The Trajectory of Our Lives

Our garden scarecrow, whom I have named Malcolm Eubanks, has masked up. Malcolm used to work in a department store, modeling fashionable clothing for would-be buyers. Now, his hollow head is being scoped out as a possible nest location by a pair of Carolina Wren. Such is the trajectory of our lives. But you should have seen him in his day. No one could make a pair of Dockers and a cardigan look more desirable. He had the gift.

Red-vented Bulbul

Exotic resident of the Heights, Houston, Texas, US.

I had caught glimpse of this bird several times since I moved here and was stumped on the ID. That white rump patch is distinct and not present on any other North American bird of this general size and shape. Not to mention the bright red below. Finally got a photo and tracked it down. Red-vented Bulbul is an Asian transplant, introduced and established in a number of countries around the world. In the US its range is limited to Houston, TX with highest concentrations in the neighborhood where I live now.

eBird reported sightings: that’s Houston, Texas buried under that cluster of map pins.

Having done web searches on its description and coming up with nothing, I fed the image above into Google Lens and it popped out the correct answer without so much a moment’s hesitation. Another handy bird ID tool.

African Blue Basil

The neighbors keep bees and they sure love that basil. It’s a really large bush covered in blossoms now, and bees.

Inca Dove

Lots of Incas around here.

Mannequin head scarecrow is now sporting a facer. Smart lad! I saw a Carolina Wren poking around at the rear opening to his hollow head.

Cardinal Rules

At the very break of dawn
they rouse us from our bed

Their calls addressed to everyone
awake, asleep or dead

You know us in the daylight
by our bright and piercing red

In the dark you know us
by the noise we make, instead

Dealing with thick stands of bamboo is a new birding experience for me. The property here is surrounded by them. Birds enjoy excellent protection within the maze of vertical shafts: no Sharpie is going to swoop in there, that’s for sure. No telephoto lens will penetrate either.

I hear cardinals all the time around here, but rarely see them. I was on the fourth floor, the roof of the stacks, when I caught this one, and still I’m aiming up its skirt as it sways on a bamboo pole some 20 feet above.

The Arbiters of Moonlight

An amortization as periodic table
        as a protractor stabbing pinholes
        in the charts of a then comes wonder

These are the geometries of heaven
        the wavelengths of moonlight

The scholar studies it, a merchant
        ponders its returns, a poet
        lurks in its blue shadows, scribbling
        charcoal rubbings from the reliefs

These are the trade guilds of heaven
        the arbiters of moonlight

What seeing saw, the feelings felt
        are the joins and fittings
        where everything that comes together
        in congregation, parts


(Graphic: Selectively tinted photograph of temporarily arranged steel scraps.)

Flagella

We claimed our independence from
a sovereign, long forgot

But we're all inter-dependent
in what they call the melting pot

Freedom: is it something that
I myself have got?

Exclusive of my neighbor's freedom:
freedom this is not.

House Finch

They visit the sunflowers here every morning.

They’re awfully spooky for an urban population. I finally had to stake out the bush from the rooftop.

Crescent Pond

Mercifully cool early in the morning on July 4th.

Ever seduced by the cult of surfaces. Morning light is when they rally to recruit new members. The gallery of nobs above is a detail of a sculpture whose final appearance is still under development by the steady hand of time and weather.

Moved

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I’ve just this week moved from Galveston to Houston, taking a studio dwelling in a private artist collective up in the Heights. The complex is a work in progress, a prototype for a much more ambitious arts/community/living vision by its creator, Nestor Topchy.

The vibe here is terrific. Being still under development it has a post-apocalyptic utopian feel to it. Photos above all taken on the property which is strewn with large steel sculpture projects, miscellaneous construction materials and debris. The residences are stacked shipping containers, and the studios are quite small. Though more than adequate for a retiree and his cat.

The grounds feature a large excavated pond, called Crescent Pond, which is home to fish, turtle, crayfish, birds, dragonflies and at least a couple of koi. Some large trees and dense bamboo groves round it all out. Cardinals and Inca Doves in good numbers, and a variety of dogs and cats who reside here.

Crescent Pond
My new digs.

I’ve decided to designate my bird photography website as an archive and begin locating all my writing and photography here at Starfish Sutra. As always, thanks for following.

Albino

The cockroach stands alone. There is no other creature like him. If out of spite you wish to assail your enemy’s reputation by comparing him to one, you have erred. If your enemy was as vital, energetic, crafty, and quick as a cockroach he’d have vanquished you long ago. Show some respect.

Check

Winning Texas Hold’em against robots
with imaginary money is no substitute
for a full and productive youth

But the days are as long as
as a life is short, and the cards
gaze up at you from your hands

See right through that poker face
and catch you thinking of something else