Tag Archive | painting

Curlew (Draw a Bird Day)

the small is mirrored
in the large, and what appears,
surprises—the same,

but filtered by air,
particles of refracted
light, pixelated

into fragments, in
to a gridlike layer of
illusion—the eyes

are fooled at first, but
the voice, immediately
recognizable,

permeates, revealing the
inside of the Other Side

I recently finished Ali Smith’s “Companion Piece”, a book in which the curlew has a large role. “It’s flesh, everyone knows, is pure and clean because this bird is known to eat nothing but air and is also known to be a bird that comes as a gift from God to befriend the pilgrims and it exists, the story goes, to weld the heaven to the earth.”

“The stories say it is a bird that likes books and even brings them in its beak to saints if the saints have dropped their holy books in water and they need retrieving or if the saints are short of something to say to people then this bird will be the messenger that brings them books full of things God would like them to say.”

The curlew is strongly associated with the Seven Whistlers, birdlike night creatures whose eerie call is said to bring on death and disaster. But it is also seen in a more positive light as an intimate part of its landscape–moors, bogs, and river valleys, the windswept winter coastline.

Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing curlews,
Hearing the horizons endure.

–Ted Hughes

Five of the eight species of curlews are endangered, with two–the Eskimo Curlew, and the Slender-Billed Curlew–most likely already extinct. A migratory bird, they are found throughout the world. Their vocalizations are filled with complex harmonics and pitch variations.

Through throats where many rivers meet, the curlews cry,
Under the conceiving moon, on the high chalk hill

–Dylan Thomas

Sometimes my research on the bird I choose to draw yields little information, but the curlew is so well-represented in poetry, music, nature writing, and folklore, that I could not begin to touch on even a small piece of it in one post.

If you want to find out more, here are a few good places to start:

https://www.curlewsoundsproject.org/curlewsinculture

Tufted Titmouse (Draw a Bird Day)

not a sparrow, this
small bird—crested forager,
grey dusted with red

When I walk through Central Park I always see lots of sparrows on the ground, along with starlings, pigeons, grackles, robins in spring and summer, and the occasional blue jay, cardinal, or mockingbird. But the small birds always seem to be sparrows. Last week a flash of red caused me to look closer–a tufted titmouse! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one, although I often hear them.

The tufted titmouse, a relative of the chickadee, is a common species in the eastern United States, although their range has been steadily moving northward, due to both rising temperatures and the presence of bird feeders. They do not migrate, so bird feeders have allowed them to live in colder climates. They prefer evergreen-deciduous woodlands with a dense canopy and many tree species.

In the summer they eat insects primarily, adding seeds, nuts, and berries to their winter diet. Holding the seeds with their feet, they open them with their beaks. They often cache food in bark as well.

The tufted titmouse does not excavate their own nesting cavities, looking instead for natural holes, or abandoned nest holes. They will also use nest boxes or pipes. They line their nests with hair, and have been observed plucking hairs from many kinds of living animals, including dogs. That is something I would like to see!

December 2022/Icebound

gravel roads follow
me, my feet covered
in ice, blinding wind
blankets the sky, eyes
immersed in elsewhere—

clouds waver
the horizon, wisps
of images scatter
me moonfaced
across the dark window—

I am beyond
ripe for picking, afraid
of falling into the midst
of an isolated
silence, stuck in solitude–

waiting for a pinprick
of light to gather
me in, a reminder
of what lies
fallow, waiting—

not growing yet, but
hushed, all aquiver, molecules
cocooned inside
themselves, waiting,
dancing wildly—

layers shifting, waiting
to become repatterned, re
arranged over and under,
waiting—this is the way
of healing, beginning, return

For December, where Brendan at earthweal has asked us to consider The Witch of Winter.

#share your day (starting with turtles)

everything
needs salt in my world–
butter adds
zest—is it
any wonder my favorite
snack food is popcorn?

It’s #ShareYourDay week at Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Today is stormy, full of wind and rain, and I’m hunkered down inside. So I made some popcorn and wrote a shadorma for the W3 prompt from Sylvia about one of my favorite foods.

So where do the turtles come in?

The Oracle is enigmatic, as always.

starting with turtles
dressed in thousands of skyclouds–
mountain water green

Gilt Edged Tanager (Draw a Bird Day)

I Dream of Brigid

In the beginning I was alone, carefully unwinding the wormlike stem of a large plant.  It seemed like a cactus to me at first, but gradually it reshaped itself into a huge iridescent flower.  I was surprised to suddenly find that instead of tendrils I was in possession of two glittering aqua and golden wings.  They opened my arms like bridges in the street of the sky.

Night walks, scattering poems, uncoiled in a spiraling serpent around me.  Feathers became flaming scales became feathers again, mercurial rainbows scattering glowing seeds, crossing and recrossing the portal that explored every direction between the darkness and the light.

My blood began to sing, an echo of bells vibrating, calling my name.  All the words I had lost or abandoned returned to me, transformed into candled threads sailing like a sea of flames on a river of stars.

I really did have this dream, at least the first part, which led me to look for a bird that fit those wings. The gilt edged tanager came closest. Native to Brazil, its habitat is fragmented, and though not considered endangered, the population is found primarily in protected reserves of moist lowland subtropical forests.

There are close to 400 species of birds in the tanager family. A few species live in the United States, but most of these colorful birds live in Central and south America.

