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David Weiss

Kiki Smith

Getting the Bird Out, 1992

bronze and string 10x11-1/2x7"(25.4x29.2x17.8cm),

head1-1/2x6x1-1/2"(3.8x 15.2 x 3.8 cm), bird installation dimensions variable

Photograph by Sarah Harper Gifford, courtesy Pace Gallery

Getting the Bird Out

. . . to disimprison the soul of fact – Coleridge

1 Getting the Bird Out

You could hear it under the ribs

its flutterings wet and papery

Between her lips you could see it:

seedlings tipping their dicots toward the light

The shipping manifest the suede buttons

that last look over the shoulder: all that could be pulled out

Even the flywheel could be extracted

Without much damage delicacy itself would come free

But getting the bird proved difficult

For one thing the bird was a paraphrase

It clung like motion’s most intimate movement

to the principle of no-stone-unturned

Only when we gave up did it come out

It looked like no bird we’d ever seen

a gob of slag unheaped

On its side it lay the long red cord still deep in its throat

So many things its immobility seemed to say

were now going to be a thing of the past

2 On Broil

Onset with its per second per seconds

with its crude meticulous hustle

Onset exhilaration’s unsavory twin

that invades the definite article flip-book fast


whose mounted police line the demonstration route


that roaring tit that distress emancipator

who noisies up the lacerations

who strips of of its belongings

with its eastward-aiming

and westward-rumbling voracity

Onset and its magpie inroads

its sunset effusions

pouring out like the gospel of Job

lapsed and relapsing rolling out the patterns of pandemonium

with its brass knuckled and prowling epicenters

its mortar bandwagon </