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Mini-Prompt: Birds and Wildlife Watching

We’re into the final days of our “official” March prompt at Poets Online which is about “lost and found.” I saw in the past week several submissions that address the current COVID-19 pandemic. One was a lost and found poem but the others were just about the pandemic in general. I understand the need for poets to write about what’s happening, even if that’s not what the prompt asked them to write.

I’m writing more than usual. I’m also continuing my daily walks which are often in my local woods but sometimes just suburban sidewalks where people give each other a wide (at least 6 feet) buffer now. But people are waving, nodding and saying hello more than usual.

Today’s poem on The Writer’s Almanac is “Look It Over” by Wendell Berry which fits in very nicely with my own walks.

I leave behind even
my walking stick. My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot. I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods…

I like watching the chickadees at my feeder. They seem so hyperactive, flitting to and from the feeder while others like the little finches and bully jays hang around and keep eating. The video above finally gave me an explanation of why they feed in that manner.

Poets and Writers sent out its weekly newsletter which always contains writing prompt or poets and prose writers. Their current poetry prompt suggestion is “animal watching,” particularly birds, which exist in even the most urban environments. They might be visible from your nearby window or at a bird feeder.

There’s a poem by Billy Collins (“Christmas Sparrow“) about a bird that gets trapped in his house that he included in a beautifully illustrated anthology of bird poems that he edited, Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds.

…Then a noise in the throat of the cat
who was hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap of a basement door…

He is able to capture the sparrow in a shirt and gently carry it outside and free it, but

…For the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms…

If you have written your “lost and found” poem (or that prompt isn’t inspiring you) and want to try the Poets and Writers prompt on animal watching, please do so – and if you’d like to share the result – please post it as a comment to this post. (*NOTE* All comments to the blog need admin approval. Don’t panic and post again.)

I will keep posting occasional prompts in the upcoming month besides our official April prompt. April is National Poetry Month and though events will be few, I think we need things like poetry more than ever right now.

Be well, write, and share your words.


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