noisy red-winged blackbird
avian show-off – pay attention!
can’t miss his flamboyant solos
performing on stage
atop swaying cattails in swamp
lined-up on grey telephone wires
along dusty rural roadsides

abundant red-winged songbird
bold yellow and red feathers
boastful emblems on his shoulders
coat-of-arms brooches on wings
glistening black spinel majestic bird

his mate is more conservative
a shy woman in streaked brown feathers
does not dress to impress
doesn’t care for grand-standing or glitz
he seeks to entertain the crowd
she calmly searches hidden brush
selects twigs for warp and weft
unobtrusively weaves her fancy nest.
confident artist welcomes domestic solitude
conjures daydreams of spring.
their eggs will hatch in three weeks.

By Lynda McKinney Lambert

red winged blackbird balances on a fallen reed

Lynda Lambert Author PhotoLynda is the author of Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, Available on Amazon.com and Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems (go to Author’s Page to order this book). Visit her Website & Blog www.lyndalambert.com and her Author’s Page: http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/. She was nominated for “Best of the Net” for for her 2016-2017 Essay. First Snow, Lynda’s first Chapbook, is now ready for publication in 2018. Currently she is working on Star Signs: New and Seleectd Poems by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Expected publication is late 2018. Contact Lynda for more information.

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird by Michael Truchon

Night Watch

The night dances in on a purple sunset
edged in radiant streams of gold.

The evening star winks seductively
at the shy rising moon

The sound of the surf’s eternal march
echoes across the dunes,
carried on a salt breeze.

Castles and footprints forgotten,
soon to be washed away.

Sea oats wave adieu to the light,
as sand crabs scurry home
to their sandy dens.

Silhouettes of egrets flock overhead,
marsh-bound for the night.
Signaling the time for
Night watch

By Ann Christine Tabaka

susent at beach dunes

Tabaka Author PhotoAnn Christine Tabaka is a nominee for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She was selected as Poet of the Month for January 2018, and interviewed by Kingdoms in the Wild. She lives in Delaware, USA. She is a published poet and artist. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, Oddball Magazine, The Paragon Journal, The Literary Hatchet, The Stray Branch, Trigger Fish Critical Review, Foliate Oak Review, Bindweed Magazine, The Metaworker, Raven, RavensPerch, Anapest Journal, Mused, Apricity Magazine, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, Scryptic Magazine Ann Arbor Review. *(a complete list of publications is available upon request)

Photo by beach dunes at Formby, England, by Steven Heap

Winter’s Blessings

A pair of crows call to me as I walk. They wear their black boldly, contrasting against the snow and, with no leafy canopies to hide within, I have no trouble following them as they rise from ground to tree. “I hear you!” I shout back and continue on my way. I have been warned that the crows’ call is a sad one but I sense no sorrow in this cawing from on high. There is only the joy of flight from treetop to treetop as I make my way below on this cold winter afternoon.

The blue gray of the trees’ long shadows are stretching across the snow blanketing the yards. The sun plays with the sculpted edges of the snowflakes, causing a glittering, sparkling dance of light. A shadow jumps… I look upward toward the tree that casts the shadow just as an ash gray squirrel leaps from solid branch to precarious twig. He hangs for a suspenseful moment, swinging as if about to fall, before scrambling up to a more secure perch. I can’t tell if he is looking down at near death or up at the next highest branch. He shakes his tail in dismissal of the risk. No time to linger over self doubt, he throws himself into the seemingly empty air again and repeats the acrobatics.

I notice the green of the holly tree ahead shaking. Closer, I hear the chirping of the robins that the glossy leafed greenery hides. Dozens of the fluttering birds are sheltered within the tree as they feast on the berries there. They fly out and back again as I approach, red breasts against the green of holly. Robins have always been a harbinger of spring arriving but, here, in my Kentucky neighborhood, they gather and wait patiently for the dogwoods to blossom, passing the time eating holly berries.

I continue along with snow crunching beneath my boots, noticing a house with icicles hanging from the gutters like icy fingers pointing toward the door in welcome, catching the sun in their knuckles and nails. Is the cozy home filled with the smell of baking bread and is a huge pot of soup being stirred on the stove for tonight’s dinner? Are chocolate chip cookies cooling on the rack, just in time for the children’s homecoming?

 snow trail along the woods Although I am bundled in my warmest winter clothing, my breath indicates how cold the air is as I exhale warmth into the frigid surroundings. If these vapors could hold my thoughts, words suspended in the air, I would gladly watch them rise and disappear into the sky. I only want to celebrate the cold earth beneath me, knowing that each step lands me exactly where I am meant to be and that every breath I take is enough for the moment.

Winter is a time of shade and light playing off each other. The light is so bright and clear that it can hurt the eyes but look you must! When I consider some of the most wondrous scenes I have witnessed, many were against a backdrop of snow: the delicate etchings of a sparrow’s bird prints, a red fox walking silently across a field buried in snow, the contours of ice frozen little by little at a pond’s edge, the miracle of Canada geese walking on a thin, invisible layer of black ice, the bleached white bark of a sycamore tree against a pale blue sky the color of my father’s eyes, the proud intensity of a cardinal’s red feathers, individual pine needles dipped in ice like candles dipped in wax. It is unlikely that summer would allow the space to walk between the raindrops but you may be able to dance between falling snowflakes in the cold season! How much more welcome the sun’s embrace on a cold, winter day!

Approaching home again, I pause to watch the smoke rising from a chimney. It, also, casts a shadow on the snow, curling and uncurling. There are secrets in those configurations that can only be deciphered from the skies. Perhaps the crows are reading them. I am not able although I believe that it is a prayer of thanks for a cold winter day and all her chilly blessings!

It matters not whether walking along a city sidewalk or following a mountainside trail — I remind myself to look for the many gifts that nature offers.

Photo by hwannaa

A Woodland In Winter

It’s stillness in the field,
Apart from the bird that searches
For his food.
And the grass becomes crisp
With every tread.
And soft snow flakes
That tickle your face,
Yet leave little trace.

It’s the absence of leaves,
An eerie picture card envisaged bare.
And from branches fair.
The sky above like sepia,
With transcending light.
See buzzards soar
As they swoop to see
A vole there for tea.

And mammals sleep deep,
Down in nests away from the cold,
Only to dance in spring.
But the squirrels will hunt
To bury acorns,
As berries drop
For finches fine,
And there hope will shine.
A woodland in winter
Is a step into spring.

By Tanya Fillbrook

bird sitting on a branch of rowan in the snow.

author photo Tanya Fillbrook writes nature poetry and articles because she is passionate about the environment.

Photo by alekiss

Editor’s Choice

Our gaggle of poets, lined notebooks in our laps,
listen. He says he will not look again
at poems that talk of darkness or herons.

We scribble. No dark. No herons.
Whatever else he said to help us
is lost to me. I’m at the river bank

alone in new moon light
below the whump whump
of a heron’s midnight flight.

By Tricia Knoll

 great blue heron flying across lake

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who loves the Pacific Northwest even with the climate changes that caught us breathing so much smoke in the summer of 2016. Her property backs onto a small urban stream that the City of Portland maps call a ditch, but it is free flowing year-around. We hear the coyotes and owls. In 2018 Antrim House will bring out her newest collection of poetry, How I Learned to Be White. Her 2017 book Broadfork Farm  features the wild and domestic creatures of a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington on the slopes of Mt. Adams.

Photo of Great Blue Heron by Dorothy Merrimon Crawford