Flying High

Red-Shouldered Hawk vs. Rat by PicSniper

I love this photograph by the brilliant Florida photographer known as PicSniper –  but I’m a bit frightened of it too. It is the expression on the two creatures faces that makes it so powerful and moving – especially the rat’s – two such different destinies.

The photograph was shot in November last year and the photographer explains how he got it:

“I shot this yesterday just South of the entrance of Chekika State Recreational Park in the Everglades National Park. I was driving and noticed this hawk intensely eyeballing its next meal. It took roughly 10-12 minutes for it to make up its mind as to when to strike. During the wait, though, you can see it twitching occasionally, as if unsure of its decision. Finally, it swooped down into some tall grass by a tree and waited there for about 30 seconds, while positioning itself onto its meal. When it had a firm grasp on its prey, it flew up with it, which is when I was able to capture this image. The first thing I noticed about this hawk is how intelligent it is. Take a look at its feet and see how it has positioned the rat. It is parallel to the hawk’s body, so that when it flies, there is less wind resistance”.
At a difficult time, soon after,  I came across it on-line and it has stayed with me.

Just before Christmas I thought of that Red-shouldered hawk’s “next meal” again when I was writing a poem and soon it became that poem, High-flyer. It is the first time I have used a photograph as the basis for a poem – I think I shall do it again.

It is published today, along with one of my sonnets, in Shot Glass Journal:

So thanks to PicSniper  for the inspiration and to Muse-Pie Press in New Jersey for publishing it and so many other of my poems. Much appreciated.


  1. I read this poem last night anticipating a bit of light fun upon reading the first two lines so reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's "Twinkle, twinkle little bat". But the poem shifts rhythm and register almost immediately delivering quite the shiver. The photo only makes me colder. "Nature, red in tooth and claw", indeed.

    (Lovely off-rhymes in the sonnet, by the way.)


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