Thirteen Ways (after Wallace Stevens and Joni Mitchell)

crow #2s

Did you know?  Was it you
who sent Crow?  Black wings
swallowed by the sky

I had time and seasons
rising to meet me
like trembling in my bones,

like Icarus ascending
on beautiful foolish arms

There's a crow flying # if I flew

Crow and I
are not one–
but we are together in this
cosmos, on this earth.

I do not know myself
and yet I know of the intersections
of that unknown self
with the call to attention
that is Crow.

apolcalyptic crow 2s

My mind is busy
with trivial things.
The shadow of a cry
spills everything out
waiting for the return
of listening, watching.

O ragged soul
why do you take flight?
Do you not see the trees?
They are returning from the dead
again and again.

I know many words
and the images that accompany them.
But I know too
that Crow lives deeper and wider
than what I know.

crow tree close up s

Diving diving diving diving.
There is no bottom no top
no inside or out.

At the sight of Crow
resounding the light
the layers reveal
their chorded songs.

spiral crows 2s

I walk these streets
in oblivion,
trying to escape
the fear of the known
by making up stories
that rearrange my life.

I hear my fate turn turn turn
how many crows?

13 blackbirds s

Always standing in the doorway
like Janus—neither and both–
cursed and charmed
Crow laughs—he knows
I have a dream to fly.

crow #1s

Brendan at earthweal asks us this week to think about the nature of poetry. I first encountered Wallace Stevens and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” in high school and it remains my poetic touchpoint more than 50 years later. But equally important to my connection with poetry was music–first, traditional folk music, and then the whole crop of singer-songwriters that emerged from the folk revival. I love Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”, but “Hejira” has always resonated with me most of all. The form of this poem is based on Stevens, but the spirit and italicized words are taken from Joni and from my own encounters with Crow, a master shaman.

I have not been posting much, and will probably be mostly absent for the next month or 6 weeks–I’m moving (again). But this is good news! I will have a dedicated work space once again, and a real kitchen. I knew the last 2 moves were temporary, but I thought both moves before that would be the last one–so I’m making no predictions. But I’m planning to be there for awhile.

31 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways (after Wallace Stevens and Joni Mitchell)

  1. What a wonderful journey through your poetic musings. The art really appeals to me – particularly the images superimposed on map like imagery – I was working with similar ideas yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. :::applause::: what a wonderful deep blue cascade that suddenly bursts forth into hope. Congratulations on your move. Sounds like a more user-friendly space for you. Will be thinking of you and looking for you here and there, my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always liked that album best too. May this be next move be an ideal one for you, and hopefully not too far, as the crow flies. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An exquisite marriage of influences into one multifaceted narrative. I love the introduction of a foundational poem like “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” finds current in Joni’s jazzy stanzas (I loved that concert with Jaco Pastorious, Pat Matheny, Lyle Mays and Michael Brecker) and updraft with your takes in word and image. What a wild brimming nature. Magnificent. Hope the move goes smoothly and congrats on a decent work space! Keep it coming! – Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brendan. That was a good lineup for Joni. I’ve used this poem before as a skeleton form. It works well for many kinds of meditations.

      I am indeed looking forward to getting my drawing table into its own room, not to mention not having paints and paintings all over the couch and coffee table!


  5. I love this blending of art, music and poetry to tell of your encounters with the mysterious, shamanic Crow. Good luck with the move. I am no stranger to such regular changes and not daring to hope for any kind of permanence, but I wish you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ingrid. I counted them up and I think this is my 21st move. and that’s with 30 years (although 3 different apartments) in the same building when I was raising my children. I’m sure Crow will follow me wherever I go!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your birds and you have an affinity with the crow bird. You’d love watching the crows here, real gangsta birds, mobbing anything they don’t like the look of.
    I think my favourite painting is the crows wheeling in their tight blue orbits.
    Funny, I’m writing about Icarus today.


  7. This was so totally breathtaking to read. Absolutely beautiful: “Crow lives deeper and wider than what I know” and “Crow knows I have a dream to fly”. Spectacular. I love the 13 Ways format. And your artwork is, as always, the perfect complement! May your move go well. I am newly in my current place and the move was transformative. Hope yours is too.


  8. You are Crow. This series tops everything I’ve read by you. And of course well wishes with the move. Truly hope it’s a long one. By the way, my ATCs haven’t arrived by you? I’ve heard from everyone else. If they haven’t I’m going to make some more and send them to the new address. Perhaps I’ll just make some more anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Petru. I’ve a long experience with all these influences.

      Sadly, they never did. I’ve been having trouble with postcards and the mail–I sent my daughter a valentine that just arrived, even though we both live in NYC! Another I sent her never did show up. I’ll send you the new address, maybe it will prove more reliable.


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