God Gave Safe Passage to the Animals Through His Forest of Bright Spectrums

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Yu luck/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. October’s bird is the Ring-Necked Pheasant. (You can add to this month’s open source poem here!) At Ames Public Library’s kick-off ceremony for the site, several writers shared bird-related poems. Here’s one of them.

You’re searching for some [blue bird] thing in the living room, but you’re not sure what [blue bird] it is—you woke up here, in your pajamas, holding your pee, feeling small and looking for some [blue bird] thing. Whatever it is, you can’t leave without [blue bird] it as your briefcase feels eerily light, so you check the bedroom [blue bird], the kitchen [blue bird]—you tear the whole house [blue bird blue bird] apart until your family locks you out for acting nuts. From the porch, you watch how the sun coming up shrinks the small clouds of mist wandering around the yard like stray cows—dividing them once, then again, then piff. You hear an infomercial blaring from the neighbor’s TV, but can’t make out what they’re [blue bird] selling. Is it time to scour the perimeter? Leave no stone unturned? Let’s start at the corner tavern? “You won’t find this [blue bird] thing anywhere,” says the cat coming home from the night, “but in the shadows—which are too full, too fat, of [blue bird] it, and like me, they’re sleepy,” he yawns and three azure feathers pop out his pink mouth.


Previously published in the anthology Free Radicals, American Poets Before Their First Books.

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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.