The Seabirds

Seagulls, on the air they glide,
Over the waves to the land;
Soaring across the sky, so wide,
To softly land on the sand.

Pelicans, floating in the sky,
Upon the wind, so free;
Across the sunset, up so high,
Then dive down to the sea.

Invisibly, the wind does blow,
As into the horizon, we stare.
Instinctively, the seabirds know
The silent prayer of the air.


The Pelicans

If I ever could come back,
Surely, I’d come back, intact,
__A pelican on the sea.

Floating on the air, I’ll fly,
Way above the earth, so high,
__Happy to feel free.

The ocean as my breakfast nook,
I’ll eat raw fish, no need to cook,
__The sea, my grocery store.

Each day a vacation at the beach,
Heaven will be within my reach,
__How could I ask for more?

The other birds will be my friends,
No need to argue or make amends,
__Knowing how to share.

Late in the day, the sun will set,
One last dive into water, so wet,
__Then dry off in the air.

As the darkness comes o’er me,
The night, as peaceful as can be,
__I will sleep until dawn.

After my evening rest is taken,
In the morning light, I’ll awaken,
__When darkness is gone.

It is the freedom I desire,
Which compels me to admire
__The pelicans, as they fly.

Such a life is truly blessed.
To be a pelican is the best.
__If given a chance, I’ll try.


After fifty thousand miles and five years as a hitchhiker, living on the road and streets in towns and cities across America, David Paul Behrens followed with a career as an over the road dispatcher in the trucking industry. He is now retired and living in La Verne, California. His website is

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33 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    David, I live 1/2 block from a Pacific Ocean beach. Besides the Bald Eagles, my favorite birds to watch are the pelicans. Here is my take on them: “When pelicans sit, they are handsome; when they fly, they are graceful; but when they dive, they are heavy and ungainly, hitting the water in the same way a watermelon might collide with a sidewalk.” I very much enjoyed your lighthearted, lyrical paean to pelicans and their friends. I do not, however, share your desire to be one!

    • David Paul Behrens

      Understood, Mr Tweedie. These poems were written ten years apart, The Seabirds in 2008 and The Pelicans in 2018. I was inspired to write the latter when I read a poem by James B. Nicola, posted by The Society on April 22, 2018.

      • David Paul Behrens

        In addition, I must also thank you for your kind comments. I should also thank Mr. Mantyk for his helpful advice and guidance. Everyone has a guardian angel, standing in the shodows, mine is Evan Mantyk. Thank you, Evan.

  2. cbanderson

    Sorry David,

    I thought these poems were vacuous and technically ill-constructed. The details substantiating my opinion would be tedious for everyone, but I will provide them if pressed.

    • David Paul Behrens

      Try a New Style For Awhile

      The great purveyors of poetry
      Who know all there is to know
      Who must criticize the purity
      Of work other poets show

      “Holier than thou” attitudes
      Quick to judge and to criticize
      Extolling artistic platitudes
      As they process and analyze

      Their professorial posturing
      Belittling what others write
      Instead, should be nurturing
      New styles which come to light

      • E. V.

        I enjoyed reading “The Seabirds”; it gave me a very peaceful feeling. Keep writing!

  3. Charles Southerland

    Dear Mr. Behrens, it isn’t construction or vacuousness that Mr Anderson points out which is endemic in your work. Looking through your entire nearly 50 year body of work, I rather suspect that you are tone deaf. I am amazed that you have come as far as you have. Kudos.

      • E. V.

        Yes, the adjective “brutal” has lately become a recurring theme in the “Comments” section. Notice that no POSITIVE constructive criticism is offered; it’s only the NEGATIVE “bash & burn” type. Because many poets have been receiving this treatment lately, don’t take it personally. Let’s continue to work together to increase the public’s appreciation for traditional poetry. Best, E. V.

    • david paul behrens

      My “entire body of work” is not represented on my website. It does not include forty or fifty poems such as love poems for my wife, poems written for my grandchildren, my children, and new poems which I have not posted yet.

