This is from the book of poems:
'Bowl of Water' (2004) Bottom Dog Press.
These two photos were taken yesterday,
laying down, looking up at a dandelion.
carrying a suitcase filled with birds. After the cold winter
air of Lima, Ohio, the sudden warmth of the red planet
hit him like a wave. He wore his best tan searsucker suit,
he swung the suitcase lightly as he stepped onto Mars.
This was his second trip to Mars. The first time,
half a year ago, he’d been struck by the bare violet sky,
awfully empty. He took it upon himself to change that.
When he went back to America, he grabbed every bird
he could, collecting pigeons, sparrows, starlings, crows
and more. They weren’t just random birds picked from
trees and telephone wires, he brought only the birds
mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare. That was
Edward’s mission, the reason for this second trip to
The elevator door slid closed behind him, he
walked across the sand toward a hill. His alligator
shoes slid into the loose soil.
At the top of the climb, he stopped. This was
where it would start. He pictured a statue of himself
placed here, and the birds that would land on him.
He opened the suitcase and there were the Earth
birds, dehydrated and kept in packets.Annotated "Shakespeare's Birds":
Myrtle Beet was done making a cardboard violin.
Nobody was there to ask her about it, the long hours it
took to construct and paint and string. While it rested
like an elegant duck on her counter top, she could admire
it and breathe all the satisfaction she needed. What a
marvelous and perfect imitation, she had even detailed
the wood grain, she knew anybody looking at it would
never know. She smiled then at that. Yes, there was one
who would know. Soon enough.
She reached and pulled the heavy black telephone
across closer to her. A trembling finger found the numbers
and dialed them. It hadn’t been easy keeping arthritis and
old age at bay while she built the violin.
“Hello,” she said when the ring turned into him.
“Hello Leonard, it’s Myrtle Beet. How are you dear?” In
the pause, the clock in the kitchen wall tocked. “Well,” she
said, “Why don’t you come over here. I have a present
for you.” She smiled. “Yes, alright. See you soon.” She
hung up and watched the violin, pleased with herself.
In a minute, the apartment door started to scratch
into a couple of knocks.
Myrtle stood up slow, straightened her dress and
the apron she wore. She glanced at the violin again, she
could almost hear it already.
She put her hand around the glass diamond door
knob and turned.
The man who spent all of his time in the apartment
next door stood there. He was frail and gray from lack
of sun and wind and rain, he was Leonard the cardboard
“that old Sinbad movie with the witch "Zenobia" in it.
She took some potion that transformed her into a seagull
to do some spying and shenanigans, but then some oaf
knocked over her little precious vile of potion and there
was not enough to transform her all the way back to her
human form and she was left with a seagull foot.
She moaned "NOT ENOUGH, NOT ENOUGH!!!"
as the camera slowly panned down to reveal the
hideous seagull foot. That image haunts me to this day.”
Which made me remember when Ray Harryhausen
came to my home town a few years ago. Harryhausen
is the creator of those marvelous creatures from the Sinbad
movies, and many more besides. I would watch them on
the Saturday afternoon Sci-Fi Theater on Channel 11.
I made Mr. Harryhausen a cardboard key to the city
shaped like his Ymir creature (from 20 Million Miles
To Earth) and painted it gold with welcoming lettering.
When I handed it to him he said, “Ah, my old friend…”
After the rain
when puddled land
is spilled out clouds
touched on ground
we’ll go from each to each
as if they’re seas
to be named
or a watergiant’s footsteps
skipped in a game