Twitter: Because I Have Suffered

First response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t care about the suffering of others. Second response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t want to see others suffer.

Spring: Plastic bags snagged in the stubble field are turned into the soil.

Good house: / sparrows out back / feasting in the millet. — Issa

Two mylar Valentine’s Day balloons are stuck high in my neighbor’s silver maple. They aren’t just an eyesore; they pose a threat to area birds. This isn’t how you tell someone you love them.

Dried hydrangea blossoms stumble along the culdesac, the wind’s playthings.

Snow. Wind. A pair of red-winged blackbirds clings to the crabapple.

You can tell a lot about a person from their detritus.

I come to know you through the things the wind blows from your yard to mine.

You once held the mylar balloons that quiver in the silver maple.

Your inflatable packing is strewn across my yard like entrails.

I walk around picking up your branches, your receipts, your skiffs of tinfoil.

Take my birds as a sign of goodwill. Let them sing you back to joy.

I’ll retrieve your balloons with a cherry picker — deflated hearts that announce your love.

Your plastic will become my plastic. Your glass, my glass. I want your caps, your lids, your Juicy Juice boxes and their delicate little straws. Let it all blow my way.

What’s this? Your pill sorter. The chambers are chalky and taste like salt.

Have my watering can and two-tiered birdbath, my chipmunk and his major and minor hoards.

You crossed the boundary long ago, so take what you want. This leaf. This seed. This wagon. This hoe.

Twitter: Bed of Moss

A red-winged blackbird has come to visit. What a surprise.

Over the din of construction equipment and yard tools, the male red-winged blackbird calls for a mate.

The red-winged blackbird seems to be serenading a pair of courting mourning doves.

A feather floats to the ground. Whose?

Even after I forget who I am, I think I will remember birds.

Today, my Turin horse was a pair of bluebirds trying to nest in a construction zone.

The next time you see a bird, know that part of me is with you.

I kept one thousand words in a cage, then I set them free.

On new asphalt, the muddy tracks of Canada geese look like hieroglyphs.

Unable to accept what is, I tried to will a dead goldfinch back to life today.

If I hold your neck, will it unbreak? If I open your eyes, will you see? If I run my fingers along your feathers, will you fly? Summer is coming, your brightest season. Now you lay in my hand, your toes curling as if around a branch. I breathe and you don’t.

Today, my Turin horse was a small bird who died because he tried to fly into the reflection of a tree.

I laid the goldfinch to rest on a bed of moss and covered him with dried hydrangea blossoms.

In this world / we walk on the roof of hell, / gazing at flowers. — Issa

Twitter: Geometry

I found a heronry today near my home.

Birds froze to things last night: utility lines, branches, feeders. They left feathers behind when they flew away.

Geometry: two northern flickers — one on the utility pole, one in the sweetgum — and me, below, standing between them.

A European starling found a white feather and dropped it in the birdbath.

A blue jay used a peanut shell to bully other blue jays. He wielded it like a little sword.

Overhead, a single herring gull flew behind several ring-billed gulls.

I am as fussy as an American goldfinch.

I don’t know where the birds go at night, but I want to go there, too.

Songbirds slid off iced branches this morning.

The correct image is always a seed — it contains its own explanation, and defines itself. — Charles Wright

The ground has thawed. Squirrels play in the wet grass.

Morning: A squirrel drags a dried hydrangea blossom to his nest in the silver maple.

The grackles arrived this morning. In the near distance, hundreds of Canada geese are moving north. Only a handful of juncos remain. One sings from the back fence.

I hear tapping on a nearby tree. Two red-bellied woodpeckers jag through the air. They needle the sweetgums then disappear.

I am mildly interested in leaving the house but only to go watch birds somewhere else.

Sunny and warm. Clear skies. Two geese fly past the tornado siren tower.

I live knowing there is a Turin horse in my future, a suffering so great it will finally break me.

Twitter: Bird Blind

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing / and rightdoing there is a field. / I’ll meet you there. — Rumi

I imagine the field of no-ideas rustling with sparrows.

I’ve decided to come home to myself. I’ve been away too long.

I mean, my body has already come home to itself. My mind just got wind of it and is trying to take all the credit.

I feel a twinge of sadness when the American goldfinches fly off to my neighbor’s pin oak.

I feel bad about playing with boas when I was younger. I take feathers seriously now.

I waited all morning for the eastern bluebirds.

I watched birds for years without seeing them.

My house has become a bird blind.

I woke to bluebirds.

