Thursday, March 16, 2017

POETRY FRIDAY: "American Woodcock"

Another of my "birder" poems, this one a Shakespearean sonnet. Like a hummingbird, a male woodcock is a great romancer, but he leaves the chick-raising duties to the females. Lots of these fellows on Cape Cod this winter.

American Woodcock

The timberdoodle forages for worms
In a bosky brake. Brush snipe he’s also called,
And hokumpoke, in local color terms.
He holds his plump brown body like a bald
And long-billed burgermeister. Early spring,
He sounds his plaintive peent, then like a thistle
Tossed on an updraft, circles chirruping
For a mate: a suave display, a smooth wolf-whistle,
For one known too as bogsucker. He’ll strut
To lure a hen or earthworm, though on nights
When desperation forces him to glut
Himself on centipedes or snails, he fights
To stand on firm patrician soil. His legs
Dance pas de deux, but she can keep the eggs.

© 2017 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved


Carol Varsalona said...

Steve, since I do not know much about birds, I found this poem very interesting. It presented an artistic approach to learning about a bird that is not part of Long Island's bird population (at least not to my knowledge). Side Note: I am organizing my winter gallery (Winter Wonder) this weekend. If you have an image poem to offer, please send it my way.

Sally Murphy said...

I love the way you've woven his various names into the poem. I'm learning, smiling and reading all at the same time.

Kay said...

That is quite an introduction to a fascinating bird. I love how you weave the different names and characteristics of the woodcock into your poem.

Jane @ said...

What a charismatic little bird, and such a captivating description - I love the idea of the little bird preening about like a proud burgermeister!

Alice Nine said...

My attention was arrested by the word chirruping. When I said it out loud, and dropped the -ing, it seemed natural with the long e vowel sound. As I said it out loud, it awakened itself in my memory—a word from my childhood. Then I went on a wild search about chirrup and chirp. I encountered some fascinating reading about stridulation. Chirrup and chirp are identified as common onomatopoeic words for the sounds produced by stridulation; chirrup being a variant of chirp. So, in addition to birds, crickets and grasshoppers chirp. Thank you for a lovely sonnet, Steven, and for awakening the word chirrup.

Violet Nesdoly said...

What a lordly bird--"burgermeister"--perfectly lauded in a sonnet.

Ruth said...

What a vivid description! Wonderful!

michelle kogan said...

If a lovely poem can be written about the woodcock, you've surely written it! Being an avid birder, I enjoyed learning all the different names and sounds-calls he makes too. Though your last line truly takes the cake!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, a Shakespearean sonnet certainly suits this fellow! Great job, & thanks for sharing, Steven.

Steven Withrow said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm happy with some of the sound effects here. The percussive b's and p's mostly.

Donna Smith said...

Your blog is linked to day to mine for the “Found Poem” Scavenger Hunt!
Happy World Poetry Day!