  4. E. V.

    Oops! I tried to leave a “smiley” face and a “check mark” next to DPB’s comment “… I most assuredly will keep writing …”, but the “Comments” won’t accept my emoji. Sorry.

    E. V.

  5. James A. Tweedie

    Accursed be all fickle, formulaic fête
    Of formal fancies dry as dust,
    Eschewing simple joy as inchoate
    With patronistic, feigned disgust.

    To chain Euterpe to a rock and eat
    Her liver if she durst create
    A verse decried as too naïve or sweet
    By those who judge, condemn, who prate.

    See Calliope weep, Thalia mourn,
    To see their sister so abused.
    Her freedom bound, her countenance forlorn.
    Her issue mocked, of sin accused.

    In truth the Muses cannot be constrained
    To speak in stifled verse or rhyme.
    They soar like seabirds, free and unrestrained,
    Unchecked by law, unbound by time.

  6. David Hollywood

    I don’t understand why some individuals complain about other peoples work and their honesty, especially as the effort requires focus and hard work and a genuine appreciation of what is good, attractive and well meaning, never mind any other and further perspectives and opinions. I am not a poetry technician and so call me naieve but if its best effort and principled then it should be supported. By the way I liked these poems. They remind me of when I lived for some years in Charleston, S.C. and watching the pelicans on display along the harbours and sea fronts and I would thank you for the reminder and memory of very special creatures and moments.

  7. Monty

    Being a newcomer to SCP, and a comparative newcomer to internet poetry (indeed, a comparative newcomer to the internet in general), I find myself mildly alarmed at the criticism that the two criticisers received above.

    I realise that the western-world has, in these times, wrapped itself in a cotton-wool of political correctness; ever ready to pounce on anyone or anything which threatens to penetrate the wool . . but I find myself a tad dismayed that the said two criticisers: Mr Anderson and Mr Southerland (henceforth referred to as Anderland), were accused of “burn and bash”, of “brutality”, of offering “no constructive criticism”, etc.

    In my opinion, Anderland couldn’t have been more correct in their criticism of the above poems; and I feel their comments were precise and justified. I find both poems to be positively riddled with (what I call) convenient rhymes: superfluous words that don’t seem to belong where they are, but they ‘conveniently’ rhyme with an above word. Both poems are also, as Anderland mentioned, patently “ill-constructed”. I may add that they’re both weak, and lack discipline.

    Take ‘Seabirds.. Line 3:
    ‘so wide’ is superfluous; the reader doesn’t need to be told that the sky is wide.. the reader already knows that. But evidently, ‘wide’ fitted nicely with ‘glide’.. so in it went.
    Line 4: ‘To softly land on the sand’ just sounds wrong; again, seemingly inserted for no other reason other than ‘sand’ goes with ‘land’.

    ‘Pelicans’.. Line 2: the word ‘intact’.. why is it there? In which context? What does it convey? Again, seemingly ‘cos it rhymes with ‘back’ . . except it doesn’t!
    Line 16: the reader doesn’t need to be told that the sun will set late in the day.
    And the nauseating Line 17: surely most would agree that it’s impossible to believe that the author truly felt that the reader should be made aware that not only is water wet, but it’s SO wet; hence, one can again assume that it was just for the convenience of ‘set’ and ‘wet’. Mr Yankevich (above) described this line (sarcastically, one suspects) as ‘timeless’ . . to some, it will always remain so.
    Lines 23-24: Does the reader need to be told that when one awakens in the morning light.. darkness has gone? It’s as unnecessary as saying that ‘in the middle of the night, daylight’s gone’!
    The whole of Line 29 sounds like a slogan for a sports-team called (or nicknamed) The Pelicans. I can practically hear cheerleaders chanting it obediently.
    Both poems are littered with empty words; another word for ’empty’ is ‘vacuous’ . . Anderland hit the nail not only on the head, but right in the centre of the head.

