Remind Me To Tell You of Bird Land
Where there are no birds, where little boys chain
up silly-string to keep out the mustache-clad elders,
where oak floors turn green from the rain inside
the houses, where the muskrats yell, “won’t you feed me,”
where the coffee beans hang from the trees as juice-packs,
where I passed out once from all the sugar, and my hair mixed
into the grass, where it started growing on the other side of the earth
as a baobab tree, where I met your mother and all she did was laugh
and laugh, she did, where the pink of her insides floated above her head,
where her laugh was not a trill, but a caw that beat my chest,
where her laugh still hangs today, but she stood where the sidewalk was,
where I only walked with muddy feet, until the mud took up house
between my toes and there they were, a neighbor
to your mother’s laugh, but instead of waving like good neighbors,
the mud and the laugh, well, they retreated
from one another, so all I had was mud and your mother’s open mouth
with no sound, where the pink no longer floated above her head,
but lay splattered on the ground, where the teenage boys
rolled up their silly string, where there were no grown ups anymore,
where it stopped raining on the floors, and there in Bird Land,
still no birds.
When I began this poem, it started with a little snippet of a voice on NPR where the man was talking about the album by John Coltrane which was Live at Birdland. And instead of hearing it Live with a long I, I heard it with a short I so it was as if someone was living at Birdland, and at the time I didn't know what Birdland was, until after I wrote the poem and someone asked if it had anything to do with the place. It didn't and I think that's what saved it, really. Starting off, I really liked the idea of having this title be, Remind Me To Tell You of Bird Land, and that would really begin the poem, where everything flowed into each other and it seemed as if it was one strung out memory that metamorphosed in front of your eyes because that's how a lot of stories go. It starts out one way, with the person retelling about how they began unknowing, and then the bright light came over them and the change happened. I wanted that point in the story when the person telling it gets to that sentence where their voice lowers and slows, their eyebrows kind of wrinkle and you can tell they are wondering to themselves how they could have ended up having to tell this story this way, when it should have ended in another way entirely.
Bird Land became for me, somewhere that anything could happen, so I wanted create these images that piggybacked off of each other in such a stark and unreal way that they stuck together more like velcro. The whole time, I thought about this love being made in this unreal place that a lot of people retreat to after the love was lost, so it almost makes it okay that the love didn't make it back into the real world, like there was a changeover and the love couldn't fit through. I liked the idea of soft enjambments, that carried the line through so it seemed as if it could have been written in a large paragraph form and there really wouldn't be much of a difference in the reading, but instead of actually writing it out in paragraph form, the stanza was needed so that there was progression down the page.
In this original draft, there's a few ungrammatical features in it, which didn't bother me at first, but after re-reading again and again, the run-on sentence of the poem, I see needs to be reconstructed in a way that doesn't seem to be forced in a way that I have to ignore correct grammar.
Revision 1 is currently being worked on.