A Cycle of Poems: Bird for Bird

 

Bird for Bird

Some Scottish species and their cousins in America

 

Scotland                                                    America

Tree-speeler                                             Brown Creeper

Spotted Flycatcher                                    Eastern Phoebe

Nuthatch                                                   White-breasted Nuthatch

Corbie                                                       American Raven

Green Woodpecker                                   Northern Flicker

Blue Tit                                                     Chickadee

Wren                                                         Carolina Wren

Tawny Owl                                                Barred Owl

 

Tree-speeler

 

Tree-speeler, hiding,

you curve round the trunk,

put the whole tree between us

 

see

 

                                                            Brown Creeper

                                                                          

                                                            Spiral up the tree —

                                                            stiff tail-feathers are your props,

                                                            your plumage, rough bark

 

                                                            see sooo sideeda sidio

 

 

Spotted Flycatcher

 

Flycatchers flick out

over the water,

returning to the same twig

 

tsit-tuk-tuk

 

                                                            Eastern Phoebe

 

                                                            On a bending bough,

                                                            Eastern Phoebe near her nest,

                                                            full of her birdhood

 

                                                                 fee-be

 

 

Nuthatch

 

Nuthatch, noisy scold,

the nutjobber, mudstopper,

jar bird, woodcracker

 

vivivivivivi

 

 

                                                    White-breasted Nuthatch

 

                                                   White-breasted nuthatch

                                                   climbs head-first down the tree-trunk —

                                                   black go-faster stripe

 

                                                  tootoo

 

 

Corbie

 

Through the rowsty storm

flee strang, Corbie, hurl on,

turn tapsalteerie

 

kronk      pruk-pruk

 

 

                                                                  American Raven

 

                                                                  Hear the two ravens

                                                                  flying high, talking to us?

                                                            American voices

 

                                                           kraa-krraa-kraa

 

Green Woodpecker

 

The joyous yaffle,

the laughing green woodpecker

alights with the dawn

 

kluh-kluh-klu-klu-klu-klu-klu

 

 

 

                                                                   Northern Flicker

 

                                                                  A flicker of hope,

                                                                  gold flag, yellow wing-linings

                                                                  startle from the tree

 

                                                                  flicka flicka

 

 

Blue Tit

 

Wee blue bonnet,

silver trill among leaves,

loves to party

 

siiih siiih, si-surrrrr

 

 

                                                          Chickadee-dee-dee

 

                                                          Flight undulates, tree to tree,

                                                          with high clear whistles

                                                          so like me

 

                                                         hey-sweetie! hey-sweetie!

 

 

Wren

 

Snow is on the ground:

wrens may be the only birds

singing in the wood

 

chur-r-r    stirrrrr-up

 

 

                                                      Carolina Wren

 

                                                       Tropical songsters,

                                                       she calls him and he calls her —

                                                       resonating wrens

 

                                                     tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle

 

 

Tawny Owl

 

At dawn and dusk

here you are, right near me,

come to me

 

hoooouh…. ho, ho ho ho hoooouh

 

 

                                            Barred Owl

 

                                         Just a few night hours

                                         when cackling laughter startles,

                                         calls from the maples

 

                       who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks for-you-alllllll?


unpublished poem, © Valerie Gillies 2017, used by permission of the author

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Recordings

Valerie Gillies

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1A Cycle of Poems Bird for Bird

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2A Sapling Greyhound

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3Bass Rock

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4Clydesdale Clydesdale

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5Cody Dancing

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6Cool Cap

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7Eagle Bone Whistle

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8Fellow Passenger

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9Fieldwalkers

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10Frog Spring

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11Glencolumcille

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12Gougane Beara

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13Gress o the Forest

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14Heavenly Aqua

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15Honeybee, Inner Hebrides

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16Lepus

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17Meadow Brown

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18Mermaid Pool

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19Mine Howe, Orkney

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20Ravendean Burn

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21Reeds

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22Robert Burns' Mither at the Well

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23Shepherd's Calendar

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24Song Sparrow

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25St Medana's Well

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26The Black Bike

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27The Canto of Tweed's Mouth

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28The Ericstane Brooch

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29The Green Well of Scotland

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30The Harp to Aeolus

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31The Rant of the Trows

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32The Rink

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33The Sealstone of Caracalla

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34Viking Boy

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35Wedding in Stobo Kirk

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36While I was Away

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