sometimes in dreams I
remember a time when my spirit was
lifted by stars, silent
as a secret, and then
suddenly moonbound dark and
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.
In your native landscape
they call you taka chor—
always wanting more, more–
Filling trees with loud calls,
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.
“The forests are getting silent”
–Hanna Mounce, Maui Forest Bird Recovery
always more words, less
vast human wasteland
Eight birds from the Hawaiian Islands were on the official extinction list released by wildlife officials last week. Honeycreepers, descended from finches, are only found in Hawaii and have been losing species ever since explorers started bringing in invasive animals and diseases and destroying habitat in order to profit from the land.
Almost all the remaining honeycreepers are endangered. Besides their visual beauty, they pollinate native plants and keep insect populations under control.
Mosquitos, which are not native to the islands and arrived in the early 1800s, are one of the biggest dangers. They are hard to control and impossible to eliminate. The Avian Malaria and Avian Pox they brought has decimated the lower forest dwelling birds. As honeycreepers have retreated to higher elevations, climate change has followed them, raising the temperatures of the upper forests to levels that mosquitos can tolerate. The Maui Forest Recovery Project is working to save forest habitats and the plants and animals that live in its unique ecosystem.
I’ve written a shadorma this week for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.
the crunch of footsteps
clear blue sky
reflecting the rain
changeable skywind spatters
colors patterned light
full moon of autumn appears
leaves too soon amidst hopes of endless harvest
fragments linger, gold glittering
stars remember every invisible map
imprinted on the approaching dark
earth saturated with bonfires and bones
Two haiku and a sevenling for October and Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday theme, suggested by Franci Hoffman, the harvest moon. The photos are of September’s full moon traveling across the southern sky outside my window. In the first one, it’s half reflected on the window pane.
The artwork is the first page, front and back, of a handmade paper journal I bought on Etsy. I bought three, one each for myself and my sisters-in-law, as we all have great intentions to do art journals–and hopefully this will get us going. I painted the page, and stitched over the front with a technique I’ve been wanting to try. Since the color bled through the paper, I did a small autumn grid on the back.
sheer and continuous
sparkled currents rising
A badger’s hexastitch for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt, the photo by Trent McDonald, below.
Trent’s photo made me think of all of Sue Vincent’s photo prompts, and all the watercolor mandalas I painted in response to her images. Thanks, Trent, for the equally magical landscape.
This badger’s hexastitch has a very cinquain-like feel to me–not intentional, but I think it works.
It’s May! I haven’t done any artwork for a month, having used art from the archives for my April NaPoWriMo posts at kblog. So it felt good yesterday to ignore the moving boxes and pull out my watercolors and paint. I did two paintings, below–a landscape and some impressionistic flowers.
I then cut them into one inch strips and wove them together for my grid. I also did some further experiments, cutting some of the strips into one inch squares and arranging them in different ways. But that’s for another day with more time to think.
The moon visited me at dawn yesterday. It was dancing with the clouds. The Oracle managed to insert it into my May verse. Well we know how She feels about the moon.
wild winds grow full
listen to Maysongs
birds seeding spring air
with gardens rooted deep
in the fertile paths
that follow the wandering moon
spread your wings
carry the night in
The eagle owl is both one of the largest and longest-lived owls. With wing spans up to 6 feet, it has no natural predators, although it is sometimes mobbed by crows. The leading causes of death– electrocution, hunting, and poisoning–are man-made.
Nesting on cliffs or rocky outcrops, it has a wide distribution throughout Europe and Asia. I love its binomial name–Bubo Bubo.
Eagle owls are solitary, territorial, and nocturnal. They can more often be heard, having a large number of vocalizations, than seen.
For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.
flashes of yellow
Last fall my daughter and I were sitting on Columbia’s campus, talking and drinking coffee and tea, when we noticed a tiny yellowish bird looking for insects in a tree nearby. It looked a lot like the wood warbler I’ve drawn, above.
We didn’t see it well enough to positively identify it, but a birder friend suggested from my description that it was a warbler. Many species migrate through the area, in addition to common local residents like the yellow warbler.
The Blackburnian Warbler can also be found in New York, but I haven’t been lucky enough to see one. I would like to watch the intricate aerial dances they perform when protecting their territories.
I first drew the yellow warbler by itself, and scanned it, as backgrounds are always a problem for me. I’m still not sure about this one, although I like the colors.
and I am reminded again of who I am,
what I see when I look up at the night sky,
the scent of the earth in spring–
I feel the summer lingering,
long days of sun and sand
and the salty taste I carry
through days that follow me in rhythm
with the waves–
I see the sharpness of blue sky
behind black branches,
a playground of white snow
that culminates in hot chocolate,
the inside warming the outer—
I have been uprooted and transplanted
so many times that nowhere is home–
everything is temporary–
I’m always expecting to move on–
but I remember looking up
through the shade of oak trees,
the roses in my mother’s garden,
lilacs filled with butterflies—
the rust and gold of autumn
singing beneath my feet
For the earthweal challenge, a song of earth-praise from 2019. How far away that seems now. But I am still thinking of my mother.