30 March 2010 | Vol. 10, No. 1

the shadows of passing birds

but why for the life of it the singing, why the lust-fed hands

like a pair of burning tongs, the table lacquered in moonlight,

why the moonlight, inky and desolate, why the lollygagging

in the snack aisle, the lying awake in the room beneath the all-night

fisticuffs of rain, why if not for the life of it the body, shaken but not

apterous, not ruined but ruminant, a dissonance, a fog, a humming…


[the morphing, itinerant clouds]

When sleeping, when fitfully and in starts,

when stretched prone on the couch watching the nightly

catalog of disasters, when observing its nearly

unrecognizable facsimile, swollen beyond hope

or reason, when noting the latest

tumescent betrayal, when erupted in fits

of groundless weeping, when trolling the late-night

snack aisle with the other grubby humans,

when quaking in its mukluks,

when fearsome, when loathsome, when positively

sodden with needs, always captive, the almost

carnivorous demands, the always, always and forever…


[one drop could kill us were we not by turns bewitched, bedeviled, swarmed]

And then it was the backward scroll of the body's greatest hits,

inadvertent detox and the life released on analog, the loosed hounds yapping

at the heels, of torn straps, strange sheets, lying in the grass

surrounded by acorns, those peripatetic offspring of trees,

pills in unmarked jars, apocrypha of hair left in hotel sinks,

moving trains, unfamiliar cars bound relentlessly westward,

powders arranged on glass, revelations unfurled behind the stairs,

on street corners and ruinous alleys, collection notices, letters

Returned to Sender, an acid-rain lake, fever grass and vetch, the striated, numinous sky


            [they were: the light's undoing and the diastolic trudge unto]

And here at long last the body, its window cracked open at the helm,

biding its ownsweet time toward the pulling, the hunkering,

the lowering of the alluvial shade, stay now in the foreseeable whatever, the here, the magnanimous

and harkening, stay all you broke-down visions, supernumerary impulse-buys

and over glutted infomercials of love, stay her betwixt

and between Restless Leg Syndrome, TMJ, discretionary spending and the oft-

extolled pleasures of the drug-free life…

But still at long last the body, its efflorescent and boggy self,

of root cellars, forgotten tinctures, of mud and excrement and loam,

the non-body nearly arrived, relentless, full-throttle toward the irreparable

becoming, the crossover, handoff-on-the- bridge, full surrender

point of no return, the rebate withheld, the appeal denied,

so woncha give us a holla, a shout out from the otha' side


[for her she would be all of it: villainous




From here on in, resonance,

from here on in, dissonanance,

from here on in, lethargy, hair loss,

the eyes like bruised fruit, abstinence,

the plate untouched, from here on in,

a numinous and ever-present fog,

from here on in, tunnel vision,

sleeplessness, telepathy

and big-mouthed hopes,

starin' down the barrel,

standin' swaybacked in the road


[she was:   like loosestrife,      tyrannical         wild]

In the ambient noise of the freeway everything hums: the emergence and retraction of dew, the bombed-out median strip with its scurvy, early-blooming daffodils beyond which harkens the sunset's indelible bruise; a giant flicker, a small spark, all around the incessant and gradual happenings, the fanzine launch, forgetting the user name, darkening by sunless tanner, Eighties Night at the strip-mall bar and the dazed, pre-fab stillness of a trailer park at dawn; a bad check, a wet match struck and held to the teeth, a hermetic seal and the not-yet-here suspended, weightless, the soapy flakes in the gift shop snow globe; of coffee unmade, of gowns unaltered, across the colonnade, the scree of folded elms, of latent threats, the smoke alarm dismantled, the unmanned body lying in state, the invisibly pathogenic broadcasts of cell phone towers; through forsythia in bloom, through the wily, cupidinous clouds, through sheet cake, bad art, custom-made dog costumes, all-night naked Twister, instant mashed potatoes, thoughts on the Effort, medicated shuffles down strange halls, all toward the inexorable, unstoppable, distillation of water and bone, her girl toddling toward her with dirt on her knees


[they were:   regenerate surrendered      convergent      fanged

                        two trees in the rain, glistening]

In the boggy, estuarine closeness of stranger's thighs on trains, in half-doze,

in coarse-featured waking at once voracious and addled, in bus station seats,

in the aisles crammed with labor-saving devices, in the over bright functional absurdity

of rodeo clowns, the under funded needle exchange van idling at the curb,

in old birdseed, shoelace, winter's necropolis of broken leaves, photocopied Evacu-Map,

through perennially spooked, tranqued-out and clueless,

exhaustion's unblinking gaze, I am with you and with you

and with you, a pocked, uncrossable street with the fog

slowly burning off

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About the author:

Robyn Art is the author of The Stunt Double in Winter (Dusie Press) and the text/visual collaboration with artist Robin Barcus Slonina Dear American Love Child, Yours, the Beautiful Undead (forthcoming from dancing girl press). New work appears in La Petite Zine and Eaogh and is forthcoming in the Denver Quarterly.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Robyn Art at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 10, No. 1, where "the shadows of passing birds" ran on March 30, 2010. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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