Then two juncoes trapped in the house this morning.
  The house like a head with nothing inside.
The voice says: come in.
  The voice always whispering come in, come.
Stuck on its one track.
   As if there were only one track.

Only one way in.
   Only one in.
The house like a head with nothing inside.
   A table in the white room.
Scissors on the table.
   Two juncoes flying desperately around the
room of the house like a head
   (with nothing inside)
the voice-over keeping on (come in, in),
   them fizzing around the diagram that makes no

   sense —garden of upstairs and downstairs—wilderness
of materialized
   Like this piece of paper,
yes take this piece of paper,
   the map of the house like a head with
whatever inside—two birds—
   and on it all my efforts to get the house out of their way—
   to make detail withdraw its hot hand,
its competing naturalness.
   Then I open the two doors to make a draft, (here),
    meaning by that an imbalance

   for them to find and ride —
the inaudible hiss, justice, washing through,
   the white sentence that comes alive to
rectify imbalance —
   — give me a minute.

In the meantime
   they fly into the panes of glass: bright light,
silently they throw themselves into its law: bright light,
   they float past dreamed-up onto the screen
called 7 am, nesting season, black blurry terms,
   the thwacking of their
heads onto resistant
Then one escapes,

sucked out by the doorful of sky,
   the insanity—elsewhere
so that—give me a second—
   I no longer remember it—
and the other one vanishes though into here, upstairs,
   the voice still hissing under the track in in,

the voice still hissing over the track.
   What you do now is wait
for the sound of wings to be heard
   somewhere in the house
—the peep as of glass bottles clinking,
   the lisp of a left-open book read by breeze,
or a hand going in to the pile of dead leaves—
(as where there is no in, therefore)
   (as where—give me a minute—someone laughs upstairs
but it’s really wings
   rustling up there
on the cold current called history
   which means of course it’s late and I’ve
got things

to do).
   How late is it: for instance, is this a sign?
Two birds then one: is it a meaning?
   I start with the attic, moving down.
Once I find it in the guest
   bedroom but can’t
 catch it in time,
   talking to it all along, hissing: stay there, don’t

move—absolutely no
   story—sure there is a sound I could make with my throat
and its cupful of wind that could transmit
   meaning. Still I say sharply as I move towards it, hands out—
High-pitched the sound it makes with its throat,
   low and too tender the sound it makes with its

   body—against the walls now,
   Which America is it in?
Which America are we in here?
   Is there an America comprised wholly
of its waiting and my waiting and all forms of the thing

even the green’s—
   a large uncut fabric floating above the soil—
a place of attention?
   The voice says wait. Taking a lot of words.
The voice always says wait.
   The sentence like a tongue
in a higher mouth
   to make the other utterance, the inaudible one,
   the sentence in its hole, its cavity
of listening,
   flapping, half-dead on the wing, through the
hollow indoors,
   the house like a head
with nothing inside
   except this breeze,
shall we keep going?
   Where is it, in the century clicking by?
Where, in the America that exists?
   This castle hath a pleasant seat,

the air nimbly recommends itself,
   the guest approves
by his beloved mansionry
   that heaven’s breath smells wooingly here.


   The police came and got Stuart, brought him to
Psych Hospital.
   The face on him the face he’d tried to cut off.
Starting at the edge where the hair is fastened.
   Down behind the ear.
As if to lift it off and give it back. Easy Something gelatinous,
an exterior
   destroyed by mismanagement.

Nonetheless it stayed on.
   You suffer and find the outline, the right
seam (what the suffering is for)—
   you find where it comes off: why can’t it come ofF?
The police brought him to Admitting and he can
   be found there.
Who would have imagined a face
   could be so full of blood.

Later he can be found in a room on 4.
   He looks up when you walk in but not at yours.
Hope is something which lies flat against the wall,
   a bad paint job, peeling in spots.
Some people move by in the hallway,

   some are referred elsewhere or they wait.
   There is a transaction going on up ahead, a commotion.
Shelley is screaming about the princess.
   There is a draft here but between two unseen openings.
   And there is the western God afraid His face would come off
into our eyes
   so that we have to wait in the cleft
   His hand still down on it we’re waiting for Him to go by,

the back of Him is hope, remember,
   the off-white wall,
the thing-in-us-which-is-a-kind-of-fire fluttering
   as we wait in here
for His hand to lift off,
   the thing-in-us-which-is-a-kind-of-air
getting coated with waiting, with the cold satinfinish,

   the thing-which-trails-behind (I dare do all that may
become a man,
   who dares do more is none)
getting coated, thickly. Oh screw thy story to the
   sticking place—
When he looks up
   because he has had the electric shock,
and maybe even the insulin shock we’re not sure,
   the face is gone.
It’s hiding somewhere in here now.
   I look and there’s no listening in it, foggy place.
We called him the little twinkler
   says his mother at the commitment hearing,

because he was the happiest.
   The blood in the upstairs of the duplex getting cold.
Then we have to get the car unimpounded.
   Send the keys to his parents.
Do they want the car?
   His wrists tied down to the side of the bed.
And the face on that shouldn’t come off.
   The face on that mustn’t come off.
Scars all round it along the hairline under the chin.
Later he had to take the whole body off

to get to the face.
   But me in there while he was still breathing,
both of us waiting to hear something rustle
   and get to it
before it rammed its lights out
   aiming for the brightest spot, the only clue.


Because it is the face
   which must be taken off—
the forward-pointing of it, history?,
   that we be returned to the faceless attention,
   the waiting and waiting for the telling sound.
Am I alone here?
   Did it get out when the other one did
and I miss it?
   Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
The head empty, yes,

   but on it the face, the idea of principal witness,
the long corridor behind it—
   a garden at one end and a garden at
the other—
   the spot of the face
on the expanse of the body,
   the spot on the emptiness (tomorrow and tomorrow),
the spot pointing
   into every direction, looking, trying to find corners—

(and all along the cloth of Being fluttering)
   (and all along the cloth, the sleep—
 before the beginning, before the itch— )
   How I would get it back
sitting here on the second floor landing,
   one flight above me one flight below,
listening for the one notch
   on the listening which isn’t me

   Sleep, sleep, but on it the dream of reason, eyed,
pointing forward, tapering for entry,
   the look with its meeting place at
vanishing point, blade honed for
   quick entry,
etcetera, glance, glance again,
   (make my keen knife see not the
wound it makes)—
   So that you 1) must kill the King—yes—
2) must let her change, change—until you lose her,
   the creature made of nets.
   whose eyes are closed,
whose left hand is raised
   (now now now now hisses the voice)
(her hair made of sentences) and
   3) something new come in but
what? listening.
   Is the house empty?
Is the emptiness housed?
   Where is America here from the landing, my face on

my knees, eyes closed to hear
Lady M. is the intermediary phase.
   God help us.
Unsexed unmanned.
   Her open hand like a verb slowly descending onto the free,
her open hand fluttering all round her face now,
   trying to still her gaze, to snag it on

those white hands waving and diving
   in the water that is not there.


HOME PAGE IMAGE FROM “Flowers in Vases,” A PORTFOLIO BY Birdie Lusch, FROM ISSUE NO. 239, SPRING 2022.