December 5: “The Hand-Carved Loon”

And there are
Two birds
In this poem
A loon
Hand-carved
From balsa
And a snakebird
On the tide
Of the river
The oily head
Of a water bird
Cuts surface
And glides
Along by
Tarred wooden
Racks
Ideograms
Oyster farms
Low on the tide
Lower than
The hand-carved
Loon it looks
Hardly buoyant
A bird
From two
Worlds it knows
The murk
On the bottom
And waves
Crinkled by sun
It swims
As well
As a black trevally
Sleek and fast
A challenge to
Handcrafted birds
To all things made up

— Robert Adamson

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October 29: “More Sky Please”

More sky please push open the apartment shutters
crowbar the paint factory’s broken window frames rip
tar paper from the caving roof push it back crack it open

blast an airshaft through the neighboring buildings snap
it back expose the bird-ridden drafts the wren’s been busy
here mornings year-round churr and chip golden open-throat

yodel smack in the sleep cycle soldered to feeder suet
in ivy like titmouse chickadee refusing to shift it back
Carolina Canada climate haywire more sky please rik tik tik

break open more light all the way past oil tank farms
creosote docks the Kill Van Kull slide by kingfisher flap
past cormorant incongruous flights parallel and merging

plunge into slap out of tidal pools the Fresh Kills beak
full of killifish and silversides crayfish and krill tarp
past the salt grass and bridges fly Pulaski Skyway

Bayonne’s silver buildings blank tower blocks sky
wide as the river mouth more sky more please push it back
past tankers and tugboats the last hulking cruise ship

lasers fired across a spinning disco ball wobble bass
and echo chamber dancing on deck past clanging buoys
waveless channels to deepest basin all things even

terns drop away sea and sky opened wide and empty

— John Hennessy

October 3: “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

— John Keats

September 4: “Three Songs at the End of Summer”

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.

Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket …
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.

I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

— Jane Kenyon

June 15: “Bed in Summer”

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

— Robert Louis Stevenson

April 28: “North Country”

In the north country now it is spring and there
is a certain celebration. The thrush
has come home. He is shy and likes the
evening best, also the hour just before
morning; in that blue and gritty light he
climbs to his branch, or smoothly
sails there. It is okay to know only
one song if it is this one. Hear it
rise and fall; the very elements of your soul
shiver nicely. What would spring be
without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient
and gorgeous. You listen and you know
you could live a better life than you do, be
softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will
be able to do it. Hear how his voice
rises and falls. There is no way to be
sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are
given, no way to speak the Lord’s name
often enough, though we do try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast
breathes in the pines and heaven’s
windows in the north country, now spring has come,
are opened wide.

— Mary Oliver