Friday, April 09, 2021

Poetry Friday: NPM Spring Cleaning Day 9, Birds in Conversation

Have you noticed how many people are writing about birds in their Poetry Friday posts? Last week there were so many! Part of it is the time of year, when the migratory birds are coming back to northern countries from their trips down south (and we down south are sad to see them go). But part of it is that birds are just excellent topics for poetry. I have several anthologies of bird poems, and I like to write bird poems myself. There's something transcendent about birds - I guess it's the whole flying thing.


This link to Little Willow's blog, Bildungsroman, has been open on my desktop since January, when I read it and was captivated by the idea that words are birds. Francisco X. Alarcón's poem starts like this:



are birds

that arrive

with books

and spring


You can follow the link above to read the whole poem (or you could find it here). I think my favorite stanza is:


some words

are familiar

like canaries

others are exotic

like the quetzal bird


Here's a photo I took recently of birds on wires; I was trying to take a picture of that kite off to the top right, but as you can see, that didn't quite work. I thought about the words being birds, and then about the birds being words, and then the birds having a conversation, and I wondered what they were saying to each other up there.


 Bird Conversation

All we birds up on this wire
Watch the kite go by,
Scoff at how the kite’s desire
Is thwarted in the sky.

Since it’s guided by a string,
It can’t go where it chooses.
In a contest with us birds
The poor kite always loses.

Oh, we see the kite is free,
It’s escaped its owner.
Borne along now by the wind,
It’s a joyful loner.

But we can foresee its fate:
When the wind stops blowing,
That poor kite will fall to earth
While we birds keep going.

Yes, it’s good to be a bird
Up here so complacent.
That kite flies for now, it’s true,
But it’s just bird-adjacent.

Who would want to be a kite,
Subject to whims and weathers?
We are glad that we are birds
With iridescent feathers.


Ruth Hersey

This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All



Margaret Simon said...

Your bird poem comparison to kites is such a delight to read! Yes, I am one of those bird admirers. Recently I saw a very quick murmuration when I pulled into the school parking lot. I sat there gobsmacked for a moment. If I had to guess, birds would win the most-likely-to-be-in-a-poem prize.

Irene Latham said...

I like that the bird voice here is glad to be exactly itself (and not the kite). Would be interesting to follow the conversation with a poem from the perspective of the kite! You're right about birds and poetry. It's kind of what makes it difficult, because how to be fresh and offer something new on the topic? Yet I, too, am, currently working on a bird related project...wishing your words wings, dear Ruth! xo

Linda B said...

My daughter gave me a bird feeder for Christmas & I've placed it right outside my window here where I sit at the computer, a gift of joy always. I've taken a few pics of those birds on a wire, too, Ruth, so fun to see & imagine the conversation as you wrote. I adore your poem, so good in every stanza that I cannot pick a favorite! It's a lovely post!

jama said...

Delightful bird poem, Ruth! Fun conversation they were having. :D Your photo reminds me of the musical staff, with each bird a different note. Enjoyed the excerpts from the Alarcon poem too!!

tanita✿davis said...

Have to smile that the kite didn't make it, but the birds did, and that was enough to prompt poetry.
Works for me!
We got a squirrel proof feeder this year that really works, and I'm a bit obsessed with all of the birds in the yard this year... plus the crows, who weren't specifically invited, but showed up anyway. I've become much more in tune with the outdoors and the heralding of the seasons since the pandemic began - may our collective attention to this Earth continue!

Fran Haley said...

I am guilty of contributing to the myriad flocks of bird poems! The little winged messengers bring so much joy - as does your poem. A bird must surely be glad of being a bird!

Linda Mitchell said...

I am now a huge fan of the phrase bird-adjacent! Great poem...wonderful take on the idea of conversing birds.

Alan j Wright said...

The bird is the word Ruth. I enjoyed your comparative poem regarding free wheeling birds and the limitations of kites. I also enjoyed the other poems you brought to share. The connection between birds and books was particularly apt.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh to have iridescent feathers! I wish. Alas, I fear I won't even get to bird-adjacent status. :( For the time being I am content watching and reading poems about them— yours was so much fun, Ruth!

Sally Murphy said...

I love this Ruth - and that your attempt to photograph one thing became something else, and inspired a poem. I smiled at 'bird-adjacent'. So clever!

Buffy Silverman said...

Ha--your birds with an attitude made me laugh. Poor kite, just bird-adjacent.

Cathy said...

Maybe the pandemic has us all paying more attention to the birds. Maybe this is their big moment. Of course, as you remind, birds have always been a big part of poetry. I am intrigued by your comment about all the bird anthologies you own. Do you have a favorite? For all the poetry I own, I do not believe I have a single bird anthology. Hmmmm....

I enjoyed your poem as well. The way you portrayed the haughtiness of the the birds who seem to have no patience for the aspirations of this lowly kite. These two lines were among my favorite:

Who would want to be a kite,
Subject to whims and weathers?

Ruth said...

Cathy, I don't know which I like best, but here are some:

Mary Lee said...

I love that you captured both the birds and the kite in your photo AND your poem. These are my favorite lines:

That kite flies for now, it’s true,
But it’s just bird-adjacent.

laurasalas said...

Hahahaha--just bird-adjacent. I will forever see kites as second-class birds now, Ruth. I also love the image of words as birds. Here's a poem inspired by birds on a telephone wire from BookSpeak:


Line after line of inky black birds
forming the flocks that shift into words.
Page after page of tales winging by
singing a story against a white sky.

Karen Edmisten said...

I want to be bird adjacent!
What a delight this poem is. And I'm in awe of so many marvelous Poetry Month projects. I'm having trouble keeping up with everything, but it's a privilege to have such an embarrassment of riches to read and follow.

michelle kogan said...

Those lovely " iridescent feathers." Just one more reason to love birds that twinkling sparkle they give us. Love your poem and how it sings through the stanzas like one of the birds… Thanks Ruth!

Bridget Magee said...

I, too, am wow-ed by your imaginative poem and the line, "bird-adjacent"! Fabulous, Ruth! :)