Category Archives: Nature poems

Cruel Harvest

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Cruel Harvest

In this middle morning,
pelicans drop like hail on the surface of the water.
This is not their usual style,
for they do not dive headfirst
and squeeze bills to necks
and swallow as before,
but merely float and dip their beaks
and raise their heads and dip again.

I hope it is not the tiny sea turtles
that we put in the water last night
that they are feeding on like hors d’oeuvres,
greedily.
But surely those turtles,
placed in to swim away 15 hours ago
are elsewhere than this,
facing other dangers, no doubt,
but at least, sad endings  I don’t bear witness to.

 We had waited until sunset
when the birds had gone
to lift the tiny creatures
from their plastic world
and set them,
confused and stunned,
upon the sand
to turn in circles
until we placed them right again
and again,
sometimes patting their tails
to encourage their voyage
to a new life shocking in its largeness.

 “What is this
lifting up and putting down?”
they must have thought,
“and then this broad expanse
that lifts us, spins us,
submerges us?”
Courageously, they lifted their  heads to swim,
only to be tumbled by waves—another  shock.
What more had life to surprise them with?
First, that bursting from the shell that had protected them,
then that thrusting into a colder world.

Children squealed with glee and were warned by elders
not to step back lest they step on the turtles that surrounded us—
all of us looking backwards as we stepped,
cameras clicking,
voices in English, Spanish, French—
all enchanted with these creatures perfectly formed
with black flippers and beautiful shells.
We saw their tiny heads like periscopes above the waves—
swarms of them at first and then separate,
swimming off to their individual fates.
Fifteen minutes later, the rising action
featured a solitary pelican that swooped for one
and then another and another
bedtime snack.
“No,” we screamed.
One woman threw a rock.
These pelicans that had enchanted me for weeks
as I watched their graceful flight and sure plummetings,
now prompted a new story
where they were villains, stopping new life,
bringing back the theme I have been so aware of here
for these weeks of my daily floatings in the sea.

Every organism, every animal, every person on this earth
lives only by merit of the death of others.
When life ends in infancy, how sad, how sad, we say;
but also say seeing the full grown pelican on the beach,
bleached to bones,
its beak sealed shut with a plastic circle from a six pack
or the needlefish, stretched on the sand and picked by carrion.
Never so obvious as here, this feeding of life on life,
and never so startling as when we placed the baby turtles
on the sand, wanting to save one for ourselves,
but knowing this action had a larger purpose than that.

We surrendered them to their life apart from us,
then moments later,
saw the pelican feed on them
guiltlessly,
living his place in the world.
Oh that I, too, had acted more selfishly—
palming one tiny turtle,
putting it in my loose pocket,
keeping it safe
away from that broad sea
that has so many means
by which to claim it.

Courage is the prompt word today. This poem is a rewrite of “Putting the Tiny Sea Turtles into the Sea,” a piece I wrote four years ago when the local sea turtle reserve brought dishpans full of the tiny creatures to La Manzanilla for volunteers to assist in releasing them to the wild sea.

Dark Against Light

 

 

Dark Against Light

The universe’s fine maquette

is light on dark and dry on wet—
her quietness and stillness set
against the thrum of castanet.
It is a sort of etiquette:
opposite versus opposite.
Victory gauged against regret.
Sunrise followed by sunset.
Every lottery and bet
boundless riches as well as debt.
It does no good to fuss and fret.
This irony is all we get—
nature one pure brightness set
as backdrop to our silhouette.

 

Want more views of this sunset?  Go HERE.
The prompt today is one of the prettiest words in the English language: silhouette.

In the Blood (Entertainment?)

In the Blood!!!

Don’t you just love football—the running and the tackling?
The sounds of hamstrings pulling and the crunch of femurs crackling?
We sit up in the bleachers eating hot dogs, drinking beer,
comfortably viewing blood sport—the kind we hold so dear.

Aren’t dogfights lovely–the growling and the whining?
Too bad they aren’t more elite, so we could watch while dining.
So amusing watching canines being dished their due.
Dying is so entertaining when it isn’t you!

Better still are bullfights, though they’re few and far between.
The bull so lithe and dangerous, the matador so lean.
The best part of the sport is that the dying is so slow.
I feel its thrill suffuse me from my head down to my toe.

We adore big game hunting in such exotic lands–
our chance to prove our manliness with our own two hands–
handing over money to those trackers in the know
who guarantee an easy kill with rifle or with bow.

Easy on the hunter, but not the animal,
for just because he’s hit the prey’s not guaranteed to fall.
We get more for our money if he’s hard to track,
and war games are more pleasant when one’s foe doesn’t shoot back!

All these minor titillations just a prelude to
the main event and the most major way of counting coup.
Once all the good old boys are finding life is just a bore,
they round up all the younger men and send them off to war.

See how the valiant struggle, see their stripes and purple hearts–
apt pay for missing arms and legs and other blown off parts.
Lucky to be home at last and lucky to be living–
the products of that blood sport that just somehow keeps on giving

Repost of a poem from 3 1/2  years ago.  Crocodile photo new!  More to follow. The prompt today is entertain.

