Starlings on the road to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

I’ve not come across a term for this multi-faceted approach to describing a sight in multiple haikus,  but I call them haiku strings. If you come away thinking it must have been a dramatic sight, you’ve got the idea. It was a big tree, and there were hundreds of starlings, not one out of place — and it was six days before Christmas.

 

Tree beside the road

decked with widely spaced starlings

like a Christmas tree.

*******

Starlings on branches

so evenly spaced they seem

to have been hung there.

*******

Roadside Christmas tree

hung with globes of black starlings,

sparse decorations.

*******

These starlings placed here

by a decorator’s hand

have been spaced just so.

*******

When the starlings lit,

strewn among these tree branches,

they each hit their mark.

*******

Orderly starlings

must have touched others’ wing tips

as they filled this tree.

*******

Fussy old starlings

thought they’d decorate this tree,

making selves globes.

*******

These artful old birds

have decorated the tree

with feathered black balls.

*******

Ornaments well spaced,

starlings dot the roadside tree

decked out for Christmas.

 

 

 

A fog of gold rolling down the street

Sometimes you encounter something beautiful that you have to describe because of its uniqueness. But even though what you see is simple, it becomes something you can visualize better if described in a number of different ways. That’s what the following five haiku express: five views of sunlight catching beech leaves rolling down the street.

 

Sunshine catches fire

in the roiling ball of gold

beech leaves in the street.

*******

Flying gold beech leaves,

rolling just above the street.

Evidence of fall.

*******

Like a gold roller

this roiling beech leaf mass

floats above the street.

*******

Fall wind lifts the leaves

it just stripped from the beech trees.

Gold drifts in the street.

*******

Like blown golden snow

drifting beech leaves roll above

the suburban street.

 

 

 

Parenting more important than self-preservation

IMG_3413

These are not the same turkeys, but the flock that lives on what remains of the historic Edwards Ranch that dates back to just after the Civil War and is about a mile from my home.

I’ve seen turkey families before, foraging together, half-grown birds along with a mating pair, but never have I seen them do this single file marching thing that I accompanied down the length of the barbed wire fence for a long stretch. Fascinating.

 

Two turkeys, six chicks

walk just inside the barbed wire

keeping pace with me

 

for half a mile’s walk.

The adults can’t fly away

because of their chicks.

 

So in single file

one turkey at the line’s head,

the other behind,

 

they march their small brood

only 20 feet away

from my company,

 

not flying, fleeing —

resorting to straight-winged flight —

staying in my sight.

 

 

Moonlit ultralights

I was driving into Fort Worth from Mineral Wells State Park on a moonlit night, when I saw the two ultralight aircraft drifting lazily past the moon. It was a surreal moment, and I wrote these several haiku to capture the experience, hoping each one would somehow illustrate the extraordinary sighting in a different way. More haiku, more illumination — hopefully.

 

Ultralights in flight

sailing past a round, bright moon

then past each other.

*******

Rainbow wings of silk

each powered by a giant fan,

slipping past the moon.

*******

Moon and ultralights

rising in the evening cool,

white and rainbow winged.

*******

Eerily silent,

ultralights pass each other,

wings brushing the moon.

 

 

 

Great blue heron and belted kingfisher on snowy creek in winter

Here are nine takes on the same five seconds along a snowy creek bed. If you’ve read multiple versions of poetry translations (sometimes by the same translator and sometimes by multiple translators), it feels a bit like this. After a time, you imagine they cannot have been working from the same set of words. Here, the amazement comes in thinking that each of these is, in its way, an accurate rendition of five seconds of action. And we wonder why people’s renditions of the same events, witnessed by each of them, differ so substantially. It’s no real wonder at all. Reality is wonderfully complex.

By the way, today will be our third 90 degree plus day in May here in Fort Worth (and it’s only May 5). Hot even for us, so a bit of snow remembered, is a pleasant thought all by itself. Add in birds, and it’s better, of course, but — aaaahhh, coolness.

Jeff Hensley

 

Belted kingfisher

sprays creek bed with his chatter.

Heron lifts from snow.

*******

Great blue heron flies

from his spot on snowy bank;

kingfisher swoops past.

*******

Kingfisher ratchets

past snowy bank as heron

lifts his wings, takes flight.

*******

As kingfisher passes,

snowy bank pushes heron

aloft to warm feet.

*******

Kingfisher’s flight path,

a straight but slow arrow, flung

past great blue heron.

*******

Two flight paths converge:

as heron lifts from snow bank,

kingfisher passes.

*******

In a snowy wood

flight of belted kingfisher

sends heron aloft.

*******

Machine gun chatter

and kingfisher’s straight line of flight;

heron’s graceful wings.

*******

Gracefully heron

lifts its great blue wings and flies.

Kingfisher passes.

 

 

Red-winged blackbirds rising from field — two takes

Birding bedding change

A sheet of blackbirds

shaken by an unseen hand

ripples and rises

 

and we run under,

shielded by the flock’s black wings

blocking out the sky.

 

Still laughing we watch

as the sheet slides from the bed

of earth on the hill

 

into horse pasture

just over the barbed wire fence,

covering the ground.

