Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Red Breasts

painting by gerhard richter.

Red Breasts

“The characteristics in human nature which we love best,
grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles.”
--Harry Emerson Fosdick.

A robin has built
her nest in eaves of our deck;
expecting chirps soon.

She said smiling solemnly near sunset,
underscored by airliners speaking jet.

When you open
the back door, mother bird
would fly away.

“I wish she would realize that
we mean her no harm,” my wife said.

“Do you speak Robin?” I asked.

My tall lady held her iphone
over her head, snapping images
of first three lovely blue eggs,
then later three featherless babes.

Our tom cat & his neighborhood puss-pals
                    left their dusty paw prints on top
            of the highest railing, 
while crows & grackles                       
                                             perched precariously 
                                                                                      near by
                    as mother & father brought
                    worms, grubs, beetles & seeds
                    to three gaping hungry mouths.

Odd, perhaps, that we felt so protective,
             hoping calamity was not an elective,
                         watching three fat fuzzy heads bob
                                   above the edge of the bird’s nest,
                          as we accepted the emotional job
           of providing the babies the best
                          surveillance that we could muster,
fully understanding that actually we would
                          be nothing more than witness to the
events not yet upon us;

like the teutonic shelves shifting
with the inevitable continental drift
devil-deep beneath us,

like the new steam fissures sprouting
on Mt. Adams, that is
Mt. St. Helens’ little brother,
readying itself to become
another May magma event,

like the rare trio of ghost rider tornados 
brewing within the thunderous womb
of the lightning-laced dark skies above, 

like the mysterious change of course
for Asteroid H2000, an ice giant
with a granite core
that just now
is headed our way.

Nature has agenda.
We are but pawns ready for
sacrifices to come.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like it hear me read this Layered Poem to you?


brudberg said...

Oh, the ever present danger.. for the robins and for us, for crows and cats.. there is always something out there to get us.. maybe we cannot let out thoughts linger on that.. one day we will also be feathers in a feline mouth..

Claudia said...

i think a certain amount of trouble makes us stronger and helps us grow.. if we live in constant fear though the opposite happens... there are def. dangers out there that we're not even aware of..

X said...

If only we could speak jet, or robin. Perhaps we would not be as dangerous as those asteroids, which only hit us by chance. The same can not be said of ourselves. We are the far more present danger.

Hayes Spencer said...

And amidst the dangers, how wonderful that sometimes, there are actually those who guard us. I so love the descriptions of the baby birds. I have several houses of bluebirds going on now and some wrens in odd buckets in the garage. I put fencing around them to protect from the ravenous raccoons that prowl at night. They have hatched and soon will fly!

Marina Sofia said...

I love the 'speaking jet' or 'speaking robin' and your protective instinct. Sadly, since having a cat, I too have had to say goodbye to birds in my garden - the word has spread and they are avoiding us (thank goodness!)

Anonymous said...

Good golly, you went crazy with the second half! We were going along all soft and pretty, and then "shebang!" That was really powerful!

"like the teutonic shelves shifting
with the inevitable continental drift
devil-deep beneath us"

Right about here, you started the roller coaster going upward and didn't give me any relief until the closing haiku. Very engaging work.

KB said...

Well done Glenn. I liked how you set the the ending stanzas with a common miracle and everyday event--the way it all balances as being all just as important when we step back to see the bigger picture. >KB

Anthony Desmond said...

I melt and go into lovey-dovey mode over animals... Saddened by the fact that they run away from my baby-talk and open arms... but then I think to myself, "of course they run away; would you stick around and let some strange man cuddle your kids?" Hell no...

Clystie Pruden said...

Oh so real in our lives. Undetermined what will happen no matter how hard we try. God gives and takes away. That's how we live. Master the art of forgiving and do as much good as you can with your life. May darling brother, you have mastered so much and with a heart of gold. I am very proud of you.

De said...

Goodness. So much here, and so much to love. Well done, Sir.

Mary said...

Ha, well some days I think it is a good thing that we don't know what nature's agenda is! You gave so many amazing examples. We ARE pawns indeed.

Tameka said...

I do believe there is a another level of life force and intelligence that we humans are not privy to because we can't speak like the creatures we elevate ourselves over. I loved listening to you recite your work. Nicely done.

Debi Swim said...

Layers and shelves and strata - you got it all in there. So engaging and I love your accent.

George Polley said...

Very nicely done Glenn. Together, we are all pawns to whatever our universe has in store for us. As you say so eloquently, it could all come crashing down on our heads unexpectedly. Best to take note of the little things around us, the chirps and all the rest, and enjoy each day as if it were the last one.

Truedessa said...


It seems we both wrote about birds in a round about way. Nature has an agenda and I wonder how far ahead Mother Nature would plan or does she pencil in the unexpected surprises. Your words took a twist just like a tornado running wild.

Kate Mia said...

Ah.. yes perspective.. that's truly what's it's all about.. and feeling the empathy of a comet.. is to know.. that now.. is what it's all about..:)

Kathy Reed said...

Love the story of your wife and the robins' eggs..such a pretty blue...and then the leap to our earthquake prone state.."the big one" has yet to arrive..last week I saw a cat catch, kill and eat a baby rabbit..actually, I couldn't watch the latter. And, the faults that could spell disaster here are never far from my mind when I avoid driving our Seattle viaduct..or anytime for that matter.

lynn__ said...

From microcosm to macrocosm, you superbly layered the predatory side of the natural world...creation groans and we acknowledge our own helplessness.

vivinfrance said...

I held my breath, waiting for disaster for the robins. You told their story beautifully, then the change to wider danger made me jump back in fear.

Abhra Pal said...

When we learn to paint, we are taught to paint the farthest objects first and then the nearer ones - this one gave me exactly that feeling, so many interesting discoveries with layers. Sorry - this time difference within the week is killing me, and am not able to return visits in time.

Take care.