Sleeping Fish Xi

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Last late night in my room with a view,
My window wide-opened and in a bird flew.
I stole away quick, tucked myself into bed
As a blackbird swam in the air overhead.

In terror, I watched the bird circle in flight.
Past headboard, the fan, ‘round hat rack, the light.
Dreading the sight, I hid under the sheet
But only to find the blackbird at my feet.

“I travel in murders, for I am a crow.”
“Thank you,” I sighed, “Now won’t you please go?
Back through the window from where you once came?
I’m wounded here, weary, I’m scared of your name.”

“You have me all wrong, sir! You’ve got me mistaken
With that Allan chap’s nasty black knocker, the Raven.
The cold shores of Hades is the last beach you’ll see,
If only you’ll walk to the window with me!”

“To the window? It’s late! And why do you care?!
Why to the window? And what could be there?”
“Only a view of the village below
For ‘tis there that you must be dressed-up for and go.”

“Well, t’isn’t a shame?, for I’m dreadfully tired,
Though persistence alone is the mood to admire.
Your vigor has punched me awake, I must say.
By Zeus, I am up, Bird, now show me the way!”

I tossed off the sheets and slid into my shoes
Out of my bedclothes and into my blues
Crossed floor to window and poked my head through
And the bird on the ledge sang of that which he knew.

“In the center of town and once through the park
Lies dry an old tavern that’s dusty and dark
Walk past the barroom and a right at the church
Past two trees of olive and five trees of birch”

“Left at the market and walk towards the sound
Out by the docks and the Indian mound.
Re-trace your steps and walk yourself home
To rest as you wish, or to rest here alone”.

“Forgive me,” I said “and obliged for the talk,
But I’m fit to decide on the route that I walk.
There are much nicer paths than the one you describe.
I pass not by the mound, for I’m not of the tribe.”

“Listen to me, sir, and don’t fall astray
Watch people closely and hear what they say.
Stare at the stars, now, and not at the street
Aim rockets high, sir, and not at your feet.”

“Fine, I will go! Now, isn’t this strange?
A walk through the town that a bird has arranged!”
Perhaps ‘tis a ruse? Or he may mean me harm?
Or possibly has hidden his guile with his charm?

With worry and wonder decision was made.
My heart sent me elsewhere in search of its shade.
Heading out, I had almost forgotten to bring,
Resting cold on my bedside, my small silver ring.

Unaware of my motives, I slipped out the door
And down the long hall of the seventeenth floor
At home in the darkness, I dashed down the stairs
Burst through the steel gate to breathe the night airs.

I stood on my stoop to admire the scene
My head finned up-left to the sound of a scream
T’was the bird, singing high, hanging low, up above
“This night of transgression collects for you love!”

From the top of the stoop, I leapt down to the street.
Dusted my jacket while kicking my feet.
Night air does me well, t’was lonely inside.
Red moon above me, blackbird by my side.

To ride on my shoulder and guide this excursion,
the blackbird swooped t’wards me to land on my person
“I will mostly be flying but will make certain stops.”
Then off flew my bird t’wards the high chimney tops

Sweeping and diving, my bird showed his stuff,
A dancing dart shadow, his show was enough
To trust him when once from his beak it was clear,
“I may fly by night, but I’ll always be near.”

I strolled long the lane with hands in my pockets
My money, my lighter, and four bottle-rockets.
I lighted the first one, she crackled in flight.
To shake an old bench of four bums into fright.

“They’re shooting! They’re shooting!” the drunken bums screamed.
And the bird and I laughed at the size of the scene
The bums bouncing ‘round under antic direction,
Their hands on their bodies with frantic inspection.

“We are saved!” the bums screamed, “We are finally free!
Let us up into heaven! We have suffered for Thee!
We were shot at and bravely avoided our fate!
Open heaven and take us before it’s too late!”

“See all those men?” The bird peeped in my ear.
“They have never been deaf, yet they claim they can hear.
They come to this village on horses that crawl
They ride in through the gate but climb out by the wall.

“You’re joking me, bird?! What on Earth do you mean?
‘Tis babble I hear from you, Little DarkWing.
I trust you a sage, though your rhymes don’t comply.
Could you mean to run fast and that soon I may fly?”

