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October 13, 2011



(No woodpeckers were harmed in the production of this Poe-m.)



By Nancy Pickard

 Once upon a noontime sunny,

While I pondered life so funny,

Over many a cup of strong and caffeinated bean,

While I nodded, dumbly happy,

Suddenly there came a tapping,

Something gently rapping  at the wall behind me.

"Tis some little branch," I muttered, 

"A tree twig tapping at my wall--

Only that, and nothing more."


Ah, with horror I remember,

It was in the damned September,

When came this tapping in the Fall.

"Maybe it is winter tapping," said I, vainly hoping,

Tapping, tapping at my wall?"


But then the tapping grew to knocking, then to pounding,

Chilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors often felt before;

So that now, to still the pounding of my blood, I yelleth,

"Damn you, woodpecker! Stop entreating entrance to my chamber!

You cursed visitor entreating entrance to my chamber--

You bird of Hell, stop pounding at my wall!"


Presently my rage grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,

"Sir!" screamed I, "or Madam, your forearbance I implore!

But the fact is I was napping and you gently hahaha came rapping,

And so  faintly hahaha came tapping at my chamber wall,

And I've run outside to wave my arms and yell at you to



Deep into that darkness peering,

Long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before:

Could I rid us of this 'pecker?

Chase it, banish it, DESTROY IT,

Tiny Downy Woodpecker bringing down our chamber walls?!!

Holes it was a'pecking, pecking, pecking, pecking

In our chamber walls!  Counted I now TEN of them,

Ten holes widening in our chamber walls!


Back into my chamber turning,

All my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping louder than before,

"Surely," I said, "he has started now a new hole!

Let me see what fresh destruction this wee demon now explores!"

Rushed I out to see THREE NEW HOLES growing bigger



Bigger even than the bird of hell they were! 

So big he could have fallen in them,

And how I wished that fate upon him--

Tumble in, you redneck pecker!!!

Earth will see you nevermore!!

But no, he did not fall in them,

Merely pecked pecked pecked around them,

Widening their edges until the Raven screamed--

"My God, come look at this, Lenore!"


Which in fact, our neighbors do say:

"Do you know that you have 'peckers?"

Teeth grit we, and smile and say, "We do know."

"You should fix that, 'fore they ruin you."

"Thanks so much," say we, "for your advice,

But next time 'fore you utter it,


At last  I flung the shutter, when,

With many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped the cursed Pecker of the hellish days of yore--

(When in another house I replaced whole panels

That his kin had polka-dotted!)

Not the least obeisance made he;

Not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady,

Perched above my chamber door -

Perched, and pecked the g'damned door!!

Oh, all right, I made that part up.

Coming from my fevered tete.

He has not stepped into my chamber--yet. 

He merely taps, EVEN AS I WRITE THIS,

Even after filling all the holes he made before!

With sticky stuff our helper filled them,

Telling us the bird would hate it,

But he ATE it,

And now he taps some more!


I grow desperate upon this shore.

"Be this word our sign of parting,

Bird or fiend!" I shriek upstarting.

"Get thee back into the tempest

And the Night's Plutonian shore!

Leave no plume as token of the damage thou hath wroken!

Leave us broken! - quit our walls and floor!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and tell me,

I most piteously implore-

How longst wilt thee haunt me?!"


Quoth the rednecked pecker,

sneering from my chamber door--

"Hahahaha! Forevermore!"



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Patter on the Poe-Poe

Once upon a late night evening, morning really, too late being,
I was up and was not tired, but my rest was now required.
While I then perched up on my seat, I felt something at my feet,
It was something softly wrapping - wrapping up my legs conspired,
To blanket me with cloud of gloom, dark came in as it aspired,
All of this and more desired.

How odd it was I now recall, was the feeling I would fall,
When darkness slipped into my room, and I was smothered by the gloom.
As I sat at my computer, dark came in to be my suitor.
I kept tapping at the keyboard – keyboard of the damned – my groom.
Oh the light did surely fool me, when the dark came in my room.
Entered in, and spoke of doom.

Then upon my screen I saw, Nancy Pickard at TLC – aw.
I was safe, I could presume – as darkness slowly left my room.
Happily I sensed the laughter, coming from the storycrafter.
But though it was that I could sleep - sleep no more threatened by the tomb,
I was wired, still not tired. Swept away as with a broom,
Dark was gone. Fun could resume.

Dear You,

I love you. That is all.

From, Me

Ack! I wrote a poem! I really did! And now it's gone! Curse you, Mr.Typepad!

Aw, Reine, you always make me feel glad I became a Tart. This is not an exaggeration. Love you.

And dear, Joss, you, too.

Nancy! I want that poem! Damn, TypePad!

The woodpeckers at my house are so impertinent that they come bang on the side of the house when the suet feeder is empty and only when it is empty.

And they sure do sound bigger than the birds of hell at dark o'clock in the morning when they wake me up!

But my lamenting has never gone beyond an inarticulate growl. Yours is a work of art.