A yellow ball flies through the air: children playing.

The more I watch trees, the more I dream of trees.

Backlit birds and a bright gash in the dark sky.

A chipmunk scuttles home before the storm.

A blue jay covers a peanut with leaves before going back for another.

I don’t want to look at birds because I want to anticipate looking at birds.

The rain falls whether you think about it or not.

A wet house finch sings from my windowsill.

Twitter: A World of Wounds

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. ― Aldo Leopold

I enjoy feeding the birds.

A murmuration of starlings buzzed the cars on I-35 today.

The female northern flicker appears to have selected one of two suitors. The rejected male spent the day looking for the female. He sat in my yard calling for her. “Kyeer, kyeer. Kyeer, kyeer.”

The red-tailed hawk returned to the yard this afternoon. I have a crush.

These birds are my commitment remaining in the present.

I heard a blue jay cheep like a small songbird at the red-tailed hawk today. I’ve never seen that approach before, and I have no idea what informed the behavior.

I just played Vivaldi on my flute for the house finches.

Many people have an idea of what a bird is, but because they don’t pay close attention to birds, they don’t know what an actual bird is.

If you don’t pay close attention to birds, don’t write about them. Certainly don’t snare them in your nondescript haiku. Real birds deserve better than what you have to say about them.

I like men who walk their dogs in the woods.

Two paths trisect the snow-mantled yard: one to the birdbath, another to the bird feeders.

Juxtaposition: a brown creeper on the sweetgum, a bald eagle in the sky.

When I grow up, I want to spend all my time with birds.

Twitter: Light-Catchers

A staircase of shelf fungus scales the side of a hawthorn tree.

All around me, the ground undulates. Robins shovel leaves in search of food. “Do what you want to do” floats into my mind as clear as birdsong.

A Carolina wren sings a medley that includes the song my wren at home sings. B-flat followed by G-flat, repeated five times.

A female hooded merganser sleeps on a sheet of ice, her mate nowhere in sight. Upstream, a great blue heron squats low in the water, drenching its chest.

I like talking with the old men who don’t seem to have anyone.

Hawthorn tree: Your fungus is soft, your spikes hard. This is life.

At home, I get out my piccolo and play along with the birds.

A child screams like a hawk — or maybe a hawk screams like a child.

Frozen water droplets hang from the branches like thousands of crystal balls. Light-catchers, these drops tell our future.

Trees shred the wind. My dog sleeps.

I feel like the dark-eyed junco in my yard who has the excreta of another bird stuck to its tail.

Language is in my fingers these days, not my mouth.

I am ill and screaming like a starling.

Even the noisy house sparrow calls me back to the present.

My thoughts yellow like old paper.

Winter: Snow remains in the shadow my house casts.

Life: looking down to see the remains of a dead bird at your feet.

Bare tree limbs speak to each other in Morse code.

Starlings pull up the garland of the sky and hang it on trees. — Jeff Schwaner

Life is better since I started pointing my camera away from me. By camera, I mean mind.

Twitter: The Lake of the Morning

A therapist told me that EMDR changes the brain without conscious effort. Guess what else does that? The earth. Go outside.

The Cooper’s hawk perches on a silver maple. “Consciousness is terror,” I think.

In the world are some animals whose feet / Never touch the ground. Birds who only / Land on the uncertainty of open water. — Jeff Schwaner

How do I begin to describe a thousand snow geese on open water?

I belong. Say it with me. I belong.

My day started with the Cooper’s hawk killing a starling in my yard.

I decided a change of scenery was in order and went to the lake, where I saw two eagles mutilating a Canada goose. Next, I stumbled upon a hawk who had eaten a dark morph snow goose down to its wings.

I almost forgot to mention the dead trumpeter swan frozen on the lake in the most heartbreaking death pose.

The lake of the morning is not the lake of the evening is not the lake of midday.

Two hawks. No songbirds. Silence.

This afternoon, I watched a squirrel carrying leaves up to his home inside my silver maple.

The squirrels took the nest away from a northern flicker, who was upset today upon returning home only to find it occupied.

The squirrels need the nest because they are going to have a litter. The flicker needs the nest for protection from the elements.

Once you love birds, you have to love trees. Then you have to love soil and air. Berries and seeds and insects and arachnids. Sun. Rain. Wind. Water. And everything. You have to love everything.

Whose migration over open space / Turns everyone’s heads though they hear / Only your voice on a quiet morning. — Jeff Schwaner

I breathe the same air the birds breathe.

