wander the wet grass
wander the wet grass
grackles rise and fall
leaves in the wild slipstream
Three bites taken on the run, two soggy feathers
float from his mouth, no sign left of any bird.
I call animal emergency:
Yuck, but your dog will be fine.
It’s what he’s made to do.
I call another vet just to be sure.
First, Ewww. But I am told the same.
It’s what he’s made to do.
My friends weigh in:
What’s one less grackle?
I hate those filthy birds.
Thank goodness. Grackles are awful.
Now, each morning I fill the feeders
as I’ve always done, and Joey follows
as he always has, but something’s new:
in the way he watches me pour the seed,
he admires how the trapper baits his traps.
This is from my poetry collection, Birds Nobody Loves, and was first published along with “North through Fog” in the February 2011 edition of The Houston Literary Review, which has, alas, disappeared from the ‘net without a trace.
It’s one of those poems that, unfortunately for the grackle, qualifies as nonfiction.
And, if you’ve already purchased a copy now or earlier, my sincerest thanks.
struggles for the sky
wheels crunch bone
Sometimes I wish I couldn’t capture these “fully engaged moments” as Fiona puts it. Or that I could disengage. Or that I could have done something. Or that the driver was more engaged, though I doubt he even knew the bird was there.
The grackles returned as is their wont around the first of the month. They spread out this time of year thus I only have five or six come around so the mockingbirds and blue jays still get their shot at the suet feeders.
I haven’t been filling the platform feeder as regularly as in the past. Too many mammals coming around and with a little boy, I’m inclined to keep it that way for a while. So it’s just suet and finch feeders for the most part, which the mammals don’t go for. And, with fewer doves hogging the yard, I’m seeing more mockingbirds and cardinals come around.
There’s also a nest in the nest box by the porch. I saw a chickadee hanging around the other morning and the nest doesn’t look like a wren’s nest, which is what I usually find in the nest box, so I’m hoping we’ll see some chickadees unless I scared them away when I opened the box to check it unaware that there would actually be anything in it (it hasn’t been used since 2009).
I didn’t do Project FeederWatch this year, but the usual winter suspects came around: ruby-crowned kinglet, yellow-rumped warbler, chipping sparrow and orange-crowned warbler. No American goldfinches this year, but the lesser goldfinches are here as always.
So spring is springing and the birds are coming around singing and each day there seems to be something new to show my son as we stand out on the porch listening to birds, though his favorite activities are waving at the dogs and laughing at the wind chimes. Through him, I’m seeing new wonders everywhere. The world is chock full of them.
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.
and a hard-edged thrill to say.
How can a person not love
any chance to speak that word:
I’ll never understand
why everyone hates grackles.
(But then I don’t have
thousands living in my trees.)
Out the window as I type,
a fledgling takes food:
an adult showing
the young bird how to live.
I’ll lose a whole day watching,
wondering where they’ll go.
Maybe I’m not the only person who loves grackles.
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).
Grackles poke around the right-of-way,
a confusion of iridescent-robed seekers,
an endless search for grass seeds.
The junkie at the intersection watches,
never takes his eyes off the grackles
even when I hand him some crackers
and dried bits of bread. I look in his eyes,
nobody’s home, and we both understand
the birds’ bright yellow eyes are more alive,
more aware of the gray curtain coming
down fast from the north. He stretches his arms
ready to ride that icy tailwind south, but the
light changes to green—too many cars now
block his path, but it’s useless anyway.
All his flight feathers fell out six years ago.
He stands in exhaust fumes, praying that
grackles share seed when snow’s coming.
This poem is older than today. The solstice here in Austin came in hot and overcast so the eclipse was a non-event, but fortunately for the people on those street corners with the grackles, it’s not cold and certainly not likely to snow. At least not tonight.
I wrote this as part of my Birds Nobody Loves series, but I guess it can also fit with Highway Sky.
Update: I just discovered One Stop Poetry (tip of the cyber hat to Dick Jones for showing the way), another cool poetry sharing site and so I’ve linked this there. Go check out some of the other great work to be found in this week’s One Shot Wednesday.