“Turkey Vulture”, poem.

turkey-vulture-sept “Frank”

(courtesy of pc.wallnet.com)

Dedicated to Sherry Marr whose compassionate nature and especially her love for animals stands as example for me.


Knew a woman

in a trailer park

in the scrub pines of Florida.


Poor as a church mouse,

half–crazed by life,

fed all  strays-

pariah of the neighborhood.


Every evening flocks of vultures,

like fixed-wing aircraft,

skimmed the pines,

landed in a muddle of dusty feathers,

awkward, out of their element

and with a group waddle

came to the cat food offered in pans.


They were patient guests,

waited for the strays to finish.


There was decorum

amongst them,

these fierce looking birds.

Perhaps they sensed

the charity offered

humbled their nature,

perhaps they had reformed,

I don’t know.


“Frank” was their leader

who held back until

the others were done.


Frank would never face you,

he sat sideways

though I believe he peeked.

Perhaps he was ashamed

A Lord of the Sky

brought to this station,

filling his crop with kibble

from a dented metal pan.




Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.


Your warty red neck,

your hang-dog countenance

does not disturb me.

Your feathers a faded black

on Earth,

but wheeling into the Sun,

how glorious your wings–

Feathers exploding in prisms

And diamonds from Soloman’s mines!


Come sit with me.

Let our talons dig into the sand

let the ocean cleanse our feathers.

I will call you friend, brother

for the gift of humility

brought in on your wings.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016 (an earlier form of “Turkey Vulture” was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2014, by Amazon.

some paintings of birds done by me.






“Sea Eagle”, jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2001


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36 Responses to ““Turkey Vulture”, poem.”

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    Indeed, vultures do fulfill a useful function and as such, can only digest carrion and food like dog food. I liked this take on the prompt very much! For as I have observed. vultures are patient creatures and only take what is given to them, unlike greedy chickens/


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I do like this.. there is something both revolting and majestic about vultures.. the way that they seem to be giving devotion to the things we hate… the food we have left… truly a cleaning crew. The discussion with that leader of the flock brought a smile to my face.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    Jane, I just love this. I recently read in the magazine “Birds and Blooms” about turkey vultures and their importance to our planet. But I love how you have personified them, noting their politeness and their humility. This is pure delight.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Victoria, but everything I wrote about them came from an observation of the ‘pariah’…who was a very battered woman in her earlier years. It left it’s scars. Frank actually exists and he’s a gentleman vulture. Thank you, Victoria. Vultures can’t smell well, which is very much a blessing!


  5. ladynyo Says:

    I think Frank exemplifies the very best of us….vulture, scavenger though he be. And he really exists down in the scrub pines of Florida.


  6. frankhubeny Says:

    I didn’t think the turkey vultures would have waited for the cats to finish.


  7. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    Scavengers is maybe the best a human can be… really caring not to waste.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Yep! I think vultures have a lot to teach us…about patience and many other things, probably. I love that Frank and his crew waited until the cats, raccoons and stray dogs finished first. They showed remarkable civility considering all these above would be their natural (dead) prey. Maybe they were just waiting…..


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Yep….they live in Simplicity…and we could learn a lot from them.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Well, this flock did. But they had been feeding at these pans for about 3 years. They learned their place and patience, unlike a lot of people.


  11. kanzensakura Says:

    LOL, maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. taylor Says:

    This is awesome!


  13. kim881 Says:

    I think I’ve fallen in love with Frank the turkey vulture! I’d never heard of turkey vultures before. I will be looking them up for sure!


  14. ZQ Says:

    You delivered a wonderful gift in the words…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thant you so much, ZQ.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. ladynyo Says:

    Well, as you can see by the picture of Frank, they are not handsome birds. And their nose is blessedly weak. They are an important scavenger and farmers and yahoos should not shoot them. They do, you know…for ‘sport’. They clean up our highways, the woods and pastures. We should be grateful to Frank and his kind. Thank you for reading. I have fallen in love with Frank, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you.


  18. whimsygizmo Says:

    You paintings are gorgeous. And I LOVE the stanza on Frank. Oh, fallen Sky Lord. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Linda Kruschke Says:

    This is spectacular! What a story. I love the line: “There was decorum / amongst them”. I felt like I was standing there watching them all eat.


