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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I said I was feeling chipper
I didn’t mean cheery, like a dandy squirrel
with a cache of ripe pecans, no.
I meant like that groaning, shrieking
grinder box that sucks in green oak limbs
the size of Sam Houston’s neck and erupts
in a volcanic, yawning siren like
a Mississippi bigot shouting “frown!”
at a blind beggar, who can’t see his face.
And splinters it, bark and heart, leaf
and bud, into shattered, whip-torn
little pieces piled neat, like bones.
And the air, in the silence bound to follow
every violence, patiently cataloging and
filing all the sawdust that’s gotten up
in its face, is what I meant.
So, you’re probably wondering, “who pissed in this guy’s cheerios?” so let me explain. I wrote this, more or less, in the middle of the night a few days ago, after arriving home the previous evening to find the sprawling live oak in the alley behind the garage had suffered a kind of vivisection at the hands of the power utility. They had removed a third of its grand canopy, right down the middle, leaving it splayed in its remaining two thirds, parted now to make way for the high voltage wires. It now looks like a midshipman flagging a desperate semaphore. Mayday!
For the last two years, Cooper’s Hawks have nested in that oak, and now I can finally see the nest on the edge of the newly opened cavity. I’d seen one just that morning fly down the alley and pause in that tree, making that ca-ca-cawing call that I associate with courtship rituals for that bird. Well, I doubt they will keep a nest so exposed to the sky. The good news is that the migrant songbirds that come through here in good numbers will be easier to spot and photograph.
Anyway, that’s why I’m feeling chipper.
You can see the hawk’s nest in the upper right corner. There’s another large oak down the alley that they frequent, so perhaps they will nest there.
Here’s a yellowthroat I caught in the aforementioned oak a few years back. The tree has been a real bird magnet and I sure hope it remains that way.
we are never quite
where we are, never long
for the ungrabbed hat
acres are a toss away
from somebody’s grazing lot
from every pressing affair
the hallway leads
the bell rings
If a thing didn’t last
what was it, back when
it was everlasting?
we keep a second
set of books, an eye
out for the prospects
but the dusty warehouse
where the heart undresses
is an unbreathable atmosphere
we hold our breath
make quick little visits