News From the Natural World: Phantom of the Forest

Today’s poem was inspired by the pileated woodpecker who was breakfasting at a stump in my yard this morning.

Our resident pileated woodpecker

Phantom of the forest,
you swoop into a clearing
on silky black feathers,
white epaulets flashing on
broad wings.

You set to work at once,
drilling, gouging, chiseling
precise rectangles in
a soft, decaying stump.

Your noble head,
capped by a lick of flame,
bobs up and down.
You pause to swallow
termite, ant, or beetle,
savory and satisfying.

Full for now, you’re gone
in a sudden swirl of black
and white and red.
Phantom of the forest.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Find links to more National Poetry Month Projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Also, you can follow the progress of the Progressive poem at the links below:

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

23 thoughts on “News From the Natural World: Phantom of the Forest

  1. Nice picture of the woodpecker. I walk 4 miles every morning and know I am up early when I hear these guys in the trees of my neighborhood. Once recently I did actually see one–just like yours, but much too quick for me to take a picture. Good poem, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Truly a phantom of the forest. Often I can hear their call or their drumming without being able to find one, despite its size and red head.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How fortunate you are to have captured such a close up of a pileated woodpecker! Love your imagery, word choice, how it flows, and how you begin and end with, “Phantom of the forest.” A beautiful poem. I agree the pileated woodpecker is noble and indeed a phantom. I often hear them in the woods and swivel my head trying to find them. If I’m lucky I’ll see that red crown. Many years ago on a cold January morning, two parents and a juvenile came to our backyard! I was thrilled! One of the parents horizontally pecked at the small beef suet! I often think of the gift they gave me. Such a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

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