  20. thotpurge Says:

    so many things to love in your poem.. beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, thotpurge.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Linda. When another poet can feel that way about a poem, I think it is hitting its marks.

    I think their collective behavior from what I gathered was rather civilized. We could learn from them I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Yes, such a huge and magnificent bird to fall to eating cat kibble. And thank you. Most people who come to the blog never see the paintings. I don’t know why…but I appreciate when someone does notice. And the paintings figure in my forming of poetry. I was a painter long before I took up poetry. One glides into the other, and gives imagination a run. Thank you for noticing them.


  24. Bodhirose Says:

    Totally enjoyed your tale of the humble vulture, Jane. I love the personality that you affixed to them and they do have that hang-dog look about them…and that waddle. I’ve seen many of them gathered in trees and they are a formidable sight!

    Also, love your tribute to our friend, Sherry. I so admire her!


  25. Bodhirose Says:

    P.S. I love, love, love your amazing art work…such talent!!


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you! I was a painter decades before I took up poetry, but I don’t think there are any Chinese walls between the two. One hopefully inspires the other. On good days. LOL!


  27. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Bodhirose! I love all creatures….and I am supported in this sentiment by Sherry. She has an incredible heart…full of compassion for animals and against animal cruelty. I love her.
    Vultures: they are an misunderstood species in my opinion. “Frank” embodies qualities I think we all can learn from. At least I can learn from.


  28. Sherry Marr Says:

    What a surprise to read your words and find such nice thoughts about me. Thank you, Jane. You made me feel for that grizzled old buzzard. I love “extend a feather……I will call you friend, brother, for the gift of humility brought in on your wings.” So compassionate. He does sound like such a gentleman…..sigh. and your art work is so beautiful. Thank you, Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. ladynyo Says:

    You deserve more kudos, Sherry. You have set an example…a consistent example with your own poetry and your videos on your blog. I marvel at the depth of your compassion. Humanity could learn from your example. I hope you continue to ‘teach’ us out here about compassion for other species. Each time I go to your blog, I am blown away by what I find there. Sometimes, it’s not easy to read or see….but it is necessary for those of us who care deeply to be there. Thank you, dear friend….for what you are.


  30. Sherry Marr Says:

    I am heartened to think I might be doing some small thing to increase compassion for animals. I feel if they can live it, I can bear witness, thanks, Jane.


  31. lillian Says:

    ah the turkey vulture — magnificent and truly ugly at the same time…and yet a creature of God. Your description here is wonderful — and the juxtapositioning of the woman, the turkey vultures, the bowl of kibbles……the piece slaps us with reality. Excellent write!


  32. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Lillian. She was a victim of domestic abuse. She sounded retarded when I first talked to her over the phone, and only later realized what had happened to her in her life. She was poor, on some sort of welfare, but she fed all these strays …cats, dogs, raccoons, other species, and the vultures. She fed them at the expense of her going hungry. That was the slap in the face for me. Her humility and compassion. Great lessons here that some would avoid. Including my own siblings. My brother, a pompous “Christian” called her family ‘white trash’. His own wife was a sister of this woman. So, what does that make her? I am so sick and tired of the brutal classism of people who are spoiled, rotten and lord it over others. So, this woman lived in a trailer. So what. She showed more Christianity in her behavior than my arrogant brother. Thank you, Lillian, for seeing the reality of the verse.


  33. Bodhirose Says:

    I love Sherry’s heart too, I agree with you there, Jane. Because Vultures are not the most attractive of animals, I’m sure that has something to do with people’s misconceptions…oh, and the fact that they subsist on carrion! I think we can learn something from all creatures.


  34. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, they have a particular bacteria that allows them to digest extreme carrion. They are the street sweepers of the earth. No, they aren’t attractive in the face, but those gorgeous wing spans!

    I know that I am not the first to appreciate Sherry’s heart and postings. She is a wonderful women. And hopefully, she will garner the time to write her memoir. She has a life time of stories and I love reading the few I have.


  35. Bodhirose Says:

    Yes, the wingspan is something. We have many here in Florida and it’s common to see them soaring overhead. I would love to read Sherry’s memoir; I hope she can get it written. xo


  36. ladynyo Says:

    Me, too. She’s a marvelous writer!

    Liked by 1 person

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