as coal.
By Evelyn Latunski
This is a bald eagle.
Talons three inches long.
Can snatch fish right out of the water.
This is a bald eagle so be aware!
By Mason Thielman
I see the American bald eagle.
It makes me think of the Revolutionary War,
Fourth of July,
And the military.
It mostly reminds me of 911.
Of course I don’t remember any of it.
I was only 5 months old.
I was watching a video and wondered,
“Why did Osama bin Ladin do that?
Why would he want to hurt and kill all those people?”
I saw the Twin Towers fall on the video.
When I saw it fall I was scared and worried for the people in there.
Even though they killed Osama bin Ladin,
They still can’t replace all those people.
By Selena Sanchez
The eagle soars through the sky,
Proud to be an eagle.
The United States’ bird,
Flying side by side with seagulls.
Swirl, swirl, swoop, swoop!
Splash! Splash! Up! Up!
Around goes the eagle,
Down goes the eagle.
Splash went the water.
Up goes the fish.
The eagle is full.
By Lea Paxton
I see an eagle.
They’re beautiful animals.
I know eagles are very noisy animals.
They are white, black, and orange.
They can be mean.
They eat rats and mice.
They have very sharp talons.
They can be flying and put their feet in water to catch fish.
They are also good.
They fly and glide.
Be nice to them and maybe
You won’t be their next meal.
~~ Paige Roquet
Under clear skies bluebirds and warblers
hunt the trail’s short grass
for sun-warmed grasshoppers.
They are migrants, spend their days
fueling night’s long flight.
As I near, they dance sunbright wings
back into trees.
All night their beating wings are dipped
in silver light of the Hunters’ Moon,
unalloyed by cloud. Night all across
the great funnel of the continent
is filled with silver wings.
Note: This amazing journey funnels six billion birds down the flyways, most of them crowding down the isthmus-mouth into Central and South America.
Grandpa Oak is losing leaves again
for his two hundredth Fall.
Lost a massive branch too this year,
crashed to ground it shook,
with it the fork where Mama Raccoon
snarled her spring mates into submission,
bred them, ran them off and raised her kits.
So many generations of wild turkeys
have lived winter on his acorns,
and squirrels red and gray, scenting
his seed through deep snow. No counting
the small eggs hatched in this oak--
all those gaped mouths, all those new wings
gifting so many summer skies--
no counting the seeds cached in his bark
by nuthatches spiraling his thickness.
All this and leaves gone russet and gold
before they fall to return essence to soil.
the circle turns and creaks some as this oak
pivots on his hub of both space and time.
Together come Grasshopper
Bumble Bee and Syrphid Fly—
(he that pretends to be Bee)
All come to Autumn Aster
to see what they can find
to fill their hollow bellies.
Grasshopper chews pink petals,
they taste a bit like rose hips.
Bumble sticks her tongue down
Aster’s throat for nectar sweet,
Syrphid Fly chows down on pollen--
the high protein diet for this time.
How good it is of Autumn Aster
to provide such unique treats so
three handsome hungry insects
may eat but not compete.
It is said that the little people wear red hats,
I cannot attest to that, but say for now they do.
These twin jack-in-the-pulpit fruits are
just the right height, and if you bend your eyes
sideways or squint just right maybe red berries
become conical red hats pulled down hard
to the eyebrows of small faces with eyes of green
barely seen agleam beneath that potent red.
Say one’s called Jackie--call the other Jack.
A busy Yellow Bear caterpillar tries to push
its head into a crack that isn’t there,
a sleeping space, a place to spin a cocoon
and turn to goo, refuse to freeze, and
slowly transmogrify into a pretty moth
who will eat but mostly seek another
pretty moth to mate, make tiny eggs
that will summer hatch into tiny Yellow Bears.
A maple sheds yellow into the pond.
Cooling water lifts it, offers leaf to wind.
The crisp curl of death is the sail,
long red stem the rudder.
Wind accepts, stirs tree shadows.
The pond will slowly soak the leaf.
The relaxed leaf will flap down calm,
glide slow as a manta to rest
on the back of a sleeping turtle
who will not feel the leaf, who
need not know of night ice
and the cold that puts microbes
on hold to preserve the leaf
until new buds on the maple
unfold green and look toward blue.
Pretty Yellow Jacket wasp
points out in her designs
that she predicted Batman
long before the bats themselves
discovered pointy wings.
Uncanny things go on
beyond our ken.
White snakeroot flowers
seem to flail in excitement,
or is it panic thin anthers
spell into the breeze?
