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FURTHER READING
Poems about Birds
Tender Buttons [Chicken]
by Gertrude Stein
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]
by Charles Wright
Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
The Scarlet Ibis, Section VII
by Susan Hahn
A Bird came down the Walk (328)
by Emily Dickinson
A Bird in Hand
by Amber Flora Thomas
A Peacock in Spring
by Joyelle McSweeney
Albatross in Co. Antrim
by Robin Robertson
Birdcall
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Birding at the Dairy
by Sidney Wade
Birds Again
by Jim Harrison
Birds Appearing In A Dream
by Michael Collier
Black bird, red wing
by Nickole Brown
Darwin's Finches
by Deborah Digges
Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Evening Hawk
by Robert Penn Warren
Ground Birds in Open Country
by Stanley Plumly
Gulls
by William Carlos Williams
Hardware Sparrows
by R. T. Smith
Home to Roost
by Kay Ryan
Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
by Emily Dickinson
Hummingbird
by Elaine Terranova
I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins
by Noelle Kocot
If the Owl Calls Again
by John Haines
In Flight
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
In the Memphis Airport
by Timothy Steele
Interlude
by Edith Sitwell
Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
by Jack Prelutsky
Leda and the Swan
by W. B. Yeats
Leda, After the Swan
by Carl Phillips
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
My Mother Would Be a Falconress
by Robert Duncan
Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Paper Swallow
by Stanley Moss
Poet as Immortal Bird
by Ron Padgett
Red-Legged Kittiwake
by Emily Wilson
Revision in My Wife's Powder Room
by Lauren Berry
Small Study
by Emily Wilson
Song of the Owl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sympathy
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Heron
by Linda Hogan
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Nightingale
by Sir Philip Sidney
The Parakeets
by Alberto Blanco
The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe, read by Anne Waldman
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Sparrow
by Gerald Stern
The Starlings
by Jesper Svenbro
The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Yellow Bittern (An Bunnan Bui)
by Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunna, read by James Wright
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens
Three Moves
by John Logan
To a Skylark
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
To a Waterfowl
by William Cullen Bryant
White Stork
by Michael Waters
Wild Swans
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Poems About Tragedy and Grief
"My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His"
by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
Adonais, 49-52, [Go thou to Rome]
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Hamlet, Act III, Scene I [To be, or not to be]
by William Shakespeare
Against Elegies
by Marilyn Hacker
Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada
Arise, Go Down
by Li-Young Lee
Assault to Abjury
by Raymond McDaniel
Before
by Carl Adamshick
Breaking Across Us Now
by Katie Ford
Curtains
by Ruth Stone
Day of Grief
by Gerald Stern
Dear Lonely Animal,
by Oni Buchanan
December, 1919
by Claude McKay
Easter 1916
by W. B. Yeats
Eulogy
by Kevin Young
Facing It
by Yusef Komunyakaa
Fairbanks Under the Solstice
by John Haines
here rests
by Lucille Clifton
Hum
by Ann Lauterbach
I Can Afford Neither the Rain
by Holly Iglesias
I Found Her Out There
by Thomas Hardy
I measure every Grief I meet (561)
by Emily Dickinson
I Pack Her Suitcase with Sticks, Light the Tinder, and Shut the Lid
by Rob Schlegel
Imagine
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
In Louisiana
by Albert Bigelow Paine
Lycidas
by John Milton
Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai
On His Deceased Wife
by John Milton
Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Pretty Polly
by Jane Springer
Quiet Mourning
by Laura Moriarty
Requiescat
by Matthew Arnold
Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Rose Aylmer
by Walter Savage Landor
September 1, 1939
by W. H. Auden
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Stillbirth
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Surprised By Joy
by William Wordsworth, read by Susan Stewart
That This
by Susan Howe
The Dead
by Joan Aleshire
The Gaffe
by C. K. Williams
The Hour and What Is Dead
by Li-Young Lee
The Not Tale (Funeral)
by Caroline Bergvall
The Second Coming
by W. B. Yeats
The Stolen Child
by W. B. Yeats
The Widow's Lament in Springtime
by William Carlos Williams
The Words Under the Words
by Naomi Shihab Nye
To W.C.W. M.D.
by Alfred Kreymborg
Other Elegies
Allegorical Baraka
by Anne Waldman
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
By ways remote and distant waters sped (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Driven across many nations (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Dusk
by Margo Berdeshevsky
Elegy for my husband
by Toi Derricotte
Elegy in X Parts [Kafka said, A book]
by Matt Rasmussen
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
by Thomas Gray
Etta's Elegy
by Maureen Seaton
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
Friend,
by Jean Valentine
Fugue of Death
by Paul Celan
In Memory of W. B. Yeats
by W. H. Auden
Lycidas
by John Milton
Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
Suddenly
by Sharon Olds
To An Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
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Tigers

 
by Melissa Ginsburg

for Erik Lemke (1979-2012)
1.

A hummingbird flies into a window 
that looks like the sky. Everything around here

looks like the sky. The sky looks tiger striped.
They call that kind of cloud 

something. I know somebody 
who knows about clouds. I could find 

out the name. Everything around here 
has a name. 




2.

The hummingbird fell to the deck. My husband picked it up.

—What did it feel like in your hand? 
—Nothing. It felt like nothing. 
—Where is it now? 
—Gone.
—Dead? 
—Not dead. It flew away. It disappeared and it disappeared again. 




3.

Iíll tell you a joke. A hummingbird flew into a windowÖ

Iíll tell you another joke. Treachery, 
we were friends once. 




4.

In dreams the bird 
weighs more, so you can feel it

when you pick it up. So when 
it dies it seems 

like something actually happened. 
Itís a word 

bound 
around your hand and a sign 

at the stripped road. 
A mylar star on a plastic stick

tied to the sign. 
Blacktop. Post. A fat starís

wrinkles 
taut. Itís stuffed. 

Itís shining.
Thereís going 

to be a party around here somewhere.
The bird weighs nothing waits nowhere.

The sky looks like a window and it flies right through.
About this poem:
"'Tigers' is an elegy for my friend, the poet Erik Lemke, who was as sharp and funny and caring as anyone I've met. This poem is an attempt to apprehend his death, a loss so sudden and nonsensical it seemed impossible.

Here are some lines from a poem of Erik's, 'Still Life with Straw and Rags':

...in the evening, in the darkness,
dreaming of the stunned robin,
how the birdís feathers had caught
in the rings of its hands"


—Melissa Ginsburg






Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Ginsburg. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 1, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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