L.S. Klatt, “Old World Birds”


When you talk to the bee-eaters they pretend
you are not there. You can follow them
into Madagascar & across the Mozambique
Chanel & still not register
an acknowledgment. This is sad because you
mean no harm & you have taken
great pains to mimic their trills, chuckles,
& whistles. Just to hear Darwin
speak of them, you know that the scythe
of their bills is made for the erratic
snatch of wings midflight, &, as the wings
are indigestible, they eject them. This is
not to say that bee-eaters sugar their songs
with upbeats before disgorging—far
from it. Sometimes they beat the bee
against a branch, then croak. You are
surprised that a diet of stingers yields a rain-
bow plumage, but, given one more reason
to quail, you hardly blush. The mistake
is to imagine on moonlit nights
you are one of them.

Cloud of Ink, the second poetry collection by L.S. Klatt, is one of the recipients of the 2010 Iowa Poetry Prize. Other poems in the collection include “A Sudden Unspeakable Indignation” (published in Eleven Eleven), “Ovation” (Drunken Boat), and “Crete” (Verse; along with “Cortona”).

“I’m purely a poet of organic form,” Klatt said in a recent interview. “I tend to write in blocks of text, then pattern them into lines and/or stanzas, playing the symmetrical against the asymmetrical. I like that tension. The shaping process is largely intuitive—mostly I just want to keep myself and the audience engaged.”

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4 April 2011 | poetry |