Orel Protopopescu


The Red-Eyed Vireo

I am therefore I sing, he croons,
the red-eyed vireo.
You cannot find an off-switch on
this feathered radio.

He starts to sing at break of dawn,
his “cheer-o-wit, cheer-ee,”
and keeps this up the whole day long
while hopping tree to tree.

With all the songs inside his head,
no wonder that his eyes are red.

The Red-billed Oxpecker

If you have four legs on the ground,
the best kind of house guest around
is this tiny creature
who has the great feature
of paying you back tons per pound.

Do ticks burrow under your skin?
Do bugs make you feel all done in?
He’ll be happy to snack
on the pests on your back
and you won’t even feel him begin.

Not only a personal groomer
and highly considerate roomer,
but one who sees harm
and cries out an alarm—
A lifesaving, insect consumer!

Orel Protopopescu won the Oberon prize for poetry in 2010. Her poems have appeared in several reviews, anthologies, and a chapbook, What Remains. A Thousand Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was selected for the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list. Two Sticks (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was on Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2008 list. Thelonious Mouse, a picture book (FSG), won a Crystal Kite, 2012, from SCBWI. A Word’s a Bird, her animated, bilingual poetry book for iPad, was on SLJ’s list of ten best children’s apps, 2013. These two poems are part of an unpublished manuscript of sixty poems entitled Quirky Birds.