under glass: at an exhibition

Black hallways are rooms in basements
Beneath the clothes and jewelry
Of old days
And jade dancers mocking window
A pigeon cannot see the darling crumb
His eyes lost to concrete dust
Prokofiev broke off the retina
Like a bow beneath remorse

Loaves of bread planed
By snapdragons, their mouths gape
Too soft now to bite at the news

Now alone in a room of dead
Birds, shoes, purses
Ghosts of giggling children blue with
No sound of oppressive observation
No watching this funeral please

Kitten mummified; the ribbons of immortality
Unwrap in spirals of time-edged
Long ago
The diamonds continue in an upward path
Whiskers still feeling the edges of time

The door warns you of this impending sense
The walls whispers in their
Flagrant subtle colour
The bowl gathers the words in a bind, a spell
To protect a foetus
From 1900 to 1960 they embalmed Egypt
In a forgotten camera the waters stir

Say hello to spring for me in the ink used to
Keep fresh the dead
And to letter the posters
As circus rings turn to fire
Arterial, chemical
Solvol removes the clots
(The Frigid Fluid co. of Chicago enters quietly
But slams the door behind and quickly
Paints it red. I have lost Pablo
To infinity in a bottle on a paper
Advert while an elephant chases
Its partners tail the blue cloud descends
Clashing with red
The world stains itself purple my nails are
Full of purple
My eyes are full of purple
My veins exhume and expire the purple.)

Under glass crystal purses, slippers, balls
Echoes from fragility cliffs
Magnified lucite grins, leather cracks and a smile
Metal grapes are welded to the rhinestone vines
But what could you hold in a see-through purse
 the embalmed foetus, the purple ring – the fire?
Shadows on ghost faces, my face in a glass lid
The nonexistent component I am not in a bell
Jar I am a shadow – my earrings
Mimic grapes and fairytale remnants
As though they know something – earrings animate, girl still.

I take off my shoes to feel the tingle in
Hardwood floors, dead objects speaking in
Subway passing under – like dead worlds six feet below
I pushed the door lightly and it took over for me

Baby boots, pearls and glass buttons
A bra partly anticipating –
The nipple shield of sterling silver on guard
The aesthetic of inversion
The corset binding tighter tighter
Ti – ghter—ti—the diaphanous within is pinched
Swan Lake’s surface broken 1897
The silk unwinds and the nickel drops.

Cornucopia of chemists’ darling bottles
For headache, Flesher’s Tonic
No sip from the glass – the tiniest one
The size of a plum
Purple in thigh and eye
Toenail to eyelash the seeping begins
We must remove the clots

Lethal baby bottles
Microbes swim in silken drink
Green blue pink turquoise
As Shrry glasses from grandmother white-haired
With tar chair, black glasses
Small bookcase of must and a river
Along the garden

Dog skulls point teeth at me --threat and idiocy
Their eyes absent they do not know where to bite
I am safe for the time that eyes and light mean anything

Albino house mice bring me small skulls
Red squirrel muskrat white, flashed taken to ghosts
Before birth

One small skull floating in an infinite sea of black velvet
No refraction of light
Densest sea

This gibbon skeleton clings to the tree but the tree is also dead: little rib cage like mine
Imprisoning air
His knees are giving out
One long pelvis and headless
He is almost dead, speaking to me
The light strikes me from behind and
my ghost is blinded by the red edge of my hair
An aura
I have no eyes
Mammal skulls 0-58
Bats and chipmunks

A child says ‘look they are sleeping’
He is too old to be fooled he appeases
And scuffs the floor with sneaking shoes
Tiny jaws separate from tiny head plates
As if speaking difficult words both
Buried under this black and purple backdrop

The small brown bat skulls translucent
Second from end slightly askew
He looks at me out of the other, empty, eye socket:
The rebels always manage to find me, pass on the message from

50 years ago

a baseball cap digs at the glass box
its courtisan asks ‘why is this all here’
she missed the writing on the wall. Must have.

