Friday, December 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Birds

Bird shit?  If there are to be birds, if there is to be the beauty of birds, there’s going to be bird shit on your safari hat. Owl shit hits with a plop of tiny bones and down. You wash it off your life and get on to the beauty.

            Fact is, a lot of us are having shitty days, some shittier than others. Plus holiday stresses. And maybe the heavy emotional whammies of Solstice with cancer, or Christmas without your father for the first time, or Hanukah with the threat of expiring unemployment benefits.

            Enter the beautiful bird in the photograph above, the secretary bird of East Africa that Roger and I saw one morning on the Maasai Mara in western Kenya. Beauty.

            I remember her, too, in a poem these three months later. Her tale is in the form of a tanka (five lines of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables, another gift like haiku and haibun from the Japanese), a form I chose to mimic her crown feathers.


African feathers
fanned, forming her white headdress—
secretary bird—
Serengeti’s adornment
of savannah most holy.

            Roger and I remember what it was to behold her timeless beauty…beauty to be shared with friends, family, fans, fellow travelers – and you, my readers. Beauty to alleviate -- if only for a moment -- your private pains of heart, mind and spirit.

(If you would like to immerse yourself in more African beauty, by all means, go to my latest Shutterfly photo book at  and let beauty amaze you.)


           I am the other bird in this tale of two, a snowbird mated to a snowbird nesting happily in Florida condoland with wildlands close by…and every day the Caloosahatchee River flowing past our lanai where we watch the boats go by, watch sunrises, watch moonrises.

            But it isn’t all a birds-of-paradise life. On our annual mecca to my holy land, the Everglades, our Florida Bay campsite handed us a plague of whining salt mosquitos where we were expecting egret beauty.  Deet means nothing to them. Instead, we smeared blood all over the tent walls – my blood in tiny swollen skeeter bellies. We didn’t stay a second much less a third planned night. I counted 26 bites in a few short hours. Yet we survived, of course, to laugh about our suffering through allergic reactions and fear. And, as we departed the national park, we took time, dodging egret shit, to see the beauty of my angel of the morning rising over the River of Grass.

            There was also a certain recent Saturday night we spent in the ER at Cape Coral Hospital, driven there in a panic due to a sharp spike in Roger’s blood pressure.  He came out of it just fine, and is now in the care of a local physician who’s keeping an eye on him.

            In the end, the snowbirds who are lovebirds try to keep the focus on beauty, all expletives deleted.

            As you-know-what it can be, our eye turns to hawk, shrike, heron – any bird in sight for its beautiful healing spirit, which I share with you via a poem in the form of a skink (one of my five-line jobbies, if you recall).



I know precisely what it is to fall
under the spell of Florida’s full moon
too soon waning toward winter solstice
going as the amber river goes.
I fully understand Floridian moonlight is spelled o-w-l.


            May you celebrate the new year with beauty.  In any form.


And, should you like to read more, see more of my work, here are links to a few recent publications:

·         Two poems, “Happenstance: Run Off to Sea” and “Hunger,” appeared along with an illustrative photograph of the trawlers referenced in the former poem. My sincere thanks to editor Michael McDermott for including me in this tribute issue, “Earth, Spirit, Society,” dedicated to his wife and Black Earth Institute partner, Patricia Monaghan. See:

·         Out recently was my poem “Drilling Down” in Borderbend’s WTFrack 2013. Look for it at
·         My most recent book review is of Anne Whitehouse’s The Refrain, entitled “’“the lost jewelry showed up;’” it appeared along with my memorial essay, “on Robert C. “Beau” Cutts,” in The Centrifugal Eye’s Autumn 2013 issue, available at:
·         Look for three of my poems and photographs on the new National Parks Art site. As a former Everglades Artist-in-Residence, I’m delighted that a sampling of the work I did during my residency continues to reach beyong the park’s borders. Go to this link and scroll down a bit:
·         And many, many thanks many times over to Amy Huffman at Kind of  a Hurrican Press, she and co-editor April Salzano have brought out two new anthologies since I last posted.  You’ll find my poem “Ahh, Florida Grief” in In Gilded Frame, my poem “#427:  Saving Everything” is in What’s Your Sign? To order, go to:


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can you say k*n-*trast ?!

Do I look 5,360 miles older? I sure feel it. Roger does, too. We know we will never drive cross-country again. We’ve gotten too old for that crap.  Just know: It feels sooooo good to be homebodies again.

But, oh, my, what an adventure we had, a journey in contrasts. For example: “Taos Window Study 1” and “Taos Window Study 2”, the photographs illustrating this long-overdue post, provide a metaphor of contrast. open and shut.  

