Catalpa Trees of Cherry Hall


I park at the gates of dawn.

I shoulder my burdens

And disembark

to the sound of mockingbirds

in the car park.

Three of them are hectoring

a crow

And doing a respectable job.

The crow lands on a snag

at the top of a Catalpa tree.

The three take it

in turn

to flog

the beaten black form.

The crow calls for help,

but no murder of them responds.

Up the crow,

mockingbirds in tow.

“Are those chimney swifts or purple martins?”

My eyes are so bad

I cannot know

how long

their tails are

and how split.

I would love to think they are swifts.

They are all but gone around here.

I catch their stubby outlines.

Ahh, sadly, not swifts.

I used to sweep chimneys

for a living.

I refused to sweep

any nesting swift.

Did you know that they are migratory?

They fly to the equator for the winter.

That is, they used to.

I gaze at the rogue catalpa again.

It is one of two

on the top of Vinegar Hill

where I work and wonder

when will it bloom again….

Oh, I see, the blossoms are forming.

This time next week

their velvet white dapple

will burst

and the first

thunderstorms of May

will beat them from the branches

by the bushel load,

For all that, a blizzard of blooms.

I never understood why

no one planted Catalpas like they planted

cherry trees–for the flowers.

All the leaves,

green gold, green gold,

shimmering and shivering

as the dawn air rises up,

a thermal that I catch, too:

last day of classes

day of remorse

day of joy

day of us all,

wings lifting

pouring out into the sky,

liquid and loose,



coming home

from Belize.

The Four-Leaf Clover and the Centipede

When my wife looks down on our farm she sees these easily:


When I look down on our farm I see these easily:

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Elaine and I have lived together since 1977 yet our pattern recognition filters are awesomely and radically divergent.
Google and Facebook think they can be our alternate filters through algorithms that predict and then recommend from the available data what we might want to view next.
They can try,but until they can do way better,  I prefer my human filters, my online curators, my non-artificial intelligences. That is one of the lessons of connecting online–we can rely on each other as recommendation engines.  You never know when someone will share an entire patch of four-leaf clovers or some hideously gorgeous bug.  And you never know how that pattern might just be an exact click fit for what you are in need of that exact moment and that auspicious place.

(This web post was designed with in mind.)