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For the Birds

The cardinal in his bold, red cloak;
His wife so subtle, so bespoke.
In complimentary blues and grays,
The raucous jays—they have their ways.
And in the trees, the chickadees!
Their song is always sure to please!

There at the feeder, every morn,
Sunflower seed mixed with cracked corn.

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On the Beach

I stand by myself on the beach—
A lone, Laughing Gull sailing past—
Just beyond the immense ocean’s reach,
The siren, in the distance, calling
All to a watery grave.

The setting sun behind me falls
And for the briefest moment casts
My shadow on a breaking wave—
It’s true that nothing really lasts.

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In the Night

What flies in the wind
In the night?
That rattles the panes
And spins the vanes
And always remains
Out of sight?

That sings with the owls
As a coyote howls
At the silvery shroud
Of a dark, racing cloud—
What a fright!

Oh, the tricks of the mind
And what demons we find
As our reason unwinds
In the night.

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Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.


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20 Responses

  1. Jeff Eardley

    Joe, that’s some bird feeder you have. Lovely to read and a great picture. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      You’re obviously a bird guy, Jeff.
      I shared a marvelous experience with a librarian involving a hummingbird, which I posted at the end of Susan’s most recent poetry.
      You should take a look.
      The one thing I forgot to mention was, as I held the little bird in my hand, I kept saying over and over again to myself “Help her, Mary, please.”

      Reply
  2. Joe Tessitore

    A hug ( instead of a shout-out) to my dear cousin Arlene for the first line and the atmospherics of “In the Night”.

    Reply
  3. jd

    All three are lovely, Joe, easily identified with.
    I hear a Cardinal’s coin-click as I write this.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  4. C.B. Anderson

    The mascot of my alma mater, Wesleyan University, is the cardinal, so your first poem is especially resonant for me. And I have always liked the female’s coloration the best — so damped down, subtle, and dominated by earth tones.

    But tell me, Joe, do you really have coyotes in NYC? And owls? I loved the rhyme scheme in that one especially.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      C.B.
      We’re up in the Catskills and we spend more time here than in NYC.
      Mrs. T wanted a place where she could hear the birds, so we wound up buying a little house on the same farm road where we had one a decade ago.

      I’m glad you commented. I was thinking of asking you about the punctuation of the first verse of “On the Beach”, which was a total mind-bender for me.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Joe,

        I’m confused. On the Beach was a novel by Neville Shute about nuclear world destruction — very depressing. Could you be referring to the poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold? Oh, sorry! I forgot the title of your middle poem. In regard to the punctuation, I would probably have done this:

        I stand by myself on the beach,
        A lone, laughing gull sailing past, [no need to put “gull” in caps]
        Just beyond the immense ocean’s reach —
        The siren, in the distance, calling
        All to a watery grave.

        What you must understand, Joe, is that the purpose of punctuation is to clarify expression; it has no other use that I know of, though there are certain conventions that should be observed, such as commas before and after the name of the addressee, as in sentences such as: Let me tell you, Joe, it’s cold up north.

        I hope this helps.

    • Margaret Coats

      LA County Museum had an exhibition on “Urban Wildlife,” and coyotes apparently now feature in city life all over the United States, along with feral cats and aggressive pigeons. And Joe’s Laughing Gulls (capitalized as a species name) are nuisances at airports anywhere within many miles of a beach. They seem not to be afraid of plane engine noise, and flocks of them cause damage or even crashes by being sucked in.

      And Joe, since I already said something about capitalization, I’ll also say that using M-dashes as parentheses, as you did in “On the Beach,” is quite acceptable.

      Reply
  5. Paul Freeman

    I liked them all, but ‘In the Night’ is quite monumental in my humble opinion.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    I agree with Paul Freeman about “In the Night,” and along with Joe thank Cousin Arlene for suggesting the first line. Notice that Joe goes back to Arlene’s unrhyming “wind” with the eye-rhymes “mind” and “find” in the last stanza, where he finally “unwinds” the thought.

    I also admire the “shadow on a breaking wave” in “On the Beach.” Can there be a more insubstantial or transient image? It doesn’t prove that “nothing really lasts,” but goes a long way toward leaving that impression.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      The inspiration for “On the Beach” was a photo that I took of a breaking wave and inadvertently caught my shadow on it.
      My reaction to it, Margaret, was the same as yours.

      Reply
  7. Martin Rizley

    Thank you, Joe, for these atmospheric words pictures. I particularly enjoyed the sense of mystery created in the second and third poems. Brief, but effective evocations of mood on a windy night and by the sea at sunset– two magical settings!

    Reply
  8. BRIAN YAPKO

    Each of these three poems is a delight, though I’m partial to the giddy joy of For the Birds, with its internal rhymes. The subtle rhymes and inconspicuous observations of On the Beach are lovely and somehow call to mind an extended, modified haiku. And In the Night is fun, spooky and has a nice psychological twist. I enjoyed all three.

    Reply
  9. Yael

    All 3 poems are perfectly enjoyable to read, as each one paints a picture and tells an interesting story at the same time. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I were to do so I would pick On The Beach, because I, like other commentators, am particularly impressed with the last stanza.

    Reply
  10. Mo

    Joe, your “On the Beach” was my favorite of the three poems here. Your foreshadowing of your shadow really drew me in to the end, which has been a theme that the state of our world reminds me of today. Very moving…

    Reply
  11. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thanks for all 3, Mr. Tessitore. I’ve never tried to write a rhyming poem about birds, but “For the Birds might get me going. “Beach” has an uncanny, disturbing quality that you achieve seemingly without effort. “Night” makes me suppose that you, like me, are waiting for morning.

    Reply
  12. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Joe, what a beautiful trio of poems! I love every one of them, but, for me “In the Night” is an absolute favorite. I love the aural pleasure of it (great to read aloud) and the thread of dark mystery woven between the admirably crafted lines. Bravo, Mr Tessitore!!

    Reply
  13. Cheryl Corey

    They’re all very nice, but my favorite is In The Night. It has such lightness and freshness. I think it’s something that an average reader can enjoy again and again. Anthology?

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      Thanks for asking.
      There’s a search bar not too far below these “Comments” sections.
      If you type our names into them all of our poetry that The Society has posted will come up for you.

      Reply

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