by by By Gillian Brassil


A father and a daughter sit outside eating cheese off a wooden board. They both see a girl with long dark hair and large brown eyes who looks like a tiny Italian movie star. The father and the daughter look at each other and remark on how beautiful she is.

A fatherland and a dauphin sit outside eating cheesesteak off a wooden boarding-school. They both see a girlie-man with long dark hairdressing and large brown eyebrows who looks like a tiny Italian moving target. The fatherland and the dauphin look at each other and remark on how beautiful she is.

A fault and a davenport sit outside eating chemicals off a wooden boat. They both see a give-away with long dark hair-streaks and large brown eyesight who looks like a tiny Italian mozzarella. The fault and the davenport look at each other and remark on how beautiful she is.


The past tense,
the last sign
was the eye of the blackbird.
Remembering how to move,
a sack
in which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds,
flapping in place for thirty seconds.
We will have a family someday.
A man and a woman and a blackbird.
Your tea the
The blackbird whistling
Bones, teeth, toes.
Balloons filled with fire
or notes inside.
The shadow of the blackbird
fallen in a field.
My lips are moving
Do you not see how the blackbird
Your headphones are on.
A rhyme you forgot
or a story or a song but
you know
that the blackbird is involved,
that it had a heartbeat.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
you could still hear it.
At the sight of blackbirds,
certain cities,
a cup of tea—
I thought I had given everything up
for blackbirds.
11:11, no wish, no red.
The blackbird must be flying.
Your temple is warm where
the blackbird sat.



I know an old man without a beard. He doesn’t shave it because it doesn’t grow. The old man lives in Texas, where it gets so hot that bare feet against the ground make you dance, make you sweat. This old man mixed drinks in Vietnam. He fought communism perched on a barstool, pouring vodka and blue jokes into officers’ mouths.

In his cluttered office in his house in Texas sits a filing cabinet damning other people; he moonlights for the IRS. This old man has an old Scottish wife who eats marzipan and smokes, her voice a raspy knot. Her brown arms and fingers are heavy with gold he has given her, her neck near-bearded with jewelry.


1. The ladybugs flew into the lampshades and looped, shadow-bodies circling; they rounded lips of jars and upturned cups. They tried but failed to brail-read the pages of my book with feet. Some died belly-up and browned against the hardwood floors. One drowned in our bathroom sink.

It wasn’t an infestation yet.

2. Ladybugs fly in the loop and lampshades, shadow agencies track, lipglass and glassware round. They tried, but my feet will not mark the pages of the book is read. A few blocks to the abdomen and a brown floor. Ended in the washbasin.

It was not the plague again.

[one] was transformed by using an n+7 activity: replacing each noun with the word (or closest noun) at the end of the column in the OED.

[two] is a rendering of the Wallace Stevens poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” I cut out all the lines without the word “blackbird” and replaced them with lines of my own; I used the originals as a guide for their meaning.

[three] is a (true) story based on the ‘pictures’ of the Chinese characters.

[four] consists of a paragraph that I wrote, and then that same paragraph run through Google Translate several times. First I translated it into Welsh (then back to English), then Hungarian (and back), Afrikaans (and back), and Hindi (and back). These languages have no particular significance except that I was trying to get as far away from English syntax as possible.