“Forgive me, dear sir, but your mincing my words
The spirit of flight was a gift for the birds
How could you soar when you hardly can stand?
The ground is enough for the soul of a man!”

“Enough with your poems!” I pointed my finger,
And tapped the blackbird on the tip of his singer.
“I comprehend neither your song, nor your meter.
And nor meta-physical creeds from your tweeter.”

I continued to walk and the bird turned his beak.
In the silence, it surfaced inside me to speak.
I pursed my lips tight and in fear of the answer
To what I may ask of my wing-ed romancer.

I thought if I spoke and inquired it may
Result in a truth that would ruin this day.
T’was as if the bird once hatched was aware,
Leading me blind to a faith-full someWhere.

Giancarlo DiTrapano

Bemused and bedazzled, I summoned a grin,
And strangled the hubris that banged from within.
My heart holding fast, I continued to walk
And decided again for my rockets to talk.

I drew out the rocket from left jacket sleeve
Lit it up, let it sail, past the houses it weaved.
Broke its light in the sky and then fell away dead,
Near a small crowd of people I spied up ahead.

T’was one man alone, children swiping at his crown
Tugging his sleeves while their knees scraped the ground.
“These children are criminals, yet they are my sons!”
The man preached of myths that for long have been done.

“How many children are there like this?
And will you tell me how many will I serve?
O, if I could have a clue what justice is,
It would be more than I truly deserve.”*

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I’m one of the young.
No crime in my heart, only time in the sun.
I wander this town with a shadow above,
Two ears to each echo of bulldozing love.”

The old-man began screaming and flailed all about
Pulled away from the children and started to shout,
“They only have lived what they thought to be life!
Murdering me and then wedding my wife!”

“Come, sir,” I said, ”I have now heard them all!
What shoots high drifts back, and prepares for its fall.
You should know this,” I said, “You are ancient and wise.”
I kept with my walking. My rockets, my prize.

Ahead was the mound where the savages rest.
Geronimo drying the sweat on his chest.
This was the point, if I were to turn back.
Yet the blackbird swept low to enforce my attack.

Another explosion we desperately sought,
So I reached for another small rocket I’d brought.
I aimed at the mound and shot clean away,
Fire through Earth, as vessels through clay.


At the base of the mound a doorway appeared
With a grand ball within, yet the dancefloor was cleared.
A low distant music had beckoned me in
To a gala of laughing, of ghosts, and of sin.

With buckets of wine the people sat ‘round
The men in their smokings; the ladies, their gowns.
Each one smiled and made move t’wards the floor
It was then that I knew I had danced here before.

One lover, another, a band of brass blew
Couple by couple, they glided in Two
Circles and dippings, a kiss and a scream…
(The bird flapped his feathers and closed down the dream.)

In a flash we were gone, and soon I had found
Myself, the same hour, in the middle of town.
The mound in the distance appeared once the same
A tomb for the gone: dead grass, mud, and name.

“Why did you do that? And why did we go?”
I asked of my bird, for I thought I should know.
“There will be many dances and balls to attend
But We must press onward, this night has an end.”

I headed t’wards home, the blackbird behind.
Passing the points he had sang we would find.
The park and the tavern, they were all indeed there
The mound, the sound, and the town center square.

We came to the theater standing just past the church
The blackbird had landed: my shoulder, his perch.
He sung, “Look there, sir, and say what you see.
If I were to be you, I would look to find me.”

My bird meant me well, I fin-ally knew.
He was searching to save me each flight that he flew
When he spoke, it was fortune he hoped he would bring
The bell of his little throat sore as he’d sing.

“Place your eyes on the people and make of them shades
High upon clouds and then low in parades
If your sight jumps a beat and your visions be heard
I will leave you in peace, not alone”
, said my bird.

“I see them in the theater. They are very, very real.”
“They’re scolded when they come home dirty, crying.”
“I see their love forbidden outwardly.”
“But that inside of them there is no denying.”*

My blackbird applauded as loud as he could
His wings hummed a flapping of thin snapping wood
“You use your eyes well, your rockets fly straight!
If one rocket left you, one rocket will wait.”