Beauty need not flail about,
life will always seek it out, but
beauty may be wise to be afraid.
A dragonfly cold upon my deck,
her duty done, her eggs all laid
but still alive, soaks up rays so her
big muscles can whir her wings aloft
to search for other fliers that
even now, yards away, soak up rays.
Note: This is tough little Ruby Meadowhawk who often flies into November.
10.28.2011 INVITE TO WRITE #29 and Responses to INVITE #28
This is the Wooly Bear caterpillar, very active now as it seeks a safe place
for the long sleep of winter. What an incredible color combo. When I see
Wooly Bear trundling across the path, it takes me back in time. Is Wooly
Bear a time machine for you? Did he curl up in your hand?
Contemplate this photo and see where it takes your writing.
Invite 28 did not draw many entries, but those it did draw are wonderful. Thank you!
Schools had a short week, so no kids’ poems this time.
A Thief in Leaves
At this very pond, under this same tree,
(the leaves were a deeper shade of red that day)
a pin-tailed duck stole a love poem from me.
Plucked it out of my pocket as I stood
gaping at the leaves. I didn't bother
chasing him through the mirror of lightness
and swirls and blotches of orange and gold.
I watched him, though, bury it deep in muck
on the far side with his mocking butt stuck
pointing up, leaving me no one to hold.
~~Dan McGuire, MN
Dark still mirror with reflection of leaves
mellowed and softened, gone past
their autumn glory.
Waiting now for the first winds of winter,
the grip of cold to deepen their sleep.
I stop among the tangled grasses, thinking
of their beige, spent heads, how they
swung, bursting with green, in spring breeze.
Sigh - looking at this still scene, for it all seems done,
summer gone, winter coming, one more year...
But - back there, among the crowd
of trunks reflected, there are circles rippling.
Something further to explore. Oh my...
~~Mary McConnell, MN
I say to my husband that the only things brown
which give pleasure are his eyes. I must
add chocolate, and cattail candlewicks
whose supporting spears convert emerald
to repeated stripes of gold, olive and russet
when backlit by unexpected sun
as summer falls away.
Fall. Failing. Falling into depths, maples
and their sort dismiss excess gold, red and lime to drop,
sink in mud or whirl a slow dance away.
Ravens chortle from tree skeletons.
Again, I’m not loving brown, the ageing
to tan nothingness, the dissolution
when songbirds have flown, when I find
myself on the cusp on invisibility.
~~Jenny Wolpert, Hope, British Columbia, Canada
Do the trees stand in wonder of their beauty?
A Narcissian glow in Alice’s Looking Glass?
Is envy present as to who is more golden? More beautiful?
More reflective in the sunlight?
Do leaves gloat or bemoan their size? Their shape?
Loathe the red ones and adore the burnished?
Or is there sadness in the reflection?
The loss of Spring’s bright green?
The knowing that their glitter is short lived?
Is their season late? Or is it early in the circle?
Do they look and wonder is that you or me in the reflection?
Do they ponder what is right and is right relative to what?
Do they know that when I look upon their autumn colors
My heart soars?
Do they know I’m labeled as being one of them?
Late autumn of My Years
I stand tall
I’ve seen my reflection dancing in the Looking Glass
Backlit by the rhythm section of the aspen
My dress of red maple and the yellows of the Cotton Woods
I sway in the fall breeze
In the golden company out my window
~~Kathleen Huntley, Montana
You seem to be asleep
Just a skim of ice
between what’s below
And what’s beyond.
The expiring summer
Meets the waxing morning,
Paints your still-born face
With melding watercolors.
But you deceive.
Beneath your passive death
Warm and strong.
The muddy blanket
Stop calling to me!
Silence the siren’s song.
You will not lure me,
Betray my trust,
To feed what lies within
Shredding my fingers
Against my lyre and still
I am entranced,
Faint at heart.
Your song so warm around my thighs.
~~Deborah L. Weaver, Illinois
10.31.2010 Halloween Special
Black ruin his face:
nose burned away,
mouth melted closed,
he cannot speak,
but he can moan.
Deep in the dark hollows
of his sockets, something
like eyes has re-grown,
something wet that burns.
Born of fire’s red roar
he lives in silent shadows
where great trees rule.
He hides his scars behind ferns,
cannot bear eyes to fall on him.
People who live near
no longer dare hold Halloween,
for the tale is told and told
how some lonely pitying child
brought him a bag
and took him trick-or-treating
door to screaming door.
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