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Bottom Feeders
Mike Orlock

The finches outside my kitchen window
fight like family over a feeder
which hangs from a chain looped around
the branch of an old cedar.
The feeder is the kind you can find
in any department store--
a plastic tube that attaches to a plate
onto which the seed can pour.

There’s a hierarchy among the finches
that’s easy to discern:
The stronger birds perch on the plate,
the others wait their turn.
There’s another group of birds beneath
thatnever leaves the ground,
picking through the leaves and weeds
for whatever can be found.

Disputes arise from time to time
with squirrels and larger breeds.
They force the finches into flight
to gorge themselves on seeds.
These squabbles are brief but loud,
filled with feathery indignation
that knock the feeder rocking,
spilling seeds in all directions.

I’m not sure what Darwin would think
about this backyard spectacle.
The strongest members of a group
are supposedly the receptacle
of dominant traits within the species,
according to natural selection.
But these bottom feeding finches
give me pause for some reflection.

They’re not aggressive in the least--
in fact, they’re quite complacent;
the world is hard for the small and meek,
and for the weak and ancient.
I find myself rooting for
these birds among the weeds,
who wait for those whose greed is greatest
to shower them with seeds.

by Mike Orlock.
Used with the author’s permission.

Mike Orlock is a retired high school English and American History teacher who splits time between the Chicago suburbs and a vacation home in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He has been married for 40 years to his high school sweetheart and inspiration, Liz, and greatly enjoys being grandfather to four beautiful little girls. Mike's short stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications and he was a Jade Ring winner in last year's annual contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Writers Association.




Post New Comment:
Wonderful poem, loved the ending -:)
Posted 06/11/2015 06:34 PM
Larry Schug:
Trickle-down economics. The ground feeders get more variety though, seeds blown in or carried from other places, bugs, etc.--the "free-gans" of finch society, winged dumpster divers. An excellent poem in so many ways, as mentioned by other commenters.
Posted 06/10/2015 07:45 AM
This is definitely a read again. I can see all the creatures. Makes you think. Will look for more of his work.
Posted 06/10/2015 07:43 AM
Uncontrived sounding rhyme..a poem that is enjoyable to read.
Posted 06/10/2015 07:33 AM
sounds like bird vs. squirrel times at our house! thanks, Mike..
Posted 06/10/2015 06:09 AM
I like this. In spite of the consistency of the rhyme, it is almost unnoticeable.
Posted 06/10/2015 02:21 AM

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