f/k/a . . . the archives

February 13, 2009

Valentine flamingos return to the Stockade [updated]

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 7:27 pm

.. they’re back: Lawrence’s Valentine Flamingos, 2009  ..

As we reported in detail this time last year in “Lawrence and the Flamingos – a Stockade Valentine mystery,” a flock of pink flamingos (genus “phoenicopteris ruber plasticus ) has been returning each Valentine’s Day to the traffic circle home of Lawrence the Indian, at the intersection of Front, Ferry and Green Streets, in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood.  The f/k/a Gang planned to be up at sunrise on Saturday, February 14th, to see whether our Valentine Flamingo miracle would continue in 2009, and to snap some pictures, if it did.

To our surprise, while strolling the neighborhood at sunset tonight, February 13, the “flamboyance” of fourteen flamingos had already landed at the feet of Lawrence.  We don’t know if the blustery winds blowing the past two days across the Northeast accounts for their premature arrival, but Valentine romantics will have even more time to enjoy this Stockade Valentine tradition.

.. . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

.. sunset, Feb. 13, 2009, photos by D.A. Giacalone ..

.. ..

The light wasn’t great for this amateur photographer to capture the event this evening, but the photos above surely hint at the joy the big pink birds bring to Valentine lovers and Stockade residents each year (thanks to two flamingo shepherds who want to remain anonymous).  We promise to take more photos tomorrow in full daylight and add them below, along with a flock of flamingo haiku and senryu. [follow-up: the tradition continues; see suns along the Mohawk, Flamingo Visitation 2011.]

To whet your appetite, here are two haiku written specifically for this year’s Stockade Flamingo event by Roberta Beary, our lawyer friend and much-honored haiku poet:

peeking out
of his daughter’s blouse
flamingo tattoo

sober now
dad uprights
the flamingo

… by Roberta Beary for f/k/a‘s Flamingo Flamboyance 2009

[Click to read the Schenectady Gazette's coverage of the 2008 arrival of the flamingos.]

Valentine stroll
neither lover mentions
the pink flamingos

…………. by dagosan

first warm day
she plants
the pink flamingo

.. by ed markowski – Modern Haiku (2008)

. . . . continued (Saturday morning, February 14, 2009):

.. ..

two pink flamingos
& a waitress named Sally…
summer begins

… by ed markowski

.. ..

frost on
the flamingo’s beak -
Valentine breakfast alone

… by dagosan

Snapping photos with near-frozen fingers around 8 AM this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of Valentine empathy for poor old Lawrence, standing there like a prop among the flamboyantly romantic flamingos, and gazing longingly again today at the lovely clientele of Arthur’s Market.  You may recall that our Lawrence statue was originally a carving done by wood carver Samuel Anderson Robb, about 1860, for cigar-store-Indian vendor William Demuth.  In DeMuth’s 1872 catalog, Lawrence is listed as “No. 53 Indian Chief.”  Like the shy and proud Kaw-Lija (lyrics) Lawrence “never got a kiss.”  As Hank Williams sung in 1952:

Kaw-Lija, was a lonely Indian never went nowhere
His heart was set on the Indian maiden with the coal black hair
Kaw-Lija-A, just stood there and never let it show
So she could never answer “YES” or “NO”.

Click for a YouTube clip of  “Kaw-Lija” (performed by Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Jr. at the Grand Olde Opry).  Please, don’t be an “ol’ wooden head” like Kaw-Lija and Lawrence — take a risk and let her know you care.  Maybe next Valentine will be a little less lonely, and you’ll be viewing the Stockade Flamingos hand-in-hand.

signs of summer
on the pink flamingo
an empty beer can

.. by ed markowski

visit home
the pink flamingo’s
cracked wing

………… by Roberta Beary

parting her pink robe
–daybreak

…………… by Yu Chang, from A New Resonance (1999)

– hurry: you’ve only got ’til sunset to catch the Valentine flamingos –

pink envelope
Valentine hugs and kisses
from Mom

……. by dagosan

update (Feb. 15, 2009):  The Sunday Albany Times Union has an entertaining article about the Valentine Flamingos.  See “Pink flamingos back in Stockade.”  Reporter Paul Grondahl says:

“Nobody has claimed credit for spawning this quirky urban mystery. Of course, nobody’s trying too hard to crack the case and spoil the suspension of disbelief.

“The sheer audacity and cockeyed romanticism of this random act of oddity inspired the first sing-along in front of the flamingos.”

No one told the f/k/a Gang to show up to participate or snap a few shots. Nevertheless, you can click to see a YouTube Stockade 2009 Valentine video, with photos by Mabel Leon and Beverly Elander (produced by Jennifer Wells).  Due to a technical malfunction, you won’t hear zany Stockadians singing Rogers & Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” but will have to settle for a performance by Carly Simon and Frank Sinatra.

Another long-legged-avian Valentine tradition: The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Awards (f/k/a Valentine Awards):  Managing Editor John Stevenson announced this morning (Feb. 14, 2009) the winners of the Ninth Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, for the best haiku in The Heron’s Nest of 2008 (Vol. X, which is also available in a paper edition).  Congratulations to all the winners.

Poem of the Year: Fay Aoyagi had the Poem of the Year, which can be seen here.  Runners-up honors for best poem went to Burnell Lippy, Christopher Herold, and Harriot West.

Grand Prize, Poet of the Year, went to Burnell Lippy for his consistently fine haiku. Runners-up honors went to Carolyn Hall, Christopher Herold and Gary Hotham.    Carolyn and Gary are, of course, f/k/a Honored Guest poets.  Carolyn is a perennial winner of haijin awards, and Gary seems to be more active again writing his much-admired poetry for leading haiku journals.   For a little Valentine reflection, here are a pair by each of them from The Heron’s Nest Vol. X:

enough sunrise —
a small window
in an old hotel

playground swings —
a strong wind replaces
the children

…. by Gary HothamThe Heron’s Nest X (2008)

an eagle sighting —
the frailty
in my father’s hug

needles of rain
the talk show guest
addresses my problem

…. by Carolyn HallThe Heron’s Nest X (2008)

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