Wednesday, December 7, 2011

4 poems by teacher, poet, and naturalist Richard Peake

Richard Peake in an African village in
Sierra Leone on a birding safari.
A native Virginian, Richard Peake became a Texas resident after retiring from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. He published early poems in Impetus alongside John Ciardi and in The Georgia Review. Collections of his poetry include Wings Across… and Poems for Terence published by Vision Press, which also included poems of his in A Gathering at the Forks. He published Birds and Other Beasts in 2007. A member of The Poetry Society of Texas he has recently published in Avocet, Asinine PoetryBoundless 2010 and 2011, Nature Croons, Ides of March, Raven Images, Skive, Sol Magazine, Shine Journal (one nominated for the Pushcart Prize), The Book of the Year PST 2010, 2011, and 2012,  The Road Not Taken, The Texas Poetry Calendar 2012, and elsewhere. A life-long naturalist, a father and grandfather, he teaches birds, Shakespeare, and writing in OLLi.

Richard Peake has been a featured poet at Friendswood Public Library poetry readings and we look forward to having him back in early 2013.

Electric Wings for Ars Poetica  

Like arctic terns in flight
from pole to pole
or swallows speeding to new nests
or metallic birds
that outpace the speed of sound
words grow wings
to fly around the world
as we let our thoughts migrate. 
For sad or happy thoughts
there is no transport like a poem
to speed emotions forth.
Across barriers of land or sea,
a poet’s words
can bring us serious things
or just a clever jest
to lift the poet’s wit with wings. 
With the speed of wireless phones
or the internet
words fly faster than terns or swallows
or sound-barrier-breaking planes
So let my poem
ascend on electric wings
to speed my praise
of a time to honor poetry.  

published in The Book of the Year 2010

My Cousins’ Fledermaus 

Their ID erred dismally.
I’m sure they didn’t know tequila can’t exist
without bats flying like night moths
to pollinate agave plants. And being only five
I was just as ignorant of the good bats do.
My aunt and cousins, confused by the German,
treated the poor flying creature
as if it were a mouse they dreaded
and might have stood on chairs to avoid
unaware that bats gobble night-flying insects,
not Mississippi women afraid of mice.
For them the flying mammal wandering in that night
brought dangers from a dark, bloody world
to tangle in their flowing locks
and suck their luscious virginal blood.
My cousins wielded weapons against this flying fury
whose fangs appeared ten inches long
to them, though to the young boy
hiding under a convenient table
the bat seemed fangless, distraught, befuddled
by the lights and by the brooms
belaboring it in awkward pursuit of its frantic flight—
a beast thought at the very least to carry rabies
from the haunts of vampires.
Screams and commands and deadly swipes
filled the room with eager mayhem
as bloodlust born of fear prevailed.
The flying mouse could not escape into the night.
Amazon warriors soon displayed to me its limp,
lifeless body—exulting in their victory
over the dark forces of the summer night. 

published in Raven Images, Nov., 2010

I Favor Three-toed Sloths
          for Theodore Roethke

Volcano watching, ungainly two-toed sloth
fell out of a scenic too-slender tree,
broke limbs, narrowly missing me—
clambered, slipperied back up with baleful wroth.

Clumsy two-toed, too-inquisitive sloths—
less careful how they climb and doze
than clever species with three toes—
should try pledging visitors troth.

Canny three-toed sloths know slow
moving. You might deem them smug
as they give branches a hug,
ex-as-per-at-ing-ly slow they move from high to low.

You jump and yell and try to wake them
but deep in sleep slowly they go
swaying in the breeze by their three toes
unheedful of your stratagems— 
they blink—you know they know they know.

published in Asinine Poetry, Feb., 2010

No Meals, No Songs

Unnatural landscapes breed no song,
provide little food for nestlings.
Like blue gum forests in strange lands
yards of aliens yield no songsters.

Insects loiter in native plants
not aliens they cannot digest.
Where no caterpillars devour
live trees and bushes, no birds sing.

Exotic herbs planted for show
live free of bug bites and cocoons,
free of warblers and tanagers
who find no insects to digest.

published in Nature Croons, Apr., 2011
More poems by Richard Peake:

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