I'm flying off to a book festival in Billings, Montana, today, but I'll check in for what I expect may be horror tales of PESTS and hilarious poetry, too. My Last Novel (sounds like the title of one), is a finalist in Billings for the High Plains book award for best novel about the, er, high plains. I don't think I'm gonna win--my two "competitors" are fine, fine literary writers--but I'm definitely gonna love being in Montana. If you check my facebook page, you'll see who wants to go with me. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000468620446

Aw, Nancy, don't you just LOVE Mother Nature???! Or do you think she's a ...YOU know - 'rhymes with witch' ? (Yeah, that's probably what you think!)

Karin, those impertinent birds! That's funny, except at "dark o'clock."

Deb, lol, I DO love it. And the truth is this little monster is adorable even as if refuses to budge and JUST STARES AT ME when I walk right up to it to wave it away. Then it scurries to a nearby tree and loudly scolds me. How dare I? But it's not so adorable that I don't want to kill it a few times a day. :)

p.s. Do you like my new word, "wroken"? I didn't think so, lol.

This is me giving you a standing ovation with indoor claps because it is, after all, poetry.

Rednecked Pecker. So many uses; I thank you.

He is pecking, this minute, right behind my head.

Genius, Nancy. Genius, Reine. I love this blog.

Redneck pecker. Heeheeheehee . . .

Nancy, I love how you made poetry out of your dilemma. If I had the slightest bit of poetic ability I'd respond in kind, but alas.

I checked with my husband, who is not only a wildlife photographer for the last 40 years (specializing in birds), but he and his dad co-wrote a column on natural history, and they both lectured extensively on backyard birds and other wildlife. So he has yard cred on this one. And he was flattered to be asked to help you, since he really enjoys your books, after I've read them.

So, Steve says, with great authority: I don't know.

However, he also says, first try doing some things to keep the bird(s) away: hang strips of shiny material very close to the house, something that will stir at the slightest breeze. (Recognizing that you live in a condo, and the association may frown on this one.) Ask at a local bird store, like Wild Birds Unlimited, if there's one nearby, if they have anything for this purpose. Usually, they do. (And check out any photos they may have as decor; these might have been taken by Steve.)

Some people have had luck with playing a radio loudly near the area where the bird is working. Mixed results on this one. Ditto for the plastic snake/owls.

You should also check to make sure you don't have carpenter ants or termites. These could be the reason why the woodpecker is so persistent: free meals!

If all else fails, call the local state conservation officer. Steve remembers when, 40 years ago, a pileated woodpecker, then very rare (now, not rare at all), was destroying someone's home and could not be dissuaded. The wildlife officer came and shot it, which took care of the problem. It is NOT legal to shoot or trap wildlife yourself (as if you would), but if you make a formal complaint, the officer can perhaps trap the bird and remove it.

Good luck. There is nothing more maddening!

I love you Nancy . . . and all the Tarts . . . and Tartettes . . . and Tartars. xoxo

Thank you, Kathy and Kerry. Redneck pecker. I thought you'd like that. :)

Karen, my favorite part of your comment is: "And check out any photos they may have as decor; these might have been taken by Steve." !!! He's sooo good.

We actually did talk to an exterminator, but they claim that termites don't go up that high--they're so sure of this that they--the exterminators--don't even have a ladder!

My next door neighbor, who I will now refer to as a redneck pecker, has woken me up every morning at the crack o' dawn pounding on some house improvement project.
I understand what you are going through.

Oh, my goodness. You are a GENIUS!!! And good luck with the stupid birds...

Thinking about it..it's actually kind of scary. And yeah, wroken. I'm stealing it. CLicking on "add to dictionary."


There once was a woodpecker in St. Chuck,
Who was almost as big as a duck.
When he flew into the window
And fell to the ground really slow,
Dear Hubby & I said “What the F**k!

Oh how clever you are, Nancy!
Anything that takes your fancy
You can turn to witty verse
Whether comical or terse.
Though that pecker drives you nuts,
You’re the best, no ifs or buts!

I am, luckily (?), surrounded by trees. Therefore there is no reason for any rednecked peckers to attack the house. Although, they don't mind partaking of the buffett that we leave out for them...to the point where they will continue to eat even with me and the cat just a few feet away.

At the moment, they are really enjoying the new peanut feeder that I got from the York Audubon Society. They can peck for their peanuts!

"Madman! I tell you that Woody Woodpecker now stands without the door!"

-Excerpt from "The Fall of the House of Pickard"

Saddest thing I ever saw: Once winter set in and the last leaves fell, high in the elm tree hard by our kitchen window hung a woodpecker, beak driven deep into the wood holding his body there. Most of the summer we'd heard--but never seen--him. Railed at him for all that racket. Sometimes he lapsed into a rhythm that made us smile. The cat ignored him but we couldn't. Never knew if he froze to death or got stuck and hung there until he died. Sad, either way.

Oh dear. So far, the woodpeckers I've seen have stayed in the trees, but I am now seeing winged ants in my house, carpenter ants, I think. I have a horror of using pesticides, but my eco-broker friend said Rottler had a good rep. I guess I'd better act now, before the woodpeckers join the fray . . .
JJ, your image is as horrifying as anything from Poe -- poor woodpecker . . .