    I may add at this juncture that I’m probably less qualified than most to criticise any authors offerings. Although I’ve been reading poetry ‘seriously’ since my late 20’s (I’m now 55), it’s only in the last 10 years – now life’s become a little slower – that I’ve made attempts at writing poems. For the last 3 years, I’ve been trawling through internet poetry-sites, joining some for a month or two, and subsequently leaving them once I felt they weren’t as serious about poetry as I consider myself to be (indeed, two of them weren’t much more than poetry dating-sites; with any old words flung together to gain favour with the opposite sex). Then I discovered SCP. I somehow sensed immediately that this was ‘the one for me’.. and I’ve since been astounded at times with the quality of poems by some of the SCP contributors (I must mention Amy Foreman: some of whose work has simply blown my mind). What’s more, the Society subsequently published one of my poems earlier this year; for which I shall be eternally grateful, ‘cos that was the first time that anything I’ve written has ever been any further than a small cupboard in my house!

    Hence, I don’t feel qualified to criticise any other persons offerings.. and for that reason, I’ve never done so.. and I never will! If I’ve ever encountered a poem on SCP which I consider to be not to the standard I expect from them; I’m contented to simply stop reading and delete it . . bring on the next one. Thus I must stress that this missive was not written just for the sake of criticising the above poems (I would normally have just deleted it after the 2nd stanza) . . it was written in the defence of Anderland. I feel that they’ve offered ‘constructive’ criticism (vacuous.. technically ill-constructed, etc) . . and have been unfairly discredited and misunderstood by the cotton-wool brigade.

    ‘There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it’: William-James.

    Although a newcomer to SCP, I already consider it to be a SERIOUS poetry site; maybe the best I could’ve hoped to find. And with such seriousness: there must occasionally be criticism. If a football player leaves a 2nd division team to join a 1st division team, but continues to play his game at the same level at which he played for his previous team; he’ll be rightly criticised for not stepping-up to the next level. Poetry’s no different: if one submits a weak poem to a lesser poetry-site, it may well be deemed acceptable . . so be it. But if one then takes that same poem from the 2nd division to the 1st division: without tweaking it or modifying it . . it will be open to criticism. And rightly so. How else is the author to know that they must ‘up their game’? It’s tough at the top! Hence, I feel Anderland should be applauded for their comments; and it’s to be hoped that the author is spurred into a reappraisal of his offerings. As Anderland so beautifully put it: ‘Hell is paved with good intentions’.

    Of no use at all to the author are the polite platitudes as seen above by the defenders: one of whom, E.V., informs us that many poets have been receiving this “brutal” treatment lately. GOOD.. and long may it continue. SCP is a 1st division poetry site; and it’s only natural that 2nd division poetry (or lower) will be justly criticised. To say any different would be to say that there should only be a 1st division; with no divisions below for people to learn their trade. Unthinkable.

    p.s. The afore-mentioned E.V. chose to end their defence of the author with the following comforting-arm-round-the-shoulder sentence: “Let’s continue to work together to increase the public’s appreciation for traditional poetry”. But I feel that the cotton-wool may’ve obscured E.V.’s sight of the wording: ‘cos I challenge anyone to show me ANY ‘traditional’ poetry by ANY ‘traditional’ poet in which the poet informs the reader that the sky is wide; the sun sets late in the day; in the morning light, there’s no darkness; water is so wet. No poet worth the name would ever be so fatuous as to waste their time and the reader’s with such obvious, hence unnecessary, assertions.

    • David Paul Behrens

      Well, Monty, since you are such an outstanding critic of some my work, perhaps you would submit some of yours to The Society, in order to show me how it should be done. The only poem written by you that I could find was “Writer’s Clock,” as seen below:

      I should be asleep!
      But try as I might,
      I can’t help but keep
      Wanting to write.

      Not only deep
      Into the night,
      But till birds cheep..
      And it’s all but light.

