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The Poetry Pantry

...for rehabbers and others

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(c) All poems on this page/website are copyrighted to their original authors and may NOT be reproduced without written permission of the author and website owner.



Tiny Wings

by Margaret (Peggy) Kirk


I am going to miss you.
The other birds will too.
I looked forward to the day
that you would fly away.
I was preparing to say goodbye...
but not like this.


How could the death of a little bird,
an "insignificant" sparrow,
pierce my heart so deeply,
and shake me to the marrow?


I did everything I knew,
to feed and comfort you.
I laughed when you fluttered
your Tiny Wings.
If you could have lived by love and will,
Little bird, you'd be here still.


But instead, I held you as you died.
I saw your last breath leave you.
I felt your tiny heart stop, and
you had to feel mine, too.


You never got to try your wings,
and here I can't fly either.
I must believe that there has to be,
a different place for you and me.
The time must come when we'll meet again,
and we will soar together, on little,


Tiny Wings.



Three Kansas Hawks

by Jim Olson




white rump bands flashing
astride the wild Kansas wind,
harriers ride low.




Roadside preachers
Atop their pulpit poles
Watch furry congregations turn
To prey.




Sharp edged in red
Tail feathers guide talons into flesh
Sharp edged in red.
Hawk and mouse, one alive - one dead,
Play out nature's plan to mesh
The strong and weak; one now fresh,
Sharp edged in red.



A Christmas Tale

by Peggi Rodgers


Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not eagle nor grouse.

The bats they all hung on the mantle in pairs,
The squirrels had the hallways, the `possums the stairs.

The wolves were all snuggling deep down in their beds,
While visions of caribou danced in their heads.


When down in the kitchen there arose such a clatter,
I jumped from my bed to see what was the matter.

I ran to the stairs taking two at a time,
My long winter's robe flowing out from behind.

I leapt over the `possum at the foot of the stairs,
Crashed through the door and tripped on a chair.

A flick of the light and there to behold,
Six young raccoons escaped from the cold.


There were boxes of cereal strewn everywhere,
Three bags of flour, canned peaches and pears.

They'd found every package, cleared every shelf,
To clean up the mess, I'd need more than one elf.


There was sugar on the counters, the table, the floor,
A pile of it grew where I'd opened the door.

The happy invaders, all covered in stuff,
They looked so darned cute it was hard to be gruff.

Their little masked faces were all streaked with white,
The bread was demolished; they'd savored each bite.

They sat on the counters, the table and chairs,
Petite little footprints tracked everywhere.


In the blink of an eye, they were away in the night,
I stood at the window 'til they were well out of sight.

Then looking around I observed in dismay,
I couldn't face cleaning, I'd wait for the day.


As Christmas Day dawned, I slipped from my bed,
Went down to the kitchen, a feeling of dread.

I flung open the door and there in the light,
The counters were clean, all was put right.


As I stood in amazement, I heard someone say,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day".



A Rehabbers Prayer

by Joan Holland


Heavenly Father I ask Thee
to guide my hands this day,
To carry the weak, heal the sick

I take home with me today

This little helpless creature
that depends on me for life
doesn't understand my feelings
as I stand in vigel hours
waiting for some sign of life.


Grant me wisdom and mercy
as I do right by them today
oh, Lord forgive my lack of knowledge.

I do the best I can, I pray

Thank you Lord, for this small life
I hold now in my hand,
that You will show him mercy
and allow him to survive.





Hurt Hawks

by Robinson Jeffers


The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.
He stands under the oak-bush and waits
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
He is strong and the pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,
The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask for mercy, not often to the arrogant.
You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.

I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great Redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending,
The wing that trailed under his talons when he moved
We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance, I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed,
Owl-downey, soft feminine feathers
But what soared
The fierce rush
The night herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.



Raptor Gallery at the Lindsay Museum

by Lillian Vallee


There they are
The ones whose eggshells held
The ones who got out of the nest alive
The ones not completely contaminated
The ones that avoided
The cars
The cats
The wires
The walls
The bullets
The BBs
The glass window panes
The one-eyed, one-winged, one-legged, nerve damaged, malnourished,
imprinted, infected, electrocuted, and mutilated


They sit like a jury of your peers
And the verdict is in:





Quiet Thoughts

by Beverly Armstrong


How would you like to live in a cage
That was just about ten feet square.
With no toys to play with and nothing to do --
Just you and a bed and a chair?

Oh, sure you'd be fed (the same thing each day)
You'd have water (unless they forgot)
And since you would never be going outside
You wouldn't get cold, or too hot.

But oh, you'd be lonely just sitting alone
With no one to talk to all day.
You'd remember the trees, and the grass and the breeze,
The places where you used to play.

You'd remember your friends, you'd remember the sky,
And games and strawberries and sun,
And you know you could never go skating again
Or go swimming, or ride bikes, or run.

