He waits upon the beam
that holds the rafters up,
dry weed in his beak.
He chirps incessantly
as she constructs a nest
with what he brings her.
He seems to have forgotten
the ear-piercing love songs
from her red-breasted suitors
prancing on the railing
now that he has a partner
to get the real work done.
Swirl of savage sunsets,
Swirl of the dead
Somehow, still living.
– Adrian Louis (“Degrees of Drought”)
Bribed with little water,
we have enticed Redbuds
to brighten our gardens
with cardinal colors
regardless of rainfall
before they leave
green hearts in spring.
Even the bare hills
sigh and grin relieved
for the living, love us
for our generous nature
that keeps the wild alive
and close to our swirling
Another round of Blue Oak
from the limb droughts have cured
to fall with a crash in the yard—
after the calves were marked
and friends were fed and gone,
you and I and a bottle of wine
before the fire we cooked upon
waiting for the pillowed clouds
to collect and turn dark gray—
our forecast rain. Tough filaree
looks like the dirt it’s hanging on,
leaves red and brown and in between—
last chance for feed this spring.
One wonders why we do this
to become the grass we need.
Blessed are we with the diversions
of spring in bloom: colored orchestrations
of multisyllabic assonance rhyming
with short-clipped awe: an ever-changing tune
that steals the senses midst tumultuous times.
Blessed are we to be alive with work to do.
Always the War to measure the world by:
patriotic hawks enlisting reluctant doves
as fodder that shocked us into an explosion
of lyrics and melodies—an awakening
for music, a renaissance for humanity
we pray may come this way again soon.
The rafters rain with dry debris of nests
under construction, as finches dance
with crimson breasts upon the railing
crooning springtime love songs.
Hillsides splashed with islands
of Golden Poppies burn together
engulfing green, white skiffs claim
the flats with gilded fiddleneck as
the tender and translucent leaves
of oaks test unsettled weather
gusting within all living flesh
flushed with a mix of urgency and awe.
Killdeer claim the gravel drive, guard
speckled eggs that look like granite
as the crow pair cruise the layered
limbs of trees for homes, their own
secreted away in canyon Blue Oaks
as burnished eagles sweep the grasses
at feeding time—a great and brutal cry
fills the eyes as this troubled earth
awakens with unrelenting passion.
From creek to ridge alive with spring,
churned and feathered urgencies abloom,
from pink to purple petals opening
to the sky, to its great white ships
passing after a sunlit shower’s rainbow.
Perfumes stirred inhaled, this canyon’s
air is shared with two golden eagles
hunting for hungry hatchlings high
in granite outcrops, sailing low
to snag sunning ground squirrels
more frequently now, imagining
young yellow beaks in sticks
open to the sky. It is the beginning
of the end, the ripening of the seed—
the dramatic performance of scripts
with fresh actors little changed
in my life, in my flesh—dependable
feelings somewhat akin to love.
‘On the make,’ my mother’d say
of springtime sojourns, the lone tom
between gobbles of rafters a strut,
the fan and drag as damp earth warms
to steam the green to flower skiffs of color,
to dress the oaks in tender iridescence
while finches softly fall aflitter, giddy
with the fun of it stirred within the air
we breathe, inhale into our flesh.
Like quail paired, couples nested
near the creek in the old days, empty
cars parked along this quiet road
like Do Not Disturb signs, lovers drawn
by April’s pounding drum to taste the wild
just beyond the sagging barbed wire.
Upon redbud bloom, the earth
awakens, windblown pollen
stirs the flesh anew, colored
petals dress the drab decay
of summer’s dehydration
brightly, bring bees to work
and birds to play
house, raise young families
and sing—it is this time.
In the cattails, long leaves
like a thatch of swords
after a war, hem the water in—
veil the mud hens putzing
close to shore where bullfrogs
freeze in the sun
waiting for something good
to come along this irrigation pond
trying to go wild. I have come
to love their god-awful birdsong
like rusty hinges on a pipe gate
yodeling in the tight places,
musical cascades turned loose
to lyrics I still don’t understand.
I say I think they’re courting
because its spring, because
you and I have stopped
to watch them sing.
This gallery contains 14 photos.