Two of my pleasures, in one poem: reading and looking at birds. Oh man. Not sure I’d always choose birds over books, but on these beautiful fall days, when the sun is warm and the birds are migrating (and especially when I have the chance to get outside and band them), birds definitely win out. Though I do love to lose myself in the words of others, it’s hard to ignore the amazing poetry flying overhead and all around. Continue reading
The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
Christmas time is nearly here
Give a shout, hooray!
It’s time to be with those held dear,
To frolic, sing and play.
But behave yourself, the warning goes,
To kids, both naughty and nice
See, Santa Claus, he always knows,
Every kindness and every vice.
Still, I’ve never met a kid who hates
The Christmas season time,
For parents though that love abates
With all the Christmas whine.
So give a hug to one you love
And go romp in the snow,
But don’t forget when push comes to shove,
It’s Christmas time you know!
I wish you happiness, I wish you cheer,
This glorious Christmas time,
I wish you joy, with loved ones near,
Enjoy my Christmas rhyme.
Good-night! good-night! As we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
To cover up the embers that still burn.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I see you there, in your fleece zippered robe, bare feet, smile. We sit at the computer, watching a television show, giggling and exclaiming together. Three of us, brought together by your love. They laugh, secure in knowing they were chosen, they are treasured, the daughters of your heart. You keep asking if you can adopt me too, and I grin and say yes. First to bed, first to rise, you usually head upstairs before we do. They have school tomorrow, so we won’t be up late. I will ride with you, and after the school run we take the dogs for a walk before going for coffee. We will meet the guys at the coffee shop. We do this almost every school day; a routine, a ritual.
Now we are left, loving echoes and memories. We listen for your voice on the stairs.
NIght-night honey buns! I hear you say. I love you!
Love you Mom! Night Mom, love you!
Goodnight, I say. See you in the morning.
January 14, 1957- October 23, 2013
What I do while waiting for birds to fly into our mist nets– sometimes I drink coffee, sometimes I take cat naps, sometimes I write poems about birds.
For my Dad, one of the many Mike Smiths that exist in the world, but definitely the most important (at least in my life). You’ve taught me just about everything important in life, like how to eat pizza, play euchre and softball, how to stack firewood and how to go on long walks in the woods. You’ve taught me how to “walk it off,” to be a team player, how to be committed and a hard worker, how to laugh at corny jokes. You taught me to take advantage of opportunities, and how to be a good person. You taught me to appreciate the “classical” music of Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and the rest.
Four years ago I graduated college on your birthday, something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top as a birthday present. You paid for four years of education at a private, liberal-arts college, and I wrote you this poem. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to tell you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and how much I love you.
Thanks Dad, for everything.
In honor of your birthday Dad I wrote for you this po-em
For though I may be far away, today I wish I was ho-me.
The world is great, but can’t compare
To you, my Father Extraordinaire.
You taught me how to drive a car,
Which let me leave and go quite far.
That same skill though is what brings me back
‘Cause throughout the world, my family is what I lack.
It’s from you I think that I’m low key,
One of the things I like the most ’bout me.
From you I got my temperament,
Way of looking at the world unbent.
Because of you Dad, for my best I strive,
And without you Dad, I’d not be alive.
You’re my mountain, my sturdy base,
As necessary as the nose upon my face.
Your beard might now be a little more gray,
But to me you’re always going to be more than just okay!
If you can’t tell Dad, I think you’re the best
A man above all others, better than the rest!
I love you Dad!
I found this poem on the wall of the Denver Airport, just outside baggage claim, while I was on my way out after dropping off my sister for her flight back to Ohio. I stood there and read it twice through, the black letters stuck on the plain white wall, with people collecting their bags and waiting and moving all around me.
It’s a poem by the 13th century Persian Muslim poet named Rumi, who was also a jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic (according to Wikipedia). I find it particularly meaningful at this moment in life, and I think it’s a wonderful way to exit into whatever awaits you in the world outside the airport.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
And, clearly, this poem is about hobbits, and is pretty much the entire plot line for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
“People are going back and forth across the doorsill where two worlds touch/ The door is round and open”– Obviously, this refers to when the dwarfs come to Bilbo’s hobbit hole to begin their quest.
“You must ask for what you really want”– when Thorin Oakenshield is reluctant to ask Elrond to read his map. Also when Bilbo finally comes to his senses and asks to come along with the dwarfs.
“Don’t go back to sleep”– telling Bilbo to sign the contract and go with the dwarfs and not to just stay asleep in his safe, cozy, boring hobbit hole. Movie quote: Bilbo- “I just need to sit quietly for a moment.” Gandalf- “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long!” Also could be a reference to when the dwarfs are sleeping in the mountains and are captured by the goblins.
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you”– sounds like something Gandalf would say. Something he actually does say: “Home is now behind you. The world is ahead.”
I saw the new Hobbit movie with my brother and sister just before I came out to Boulder, which is why I’ve hobbits on the brain. And on that note I think Radagast’s sled is awesome. I would totally put up with birds nesting in my hair and pooping down my face if it meant I had a sweet sled pulled by giant rabbits. As long as the birds weren’t American Robins, or turd birds as we call them (their scientific name is Turdis migratorius, hence turd, from Turdis). Those things are gross, and they make a huge runny mess all over the place when you’re trying to band them. Wrens would be ok, or a small family of warblers, or hummingbirds. Those are all cuter, smaller, and seem neater.
I now suggest a listen to “Into the West,” sung by Annie Lennox, from the soundtrack of The Return of the King. I find it fits quite well with this poem, and is a very lovely song. One of my favorites, along with “Concerning Hobbits” on the soundtrack for The Fellowship of the Ring. Howard Shore is brilliant, and the soundtracks make excellent work/study music.
She slips and falls on her behind
The boy’s concerned, but never mind.
She’s okay she gingerly explains
It’s her pride more than her butt that pains.
So then he laughs, and she joins in,
Glad her fall could earn a grin.
And so another lesson gain:
A cushy bum saves major pain.
|Picture by Max Seigal. Taken at Dead Horse State Park, Utah, 2011.
|Brant. New York, 2011.|
This here’s a goose, not at all like a moose
You can tell this by looking at its caboose.
A moose won’t have feathers; its behind is all hairy
A goose is more pointed back there, so be wary.
Mooses are also generally taller,
Gooses are therefore generally smaller.
|Moose. Yellowstone, 2012.|
If you get them confused, you should check your glasses,
And probably take a few animal classes!
|Young Canada Geese. Pennsylvania 2011.|
|Snow Geese. New Mexico, 2011.|
|Snow Geese. New Mexico, 2011.|