The Names of Birds

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-11-07
  • Publisher: Sherman Asher Pub
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A nuthatch walking perpendicular down a tree, "dressed to kill," the hydraulic lift of the sand hill cranes' legs at take-off, the song of the vireo. Perhaps birders are a special species but they also include many of us, who if not trained to binoculars, are still stopped in our tracks at a flickering wing in our peripheral vision.In this latest collection of poems, Tom Crawford lends his keen sense of observation and resonant language to the wonder and evocative nature of birds in all their multiplicity. Here are a hundred pages of remarkable poetry, poems, which, in their accessibility and lyrical celebration, establish man's essential connection with birds and the natural world. As he says in his prologue, "We are spiritual animals. When we forget this essential truth, we invite calamity." These poems are offered like prayers-as if by naming the thing- like Shackleton planting a flag at the north pole -the poet stakes a claim for birds, and by extension the planet. His poems sing an ancient truth: to lose our sense of wonder is to lose ourselves.What makes THE NAMES OF BIRDS unique is the balance the poet strikes between fear and hope, mystery and wonder. This he achieves by telling us a story in poetry of his own beginnings as a boy discovering birds and their magical place in his young life, a story readers of all ages can relate to. Through his evolution to maturity-- his journey from Michigan, to southern California, the Pacific northwest, Manhattan, New Mexico and Asia- China, Korea - his writing becomes infused with Eastern thought and a sense of mysticism. A book for birders and serious readers of poetry alike.

Author Biography

Tom Crawford is the author of five previous books of poetry, and the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, Fore Word Book of the Year, the Oregon Book Award for Poetry (Lauds), and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. David James Duncan is known for his best-selling novels, The River Why and Tie Brothers K which was a NY Times NOTABLE BOOK in 1992.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 11
It's Such a Relief to Want Lessp. 17
For the Certain Dark Daysp. 18
Wingp. 19
Cowbirdp. 22
The Toll Birds Takep. 24
Family: Troglodytidaep. 26
To Make an Owl Make a Poemp. 28
Water Ouzelp. 30
The Objective Case of Whop. 31
I'm Sixty-twop. 33
The Enthusiastp. 34
Bushtitp. 35
Bobcat Bitep. 36
Steel Cutp. 39
Going Outp. 40
Birdersp. 42
Where the Country Goes Wrongp. 44
Christopher Columbus Discovers the Tar Sands of Albertap. 46
Outsider Artp. 48
Wasn't My Arm a Wing?p. 51
All the Birds Are Herep. 53
Harrietp. 55
The Morandi Gazep. 57
Great Wordp. 61
Companion to a Loonp. 63
Heavy Liftingp. 64
Gray Lodgep. 65
Haifa Buddhap. 66
Crop Circlesp. 67
Release at Netarts Bayp. 75
Roosevelt's Diaryp. 77
What's Christmas to a Birdp. 81
Spotter Scopep. 83
Ramp. 85
Pigeon Guillemotp. 86
Crack Cornp. 87
Redwingp. 88
Am I My Feet?p. 89
"Tender Your Resignation"p. 90
Prayerp. 91
Bird Walk in Chinap. 93
Wu Weip. 95
Arrhythmiap. 99
The Names of Birdsp. 101
It Hands Out the Goldp. 103
Feederp. 104
Not Being a Godp. 105
On the Back Side of a Cemetery in Santa Fe, NMp. 108
One Bird Works for a Whilep. 109
Yellow-breasted Chatp. 111
The Chinese Might Say, There Is No Tea in Youp. 113
In Order to Let the Soul Out Soonerp. 114
Cellop. 116
To Remember, Again, What's Goodp. 118
Cracklep. 120
Raptorp. 122
The President's Last Speechp. 124
What Lastsp. 126
To Go Very Softlyp. 127
The Pie Is Nowp. 129
Ravenp. 130
The Spillp. 132
Ownershipp. 133
Bosque del Apachep. 135
Canaryp. 137
The Good Red Roadp. 138
Acknowledgmentsp. 140
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


WINGWhen I was eleven/I found a black wing,/just one wing,/ on our road./I was a loner./Shy. Afraid a lot./ For a long time/I kept it in my pocket./If I was really nervous/I'd take it out/ and fan it open/like a deck of cards./Or I'd throw it up/in the air like it was/ a whole bird/when a flock/ of whistling/blackbirds/flew over./The feathers/ glowed green,/all ten of them/if I held them/up to the sun/and turned it/ just right./After a while/I wore it/ around my neck,/with a white string/ tied to the bone./I'd only take it off/when there was a bully/ around./Then one day/my dad looked/ at me,/ and told me/ I was making/ too much of it./Where the water/spilled over the weir/in the canal/behind our farm,/I let it go. A swirl/ in the current/by the bank caught/ the white string/and my feather,/pulling them out/past the snake grass/and into the fast water./ At the time/it seemed alright/ to me./The water/was a comfort./My wing/ was going/ somewhere/I believed/to a better life./

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