Tanagers are associated with the goddess Brigid, which seems odd since they are not native to Ireland. But many cultures, including the Japanese, consider them to be messengers from the spirit world. They do look magical.

The story of my dream was written for dVerse prosery, where Linda provided a line from ee cummings, in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems, to be included in what we wrote.

I was not really happy with any of my renderings of this bird when I did them, but they are growing on me. In order: colored pencil, gouache, inkpen with watercolor, neocolor. It’s been a long time since I painted with gouache.

9/11/2022

remember—(breathe)–
sky clear crisp blue–
time stands still once again–
ghostname voices–
bone rattled leaves–
bottomless sings the wind

I’ve rearranged some of my previous poetry from 9/11 into a Laurette poem for Muri’s scavenger hunt. Images also from past posts.

Thursday Doors: Zen Garden

the entrance is an enso  a glowing blue light
a form that contains nothing  inside of the whole
spirit absorbed by essence  emptied of ego
in silent simplicity  opening, complete

My younger daughter took a few days off from work before Memorial Day, and one of her requests was that I take her as my guest to early morning member hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are on Thursdays from 9-10 am. I had told her and her sister about visiting the Winslow Homer exhibit that way.

One of her favorite places in the museum is the Zen Garden. It wasn’t open in the early hour, but even after the museum opened to the public at 10, we were able to visit without any crowding–it’s tucked away among the Asian art, and if you don’t know where to look, you probably only discover it by stumbling upon it. It’s a bright open empty room with a rocks and a koi pond with a waterfall on the edges.

I used to post about my museum visits a lot, and perhaps in the future I’ll do a post on the Homer exhibit and also the paintings of Louise Bourgeois which were inexplicably hard to find. We asked directions three times, and only found it by accident in the end. But that meant that only one other person was there so we could really look at the art.

The museum also has many wonderful doors and door-like structures, such as the tiled niche above.

My poem is in the Japanese imayo form, which consists of four 7/5 syllabic lines. There is a planned caesura (or pause) between the first 7 syllables and the final 5. Another feature of this form is that it makes three poems–the whole, and one each with the 7-syllable lines and the 5-syllable lines, similar to a cleave poem, except that somehow it seemed more natural to me and easier to construct. I’ve included the color blue for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #tastetherainbow prompt.

You can read more about the enso here.

And, as always, find more doors with host Dan Antion, here.

Tiger Shrike (Draw a Bird Day)

the spirits of the places
I move through
appear as birds–

residents of sidewalks,
street trees, roofs, parks–
the spirits of the places

stopping me, waiting for me
to acknowledge them as
I move through

thinking of someone I’ve lost–
as if they had suddenly
appeared as a bird

It would be very unusual to spot a tiger shrike in New York City, as they reside in wooded habitats in eastern Asia, and are quite shy. But if you did, that would be the male with the mask. The female has more more subtle coloring, which makes the eye appear larger.

Like all shrikes, they used their sharp hooked beaks to impale their prey–insects, small birds, lizards, rodents. They are not considered threatened, although populations are declining.

My cascade is a (belated) response to Brendan’s discussion at earthweal about spirits of place. I’ve felt spirits in certain of my residences, although I haven’t stayed in many places long enough to establish a relationship. But everywhere I go in the city I find birds.

Birds are considered in many cultures to be a bridge between the human and spirit worlds. I know I’m not the only person who has wondered if someone I’m missing sometimes visits me in the form of a bird.

Striped Owl (Draw a Bird Day)

sometimes in dreams I
remember a time when my spirit was
lifted by stars, silent
as a secret, and then
suddenly moonbound dark and
luminous–everything felt
ancient and reawakened—like the
hushed feathered womb of owl
wings singing in a windswept quaver

Another orange and black bird for the Year of the Tiger. The striped owl is found in Central and South America, inhabiting savannas and semi-open grasslands.

My poem is another Golden Shovel, with lines extracted from Arthur Sze’s wonderful poem “The Owl”. I’ve used it before as inspiration, and probably will again.

And I’m sure owls will show up, as they have before, on Draw A Bird Day as well.

Rufous Treepie (Draw a Bird Day)

In your native landscape
they call you taka chor
always wanting more, more–
objects, glitter

Filling trees with loud calls,
attention-seeking mein–
to be both heard and seen–
crow to the core

The rufous treepie, a long-tailed bird native to India and southeast Asia, is known locally as taka chor, or “coin stealer”. Like all corvids, it loves shiny objects, and has no misgivings about taking anything that catches its eye.

Also, like all crows, it will eat pretty much anything, and is intelligent, adaptable, and opportunistic.

Primarily arboreal, it feeds mostly among the forest cover, and will often hunt with other bird species to flush out more insects from the trees. As its woodland habitat decreases, however, it has learned to live in urban parks and yards, and has no problem eating discarded human food or road kill, if that’s what’s available.

I chose the rufous treepie while looking for orange and black birds in honor of the Year of the Tiger. That may be my bird theme for the year–there are many to choose from.

The poem is an abhanga for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Appropriately, an Indian poetic form.

The top bird was done with brush and ink, the middle one is neocolors, and the bottom one is colored pencil with ink outlines–I found a feather quill pen I bought years ago in a box. It’s a bit tricky to use, and I’m out of practice. But I enjoyed working with it again.