Old Moon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grey is Great

The restrained but extravagant repetitions of a singing catbird fall as gently as rain onto the ear.  Many mockingbirds fill the neighborhood with their boisterous notes at high volume. I remember how delighted we were when they moved north to regale New England with their brilliant, tireless musicianship. Up there, and now, even more obviously here, catbirds became either less numerous or were overpowered by the bigger, crow-related, brash and showy mockingbirds.

Now that I live in true mockingbird territory, when I hear a catbird, even more when one visits the deck or a nearby tree, I get a special thrill of pleasure from the modest and lovely grey bird that sends it.

The towhees my mother used to call “wood robins” fall in the same category of beautiful, graceful, shy birds that seem content to spend their lives and rear their young near human beings.

Plenty of others endear themselves by brilliant plumage like the blue jays and “redbirds.” Even the small house finches flash red and jewel-like past our windows along with sunny, showy goldfinches, indigo buntings on their way to the mountains and the cheeky, noisy, clowning Carolina wrens.

Those less presumptuous, perhaps more humble representatives of avian society seem like some people of similar modesty-- special treasures in our lives.

Friday, May 13, 2011


For a long time even before I began trying to write poetry again, I have been dismayed at poets who seem to be trying to outsmart their readers, playing a kind of puzzle one-up-manship. Then I bumped into a market called Lucidity Poetry Journal, and immediately figured it might be a place I could send some of my not-too-profound versifying.

I didn't win a prize, but I did garner an honorable mention (I had sent the limit of five poems). There was also a list of honorable mentions for titles--a first in my experience. I got one of those too. So, just for the fun of it, here is the poem with the title the editors liked:

Bottom Line

Where is what is lost?
Is it absent forever?

When the blossom shatters,
when the snow melts,
when a dropped earring
can’t be found, the space
on the museum wall
now bare of the image
that haunts the lover
of art—
is there some
ledger that tells us
which lacks are less or greater?

Who would bewail the loss
of a child’s first tooth?
How long will the mournful
cow keep lowing for her absent calf?
A soldier son, an aged mother,
an elder statesman, a teenaged
driver, a deer in the headlights…
are they of equal weight in
some cosmic balance,
once they’re lost?

If at last there is no finding,
how do we achieve
the full height of our being?
Only the faithful and the brave
know the courage to deny
the mortality of what is unseen.

The latest issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review is online as of today. This is the real thing--not just poetry closely judged and well chosen, but graced with trenchant reviews as well. Scott Owens, the editor, was kind enough to print a couple of my offerings there. 

Today was a good day in other ways: I got the first royalty check from Bookstogonow.com. It wouldn't buy a cup of coffee, but it proved someone bothered to download my story. And I came in second at a bridge club in which I was invited to substitute. 

Maybe another day, I won't be the perennial also-ran?