Cetaceous Sleep — A Dream

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“Cetaceous Sleep” — C.Birde, 12/17


Constricted view, consumed by clear blue sea, purled in white wavelets. Beneath that glittering, glassy surface rests a great, moon-pale shape, its smooth contours distorted by distance, by the sea’s subtle, internal motion. A whale. See the massive, blunt curve of head, dimpled by sealed blowhole; the sleek, muscled immensity of its body; the gradual narrowing and reshaping of form that results in the great, flattened fan of its tail.

With the ocean piled high and deep, drawn up over it, the whale sleeps. Adrift. Blissful. Content.

Soundlessly, the battleship materializes. It is not there; and then – in the next breath, thought, heartbeat – it simply is. Dull gray; wedged front; a single, monolith turret at its center. Obscene in length, the ship hovers – airborne – above the rippled ocean, casts its shadow down and through the sea, over the sleeping whale.

A moment, only, before it descends.

The ship’s keel parts the waves. Its hull flattens the ocean’s surface, sends sheets of water arching, waves thundering seismically away. Immediately, the battleship is swallowed whole and sinks rapidly, crushingly down. A herculean depth charge aimed directly at the creature beneath it.

Impossible, improbable, infuriating silence as the ship gathers downward speed.

Collision is assured.

The whale sleeps.



— C.Birde, 12/17



Improbably Deer — A Dream

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“Improbably Deer” — C.Birde, 11/17


A mere twelve inches at the shoulder, fourteen inches in length from chest to tail, it is the smallest of white-tailed deer. And so young – its tawny coat is sprinkled with white dots. It stands on impossibly slender legs. With a flick and flash of its tail, it gathers together its tiny hooves to leap and prance and dart about. For sheer joy, it cuts reckless, random patterns through the swaying meadow, beneath the dividing shade of towering trees.

At last, it pauses – gawky legs spread and anchored, tail raised, ears alert – an arm’s length away. Reach out to stroke it, to feel the silken fur stretched over that delicate structure of bones; to feel the small knob of skull, that firm reassurance crowned in large, fur-fringed ears.

Away. Away.

Fleet as forethought, the fawn leaps beyond reach, dashes in mad circles through wind-blown grasses. Scissoring through wildflowers, it cuts back and forth in indecipherable movements. Upon reaching the base of a great, thick oak, the deerling whisks up the tree’s grooved trunk. Tiny hooves serve as pitons fitted to the bark’s cracks and fissures.

Hand’s edge raised to shield your eyes, lean back, squint to follow its wild movement. Spy a flash of auburn within the canopy overhead. Hear the scrabble of its hooves against trunk and branches. Catch the sift and fall of loosened bark against your upturned cheeks, chin, lips. Feel a fist-solid pressure rise beneath your breastbone.



— C.Birde, 12/17


Outgrown — A Dream


“Outgrown” — C.Birde, 11/17


They sit

in the dark

& crowded room,

hip-to-hip-to-hip &


hunched ‘round the tv’s

flicker & flutter of half-light

in silence.


the one who

sits beyond the

spasm of shadow

outside that too-small



a narrow hall

in a chair ill-suited to

its full-sized occupant,

whose gray-wool jacket & pants

likewise strain to contain their wearer’s



such details —

too-small-chair & -suit of clothes –

that one maintains a calm

& enviable



— C.Birde, 11/17


Paper Trail — A Dream

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“Paper Trail” — C.Birde, 11/17


Already, it had begun. The shaming.

Beyond the plate-glass doors, in dim half-light, sheets of paper lay strewn about the floor – slim sheaves spread in a white drift over flecked linoleum.

The woman placed her hand on the door’s bar – a leather-softened grip fastened over a horizontal tube of buffed aluminum. Depressing the handle, she entered. Pale light flashed and lanced off the door’s glass. Once inside, she paused, adjusted netted top hat over the knot of her hair, tugged velvet jacket into place over her ribs so brass buttons aligned spine-straight. When she broke, once more, into movement, tiers of crisp taffeta shushed about her legs. The clip and snick of her boot heels echoed, their insistence blunted by the path of paper underfoot. Each thin leaf she trod held, trapped within its rectangle, a black-and-white headshot of the shaming victim. Unwavering, the woman followed that paper trail.

Shush, snick – heel spitting cheek. Shush, snick – toe blacking eye.

When the entry hall widened, the woman halted her march, reached behind herself to lift and agitate her skirt’s bustle. The action loosed an additional sheaf of papers — they drifted free, curled in the air and settled gently to the floor behind her. These, too, held black-and-white headshots, trimmed of excess paper about the victim’s tumbled hair and shoulders.

