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The Hornéd Larks in Winter by Ethelwyn Wetherald

Where the tufted red-root
  Rises from the snow,
See the flock of hornéd larks
  Crouching low,
Beating, shaking all the seeds
From the dry pods of the weeds,
Calling from the knolls and furrows
  As they go.

Lovers of the plowed field
  And the open sun,
Pacing thoughtfully the ruts
  One by one.
On each delicate small head
Black and white are closely wed,
And the horn-like tufts are lowered
  When they run.

Serious little fellows!
  Who would e’er surmise
That such grave field labourers
  Could arise,
Shaking from their yellow throats
Ravishing cloud-surrounded notes,
Flinging up the joy of springtime
  To the skies.

(1931)

Black Bear by Douglas LePan

Sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!
you don’t prowl much in the history books
but you sure figure when choker-men, donkey-men, shanty-men
  gather,
or pulp-savages, or top-riggers.
“I’ve seen me go up a tree so fast with one of them after me
I only had time to loosen my belt and give him my pants
or I’d been done for.”
”When I came into the cook-house I knew there was something there.
And was there ever! A great big black bear.
He chased me round and round the table till I hauled off and hit the
dinner gong.
That shook him! He was out the door like a bat out of hell.”
If only you could hear us talk, you would know how we love you
sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!

Cousin, comrade, and jester,
so like us as you pad along jocularly
looking for garbage and honey, and not leaving much trace,
dozing off (for a whole season—as who wouldn’t want to?)
then when you waken, perhaps a little too devil-may-care,
not knowing your own strength, ready to carry a joke a little too far,
creature of moods, old man, young man, child,
sitting in a meadow eating blueberries by the bushful.

Don’t you know how much we love you?
Old man, curled up in your lair? So come out and be killed, old man!
Sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!

(1982)

Alchemist by Elizabeth Brewster

Man, the evil magician,
brews, in the perishable cauldron
of rock and sand,
a violent fiery potion
melted lightning.

Foolish enchanter,
do not break
this great brown dish
with green edges
which has been in the family
all these years.
Where will you find another
to hold your children’s supper?

(1972)

Axe Murderer by Sharon Thesen

Look out!
Run!

Here he comes
dragging his axe.

He drags it because
he is so evil & stupid
he cannot hold it up

Unlike the whistling woodcutter
who lives in the little log house.

Chop chop, chop chop
goes the axe.

Eek! and O my God!
say the trees and the women.

All this goes on
in the forest.

So you can relax.

(1999)

Load by Don McKay

We think this
the fate of mammals—to bear, be born,
be burden, to carry our own bones
as far as we can and know the force that earths us
intimately. Sometimes, while I was reading,
Sam would bestow one large paw on my foot,
as if to support my body
while its mind was absent—mute
commiseration, load to load, a message
like the velvet heaviness which comes
to carry you deliciously
asleep.
        One morning
on the beach at Point Pelee, I met
a White-throated Sparrow so exhausted from the flight
across Lake Erie it just huddled in itself
as I crouched a few yards off.
I was thinking of the muscles in that grey-white breast,
pectoralis major powering each downstroke,
pectoralis minor with its rope-and-pulley tendon
reaching through the shoulder to the
top side of the humerus to haul it up again;
of the sternum with the extra keel it has evolved to
anchor all that effort, of the dark wind
and the white curl on the waves below, the slow dawn
and the thickening shoreline.

        I wanted
very much to stroke it, and recalling
several terrors of my brief
and trivial existence, didn’t.

(2000)