This is no school house no temple mood whiteness
Stillness the final sleep

Snow geese eyes slam shut
You must sleep now – subway quakes will fell you quick as a blink
Days not decades ago….feathers fresh clean
White from transformation transfiguration
Migration to a white continent
Duck billed platypus on white wood
Skeleton crowded waiting for the last supper
Rib cage sucked in – waiting to exhale

This bird had osteoporosis
A girl laughs in that stupid way people do
When afraid
Holes in the understanding
Mesh bone pieces slip through blood drips
Purple into marrow and erupts with lava
Core of Earth eats at the centre of creation
Bartering, dealing and wheeling and reeling

Snowy owl my father the owl named for
Him the Christmas fire the sharp beak that flew through a dream of mine.
Behind eyes all lilac and ears closing to sharp
Women and their colonial thoughts erupting
From juvenile nubile mouths

The turtles come up for air, salted, dusty, old, tired, rippling, listing through the water

The tree swallow twined his straw and white feathers and spilled the
Plowed snow over
Ghost eggs. (the turtle returns to salt sea,

The swans lie head to the side, a pair of shoes
Of pearl and feathers, a last gasp
The ptarmigans cry towards me; eyes rolled back into their heads, beaks pointing
To the ceiling ptarmigan of sky, thurnder gods
12 ptarmigans

pheasant peacock, sparrow, finch, gliding
on their backs all white as snow
one red glass eye
he arches towards me
weeping blood.
I don’t know this
Blood of red speak to me in purple
Sparrow, I will carry you
Home in my pocket where
It is warm as prehistoric oceans

They hide their delicacy and wrinkles, their stitches
All willow and one rock
White of heart and eye
A woman in ivory pantsuit an dflowered shopping bag
Does not feel on the brink of a glass cage
She stares into the (pitiful) boxes seeing one red
Eye “how clever”

The right, yes, hooded hides just such an eye
Every night

The canary’s feet are tied together – white string
He has been kissed by orange
Many lips of sun beneath that hood
Sensory organs gather by the nose and spread
Out – a grid search for vulnerability
I see
Ivory pantsuits are dangerous, bulls eye
For bow and arrowed walls of brown-purple
Purple-black, black-brown the eye
Of such an alluring first love a Paris

The evening grosbeak brings faint green and yellow
Dusk to the room fooling the death mash
Fooling all ‘ovary on left testes on right’
It quietly waits recognition or relief from
The bottles of circus perfume
Embalming the two-in-one

The walking skeletons have lost their beaks
(blind mice tailors)
circle circle circle chasing each others
spines like elephants in the centre ring
blue from exhaustion
funeral of sense
you can hear the quack of bones float by

albino porcupine supine, nose to nose
paws beneath chins staring into love forever

lepus articus fluffs his fur over his shoulder
glancing back as Holly Golightly
ears forward, whiskers out

albino beaver on the island of his skull
oatmeal-coloured, ears buried in the wreckage
tail flaps behind him like a smile

Coprolite white 50 million years old fossil dung
Too much noise “You can’t shoot that
With a shotgun” Dad days to son
The room is filled to ceiling with death
The shotgun could not part
Its mass, walk away

Sit. Good dog. Skeleton guarding eternal

Kissin gnoise too much I cannot say hello
And goodbye a proper burial exhibition
Some “tsk!” from behind
Old man with red eyes and a cowl of night
They steal my goodbye time, these angels of
Subways and museums.
They steal my silence—white

The arctic hare calls ‘follow me’
Bone and sinew tethered to one another
Two teeth remain, fierce
Closed eyes, sewn shut, bulge
Tips of ears black. He heard the sneaking
Hood and red eyes before his fall
He was dipped in a bit of fire
Or perhaps his own speed

Reconstructed wainscoting, wallpaper, doors
Nothing remaining white and priceless

Air hissing from a small hole – cybercrickets
Scold for my wondering
A blue flash in the corner – new ghost – the shuffling of feet

I return to spring – white and charcoal
Hissing psshing no eyes to look
Tiny blue cups trimmed with flowers overflow
With midnight. Angel-twins a wooden doll
Black hair – I used to have her. I
Am not sure where she has gone
Death in a cool calm fashion may be sewn her
Satin to feather
Hawk to ptarmigan
Enemy to enemy – I still lie here underglass
My purple skin is white
Was white all along
I am stuffed, sewn
Guarded by dog skeleton
As they yell “are you
Supposed to be quiet?”
Mute Cygnus olor; eyes open ears hut, black marble I see
I shake the glass, glossy in places and very old
I kiss him goodbye the guardian
Of 650
To be dismantled in two days
The walls I have fallen in love with
Will collapse
Me beneath this cage – rib, glass
Pearl, crystal
Violet, lilac
Time stands
Not still
But almost.

In their eyes
Small, fading
Towards the stairs

(a response to Spring Hurlbut’s exhibit “The Final Sleep”)


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