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Fifteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

John L. Stanizzi


I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.


-Wallace Stevens

-Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


When the blackbird left there was a burst of feathers.

Was this flight a miraculous spate of feathers?


What deific forces speak of the snowy hills?

I saw nothing move but the black freight of feathers.


My mind divided into three separate parts,

each part on a different branch, a plait of feathers.


The pantomime can do nothing for your focus.

You must whirl and whirl your conflation of feathers.


Will intuition and wisdom free your talents?

Perhaps. But make time for ideas made of feathers.


Fifteen men and fifteen women are also one,

with room for fifteen birds, their array of feathers.


Inflections, innuendos, and whistling blackbirds,

and, of course, the blackbirds’ animated feathers.


Balance and release your fears; leave the porch light on,

stare through barbarous ice at mutations of feathers.


To and fro, between physical and spiritual

like the wind’s moods animate shadows of feathers.


Women walk with caution, all those birds underfoot,

their men lost in dreams of sleep, prostrate on feathers.


Trapped in a rhythm that is inescapable,

it’s as magnanimous as the grace of feathers.


There are so many circles everywhere. Here. See.

Come, stand on the edge and pick a cate of feathers.

The euphonic blackbirds of the east cry out loud.

Madams run to windows holding plates of feathers.


He rode across Connecticut in a glass coach.

He was crying, carrying the weight of feathers.


All evening long the afternoon dragged on and on.

John squatted out of the cold, and thought of feathers.

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