It is time, once again, to put long-suffering 10,000 Birds readers through the exquisite torture that is one of my posts in doggerel. This time my maniacal muse has inspired me to versify what is perhaps the most vile substance that birders have come into contact with; the mud on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay. For those wise enough to have avoided being initiated into the wonder that is the East Pond of Jamaica Bay, just picture a very large pond that is long on its north-south axis and relatively narrow on its east-west axis. It is surrounded on all sides by tall and dense phragmites. Hordes of waterfowl, especially Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and Mallards, live on the pond year-round, and in the summer, shorebird season, water levels are brought down to expose the edges of the pond for foraging. Those pond edges also become the habitat of birders. The nexus of birds, birders and mud is where this nasty bit of doggerel belongs. Hopefully, you will feel as coated in filth when you are done reading this as a birder feels when he or she is done birding the East Pond.
Oh Mud! Mud that slurps at my boots and
Contains the horrific stench of ten thousand
Geese and swans and ducks voiding their bowels,
Mud that makes my senses howl,
You are the bane of birders large and small.
Yet somehow, Mud, you manage to enthrall
Me. With your multicolored viscous ways
You keep me coming back for days
Because, Mud, at your slimy, nasty heart,
You’re organic matter, at least in part.
And as organic matter you are like me,
And I’m like mud, so forget a tree
That this verse will never be as pretty as,
Though it might become as sh***y as
Your content, of which I understand that s**t
Is, of your total, quite a bit!
Mud, of course, you attract birds
Much like I attract readers with these words.
But, Mud, if it’s all the same to you, and, I must admit,
I’m embarrassed by this request, at least a bit,
But request it I feel that I must, Mud,
To prevent my house from becoming quite the bust, Mud,
While I visit you to see your birds, Mud,
Please don’t visit me to see readers of my words, Mud.
Good, now that we have cleared the air
I think that it is only fair
That I should once again sing Mud’s praises
(I might go on for days and dayses).
Mud, you’re mostly brown and black
But colors you actually don’t lack
Or at least the things that grow on you
Are often of quite a pretty hue.
I’ve seen green, turquoise, yellow, and purple
(There is no word that rhymes with purple
Yet somehow I always use that word, or orange,
And there is no word that rhymes with orange)
And many other colors upon you, Mud,
Including the bright, brilliant red of my own heart’s blood.
You remember that day, of this I am certain,
When I sunk into you and ended up hurtin’.
And though I cursed and cried and moaned
You know that I never, ever, disowned
You. In fact I was back pretty quickly
To walk through you, Mud, though you gripped me thickly.
But what are you, Mud, besides matter organic?
You are living stuff dissolved, animal and botanic,
With some grit and grease and filth and dirt
And I’m not at all convinced that you’re inert.
No, Mud, you’re aware of we birders,
And I’m convinced that you’re guilty of at least two murders.
I know that the bodies never were found
Because they are buried deep in your ground.
You reward those who deserve your largesse
Everyone else ends up a hot mess.
If birders respect you you’ll give them a lifer
As the reward for figuring your cipher.
Those who walk quickly and do not take heed,
Well, they are the ones that you cause to bleed
Or to fall down deep and get covered in grime
As punishment for failing to take their time.
Now there are those who take things a bit too far
And think that you, Mud, will not mar
Them if they walk through you shoeless
These people are truly clueless.
For while I admire you, Mud, I think we both know
That in you a wide array of things does grow
That would do a birder some serious harm
(A fact that is a part of your charm).
So, Mud, I wear my waders gladly
To prevent things from ending badly,
Like dying of lockjaw, sepsis, or plague
Or of some other malady vague.
I’ve bled. I’ve sweat. I’ve cried. I’ve burned.
And upon your surface I have learned
The limits of my concentration
While focusing on Calidris identification.
For while on you, Mud, your stinky, sticky, slimy self
I have learned to put my morals on a shelf.
But only occasionally, at the time of greatest need,
When a life bird is calling to my greed.
For there are occasions when spotted is a rarity
And one needs a better look, one with clarity.
At that point, one must toss solidarity
And be willing to risk unpopularity.
Sure, some might consider this barbarity,
When one with a bird is merely seeking familiarity.
But birding is not at all a charity
And Mud does not reward temerity.
So one must throw one’s fellow birder in the Mud
And listen to them land with a thud
(Though really it would be more of a splat)
To get one’s view, and that is that.
Because Mud sometimes demands sacrifice
Of another birder’s life
And we all know it’s a small price to pay
In order to be able able to say
“I got another life bird today!
The first that I’ve had since May!”
Not everyone knows that it’s because of you, Mud,
That the rare bird, a lifer, came into view, Mud.
So when I grow old, and feeble, and dim,
And it is time my chips to cash in,
Bury me under the Mud of East Pond
Where my ghost will surely respond,
To the pleadings of a birder in need,
Who takes the time to desperately plead
For help in identifying a tricky shorebird.
I’ll rise from the Mud, a specter absurd,
And tell that birder to get the hell off my pond
Before I drag him to the great beyond!
Leave me to my Mud, my birds, and my peace
Or I won’t be the only one here deceased.
That is all I have to say
About the Mud at Jamaica Bay.