Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 15,000 daily subscribers. Over 7,000 archived posts.

Sam Hamill: Nightingales of Kifissia

An evening in Kifissia, a taverna

after the botanical garden,

now more than thirty years ago,


the nightingales, hundreds,

the sound of nightingales through it all.

And me feeling terribly alone.


Ten years later, walking with my new wife

through the teeming streets of Tokyo,

the convocations of jungle crows,


loud, rude, but sounding

happy, happy as I was—

for a little while…


Then, ten years ago, my wife

feeding sparrows at her feet

in a Buenos Aires plaza, speaking


softly of my life after her death

by cancer. So much grief in me

that I found no question


and no answer. She laughed and said,

“You’ll have to find yourself

a hottie,” and fed


the bird on our table and it hopped

right into her hand. “You see?”

she said. “Love is everywhere.”


After years of mourning,

I was awakened one dawn

to the sound of doves


above the empty streets of Paris.

Grown old, infirm, I felt

my heart grow young again,


remembering there is

so much meaning to touching

a hand, a cheek, across a little table,


what it means to speak

intimately of cities and streets,

to tell of how the sparrows eat


in Buenos Aires, and how,

in Kifissia, the nightingales sing

away my grief. While she I barely knew


made coffee, singing softly,

I said nothing

while I thought these things.

Copyright 2018 The Estate of Sam Hamill. From After Morning Rain published by Tiger Bark Press. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the publisher.


Sam Hamill (1943-2018) grew up on a Utah farm. He was Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin. (photo: Ian Boyden)

3 comments on “Sam Hamill: Nightingales of Kifissia

  1. Noel Canin
    February 13, 2022

    What a brave and tender poem. makes my heart open.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jfrobb
    February 28, 2019

    Every time I read one of his poems, I sigh. Touched in a place where there are no words.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on February 28, 2019 by in Most Popular, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 15,744 other subscribers

Blog Stats

  • 4,648,653 hits


%d bloggers like this: