Spoken Free Verse: Birds Do Not Fly

photo credit: Shannon Laws, Bellingham Bay, August 2017

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The second offering is a moment of humble thought, recorded July 31, 2017.  Nature and man-made transportation seem to torture me as I take a break from work at the shore of Squalicum Beach Park.  Of course, science tells us exactly how bids and planes fly, regardless, I’m dumbfounded taking in their magnificence.  The sneaky looking two-person boat crew weaving around the inlet with a quiet motor at sunset, hang something to the pier perched on the opposite side of the inlet is an understandable event, although I do not know their intentions.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ukdHKxn_s6ORBPyR-BtZMxryz-E7Afax

Birds Do Not Fly

By Shannon Laws

I don’t know how birds fly
I sit at the water’s edge
I watch them
land onto the water
float on the water
I watch them easily hop around
I don’t know how they fly

I have no idea

Just flapping of the wings,
tucking back the tail and feet
nose pointed out
The motion must be repetitive in their mind
without any thought
Except maybe an instinct when the air changes
when the wind gusts from the side
or the heat vent comes up from behind them up
and lifts them suddenly, ten twenty feet in the air
It’s probably no surprise anymore
if they even feel surprise

and I watch them
and I still just don’t know how they do it

The seagulls near the airport are just as much a mystery
as the airplane themselves
How do we get inside a tube and just fly
We just sit still and move hundreds of miles an hour
I don’t understand it

A boat goes by with a motor attached
to the back a little dingy
It’s expecting some sort of package
It’s hanging from a pier log
It could be drugs
maybe a crab pot, illegal
Maybe they just found a cool looking barnacle
or some muscles thought they’d take a chance

That I understand
I understand a boat
and I understand a train

there’s a track
there’s water
there’s a motor

but flying
I don’t understand it

I don’t understand why the sun doesn’t just fall on us
or why we don’t get sucked into it
why were not drawn to the heat of it
and the moon…
it just sits there and stares at me
just half of it anyways
the other half winks

It’s eight o clock at night and the moon is up
it’s the last day of July
there’s no snow on the mountains

I’m OK with not knowing everything

 

 

##

Poetry: River Ink

River Ink
Went to the river looking for a poem
I found my familiar trail
Winding woods that hug the bank
Whatcom Creek in August
Bushes high and
Full of berries,
Birds and spiders webs.
Grass sways underwater
Moving in sync with the river
Is this what peace looks like,
Melted into movement
Tree branch dips over the drink
Desiring more of plenty
Is water from the root not good enough
Do you cool your leaves in the noon sun
Down by the edge there’s a place to sit
Two dead trees have slumped across
I dip a stick into the stream
Like pen into ink
To write my name on the sun bleached wood
The sun grabs my letters
Throws them in the air
Birds ride the upward current
Did I just disappear

Bird Brain

There is a celebrated free concert available to anyone who lives near trees. Songbirds create a relaxing atmosphere, a symphony of background noise that only nature itself could conduct. The soothing effects are almost immediate; a lower heart beat, a happier disposition, and a smile on your face.

In the winter my yard is quiet, almost too quiet. I’ll find that I tend to turn on music or hum more during those dark months. Perhaps I hum more because I miss the sound of constant summer songs that seem to emanate from the trees themselves? Humans sing to their children, with each other, and to themselves much like birds do. Is there a correlation between the bird’s brain and ours?

Studies of the mockingbird have shown that there could be. Ornithologists have found that mockingbird species living in unpredictable climates, such as a desert, tend have more elaborate songs than those living in more stable climates. Songs are used to attract mates; a mockingbird has the unique ability to create, copy and “make up” variations of songs. It’s believed the female may choose a male based on the differences in his song, interpreting it as a sign of strength and intelligence. This is highly relevant to human behavior because some believe there is a connection between the development of the bird’s brain and our own. Human displays of language, the arts and music might have evolved through a similar process.

As I was considering the social pressures that might have caused the mockingbird to over perform, somehow my “bird brain” made the connection with humans surviving in unpredictable climates, and the artistic outcomes of those experiences. My mind wondered through the planets “hot spots” marveling at Russian painters, Polish pottery, hand painted beads of Ghana, and the woven fabrics of Peru. Just like I would sing to myself more often in the winter, the cultures that live in harsh conditions tend to have a more colorful lifestyle. Different levels of expression, but expression none the less.

When I lived in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona for example, I loved the painted freeways. What an unexpected surprise! Instead of a drab cement grey the corridors are painted pleasant colors of purple, peach, yellow, red and green. I also noticed a breath of life in the talavera pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and home decor. Could cultures that developed in unpredictable climates develop a richer more colorful environment? It seems that way.

This summer I view the song birds with a new eye and ear. Is that a flock of Chickadees in the tree or a mariachi band? Either way it’s the sound of life!

Poetry: Midnight Banshees

Midnight Banshees

Murder of crows
chase a raider owl
who clutches a black feathered
baby in it’s claws
They howl behind the homes
racing down back streets
Caws want justice while
talons extinguish life!
The Race of the Midnight Banshees;
hunters compete with guardians
Foul eating foul
The fittest, the quickest
will feed-
only defeated by numbers
**Footnote:  for months I heard this strange screaming behind my home in the middle of the night.  The sound moving down the alleys, through the park and back~ too quick to be human.  A local bird lover told me it was crows chasing an owl.  The owls feed at night when the crows sleep, stealing the babies out of their nest.  Never have I heard such a horrific sound!

