Haunts — A Dream


“Haunt” — C.Birde, 8/19


The night is longest when it is sleepless,

the mind crowded with haunts and fury

draped in dark shadow and ominous

as the ghosts of futures-yet-to-be

that point bone-white fingers

from  dream’s dark corner and

leave one breathless,




to cry out at the mounting pressure

and injustice of storms and heat

and glaciers’ retreat and rising tides

and seas blooming plastic

and forests denuded and deprived

of creatures great and small,

and all all all

rewritten and twisted and undone

in service to short-term metrics

that measure life elemental

against gains —


concrete —

of dollars and cents

as if a blue-green shiny new earth

might be bought and sold and regrown

by stocks and bonds and war and walls

and oil and coal alone. . .

The night is longest when it is sleepless,

interrupted by dreams of ink-writ

skeletal wraiths that inhale

one’s choked-silent pleas of


Right there!

Does no one



— C.Birde, 8/19


Separate Waters — A Dream


“Separate Waters” — C.Birde , 11/18


The bridge extends.

Below, to either side,

in frantic haste,

wide waters part.

We stride

in confidence,

reach the midpoint of the span

and cross beyond…


in headlong rush,

the tides return,

frilled with crashing


His name lodged in my throat,

upon my lips;

in fear,

I cry aloud

for his steadying hand…

Out of reach…

beyond reach…

A fury of water collapses, collides,

consumes my voice, my limbs,

my life.

A thunder of water


A wall of water



— C.Birde, 11/18


Dinosaur — A Dream


“Dinosaur” –C.Birde, 10/18


Small dark apartment. Smaller cramped kitchen. So many stories up. The others mill about with mugs in hand, gather around the tubular-legged formica table. Dressed in pale, loose-fitting clothes, they shuffle like sleepwalkers.

The kitchen’s single window – large, wide, with neither curtains nor panes – stares unblinking, westward, out over a great ravine, toward a ragged bluff on the opposite side. A long, low structure defines the bluff’s subtle shifts in elevation. The structure’s white walls are incomplete in places; it lacks a roof. Slowly, the sun sets, illuminates walls and rooflines in relief. The underbellies of great, dark clouds strung overhead catch fire.

Beyond the building – there, in the fathomable distance – stomps a tyrannosaurus rex. Enormous in size and ferocity and appetite, it tears through the low, roofless building, pulls off great chunks of cinder block, plucks out terrified people…gnashes bodies with its foot-long serrated teeth.

Don’t look…don’t notice…don’t acknowledge the awful danger. Don’t allow the thoughts to twist and form and grow… Don’t look here…Don’t notice us…Don’t hurt us

Too late.

The fear, like a siren song, trembles upon the still air. The creature turns, glares across the ravine’s expanse, leaps it in a single pump of its powerful hind legs. With a thunderous t h u m p, it lands atop the building several stories up.

Tearing teeth. Sundering  claws. The creature pulls apart the upper floors. The ceiling trembles, cracks, lets loose a drift of plaster dust. Formerly a drowsy environment, the kitchen erupts in frantic cries, dropped mugs, and calamity.

The monster digs its way down and down and inevitably down.


— C.Birde, 10/18


Cetaceous Sleep — A Dream

Sleeping Whale.png

“Cetaceous Sleep” — C.Birde, 12/17


Constricted view, consumed by clear blue sea, purled in white wavelets. Beneath that glittering, glassy surface rests a great, moon-pale shape, its smooth contours distorted by distance, by the sea’s subtle, internal motion. A whale. See the massive, blunt curve of head, dimpled by sealed blowhole; the sleek, muscled immensity of its body; the gradual narrowing and reshaping of form that results in the great, flattened fan of its tail.

With the ocean piled high and deep, drawn up over it, the whale sleeps. Adrift. Blissful. Content.

Soundlessly, the battleship materializes. It is not there; and then – in the next breath, thought, heartbeat – it simply is. Dull gray; wedged front; a single, monolith turret at its center. Obscene in length, the ship hovers – airborne – above the rippled ocean, casts its shadow down and through the sea, over the sleeping whale.

A moment, only, before it descends.

The ship’s keel parts the waves. Its hull flattens the ocean’s surface, sends sheets of water arching, waves thundering seismically away. Immediately, the battleship is swallowed whole and sinks rapidly, crushingly down. A herculean depth charge aimed directly at the creature beneath it.

Impossible, improbable, infuriating silence as the ship gathers downward speed.

Collision is assured.

The whale sleeps.



— C.Birde, 12/17


Swarm — A Dream



“Swarm” — C.Birde, 10/17


Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.


Or so it seemed.


