The Nemesis Bird


The airplane thunders with my nemesis, the blue jay,

A stowaway bromia in the overhead bin.

What quirk in space, dear phantasmagoric hen,

Caused you mid-flight to stylishly apparate,

Following me back from home, frightening the stewardess?


The nemesis bird is the scholarly term

For the amateur ornithogue’s ivory whale.

I couldn’t catch a glimpse of your sapphire crest,

Blue babe, in Milwaukee where I baited you with suet.

I waited on my porch; your warble haunted sunset.


How sad how you shuffle from junction to junction

You fluted from a breast of vermiculated glass.

I told you that drifters find home in transition

And that I’d appreciate a little less sass

From you- dare I say it- you glorified parakeet.


Back to the nightmare at 40,000 feet

I glimpse the blade of a blue-grey wing

Twaying a haphazard way into the cockpit.

The passengers are clutching the back of seats

In front of them. The airplane wavers. Will we make it?

Alarms sing.


So it is. The fuselage, destined to flame.

My jubilant death births a little sister sun.

And finally, suspended above the lake, I reclaim

My estate in the fire and become undone.


I burn, and I burn. My nighttime sunlight lifts

the curtain of twilight to render transparent

The ink in the midnight, feather-edging dusk

The sun-and-moon sky illuminated

with a soft brush.


As I fall into the lake it occurs to me

Perhaps I am stranded at the bottom a well

And the moon is the hospital-bright light slowly filtering

From the world above.

How soothing it would be


To watch a child let go of his balloon

And rise to the moon-door

In a strange reverse of gravity.

To him I’d like to ask:

Does the moon have a moon?


Footnote to 'The Nemesis Bird' (A): Blue Babe


I rent a way home

Shadowing the in-craft lights.

The city in a cape

Of November red.


I follow the sun around the house.

Greenhorned and peaked and revvying.

I’m at home, at a distance.


It’s taken a while

To give up on light-houses

But keep up with the ceremony.


Now we’ve got it figured out.

Wrap my antlers with Christmas lights

To make of me


An Icarus,

Thanksgiving’s bone-dry

Bowl in my hips.


I take my sister to a movie.

Ten dollars and some change.

Outside the theater we watch a balloon


Diffuse into sky

Next to the new moon



And it vanishes.

But I am reasonably sure

Somewhere it is gliding and

Dauntless. A blue babe. 



Footnote to 'The Nemesis Bird' (B): Inventory of the Bottom of Lake Michigan (on birch bark)


water, sand, rocks, fish, dead fish,

garbage, kelp, the floating head

of a decapitated chihuahua.

important: in that order.

nothing beached, all tidal.

by the moon. allow me to elaborate.

consider the petrified driftwood vaguely

resembling one of the fifty states

in a far-out, planetarian way,

a spiral staircase ten stories tall,

the empty of the moon, one hunka suet,

a crumbling well-stone, one bronzed turret,

one hive (of two), a mason jar of honey glue,

a waterlogged headband (hers)

with plush reindeer antlers,

an ashen bit of grey fluff,

american spirits, my fuselage



Footnote to 'The Nemesis Bird' (C): Heartland


Cover the quivering cup behind the collar bone

In the park I think joggers know more than I do.

$10.76 buys me a pack of opposite-jogging. 

There’s no hurry home is a fuselage in my chest.

I burn cigarettes underwater, one by one, scattering ash.

The sun follows me around the house.

By now the entire moonland of Wisconsin brings to mind

An empty movie theater parking lot.