TWILIGHT

In the twilight of the dove,
that moment when the sun’s
retreat has only just begun
my shadow stretches
ever so slowly into oblivion.

I hear it whisper to me
a promise to return and I
want nothing more than
to believe it, for the grant
of another day is a small
wish granted, one I make
with the knowledge that
the genie of age is growing
ever more tired of responding
to my unchanging request.

Appearing night makes
no promises and the stars
consider me and us all
inconsequential in the
celestial scheme of things

SCHMUTZ

Looking out the window
I quickly realize that the window
needs cleaning, and then
that the red-shouldered hawk
in the nearby tree is carefully
staring back at me.

I want to know what
the hawk is thinking, perhaps
that I am possible prey, or
more likely wondering why
I am so foolish as to live
in a strangely large box.

The hawk, of course, is
wondering what I am thinking,
how beautiful he is, what
strange flightless beasts
we humans are, or just
perhaps that my window
very badly needs cleaning

PARADE

They strut across our lawn oblivious to our stares. The cat sits watching these large objects, birds perhaps she thinks, but nothing like those she once hunted for food when she was homeless and pregnant. She is content to sit and watch them, speaks a momentary hello, and realizing that they do not speak cat, settles down for her pre-dinner nap.

FIVE HAIKU

The dawn cedes slowly
to the impinging sunlight
birds greet the new day

The great egret lifts
her wings embracing the cloud
the winter sun smiles

on the barren branch
the red-shouldered hawk awaits
her mate and the sun

sandhill cranes wander
along the shore of the lake
looking for nothing

the moon is a cup
waiting for night to fill it
venus sits empty

GET A ROOM

You feel like a voyeur, staring
as the red-shouldered hawks
mate in a tree mere yards
from where you are standing.

Still, you cannot take your eyes
away from them, your camera
tightly focussed, an avian
pornographer perhaps, or maybe

just a lucky soul given the chance
to witness a ritual denied to most,
and you know with luck their offspring
will repeat the show for you next year.

POP-UP BUFFET

The cranes walk together
as a pair, announcing
themselves loudly,
strolling across the lawn
headed for the one yard
where the sod has been
torn out to allow regrading.

The equipment has paused
and they take this
as an invitation, stopping
for a large meal
at the new buffet,
certain that this
was done just for them
and perhaps a few ibis,
should they happen along.

Tomorrow this will be
once again a lawn
and the cranes will
express their displeasure
before looking for a new
place to dine.

TRY LOOKING

He loved walking around the small lake. He could make a circuit in just under 40 minutes. If. If he didn’t stop to marvel at or photograph some bird along the shore. The runners flashing by him gave him strange looks, likely because they didn’t see the beauty in this bird’s feathers, how the light played off that bird’s beak. He was a runner once, until his knees gave out. But he can’t remember much of the paths he ran, just moment after moment of what was on the ground in front of him.

MAYOKU THUMPS HIS STAFF

If as you walk
along the way
you come across
a small bird’s nest
fallen to the ground
its eggs intact,
you place it
back on the branch
without a thought.

If as you walk on
and come across
another small bird’s nest
fallen to the ground
its eggs intact
you place it
back on the branch
because it pleases you.

One right thought
and right action,
one wrong thought
and wrong action,
how can you
tell them apart?

A reflection on Case 15 of the Book of Equanimity SHôYôROKU 従容錄

CATHARTIDAE

They circle slowly
each in its own tier
of a near cloudless sky,
their wings still
as if frozen, riding
the breeze, dipping
and rising, going nowhere,
needing nowhere,
riding, riding, looking
down at the wetland,
and circling, until
with a shift in the breeze
the vulture vortex
shifts east, and you
watch them shrink,
thankful that they
are simply out
for a flight, and not
finding a meal
in the reeds
and trees
where all
the other
birds live.

EDGE OF THE ABYSS

He sits on the edge
peering down, shaking
in the breeze, knowing
the abyss below waits
for a misstep, a slip.

He stares up, waiting
for her return, hoping
she will soon arrive
bringing the meal, never
enough always wanting more.

He knows he will
someday soon have
to leave, but for now
all he can do is spread
his wings, flap them,

until it will seem natural
and then, only then
when he is strong, can
he lift up and become
one with an infinite sky.