Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Some days I’m awakened by a
furious tapping shuddering like tympani
down the chimney sheet.
I race outside, catch a glimpse of orange
as second story thief leaps,
wings catching at the very last.

I have no idea what she was doing on the roof,
finding food, sharpening beak, playing music,
telling me the smell of the air after
hurtling through cedar and hemlock.

Sometimes I’ll catch her lower down, examining alder,
focused like a jeweler.

The flicker is a bird undisturbed by human madness.
She tends the trees with fierce love,
choosing example instead of complaint..

The trees could not ask for a finer ambassador,
her orange robes neatly tucked,
then flourished upon departing.

Many a man from these parts will mutter under
stale breath, “Damn pecker.”

Yet when I spot one, heart resounding,
I know I have spotted a flicker of hope.

so little, so much

we ask so little of each other, don't we?

and we ask so much of our cars, our ornate shelters,
our money-generating workplaces, our computers, our
telecommunications devices and our transportation networks.

we ask for so few hugs, loving attention,
sitting-on-the-porch time, watching the clouds,
laying in the arms of Mother Earth.

we ask so much of our laser printers, our food production systems,
our roads, our health care providers, our brief vacations.

we ask for so little kindness, acknowledgment,
playtime, communion with nature, physical affection, help.

we ask so much of airports, email, international trade in electronics,
our befuddled government officials, the entertainment industry,
fast food and coffee joints.

we take so little time to feel, to stretch our bodies,
to breathe deeply, to appreciate the moments we get in
tiny portions of patient urban beauty.

what would life be like if the so little and the so much
traded places?

The Genius of Moths

before there were incandescent bulbs
burning the night air
what did moths do for amusement?

sure, there were a few fires about,
but that wasn’t much fun
as their tinder wings would burst
instantly to flames.

no, they must’ve dreamed up electricity,
put it into the fluttering head of Thomas Edison
as he slept fitfully
in his Menlo Park single bed..

At Night

we don’t go out, but others do
the pink-faced possum, the rump heavy ‘coon,
the barn owl and its fumfing wings.

we don’t go out because none of the usual people
we ignore are out there to comfort us,

we don’t go out because we would have to rely on other
senses –
the pads of our shodden feet,
our dulled smell – echo-locating scents
our deafened hearing unaccustomed to sprigs of silence.

we don’t go out because its cold and wet and
there are vast spaces, of death, of anonymous births,
of daily regrets, of ancestors and progeny vying for the little attention
we have left.

we don’t go out because we would have no definite destination,
like those loitering stars, grinning at our habits.

we don’t go out because only demons and ruffians and the homeless
are to be found.

we don’t go out because of the opposite of claustrophobia,
a vast presence,
we cannot easily dismiss,
and a mutual shame over the loss of voices (frog for one).

we don’t go out because we might scream and howl like
wolves and banshees,
grieving souls who’ve lost a great friend.

we can’t go out or ….could we?