the safety of the birds


I sleep beneath the tire marks
on roads of eggshell bones,
carried by the bubble birds
in their serrated beaks from caves
where rainy pebbles fall,
clattering on my roof, taking fluid forms.


I was painting my house with Dulux
when a whirlpool wind came calling.
It was fleeing from the west,
from particulate mirages and miracles of water.

A row of thorny plants was swept aloft:
roses, for which I didn’t care,
but it blew the paint away
and took my hair as well.

I apologized to my neighbor.
Her house was streaked vermillion now,
and hairier than I’d expected.

I promised I would shave it, in the early hours,
when glows the light in eastern bedrooms,
and bring her coffee, spill it on the sheets.


I see you at my kitchen window.

My hair has taken root out here,
I must shave it every day.

Her gold-rimmed glasses stared me down,
like a fierce librarian.
Every index needs a book, I told myself,
and confessed selected sins.

I am toasterless, lacking microwaves,
an oven, or a stove.
Though air is cheap enough and breathable,
I envy your electrics,
your kilojoules of heat,
and I mentioned choc-chip muffins
on a platter.

She removed temptation’s tray.

There is nothing in between
the creature and the infinite recursion,
reflecting you in me.

How do you spend your day,
when you’ve finished with my house?

I pass my time pretending—
some people have too little,
others have too much.
Supply demands negotiation;
I trade mine for ice cream futures.

Icy glasses, frozen stare, part two.
Did she know about my unpaid fines?


Close your eyes, and taste and guess.

It was ice cream, sweetened
from the freezer to the temperature
of a probable librarian.

The options of the morning all were hers,
and still my mind was turning.

I’ve noticed nests of woven hair
and wind-blown Dulux
in your jacaranda tree.

For the safety of the birds,
I recommend that I remove the paint.

Such clever plans, she whispered,
and suggested I should stop.

There are blue caves in the sky, Louisa sleeps there; Dulux is a trademark of a spiderweb of companies.

you are here (detail above).

41 thoughts on “the safety of the birds

  1. I busted out laughing at the visual of hairy, streaked paint! hahaha. Vermilion no less. I hope the now-hairless protagonist is sufficiently penitent for being toasterless. Thanks for the chuckles and brain massage. Your poems have that effect on me. 🙂

    • My pleasure as always, BG. I doubt that the protagonist is as penitent as he should be. I’m fairly sure his sins extend well beyond not having a toaster, although perhaps I’m projecting a little. 😄 Have to admit I had a lot of fun writing this piece. 😃

    • Absolutely, Frank. My mother warned me about them. First it’s all, “The Romantic Poets are in Aisle 5 on Level 2,” and “We can get that on inter-library loan for you.” Then suddenly it’s hundred dollar fines because you tore out the odd chapter, or scribbled in crayon here and there.

    • I’m quite sure you do, Frank. 😃 I love WP, I never get bored because I’m always correcting its mistakes. It marked your comment as spam, and I can see no reason at all why, and a long list of reasons why not. Seriously, even I could fix it. Do you mark a comment from someone you follow and exchange comments with all the time as spam?

  2. So rich with imagery, my brain is still dizzy from its journey to imagination-land you painted. I agree with Boomergirl, streaked vermillion is a highlight for me (hairy or not). Awesomeness.

    • Thank you, Annie. Yes, I love that striking color, but I prefer to keep it in (some of) my artwork and not have it on the walls of my house. 😄 I’ve never seen a hairy house, but I have been in a hairy, or more accurately, furry, room. I had a friend who worked in the fashion industry, and somehow managed to acquire rolls of fake fur material. She decided it would be a good idea to line the roof and walls of her living room with it. I don’t know why. 😄

    • I’m glad the opening worked out. This was my creative process: firstly I thought “I wonder what’s in the fridge,” then I wrote it. Next, I thought ‘I wonder what’s in the fridge”, and read it. Finally, I thought “okey dokey” and went to the fridge and made myself a ham and salad sandwich with Dijon mustard, although the exact type of mustard is probably not important. 😄 Thanks, Vanessa.

    • Actually, I really love honey mustard myself. Something I learned when I moved to the States. At times, it’s very important 😁
      Your process is eerily like mine and made me laugh out loud. Although, it tends to involve cups of tea as well. And tonight, cleaning out a cupboard. Maybe i need dijon.

    • Yes, it’s all so important for the creative process. I just mowed the lawns and now I’m carefully considering creatively putting the garbage out. Then I will carefully consider a bottle of semillon.

  3. with eyes filled with tears of laughter. Steve, I wish wordpress would have the feature for the word congratulations like facebook. This made me laugh so hard I kept losing my place hHhahaha. Your poem is pure JOY! I’m still laughing at the part where the wind blows the wig onto the neighbour’s house and it takes root!!!! Your an inspiration ahahahhaha. Have a wonderful adventurous day. 🙂

    • I am so glad you got that out of it, Tamaya. To tell the truth, although it isn’t good to laugh at your own work, I did find myself laughing as well when I was writing it. It really was a lot of fun to write. Great to hear from you, and I hope you are traveling well and having wondrous adventures too, Steve. 😃

    • Thanks. Semi gloss unfortunately. With the full gloss, the shiny surface means less friction and the wind doesn’t get as much traction. 😜

  4. Very enjoyable. Commonplaces such as hair, house paint and potential librarians bent into different shapes.

    • Thank you, Paul. I had a think about this piece, since it seems to be a little different, but when I looked at the building blocks: paint, librarians, wind, neighbors, I realized I use them fairly often in my writing. A little disappointing, but when one writes oneself I guess it’s only to be expected. We don’t have random concept generators in our heads.

    • I agree, Magarisa, but so many people only care about fashion and appearance. Otherwise, personally, I wouldn’t shave at all in autumn and winter. Might wash the soup out of my beard though. 😄

    • Thanks, and I’m afraid not. In fact, of family and friends, very few have read my poetry or short fiction. I am supposed to be a scientist and engineer, and I suspect reading my work would create cognitive dissonance. 😃

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