Poetry: No Marrow

I watch you
Hoping around the twigs
Hanging upside down
From the tiniest sliver of wood
Light and carefree
Yet obviously well fed
Beautiful colors
Lovely song
“Be more like the birds
They don’t worry”, I think
How can I when my bones
Are not filled with air
But of heavy marrow?
Heavy with duty and plans
Weighed down with projects
Slighted by calendar dates
And numbers that don’t add up
My human flight drags by
Day to day, no bouncing here
But a determined searching
Looking for morsels to feed the spirit
Think like a bird-
I could be one-
Is it the state of mind that matters?
Or the transformation?
And when do the two become one?
Mind and matter
Flight and fancy
Living and alive
We are cousins little bird
As you hop around the maple
Barren of summer leaves
I watch and learn
My untamed past stirs in the blood
Reminding me of the origins
Forcing breath of life into
The marrow that weighs me down

***

Bird Brain

Last summer when the Chickadees were returning to my grove, I was inspired to write this little article about birds. One of my favorites from 2010. Enjoy!

There is a celebrated free concert available to anyone who lives near trees. Songbirds create a relaxing atmosphere, a symphony of background noise that only nature itself could conduct. The soothing effects are almost immediate; a lower heart beat, a happier disposition, and a smile on your face.

In the winter my yard is quiet, almost too quiet. I’ll find that I tend to turn on music or hum more during those dark months. Perhaps I hum more because I miss the sound of constant summer songs that seem to emanate from the trees themselves? Humans sing to their children, with each other, and to themselves much like birds do. Is there a correlation between the bird’s brain and ours?

Studies of the mockingbird have shown that there could be. Ornithologists have found that mockingbird species living in unpredictable climates, such as a desert, tend have more elaborate songs than those living in more stable climates. Songs are used to attract mates; a mockingbird has the unique ability to create, copy and “make up” variations of songs. It’s believed the female may choose a male based on the differences in his song, interpreting it as a sign of strength and intelligence. This is highly relevant to human behavior because some believe there is a connection between the development of the bird’s brain and our own. Human displays of language, the arts and music might have evolved through a similar process.

As I was considering the social pressures that might have caused the mockingbird to over perform, somehow my “bird brain” made the connection with humans surviving in unpredictable climates, and the artistic outcomes of those experiences. My mind wondered through the planets “hot spots” marveling at Russian painters, Polish pottery, hand painted beads of Ghana, and the woven fabrics of Peru. Just like I would sing to myself more often in the winter, the cultures that live in harsh conditions tend to have a more colorful lifestyle. Different levels of expression, but expression none the less.

Living in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona for example, I loved the painted freeways. What an unexpected surprise! Instead of a drab cement grey the corridors are painted pleasant colors of purple, peach, yellow, red and green.

I also noticed a breath of life in the talavera pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and home décor. Could cultures that developed in unpredictable climates develop a richer more colorful environment? It seems that way. This summer I view the song birds with a new eye and ear. Is that a flock of Chickadees in the tree or a mariachi band? Either way it’s the sound of life!

***

Bird Brain

There is a celebrated free concert available to anyone who lives near trees. Songbirds create a relaxing atmosphere, a symphony of background noise that only nature itself could conduct. The soothing effects are almost immediate; a lower heart beat, a happier disposition, and a smile on your face.

In the winter my yard is quiet, almost too quiet. I’ll find that I tend to turn on music or hum more during those dark months. Perhaps I hum more because I miss the sound of constant summer songs that seem to emanate from the trees themselves? Humans sing to their children, with each other, and to themselves much like birds do. Is there a correlation between the bird’s brain and ours?

Studies of the mockingbird have shown that there could be. Ornithologists have found that mockingbird species living in unpredictable climates, such as a desert, tend have more elaborate songs than those living in more stable climates. Songs are used to attract mates; a mockingbird has the unique ability to create, copy and “make up” variations of songs. It’s believed the female may choose a male based on the differences in his song, interpreting it as a sign of strength and intelligence. This is highly relevant to human behavior because some believe there is a connection between the development of the bird’s brain and our own. Human displays of language, the arts and music might have evolved through a similar process.

As I was considering the social pressures that might have caused the mockingbird to over perform, somehow my “bird brain” made the connection with humans surviving in unpredictable climates, and the artistic outcomes of those experiences. My mind wondered through the planets “hot spots” marveling at Russian painters, Polish pottery, hand painted beads of Ghana, and the woven fabrics of Peru. Just like I would sing to myself more often in the winter, the cultures that live in harsh conditions tend to have a more colorful lifestyle. Different levels of expression, but expression none the less.

Living in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona for example, I loved the painted freeways. What an unexpected surprise! Instead of a drab cement grey the corridors are painted pleasant colors of purple, peach, yellow, red and green. I also noticed a breath of life in the talavera pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and home décor. Could cultures that developed in unpredictable climates develop a richer more colorful environment? It seems that way. This summer I view the song birds with a new eye and ear. Is that a flock of Chickadees in the tree or a mariachi band? Either way it’s the sound of life!