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a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage

It has taken time for this bookwork to come into being.

The text for a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage was written on March 26th, 2014 for Ectopistes migratorius (the now extinct passenger pigeon).

Martha, who was the last surviving passenger pigeon, died on September 1st, 1914 in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. After her death she was packed in a block of ice and shipped to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where she now resides (if you can call it that).

The photographs I used for this bookwork were taken at Athabasca Glacier in August 2014, during a three-day return trip to be in slow conversation with that deep and quickly melting ice.

(Tuesday, April 14th, 2015)

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a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage is a pair of white cotton gloves & a hand bound bookwork printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer, on MOAB’s 100% cotton Entrada paper.

The approximate dimensions for this bookwork are 10.16 cm. x 48.26 cm. x 4.445 cm. (4″ x 19″ x 1.75″).

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the British Columbia Arts Council for their support of my in slow conversation project which in part has led to this bookwork.

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The following are excerpts from the text/poems for this bookwork:

a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage
(for Ecptopistes migratorius)


a bird, once abundant
known by some as Dark Cloud
leaving only the trace of stories
which like phantom wings
still slowly
against my restless mind


imagine the familiar
carried off
then brought to these shores
where birds recalled ancestors
passing through spent years
jarring a frozen narrative
now flightless birds, collecting stories
in tune and on fire
with recovered words
blurring the historical


birds, birds, birds
their mouths swallow half a dozen fields
and a passing vessel
their catch unexpected
the flock, fattened by their experience
morphs into a wave


reading Ecopistes Migratorius
as fable
as an agglomeration of flight and recalled evidence
entangled with questions
dampens any notion of a clear narrative
there’s the appearance of discovery
of collecting the data, the dead, the stuck
of destroying documents
seeing the vanished
hearing theories to explain the speculated, and drowned
often referred to
as news
while an unwritten paragraph
warns the imaginative mind
to resist the threat
of knowing


death sets us apart
introduces writing
we mourn the moment
that provides a lone paragraph
to express the found
and the possible


after death dispatched its warning
a wave, hidden in the ocean
still seems to hold promise

2 thoughts on “a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage”

    1. Thanks Claudia.Since we haven’t met (I don’t think), I just did a search and came across your website. I’m intrigued. I look forward to being able to spend more time reading through pages there and spending more time with the images … “and everywhere the music / of water.” Even this alone will bring me back to visit your site again and again, I’m sure.


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