I, in a derelict house that leaned within its footings, climbed a crooked staircase through a murk of dark. Hand trailing the banister’s time-gnawed and pitted wood, I reached the slanted landing and moved, as if down a throat, through railroaded rooms that lead one into another. Faded carpets underfoot, their colored patterns lost to time and wear. The house felt empty – of soul and memory – and the walls held little on their broken plaster planes beyond strips and tears of antique floral papers. Three windows in that final claustrophobic room held only night – far darker for its starless aspect – and here, carpet and floorboards both peeled and fell away to reveal a swollen bulge beneath. The sides sloped gently upward to a hole defined by the floorboards’ split and broken edges, and from this broke-toothed fissure emerged a skittering, chittering fury of insects. Mandibled and multi-legged, their pale, foot-long, segmented bodies writhed in and out of that misplaced hole in chaotic, threatening fashion. Near at hand, I found a smooth, stout branch and thrust its gnarled end into that revolting hive. I heard the crunch and squish of squashed, insectoid bodies, felt my stomach heave. But the swarm did not decrease. I knew I’d earned the creatures’ wrath when, with relief, I woke.


Unbeknownst to me, he, too, in his sleep dreamed. Of a house, filled less with dark than light, its angles meeting square and right. And he – downstairs, not up – perceived in the sweep of ceiling overhead a bulge in that smooth space, seemingly benign. A squat stalactite of sloped sides, its peak crowned in a dark, hollow depression from which moved to and fro a collective of insects, sleek bodied with wings of pale and iridescent green pressed to the subtle gleam of their hardened carapaces. Though he craned his neck to discern the meaning of their movements, he felt no threat, but curiosity.


Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.


Or so it seemed.


— C.Birde, 10/17



Storm Doors — A Dream


storm door.jpg

“Storm Doors” — C.Birde, 9/17


These worlds are flat.

Tethered one-to-another by flexible, gray tubing, each hangs suspended in space like a great dish; floats, like a flattened bead strung along a cosmic necklace. Deep, inky-dark, vast, star-pricked space surrounds, but travel between the flat worlds is possible by way of the tubes. Slide through them – a whoosh of air, a thought – and arrive at your destination on another world that extends, equally flattened, edge to edge, and scrapes against unprotected space. No walls. No railings. No net below to catch any misstep. Yet there is air – lungs expand and contract easily, naturally. There is gravity – the surface underfoot gently accepts and repels each stride. And each flattened world glows softly with gathered, reflected light. See them shine; beacons within a nameless constellation.

All is perfectly ordinary…except for the door.

A reinforced storm door rises, monolithic, from an embankment of silt-gray earth and stone. Twin horizontal lengths of orange metal. No sun-kissed citrus shade; but a dull throb of sullen color. A warning. A threat. It both draws and repulses. And does it – beyond its fierce, featureless slab – protect, or imperil?

Breath catches, heart ratchets.





— C.Birde, 9/17


Whales and Wailing — A Dream

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“Whales & Wailing” — C.Birde, 8/17


The building is a single story, squat and square with walls made entirely of windows. Situated on the beach, it stares blindly over the great, gray stretch of ocean. Lace-edged waves lap and curl against the sandy shore. All seems tranquil, quiet. Stand before the barrier windows, though, hands pressed to the glass; glance left – the serenity is broken. A killer whale is caught in the shallow water, breached. Taut, sleek ,black and white skin runs with seawater. A pectoral fin lists skyward. The large mouth, arrayed with rows of sharp teeth, hangs slack – a shadowed pink cavern.

Howl an animal cry. For the waste of life. For the selfishness. For callous business decisions and profit margins that disregard the larger picture. For the tangled and interconnected web in which we are all a part. For compassionless, human hubris.

Howl again, in anguish while all those surrounding continue, unpreturbed, with their individual tasks. Heads bent over papers and devices, they remain unaware, detached. Unconcerned for the great creature’s suffering and passing; unmoved by the strangled human wail that issues from amidst their own.

All but one. She approaches. A little girl, wide-eyed and concerned. How old – eight, nine, ten? She feels it, too. The grief. The suffering. But her hand is firm, her touch warm. Her very presence anchors, halves the pain.

Cling to her. Don’t let go. Fight it. Together.


— C.Birde, 8/17



Causeway — A Dream


“Causeway” — C.Birde, 1/17


The bus idles in a shallow sputter compared to the ocean’s voice. Though I sit all the way at the back of the bus, I can see easily over the empty rows of seats to the front. My uncle sits behind the wheel. I’m astounded. He intends to drive us over the causeway. That narrow, paved road built on a raised ridge of sand that stretches perilously out into the ocean and uncurls out of sight over the great, gray expanse of shifting water. Doesn’t he remember the last time?

Perhaps he does not. Perhaps he doesn’t care.

