2017 Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention: “Ornithology Lessons” by Rob Carney

We’re pleased to announce “Orinthology Lessons” as an Honorable Mention in our 2017 Poetry Contest! A very special thank you to our poetry staff for their hard work!


Because she loves a good rock slide,
a little geologic fanfare,

the blue jay taps at boulders with her beak,
quick chisels to get things rolling.

She turns her Screek! into a thunderclap
and lets the echo start the show: a cliff face

sheared away, a river

a headache given to a mountain goat, and more—
the whole sky made to take notice. . . .

What do we learn from this story?
Who thinks, “The color of the bird”?

You’re right. And she looks fantastic with the sunlight
fitted around her like a dress.

The trees below rustle leaves in admiration.
Even their acorns are impressed.

Rob Carney is the author of four previous books of poems, most recently 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, as well as the forthcoming collection The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. His work has appeared widely in journals such as Cave Wall, Cascadia Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Poecology, and others, and he writes a regularly featured series called ‘Old Roads, New Stories’ for Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments.

One thought on “2017 Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention: “Ornithology Lessons” by Rob Carney

  1. Amber MV says:

    Beautiful. This really puts words to the feeling of birdwatching, which is so much more than merely observing birds. I’ve studied birds for some years now, and the experience goes out beyond the guide book, into the interactive space between the human and the avian, into that “sunlight fitted around her like a dress”. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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