Dismissing the village, the gardens and grass,
Recalling the nursery rhyme freed from my past,
I forgot life together was to live not alone.
And I should be in my bed, in the warmth of my home.

So I fetched my last rocket, pinching tight on the stick.
Grabbed at my lighter and lit-up its wick.
The little flame chewed up the end of the fuse.
This was it, my last rocket. Now, bring me good news!

I held the thin rocket on high up above
Aiming it high t’wards the bulldozing love
It leaped from my hand, a fair jet to the moon
Far past my bird and the sound of his tune.

It made something call me, a voice from the park.
As it stepped to the streetlight and out from the dark.
Waving me over, its paw in the air
A jovial beast with a staggering stare.

I strolled to him slowly to bend my head in,
His voice and his breath, both foreign and thin.
The streetlight above us broke/burst into flame
The beast and the blackbird both mouthing my name.

Both voices silenced, and grew one into one
There was only the beast, my sweet blackbird was done.
A lonely black feather was all I did spy
A dark gentle thing that fell slow through the sky.

Suddenly I started to think like my bird.
Shaking my syllables and squeezing each word.
It came from beyond me but passed me clean through.
My mouth opened wide to sing out what I knew.


“An energy of zebra kicks sand through the night
Helps me run from the wolf pack, the lions they fight.
Fear begs the days of the weeks when you were.
Each week its own animal denied of its fur.”

“Next door there’s a bell, man, a stomach, a thing
An angel, two demons, three smiling, one wing
Black bird, Ma, blackbird, a river, please sing
Come over me mouthing, bareback and gold ring.”

“Come crooked costume, alive, be it how,
A city, come lately, a country, come now
Roll over, caring, and watch a child try
My arms, your sore angel, my one mountain high”

“Clarity, years, and cold babes unfound
Alone, lifting water, and breathing in sound
Rush me, you only, wear me out from within
Fingers hold wrists to lock arms and begin.”

“Back-breaking pushes, the sheet high, the fan.
An infant to boy into lion to Man
Finally trust me, withholding your best
A view of the planet, the sweat on my chest.”

My mouth, it then dried, and my vision was broken.
The words I had spilled weren’t meant to be spoken.
Swallowing slowly, my throat closed to small.
I heard great ringing bells, I heard nothing at all.

I felt the beast’s forefingers plugging my ears
The breath from a creature beyond me in years
He pulled out his fingers, my mind had been read
“I want you thrilled!” in my ear he had said.

Every-thing slowed and broke down to halt
Every-thing lifted up free from my fault
Each rocket that had shot up above and broke light
Had made something come fall together that night.

No-thing was questioned, and the new night was clean
No-thing escaping these worlds I have seen
No-thing that happened forbade me to see
The nothing that lived here before there was me.

The beast turned his back and walked heading west
Back past my home t’wards the lodge, I’d have guessed.
I let the thing walk, but stared down his trail.
Silver beast hair at night, a dark sea and a sail

My senses then gathered, my heart was on straight
It forced me to follow the one not to wait.
The black thing I lost for my silver now leaving
Me standing alone in the street on that evening

I started to run t’wards my home with delight
My questions were days when my answers were nights.
I looked up at my window, inside there was light!
It had happened! The blackbird, my blackbird, was right!

On the way up the stairs, my chest gave to shaking
I wondered if something inside me were breaking
Could it not be just true? Just waiting for me?
For once this long night I intended to see.

I came to my door and I opened it slow
Hoping to see by the moon and her glow
My bedroom had darkened, though things could be seen
Like my bed, and the table where rested one ring.

So I hung down my head and I stared at my hand
On the smallest of fingers, one bright silver band.
I thought I’d forgotten, was sure I was done.
But fin-ally, dear gods above, I had won.

I dropped down my jacket and kicked off my pants.
How nice to be home from my walk and the dance.
I climbed in to hold the warm shape in my bed.
And Tomorrow, I’ll surely dream standing instead.

Giancarlo DiTrapano is the editor of New York Tyrant and Tyrant Books.

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