Unsmiling, the woman continued down the hall.

Shush, snick – heel against throat. Shush, snick – toe filling mouth.



— C.Birde, 11/17


Swarm — A Dream



“Swarm” — C.Birde, 10/17


Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.


Or so it seemed.


I, in a derelict house that leaned within its footings, climbed a crooked staircase through a murk of dark. Hand trailing the banister’s time-gnawed and pitted wood, I reached the slanted landing and moved, as if down a throat, through railroaded rooms that lead one into another. Faded carpets underfoot, their colored patterns lost to time and wear. The house felt empty – of soul and memory – and the walls held little on their broken plaster planes beyond strips and tears of antique floral papers. Three windows in that final claustrophobic room held only night – far darker for its starless aspect – and here, carpet and floorboards both peeled and fell away to reveal a swollen bulge beneath. The sides sloped gently upward to a hole defined by the floorboards’ split and broken edges, and from this broke-toothed fissure emerged a skittering, chittering fury of insects. Mandibled and multi-legged, their pale, foot-long, segmented bodies writhed in and out of that misplaced hole in chaotic, threatening fashion. Near at hand, I found a smooth, stout branch and thrust its gnarled end into that revolting hive. I heard the crunch and squish of squashed, insectoid bodies, felt my stomach heave. But the swarm did not decrease. I knew I’d earned the creatures’ wrath when, with relief, I woke.


Unbeknownst to me, he, too, in his sleep dreamed. Of a house, filled less with dark than light, its angles meeting square and right. And he – downstairs, not up – perceived in the sweep of ceiling overhead a bulge in that smooth space, seemingly benign. A squat stalactite of sloped sides, its peak crowned in a dark, hollow depression from which moved to and fro a collective of insects, sleek bodied with wings of pale and iridescent green pressed to the subtle gleam of their hardened carapaces. Though he craned his neck to discern the meaning of their movements, he felt no threat, but curiosity.


Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.


Or so it seemed.


— C.Birde, 10/17



Boxed In — A Dream

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“Boxed in” — C.Birde, 10/17


It is his job.

He is hired to get close to people, to win their trust, put them at ease. But it hurts. Hurts to witness. The casual touch – his hand brushing her shoulder, placed at the small of her back; his smile – a brightening of the eye, a flush of skin – returned.

Turn away. Let them dine on candlelight and wine. Let soft light travel over turned silverware, along the rims of glasses raised and tipped; down her long neck, the sweep of her collar bones. He does not love her. But it hurts.

It hurts.

Turn away. Leave them. Steal off, down the length of hall. Recede into shadow, into self. Reach the door, that worn and featureless divide. Twist the well-burnished knob. Enter. Lean against the closed door, spine to wood. Survey the room, unseeing.

A Spartan space. Bare wood floors. Neatly made bed, spread with white needlepoint cover. Aged, wooden dresser. One square curtainless window, set too high in the wall opposite the door. Unrestricted moonlight paints the floor – four squares of parted light.

Push off the door. Cross to the room’s center. Drop to knees. Insert fingers along the floorboards’ seams, and peel. Peel them up and away, layer after layer. Narrow planks curl backward upon themselves, until they reveal their secret – the space below; the neat cardboard box within.

Grip the floor’s edges. Place one foot down, inside, then the other. Lower knees, hips, ribs, shoulders. Slip into that square hollow. Curl up in the dark, knees to chin, and pull the floorboards closed, back into place.

Later – later – hear the doorknob rattle, the squeak and scrape of hinges. Hear him call. The pain in his voice — the quavering upswing. His heels pace circles against the floorboards above. Back and forth. Round and round. Calling.





— C.Birde, 10/17

Peace Among Raptors — A Dream

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“Peace Among Raptors” — C.Birde, 10/17


Duck the trellis,

its weight of scarlet blooms

and gloss-leafed vines.

Part the clouded,

moonlit night.

Glide –

shadow-like –

along gentle swells of lawn.

Soft, unshorn blades lick and trace,

damp underfoot.

Round the curve of hedge,

and pause –

a glint of light tucked deep

within the dense tracery

of branches’ interweave.

A spark…

a flash of gold.


Step back.

The bird erupts,

vaults skyward.

For a moment,

breaks of moonlight limn

its sloped wings,

the smooth curve

of its delicate head.

A second wing stroke,

a third;

it shifts and changes,

exchanges gentle curves

for lean, sharp lines,

for bladed wings and

hooked beak of raptor.

Lean back,

throat exposed;

follow the small, swift hawk’s

vertical progress.

Meet its hooded,

unblinking stare –

that bright star glinting

against the night’s black




— C.Birde, 10/17