World I Cannot Hold Thee

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World I Cannot Hold Thee

The dolphin tail of the wing cuts into the orange sky.
Brilliant deep orange fades to gold with dark islands of clouds
rising like trees above pale blue, medium blue, dark blue fading to black.
A thumbnail moon,
one star bright like a planet just far enough above the horizon
to be set in the darkest shade of blue.
Scenes like this break my heart. I don’t know what to do with them.
I’ve moved to the window seat now,
unable to resist that first flash of orange revealed over the shoulder
of the man who now sits in front of me––
that vivid sunset with no one looking at it
such a waste, yet now here I am, watching yet still wasting it.

I used to feel like this holding my sister’s child––
tiny newborn baby, so beautiful, so in my power.
I wanted to hug him tighter to hold on to this––
to do something to express this feeling
that I knew was vanishing even as it happened.
Yet this fading sunset now flares more brightly than before
as we keep catching up with it, flying west.
It may be that the dolphin wings, jets protruding like fins,
will swim for hours into the orange sea with all of us,
kin inside of her, waiting to be born.
Sleep. Read. Move to the bathrooms and back again
shepherding children––small brown sheep and black sheep,
eyes like berries turned toward windows reflecting back fire.

I want to run to the cockpit to feel orange wrapped around me,
cannot get enough of these colors, want to paint something significant––
colors like vivid embers against ashes, firey colors bleeding into blue
like fire staying alive as it bleeds into ocean and then into deeper ocean.
All of these things that are––what are they for?
Their purpose lost as soon as light has faded into darkness
through that incredible palette that means nothing, but is everything
above us all and under us and in us swelling us,
reminding us to hug the world tighter.
Squeeze life into it or out of it.
Hold it closer, needing no meaning except
being of it, with it, in it, having it in us.
“Oh world I cannot hold thee close enough!”
Understanding that.

The prompt word today is miraculous.

The Silence of the Iambs

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The Silence of the Iambs

Anapests sing lullabies while dactyls gallop on.
Trochees beat a drum beat that’s heard hither and yon,
but raindrops speak in iambs, dripping from the eaves
as the torrent lessens and cups itself in leaves.
All the small feet hushed now, we can fall asleep.
We can find our dreams inside a silence that’s so deep.

 

The title, by the way, is talking about iambs, not lambs.  Hard to tell when it is capitalized.

The loud rhythms of the unseasonal rain that awakened me so early this morning have ceased, leaving only the faint drip of water off the eaves. This poem may be one that only another poet could appreciate, but for those of you who aren’t poets and who didn’t pay attention in your lit class, it is about metrical feet—the syllable rhythms within a poem and even within our everyday speech and nature itself.  A trochee (the rhythm of a native American drumbeat replicated in the poem “Hiawatha”) is an accented or long syllable followed by a short one. An iamb is the rhythm in the English we speak every day––a short syllable followed by a long one. An anapest is the rhythm of a lullaby. (short short long) whereas a dactyl (the rhythm of a horse’s gallop) is its opposite (long short short).

 

The prompt today is silent.

Grand Circle

(Click on first photo to enlarge all) There is a poem after the photos. Someone just suggested I note that here because he didn’t notice it the first time he looked at this post.

Grand Circle

Circle of sunlight, orb of the moon.
Each of their passages over too soon.
What we may find as the day or the night
gives over to nature in its swift flight
is only the present. It isn’t forever.
No matter how talented, selfless or clever
we’ve fashioned ourselves, we’ll all come around
to serve our real purpose, to nurture the ground.

Time chisels away with its constant cruel rasp.
The hold of a lover loses its grasp.
Circles of friends are too quickly diminished.
Everything started soon seems to be finished.
Each rolling stone must encounter a wall.
The dough of the universe rolled in a ball
still lives by the edict that rules us all.
Whatever has risen is certain to fall.

The very stuff of the bodies we live in
are atomic circlings that we’ve been given
to use for awhile before giving them back
to continue their course on whatever the track
is the larger extension of what we’ve been given—
the next destination to which we’ll be driven.
This circle we live from year’s start to December
is simply the circle that we can remember,
most of us hoping we’ll be up to par
for inclusion in nature’s recycling bazaar.

 

The prompt today was circle.

Kitchen Nativity

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Kitchen Nativity

I crept into my kitchen to see
what caused this morning’s cacophony.
The high corner of the cupboard wall
seemed to be the source of all
the peepings and it’s then I guessed
a mother bird had made a nest
there above the kitchen ceiling,
where I thought the paint was peeling.
Instead, that white spilled down the wall
outside the kitchen is not at all
what I thought—salitre’s heavings,
but is instead the nestlings’ leavings.

The watching mother stays aloof
on the next-door neighbor’s roof
with mouth filled with a juicy grub.
Now she flies from roof to shrub,
objecting to my presence there,
so close to nestlings in her care.
And so I leave the bird’s domain,
lest nestlings’ voices be raised in vain.
Minutes later, all is still,
although I know ten minutes will
bring more protests from tiny beaks
for wormy treats that mama seeks.
So it is this year again
that Mother Nature invites guests in.
My house now shelters more than me—
my family stretched from “I” to “we.”