I’m honored to have two poems, “Winter Solstice” and “In the Time of the Automobile” (both from my upcoming collection Birds Nobody Loves–More to come stay tuned) in the inaugural issue of Curio Poetry alongside the work of several other fine poets. Thanks to editors Joseph Harker and Tessa Racht for starting this journal and including some of my work. Now, go check it out.
My videopoem “While Sitting in Church” was featured yesterday over at qarrtsiluni as part of the Worship issue. The poem is from my Birds Nobody Loves series, which will hopefully soon become a short collection when I can find the time to finish it off. Anyway, check it out, and thanks to issue editors Kaspa and Fiona who accepted it within hours of my submission. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an acceptance so fast. It’s a great issue they’ve put together so spend a while checking things out, especially Sherry Chandler’s “Doxology.”
I made this back in March and never got around to uploading it and then forgot all about it until something sparked my memory yesterday. It’s based my poem of the same name, originally posted a little over a year ago. This is the second video I’ve made from my Birds Nobody Loves series (the first was “Chasing Westward”).
The images are photoshopped versions of some of my pictures of black and turkey vultures. I’m planning to use these as illustrations in the Birds Nobody Loves collection I’m slowly (so slowly) putting together.
The real purpose of this video was experimental. I wanted to try to figure out how to make my editing software do the “Ken Burns effect” that was so nicely done in “Beach/Snow” a beautiful video by Peter Stephens. It was complicated but once I had it figured out, it got a lot easier to get the pans and zooms I wanted.
The music is by Oleg Serkov downloaded from Jamendo and licensed under a cc-by-nc-sa license. This is the first time I’ve used Jamendo for music for a video. There’s a lot of good stuff there besides Mr. Serkov’s wonderful work.
As to the poem, it comes from the church I attended when I was in high school. It was built on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Travis. They built it lengthwise and placed the altar on the long side which was made entirely of glass so it was easy to let your mind wander out to the open sky above the lake where turkey vultures circled endlessly.
I’ve always found it strange that church is held indoors but that church anyway made it feel like you weren’t completely disconnected from the natural world, which is why I still consider it the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.
It is also where my fascination with vultures began. Watching them each Sunday, thinking about their place in the scheme of things and watching their effortless flight, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them while witnessing in awe the sheer wonder and beauty of creation.
this backyard wildlife…
a congregation awake
a new mourning dove
on the fence by the feeder
studies the others
so much thinner
than the adults
a new family
house sparrows chirping
the busy backyard
six house finches
learning the hummingbird feeder
sun-sparks in water
flap inexperienced wings
on Easter morning
This weekend, we were treated to families of lesser goldfinches, house finches, house sparrows, mourning doves and fox squirrels coming around the backyard so the adults could show their young where to find the food. The juveniles were clearly just out of their respective nests as they were following the adults around flapping their wings and chirping to be fed. It’s never long before the babies figure out how to find food on their own at which point they will be indistinguishable from the adults.
I’ve seen this in the backyard with black-crested titmice, common grackles, mockingbirds, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, and Bewick’s wrens, and it’s one of the joys of feeding birds (and squirrels) but I’ve never seen so many at once. It was, quite simply, stunning and humbling. Songbirds don’t live long and most don’t even make it through their first year, but I like to think that at least some of these birds will be out there for a while, maybe waiting for me to count them one day down along the pond trail.
Publication announcement: My haibun “The Grackle Tree” from my Birds Nobody Loves series is in the latest issue of the ‘zine Nothing. No One. Nowhere. Thanks to the editors for publishing it along with so many other wonderful poets. It’s an honor to be included.
The hawk is an acrobat and an impostor—
he flies with vultures and when he banks
his lighter plumage blazes in the sun,
betraying him to anyone down below with
eyes to see and secrets to conceal. The butcher
hides in plain sight among the forensics birds;
it’s a good procedural crime drama. I search
the woods for evidence, but these guys
are too good, too thorough, and I wonder
how I stumbled into this perfect scheme.
Perhaps I should be the poet laureate of my dog since Joey appears in two poems of mine that are recently published. The first, “Greyhound Joey vs. the Grackle” appears along with “North through Fog” in the February 2011 issue of the Houston Literary Review. The first of those is from my “Birds Nobody Loves” series which will someday be a chapbook and the other is from the “Highway Sky” series which is starting to sneak beyond chapbook length. Thanks to the editors of the Houston Literary Review for publishing those.
Joey’s literary adventures don’t end there, though. He also appears in a micro-haibun in the new pay attention: a river of stones anthology published by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita who edited a massive amount of submissions from January’s river of stones challenge to produce a beautiful book that is worth every moment spent slowing down to savor it. There were a number of stones that I read in January as well as many that I missed along with some wonderful prose pieces. It was a treat to read again some of my favorites by Beth Adams, Angie Werren, Mark Stratton, and Kris Lindbeck. Along with some prose reflections on small stone writing by Beth Adams, Jean Morris, Laurie Kolp and Margo Roby. You can read the 2 stones I contributed at my mirco-poetry blog here and here (the second is another “Birds Nobody Loves” piece) or you can buy the book, which is really good.
And, now, Joey needs a walk. We’ll talk literature, and he’ll remind me that greyhounds are the only breed of dog mentioned in the Bible and then, who knows what inspiration the four-legged muse will next provide.
I stroll the streets and dodge mangy grackles,
fluttering birds in trees, those angry grackles.
Black feet and dark beaks snap at my sandwich—
I’m surrounded by the grabby grackles!
I sit a bench and study pawns and queens
‘til “checkmate’s” called by the cagey grackles.
At dinner parties, I near drop my drink
shocked by the sins of the feisty grackles.
I hang for hours on back porches, strumming
old guitars, swapping lies with folksy grackles.
At night, I roost in city trees and sing
croaking wild songs, toasting jolly grackles.
This is in response to Big Tent’s prompt about alliteration. There’s some in there, but the process led to a ghazal and some grackles.
Go to the Big Tent to see what others came up with.
For those who may not know, grackles are, like blackbirds, members of the icterid family. Here in central Texas, we see two species: the common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) and the great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus).
This post was included in I and the Bird #142 hosted at Birds O’ The Morning.