News From the Natural World: Phantom of the Forest

Today’s poem was inspired by the pileated woodpecker who was breakfasting at a stump in my yard this morning.

Our resident pileated woodpecker

Phantom of the forest,
you swoop into a clearing
on silky black feathers,
white epaulets flashing on
broad wings.

You set to work at once,
drilling, gouging, chiseling
precise rectangles in
a soft, decaying stump.

Your noble head,
capped by a lick of flame,
bobs up and down.
You pause to swallow
termite, ant, or beetle,
savory and satisfying.

Full for now, you’re gone
in a sudden swirl of black
and white and red.
Phantom of the forest.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Find links to more National Poetry Month Projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Also, you can follow the progress of the Progressive poem at the links below:

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at https://kaymcgriff.edublogs.org/
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

News From the Natural World: To Build a Nest

Today’s poem was inspired by a recent article in the New York Times,Why Birds Are the World’s Best Engineers,” a post from the National Audubon Society, “What Nesting Materials Are Safe for Birds?” and this nest, which my boys found in our yard many years ago:

To Build a Nest

When spring arrives
and days grow warm,
Mother robin knows
it’s time to build her nest.

Searching woods and
fallow fields, she scavenges
dried twigs and vines
to build her sturdy nest.

Slowly, slowly, surely,
she presses tangled
scraps and stalks
into a cozy nest.

She daubs the rim
and fills small gaps
with bits of goopy mud
to reinforce her nest.

Inside the cup, a woven whirl
of soft dry grass will
cushion cyan blue eggs
that soon will fill her nest.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Find links to more National Poetry Month Projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Also, you can follow the progress of the Progressive poem at the links below:

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at https://kaymcgriff.edublogs.org/
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

News From the Natural World: Apple Cake

   .   

Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the first roundup of National Poetry Month at My Juicy Little Universe. Be sure to visit her there. It’s also time for another Sunday Night Swagger challenge. Here is Heidi’s description:

Linda Mitchell of A Word Edgewise has challenged the Sunday Swaggers to participate in the poets.org #ShelterInPoems project, which asks us to “share a poem that helps to find courage, solace and actionable energy, and a few words about how or why it does so.”

After spending time browsing through poets.org, I chose “The Wings of Daylight,” by W.S. Merwin. In lines like “what we see that one time departs untouched,” Merwin reminds us of the ephemeral nature of our days. He’s urging us to recognize these fleeting splendors, and appreciate the abundant gifts of our lives, a message made even more important during these tumultuous times. Most importantly, although this poem is filled with shadows, it begins and ends with light, which gives me hope.

The Wings of Daylight
By W.S. Merwin

Brightness appears showing us everything
it reveals the splendors it calls everything
but shows it to each of us alone
and only once and only to look at
not to touch or hold in our shadows

Read the rest of the poem here.

Linda’s original challenge was to write a poem inspired by a hand-written recipe. To keep my News From the Natural World project going, I adapted the first two lines of Merwin’s poem as a jumping off point for a poem responding to Linda’s original challenge.

Apple Cake

Brightness reveals the splendor of everything:

Ripe apples in a bowl, washed and ready to peel
Eggs, oil, vanilla, fine, silky flour
Cinnamon, baking powder, salt

Simple ingredients,
Mixed together since the dawn of time,
Transformed by heat
into treasure.

Alchemy or chemistry?
Who’s to say?
Either way, for a moment
the shadows
are gone.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: Specimen

Today’s poem was inspired by Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, The Overstory, by Richard Powers, and The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.

“Specimen” (with a nod to Walt Whitman)

On a summer day, sit against a tree
in the shade of its vibrant green umbrella.

Settle into the peace of the day.
A slight breeze ruffles the leaves.

And then everything seems still.
But appearances are deceiving.

Beneath the scaly bark,
Water is being drawn up, up, up.

In the leaves above, sunlight stirs cells,
creating a coursing stream of sugar.

This fresh new food is pumping
through every part of the silent giant.

Grass tickles the back of bare legs.
Listen for the hum of life.

A whole hidden world
lies just beneath the soil.

