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John Caddy
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John Caddy's

Morning Earth Poems,
December 2002


Close and sudden scream
of  redtail cocks my head to sky
empty of all but overcast
ungraced with hawk.
I continue working compost.

Again the scream, but on top of me.
I do look up, and all around.
The mimic bluejay cocks his head at me,
flirts his tail, flies to another tree.


Corvids (ravens, crows, magpies, jays) are all tricksters, and superb mimics. They are Gaia's sense of humor. But then, so are we, when we're not just the butt of jays.


I look at ice edge-on,
ice from the pond,
clear but for a million spheres,
bubbles of all sizes
that look coarse until close,
then become ice geodes,
crystals bouncing light
back and forth through methane
trapped in the instant before joining air.


Ponds fizz with the gases of decomposition, a continuous liberation of life-materials back into the biosphere. I love the knowledge that swamp gas, smelly product of death, rolls up through water to become iced into beauty.



Crows know what roads are.
Not long ago roads were dirt
and traffic carriage slow
and men shot crows
and poisoned crows,
before we learned our error.

Crows know
that when men finally knew
the truth of crow's
place on earth
they undertook
the Great Recompense:
millions of long black altars
snaking the land
on which to offer rodents
for the relish of crows.

Lest crows become
lazy and slow, men arranged
fast machines to lift crows
for a moment from their
altar offerings
of rodent and raccoon.
What roads are for, crows know


We feed crows on every road, and scratch our heads and wonder why there are so many crows. Perhaps we are following an unconscious imperative, and my little offering is true.


I open the door and panic a squirrel,
one born this fall,  who can't decide on a tree
and runs noisy through leaves,
forth and back and forth,
trying to see where to climb.

I smile and recall a small boy
being let out of the car, told,
"Go find a tree to pee behind."
"And don't take all day."
I'd panic and run noisy through leaves,
to trunk after trunk, trying to find the right tree.


This leaf-noisy time before the snow cover evokes such memories. Kits and kids!


All day large flakes drift down until
in the car at night, white arcs
stream out of the unknown
through headlights, each flake
a bright event racing toward you
that vanishes the instant it arrives,
but endlessly replaced before
it can be grasped or even seen,
and like life flinging itself at you, enthralls.

It is easy to become fascinated by the show when light snow and night driving coincide. The effect is mesmerizing and can be dangerously soporific, lovely pure metaphor though it is.


The great white heron
rushes down surf
each time the sea inhales.
His wings are spread wide,
cocked neck and beak ready
to harpoon stragglers in the ebb.
The fish on his spear lifts into sky,
tosses up and drops into the open beak,
lumps its way down the angular neck.
When the wave suddenly rushes in
he sprints for the dry, taking great
Gulliver strides while the sanderlings
under his wings trot ragtime.


Great white herons are a color variant of the great blues, found only in the Florida Keys and south Florida. Much taller than any egret, they are primeval and impressive, but comic alongside sanderlings. But then, in the presence of sanderlings, all the world smiles. I was delighted to find this heron fishing at MacArthur Beach, on Singer Island.


He explodes directly from my feet
toward sun, beats hard and steeply up,
and when he has his speed,
holds wings out flat and glides upward
and beats hard up again for sun,
and  his own gold sings in sungold,
bright as his white neck ring.


Used to the beat and dip flight of songbirds, I forget how powerful is the flight of the pheasant. Like a rocket, when the power goes off, he continues moving up for a time with no curve in his trajectory. From flush to finish, his flight line is straight. Who said that Nature abhors a straight line?


On these short dark days
I look at buds,
stroke their scaled shells
which hint of blush.
Every bare bush and tree buds now:
red maple buds its flowers,
red osier its green leaves,
oak buds both.
Willow by the water
buds her furry catkins,
birch and aspen swell their own.
All these buds wait with us,
within us.
Through dark that swallows day,
we all wait to unfold.


A bud is an assumption of hope. Bless roots for insisting.



The sun burns up horizon east,
and near, burnishes
the tops of oaks with gold,
every rugged trunk and craggy arm
and remnant leaf turned red to gold,
the bowl above white and blue,
while below we're cold but
know the fire will find us too.