Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens



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Go School Days and College Writing

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Food
Spring 2007 Class with Paul Morris

John Damaso was in the class too. I never handed it in!
It was just a frolick, but I thought they'd think I was weird.
Not as weird as when I handed in that awful, incomprehensible
SF story Violet Black, however.


LAUGH LOUDLY MY FRIENDS!
Tom Cole





I .
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

Twenty ashen faces
Searched for answers across the banquet table
But the only moving thing
Was the fly in the General's consommé

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

Three plump sausages lay sputtering in the pan
Like the three fat fingers that the Duchess of Cornwall used
To measure out her share of the king's whiskey

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

The chef whirled the liver and herbs
A hair from his moustache
Was a small part of the pâté

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

At two minutes past two
The bacon was done
And exactly two seconds later
It was burned beyond recognition

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

I don’t know which I prefer
The Black Butte Porter or the Old Peculiar
But I’d trade a whole case of either
For a single bottle of Boston Lager

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

Popsicles filled the children’s mouths
With red dye # 40
The sticks
Clutched in their fingers
Dripped high and low
The juice
Made in the carpet
An unremovable stain

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

Oh, you think Chef Pierre is odd, do you?
Haven’t you seen Chef Burgess
Walking around
On those two bread sticks
He dares to refer to as legs?
And the feet
My God
The tiny, tiny feet!

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

I know the finest wine
Its bouquet and nose
But I know, too,
What happened last Saturday
When I had but one glass more   
Than my usual

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

When the waiter walked out of sight
It marked the edge
Of one of many puddles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

At the sight of a porterhouse
Frying in Crisco
Even the cooks at Denny’s
Would cry out in anguish

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

He drove across Yucatan
In a rented Monza
Gripped by the terror
That he should be forced to eat
At a roadside stand

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

The red post is sticking out
The turkey must be done

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

I was nauseous all afternoon
I'd been hurling
And I was about to hurl
The shepherd's pie
Lay
Like a hairy throw rug
On the
Green
Ceramic
Tiles