The Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tunes without the words—
And never stops—at all—

—Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, no. 254

Hope is a horny outgrowth
of the heart, a central axis
along which you branch.
Inside, a hollow portion known
as emptiness. And a solid barb-bearing
part called the self, where
contour feathers grow—large, crude,
capable of much flapping. Surrounded
by small stunted hairlike feathers
of soft down, for insulation. When dry,
they leave a waxy powder you polish
each day with your tongue.
You dust yourself off, lick
your plumes, gaudy or plain,
it doesn’t matter. You hold them
in front of you, crooked
like the wing of a swan.

published 2004

publisher BuschekBooks

category The Thing with Feathers

Full list of Poems


Like a River Flows



< >


An Offering

Controlled Burn

No Need

April Addictions

Some Functions of Poetry

Some Functions of Snow

Digging Out

My Sweet Love


Have you started your seeds yet?

Palmer Rapids



The Thing with Feathers

Hope Rides High

Badminton and the Seven Deadly Sins

Ode to Milk

Said the River – One

Apologies 1

Left over Papadoms

Grocery Store Tulips (two versions)


First Smiles


Elegant Death


When you Love

I Wanna Fly