Sorry a poem I cannot create
Though it's a talent I appreciate
With the Tarts I cannot compete
Though they help make my life complete.
I've known some rednecked peckers in my day
Whose names I'd rather not say.
I'm ever so glad that they went away.

Checking in from Denver Aiport. . .I hear no tapping here, though there's a bar to the left of me, and I'll bet they have a tap.

Margaret, from the queen of po-ems, that's a great compliment.

Debby, that's the killer--we have lots of trees, too, so you'd think. . .Maybe I'll put out a feeder to distract/attract him. Good idea you've given me. Thanks. Maybe he's the same little guy who came regularly to my winter suet bar, and now he thinks we're buffet.

Undine, lol! Horrors!

JJ, oh, no! That's just awful. Poor bird.

Mary, learn from my nightmare! :)

Diana, lol. Indeed.

Mary, here's some information on winged ants:


Safe travels, Nancy!

This is genius.

I haven't seen any rednecked peckers chez moi, though I have heard them occasionally. I did have a finch fly toward my window in our upstairs office yesterday, almost meeting the same fate as Pam's woodpecker.

We also had a cardinal who, for reasons unknown, would hang out on the ground and fly up and peck the dining room window (about 3 feet up from the ground). Over, and over and over and over. I have no idea why. It was quite bizarre.

Right now the only critters I can complain about are the bees who live behind our shutters and dive-bomb us every time we try to turn on the hose (they're gone for the season now), and the mice who seem to like our garage. Oh, and the dreaded stinkbugs are starting to try and come in for the winter. I really hate those suckers.

Laura (in PA):

A number of years ago a cardinal spent an entire Sunday afternoon pecking away at one of my mother's basement windows while I was there for a visit. I finally left her house for awhile to get away from the noise, even though I was supposed to be having dinner with her - the commotion sounded as though someone took a hammer to the wall and was pounding away with every ounce of strength he had. When I returned later on, there was Blessed Silence. I hoped he was dead, feeling guilty for this, as I have been an Audubon member on and off over the years! He was apparently just resting up, because before very long the racket started again. I have been told that often the male cardinal thinks his reflection in the glass is a rival for his mate's affections, and tries to attack it, which results in the pounding on the window.

Oh, and my mom told me that this went on for DAYS. He switched from her basement window to the picture window in the living room. It happened on and off over a couple of years, if I remember correctly. I am now trying to remember if it was my mom or someone else who told me about finding a dead cardinal just underneath a picture window. I wonder if he died thinking "aha! gotcha!"

Wonderful morning reading. I've had some interesting visitors in my house-salamanders, potato bugs, but the saddest was a small seagull my cat brought in. I was able to get it into the garden, but it was injured, and flew away rather weakly. I always want to get rid of them, but I figure they were here first. And you guys are the best!

There once was a Tart named Pickard
Whose sanity and peace became marred.
She wrestled with sounds
That would seem to abound
From a bird with agendas so scarred.
Our dear Tart used her wits to deal with the twit
That was bent on disassembling her abode.
She finally said "Off with your head"
And the bird flew around in a rage.
To this day she succumbs to the sound of the drums
That the woody keeps up night and day.
She ponders a cure..maybe Jack Daniels will surely
be the balm that will lull her to sleep evermore.

Happy am I you're my friend, for I'm
Not especially good at rhyme
But you are.

Sometimes woodpeckers "drum" to build homes and find food; sometimes they drum to attract mates. At my last job, a local artist had created a big sculpture outside the science building. Imagine large, hollow aluminum "pac men", about 3 feet in circumference and maybe a foot deep on top of tall pedestals. A yellow-shafted flicker discovered that hammering on the top of one of the "pac men" made the BEST. WOODPECKER. MATING CALL. EVER. The problem was that, being aluminum, the sculpture was pretty slippery for its little woodpecker toes. As it banged away on the top of the "pac man", it slipped ever-so-gradually backwards, until it slid right off the curved back. Undeterred, it fluttered right back up to the top and continued, over and over and over and over and over . . .


I once wrote an ode to peckers. Okay, actually it's an ode to throbbing, pulsing, bulging manhood. Not at all the same species. :-)

Birds "fight" with their reflections in windows and mirrors because they don't understand it's their, duh, reflection, and not another bird invading their territory.

If this ever happens again, smear some soapy stuff over the window, enough that the reflection is dimmed. (If you can stand it that way.) Alternatively, you can buy black cutouts at bird feeding stores that can be affixed to the windows. The cutouts are silhouettes of predatory birds, like hawks. Songbirds usually stay clear of those, since they're, like, dinner to hawks.

Wonderful poe-m. Having been in a very similar situation, we found a solution. We moved 250 miles away. I will keep a copy of your poe-m handy should we ever be besieged again.

I also appreciate poetry that doesn't need the word "Nantucket."

The tap-tapping is cute but annoying, moreso when they become damaging! Your Poe-try does resemble Lewis Carroll's tango with the ever-elusive Snark!

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