You'd get mad and scream and throw things around,
You'd kick and you'd pound on the wall,
And your owners would scold you,
And say to themselves,

"He isn't a nice pet at all!"

The more you got mad, the less they would like you,
The less they'd remember to care
About if you had water or if you got fed
Or if you were lonely in there.

And then you would know what it's like to be kept
As a pet when you're meant to be free,
And you'd listen when wild things are trying to say
"Please Don't Make A Pet Out Of Me!"



For One Brief Moment

by Joan M. Holland


I could feel the breeze blow my way

it felt cool to my body

and then it went away


For One Brief Moment


I could hear sounds

of things out in the forest

that reminded me of who I am

and while I walked

among dried leaves and nettles

I heard my own footsteps it gave me comfort, I was alone


For One Brief Moment


There was magic in the air

as if it knew today was special

or at least I thought it should

as my new son lay beside me

now, looking up at me


For One Brief Moment


He is soft and still wet

the efforts to live are here

now, he's trying to stand up

legs weak and wobbly

won't be that way for long


For One Brief Moment


I 'll stand and wait patiently

and nurse and keep with him till dawn

For one brief moment

I was glad to be his mother,

a newborn baby fawn



Baby Cottontails

by Joan M. Holland


If you've ever seen a baby
that is just too much for words
one that leaves you breathless
as he runs back to the woods


There is in all God's Kingdom
ner an animal that's sweet
then the little baby cottontails
that are now upon my feet


Their little noses twiching
and ears that listen well
as I sing my Irish chanty's
as I walk my woodland hills


I stuff them in my pocket
the ones that need my help
and tote them home and tend them
then release them when their well


So someday all my children
I promise they will see,
all of God's dear creatures
that happen past my way



First Release

by Charlie Kaiser


Butterflies in my stomach, I walk outside
The portable kennels sit on the patio
Out back to the pen I go.

I look at them
"They know" I think, "that something's up."
They stare at me as I approach;
Is that trepidation in their jeweled black eyes?
Or am I imagining it--seeing only the normal fear of humans
That I've tried so hard to teach them?


I open the door--they climb for the roof.
Away from this tall spectre that haunts
Their lives, yet brings them food each night.
Placing the kennels inside the pen, doors open, inviting
I start my routine.

Cleaning. The broom slowly sweeping up the memories
Of their last carefree meal.
"Act like nothing's wrong" I think; but then,
"Hah. Animals KNOW."

But try anyway.
The pen clean, It's time.

I take a deep breath, walk in with "the bait."
Apples, actually cut up this time.
First the food dish--"Everything's normal, guys"
Then, the apples, tossed into the kennels.
Will it work?

Why do I doubt? Masked bandits--the epitome of curiosity.
They're in!!
2 in one kennel, 1 in the other--perfect!
Heart pounding, I slam the doors!
Did it work?


Got 2, but 1 escapes.
The others scatter.

Confused, questioning, 2 sets of eyes look out at me.
They feel the cold hand of death on their backs.

"Trust me", I say, "This is good stuff, not bad."
One kennel goes out the door.


How now? Will they trust the kennel again?
Visions of welding gloves and catch-poles fill my head.
I wait

Breathing slowly, trying to clear my mind of all thoughts.
Slowly, the allure of the food tray becomes stronger
Than the fear of death.

Balls of fur shimmer down the walls
"Who will it be? Who's the brave one?" I wonder
The question soon answered, the door slams shut.

Done, I think, with the hard part
I pick up the kennel.

These are not the scrawny babies I brought here
A few short (but long) months ago
Young men and women now
Ready (I hope) to challenge the world outside these chain link walls
Off to the car and down the road we go.


The map sits beside me
Like a Tarot card predicting their futures
It looks so easy on a map.
Somehow, the reality of the streets, the houses, the stores,
Looms large and forbidding compared to the map.
How about there?
No, too close to the main road.
No, not right.
Will I ever find a place that's good enough for my babies?
Never, says a small voice
I push that one away.


Left turn here
Open space, a tree line. Compost piles? Gardens?
The stream just inside the tree line.
Looks good, I think.
Walking with the kennel out into the field
Open the door
Free! Free! I say

But no understanding; fear in the eyes
A few hesitant steps,
The look back at me
"Are you sure about this??"
"You're free! Go be a raccoon" I tell him.
I look away, then back

A bouncing furball, striped tail bounding toward the creek
Unrecognizable cries from inside the tree line

The Wild beckons
Welcome home, it cries!

I turn away, glad, but saddened.

All the work, all the love
What will happen now?
I'll never know.
I pray
Watch over my brothers, Great Spirit;
I've done what I could
It's your turn now.

I cry. The pain in my heart weighs me down.
The fear
Did I do enough?
I'll never know.
But I gave them a chance.
I can do no more than that.


The feelings come, I taste them
Like new foods at a smorgasbord
Flavored by the salt of my tears
Savoring each bite of Pain, Love, Loss, Joy, Fear.
I chew on them slowly, not even wanting the pain to go away.

