Tag Archives: birds

Birdlife enlivens my poetry

Here on Bowen Island my feeder attracts red-eyed towhees, house finches, stellar jays, dark-eyed junkos and fox sparrows. Robins are here now and don’t seem to partake. A few hummingbirds have been buzzing by lately which surprises me because I didn’t think we had enough bright blossoms on our property. The jays are right on it of course, seem to wait for me to put the food out in the morning. I’ve been taking the feeder in when it gets dark to foil the local rat population. I hate rats. Why don’t my terriers get rid of them?

Birds and birdlife manifest in my poetry all the time. Here are two poems from my forthcoming book, “Window Seat.”


We plan like architects to bring the outdoors
in, parrot like realtors the charms of a tree
house, for up on this hill, birdsong

is tangible. We always get
what we want, camouflaged in our mossy
cabin, high above the threshold

of discovery. Open sky. 360-degree view.
Proximity to water. Reliable food sources. Plenty
of nesting material. Gravel flies

from under the foot of a rabbit
fleeing a resident eagle. Ravens and stellar jays
battle over kibble, shit bomb the deck.

They want in. Past the windowpanes
that trick them. Frenzied. Talons flashing,
they enter through a door in the firmament.

I guide them outside, stunned at the feel
of wing bones. Banging hearts. A hummingbird
goes stillborn in the cup of my hands,

then, buzzers off, leaving a tang
in my throat, a ring of ruby dust
on my finger, incriminating as pollen.

Year of the Monkey

Full house. Madhouse. Ill-fated deejay,
jester fixed to his back, grinding out tunes
in celebration of our new digs, life,
in the forest, despite the clear-cutting
a hundred years ago. There is talk

of the I-Ching. This will be
an extremely progressive time predicts
a guest with faith enough to practice.
Monkeys are shrewd. Agile.
You will find great success in 2004.

Happy New Year! A toast. To the pileated
woodpeckers, heard more than seen. Cheers!
To the deer phantoms, droppings molding
in the front meadow. Where do they go
in the winter? Why don’t I know these things?

We make clumsy attempts at lighting a fire,
heating the house. Woodstove couched
and cold-shouldered as a guerilla soldier
brooding over such hatchet-challenged wimpiness.
We brave the Jacuzzi. January. Naked ape it

on the deck, body sculpting with our bare hands,
pale-faced moon playing peek-a-boo
with the ridgeline, a breeze stroking our backsides.
An owl hoots, hunting through lushness.
Red-eyed towhees flit through a labyrinth of sword

fern, mist the only smoke around here,
desires in the mirror, smudges of dread
surfacing on its beveled edges
whenever we’re not looking.

Twin cedar sentinels stand guard
against the cougar I saw mounting our pup.
When it began stalking the neighbour’s pony
I knew I would need a rifle.

I’m evolving. From a dinky urbanite on all fours,
to a big, eagle-eyed, straight-shooting, cause-
committed, river-of-life channeling, chainsaw-
hung, 4 by 4 pickup piloting Homo Erectus islander.

For more birds and bird-themed works in the blogosphere check out I and the Bird which Mike Bergin owns and publishes every two weeks. http://10000birds.com/iandthebird/

Melancholia and drawing parallels

Been scanning old photographs and I suppose melancholia is an archiving hazard. What would I remember if not for these photos? They are precious indeed. As a child I must have learned to disassociate as a way to cope with physical abuse. Numbness becomes second nature, so transparent that I could not see this tendency in myself, or ability, depending how you look at it, the ability to remain untouched by pain and fear. You become untouchable even in the midst of a beating. You ultimately lose touch with reality though, become passive. Loss is the key word here. You lose recall and thusly, your memories. It’s not as if I can’t remember anything as my sisters claim, but many things remain obscure. Safer that way. I wish there was a way to retrieve it, all the life experience I am seemingly not in possession of. It belongs to me and I want it back. My past. I have no idea how to achieve that or if it’s even possible.

Coincidence? A sign perhaps? While considering using “Sky Busting” as the title for my new collection of verse I often find myself leaning out a window to take photographs of clouds in motion and the ever-changing tableau. I refuse to put up a curtain in the bathroom because I want to stand in the centre of my room and see only trees and sky. We can traipse around in the nude if so inclined. We have a long driveway to clear when it snows but that’s the trade-off for the privacy we enjoy.

“Sky busters” are yahoos that take long shots at ducks or geese. It’s noisy, obnoxious plus a big waste of ammunition and game. I suppose I’m drawing parallels between ignoramuses and terrorists that bomb the sky with planes. Too big of a stretch. Another aspect I’m agonizing over. A lot of the poems in this collection are about travel and post 9/11 dread and guilt. (Nearly typed “post 9-1-1!”) I’ve been agonizing over everything: word choice, line length, structure, poem groupings/order, the title! I was becoming very ineffective, burning out but the manuscript needs narrative authority. I have sent it to my fellow poet and friend and editor, Heidi Greco who is going to provide her proofing skills and input.

I’ve experimented a fair bit with this outing, writing my first real concrete poem, “my mountain” but I have two versions! Neither is perfect because I don’t know Word well enough to manipulate the text properly. I think you need to be a graphic artist though I know poets have traditionally done it themselves. In any case, one is too small and the other looks more like a tree than a mountain but at least the type is readable. Will have to sort that out somehow.

What is this thing I have with birds? I dreamed the other night of a creature in my house that morphed from a hawk into a boy.