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Office Nightingale

Dreamed 9/21/82 by Wayan

INTRODUCTION

In 1982 I was recovering slowly from years with an abusive girlfriend. I was sick--chemical sensitivities, inflammation, opportunistic infections. Even a halftime job was exhausting, so I was broke. Lonely, too. Around my birthday, two events: a songbird got trapped in our office for hours, fluttering against the windows; and I learned that our Silicon Valley home had fleas.

Songbird flying toward his reflection; dream sketch by Wayan.
1: THORN

Living with fleas in the new world.
Little predators creep out of the lair,
Bite and suck and saw my flesh to thing.
I work in conditional offices, future-tense;
Bugs creep behind the green screen,
Head aches and none knows why.
So strange horrible to be rotting
Festered fingers and lobes.
Dis-ease of busy-ness.
Puzzled animal, you
Cannot heal the modern sores
By licking.
Cannot heal the modern horrors
By liking.

2: SING

I like the chewy textures of words and lines--
The hard sounds spine the sweet.
Chain of wordnotes simply strung
Serene as sparrowhistles
Sing.

3: OFFICE NIGHTINGALE

I am a small bird flying
In a white glass void.
Everywhere images look like me--
I fly to them and they to me, til BANG!
Ghosts. No other there but hard glass,
A hard self-bird emptied of
Heart in the feathers, seed in the husk.
Only where no self beckons--
"Where feathers disappear from glass,
And no birds sing"--
There         alone's         escape--
There:         alone         lies open wind
And hope of distant, softer alien friend.

4: SUCKERS

Weird bird I, who awkward sing
While my blood leaks: not heart-fountain--
What fun to die staining the neighbors with
Romantic Maroon! No, here in the new world
Blood seeps from little sores, to suit my time:
Age of the roach. The leak. The leech.

LITERARY NOTE

Bird-me paraphrased two lines from Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci":

The sedge is withered from the Lake
And no birds sing.

Bird-me is a lot like the poem's questing knight; the mocking reflection-birds are like La Belle Dame herself. And, of course, like my Silicon Valley co-workers. Nice enough people. For people. Not wild birds.

I needed birds.



LISTS AND LINKS: healing from abuse - Silicon Valley - bloodsuckers - bugs - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - species-bent dreams - talking animals - birds - flying dreams - freedom & prisoners - mirrors & reflections - loneliness - twins & doubles - friends - dream poetry

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