Someday, I know it'll be "Geez, where do I dump THESE raccoons?"
But tonight
My first release
The feelings flood
And I stand in the deluge.






One can never know the way
I feel about them
Their fur
Their scales
Their feathers
Which fly upon the wind

The power of meeting
Each creature come my way
Is the power of knowing
They animals - they pray

I hope I save the saveable
And release the ones I can
And never to lose touch with
My reason I live upon the land

A mere man I am

A man with the power to help the ones in need
To this Great Spirit I pray and plead

Use my hands as a tool
My voice to speak for those
Who have enriched my life so much - use me as a tool

A tool to save the birds and beasts that live upon this land
And never to lose touch with
My Important Rehab Plan..



Toward a Rebirth of Wonder in Two Egg, Florida

by Sandy Beck,

Curator of Education, St. Francis Wildlife Association, Tallahassee, FL


Last year, six hawks, two Bald Eagles, three Barred Owls, and one Great Horned Owl were found shot in Tallahassee.


As dawn exposes the bare bones
of winter pasture beside Lake Jackson,
a Red-tailed Hawk scans the fields
from the top of a cypress snag.


Travis C. Mills wakes with the sun
in his eyes; a barn door to fix;
firewood to split; a possum to skin.

He reaches for his bag of Red Man.

The Red-tail spots a meadow mouse
at five hundred yards
and falls, a feathered projectile
slicing through air, then deep
into skin and muscle.


Travic C. Mills finds his cleanest
T-shirt, pulls up his overalls,
unchains the door, stops out
on the front porch, and spits.


The hawk fans her tail and rounds
her wings. She is busy
concealing her breakfast
from a tree of noisy crows.

He reaches for his shotgun,
raises it to his shoulder
and blows her body
through the tall grasses.


One wing hangs
by a single bloody tendon--
the mouse,
still clenched in her talons.

"Lousy chicken hawks; what good are they?"

Travis C. Mills believes
chicken hawks get his chickens,
Eagles kill his lambs,
Osprey steal his trout.


Turkey Vultures spread disease,
and owls--well, they are the devil's
dark sisters. Vermin. All of them.


If only Mr. Mills
would go eyeball to eyeball
with a crippled hawk. Just once
look into her lightning eyes,


Connect--being to being--
just once, feel her strange beauty
then ask
"What good is wonder?"



Night is Black Saucer Eyes

by Sandy Beck


in a turning head
seeing where you cannot.
Night is a community of scurriers
scratching at spilled seed and left-over suet.


Night is large ears that hear
a mouse’s heartbeat thirty feet away.
Night is soft, silent wings
manoeuvring through dogwood and magnolia,
gliding across a moon-bright lawn.


Night is sharp talons,
a beak that tears,
a feathery silhouette
devouring his prey.


Full-bellied and confident,
night calls lustily from a longleaf snag—
hooohooo-hoohoo, hoohoo-hoohooaw!
Courtship fills the icy woods.


Night drops beside her, swaying
from side to side, up and down.
He sidles along a branch, then
towards her again, raising each wing
feathers fluffed.


She bows her head for a gentle scratch,
then returns the favour herself.
Night pauses:
soft eyelids close;
striped bodies nuzzle.


This night is a barred owl.



I Saved a Life Today

by Carol Hardee


Poor little newborn raccoon babe was starving, skin and bone, How frightening at such an age to be left all alone. A few weeks passed, and there he sat, content in every way. I whispered softly as I walked by, "I saved a life today."


Flying squirrel fell from nest onto the cold, hard ground. I did not know if you were dead because you made no sound, But soon your tiny eyes were bright as your fears all slipped away. I knew the words that came to mind, "I saved a life today."


The gray fox caught inside a trap and left in woods to die Was so exhausted from the stress, he could not help but cry. In just a few weeks, the fox was strong, and looked as if to say, "I wish to thank you for the help. You saved my life today."


Newborn pup, not house trained yet, was left alone and sad. Without kind words to comfort him, he thought that he'd been bad. Oh, tiny one, when I saw you, my heart knew right away. You looked at me with melting eyes, "Please save my life today."


I love this life I've chosen, although the days are long; To help the many needing me, I must stay well and strong. So as each moment closes, and the light fades for that day, "I am so deeply satisfied; I saved a life today."


copyright '02 by Carol Hardee



NOTE:  All poems are copyrighted to their respective authors and may NOT be used with the express written permission of those authors and the TWRID website owner.

Submit YOUR storiesTo submit your original poems, send an email to:  TWLRID @ gmail.com

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Disclaimer:  The advice found on these pages is NOT intended as a do it yourself guide.  All native wildlife needs to be in the skilled hands of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator,  and any medical care must be provided by licensed veterinarians.

If you have an emergency with an injured wild animal, contact your local animal control or humane society for immediate assistance.  

This page last updated 11/27/2012 02:08 AM