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Bruce Dethlefsen


I thought you were birds at first
I hoped you were
yellow birds red birds brown birds

the frosted leaves fall so fast
past the barren
crab apple branches

I have failed to fill
the feeder for a week
I’m sorry

how dare you survive
without me

From Unexpected Shiny Things (Cowfeather Press, 2011).
Used here with permission.



Bruce Dethlefsen is the author of five books and was Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2012. He plays drums and harmonica in the Prairie Sands Band and runs Poet Camp twice a year. Bruce volunteers writing poetry in prisons and lives in Westfield, Wisconsin. Learn more about him at


Post New Comment:
Janet Leahy:
Nice repetition of sounds, I especially like the a sound in crab, apple,branches, and your apology immediately followed by a reprimand, brings energy and fun to this piece. Thanks Bruce.
Posted 11/18/2020 04:41 PM
Tender indignation! How well Bruce pulls this contradiction off! I read and re-read with wry pleasure.
Posted 11/18/2020 10:52 AM
Lyrical, and an economy of words!!! Love it!!
Posted 11/18/2020 10:36 AM
Fun understated poem and poetically impressive bio. Excellent.
Posted 11/18/2020 09:13 AM
michael escoubas:
Like the way this poem places me "in the action," Bruce. I am one of those leaves!
Posted 11/18/2020 09:09 AM

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