Terry Blackhawk was a runner up in the 1997 Marlboro Prize in Poetry for her poem, "On a Mockingbird Singing...", selected by Ellen Bryant Voigt.

On The Mockingbird Singing In The Morning In The Barrio A Few Blocks From The Boardwalk On The Beach In Venice, California

Above the bougainvillea, coming unstuck
from this stuccoed urban maze,
a mockingbird is doing the best he can
to make something from the nothing
that precedes him. The voice
climbs, tumbles, and I wonder
if he is riding or falling from
the edge of his song,
this song he doesn't own
just as a surfer's not master
of the wave, no matter
the moves. Mock soloist,
our bird creates his own company.
He's a manic one-man birdband
conducting himself in early morning excess
beyond the hanging fuchsia
whose ruby silence
is preferable, perhaps, to his cacophony
but he's at it again now, letting go
or hanging on, his wheezing
takeoff like a whip
snapping, a carnival
toy to twirl in the air--
and in fact he rises, up for a moment,
whirligig, wings a-windup,
then back to the branch
and his aphoristic repetitions,
the song gone a bit obsessive
and bizarre. And we who
grouse at his intrusions
blinking from sleep ruffled
for all we know by the latest passing
boombox--what else to do
but love the wild
array of him, how he tunes
himself up and gets it all
in, this fly-right-up clown, with his
step-right up patter, saying
towhee and titmouse, meaning meadow
and glen, whatever it is, shape it,
take it, to what (to-whee!) to what is given.

Formerly a teacher of high school English and creative writing, Terry Blackhawk lives in Detroit whereshe now works as poet-in-residence and directs InsideOut, a writers-in-schools program which she founded. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poet Lore, College English, Yankee, Passages North, and others. Her first full-length manuscript, Twilight Body and Field, is forthcoming from Michigan State Press, Lotus Poetry Series.

Copyright ©1998 Terry Blackhawk. All rights reserved.

Home   Issue 14   Issue 13   Issue 12   Issue 11   Issue 10
Issue 9   Issue 8   Issue 7   Issue 6   Issue 5