blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2009  Vol. 9. No. 2






This Is Our Boy, Dog, & Cat & I Am Sticking My Nose
Through The Back Of The Chair. Burns Just Woke Up
So He Looks Kind Of Messed Up

Gelatin Silver Plate, c. 1910

They have scurried to their moment, this botched alignment
Of the stars & planets. Mother is eye through slat,

Half-mask, shard of mouth, an Indiana Cubist.
The lab, the calico, Burns unsteady on the chair back.

She props them all, a juggler stasis-ed on a unicycle,
Dress spilling over chair legs, the Oriental’s

Snaking figurations & rosettes—both parallel
& askew, depth uncertain, the formal

“studio effect” that Mother planned
Disheveled as Burns’s spiky pudding bowl.

Salome the cat’s a feline blur, head pendulumed
& poised to spring back to the feral present

Mother labored mightily to still.
A handprint framed in ochre, quickened on a cave wall.

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