Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thinking Like A Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

"Wild geese fly south, creaking like anguished hinges; along the riverbank the candles of the sumacs burn dull red. It's the first week of October. Season of woolen garments taken out of mothballs; of nocturnal mists and dew and slippery front steps, and late-blooming slugs; of snapdragons having one last fling; of those frilly ornamental pink-and-purple cabbages that never used to exist, but are all over everywhere now."
- Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

I sought oblivion for many years, just a small one for a time, a little time each day, to make the rest tolerable. I would organize around that opportunity, support it with space and effort and intention. I would defend it with my slippery ways and with an earnest weasel's capacity to evade my own better forms. I would tie one hand down and gesticulate with the other, sure that was all I needed, all you all deserved of me.

I was so sure I was right. I would exclaim, don't you know I have to be like this to live? I would point out at peak voice some aspect or other of our approaching doom and I would discover and display what was wrong with you all, or Him in filigree, burnished, bright mirrored tales telling the truths I knew, not that I was above things but that I ached at my entrapments.

When I was called forth out of myself, I was hugely angry at the rudeness of that call, and terrified. Such was oblivion for me, a place very near an unending supply of wine and words circling the drain and justifying my mandala of despair.

When I was stuck in and on myself, this was my course.

Indeed, even though I write in first person, I am no longer always the person who writes. In fact, several poems in my growing body of work are poems of shape shifting and I take that ability to be a great blessing. How else can I be a great mage or a tiny frog or a lover of a goddess?

How else can I tell the world?

I do not know why I say these things just now, but here is another poem of shifted shape.

There is a type of hawk who is known as a locust hunter if at all possible, accepting small mammals as prey if it must. It is widely distributed, found as well in Oregon, and competes directly for territory with the Red Tailed Hawk. It is known as Swainson's Hawk. This hawk has the longest migration route of most hawks from North to South America and does not vary its route. The hawk migrates around 14,000 miles each season, a distance traveled in two months, eating locusts along the way if it can, but there is a point in the journey where it eats nothing for a few weeks, neither eating nor casting its pellets.

Thinking Like A Hawk

Sitting and thinking,
waiting for the big legged bugs,
the flyers to come.
I may have to eat
thin red squirrel if I must.
But really locusts
are my choice. They get my juice
flowing, my heart filled with joy.

July 22, 2009 12:10 PM


  1. Made me think of the Lotus Eaters! LOL :)

  2. There's a law on this blog against punning too early in the morning.

  3. Christopher, I came looking for something else and got stopped by the photo of the hawk. I remember the first time someone pointed out a hawk perched on a utilty pole at a main intersection. I was dumbfounded that I'd never seen one before and how did I miss such a thing? That was the beginning of a journey that has never ended.

    I love your long intro and the poem. I catch something in your words that always draws me forward and am disappointed when they have to end. Thank you for this one.

    I recently wrote of several encounters I had with feathered friends. If you have the time, I'd like to hear what you have to say about my experiences. The article can be found here:

    Thank you for your words and your refreshing perspective,


  4. I have been taught by the evolutionists that birds are hopped up extensions of dinosours and as such are reptiles but so steeply sophisticated that they deserve their own niche on the planet. Birds are the most successful survivors of that world long gone in which dinosours ruled.

    I wonder if it is possible to call such a creature a friend in any meaningful way. They are beautiful and welcome in my life, but they are alien creatures. Their beauty gives them entry into the human world, but at heart they are snakes, not significantly different from snakes.

    Snakes are human pets too, but no one expects them to behave or feel like mammals do. We should think of birds the same way. As they have developed along and from reptilian lines and continue to, they wind up warm blooded, but they are even further from common ground with mammals, not closer.

    Their inner life must be really alien. It is said many of them possess senses that we have no concept of, such as a sense for the magnetic field lines of the planet. That figures in migration.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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