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Eastern Wood-Pewee


A flycatcher of leafy heights,

It’s more by ear than eye he’s known—

At long-range whistling he’s the master

Of our summer days and early nights.

And to hear his whistle as our own

Is to hear him hailing for his bro

With such heartfelt fortissimo,

Like a Pollux who has lost his Castor.


Who, you ask—who can this be?

Who but the eastern wood-pewee.


From spring’s roll-call to fall’s dismissal

He clear-cuts woods with just a whistle,

Yet all I’ve ever heard come after

Are jaybirds’ jeers or flickers’ laughter.

And his bestest bloke, I can’t help fearing,

If these mates were meant to reunite,

Unless he’s very hard of hearing—

Well, he always was a risk for flight.


Now the pewee with his boyish mien

Is as swanky as a chimneysweep,

The plainest bird you’ve never seen

In treetops where he likes to keep

On some nude branch from which he’ll sally

To raise his flying-insect tally—

He’s really quite the nimble flier,

This ashen little backwoods crier.


And his look-a-like who does her best

To mind their grass-and-lichen nest,

Who doesn’t ask that he attend her

In plumes of candy-colored splendor:

It can’t exactly boost her ego,

Him all day hailing his amigo.

But let the rumors fledge and fly—

I won’t conjecture, and will not pry.


Before the autumn woodlands glow

The pewee’s on his starry way,

To span the Gulf without his bro—

The chum he never knew he had

In my fallacy that’s so pathetic.

So when he’s north again in May

And just as touchingly emphatic,

It’s like the heart make it sad,


To trade in every might for never,

And say he’s lost that dude forever.



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