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Hey, Mr. Woodpecker
Nanci Lee Woody

Hey, Mr. Woodpecker, backyard king
smart red head, dat dat dat-ing
on the metal flashing surrounding my chimney
the sound reverberating through the house
making me think I should run for cover
or, you dat dat dat at the metal railing
or the dead oak branches where you,
knowing there’s no charity come winter,
endlessly store acorns into holes
that you’ve drilled
never ceasing your dat dat dat-ing.
You must have quite a memory to remember
just where those thousands of acorns are stashed
and a perfectionist you are.
If any acorn doesn’t fit just right
into the hole you’ve stuck it in
you’ll grab it, twist it around, poke it in tighter, and
if you’re still not satisfied, you’ll peck a new hole
move that misfitting acorn before you check the next one.
I watch you daily
watch you dive-bomb the squirrels who
hang out in your tree, eat your suet.
I know your habits
expect no surprises.
You are, unlike me,
perfectly evolved to match your environment.
I watch you watch the hummingbirds
at their feeder attached to my kitchen window
tended to daily by me
and you must think
how easy life could be if
you didn’t have to drill those thousands of holes
in hard dead wood
so you launch your oversized body
to perch on the window ledge near
the hummer’s feeder,
you poke your big, hole-drilling beak into the tiny openings
made for an entirely different kind of bill
and you
I thought of no surprises
sit there, sipping the sugary sweet nectar
figuring life will be easier from now on.
© by Nanci Lee Woody.
Used with the author’s permission.



Nanci Lee Woody lives in Rocklin, California. A retired college professor, she’s written several textbooks and has just completed a novel. She also wrote the script and lyrics for a musical, "Hello to Life!", which was produced in Sacramento. Besides writing, Nanci enjoys drawing, painting, photography, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Learn more about her here.

Post New Comment:
That's some woodpecker. I'd pick sugar over wood, too.
Posted 07/08/2013 12:29 AM
David Alpaugh:
The eye of the "birder" is everywhere apparent here in this hymn to the elan vital that opens a dazzling window into a feathered world, not wholly unlike our own.
Posted 07/07/2013 11:31 AM
I've never seen one do that. Would love to, thought, and now, thanks to your poem, I have. Marvellous bird, beautifully captured here.
Posted 07/07/2013 11:21 AM
The last five lines come alive because of their conflict with 'standard' sentence construction, and because of their connection to the poem's complex logic.
Posted 07/07/2013 08:29 AM
Wilda Morris:
An interesting and fun poem! Thank you!
Posted 07/07/2013 07:49 AM

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