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About this poet

Jim Harrison was born on December 11, 1937, in Grayling, Michigan. He received his BA and MA in comparative literature from Michigan State University. He is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, screenplays, and more than fifteen collections of poetry, including Dead Man's Float (Copper Canyon Press, 2015), Songs of Unreason (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), and Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (with Ted Kooser) (Copper Canyon Press, 2003). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. He lived in Montana and Arizona until his death on March 26, 2016. 

 

Birds Again

A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

Used with permission by Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org

Used with permission by Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org

Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison was born on December 11, 1937, in Grayling, Michigan. He is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, screenplays, and more than fifteen collections of poetry.