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Red-Winged Blackbird
John Grey


Their scarlet epaulets give them rank
and they mean to make the most of it.
Wings tilted back, head forward
like a sergeant barking orders,
they vilify intruders
from the safety of their high branch perch.

Despite their satin beauty,
those are threats.
And for all their clerical black,
no doubt, in that hectoring trill,
there's an avian cuss or two.

Day after day,
in their scrub realm,
the male circles his territory,
or grips a waving reed,
defies his own weight
as he sways back and forth,
charting his thick green demesne,
while the female,
more reticent, less public,
scouts out nest sites in the underbrush.

There's one on the feeder now,
haughty and kingly,
waving away the other birds
so it can stand alone.

Itís an imperious bird.
If it were human,
it would have a hand
in writing this.

© by John Grey.
Used with the authorís permission.

John Grey is an Australian poet who now lives in Rhode Island. A financial systems analyst, he collects foreign films, all types of music, early editions of MAD magazine, and loves travel and The New York Times crossword puzzle. Author of several collections of poetry,

John also writes short stories and plays. His award-winning work is widely published. Learn more about him here.

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Post New Comment:
Excellent, vivid description!
Posted 04/13/2024 12:25 AM
Clever ending.
Posted 04/12/2024 05:41 PM
Lori Levy:
Great depiction of the red-winged blackbird.
Posted 04/12/2024 02:37 PM
Looks like I live in one of the few parts of the country where these birds are rarely found and now, after reading this poem, I'm sorry about that!
Posted 04/12/2024 12:45 PM
Glen Sorestad:
I love this poetic view of the male Red-wing Blackbird, how it captures that RWB cheekiness so wonderfully. Superbly done, John.
Posted 04/12/2024 12:01 PM
Walking the lake I know them by their twirling tune, catching our attention. You captured their confidence. It's all there in your wonderful story poem. Even their avian cuss or two!
Posted 04/12/2024 10:31 AM
Clerical black and cardinal red.
Posted 04/12/2024 09:30 AM
Wilda Morris:
Excellent! I love to walk in the wetlands and watch the red-wings!
Posted 04/12/2024 09:15 AM
Larry Schug:
The RWBBs around our place seem much more peaceful and "down home". Their return in the Spring is so joyous.
Posted 04/12/2024 07:48 AM
Joan Luther:
Cheeseburger bird.a childhood friend shared that this is what they were saying cheeseburger
Posted 04/12/2024 06:53 AM

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