Cloud Bank

So how much would you likely pay
to have yourself a sunny day?

We'd like to pay the bill in cloud
if that might somehow be allowed.

As currency a cloud is very
like the dollars that we carry.

All puffed up with value there
but marking what is actually air.

All pomp and cheer when we have money
but when it's gone it's not so funny.

We go to pay the tab that's due
what now? Your wallet's clear and blue.

Photo: close-up of an avocado, with effects. (CC) 2021, G. Paul Randall

2020: My Year in Birds

Bird photographs from this year. (27 photos). I wanted to do a 2020 retrospective about something besides all the things that nobody ever wants to think about ever again, ever. And I think you know what I’m talking about.

On January 1st each year I reset my Year List and start counting bird sightings all over again. I went out that day and made a life-bird with this Couch’s Kingbird, seen at Corps Woods in Galveston. The photo here is from March, but I logged this bird repeatedly for over 3 months at this location. All photos Nikon Coolpix P900, in the Houston/Galveston area, Texas, US. Order is generally but not strictly chronological.

Couch’s Kingbird, Corps Woods, Galveston.
White-eyed Vireo, East End residential neighborhood, Galveston.
Savannah Sparrow, Seawall Blvd., Galveston.
Cattle Egret, Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston.
Carolina Wren, Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston.
Roseate Spoonbill and Neotropic Cormorant, 8 Mile Road, Galveston.
Red-shouldered Hawk, Kempner Park, Galveston
Osprey, Bolivar Lighthouse, Bolivar Peninsula.
Eastern Meadowlark, Apffel Park, Galveston
Snowy Egrets, 8 Mile Road, Galveston
White-tailed Kite, Settegast Rd. Galveston.
American Wigeon, Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston.
Eastern Kingbird, Artist Boat, Galveston.
Green-winged Teal, Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston.
Indigo Bunting, Corps Woods, Galveston.
Reddish Egret, East Beach, Galveston.
Spotted Sandpiper, White Oak Bayou, Houston.
Red-vented Bulbul, The Heights, Houston.
Great Blue Heron, Brays Bayou, Houston.
Brown Thrasher, Houston Arboretum
Wood Duck, Bray’s Bayou, Houston
American Goldfinch, Buffalo Bayou, Houston

Away

Mother, where were you?

On that fateful day when we
eyed the sonograms of past performance
and like card counters tried
to outthink the music
and our feet got carried away.

You remember that day?

Well, it's gone now, away
a set-loose shout in the canyons
of this endless ambition, but
comes back after some delay
the eerie echo, "away."


Lite Birding, Houston | Galveston

A few bird photos from here in Houston and down in Galveston, where the mosquitoes, as Shakespeare famously put it, “come not single spies, but in battalions.” I have rarely seen the watery lowlands of Galveston so swarmed with them. Must be the recent rains. This is a Great Blue Heron, unmistakable large wader seen commonly everywhere in this part of the country.

I’ve misidentified this one as Solitary Sandpiper before, but it’s a Spotted Sandpiper in non-breeding form.

Cormorants down on White Oak Bayou. It looks like the cops have ordered them to raise their wings and don’t move. Well, they are black, and they weren’t doing anything but existing which is what passes for probable cause these days. A couple of Snowy Egrets in there too, both abiding by the law as far as anyone can tell. I could take this racial angle here and run with it, but I think I’ll just spare you and let it drop. I trust you get it. Black Lives Matter.

Low angle of morning sunshine at the bayou. There’s a busy paved trail for walkers, runners, and bikers not shown in the foreground. I literally had to wait for a gap in traffic to get this exposure.

Brother Rabbit is not like these other birds, indeed, what is he even doing here? Unlike country rabbits, this city boy could not have cared less about the people passing by a few yards away.

Not much bird action down in Galveston, which was the main reason I drove down, but I did get some banking done and had breakfast at Mi Abuelita’s so I can’t complain. A Black-bellied Whistling Duck and a White Ibis are #BFF at Lafitte’s Cove.

Some Mottled Ducks, same locale.

Caught this Reddish Egret at East Beach, fishing a big puddle remaining from our recent brush with the downgraded TS Beta. At the ship channel I noticed a large bird diving for fish and registered pelican but then I saw it had a forked tail. (Warning: this vehicle brakes suddenly for bird sightings.) It was a Magnificent Frigatebird that I was able to observe a few minutes at a range too distant for a photo attempt. At Corps Woods I found an unusually gregarious Brown Thrasher that repeatedly perched out in the open just long enough to almost get a photo, but no longer.

Intensive Care

Plain-bellied Water Snake, non-venomous denizen of the Southeastern US.
I walk in these woods
nestled deep within a
tangle of highways

The hum of traffic
beyond the treeline elaborates
what a calm clouded day
could have settled completely
without raising its voice

Fire and storm, unrest
flood and calamity, all at some
distance now, a stunning calm
as I rest on a bench

Cooper's Hawk swoops
low through the canopy
and finds a perch nearby

A female Common Yellowthroat
works a boggy shallow near the parking lot
as young mothers stroll
with infants in carriages

Snakes uncoil in the
tan water by the boardwalk
in the heart of this sprawling city
and in the pit of my stomach

Restaurants and business offices
and butterflies, the damp
forest floor, tree shade, the air

I surrender myself to the sum of it
to the expert nursing staff
here in intensive care
Gulf Fritillary
Monarch

The Houston Arboretum at Memorial Park, Houston, Texas.

Gallery, July 2020

Here’s some photos from a brief visit to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, and a few around the Hive, all taken in the last week of July, 2020. My latest obsession is the High Pass filter which, when abused, gives that smokey, dreamy look. Both bird photos taken at home. At the nature center I saw no birds at all, as in none.

Catwalk

Catwalk grating with treatment.

it's nice when things are smooth to touch
our fingers like this very much

and good when walkways claw and grip
our feet don't like it when we slip

especially when we're way up high
as we could fall and maybe die

before we've had a chance to mend
our evil ways: we meet our end

Chakra

The Wheel

Behold the wheel as motion incarnate. Inventor of the metaphor. Roundation is its pride, spokes the whispering of its ministers, its axle the secret grief. Turning until the grease dries up, then burning.

A mechanism, its gears a-turning. In thinking, wheels turning, turning. Spheres of influence, around, around. Circles have no need of ground. Sanskrit chakra has a sound like wheels knocking cobbled lanes. Strike and clap again, again. The arc, a portion of the round, its back is bent. It makes no sound.

The curve that sneaks in fluidly all paths and motions, blunts the angle, rounds the bend, transcribes the swing. It does its thing. It snugs the rim of hat and crown. Same as same when upside down! Once gone, just wait, it comes around.

Self, the center of conception, the spokes relate in rays the scenes. The never was but could have beens. What comes around, will go around, in startless parts, no stops or starts. It turns upon its secret grief. The axle happy in its grease. How does it make its way, by feel?

The ship, it has a steering wheel.