Poet Jane Hirshfield said "... the feeling I have about poem-writing (is) that it is always an exploration, of discovering something I didn't already know.  Who I am shifts from moment to moment, year to year.  What I can perceive does as well.  A new poem peers into mystery, into whatever lies just beyond the edge of knowable ground."

I bring a different poem to the writing classes each week, not only to inspire but to introduce new poets to the group members.

The Panic Bird by Robert Phillips

just flew inside my chest. Some
days it lights inside my brain,
but today it's in my bonehouse,
rattling ribs like a birdcage.

If I saw it coming, I'd fend it
off with machete or baseball bat.
Or grab its scrawny hackled neck,
wring it like a wet dishrag.

But it approaches from behind.
Too late I sense it at my back --
carrion, garbage, excrement.
Once inside me it preens, roosts,

vulture on a public utility pole.
Next it flaps, it cries, it glares,
it rages, it struts, it thrusts
its clacking beak into my liver,

my guts, my heart, rips off strips.
I fill with black blood, black bile.
This may last minutes or days.
Then it lifts sickle-shaped wings,

rises, is gone, leaving a residue --
foul breath, droppings, molted midnight
feathers. And life continues.
And then I'm prey to panic again.

~ from Poetry 180, Selected by Billy Collins 
 (Random House, 2003)


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