      I could have written that poem in my sleep. What else do you have?

      • Monty

        I must assume that ya didn’t truly absorb my above piece; or ya would surely have ascertained that it was not written solely to criticise yer two poems (it stated quite clearly that I’ve never yet criticised a poem on SCP; and may never do so). It was written purely in defence of those who DID choose to criticise, and against those who chose to criticise the criticisers.

        It somehow seems that it didn’t occur to ya that the reason ‘writer’s clock’ was the only poem of mine that ya found on SCP . . is because it’s the only one I’ve so far submitted! Does thst make sense? I’d be content to tell ya “what else I have” if I felt that it was any of yer concern; but I shall remain content just to ‘have it’. Plenty of ‘it’.

        Could ya not have referred to ‘writer’s clock’ simply by just using the title? D’ya really feel that ya had to re-write the poem in its entirety . . as if I might’ve forgotten it? Or can I assume that ya secretly admired it; and wanted to somehow be involved in it?

        I must say that I’m grateful that ya’v alerted me to the possibility of writing poems “in one’s sleep”. I now feel that I may’ve gained an annotation as to how Seabirds and Pelicans were conceived.

  8. DPB

    That was meant to be a humorous reference to the subject matter of your poem.
    Lighten up, man.

    • Monty

      Until a cuppla months ago, D, I’d never before been involved in meaningful literary exchanges with other humans by way of pressing buttons. Previously, all such exchanges had only been conducted ‘live’; human interaction, and all that. Thus, it’s just occurred to me how futile and unnatural it’d be to try – by pressing said buttons – to persuade ya that I really am “lightened” (especially when ya’v already perceived me to be the opposite).

      As aquainting and as stimulating as the exchanges can be on SCP . . we’re all still perfect strangers! Hence, one can sit and tap out to another: ‘Nah, ya’v got me all wrong, man; I’m mellow.. I’m really in the groove’ . . and yet, for all the recipient knows, that same person could have tension oozing out of every orifice as they write those same words.

      So, I ain’t gonna try to convince ya that I’m lightened . . but I’ll readily confess to being ‘en’lightened by yer above suggestion. Until then, I hadn’t noticed the beautiful irony in the line “I could have written that poem in my sleep”. ‘Twas very sharp of ya to spot the potential pun on the theme of the poem; and if the author had intended it to be a pun, it would’ve been a most sophisticated one. Unfortunately, the author had no such intentions; and it was no such “humorous reference”. The author never even saw the pun!

      In english-usage, there are several standard lines employed when one wants to belittle another’s achievement: ‘I could’ve done that with one arm tied behind my back’ . . ‘I could’ve done that standing on my head’ . . ‘I could’ve done that with my eyes shut’ . . ‘I could’ve done that in my sleep’. D’ya see what I’m saying? That’s how it was intended to be read; and that’s how I naturally and correctly interpreted it (before I’d even finished the sentence). That may be why I never noticed the potential ambiguity. If I DID have any doubts (I haven’t), they’d surely be dispelled by the succeeding line: “What else do you have?” As in: ‘What? This silly little poem; is that all ya’v got? What else have ya got?

      There ya go, D . . THAT’S what that line was all about; and although ya’v interpreted it wrongly, I must commend ya for such a positive and fitting interpretation. I hope yer now as doubtless as I am about the author’s true intention; but if yer not, ya may wish to know that the same author has subsequently tried to belittle the same poem under another SCP poem (Father’s Day: Amy Foreman); in which he sarcastically refers to Writer’s Clock as “the eight line masterpiece”. I feel sure, D, that yer now fully aware of what the author is conveying: ‘What? A paltry eight lines . . I could’ve written that in my sleep’.

      I remain lightened . .

      • DPB

        To set the record straight, although the use of the word “masterpiece” was sarcasm, I think ‘Writers’s Clock’ is a good poem. I have quite a few
        eight line poems. Catch you later in cyberspace.

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