Close Work With Print

A blackbird rose from the catastrophe of scrub,
pomp and plump of snow clattering off branches.

Its wings were flapping like a book 
flying off the shelf, feathers black and smudged

from close work with print, wingtips of words 
and birdsong slipped with ice melt and berries.

I say "Downward to darkness, on extended wings."
and the bird grimaces, because I always say that, 

because it is always "Sunday Morning" for me,
in my waking dream I wander through a poem

of coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, 
words, the fragrance of lilacs. The bird whistles: 

"Call me Wallace." This old, odd chimera of my life
made of papier mâché, an ill-matched pastiche – 

part lumbering walk, part postcards from Colorado, 
part the haunted mask I wear – laughable

my pretense of the ancient sacrifice, to arrive
at this place in the woods without gloom

or suffering – a bird rising from the snow,
its beak red with berries, testing my reality

as if I were the poem, the fabrication, 
the dithered smudge flying across a white field.

Shay’s Word Garden

14 thoughts on “Close Work With Print

  1. You always say that, and that trick never works! I loved this, Q, and can just see you sitting face to face with Heckle (or Jekyl, or Hugin and Munin) and considering each other’s presence or pretense. One will disappear, oh dear! Pewwwwww

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Interesting (at least to me) is this is not only the most “Stevensy” poem I’ve ever written (e.g., tangible imagery expressing questions of art and reality), it is the ONLY “Stevensy” poem I’ve ever written. I think somehow his vocabulary pulled me into a slipstream of his voice or such. I have always loved Stevens, but his poetics were always just so different than mine. Thanks for the cool prompt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “…but we decide which is right and which is an [a]llusion,” or something like that! Truthfully, I like the “Stevensy” poetry here. Perhaps not as much as I enjoyed the “Poundsy” stuff. It’s always good to do a change-up now and then.

    Nice poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This poem as you mention is really reminiscent of Stevens–his aura of pseudo-impenetrability, and all his graces with language. You have written a gem of nuance here–moody without being limited to mood, and full of ideas. I love “because I always say that” and ” wingtips of words/and birdsong slipped with ice melt and berries..” The best poetry always tests our reality, and you have skillfully done that here without losing one iota of that balance between function and suggestion that lifts words out of the ordinary. Anyway, Stevens is a bit of a hero of mine, and you’ve more than done him proud.

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  4. nicely written qbit, i don’t think that this is “an ill-matched pastiche” i think its really close, has all of stevens’ flavor, wandering in and out meaning and direction. i like the not-quite-awake-stumbling-into-real feel, feels grounded that way… enjoued this very much


  5. Sorry I am so late to arrive but I am here and in awe of this magnificent poem Qbit! I love the references to bird wings and flapping pages and the deep inward and outward flow of what is and is not. This stevensy and amazing jewel was worth the wait!! You have out done yourself my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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