All the Other Lights

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Ealancheliyan s/Noun Project

Iowa Bird of Mouth is a yearlong, online crowdsourced poetry project created by Jennifer L. Knox honoring a different Iowa bird each month. (You can add to this month’s open source poem here!) Knox kicked off her project last weekend at the Ames Public Library, as part of this year’s Maximum Ames Music Festival, where several writers shared bird-related poems. Here’s one of them.

The hawk perched on the hand of a Christ-
on-the-cross-shaped stoplight pole’s an eyeful
ring—feathers pale as the prairie it’s married.
Earth falls in all ways away from it. No thing’s
invisible: tinkle sprinkled around a burrow’s
buried door: ultra ultraviolet. Mouseketeers
with peeps too low for stethoscopes are loud
as screeching brakes in the traffic under its feet.
The speed cars go is not really time in its eyes.
It knows, or learned, that’s fake—some unseen
joker loop-dee-looping a laser pointer dot.
We’re blind to all the other lights winking away
out there. A gray rabbit loping over dirty snow
eclipses aurorae at both poles and rainbows.

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The New York Times Book Review said Jennifer L. Knox's new book, Days of Shame and Failure, "hits, with deceptive ease, all the poetic marks a reader could want: intellectual curiosity, emotional impact, beautiful language, surprising revelation and arresting imagery." Jennifer is the author of four books of poems. Her work has appeared four times in The Best American Poetry series as well as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and American Poetry Review. She teaches at Iowa State University and is the curator of the Iowa Bird of Mouth project.