Bird Book: Poems

Bird Book: Poems

by Sidney Wade


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In this stunning collection, the author offers an exquisite array of poems at once sublime and playful, dedicated to the unearthly wonders of winged creatures. The book is a universal song of praise to the mysteries and intricacies of the animal world that surrounds us, and a wide-awake hymn, by a master lyricist, to the delights and surprises of our common language. The brilliantly vivid, elegant verse is sure to delight and inspire general readers, poetry enthusiasts, and avid birders or naturalists alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780997652338
Publisher: Atelier26 Books
Publication date: 09/05/2017
Edition description: None
Pages: 100
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Sidney Wade is a Fulbright scholar and translator and a professor emerita at the University of Florida where she taught creative writing and was poetry editor for the UF literary journal Subtropics. She is the author of six poetry volumes and her work has appeared in publications such as The Nation, The New Yorker, and Poetry Magazine. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Read an Excerpt


First green flare

makes the air

quiver and dart

the throat ache

to call makes

the heart cheer

the ear keen

to the sheer glorious

windfall of oriole

veery vireo

A bird

is a word abroad

in air on a stem

with roots a gem

in scarlet lemon

brown the fruit

of import from above

a weather report

in short a swift noun

a small requiem

for all that passes —

love wind


Burrowing Owl

Very odd,
in trousers in the sandy

fortress favored by

prairie dog and gopher

at the mouth-hole,
with sybilline yellow eyes

and then, owl-
to clean house.
and soon great clouds

of smudge come flying out,

his home now clean as a bone.

A diurnal owl,
and inside-out,
not in trees,
where his mate broods

on her eight fragile moons

in an immaculate burrow whose

contours are lined with cow manure.


are made mostly of air.

They bear scant weight

and many bright colors. Eschewing

the freight of matrimony,

they rarely mate for life.

They lay their speckled

eggs on stony cliffs, on sea-wrack

or bare sand,
Glass, alas,
their necks as they migrate

at night,
betrayals of sunlight.

Indigo Bunting

blue as paint blue as flame

blue as blue dawn blue as the burn

after lightning blue on fire

blue and a black beak blue on electric wire

blue as the sky just after dark

blue on the back of the eye

blue as sleep blue as a skyblue

dancer no bluer blue as a sunning shark

blue as Nolde's watercolor

blue shot blue bead

bluer than the deep indigo sea

blue as speed blue fizz

blue black blue dart and sizzle

Marsh Poodle

shore-bird who rackets

about, barking like a yappy

necked stilt picks at

its food with a needle-

thin bill in knee-

deep water as it hunts

by sight for brine flies

and snails.
slender legs,
pink, trail way behind

in flight.
the stilt was built

for speed,
it's pedigreed in wading.

It saunters, or,
sprinkling its way through

the shallows,
bent backward in liquid angles.

The truth is,
and elegant black and

white suit,
godly, and beautiful

to the core,
about, spangling the shore

Red-winged Blackbirds in the Rain

for Lizzie

Glossy black

males unpack

red epaulettes

and sway atop

wet cattail

sing conk-

a-reee with

a tinny buzz

just as a dial-up

modem does.


His head isn't red,

it's black as a scalded

and pitiful,
as he picks at his seeds

from the eminence of the feeder,

a shaved and wincing

avian prince at his dinner.

What turns a song-bird

territorial fight?
in the grand design?
Killdeer Bathing
He prinks and sprinkles

dizzy droplets

everywhere in the morning

air. Restored,
his chores —
and worried survey

of the shore,
of the natural catastrophist.

The Great White Pelican

is dying.
in which he slowly dies

is moribund as well.

For days now, he

has paddled in circles

in the shallows,
lifted as if to catch

a breeze.
he cannot feed or fly and so

he'll starve to death.

It's very slow.
the water lowers.
shore grows by a breath

every twelve hours.

The green platters

of the lily pads lie on ground

already fuzzed with young weeds.

Yellow blossoms grow straight

out of the drying surface scum.

Pickerelweed is stunted,

yet still,
once docked,
plumes shoulder-high.

The blowzy new land

bloats up a mile

down to the shrinking

fundament of water,

its sediments exhumed,

rheumy, dark,

the never-ending meditation

continues in this early

morning squirrels on

the porch and in the trees

the lake is still the silence

blue I've belled the cat made

coffee and am ready

with my pencil to accept

whatever mind imagines

is its music or its body

or its gold I've hung

the niger thistle-seed

and am waiting

for the cloud of goldfinches

I hear is near to appear.

The Wide-eyed Vireo

is grizzly in hue.

His legs are blue.

He fizzes in witch-

hazel and dizzy

thickets of willow.

A secretive and shrubby

the tunes of other birds,

though he often repeats

his own singular

on littler beasts

he finds with his yellow-

spectacled wide-open eyes,

which he also keeps peeled

(he's an avian masher)

for a chance encounter

with the double-
mattress thrasher.


Excerpted from "Bird Book"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Sidney Wade.
Excerpted by permission of Atelier26 Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

First green flare 11

A bird 12

Burrowing Owl 14

Birds 16

Indigo Bunting 18

Marsh Poodle 20

Red-winged Blackbirds in the Ram 24

Cardinal 26

Killdeer Bathing 28

The Great White Pelican 30

Interlude 34

The Wide-eyed Vireo 36

Whimbrel 38

Snow Bird 40

Bejeweled 42

Turkey Vultures 43

Glory Train 46

The Chickasaw Trees 50

Bird and Beast 54

Birding at the Hamilton County Phosphate Mines 55

The Truth About Cats 58

Snowy Owl 61

Swan Lake 63

Sparrowing 66

Bird Words 68

Blue 71

Osprey and Needlefish 73

Loon 76

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks 78

What Rough Beast 81

Birding at the Dairy 83

King Vulture 86

Thirty white 88

Amazed 89

Dry Season 93

Witness Tree Junction, Rochelle, FL 95

The Hard Saving 97

Acknowledgments 100

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