Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bird Skeleton

Bronwyn Lloyd: Voodoo Bird (23/4/17)

A couple of weeks ago Bronwyn found this little chap nestled on the doorstep of her studio (which used to be my father's surgery), beside the house.

But who left it there? Was it a cat? The lawnmower man? Someone laying a hex?

Certainly it seems to be missing a head. It did remind me a bit of an old poem of mine, from my first book City of Strange Brunettes (1998):

First Love

We built a man of slates, and after years,
revisited, the rock had grown a face.

(... The lake dissects bird-craniums;
tree-roots wrestle midden-stones for space.)

We counted on the winter to preserve us.
Spring runoff leaves no craquelure to trace.

Jack Ross: City of Strange Brunettes (1998)


Richard said...

I reviewed that book Jack. I recall commenting on the great use of the word 'craquelure'

The bird incident is interesting. I found a dead rat a day or so ago. My grandsons, two of the younger at 2 & 1/2 and 4 visited and inevitably found it. I was about to go out with them and my son, when i knew there was one more thing to do: to bury the rat!

You know, of course they are a pest, and I found last month that my bran and wheat bix bag (plastic) had been eaten through and then rat droppings in my hot water cupboard. This meant a month almost of washing clothes, cleaning and drying then all, fitting mesh in the top, putting in small barriers around the hot water cylinder (very difficult getting in their and I had to get the right mesh I wanted to stop faeces being dropped down, rats are almost impossible to get rid of). I also had to glue and nail a drill it took a lot of time and I moved every thing with food to another cover...

But I still don't like killing rats. They are mammals like us and indeed are believed to have self awareness of themselves as being. I see them as another creature. Why should they die and not me? Of course they did spread the plague in the old days and they are a pest.

But birds. Birds are reptiles. They are reptilian and often they are reptilian raptors...perhaps your bird was put there as a warning to all humanity....?

But re what? It is possible a mad child put the bird there.

Your poem has a Heaney -ish or is it a Geoffrey Hill -ish aspect? It has a certain mystery inherent in it.

And: 'We counted winter to preserve us' I like the indeterminancy of this.

Another surmise is it has been sent you by your poem Jack. Has this occurred to you?

Birds are strange reptilate things of the air. Rumours abound... No one may know...

I feel your poem has created a kind of vortex, powerful force a la Yeats of say his apocalyptic "slouching toward" poems etc

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

It did occur to me that the poem had somehow sent me (or us) the bird skeleton (it was bird skeletons in an earlier draft: I changed it to bird craniums later -- interestingly, this bird had no head, and therefore no cranium).

The cat certainly does remain a suspect -- certainly for the original killing -- though I doubt she would have had much interest in it in its skeletal state: your 'mad child' suggestion also has some legs, I feel.

All in all, it remains a mystery. We've had some pretty terrible rat experiences here, too (one where the cat released the rat indoors and I had to hunt it all over the house -- even behind the rows of books!)

I hate to kill them, also (in fact I'm incapable of it) but our cat has no such scruples, which does have its uses sometimes.

best, jack

Richard said...

Dr Jack, please focus! Please pay attention: there is something extremely suspicious and very (Stephen) King-like* about this occurrence...but re rats first. Rats are used in Orwell's '1984' as it breaks Winston to know he is to spend the night with same. But there is that book by Mike Johnston with a rat on the cover, and a story by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran about a young woman who, with her child is fleeing her ex vicious husband or lover and arrives in England somewhere, in a storm, and there finds herself in an old farmhouse (presumably a "safe place") and she finds she is surrounded by case you haven't read it I will leave out the rest. It is a great story and full of suspense....

Now you and (where I am the local cats, my own cat is deceased) and I are 'cat lovers' and quite fond of birds, strange as those beings are (after all there is the film 'The Birds' and we know that Buller, one of us, killed many many birds, and that Max Ernst from an event it is believed, in his childhood, had a life-long fear-love of birds and bird forms. There is also the NZ artist with his endless eerie bird forms There is, I feel bone certain, buried in all that, a deep signification...

