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Advice from the Grackle

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the seven songs

After joy raises you into the stratosphere,
ride earth’s colors as you wheel down.

Fear backs you into a cave,
only then do you cackle and hiss.

Curse at a tornado and it might curse back.

Why kick pebbles on your enemy?
You will die without burying him.

The ascent out of despair
must be steady, slow, or your lungs
will explode, your blood boil.

Which is wisest: to endure hunger
or waddle among wolves?

Warn those you love when the predator
approaches. Screech loudest when you
are the predator.

Source: Poetry (October 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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Advice from the Grackle

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  • After receiving her undergraduate degree in Spanish and French from Brigham Young University, poet, playwright, and editor Susan Elizabeth Howe turned her focus to creative writing, earning an MA from the University of Utah and a PhD from the University of Denver.
    Influenced by Elizabeth Bishop, Howe’s poems tend to find their source in observation rather than personal experience, and often explore women’s lives and the natural world through the lens of her Mormon faith. In a 2009 interview with Mormon Artist, Howe noted, “Imagination, as I have experienced it, can be part of and lead to spiritual growth, and imagination is the natural province of the poet.”
    Howe is the author of the poetry collections Salt (2013) and Stone Spirits (1997), which won the Charles Redd Center Publication Prize and the Association for Mormon Letters Award in Poetry. Her poetry has been anthologized in Great and Peculiar Beauty: A Utah Reader (1995)...

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