The Ptarmigan

August 18, 2019

Between mountain peaks
And passing clouds, you
Just might spot the nest
Of a rock ptarmigan.

Her plumage the mottled
Browns and golds of an
Expecting mother, tending
Her clutch in summer heat.

But though she is vigilant,
These eggs will never hatch.
Her efforts in vain, she will
Try to encourage their shells.

Eventually, she will abandon
Them, and her speckled visage,
For snowy tundra brush and
A clean start in white feathers.


The Magpie

January 3, 2017

High aloft in his tree
Sits the clever magpie.
He has lived a long life,
For he knows the keys
To making your way in
This wicked world- or
At least so he says.

He will go on for days
On problems abroad,
Issues in Spain or France,
Knowing which province
Of Canada has the best
Varieties of shortbread.
But, in truth, he has
Never once left his tree.
He’s not been beyond
The edge of the woods
He was born within.

There is only so much
A bird can learn from
Dusty books and titles,
You must get out and
Spread your own wings
In order to ever truly
Understand our world.


The Canary

April 5, 2013

An expedition beneath the earth,
Endless winding paths branch out
Like a myriad of blood vessels
Hiding under the skin of
Mother Nature herself.
These men, hardened as steel,
Enter the labyrinth known
As the Phoebes Mine.

That precious commodity of
Steam engines across the nation,
Coal is what they dig for.
Black, musty, covered in soot,
There is one man in particular
Who carries something
Entirely different- a cage.
Hiding within, a spry yellow
Canary flutters its wings,
Innocently unaware of the
Nature of its passage below.
It sends out a curt little chirp,
Addressing the last friends
He will ever converse with.

The men worked hard,
Crushing spirits and rock
Both in one hammer blow.
The sudden silence was their
Solitary clue that something,
Tragically, had gone awry;
On the bottom rim of the
Birdcage, lined with greying
Newspaper, lay the canary.

One tiny life suffocated quietly
Pays the toll for many to live.
The men escaped just in time,
But the canary would fly no more.


The Rook

September 2, 2012

Follow me
Down a spiral staircase,
Crafty bastards
They won’t ever catch
The two of us
We blend together
Like two shades of
Pale yellow:
In the sunlight.
You tell me to
Cover my tracks
But I never leave any.
I am the Rook,
Not the tower but
The carrion hunter,
Sleeping beneath the
Nose of everyone
In the room.
Let my feathers be
The only evidence
Of my presence:
Green, blue, and black.
Your only mistake
Was to let me go.


The Kestrel

September 10, 2010

Sometimes, I fancy myself a bird.
Not just any bird, mind you, but
A swift bird of prey;
The auburn and grey plumage.
I am a kestrel, a thief of life’s goods.
The hunter of the open plains,
Razor sharp eyes spot movement.
Talons clutch the still moving prey
As I take off again for heaven.
Soaring above the city,
I take no notice of man’s ardor
Or his creativity or construction.
The only thing my mind focuses on
Is what shall be the next target.

I am no eagle, the king of the skies.
To be fair, I have no noble blood.
Instead, I bear the incomparable
Position of having all and being nothing;
Such freedom it gives me!
Savoring each morsel of life
Between every beat of my wings,
The north wind whispers
Its most secret desire:
That all may live like this.


Bird Cage

October 9, 2008

originally written in June 2008

There once was a bird
Bred in captivity
A cardinal, I think

She’s kept in a gilded cage
The tiny iron door left open
A chain with only one link

It’s dread that keeps her in
Sparkling eyes, with fear aloft,
Can barely even blink

But one day, it was different
She threw caution to the wind
And stepped near the brink

Two claws grasped tightly
On that last bar of the cage
Her blood ran dark like ink

With a flutter of wings
She has escaped for good
Her final goodbye: a wink