Archive for the ‘Animals in the City’ Category

On a Beech Branch, Noon

June 6, 2013 Comments off

by Anna Lena Phillips

West Point on the Eno City Park, Durham, NC

“Like tigers,” said one kid. I’d taken them walking, up the path and past two stout-bodied moths: heads crossed with burnt yellow lines, wing veins traced with the purple of rocks the river moves over, orange between, and pairs of creamy yellow spots; orange feet holding the branch, furred bodies curving inward to where they joined. Later, we passed by again: the two abdomens pulsed. “That looks wrong,” said one kid. Another: “Well, that’s what they’re doing.”

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Anna Lena Phillips’s writing appears in BlazeVOX, Open Letters Monthly, The Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and others. A Pocket Book of Forms, her letterpress-printed, travel-sized guide to poetic forms, is forthcoming this summer. Her projects and pursuits are catalogued at To Do in the New Year.

Fox in the Shard

June 5, 2013 1 comment

by Sarah Burke

We explained to him that if foxes were meant
to be 72 storeys off the ground, they would have
evolved wings.
—Ted Burden, BBC

When the fox appeared, brief spark
of orange in the half-built spire,

the crane driver thought impossible,
mirage. 945 feet above the London streets,

71 flights of stairs, old-fashioned ladder
scaling the rafters, the needle’s tip

open to wind and rain. Who knows what
compelled the fox to climb as the structure

moaned and swayed beneath his weight—
phantom scent of food or sex, moonlight

glinting on the stairs? Just a cub,
six months old, living on scraps the workers

left behind, he flickered and vanished for weeks,
rumor, ghost. They named him Romeo,

trapped him in a steel crate strung with chickens.
Released in the city, they say he glanced back

at the tower looming over the Thames,
touched his paws to foreign concrete, loped away.

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Sarah Burke is an MFA candidate in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University. Besides her first publication in qarrtsiluni‘s “Words of Power” issue, her poems appear or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, Green Mountains Review and Passages North.

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The Hawk

June 5, 2013 Comments off

by Ronald Pickett

We connected, the Cooper’s hawk and I. When I spotted it, it was less than 20 feet away, just outside the fence. He had imported the small cottontail he had harvested from somewhere else, and liked this spot to consume his trophy. It is under the eucalyptus tree, partially protected by the fence, and above the nearby roadway.

The feast was well underway, tufts of fur slung into the air floating away on the light breeze, pieces of skin and flesh and bone pulled clear and discarded or devoured. This was clearly a rare prize, one to be finished quickly and as completely as possible to avoid the scavengers. Tearing, ripping the flesh, attacking the limp corpse with careful disregard. The hawk was a victorious hunter; his chest was puffed up, held high between ripping at the inert body, the talons grasping the soft rabbit fur. My camera was silently clicking — film is free with a digital camera so I reminded myself to take lots of photos. The proud bird is partially hidden behind the fence strakes.

Carefully I walked out onto the patio for a better view. The hawk watched me carefully, becoming more alert, but this was much too good a meal to be interrupted by a mere man. The pictures are partially blocked by the fence; I can’t move outside. I take more pictures — film is free. I try some video — still blocked, but the action is good, the dipping of the head, the ripping of the flesh, it is a small scale replica of the Serengeti.

I move to a different part of the patio, I watch the hawk. The hawk watches me. Then, the hawk steps on top of the carcass and faces away from me. He raises his tail high in the air and lowers his beautiful head to the bunny. Suddenly, he is not ripping another piece of flesh, but he ejects a large dollop of liquid that moves in a high arc towards me. His aim is off, the mess misses me, and the hawk quickly looks over his shoulder. His message is clear: leave me alone until I finish this damned rabbit, or the next shot will not miss.

We connected, the Cooper’s hawk and I.

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Ron Pickett (blog) is a retired naval aviator. He writes, paints, travels and is an occasional speaker and coach. He has had over 80 articles published in a dozen periodicals. His areas of professional focus include Power and Influence, Organizational Politics, Customer Service, and Selection and Promotion of Management Talent.


June 4, 2013 Comments off

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

A good suburban mom takes her four kits to scout.
She’s den mother of the Coyote Patrol.
They spill out into new spring’s almost balmy night,
drift towards the tract homes.

I fear for the raspy pug next door.
For once, he’s not barking like a metronome.
He is business-like, brief,
getting the memo out. Then stops.

The patrol made no meal there, I think.
No shriek, no maniacal coyote laughter,
only my husband’s light rapid breathing.
I listen as he dreams, my ear to his.

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Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, former German Lit. major, and Pushcart nominee, no longer lives for Art, but still. No one believes she is a California native. She started writing when she was nine. Since 2007, more than 80 poems have appeared in many publications, including Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Lilliput Review, Word Gumbo, The Prose Poem Project, Centrifugal Eye, Convergence and dotdotdash. Her second chapbook, Burrowing Song, is in press with Kattywompus. Links to her photos and poems online may be found at her blog, Clouds Like Mountains.

Spring, Dripfisted

June 4, 2013 Comments off

by Sarah Stanton

the new leaves spit from the bud
like licking lips and swinging tips
and the very yellow sky is welling,
swelling up with dust and pollen,
solemn as marriage and sudden
as joy, a buoy in the big red sea
of city streets and the flowers burst,
they split and kiss at the wind,
spinning pinwheel songs of lover
hither, zithering up to the sun

and the sparrow-song, gurgling
on poplar and pavement the nest,
the nest, the burbling children
to fly, to fly, the flip of their wings
and the wheeling flock, the shock
of sky and the small fry, the pekingese
wheezing in its tray, the stray cats
white as the tide and staking out,
taking the world

that blooms in the whiskers
and withers in the eye,
that dangles and dithers
like a girl in the sun
shouting april to no one.

