Poetry Inspired in My Backyard
This morning I looked out on a tentative sun shining upon a light overnight snowfall, the delicate beauty of light and shadow and the cold air full of sparkling snowflakes. Of course I took a few photographs and then I grabbed my pastels and sketched that even before I sketched one of my cats, and my creativity fully engaged I drafted a poem even before I went out to feed and water the birds, before I left my mark on that little space. Good thing I fed the cats first, though I had my coffee after all that.
Sometimes I’m on a ladder in the mulberry tree picking berries and a poem starts building in my mind. All I can do is remember to carry paper and pen with me, and hope that I’ll be able to balance while I use both hands to write down my thoughts.
I’ll share today’s poem after some time for consideration. The poems below were written as a direct result of being out in the yard, or on the deck observing, enjoying this little space I share with so many living things and span all the seasons of my little space.
Like a Tree
I wrote this sitting on my deck after coming home from a long day way back when I still worked a day job.
To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
On the death of a downy woodpecker who flew into my window.
I can only hope that
her heart was filled with the joy of the unfolding spring
and that she saw paradise reflected in the glass of my window.
I wrote this right after she died in my hands.
This really did happen on Valentine’s Day, and I learned later that this is a courting ritual with American cardinals.
He doesn’t have to give this gift to her
and she doesn’t have to receive it
as she could easily feed herself
but she perches on a fallen branch
while he flies to the feeder
grasps a sunflower seed
and flies back to perch next to her;
they tilt their heads as if to kiss
as she accepts this seed of his love,
the bright red cardinal’s first act of courtship
to his dark red mate
on Valentine’s Day.
This poem was published on A Prairie Home Companion website at the very beginning of their “stories from home” series, and led to me creating an annual poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall.
The dogwoods are blooming up and down my street.
The breaking of the cold,
The unusually warm, brilliant spring day
Has brought my neighbors out to wash cars and cut grass.
Like the returning birds
Their conversations drift and circle from yard to yard
And cross the street on capricious breezes;
We have been put away all winter
Like articles of summer clothing
Our potential at rest,
Yet now, even at night,
Pale, airy clouds of blossoms
Hover in the darkness all over the neighborhood.
Dusk shadows sparkle with fireflies,
Air perfumed, heavy:
This was inspired by watching parents raise their little ones.
She is small but quick
and she obviously adores her father,
following him everywhere
and imitating everything he does,
every sound he makes,
and every way he moves,
as he intends her to do.
This is what they do together most afternoons,
he running down the list of things she needs to know,
and methodically showing her how to do one and then the next,
and he is very affectionate with her, touching her face frequently.
She’s a little uncertain at this next task, though,
and hesitates as he coaxes her,
she clutching the branch in her little orange claws,
tilting her head from side to side,
the tiny red-brown crest on the top of her head
moving forward and back as if trying to focus,
and even though he knows he should probably stand his ground,
the bright red cardinal grasps a sunflower seed from the feeder,
hops back to his daughter, cracking the shell to expose the treat inside,
and, each tilting their heads as if to kiss, he gently places it in her open beak.
Soon, she will be gone to him forever.
One morning while picking raspberries I found a childhood memory of discovering a huge raspberry bush, not knowing what they were.
You can best see the constellations
by lying on your back and dreaming
and in due time the sky is filled with
cavorting gods and goddesses,
love, death, politics, art
all in the air above you;
yet concentration on one
will cause them all to lose their magic.
So I, facing the surprise berry patch,
focusing to find one berry, and then another
while the clean June sun spilled over my head
warming the smell of berries and leaves and dirt
and small wild plants brushed the soles of my bare feet,
became at the same time a small person
faced with a raspberry clump taller than me,
surprised to find something
so joyfully abundant
and free for the taking
where last week there had only been leaves
along this path,
and, while watching the clouds
forgetting the berries
in both ages
my hands found berry after berry
and my heart found dreams.
