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American Life in Poetry: Mockingbird

I like birds, and poems about birds, and several years ago I co-edited an anthology of bird poems called The Poets Guide to the Birds. I wish Judith Harris had written this lovely description of a mockingbird in time for us to include it, but it's brand new. Harris lives in Washington, D.C.


I can hear him,

now, even in darkness,

a trickster under the moon,

bristling his feathers,

sounding as merry

as a man whistling in a straw hat,

or a squeaky gate

to the playground, left ajar

or the jingling of a star,

having wandered too far

from the pasture.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Dana Gioia, whose most recent book of poetry is Interrogations at Noon, Graywolf Press, 2001. Poem reprinted from Poetry, September, 2010, by permission of Dana Gioia and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.