Category Archives: birds

30/30 Project: The Poison Control Issue


woodpecker eating poison ivy

It’s poem #18 in my March Poetry Marathon!  Today the Pileated Woodpecker is back in my neighborhood.  Whenever I hear him, I feel like he is trying to tell me something.  I feel lucky.  I also feel similarly blessed when a cardinal flies in front of me, or I see a hawk several days in a row.  I’ve read that it’s just our human ego acting up when we feel important in the face of animal activity.  I’m also familiar with Native American beliefs about spirit animals and such.  I think I lean toward the latter.  We’re all in this together, the birds and us.  At any rate, my red-headed pal never fails to inspire a poem.  See?  Lucky!

Remember, if you like what you’re reading, be sure to hop (fly?) on over to the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project site and read all of the awesome marathon-poetry being written.  And donate.  Do it!  Please.

Mary Kneels in the Garden

She is prepared for plants out of place,
weeds to follow.
Lady of the Dandelion. Mother of the Lion’s Teeth.

The other women cultivate
neat bushes,
grow showy cacti on their perfect lawns.

To eat what is not meant to be eaten.
To swallow
the hairy stem, the jagged leaf.

Ask the woodpecker why she leaves
her nest,
why she gorges on the ivy. She will tell you

about the beauty of the berry, the joy
of running a tongue
over a living thing, thick and white and round.

Toxicodendron radicans.
the hairy arms, the hands with narrow fingers,

the fine golden hair. Poison as seasonal,
poison as lover vining your trunk,
creeping toward your throat. Your obituary

a record of children hidden in the heart
in a dying tree,
an urge to devour, a case of mistaken identity.

You will never be the loud bird, the thrumming bird.
Make love to the worms,
the larvae and harmless seeds. From your waste, beauty.


30/30 Project Day Six: For the Birds


barred-owlI might have known the birds would make their way into the project.  This morning, the hawk that has been following me for the past year swooped in front of my truck on my way to work. Then, while I was {supposed} to be watching the children during recess, a woodpecker lured me away (no children were abandoned in the gathering of material for this poem).  The project for art class today?  Button owls.  And my daughter at dinner?  Crazy as a loon.

As a side bar: if you have donated to Tupelo Press on my behalf, please be sure to mention my name in the “In honor of” section on the donation form.  And if you have a prompt request to go along with your donation, please email me directly:  Thanks!


Mary Dreams of Flying

Easy as the window, the roof, the neat leap.
Mary walks a tightrope and the owl follows,
spreads his raggedy wings,
pins himself to the front of her dress.
Hello, old friend, says the mouse in his mouth.

St. Mary of the Circus.
Blessed Mother of Swords and Swallows.

It is not true what the other women say.
The mothers in little black dresses
will not eat their young
if Mary touches their babies.

Oh lonesome bird.
Oh molting wren.
Someone must eat the children,
someone the poison berries.

Behind her home, a forest of standing dead,
a single woodpecker, his steady thrum.

To have faith in the hole,
in the nest deep inside,
to hear the predator’s persistent knock,
never see his royal crown.

Halloween Skeleton (Poem)


Today is a shred of fallen bark. The birds today are slow winged and thick-boned, prone to worm wringing on lawns or stealing seed pods to pad infested nests. For this reason, after rising take a feather pillow to offer the roosting pigeons who will want to harmonize in their thanks. This way you will be able to hollow a bone with precision. Feathers have little reason to do good deeds. Pinfeathers may need to sharpen dull edges with knife blades. This afternoon there is migration of exotics to observe record or join with wings of fallen travelers. Enjoy carving the hollows you could have in all the chasms you think must be filled to love. Use an awl and channel an owl of the type barns might have. This is a spell to cast and change lives.


This is a skeleton poem* (see skeleton below), a poem created mad-libs style from a horoscope with its meatiest words chopped out. I saw this on Mutating the Signature. Nathan had pasted a link on his facebook page and I borrowed it! Since I’ve been fighting the valient flu fight (my poor children!) all week, I haven’t written a thing! Nothing! This sparked something, and for that I am grateful!

Today is a ____ of ______ _______. The ________ today are _____ _____ and ___ __ __________ to ___ _______ on _________ or _____ __ ___________ to _______ ____ ______. For this reason, ____ _____ take a ______ ____ to ______ the ____ ____ ___ will want to ____ in ____ ______. This way ___ will be able to ______ a _______ with __________. ____ have __ ___________ to do ____ ___. ___ may need to ___________ ____ ____ ____ ________ _______. This afternoon there is ____ of ___________ to _______ _______ or _______ _______ ____ of ____ _______. Enjoy _______ the ___________ ___ could have in all the _______ ___ think ___ _____ ____ to _____. Use a(n) _____ and ____ ____ ____ of the _____ ___ might have. This is a ____ to _____ and ____ ________.

In Line at the Drive-Thru Pharmacy


We never pay attention to the sparrows
drab brown tiny wing blurs
and maybe this is our problem.

We walk across the hard-packed ground
every day every step and only notice
when rain splits earth open.

When your surface surrenders
to a force almost invisible–
never having held a storm in your hand—

when your feet, twin soldiers
full of bones, fly without wings
you should know you’re not really flying.

Lucky sparrow, waiting out the downpour
beneath the drive-thru pharmacy’s
covered ledge. Shelter with no prescription.