We ate in contrasts, one night in Las Vegas, NV, a Caesar salad so succulent that it made me cry, to a one-skillet Knorr ready-mix dish on a camp-stove at the Las Vegas, NM, KOA. We showered in marble, we showered in wooden stalls.

We explored marshes dried to dust by long-lasting drought and followed the tumbling wet course of the perennially flowing Frijoles River (Little River of Beans).We also strolled the Old Town of Albuquerque and the old-old towns of Anasazi ruins. I read some poetry. I wrote some poetry. Roger listened, Roger heard.

And now that we’ve returned, are more or less settled in, and trying to keep track of our calendar of medical appointments and social gatherings, I’ve managed to put our wild-west vagabondage into this brief reflection, along with a new photobook with its high-contrast technicolor front cover. (Details below for viewing.)

It is very late. I can feel my insomnia abating. It’s time to crawl into bed and listen to Lake Ontario crash into shore on a stiff norther. Mmmm. Coolest night in days upon days.  Mmmmm. A sticky-free cuddle in store, soothing to the soul no matter your age. But, first this, a variation on the old Persian poetic form, the ghazal:

Bedtime Story

I remember the numerous sleeping
arrangements of mythic journeys
undertaken by an aging hippie
and her octogenarian husband.
That would be us. In cosmic sleep.
Sleeping around New Mexico,
seeking enchanted dreams
on canvas cots in nylon sleeping bags,
in king-sized beds on sumptuous linens
with embroidered pillows galore.

Like a minor poet and her sleepy muse,
like a lesser Anasazi god and his consort,
I want you to recall how we roughed it in Santa Fe
in a dreamy blue Eureka! tent. Recall how we
rolled over luxuriously, in closer, in Taos –
su casita e ma casita. We did, we did—
and we slept under dream-claiming Chaco stars.
We slept by Bandelier moonlight. We fell fast asleep
and we dreamed all kinds of sweet fearless dreams.
O, how we sleep together. Wherever. Whatever.

                             for Roger

Signed         KLM           #27    Library, Ed Rose Shores         7/12/13


For further reading:

·        View my newest Shutterfly photobook, Southwestern Enchantments, at If you’re new to my photobook page, you’ll need to send me a request to join my group– just a click away.

  • ·         This anthology, Rust Belt Rising, is a must-have on your bookshelf.  Sure, I was perfectly delighted to have my “Ballad for August 12, 2012” included – along with sheet music for the chorus – but the book is an amazing assemblage of poetry, prose and art that addresses America’s rust-belt history and provides hopeful glimpses into its future. Hats off to editor Jaheymus Joyce Zeit-Geistman. To find out more about it and to order, go to

  • I invite you to jump over to You’ll find  three poems from Lithic Scatter and Other Poems, published in July by poet-par-excellence Miriam Sagan in her Miriam’s Well blog. 

  • Ends of the Earth’s “Feathers & Fish-tales” edition included my poem, “Reeling in the Truth,” which will take you into the Everglades for a short spell.  While you’re there, don’t miss Wilda Morris’s, William Doreski’s and A.J. Hoffman’s  poems. Kudos to editor Anna Brock.  See:

  • Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems, my newest collection of poems and photographs, published in May by FootHills Publishing . To order your copy of the book, go to  or drop me an email to request a signed copy. Cover price is $16.00.

  • Speaking of steamy… Check out Naked Earth’s  “The Hoe Issue: Taste and the Tongue,” for a twist on the theme in my poem, “Bone Dust.”  A gassho to editor Chelsea Miller for publishing it. 

  • I’m proud to have joined the family of poets in Your Daily Poem, edited by poet Jayne Jaudon Ferrer. She recently featured my “Speaking of Qu├ębec,” a tongue-in-cheek poem that I’ll be including in my next collection of Canada poems, what I think of as Godwit, the Sequel: More Poems of Canada.

  • I am perhaps proudest of all to see both a poem and my regular book review column appear in the new issue of The Centrifugal Eye. Also: don’t miss the insightful “round robin” interview with poets featured in this “Punchline First” issue that explores communication (and miscommunication!) styles. Turn to:  Editor Eve Anthony Hanninen has published quite the tour de force with this provocative edition.

  • Eyes a little tired of all this reading?  Then hop over to Lip Service Journal to listen to three of my poems recorded at the invitation of editor Maurice Oliver, poetic innovator nonpareil.

Thank you, dear readers! I hope my return to Vagabond Poet will be soon. Meanwhile Roger and I turn our eyes toward Africa, departing September 16 for Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar!