Monthly Archives: May 2019

Feathers On My Mind

There’s a new prompt over at Today’s Little Ditty. Liz Steinglass, talented poet, supportive pal, and author of the forthcoming collection Soccerverse, has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job.  When I was considering what to write for the challenge, a male goldfinch flew to our window feeder. It was a cloudy day, but the goldfinch’s feathers spoke of sunlight. The goldfinch didn’t really look like he needed any instructions from me, but I wrote him some anyway:


Instructions for a Goldfinch

How do I not have a photo of a male goldfinch in spring plumage? Here’s a winter bird.

Wear a suit of sunshine on a May morning.
Perch on the bird feeder.
Crack sunflower seeds with your strong beak.
Leave a pile of empty hulls.
Beware the stalking cat, the squawking hawk.
Sing a song of snack food,
    Potato Chip! Potato Chip!
as you swing your wings in rollercoaster flight.


Then I rechecked the prompt’s instructions. Inanimate object? Um, Mr. Goldfinch would likely not appreciate being classified as inanimate. But his feathers are not very animate without the bird’s assistance. So I started to write again:

Flamingo pink!

Instructions for a Feather

Blanket a bird with downy warmth.
Feel the air lift you and rise.
Use every crayon in your box:
flamingo pink, bluebird blue, oriole orange, sparrow brown.
Let troubles roll off you like water on a duck’s back.
Signal your strength and sex appeal.
Know when to blend and hide.
Bend but do not break.

Feathers that hide; feathers that don’t

The benefit of not following instructions is that you end up with two poems for the price of one! Happy Poetry Friday and thanks for visiting. And be sure to visit Dani at Doing the Work that Matters for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.