Roots and mycorrhizal networks
branch off in every direction.

Sharing food, sending messages,
Communicating, cooperating.

Quietly going about the business
Of making life on earth possible.

Catherine Flynn, Draft @ 2020

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

National Poetry Month: News From the Natural World

“Get curious. Go deep. Feel.
Explore.
Create new paths.”
Johanna Wright

It’s April 1st, the first day of National Poetry Month, the first full month of spring, and the first day of our first full month of quarantine. So it’s hard to say Happy 1st day of April as we ordinarily would. And yet, the blessing of our ability to connect through this amazing technology is something to be happy about. How lucky we are to have thousands and thousands of poems at our fingertips to read and savor and find comfort in.

Many poets of the Kidlitosphere undertake a poetry project each April. In the past I have joined in when I could, but haven’t ever committed to a project of my own before. And although figuring out how to teach online has a steep learning curve, I do have a bit more free time I normally would. So if not this year, when?

On a recent episode of the Ted Talk Radio Hour, Enrico Ramirez Ruiz, an astrophysicist who describes himself as a “stellar mortician,” explained that “we are all atomically connected, fundamentally, universally.” My aim is to focus on some element of the natural world and find those connections, and within them, find tolerance and understanding. Should be a snap, don’t you think? I have no idea where all this will lead, so thank you in advance for your patience. I’m sure there will be false starts and changes along the way, but isn’t that true of all adventures?

Today’s poem was inspired by “Lessons In Being Alone, From A Woodland Snail,” a recent episode of NPR’s podcast, “Short Wave.

Forest Snail

In the soft glow
of a quarter moon,
a solitary snails
glides through
the forest
on a trail of slime.

She finds a patch
of wild violets
and slowly munches
on fallen petals.

When she is full,
she withdraws
into the comfort
of her shell,
a ribboned reflection
of the moon above.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Charles J Sharp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

If you’d like to read more, Jama Rattigan has generously devoted much time and energy to curate a page of links to many National Poetry Month projects.

 

Poetry Friday: “Authors”

I am a creature of habit. I crave routines to keep my life in order. Needless to say, habits, routines, and order are out the window. We are all trying to make some sense of our new reality.

The habit of Poetry Friday is now deeply ingrained in me, and yet I couldn’t manage a post last week. I resolved not to let this week go by, too.
At the beginning of the month, Tabatha Yeatts was in Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’s TDL Spotlight and challenged readers to “write a poem about a game.”

There are several games I love to play, but my husband is NOT a game player. Now that my children are grown, I don’t play games as often as I’d like, so I really had to dig deep for an idea for this challenge. Not surprisingly, afternoons spent with my grandmother came to the rescue. My sister often joined in the game, but for today, it’s just me and my grandmother.

“Authors”

One deck of cards
one me, one you
can chase away the blues.

Shuffle, shuffle
four cards each,
Time for the big reveal.

I’ve got Jane Austen.
Here’s Shakespeare. Tennyson
and Hawthorne
, too.

In your hand you hold
Dickens, Balzac, Alcott,
and your favorite, Sir Walter Scott.

Back and forth,
we trade our cards
and slowly build our sets.

The last card is drawn.
Again, you’ve won.
Play once more? You bet!

© Catherine Flynn, 2020

Please be sure to visit Tabatha at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: The Comfort of Pie

Tomorrow is Pi day (3.14). We were going to celebrate at school today with a smorgasbord of pies. Instead, we are all home, hoping that closing our school will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We received word last night, before I made the chocolate cream pie my family loves. I was still too filled with worry and the stress of the week to bake last night. I may make it later this afternoon. After all, a piece of pie seems like a reasonable way to soothe the soul. 

We were also going to write Pi poems with the kids today, so I went ahead and wrote one that I hope I will be able to share with them soon. 

Chocolate
pie,
topped with dollops
of
whipped cream; nestled in
a crust of chocolaty crumbs. Divine.

From House of Nash Eats. Here’s their recipe: https://houseofnasheats.com/chocolate-cream-pie/.

Be well, my friends.

Please be sure to visit Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Here are other Pi day poems I’ve written over the last few years:

2018
2017
2016