The burrowing owl has talked itself out.
The bogs of Poland hear the corn crake bellow
into the emptiness, and the emptiness bellows back.
The pygmy-owl grinds out its mornings
in the cloud forests of Veracruz. The bee-eater
repeats its mistake. Insomnia plagues the pigeon.
Curved as the letter C, the barn swallow swings
from a barren branch. The potoo imitates the charred
stub of a broken tree, clenches its yellow eyes,
and whispers poor-me, poor-me. No one ever suspects
the moustached warbler. Cancun releases its gift of heat;
the magnificent frigatebird barely conceals its sad arc
of flight. The mountain bluebird tears up.
                                                                   The cowbird broods.
The turtledove stages a coo. The arctic peregrine
combs its elusive shadow over the rivers of Greenland.
A sparrow balls up on the lawn. A cough and stutter
shutter the disenchantment of the white-throated dipper,
an aquatic passerine of Europe and the Middle East.
The bearded vulture picks clean the bones of the dead.
The lone mallard drifts through the reeds, casts glances
into watery distortions. The marbled godwit hasn’t shaven
in weeks. Stature eludes the hummingbird, though it
is thankful not to be cross-eyed like the rhinoceros hornbill.
The double-crested cormorant scans New England’s
coastline for its next meal. The comb-crested jacana
guards the secret of anger. Listen carefully as the emu
says exactly what it means
                                                        The osprey has lost its way.
The cat has gotten the hyacinth macaw’s tongue. In Namibia,
the African pied hornbill whispers the Bantu for my own.
The plumbeous antshrike’s vision dulls. In the Durnalik hills
the somber tit’s mop of black head feathers bakes in dusk.
The bald eagle denies its mistake. Triangle Island’s tufted
puffins have long forgotten the eternal laws of proportion.
The Scottish uplands inspire the dunlin to breed and wade.
A spirit has entered the western meadowlark mid-song.
The red knot offers a contorted expression. The canvasback
drives onward toward the prairie’s wetlands, ignores the ache
in its hollow bones. The Costa Rican quetzal feels safe – for now,
though the tides are rising. If only the Indian Shama
were anyone but itself! The voice of the laughing thrush
has grown hoarse.
                                     The Pyrenees carry the soft phrasings
of the citril finch. In the mangroves of Singapore, the cinnamon
bittern stops to listen to its heart. The chickadee feels misrepresented,
succumbs to an urgent fear of annihilation. Atop a Sitka spruce,
the blue heron erects its base. A colony of queleas plots an attack.
The sedge warbler calls its grating tuks and chirrs to anyone
who will listen. The dark-eyed junco disregards the public
service announcement, continues to drink the tainted water.
The wheatear listens with intent. Someone has threatened
the Sri Lankan jungle fowl. The encroaching clamor
pushes the willow ptarmigan further into the high country.
The spacious gut of the Magellanic penguin keeps its feet
in check. Poor luck has struck the black skimmer blind.
The brown pelican’s gullet contains three gallons, but of what
no one knows. The Peruvian thick-knee stumbles.
The mockingbird bites its tongue.
                                                                            From the abysmal depths
of the Colca Canyon, the Andean condor ascends the morning thermals,
musters a smile for the tourists. The Mesopotamian crow surveys
the fertile crescent with its soft blue eyes. The collared lory of Fiji
grows tired of its colors. The black-capped tanager admits nothing.
The curlew leaves everyone in tears. Sub-Saharan lizards panic
in the presence of the shikra. The scream of the screech owl portends
retribution: the townsfolk have misidentified the Paramo wren.
The rufescent tiger-heron masters the art of standing still.
Fallen stems occupy the afternoons of the prairie chicken.
Danish winters drive the smew westward. The white-shouldered
ibis lurks in the alleys of the Mekong floodplain.
How does the blue-footed booby cope?
                                                                     The deep woods
of early summer absorb the ovenbird’s dirge. The cardinal
wrestles an earthworm and loses. In the forests of West Africa,
the violet plantain-eater preens the crimson of its underwings.
The ortolon is bitter. The hoiho’s ahead of its time. The old world
shoebill prefers the name whale-headed stork. The short-toed eagle
stutters. The picarthes catches a glimpse. The kelp goose tiptoes
the shoreline. The yellow-billed magpie stays put. A hollow lined
with wheat husks swaddles the banded dotterel. Overshooting
is among the black-headed bunting’s sins. The starling’s bite
is worse than its bark. The crane lays two eggs. The fiscal shrike
counts its blessings. The sooty falcon consumes a dragonfly.
The honey buzzard thrust its head into a nest of wasps
and now regrets it.
                                               Did you see the brolga’s dance?
The chestnut-eared aracari honing its serrated back? What
was the meadow pipit thinking?....A long sob has washed
the color from the cactus parakeet’s eyes. An ashen cuckoo
putters along the banks of Leticia. The Madagascar plover
dwells on the salt pans near Ifaty. The avocet’s kleep-kleep
haunts the coast’s brackish alleyways. The hill myna’s
fondness for figs sweetens its flesh. The Mandarin duck
sups on broken acorns and snails. The ruby-crowned kinglet
gazes upon the landscape, but its thoughts are elsewhere.
The wound on the common redpoll’s forehead will never heal.
The Altai snowcock has lost its voice to the Siberian winds.
The Mississippi kite hasn’t come around in weeks.
The lesser scaup had a difficult night. The crag martin
has absconded. The kaka is in decline.