Critters

Grasshoppers

As children we learned
Playing in the parched grasses of July
That grasshoppers
Are not mere insects
That hatch and metamorphose
But enchanted creatures
Leaping suddenly into being
Fully formed
Out of summer’s basement door
To give us little jolts
Of apprehension and delight
At the spine-tingling otherness
On the loose in the whirring world.

child holding grasshopper

Millipede

A parade of one
The shiny black millipede
Marches smartly along the trail
Left right, left right, left right,
Left right, left right, left right . . .
Nobody out of step

Cabbage Butterflies

Unlike their more colorful kin
Cabbage butterflies dress
With an elegant simplicity
That would not be out of place
At gatherings of the haut monde /–/
Paper white wings
With one or two artfully placed black dots
For a tasteful soupçon of contrast.
But cabbage butterflies
Have no particular preference
For soirées and teas
In the flawlessly manicured//jardins
Of the overprivileged
And are perfectly content to shoot the breeze
With the proletarian bugs and bees
That toil away in the flowers and trees
In the humble jumble of our front yard.

Quail

One at a time
With several seconds
Between each
Fifteen quail come scooting
Out of a blackberry thicket
Onto the wide, weedy path
Where they busily forage
For whatever it is
That quails eat.
What I don’t get
Is the one-by-one business.
Why don’t they exit the brambles
As a covey
All at the same time?
Is it some kind of survival strategy?
Is the idea that
If the bird in front of you
Gets attacked by a predator
You stay put
In the relative safety
Of the tangle of thorny stems?
If that is the case
How do they decide
The order in which
They come out into the open?
Wouldn’t everyone
Want to go last?
I know I would.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

family of california quail


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has been published in many print and online journals including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and co-producer of two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Photo of child with grasshopper by Tonbeyl. Photo of California Quail family by PStedrak.

Wood Thrush

Wood thrush sings his heart out
The first tune I hear at daybreak
A trill so hauntingly sweet
As it softly nudges me awake

It echoes through the forest
With notes so bright and clear
Each year I await his arrival
A sure sign that spring is here

Of all the melodies in my woods
His flute-like song I love the best
It is both beautiful and eerie
As he sings with unfaltering zest

By Ann Christine Tabaka

singing thrush in dark forest


Tabaka Author PhotoAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Photo of singing nightingale thrush in dark forest by Victor Tyakht

Smart Bird

it swooped down past my left shoulder
the shiny black raven did
with wings outstretched
it coasted on pillows of air
and corkscrewed upward
to fall in again with its mate

and I wondered
if they ever forget
I wondered
if they take for granted
the glowing blue madness of flight
the regal nature
of their relationship to landscape
I wondered if the breezy freedom
of riding the invisible
ever slips their mind

but ravens are smart birds
maybe more than any other
they bolt out on the wildest of days
and with their smiling Roman noses
they dip and dog and tumble and zip
they frolic at heights
that render their wingspan
faint as the punctuation on this page
they claim the sky and the wind
and the satin switch blades of their wings
they squeeze each and every drop
out of that power which makes them gods

they make prayer
they make play
they make from even the craziest
winter bluster
a feast of remembrance
caw caw caw
we can fly
this is cool
let’s not forget

By Rich Mertes 2017

two raven perched on a ledge by Bryce Canyon


Rich Mertes is me, and sometimes I write poems as a kind of time machine to help me slip back into and inhabit the space of a sacred moment. This particular poem–“Smart Bird”–is based on a recent encounter with a raven up at Tennessee Valley, a jewel of open space near where I live in Marin County, CA. I’d say the slow, quiet walks I enjoy there and at other places are my primary spiritual practice these days. Birds and bears are favored companions. Meanwhile, I’ve been writing poetry for a few decades–also teaching elementary school, and most recently working as a somatic counselor.

Photo of ravens at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA, by andamanse

Dove Chorale

A chorus of mourning doves
serenades passing motorists
along the shaded gravel road.
Their coos are comforting,
and I slow down to listen.
They welcome all who pass
and soothe them
into autumn splendor.

By Harding Stedler

mourning dove in tree lit by autumn sunset


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

Photo by blscooch

Hummingbird

I stand on air
peer through the window
You see me,
come at my bidding.
Fill my feeder.
Turn on the hose.
I bob up and down
in front of a waterfall
that spills from a green cord.
I lift and pause,
we stand eye to eye.
I beat quietude
with buzz of silver wings.
I’m so small
no breeze touches your face.
I disappear like magic.

By Ingrid Bruck

Hummingbird at purple flower


Ingrid Bruck writes nature inspired poetry and grows wildflowers. She’s a retired library director living in the Amish country of Pennsylvania that inhabits her writing. Her favorite forms are haiku, haibun, senryu, rengay and short poems. Some published work appears in Mataroyshka Poetry, Unbroken Journal, Halcyon Days, Quatrain.Fish, Under the Basho, The Song Is and Leaves of Ink. Visit her poetry website: ingridbruck.com. Photo by the author.