Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Any excuse will do for a pun, as you will see from the title.  This Common Flicker, a large, ground-feeding woodpecker that looks like an overgrown Brown Thrasher with a chevron of bright red on the back of his neck, was remembered from the back yard of the house in Athens, actually.  In a way to make Wordsworth proud, he was “recollected in tranquility” two years after his actual appearance.


A Flicker of Hope

The world was thick, gray fog and shiny, black

Uplifted limbs of trees, and falling rain,

And mud and water running in the track

And dripping from the twigs.  My window pane

Could scarcely shut it out; into my brain

It came without resistance, wet and cold,

And drumming endlessly its dull refrain

Of all things growing, slowly growing old.

For weeks, thus.  Once more into bed I rolled

And woke to find the rain had turned to dew

And all the dew the sun had turned to gold.

Colaptes Auratus, the Common Flicker, flew

Into my garden.  Nothing was less true

About him than the “common” in his name.


A more uncommon creature never drew

The sunlight with such concentrated aim

To fan his chevroned shoulders into flame:

Sharp red amidst the gold upon the brown-

Piled rug of pinestraw into which he came

To look for bugs to eat.  I hope he found

Some juicy ones; I know that he brought down

With him the wind that drove the clouds away

And scattered all that gold upon the ground.

And I would give much more than bugs for pay,

After such a damp and dark dismay,

To see again the long-lost light of day.


Remember: for more poetry like this, go to and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds


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