I was brought up and still live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia so I rely on imagery derived from the natural landscape to explore human relationships. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have two daughters and three grandchildren. I have been an architectural woodcarver for over 35 years and have written numerous articles and three books on the subject. My poetry has appeared in Shenandoah, Green Mountains Review, The Lyric, The South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, and others.
The brown-headed cowbird spies on other species
to psych-out their routines, vulnerabilities,
and, with no intention of tending her fledgling,
lays her bold anomaly in the well-crafted nest
of Red-eyed Vireo or Goldfinch.
Nomadism is her custom, excuse, wandering
with bison or bovine herds to greener opportunities,
social watering holes—a politician
who delights in double-dealing, painting promises.
She has no time for consequences.
Hatching early, more real than strange,
the gangly baby’s gyrations push family eggs
to their frailty or it pecks a pesky sister
or brother to death. The imposter holds
hostage the host mother who labors
beyond logic, in duped devotion.
So when the spree of spring brings cowbirds
to the feeder, do I replenish it or deny
the common good? I cannot imagine
a paradise without birds though I know
the preening evil among them, among us.
Horseshoes on the Fourth
Saturdays from the back porch, Uncle Merle
sport-announced my backyard antics--
close enough, lucky leaner and he would
throw out praise as bits of fabulous news.
For ringers, he’d rap his college ring
against the chrome of his old wheelchair,
his cheer was my golden trophy, blue ribbon.
This year my Carolina cousins came
wanting to throw me off my game
by snide comments, stupid questions
as challengers arrogantly do.
Too hot for horseshoes, Uncle Merle signed-off,
retreated inside. I made no excuses,
as confident as pitching with girlfriends
in cool May evenings, but those brothers
had magnets chiming to the stake.
Mine flew flashing into hydrangeas.
What made me do it?
Lemonade and fireworks were not consolation enough.
Inside I knew Uncle Merle was gracious,
civil to his brother-in-law who each visit swore
there would be a medical breakthrough any day now.
©2016 Frederick Wilbur
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