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Posts tagged “Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr

Lycopodium

Lycopodium obscurum

Lycopodium
by Maxwell C. Wheat, Jr.

They are the elves’ Christmas trees
Grandfather would say
of Ground Pine and Cedar
Once in the sun I laid on snow
eye level to see colored lights and bulbs
the size of frozen dew drops

They are lycopodiums, he’d say
teaching me again to pronounce the name
because scientific words have the sounds of poetry

Lie-ko-po-dee-um

You’ve got it, he’d laugh
his hearty red face broadening behind his white beard
his abundant frame rollicking

When I return home for the holidays
I always walk back to our woods
think of Grandfather assuring a small boy
Yes,I’ll see that the elves have a happy Christmas

I am glad lie-ko-po-dee-um is evergreen

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Roger Tory Peterson

roger-tory-peterson.jpg
Roger Tory Peterson
Born: 28 August 1908 Birthplace: Jamestown, New York

” . . . the man who made America
a nation of birdwatchers.”

William Zinsser
Writer and Critic

Your dashes are arrows
in A Field Guide to the Birds, the green-bound “Peterson”
tucked into belts, pushed into pockets, stuffed into backpacks

Arrows that lead eyes of millions,
squinting through binoculars,
to the red-brown cap and black “stick-pin”
identifying the passerine in snowy branches.
“That’s it,” the new birder exclaims,
pulls out list, checks off the “Winter Chippy,”
American Tree Sparrow

Arrows that glide to crest and black necklace of Blue Jay,
“golden slippers” of Snowy Egret,
yellow “spectacles,” black sideburns, of Kentucky Warbler,
purple throat, green crown, decurved bill of Lucifer Hummingbird,
white tail tip of Eastern Kingbird.
The Bald Eagle with white head and tail is “all field mark.”

In the salt marsh in May, the birder thinks “Life Bird?”
Focuses on shorebird
prodding mud flat with Short-billed Dowitchers,
Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones. Greater Yellowlegs,
Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers,
Semi-palmated and Black-bellied Plovers.
She has identified all with the dried, wrinkled pages of her “Peterson.”

She studies what she knows to be a plover,
concentrates glasses on this bird feeding
by greening shoots of Spartina grass.
Again, she stares at your art,
your arrow guide slanting to the back.
She rereads your description:
“spangled with golden spots above.”

Suddenly, her freckled face is a loud smile,
her whisper a bursting
“Golden Plover!”

Field Guide, 1996
The Roger Peterson Institute of Natural History

By Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. ©
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Pileated Woodpecker [Poem]

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

dressed for his coronation
in ebony cape,
ermine trim,
scarlet-crested crown.
But would royalty be caught
backing down a dead hickory?

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©

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Monarch Butterfly [Poem]

Mon@rch and its Milkweed

Monarch Butterflies

Regal autumn travelers

robed for mediaeval pageantry
in velvet orange and black

Moving in great procession

on tissue wings
from Canada to Monterey, the Sierra Madre

The North American Continent a court for this lepidoptery

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©

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New-tropical Migrants [Poem]

CSWA
Chestnut-sided Warbler

New-tropical Migrants

We have always seen warblers
as brilliancies of the North Woods:

lemon yellow of Black-throated Green
flame wings and tail of American Redstart

But the Redstart is Cuba’s “Little Candelita,”
the Black-throated Green flies his colors from Ecuador

Our boreal yellows, reds, blues are tropical,
burnt orange of Blackburnian,
orange-red of Bay-breasted

What do we send back?
Blackburnian with only the yellow,
Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Pine we can not tell apart – -
“Confusing Fall Warblers.”

Color them up, we say.
Paint back the cheeks and flanks of Chestnut-sided,
brighten back the pigments of Black-throated Blue

Send these warblers back.
On the Big Day in May
in Sugar Maple and Tamarack
we will check off glories of the rain forest

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©

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Lets Go for Bluebirds [Poem]

New Neighbor

“Let’s Go for Bluebirds!”

Grandfather would call on a March morning,
snow sparkling in the sun.
Pulling on his wool cap,
He’d lead me down the cow path,
crusts of ice crackling under our boots

“Wait. Let’s look around,” he’d whisper
when we reached the orchard,
searched rows of apple trees,
gray trunks gnarled,
branches craggy

If I heard the singer,
blue-backed, red-breasted thrush,
I waited for Grandfather to point,
trying to keep his voice to a hoarse whisper,
“There he is. On that high branch.”
And what did he always add?
“A piece of sky has landed in the trees!”

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©

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Nature Haiku [Poem]


Photo by Marg (thanks Marg)

Nature Haiku

Mockingbird at night
would disturb the universe
and sing forever

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©

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