I’ve been writing Poems of Presence along with several other Poetry Friday pals over the past few weeks. These haven’t been quite as stressful as my April poetry project, and I’ve started to view finding a topic for each day’s poem as if it’s a scavenger hunt. I suppose that is what all idea generation is, really. As often happens with me, my ideas get ahead of my and I run out of time. Hence this late post with no new poem. Instead, two #PoemsofPresence from earlier this week.
Unaware of social distancing,
a bobcat strides past my kitchen window.
I gasp at his presence.
He gazes up, blinks,
then continues on his way.
I am still at the sink,
my heart racing in awe.
mingle with snowflakes.
It’s hard to tell where
and spring begins.
It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for another Sunday Night Swagger Challenge. This month, Molly Hogan challenged us to write an epistolary poem. Earlier this week, I discovered Audubon Alaska’s National Poetry Month Bird Poetry Corner, which had a different prompt for each week of the month. The final challenge was to
imagine nature coming indoors: Perhaps a thunderstorm in the attic? A flock of Bohemian Waxwings in the kitchen?
A few years ago, starlings built a nest in our bathroom vent, so I decided to combine these two challenges and write those squatters a note.
To the starlings nesting in the attic:
I kept telling my husband to fix that loose vent cover. Of course he didn’t. Then you moved in and it was too late. You worked hard scavenging grass and pine needles for your nest. I’m sure you’re all warm and cozy up there, right above the shower.
How many nestlings do you have? Sometimes I can hear them cheeping, begging for a meal.
Did you set up housekeeping in the rafters or in a box of old clothes? I’ve been tempted to climb up the rickety stairs to peek, but I don’t want to disturb you. Please try not to make too much of a mess. I’ll clean everything up after your babies have fledged. Don’t get too comfortable, though. Before next spring, that vent will be repaired!
Sincerely, Your landlord
Please be sure to visit Elizabeth Steinglass for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup! Also, find out who my fellow swaggers wrote to at their blogs:
As National Poetry Month draws to a close, it’s time to put the month in perspective (my OWL for 2020). Twenty-four poems in thirty days is short of my goal of posting a poem every day. BUT, it is more than I have ever managed in April. I’m not going to bore you with reasons or rationales for why I didn’t post everyday; you know them all. What I will say is that even on days I didn’t post, I was writing, reading, thinking, observing. In other words, I was being a writer. I have learned much during this month of writing that I will strive to carry forward. Thank you to everyone who followed along on my meanderings. And congratulations to everyone who completed 30 poems in 30 days. I admire your perseverance!
This poem was inspired by and is modeled after Elizabeth Alexander’s stunning “Praise Song for the Day,” which she read at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
Praise Song for the Natural World
Each day, wild creatures go about the work of survival. A vibrant bluebird flits through the undergrowth in pursuit of an alluring female.
High in a pine, a nesting hawk surveys the countryside, screeching in protest at a mob of pesky crows.
All around, color is brightening the drab world. Brilliant yellow dandelions are open for business and hungry bees buzz joyously among them.
Violets sprinkle the hillside like confetti And every shrub and tree is wrapped In a fine haze of green or pink or red.
In the pond, clumps of frogspawn are silently, mysteriously on their journey of transformation.
Praise song for their confidence, their optimism in the face of a fickle world, for their honest pursuit of life.
Praise song for every blossom, every nest, every egg.
One of the challenges posed by Audubon Alaska for its month-long Bird Poetry Corner was to write an ekphrastic poem. They provided a photograph to use as inspiration, but I recently saw this video of flamingos let loose in the Denver Zoo and knew a flamingo poem was about to take flight. Watching this video was also inspiring. Audubon did paint this stunning, if somewhat stern looking, flamingo:
A flamboyance of flamingos march in formation like an army of wind-up tin soldiers. As they parade, heads are bobbing up and down on sinuous necks, pivoting from side to side seeking their one true love.
Suddenly, their wings rise, And a multitude of roses burst into bloom.
This morning I came across a Facebook post from Audubon Alaska about their Bird Poetry Corner. How had I missed this? They have had a new prompt each week in April. Now I have a prompt the last five days of National Poetry Month! Today’s poem is my response to Week Four:
Below you’ll find a list of words that relate to nature. These words are your poetry prompts this week. You can use these prompts in several different ways: You can choose a single word and build a poem around it as a topic. You can choose a handful of words (about five would be good) and use those words to kick off different lines or verses. Or you can challenge yourself to write a single poem with all of the words included in it.
There is a pond in the woods behind our house. It knows how to take care of itself, and we let it. We do try to keep a path cleared so we can walk down the hill and see what’s going on. Over the past few weeks, I’ve observed at least eight ducks living there. They inspired this poem.
A Paddling of Mallards
This spring, a paddling of mallards has moved in on the far side of the pond. They stay concealed, bobbing behind a bloom of bright green pond grass.
I approach the pond on tiptoe, careful not to step on a fallen branch that will snap and startle them.
They sense my presence anyway. Before I can blink, they launch into the sky, seeking refuge in the trees.
I sit on a rock, quiet and still, hoping they will return. Other birds, red-wings and sparrows, tolerate me. Soon, the air is filled with their song. But the mallards stay away.
I sigh, rise, and trudge back up the hill. I want them to come back to their hidden nests. I imagine feather-lined depressions of twigs and leaves, filled with eggs, harbingers of hope.
It’s World Penguin Day! What better day for a poem about penguins? I sometimes write acrostics to gather words and ideas for topics, but today I decided that I liked this acrostic well enough to share today.
Penguins promenade over a barren landscape of ice. Elegant in black and white, they Never fly. Instead when it’s time to eat, they Glide gracefully through their frigid Underwater hunting grounds, feasting on krill. Indulging until full, they return to rocky Nests to lay an egg. And So the world begins anew.