Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree at Night

Owl in the City

in Environment by

Today a worker finds a Saw-whet owl nesting
in the cavity of the Rockefeller Christmas tree.
He will be whisked away to a wildlife sanctuary
after America swoons over the creature
who made it such a long way unharmed.
A newsman reports that this year even
the Rockefeller Center tree seems weary of the world.
The gargantuan Norway spruce rising in the city
appears to be missing a third of its branches,
as though it had been dragged those 170 miles
from upstate, leaving a trail of itself as it went.
Its cones weep soundlessly from their branches,
fall around us like tiny, scaled cocoons.
An expert confidently claims there is an explanation.
The tree had been wrapped tightly before transport,
holding the branches close to the trunk.
While he assures us it will unfold on time,
I find I prefer the abstractions:
the animal that survives in a fallen tree after so many miles,
how even the grandest of us can appear broken
when we just need to unfold.
In two weeks the plaza will be filled
with the kind of dazzling luminescence
we humans conjure: three million Swarovski crystals
flashing their astral determination
to get us safely to the New Year.
Maybe it will snow on Christmas.
Maybe every person in this city will survive.
Meanwhile, in his new home
the owl’s yellow eyes widen.
His bark sounds the alarm
as a long night begins.


Joan Glass is a Korean American and Smith College graduate. Her poems have appeared/are upcoming in Rust & Moth, Rattle, SWWIM, Rogue Agent, Barnstorm, South Florida Poetry Journal, Persephone’s Daughters, West Trestle Review, & others. She has been twice-nominated for the Pushcart. She tweets @joanpglass.


Tiny owl rescued from Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree that traveled 170 miles to NYC
[NBC News]

Latest from Environment



By Jessica Michael. A song of mourning for the day Philadelphia's skyscrapers

Glacier Song

By Megan Merchant. Even glaciers have a swan song.

Howl, Part II

By Lola Stansbury-Jones. What generation will follow us? Could they follow? Could

Absent Warning

By Laura Hogan. For the three billion birds 'lost' from North America


By Jasmine Marshall Armstrong. The Trump administration's brutal strategy has frontiers at
Go to Top