Saturday, June 2, 2018

The City Of Concrete Birds

In the city of concrete birds,
shoulders lately blessed by a lover's face
--an egg on her tongue, feathers in corona around her eyes--
bear risk as heavy as Sisyphus' tears.

In Paris, the paradise of concrete birds,
tablets are struck from the hands of poets in cafes.
Hats must be sturdy,
utility workers must brim in stadiums,
never resting.

Every morning, I leave you without leaving.
I wear a dress of twigs and string,
perpetuating the world;
my bones double helixed
 from Billie Holiday records and plaster,
I am a nest for concrete birds.

We must be careful, as we promenade.
The Luftwaffe are old leaves blowing,
but when we think of each other,
what to say,
how much to lie,
which tender sensibilities to spare,

Waiters in doorways open their lips to birth air raid sirens.
The concrete birds select our skulls,
without pity or malice
 landing in our destruction like swans in summer,
at home there,
symbols of love lifted by our obliteration.
_______

for Kerry's "Camera FLASH!"

 


13 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

WOW! I love "I leave you without leaving." And "I am a nest for concrete birds." How do you do this? A conmstant amazement. LOVE "The Luftwaffe are old leaves blowing." And the swans in summer. Gorgeous.

Kim Russell said...

A fabulous poem, Shay, in its serenity. But my favourite lines have to be:
'my bones double helixed
from Billie Holiday records and plaster,
I am a nest for concrete birds';
'The Luftwaffe are old leaves blowing';
and
'Waiters in doorways open their lips to birth air raid sirens.'

annell said...

A wonderful poem. I like your "dress of twigs and string."

Brendan MacOdrum said...

A love poem for such destructive times. Concrete birds makes me think of flight memorialized, like statuary in a graveyard. I had a foreground vibe from Lee-Young Li's "The City In Which I love You," which made this all the more resonant. The eye that saw this weeps concrete tears.

Vivian Zems said...

Always with the powerful images...concrete birds ...and "Waiters in doorways open their lips to birth air raid sirens."
Loved it!

grapeling said...

sledgehammer to my skull. ain't it just so ~

Old Egg said...

Whata feast this is of such incredible imagery and such a delight to read.

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have conjured a rare world here, Shay, maybe slightly parallel to our own. I was also struck by the lines:

Every morning, I leave you without leaving.
I wear a dress of twigs and string,
perpetuating the world...

They seem to encapsulate so much of the human condition.. how often are we trapped between going and staying?

hedgewitch said...

Your style is evolving with every wrote, Shay. This one is so perfectly honed, so balanced between observation, emotion and the surreal nature of human (and avian) existence, that it leaves the reader breathless from the journey to that city, the sense of its secret life, hopes, losses and fears. As always the images that brick your metaphors are graceful, strong, and architecturally perfect. The apocalyptic note, (which also seems archaic, almost classical, like the Sisyphus reference) this ends on couldn't be more chilling, beginning with that last line in the third stanza, through to the finish. Heady stuff.

Ron. said...

This puts me there, or so I imagine, having never actually been there. My hat's off.

Toni Spencer said...

Wow. concrete birds. Puts me in mind of cemeteries with those cement figures - angels mostly and such are concrete birds. And with all the connectedness in this world through the internet, you can leave and not leave. An amazing write Shay. I am blown away. I do not have sound on my computer, on purpose, but I know that clip from Apocalypse Now. Fitting for this poem.

Sara McNulty said...

''my bones double helixed
from Billie Holiday records and plaster,
I am a nest for concrete birds'

Concrete birds cannot leave the nest, cannot move forward. This is stunning, Shay!

willow_switches said...

Fascinating - and richly evocative - I'm in love with the last 3 stanzas, but of course, they wouldn't make much sense as a whole, without the first two - but oh, those last 3, really do it for me - (they are another entity - fledglings ready to take wing on their own) -
this is both contrast and juxtaposition of time - and nature, both avian and human - and I really like how you've blurred the crossing - but in such a concrete way -
choice words used so carefully "promenade" etc. and then those lines so many have mentioned "helix" - waiters opening their mouths as air raid sirens ...
this is both soft and apocalyptic