 

Earth Like a Spanish Coquette

Thousands of blackbirds,

diaphanous mantilla

of rushing black wings.

 

A flirting gesture,

Earth flicks the loose-woven cloth

from the hill’s shoulder.

 

We run under it,

we two, laughing, enraptured

by the avian scarf.

 

The shoulder is bared

as the flock drifts and settles

beyond barbed wire fence.

 

 

Ice-coated treetops; sun after storm

Ice-coated treetops; sun after storm

 

Bare winter branches

salute the morning sunshine

with ice-coated tips.

*******

Ice-coated branch tips

glisten like lighted candles;

no flames, sticks aglow.

*******

Fire bursts from tree tops

whose branch tips are ice-coated,

gleaming white, sun-lit.

*******

Sun sets ice afire.

Sleet-coated tree top branches

cast off sparks of white.

*******

Ice, fire, and white light

sparkle across bare tree tops

cloaked by the sleet storm.

******

Ice captures the light

in leaf-stripped, tip-top branches

and turns them bright white.

 

 

Yellow pillow top upside down

Yellow pillow top upside down

Pillowed yellow clouds

coat the world in lemon cream

as sun sets unseen.

*******

Billowy yellow clouds

quilted mattress upside down

sheets world in yellow.

*******

Quilted yellow clouds

flood the world in bright yellow

yet don’t spill a drop.

*******

Unearthly yellow

filtered through billowy clouds

says sun’s not yet down.

*******

Unbelievable

yellow that spreads over earth,

coats cars, roads, houses.

*******

These clouds yield no rain

just lemon yellow light-fall

flooding streets of town.

 

Snowmen Series:

February 6, 2002

 

Snowmen Series:

“Cross this line and I’ll melt you!”

Straw-covered snow men

stand in opposite front yards,

frozen sentinels.

•••••••••••

Guarding Grassy Yards

Past carrot noses

stark sentinel snowmen stare,

brooms at parade rest.

••••••••••••••

Each One Handicapped

Head with carrot nose;

abdomen with buttoned vest;

round snowball for legs.

 

 

Yellow Pillow, Hagerman Refuge, Heron Kingfisher, Moonlit Ultralights, Gold Fog

May 15, 2001

Yellow Pillow Top Upside Down

Pillowed yellow clouds

coat the world in lemon cream

as sun sets unseen.

*******

Billowy yellow clouds

quilted mattress upside down

sheets world in yellow.

*******

Quilted yellow clouds

flood the world in bright yellow

yet don’t spill a drop.

*******

Unearthly yellow

filtered through billowy clouds

says sun’s not yet down.

*******

Unbelievable

yellow that spreads over earth,

coats cars, roads, houses.

*******

These clouds yield no rain

just lemon yellow light-fall

flooding streets of town.

 

Feb. 28, 2003

Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher on Snowy Creek

Belted kingfisher

sprays creek bed with his chatter.

Heron lifts from snow.

*******

Great blue heron flies

from his spot on snowy bank;

kingfisher swoops past.

*******

Kingfisher ratchets

past snowy bank as heron

lifts his wings, takes flight.

*******

As kingfisher passes,

snowy bank pushes heron

aloft to warm feet.

*******

Kingfisher’s flight path,

a straight but slow arrow, flung

past great blue heron.

*******

Two flight paths converge:

as heron lifts from snow bank,

kingfisher passes.

*******

In a snowy wood

flight of belted kingfisher

sends heron aloft.

*******

Machine gun chatter

and kingfisher’s straight line of flight;

heron’s graceful wings.

*******

Gracefully heron

lifts its great blue wings and flies.

Kingfisher passes.

 

May 23 2005

Moonlit Ultralights

Ultralights in flight

sailing past a round, bright moon

then past each other.

*******

Rainbow wings of silk

each powered by a giant fan,

slipping past the moon.

*******

Moon and ultralights

rising in the evening cool,

white and rainbow winged.

*******

Eerily silent,

ultralights pass each other,

wings brushing the moon.

 

November 7, 2005

A Fog of Gold Rolling down the Street

Sunshine catches fire

in the roiling ball of gold

beech leaves in the street.

*******

Flying gold beech leaves,

rolling just above the street.

Evidence of fall.

*******

Like a gold roller

this roiling beech leaf mass

floats above the street.

*******

Fall wind lifts the leaves

it just stripped from the beech trees.

Gold drifts in the street.

*******

Like blown golden snow

drifting beech leaves roll above

the suburban street.

 

December 19, 2005

On the Road to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

Tree beside the road

decked with widely spaced starlings

like a Christmas tree.

*******

Starlings on branches

so evenly spaced they seem

to have been hung there.

*******

Roadside Christmas tree

hung with globes of black starlings

sparse decorations.

*******

These starlings placed here

by a decorator’s hand

have been spaced just so.

*******

When the starlings lit

strewn among these tree branches

they each hit their mark.

*******

Orderly starlings

must have touched others’ wing tips

as they filled this tree.

*******

Fussy old starlings

thought they’d decorate this tree,

making selves globes.

*******

These artful old birds

have decorated the tree

with feathered black balls.

*******

Ornaments well spaced,

starlings dot the roadside tree

decked out for Christmas.