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Wednesday, January 01, 2020


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

In the first hours of the new year
After the midnight explosions have ceased
And no more revelers
In clutches of three and four
Go stumbling by the house
Happily jabbering away
I lie in bed with the window open
To the freezing night air
Listening to two owls
Speaking to each other
From nearby treetops.
Hu-hoo, hu-hoo says one
In a deep and quiet voice
Hoo-hu-hoo, hoo-hu-hoo
Responds the other
In a higher pitch.
I picture the baritone as an elder
Complimenting the young alto
On not panicking
During the booms and bangs and kapows
They had just endured,
On staying put in its tree
Until the onslaught of flash and bam had subsided.
It’s safe to go out now
The old one says
But be mindful of the humans,
They are loud and messy
And really have no idea
What they are doing.
And of course the old hoot is right.
We are a cacophonous, lurching,
Bumbling, bungling bunch
Making a fine shambles of things
And we’d be a whole lot better off
If we resolved in the coming year
To cultivate a little quiescence
And pay closer attention to owls.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California. He podcasts at: .