photo by Tracey Grumbach

lights dim,
eyes unsteady as
he runs a quivering finger
through the condensation
that fogs up the glass skin
on the bottle of his drink,

he’s slightly canned &
i am more of earth than sky,
try to catch him with my eyes,
hold him in the soil as
he trips forward–pauses,
drinks, loses his trail–

a pulsing scar along his temple
beats the rhythm of his own war
where the birds were shot
decades ago, spitting fire,
breathing smoke, then
black– he says: “i’m more
of sky—i used to—” &
his wings flap softly–
as he leaves


over at dVerse we’re going Poetics again.. and Brian has invited Tracey Grumbach who allows us to write to her beautiful photography.. so see you over there at 3pm EST to see some more of her artwork and get inspired..


57 responses to “BlackBirds

  1. Thinking about this poem: I see someone who loves a drinker trying to keep him grounded, it doesn’t happen…he continues to drink, lives more in the past than the present, and eventually…he drinks himself to death: flaps his wings as he leaves. Don’t know if I have interpreted your meaning correctly, but it is what I ‘see.’ Have a Happy Easter, Claudia.

  2. Wow, such a scene you paint here with only a few words! I concur with Mary’s take on this. The finger on the bottle, the scar, the halting, stumbling words, the chasm between the earth and the sky and he flies away–barflies as blackbirds.

  3. i love this…a bit of a change of pace for you i think…a bit surreal…i like the play between bottled and canned…i did not take it as much with a drinker though i can see that…very clearly actually…i felt more in a conversation…and love the details you capture of him…as i said i think it captures much of him…

  4. I love these lines:
    “i am more of earth than sky”
    “beats the rhythm of his own war”

    “i’m more
    of sky—i used to— &
    his wings flap softly–-
    as he leaves”

    That’s a hard way to find out your differences in “of.”

  5. Memories can make us drink and make us fly and good luck at holding a bird to the soil–vivid picture as always Claudia, of life in surreal time.

  6. You are so articulate about encounters — map that every-fresh territory where curtains open and close with a gesture or sound. This one reminds me of an old AA adage — “booze gave me wings to fly, and then it took away the sky.” Not that drink is the issue here, but loss is. Really enjoyed, Claudia. – B

  7. Ah yes…to find the wings, the courage to fly. One of my favorite songs is Black Bird, so of course, my mind was suffering preconceived notions…but what a melody for your words.

  8. There are those of sea, those of sky, those of wind, and those of earth. Here you posit the difficulties of marrying any two. Wonderful exploration, Claudia poet.

  9. what i really like is the interplay of earth and sky, and the dynamic between you and the other. there’s a sense of sameness and difference in your natures. and history.

  10. Impressive characterization. This reminded me of a man kept to himself, except for mild interludes and breaths of present tense air, who has had his battles in the past and is reverent to the cause, whatever it was. I found it very enjoyable, a completely different take on the same photo.

  11. I like the way the bottle was humanized:
    “…the glass skin
    on the bottle of his drink”
    while the character was… birdized. His lines at the end are so powerful… He left me as astounded as you -the listener- were.

  12. More inclined to see it as a soul lost in time, Claudia! He drowned his sorrow but just! The way your rendition go is fantastic, Love it! Great write!


  13. Lovely poem!!!! I especially love the second stanza. You give a real sense of some fleeting gift, speaking to a sky dweller. What a thought!

  14. I love the mystery in this, the tragedy played off against the questions. This is one I need to read and re-read, I love the place you took this to.

  15. Excellent. This has so much power, as it leads us into mysteries suggested and invoked, leaving our imaginations to fill in the silences so well placed to guide us down paths of discovery. Of self, of darkness, these paths that strengthen us with a knowledge that there is so much to be known about what we already know.

  16. What a different and unique perspective this is… almost an out-of-body-experience, with the soul flying above looking down at the shell of the man and where his life has been and is headed.

  17. This is just gorgeous, Claudia. I read it (several times) as the story/memory of a fighter pilot. Conversation with death? Each reading gives a little more. Thank you.

  18. Such an rich and stylistic poem Claudia- your unique voice as always. Love how you painted a picture of the blackbird as this timeless character – this man- almost formed out of the very earth itself- but in ihis conversation you managed to capture his freneticism- his state of mind- bottle bound- his unfinished conversation hinting at a bird that sits and speaks one minute and then flies away in an instant

  19. Very cool Claudia. Especially the images/words used in the third stanza. Cool piece. Thanks

  20. Yep, the tragedy in the darkened life, and I didn’t even snap to the picture until I was finished with the words, so the last stanza had a very surrealistic feel to it, all the pictures in my own mind untouched except subconsciously by the photo above the words. You see so well, Claudia, what is.

  21. lovely write I believe about watching someone battle their internal demons …hope your only demon is chocolate this holiday …have a great write and thanks for sharing x

  22. “lights dim,
    eyes unsteady as
    he runs a quivering finger
    through the condensation
    that fogs up the glass skin
    on the bottle of his drink…”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Once again, your very poetic words are beautiful…[as I read your poetry imitating your Germanic accent…Tks, for sharing! deedee 🙂 ]

  23. I am SUCH a birdlover that I believe this wonderful ode honoring that injured and wonderfully surviving bird is my new favorite of yours, Claudia! Very dear to my heart is this one!

  24. Pingback: encore presentation: 2012 featured poets — Brian @bmiller007 & Claudia @cmschoenfeld from dVerse ~ Poets Pub @dVersePoets | my heart's love songs

  25. Pingback: featured poets — Claudia Schoenfeld @cmschoenfeld + #giveaway | my heart's love songs