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.

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.)

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

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

Chipper

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.


Common Yellowthroat

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.

Acres Are a Toss Away

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