double knock

I have been thinking about and working on brief obituaries for quite awhile, but until recently none of the pieces were really working for me. They didn’t feel quite right. It wasn’t until I wrote these recent obit pieces, that I felt I was finally beginning to work something out.

These brief obituaries were written on August 8th & 9th, 2013 after a return to the newspaper article “The Legendary ivory bill lives again! Maybe” by Peter Christie, that appeared in The Globe and Mail on Saturday, September 30th, 2006.

As I did when writing the poems for a child’s fable, these brief obituaries were written using only words and punctuation that appeared in the newspaper article and in the order of their appearance. Here on this wings walking water website I thought I’d share a few of the brief obits.

I knew that eventually they would need to be given tangible form and I continued to think about how I wanted these pieces to function. The images following the brief obits are of the bookwork I completed on September 3rd, 2013.

“double knock” is the sound that the ivory billed woodpecker apparently makes, bill to wood.

This bookwork was printed and assembled in an edition of 22.

*  *   *

double knock (nine brief obituaries for Campephilus principalis)


a suspect sighting

elusive —

thought to have died off in the middle of flapping,

hiding out in a bold claim.

the legendary

interferes with the geography.


the fiasco heightened the risk.

the danger inspired a story.


Second chances rare.

the writer looks and finds nothing.

will risk the danger his grandfather told

of dark water and flooded forest.


he agreed to live in the sounds

on faith.


legendary lore remembered

In two fuzzy photographs.

critics defended the photos,

organized a field-recording project,

agreed to live in the machines


paddled through evidence that skeptics questioned.

this difference in approach, turned down, they said

in the public’s interest.


Last year, the search announced the magnificent

thought to have died in the interior. It arose —

wrote blurry footage

desperately flapping to the disillusioned,

silenced the bad taste,

Announcing a cold claim to the faithful. one bird

stuck his neck out, seen fueling, willing to go forward.

less concerned after listening to the double knock

it gambles its survival.

2 thoughts on “double knock”

  1. The most beautiful tangible piece! Loved this!
    I cannot believe that brief obituaries are from the words just from the newspaper article. This has so many meanings for me.

  2. Sukh, I’m so glad that you love this piece. For me too, there’s layers of meanings – some consciously built into the work and some just seem to arrive. Maybe subconsciously built into it, I’m not sure. As is often the case with my work, some of the layers/threads are tough to put my finger on, but if I can sense their presence, I am happy.

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