Consciousness rising on the wings of a sound

Blaring out as the sun glares down

Calling me into the day

In only the way a machine can arouse

And disregard the drowse and

Pull my hand forward

Like Pavlov’s dog

Reaching for a bone.



The machine sets the tone

With a rigid pace

Delicate as a calloused hand

Caressing pantyhose or

Hand sewn lace

Wrapped around the legs

Of a beautiful woman

Smoking a long, slender cigarette.



I lost the bet

Between the moon and the sun

Middle man to what I wanted and

What I knew I must become

And so again, I rise

Like an obedient fog

Lifting from a treasure filled bog

No pirate came to loot.



Throat covered in soot

I cough and dust comes out—

Not the kind you can see,

The kind you can feel

When you wanted to say a thing

That is true but

No one really understood the meaning

Or you—



I sneeze like the color blue

Mellow enough for the sky

And deep enough for salty fathoms

Where currents travel through

And mysterious things sway—

Supple enough to be moved

Strong enough to stay—

And then begins the day.



The side of my neck leads the way

Then follows my breast

And my belly, which sway,

I am traveling through the age

When muscles sing with muffled voices

A little bit of tightness

Wrapped around choices

And the gravity of yesterday’s Noon.



My shoulders erect, my eyelids immune

To the pull of invisible balloons

Tied with strings attached

Ascending with a helium hope

Pulling to carry me up and through—

A gentle persuasion to stand and to move—

Yet my eyelids protest and rest

In the colorful shadows drawn on by light.



There is stillness and there is flight

Invading my room—

Rocking like a newborn’s cradle

Fighting like an old man’s fright—

One whispering a map of retreat

The other laying chills on my skin

Bumpy with a battle waged against




I am hypnotized by the seductive treat

Not to choose,

I seize with silent tears,

Which cling to no emotion

But fall with misplaced devotion

To security—enemy of the future,

A temptress whose promises dull

My sense of mutiny—



So flows my rehearsed litany

Of past and further back,

Of angles I have mined and unpacked

Of risks I wanted to take

Of decisions I thought I would make

And a stake of failure

Sticking me

To the ground.



Then a sound

Like a song

But more piercing

And singing on for too long

Like an alarm

But not the same one

That began the day

And the thoughts and the decay.



One single note and then an array—

An audible morsel

And then a buffet—

Rush through the window

At which I debate

The winged singer comes too

Singing a tune with no words

‘Til my eyelids abate.



My curiosity inflated,

“Why have you come?”

I asked with a stutter

And then the bird mutters,

“I did not come,

I was sent.”

I want to believe

He was sent just for me.



“Out there—somewhere—you are free

do not stay here long,

I would hate to see—“

He interrupts my plea,

“I can leave when I wish

and so can you

neither is trapped,

we’ve directions to pursue.”



Then he sang through

And as the rhythm grew

A seed inside of me

Rattled anew—

Because one time I knew—

Where there is breath

There is time, and where there is time

There is Hope for something new.



I leaned forward as if I knew

How to rise and what to do

Then through the sound

Of my knees protesting

I stood to my feet

And looked through the frame

In a clear view investing

In what to become, not what I became.



“Courage,” the bird exclaimed,

“I knew it was there

buried between your flesh

and your bone,

pulsing in veins

that are not merely your own

but mirroring those who came before—

the ones who shared

their blood and

their stories

their failures and


and then the ones who came after

who collect your tears and

your laughter

in treasure boxes of their own.”



My indecision was overthrown

Like a dog who wants steak

But is given a bone—

It’s for his own good and

For his delight—

I let breath fall into my hand,

Then followed my hope,

Next came purpose and, finally,

A plan.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by American installation artist and assemblage sculptor, Edward Keinholz’s piece,  In the Infield Was Patty Peccavi.)