Blackbirds, Horses

Blackbirds, Horses

I was of three minds
like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
–Wallace Stevens,  Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I was of three hearts
like a wooden horse painted red;
I trotted him about the floor
and kept him by my bed.

Gave one heart to my mother,
another to my youth’s love,
but oh the last it carried me
to places I knew nought of.

There, I saw a horse a’heave
legs painted high with red
as it stepped right fearsomely
over bloats of limb and head.

The rider said, call me Captain,
but my voice had flown away;
it perched upon the crooked pitch
of what had been tree one day.

There, it joined its fellows,
birds of ebon wing
and if they knew what I might do–
of this, they did not sing.

Just so, my last heart slackened,
sank in a stew of trench
where horses can only founder
unmanned by rot and stench;

where what was wood inside me
melted equal with the flesh;
where captain’s curse can’t find me
no more can any breath.

Three hearts were painted on the horse
I trotted about the floor–
I rue the one whose beating
saddled me with war.

I’ve no more mind for blackbirds
who caw but cannot sing
for what was me no longer
can hear a single thing.

*****************************

Agh.  Draft poem of sorts for the wonderful Hedgewitch’s wonderful prompt on Real Toads to write poetry raised to the power of three.  I think this is 19th for April.  

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7 Comments on “Blackbirds, Horses”


  1. Your closing two stanzas bring this together so powerfully, K…what an inspired write. Thank you.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Really an expert touch to this, k–that doggerel sort of ballad rhyme is as sinister as the weird sisters primitive revolve around the cauldron–it’s very cadence seems a death march, yet it is so full of facets that it is more than that, a new way of being even, as one divides things, selves, hearts into autonomous thirds–and it truly evokes the magic of threes, both sinister and shining with an unwelcome triad of faces we need to see. Thanks so much for finding the time for this, and for playing off my most beloved poet as well.

  3. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    I very much like your blackbirds and horses.

  4. Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    Inspirational..! 😀

  5. whimsygizmo Says:

    The voice this takes on is just wonderful. I love the quote, and the way you’ve taken it further.

  6. Sherry Marr Says:

    This was a very cool read. I loved imagining all the pictures you painted with words, and love the rhythm of it.


  7. Love the cadence, the colors, the odd images that pop and dance as the speaker rides her journey.

    And that wee horse is just precious.


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