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Sarah Stanton is a translator, editor and writer from Western Australia who has spent the past three years living and working in Beijing. She has been published in a number of magazines and indie projects, including Clarkesworld, Voiceworks, Hunger Mountain, Cha and Conte. She blogs at The Duck Opera and tweets @theduckopera.

Wherever There Is Water There Is Wild

June 3, 2013 3 comments

by Timothy Walsh

In the middle of a city or along a suburban
street, wherever there is water

there is wild—water wild as a wilderness
lake, water wild as water always

is, despite whatever human habitations might
by happenstance encroach upon the shore.

Here, where city buses whoosh and trucks diesel
by, the breeze plays upon the sunlit

lake, wavelets rippling the deep
blue, marsh reeds swaying like stage-lit dancers.

It is what these tundra swans, loons, and herons
know—that wherever there is water

there is wild, and the water’s wildness is within
them, too—within them and within us.

It is what the whispering water knows in its wild
watery way—all things that breathe, walk, pulse,

all things are mostly water. Whatever sees water
is water, whatever drinks water is water drinking.

Feel the wildness of the water within this amphora
of flesh, this wineskin of ourselves that siphons

water into a flicker of consciousness where, watery-
eyed, we look out on a windswept world.

Our tongues eternally taste the watery wild
of ourselves; bathing, we feel the slight membrane

of skin separating ourselves, water from water,
which is why water is restful, why our watery

eyes are drawn to water, are hypnotized by
water’s movement and moods. It is the wildness

that we are and will be when one day
we flow back. See the waterlights glinting

on these wavelets—a hundred thousand ancestors’
eyes long since returned to the source. Wick the water

that is you to light your candle-eyes. Wherever
there is water there is wild.

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Timothy Walsh (website) has placed poems and short stories in The North American Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Inkwell, New Millennium Writings and others. His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). He is an Assistant Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

From Here

June 3, 2013 1 comment

by Maggie Rosen

By the time I walk from parking lot to middle school,
The mockingbird is repeating songs. He sounds
like he is from here. Sometimes I hear a bird
riff on a tropical number, as if lost
or in the wrong crowd. This one sings a local canon:

I open the book to where Moises was
the last time. He looks down as if to say
“New, again.” We begin at the initial sounds,
battle against hard consonants, gape open at
American vowels.
He is happy to be here, earnest, tired.
He remembers seven sounds. Last week he remembered five.

His parents gave him one road out –
through Oaxaca (start it with a “wa”).
I watch him lose this way with each syllable stressed. In fifteen years,
seven sounds learned. He will
be digging dirt, hammering nails while
I coax these sounds out of younger cousins.
I want to teach him all new songs.

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Maggie Rosen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and went to Brown University. Her poems have been published in Sow’s Ear, Minimus, Plainsongs, and the Hungry As We Are, Winners, and Cabin Fever anthologies. She has worked as an education writer and teacher of English to speakers of other languages for more than 15 years. She currently works as an ESOL teacher to preschoolers with special needs.

Categories: Animals in the City Tags:


May 31, 2013 Comments off

by James Burgett


photo of five storks in a rooftop nest
(Click image to view a larger version.)


James Burgett (Light Box Photography) has pursued photography as a means of creative expression for decades. He finds inspiration in the natural world and seeks to create images that are arresting and insightful on multiple levels. Re-presenting multidimensional experience within a two-dimensional frame is the creative challenge that motivates his ongoing engagement in the visual arts and sustains his commitment to photography as his medium of choice. He exhibits locally and regionally and most recently took first place in the 2012 Paducah Photo Exhibit.

Putting Up

May 31, 2013 2 comments

by Christi Krug

Busy and determined suburbanites
never bother to ask permission;
go about their projects without a word,
building up and tearing down.

They quarrel in full view of the neighbors:
self-satisfied, dirt-digging, nut-grubbing
except when clawing their way up.

They take what’s not for them.
Scurrilous chitterers,
they have no shame.
We avoid getting too close: disease is an issue.
And at a certain range we might see their scars.

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Christi Krug’s poetry has appeared in print and online in The Fossil Record, sixlittlethings, the Aroostook Review, Salal Journal, Umbrella, and Bumbershoot. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in qarrtsiluni, VoiceCatcher, Halfway Down the Stairs, Colored Chalk, sub-scribe, Defenestration and elsewhere. Awards include Inscape Best of Nonfiction, Whidbey Island Poetry, and Oregon Christian Writers Fiction. Christi teaches beginning writers at Clark College and independently as a writing coach. Visit to learn more.

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Squirrels and Injury

May 30, 2013 2 comments

by Jenny McBride

The day after Christmas
I saw a fox squirrel take a bite
From the spoiling pear I tossed out days before.
The pear long ignored, I looked closer
And saw the creature’s hunger
From one front paw misshapen, the other broken
With no way to stand or shell a seed.

I’ve fed them before, injured squirrels,
Unable to sit up and eat,
I brought food in a can
On the end of a pole
And this one, too, let me get that close
Then fed slowly, desperately,
Its eyes sometimes closing with fatigue.

Soon the other squirrels were coming around
And this is where it gets tricky:
Chasing them without alarming the wounded
But I could do it, shaking a finger,
Fortressing a brow, mouthing a guttural tone —
They left us alone.

My husband just smiled
When I told him that part.
A scientist, he misses so much
And goes on thinking
The world is a simple equation.

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Jenny McBride has published fiction and poetry. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two cats and six bicycles.

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