The despair. Don’t look at it. Look up.

Evening burns blue. Amnestic, darkness shrouds the tree canopy.

Twitter: Road Ends in Water

The snow is frosting sprinkled with nyjer seed.

Geese fly by so low I’m afraid they’ll get snagged on the sweetgums.

Crack. Crack. Swallow. Crack. Crack. Swallow. A blue jay shells peanuts and caches them in his expandable throat.

What is the yellow-bellied sapsucker still doing here?

There’s a sweetness to birders, like the time two women barreled across Heritage Park to make sure I’d seen the bald eagle.

Sign: Road ends in water.

Ice on a lake sings like someone playing one thousand saws.

Next to a white horse, a brown horse with a white face.

Out in the freshly tilled field: meadowlarks.

Through the dead grass, I see a man fishing.

A funeral procession passes as I stand in the field looking at meadowlarks.

Because the water is frozen, snow geese have landed in a field.

From a sparrow identification guide: The field sparrow’s song “sounds like a ball bouncing down to rest.”

I met a birder today on top of a dam. Her name is a combination of the words candelabra and mandolin. We saw pelicans.

Meadowlarks and starlings fly back and forth — low in the field — as if performing reiki on the earth.

Home: glass strike; no body. I am lousy with concern.

The woman with the beautiful name taught me how to pronounce the word merganser.

Rock pigeons stand on a frozen marsh.

Rural Kansas: the geometry of utility poles and power lines.

Twitter: Midfield

Midfield, / attached to nothing, / the skylark singing. — Basho

First snow, first junco tracks.

A spot of clean ground. This is where the rabbit laid while snow fell.

Sapphire sky beneath a sheet of vellum.

The winter sky has netted a colony of ring-billed gulls.

The chill carried a pine siskin to my yard.

Christmas morning. The Carolina wren sings.

At the top of the sweetgum tree, a tail flicks.

Winter: The dogwood blooms with finches.

House finch: Your crown is dried blood.

Northern flicker: You carry the sun under your wings.

All day I saw the Carolina wren. Still, I felt such loneliness.

We’ve been apart for so long that I can finally think of you fondly.

A little boy rides his new toy up and down the street.

One of the juncos drags its long toenails through the snow.

There and then not there: the chickadee.

The blue jays have me surrounded.

Now the blue jays are gone. They’re off mobbing a hawk.

No shadow like a hawk’s shadow.

When I’m with birds, it doesn’t matter that I’m not with people.

The songbirds exit stage right. The Cooper’s hawk enters stage left.

Winter: A great blue heron slips on a frozen marsh.

Today, a man touched me on the arm. I did not know him.

Twitter: Cabinet of Curiosities

My neighbor’s back porch looks like a cabinet of curiosities.

Note from an eBird user: American tree sparrow seen near artificial flowers at roadside memorial.

Church bells in the morning. Train whistle at night.

I follow a falling leaf almost all the way to the ground before realizing it’s not a bird.

The day is a glass marble being rolled toward the light.

Cardinal: You glow like a ruby in a tarnished ring.

A tree grows inside an old silo.

We just rescued a yellow-rumped warbler who was stuck in a park toilet.

American robin: You look like a stone fruit.

Spurred by a crow’s alert, more than thirty cedar waxwings shook off the Bradford pear in which they had flickered and lolled.

Meadowlarks bound through a freshly cut field as if directing a singalong.

Brown creeper: You look like a small knot on this Brobdingnagian tree.

In the quiet field, flying sparrows sound like cards being riffle-shuffled.

Western meadowlark: You’ve thrown your drab office blazer over your couture evening dress.

I look up to see the birds in my yard flying between bubbles. I look over to see a neighbor and her child playing with a soap bubble machine.

Canada goose: On takeoff, your wings sound like umbrellas opening and closing at full tilt.

Chickadee at Old Longview Lake: Your deformed foot doesn’t keep you from vaulting like an aerialist.

I saw an orange house finch today. I think this is the fellow who sings me awake each morning.

The blue jays seem to be testing shell peanuts for weight before making their selections.

Twenty-eight robins just landed in my sweetgum tree.

Two house sparrows fight over a feather.

Evening: The birds darken.

Two Carolina wrens hunt for spiders in my silver maple’s trunk flares.

This is the best thing I’ve read all day: “Carolina wrens defend their territories with constant singing.”

It’s not a ghost / which keeps you up at night / It’s certainty — Jeff Schwaner