Laynie Browne: A Bird Looks at Itself


As a child, on the bed, at the starting gate, even today— imagine it


Handwritten womb, tremors the color red

When asked to inscribe the title you look up

why the jellyfish has no shell, an entire illegible

page, pleasure in waves like a romantic notion keeps

you— company, along the poem lined streets

diagrams in lobes, entranceways, a blue dress face down

on a bed, head hidden, washed up every day on a beach

light rubbed into bloom, lips tremble

A bird looks at itself in a mirror with binoculars

I wrote by candlelight with the door closed for as long as I wanted

In simple curves with pockets for pencils and scraps

of vapor, crickets, dried flowers, dead parenthesis around neck

beguiled, on a thread, at the parting gate, reason astray— imagine it

Laynie Browne is a poet, prose writer, teacher and editor. She is author of thirteen collections of poems and three novels. Her most recent collections of poems include You Envelop Me (Omnidawn 2017, forthcoming), P R A C T I C E (SplitLevel 2015), and Scorpyn Odes (Kore Press 2015) Her novel Periodic Companions is forthcoming from Tinderbox. Her honors include a 2014 Pew Fellowship, the National Poetry Series Award (2007) for her collection The Scented Fox, and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award (2005) for her collection Drawing of a Swan Before Memory.  Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese and Catalan. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies including The Norton Anthology of Post Modern Poetry (second edition 2013), Ecopoetry: A Contemporary American Anthology (Trinity University Press, 2013), Bay Poetics (Faux Press, 2006) and The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (Reality Street, 2008). Her critical writing has appeared in journals including Jacket2Aufgabe , Open Letter and Talisman. She is co-editor of I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues Press, 2012) and is currently editing an anthology of original essays on the Poet’s Novel. She teaches at University of Pennsylvania and at Swarthmore College.