One Way of Looking At Thirteen Blackbirds? (“Homage To Wallace Et Al.”)

Photo by Tracy Grumach

Homage to Wallace Stevens and His Thirteen-Sided Bird


Instead of finding thirteen ways to look
at one
I get stuck in one way
of looking at


Like the thin men of Haddam, I look
for golden birds, not gleaning
the ebon sheen of present
wings, or worse, mistake it
for the shadow
of my own equipage.


O Wallace, Sage of Hartford–Connect(itcut) me
with nothing that is not there, and also
the nothing that is;
the path flown by the
blackbird, hard to miss, harder still
to trace.


I often revisit
Blackbirds circle
the chaff-strewn field, cawing
when they land.


“Should” is a word to which
no blackbird
pays much mind.


My mind, when sad,
ia like a tree in which
there are no


Sometimes the heart takes flight, sighting, hawk-like,
the bright eye of an idea.
Other times the heart takes flight
simply because it has seen
a blackbird.


A man and a woman are one.
A man, a woman and a blackbird
are a man, a woman and a blackbird.


No blackbird will ever
be baked into one
of my pies.


Blackbird singing in the dead of night,
thank you.


When I want to see a blackbird, I just shut
my eyes.  It helps if there’s bright


In city rains, each droplet carries one small speck


The tree trunks stretch limbs of jet black wing;
my heart expands and constricts at once;
in this, it is like
the blackbird.

The blackbird, wings beating, labors,
then soars; in this, it is like
my heart.


I’m sorry that many of you may have already seen an earlier version of this poem!  A draft was originally written fot the the beautiful photograph of  Tracy Grumbach, above, a dVerse Poets Pub Poetics prompt, and also, of course, “Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird” by the incomparable Wallace Stevens.  I am not sure if Tracy’s photograph is really of blackbirds–they look more like raptors to me–but the Stevens came to mind, so I used a bit of poetic and ornithologic license.

I am re-posting this for dVerse Poetics Meeting the Bar challenge to write about allusion – hosted by Victoria C. Slotto

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34 Comments on “One Way of Looking At Thirteen Blackbirds? (“Homage To Wallace Et Al.”)”

  1. margaretbednar Says:

    XIII Splendid! This is a lovely way to write a poem. Thank you for reposting it. XI made me laugh. 🙂

  2. Mary Says:

    I love your reflections on blackbirds….more than 13 ways. LOL. One thing I want to know is how you tell a blackbird from a crow! I wonder if Wallace could explain!

  3. Fab write. 13 ways how to treat a blackbird or not…:) Wouldn’t find a blackbird on one of my pies either.

  4. brian miller Says:

    ha, i remember…these are a delight….each one a small stone….the man woman and blackbird one made me smiles…wondering how much blackbird is falling on my head right now too…smiles.

  5. nico Says:

    This is great! VII is my favorite, but all are worthy.

  6. janehewey Says:

    I’ve not seen this one and there is so much to like. a concise opening and then comes 2. one of my favorites. probably for the golden sheen juxta. and the word equipage.:) i also love 4 and 6 and your ever-clever voice so present in 7. Your closing is precious and poignant. The whole piece, brilliant writing.

  7. A cleverly written spin on Wallace’s words. Well captured.

  8. Jody Collins Says:

    Karin–somehow got dropped from the dverse poetry link up this week and last, so I missed everyone; just catching up on your NOT writing. Resistance is futile, eh? I’m mostly just wanting to check up on you–you’re home–yes? In Tribeca neighborhood?(i couldn’t remember). If there are potatoes in your oven there must be power–what joy! Good luck on the novel………now go away and write! 🙂 smile.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! Well, I am scribbling away some times on this novel, but I am not disciplined enough to give up the community and I am not confident enough of the novel to type it. So here I am. I’m in Battery Park City. We do have power! I was very lucky as I evacuated when they told us to, and had a place to go, so I really did not have much inconvenience. I know others are still suffering and it is terribly cold, but I was very lucky. k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      PS – thanks much for your concern. k.

  9. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    Echoes of Stevens, spun from your own sweet poetic sweat, as blackbirds are crows, and are totems, and are tricksters; for it is the big boys, the ravens that mimic us, taunt us, take the bacon from our teeth. Like stanza V: /”Should” is a word to which no blackbird pays much mind/; a lovely journey and paean.

  10. hedgewitch Says:

    I remember this one. I love the ending especially. I also posted one I wrote for one of Stevens’ lesser known poems last year. He is always a fertile source. I don;t think anyone can really reflect his voice though, unlike Bukowski or Collins or some of the other Big Names who are constantly copied. You do a nice job of balancing here, with your own voice coming through a Stevens glass cleanly.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks – you know I just had such a busy day today at work, and this evening too, so when I saw Victoria’s post, I just thought, well, put up something – and I did like this one–so I had enough time to revise a teeny bit, but not that’s it’s almost midnight, I can think of other things I might change – maybe leave to a different poem at this point. k.

  11. ninotaziz Says:

    Van Gogh and Daphne du Maurier comes to mind. Strange how the blackbirds make their way into many cultures globally.

    i enjoyed this very much.

  12. vivinfrance Says:

    A splendid allusion. Please don’t re-visit regrets! Look onwards instead.

  13. David King Says:

    Another clever theme played with bells and whistles. I love it for both. Your reference to thirteen ways of looking at a bird/looking at thirteen birds brought to mind a favourite saying (about experience) of a lecturer I knew: that some people have had 20 years experience and others have had one year twenty times. Fine poem.

  14. Brilliant take on the prompt! V is my esp fav here, much enjoyed, thanks

  15. i really like the variety and variations, and maybe most of all, the sensibility, so nuanced and yet on track, like the flight of your watchable untrackable blackbird, so very nice k. 😉 thank you

  16. I really enjoyed revisiting this one and especially the conflation of VIII. A wonderful dialogue between you and Stevens and indeed, the world.

  17. claudia Says:

    hey i swear i read this before… smiles…love it…the…No blackbird will ever
    be baked into one
    of my pies….cracked me up…so good k.

  18. Karin, this is brilliant. I love that Stevens poem and have written in the same vein a few times but yours is amazing. “Sage of Connect(ticut)! Hoot!

  19. Susan Says:

    Ha ha! I re-posted from the same challenge. I know I read and responded to this before, but since the comment is not there I will re-think: 6 and 11 are my favorite. Wallace Stevens is like an antique fool, full of wisdom hidden in simples, simply renewed. Thanks for the many blackbirds.

  20. Hawk and dove … Two ways of showing love. 🙂

  21. Lisa Says:

    My mind, when sad,
    ia like a tree in which
    there are no

    ..speaks to me. This is a brilliant work.

  22. Lindy Lee Says:

    Enjoyable poem to read, no matter which version it is; and,
    most especially No. IX, as this sentiment is one in complete agreement with one of my own…

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