Archive for the ‘Jane’s Birdwatcher Poems’ Category

“Dark-Eyed Junco on the Bridge” by Jane Beal

I cross over a bridge with silver railings
into another world. As I am crossing, I notice you,
sitting on silver, watching me, and my heart
goes out to you with love, little angel –

as you fall from a great height,
then catch the wind with your wings
and soar into the twilight sky over
the endless waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

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“Baby Chicks in Larkspur” by Jane Beal

I went to Larkspur to have lunch with my friend
at a Thai food place with great coconut soup,

and while we were there, we heard music,
and followed it into a parade of people

celebrating spring, new life, and everything –
including baby chicks in a silver bucket

being adored by small children who were torn
between the birds and a tiny carousel

with horses painted bright
and beautifully.

jb

Uncaged (in progress)

“Lincoln’s Sparrow by the Napa River”

Muddy river, tall grass, Lincoln’s sparrow singing –
I pause at the sound, lean on the railing, and look:

I see you, tiny and beautiful,
but when you see me,
you stop singing.

Sing again, little one –
I am walking away, and you
are safe in the world!

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

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“A Distressed Duck” by Jane Beal

She was a beautiful mallard –
brown and white with a patch of dark blue
side-feathers, orange feet, and an orange beak.

She was hungry, and she was hunting,
her beak dipping into the grass,
but coming up empty.

She began to cry in distress,
making an awful sound,
and I wanted to help her.

I wished I had bread in my bag,
but I didn’t, so I tried to soothe her
with kind and gentle words.

She didn’t run, but walked away,
still dipping her beak left and right,
still coming up empty, still crying. 

At the corner, I had to turn one way,
and she another, but I glanced back:
two students had noticed her

and one of them was mocking
that awful sound she was making,
and the student suddenly lunged at the duck,

frustrated by that sound, but the other student
stopped her friend and said, “No,
don’t scare her.”

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

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“Byrne-Jones and his Birds”

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BYRNE-JONES AND HIS BIRDS 

Not everyone gets to open the Kelmskott Chaucer
on Valentine’s Day, and see the woodcuts
Byrne-Jones made of Constance, adrift in her boat,
with the seagulls wheeling over the waves,
but I did: she is looking back, over
her shoulder – her hands are clasped in prayer –
and twenty-six white birds surround her
like promises or grief.

jb

2/14
McCune Room
JFK Library
Vallejo
CA

“The Seagull Gives her Life” by Jane Beal

She has flown far from shore,
but the sea is still calling her.

She sees the men in the water and
smells the wreckage of a B-17 bomber.

She smells their flesh, burning in the sun
that shines hot over the water, the human sweat

evaporating into the air –
the hunger.

These men are going to die
if I do not give them my life. 

So this is why I was brought here,
listening to the siren-song of the sea – 

so far from shore,
so far from home. 

She glides down to one man in a raft,
and gently lands on the hat covering

his dreaming face, and as he moves
his feeble hand toward her, and she feels

her death in his out-stretched fingers,
she does not try to fly away.

II.

Moments later, her spirit hovers above them,
watching them eat her flesh

and then, after a while, using her intestines
as bait to catch fish and eat them, too.

III.

Years later, flying free in heaven, she looks down
on Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

as he strolls to the pier with a shrimp-bucket
and feeds delicacies to swooping seagulls –

her daughters, her sons, her granddaughters
and grandsons, her great-granddaughters

and great-grandsons, who are thankful to Eddie
just as Eddie is thankful to her.

IV.

At the turn of the twenty-first century,
she hears the whisper of her story

written in books, preached from pulpits,
and told by a tired man to his little sister,

who opens her eyes in wonder
and immediately sees the sacrifice

was like the God-Man’s, who came down
to die, and so to save the whole, suffering world.

Jane Beal
from Uncaged (in progress)

seagull

“All the Birds on Christmas Day” by Jane Beal

I didn’t know the birds were weeping.
They might have been singing praise!

The black phoebe, the hummingbird,
the distant geese I heard –

I thought they were a choir
for the most extraordinary birthday

the world has ever known.
But maybe the Great White Egret

standing on the side of the freeway,
not wading in the wetland waters

should have been my clue
that there is no joy on earth

not mingled
with lingering grief.

jb

12/25
Davis & HWY 37

blackphoebe

LISTEN: “Haunting” (Great White Egret)