It’s a great way to start the day…
Oh, I can’t stop looking at all the feverfew
in my garden,
I just keep running from one cluster to another
those tiny perfect daisies
in umbels as if floating without stems
on waves of bright green leaves
the dots of dew flashing, sparkling
in the day’s new sun
just arrived over the horizon
its color still warm and yellow
as if it’s a cookie just taken out of the oven
and I have to look at all the feverfew
from every angle
until I’m done looking
and I discover I’ve forgotten all the problems of yesterday
and all the ills of the world that I feel the need to carry
and I’m laughing
and dripping with dew myself
and visualizing stunning works of art
and amazing poetry and prose
most of which will ever be realized
nor do they need to be
the inspiration only needs to settle into my soul in this early morning in June
and its glow will warm heart
and keep me laughing with joy
through the day
and the next
and the next.
At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.
From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.
Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.
All poetry © B.E. Kazmarski. All Rights Reserved.
You can also listen to this poem recorded by me, with a slideshow of images on YouTube.
The Gift of a Morning
This award-winning poem, about Cookie and about sharing my garden with my cats, has its own post where you can read and listen; I will be featuring this poem in the coming weeks on the anniversary of its publication.
My poetry is organized on my website on one page, all alphabetical, so you’d have to scroll down the list, and many of these poems also appear in the pages I’ve built for my annual poetry readings. I encourage you to visit those pages so you can see even more artwork, even if it isn’t of my backyard.
Read all the articles in this series
About Backyard Wildlife Habitats
Also read about my art, photography, poetry and prose inspired by my backyard wildlife habitat:
Art Inspired by My Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Photography Inspired by My Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Poetry Inspired by My Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Prose Inspired by My Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Announcing the 2013 BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards!
An awful lot of bloggers bring you an awful lot of information and entertainment each day.
If you enjoy what you read, here’s a way to thank them all!
You have the chance to nominate your favorite blogs in 12 different categories, and a panel of professionals judge the finalists you’ve chosen.
The categories are:
- Best Blog Design: judged on overall design elements of the blog homepage/landing page.
- Best Blog Writing: judged on overall writing skill – is the message clear to the reader? Is the writing well-done? Is the blog post free of errors?
- Best Humor Blog: judged on overall sense of humor – does it make us laugh?
- Best Bark Blog: judged on the content as it applies to dogs and dog parents.
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- Best Wiggle Blog: judged on focus of blog toward non-traditional pets (i.e. ferrets, guinea pigs, chickens, etc.)
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I have my favorites who I read each day! I’m sure you do too, so click on over to BlogPaws, read the information, and vote!
It’s one way we can thank them for providing quality content we enjoy reading, day in and day out.
Here is the information you will need about The Creative Cat:
Blog Homepage: www.TheCreativeCat.net
Contact Name for Blog Owner: Bernadette Kazmarski
Contact Email for the Blog Owner: [email protected]
As part of the nomination you are requested to explain in a few sentences why you’ve chosen your nominee.
Click here to go to the nomination page.
Mimi and her Fantastic Four children, as well as Cookie and Kelly, and Peaches and Namir and all the members of my feline household, and all the kitties whose stories you’ve shared and who’ve found homes through our readers thank you, even if we are not your nominee, because you help all of us.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
4 thoughts on “Poetry Inspired in My Backyard”
Just beautiful Bernadette – I especially loved Father’s Day (for personal reasons). Thanks for sharing.
Vicki, thanks for reading! I think that poem is special to a few daughters.
Love the picture of the cats.A kind of visual poetry 🙂
The poems you wrote are really nice too. Such a nice
way to describe your back yard. So often we see things we like, but do not often
try to describe what it is we like that we see. That is why we need artists like you 🙂
Kitty mom Nancy
Nancy, that’s a very special photo and I know as a cat person you would recognize–that was three days before Namir died of congestive heart failure, and that picnic table was and still is a meeting place for the three of us, even though the two are gone. I call it “old friends” and I have a visual story to go with it.