Determined not to cry, I press my forehead against the window’s cold glass, try to stare past the hungry waves. The ocean stirs and mutters and threatens my resolve. When my tears come, they are near silent, wracking.

I remember.

Tires humping over asphalt. The ocean, lying in wait, in duplicity. Waves gathering, retreating, rearing up into the sky. Those peculiar shadows cast by roiling seawater – volatile, changeable, transparent, then opaque. Thunderous crash of those falling waves. Creak and groan of too-thin metal, caving. Delicate chime and tinkle of splintering glass. Understanding the ocean’s resolve as it tumbled limbs, sucked at flesh. Its intent of pulling all into its watery center.

Choking sting of salt water.

Rapidly, I blink away tears when I hear her voice, lift my head from against the window. Turning, I am surprised to see she sits a row or two ahead of me – my friend. She has taken up my cause, gently suggested a logical case for avoiding the causeway, for finding an alternative route. Her rationale is so tactful, so persuasive and balanced, my uncle soon agrees with its wisdom as if it had been his own all along. He cuts the bus’s engine and gets out his maps.

Meanwhile, my friend catches my eye and smiles. She has accomplished what I would certainly have been scorned and belittled for. The causeway’s threat – of being washed away, swallowed whole, drowned – is vanquished. My relief overwhelms me.

Inversion — A Dream


“Inversion” — C.Birde, 12/16


The gold-tone banister I hold is rubbed to a smooth patina and warm beneath my hand. One slow step at a time, I climb. My skirt is white and gauzy as sea-foam, but far too long, as is the fringed and tasseled scarf slipping forward over my shoulder. Both threaten to tangle between my feet and trip me up. My husband offers to hold the scarf – he is right ahead of me on the stairs, just behind my mother. In my free hand, I gather scarf and skirts; I thank him, but assure him it’s fine

Glancing over my shoulder, I see the staircase double back on itself a multitude of times; a steady current of people files up the steps as far as the eye can see. For such a crowd, in such close quarters, we are exceedingly polite, inching forward together steadily. Looking ahead, I’m relieved to see that my mother has reached the landing outside the elevator doors.

The line comes to a standstill. Just over the landing’s lip, I see three sealed elevator doors gleam softly golden. Set within the center of each door is a circular window which stares like a blank, dark eye. Each door is likewise crowned in a half-circle – segmented and numbered – over which an ornate arrow marks each elevator’s slow descent.

The soft voices of those around me lap and echo within the stairwell’s narrow throat. I decide to give my scarf to my husband after all and unwind it from about my neck. When I hand it to him, I stumble backward and bump against the woman below me on the steps. Quickly, I apologize, tell her that I felt suddenly faint – this is not true, but it seemed better than admitting to clumsiness. Unperturbed, the woman kindly offers a piece of advice: to keep from feeling faint while on board, I should keep my focus fixed toward the North. She points up at the elevators, and repeats herself: North. I thank her, smile and nod, and wonder how on earth any one can tell where “North” is inside this windowless stairwell?

Suddenly, there is a great, cavernous groan and an enormous shudder – we all grip the banister as everything trembles. The floor, the stairs begin to tilt sickeningly. Still sealed, the elevators swim slowly upward to take the ceiling’s place. A sodden weight of dread compresses my chest. A desperate panic lodges in my throat. Silence has stolen my voice. But I understand – as we all do, trapped in this slowly inverting stairwell – that a tidal wave has capsized the ship. It is only a small matter of time before the sea spills in and we all drown.

Devolution — A Dream

Slowly back away, out of the darkened house. Step carefully, toe-to-heel, toe-to-heel. Watch them skulk forward from the shadows. They advance with bellies low. Don’t break eye contact. Don’t trip as you move, don’t fall. They’ll pounce. They’ll tear and rend. They’re too far gone now — no calm words, no soft vocalizations will bring them back. They have devolved. No longer the sleek-coated creatures that, just yesterday, you ran your hands over, that lifted to receive your touch. They bristle. They hiss. Their ears and teeth and claws have elongated and begun to curl. Their jaws shift forward. Don’t look so closely. Don’t think about it. Ignore the rapid beat of your heart, the shallowness of your breath and sweat at your hairline. Continue your uncertain exit. Find the door at your back. Press into it. Feel the bite of wood, the chill handle beneath your groping hand. Hear the click of metal tongue, the creak and gasp of hinges. Back out — slowly, slowly — into the cool, heavy night. Quickly now, pull the door shut as they hurl themselves upon it. Hear them yowl and scream. Hear their talons gouge wood. Pause a moment to catch your breath, to collect yourself. You have escaped. Now, run.


“Devolution” — C.Birde, 6/16