Cats are mousers and rat catchers for sure. My grandson asked, it seemed incredulously, if cats killed rats when I suggested that as a possibility. I had to affirm. I fear he is starting or may begin to engage with cruel unremitting reality, whatever that is. This might mean that he may not believe in Santa Claus...But YOUR cat (alive or passed) is (or was) clearly one of those macho or ferocious varieties....but does your cat know about your poem? Are you sure that your poem is not known in the non-human world? A headless bird!

I think cats usually kill a bird, but I am no expert on their proclivity toward decapitation. They often just kill and don't eat. Or do they? I have to admit I and probably millions of cat or ex cat owners have no idea of the secretive lives of cats, really; and form idealistic and fuzzy views of these ancient animals....

But a man who can eat a Swan, has a headless bird: this is getting a worry Jack. Are you sure you don't have another self...? Shades of Stevenson. But it is no shame as Pessoa had about 50 extra personas who wrote of your personas may have killed the bird, torn off its head in anger, and another persona has found it, quarreled with the other, and put the bird sans head where it was found. I surmise the personas were worried that subconsciously, in some mysterious way,The Originator was (albeit unawarely);aware of these goings on....this led to the incident. It seems a fairly likely scenario.

*And I know you are a big fan of that writer of weird, dark, and terrifying fabulae...

Dr Jack Ross said...

No, Richard, you focus! I never ate of the swan! Not a single mouthful ... It was my brother who performed that particular dark deed.

Though what you say of a secret, dark extra self does give me a certain pause. I recall the swan hanging under the house, in the basement -- then I recall its dark meat being served at dinner (and then, repeatedly, in sandwiches for weeks afterwards) but do I recall exactly what happened in between?

Perhaps I did decapitate the bird all by myself. I don't remember doing so, but it seems unfair to blame it all on the cat without further evidence (though the lawnmower man does look at us a bit strangely sometimes: perhaps it was he!)

It's a strange world you inhabit, Mr. Taylor ...

Richard said...

Yes. I recall now, silly of me. My apologies. Fair enough. I feel the cat is innocent. I tender my deep apologies.

It is a strange world. Is it I or are we all strange? In different ways: we are all unique....

I suppose, seriously though, that writers have written such stories of things done while asleep or things they cant recall. I started a story that has that (or something like it) as a theme. I cant seem to write any more.

The theme was the strangeness of language. Seen by someone say who, from some world (to "objectify it" or something) language: how we communicate it seems to language and writing is affected by the way it is written.

I'm going through everything in EYELIGHT to see what I can do with it and that aspect comes up, and by chance I find myself (I have a new but related project of selecting books as rigorously as I can from the Dewey classification categories and some strange books emerge I thought I would never read, they are selected more or less randomly, and sometimes with my eyes shut (literally) in that case 'Decomposition a Music Manifesto' by Andrew Durkin (I believe he is a composer in jazz related things, not sure) but he shows how the idea of the individual genius is related to celebrity, and so it is somewhat of a myth this intense valorization of Mozart or Bach etc as if there was no context....well such things come up by chance and make me think of the way I have been using fonts....

So it is strange what I am doing (as I am crossing the spectrum I have had books on rather strange cross-section from 000 (Computing etc) to 100 (Philosophy etc, here I have to shut my eyes more as it is a favourite) and on so far to 800. Passifica and I think Languages are in the 400s so it is on the other side, literally, or the library! For the slower reading I select books I am more interested in. This project is to force me away from my comfort area....I either sample at random and or book was about a man who set up a business making (forget the name), what are like Mexican ice-creams, another about tapestries or quilts, one about a woman who spent years rescuing endangered hummingbirds....

Note the hummingbirds Jack, there may be some connection....

So I wont neglect Mills and Boon or Sport or music or indeed Horror (a la King et al) I normally dislike (not always though I like some of King and Dahl etc) or whatever as I am forcing myself to Cross the Desert of books! The variations are infinite.