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

Twitter: Brambled

You do your thing. I’ll watch birds.

Life is like being held hostage by someone I don’t want to leave.

but though I have looked everywhere, / I can find nothing / to give myself to: / everything is / magnificent with existence — A. R. Ammons

I will give you four names because you change with each season.

Platinum sky. Church bells. A robin reflected in the birdbath.

And if you are not a bird, then beware of coming to rest above an abyss. ― Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m trying to forget people.

My poems are as brambled as my mind.

I avoid showing you the things I love because I am afraid you will not love them.

We rake leaves while leaves fall.

A bald eagle flew right over my head today.

American tree sparrows look like my grandmother’s embroidery.

Windy day. An American kestrel clutches the top of a purple martin house.

Four drops of oil glint at the top of an oak tree. The European starlings have arrived.

Sweet wren. You only come out when I’m standing near the feeder. I’m beginning to think you like my company.

We followed a murmuration of starlings along a country road. It pulsed open and closed — a world expanding and collapsing.

Bagging leaves, we make way for winter.

We’ve had our driest fall in fifteen years, which has affected our wetlands. It’s raining this morning. I’m off to kiss the raindrops.

Red-bellied woodpecker: In this light, you are wearing a faded clown costume.

Northern flicker: Your spotted belly mirrors the sweetgum seed pods dangling behind you.

When I’m still, the birds stop seeing me.

The rain was light and inconsequential. Clay hardens beneath my feet.

Twitter: No-God

There is no god, and no-god visited me today in the form of a red-tailed hawk.

I said to the hawk, “Please forgive us for what we’ve done. We know not our ignorance.” Then I repeated it, but in first-person singular.

Rust-colored bars trailed down his chest like seismic waves recorded sideways.

Stingrays swam down the centers of lightest feathers on his back.

The shafts of his primaries were pencil leads.

His talons were crude and comical, like those a child would sculpt in art class, having never seen a hawk in real life.

His eyes were chocolate brown. Watching him blink was like watching two worlds appear and disappear.

When he scratched his neck, his lower beak dangled, loose and wobbling.

Over a period of about fifteen minutes, he let me slink right up to the low-slung branch where he was perched.

He did not fly away when I approached. He did a little jig on the branch, then turned to face me.

His chest was on full display, propped up by those two ridiculous Big Bird feet.

He did a hula move, fluffing his feathers against the cold. Now he was just showing off.

He said nothing, of course, but what I heard was: “This is what I am. Do not destroy me.”

Slowly, he opened his wings and flew away, carrying the day’s last light on his back.

Twitter: A Desolating Experience

I wish birds could read. Then I’d have my preferred audience.

T. H. White wrote about nature because he didn’t fit in with people. Same.

Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with a countryside. — T. H. White

Humans are the only species to which I have fallen prey.

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

Strong wind. Crackling house. A conversation.

Thorns and seeds in glass jars. A tackle box packed with toys. Two journals: one practical, one desperate. These will remain when I’m gone.

I just learned that blue jays are the architects of America’s oak forests. Amazing.

The wind tonight is straight out of The Turin Horse.

Every leaf a bird. Every bough a bird. Bird, the wind. Bird, the air. Motion before thought is the bird inside you — scratch marks on stone.

Winter is when I cry a little every night, mostly about the suffering of animals.

Canada geese glide through the air’s church bells.

As I learn the names of birds, I am forgetting the names of people.

I know some birds by their shadows.

Some people feel like glue traps.

The closer you get to real matter, rock, air, firewood, boy, the more spiritual the world is. — Jack Kerouac

The day after Donald Trump won the election, I walked into a canyon.

I’m not sure what all the American robins were doing in my backyard this afternoon, but it appeared to be some sort of flash mob.

We got the tube feeder and heated birdbath set up just in time for winter. New visitors include cedar waxwings and black-capped chickadees.

This morning, I saw a squirrel sitting like Buddha at the base of my sweetgum tree.

When the last mourning dove disappeared, I was more alone than ever.

Twitter: Destroyed

I saw my first-ever red-shouldered hawk today. We watched each other for a long time.

I saw the red-shouldered hawk where the brook and meadow meet. Part of me is still there.

I found where the killdeer go at night.

The internet is screwed. Take up birding.

I went outside to find the blue jay who was imitating a hawk. Instead, I saw a red-tailed hawk shoot out of my sweetgum tree.

There’s a northern flicker nesting in my silver maple.

Why am I so happy? Because I’m destroyed.

Suddenly, the air is snow-colored.

And sometimes a day like today is like / an empty room and this empty room / is a treasure. — Allison Grayhurst

Nostalgia, you are a leaking window.

Like finials, mourning doves embellish my fence on this otherwise unadorned day.

I saw an eastern bluebird in my yard today. I SAW AN EASTERN BLUEBIRD IN MY YARD TODAY.

I found two nests in the silver maple.

Two doors down, a boy rides his toy tractor through the leaves.

All the time I pray to Buddha / I keep on / killing mosquitoes. — Issa

My advice? Find some earth. Walk on it, slowly.

You can find me in the wetlands, but that’s not an invitation to come find me.

Night. A moth at my window. Hello.

I lost my curse words in the woods.

How I look when I see birds is not how I look when I see people.

Twitter: Human Contact

I saw a sign that read, “Ring Bell for Human Contact.” I did not ring the bell.

When shade turns to sun, dark-eyed juncos are the first to emerge from the brush.

After several dark days, the sun coming through this window might as well be a god.

When I was filling the birdbath, a blue jay did his best impression of a red-tailed hawk. I think he wanted to bathe all by himself.

The male cardinal is a grace note in the bare rose of Sharon.

A highway runs through one of our wetland areas. Shame on us.

A shadow crosses the highway. Above, a red-tailed hawk.

You know you’re going to die, and you live anyway. That’s how it is.

I have edited the landscape to include more detritus.

The last leaves on the crabapple tree: ornaments.

I only answered the door because I thought you were a bird.

Unordered list: waxing crescent moon, bare maple tree, dull opal sky.

The remaining leaves sound like dry grasses.

Black Friday. I can’t get to the wetlands fast enough.

The snow geese fly in the shape of a swallow.

Scatter my ashes in the prairie cordgrass.

Four red-tailed hawks soar above our subdivision.

Starlings carry the shape of power lines into the air.

Death won’t happen to me. I won’t be there. – Jose Faus