In the birdcage of death
the bird sits preening its flightless wing
it does not feed and
it does not look in the little mirror
sometimes it sings its sudden song
and the whole air shatters
when it stops the bars twang still
and the bird looks out of its sharpened eye
sunbeams drift through it from the window
its feathers gleam
it clenches its feet in a little dance
and a voice from somewhere says: pretty, pretty.
After Georgia O’Keefe (blue woman)
There are many like you:
woman without strings,
from the old notions of ownership.
You move in feather-light
and blaze of color,
twisting yourself into a dance
free of metric direction.
Color swirls around you,
alive with your power.
You are becoming new shape
and song—your own.
watching your intensity
like a mirror waiting to catch you,
though you are beyond mirrors.
After “Landscape from a Dream, 1936-38" by Paul Nash
It’s not that I love this dream, but I can’t get through the
mirror to the sea. The sky is a flat and painted blue, and a
huge white cloud is in the way. A pane of glass becomes
a cage. A boulder of fire creates a second, retributive
sky—blood red and near—and a lone dark gull is flying
right at me.
A frame of fear surrounds it all and I don’t know what
to do—I can’t awake, and I cannot sleep. Mirrored in
metamorphosis, I am turning to a fear myself: My own
face holds my feathered face. My arms have turned to
wings. My shoulders hurt, and my mouth is cruel. My
frozen eyes do not believe this metaphor, of which I am
both abstract mystery and indefinable clue.
Hooray for the
fine wind and time
for old movies on TV
James Cagney young
a feather-hatted blonde by his side.
back at the window and
the brisk Canadian wind
in the frantic poplar tree
my mother getting drunk and sad…
her hurts and pains…
with pills for each…
she takes them all.
my strange and native land…
she’ll never cook tonight,
She talks and weeps…
so many yesterdays to grieve…
to worry for…
she does them all.
She’ll never cook tonight.
(first pub. in Red Start)
NOW THAT THE CAT
Now that the cat
has come to
live with us
in our tame house,
from my red rug
all such things
and the red
from the catnip
THIS LONELY LOVE
It was a far-fetched thing, this lonely love,
made of feathers and cold moonlight,
distant moans from old woes.
How easily they conjured
something to use
Early blames! New contagions!
something simple to believe in—falling
into old patterns because they were familiar.
let me become the fragment—you—the one I remember as
collage—the one made of this and that of life.
Let me be that texture, that wing, that disappearing thought.
Feather. String. Worry-stone. Cloth.
THE METALLIC BIRD
After "Clockwork Jay" by Riusuke Fuahori
Tickety-tock , tickety-tock
goes the cute little
It has two wheels
and sturdy metallic feathers,
and a steely eye and beak.
It has a little arrow on its neck
and a winding-circle
fastened where its wings
can open when it’s wound.
It is painted seven lovely colors.
It blends into everything.
It is expensive.
It is beautiful
It can even sing.
THE RANGE OF SHADOWS
Let us comprehend the light,
the long range of shadows,
the benefits of doubt,
the lack of glory.
count that are as
the brief measurement
of birds in miraculous flight—
our ache of envy?
Let us hide our wings
beneath our cloaks
and cling together
in a dance of exhaustion,
feather to feather, and beak to beak.
our abstract singing—
circular and tinged with a sad color—
ignorant of doubt . . .
that praise in spite of us . . .
that comfort and yearn . . .
even after finding the silence unreceptive.
SOMETHING CALLED LOVE
At first it was feathers that pulled from
her arms and she wondered if she
would ever fly again.
~ ~ ~
Her shoulders remembered and old
weight which she ignored.
It felt like rain.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her fine poetic and photographic musings on our Seed of the Week: Feathers! Our new Seed of the Week is Turning the Key. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for more SOWs than you can shake a feather at.
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