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July 4, 2023

Red-Winged Blackbirds

Barks and cries ring,   

rising as we glide

in clear-skied glades,


ebbing as we land in reeds… 

Being branded a glib gander,

a sleek-black, red-banded drake,  


belies a wild lea’s dangers: 

We learn being 

gland-laden and wile-winged 


in a swale is an ideal 

grace, garnering a range 

we can reign—  


dense weeds and sand-crags 

we can claw in— 

as we bleed naked 


need, and seek answers 

silken-barbed, sable girls bare 

in a briar’s silence 


beside a wide, green-edged lake.

We are wise. 

Wielding sinew, we slake


desire and breed. Sire and raise babes.

Dredge grain. Glean glee. Care.

Abide… Sing… 


NOTE:“Red-Winged Blackbirds” is an 'In-Titled Poem', the author’s invented poetry form, composed exclusively of the letters appearing in its title, with no letter occurring within any individual word in the poem more times than it does in its title

by Stephanie L. Harper

Stephanie L. Harper grew up in Northern California, earned a BA in English and German from Grinnell College in Iowa, an MA in German from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA from Butler University in Indianapolis. She is the proud mom of two extraordinary humans whom she raised to adulthood in Oregon, and she now lives in Indiana with the world’s most adorable husband and cat. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Red Wheelbarrow, Vox Populi, The Night Heron Barks, The Dodge, Laurel Review, Crab Creek Review, Taos Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere.

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