O'Clock Press No. 9

Early Bird
Jean Day


28 pages
6.5" x 8.5"

Edition of 100


the life of us

who actually work the thing

is everything

begins with “re”

first instruction


not mere conjugation

Well let’s see

this might involve

a few phone calls

some serious math-astrology

by the trumpet rhetors

watching others read

“—a Jedi, he—”

O me, I might

live to see my eloquence explode


inside and out

professional and technical

limits at once macho

and dainty

going from my hopeful natal territory


First, the Nightingale is a Thrush. The Mockingbird is a Mimic Thrush. It doesn't mean its song is any less real, but I don't think that's the question in EARLY BIRD, which looks to protect lyric from the boring graze around fraudulence. Here, hearing and seeing are the fabrication at stake: "Like the girl who cried her eyes / stark out of her head / doctors without insight / sick opticians / sun without future / rise and take a number!" The lines that oriented me long ago to (and fro) Jean Day's work -- "waiting for parts / is a form of hope" -- aren't in this particular elegant pamphlet, but because she's written them, they are (cf. "And for how long / did you say? / For many things that are true / are just true enough"). Jean's poems are severe about our living in single file (hope adjusts, doesn't it), and not in the cloying, bombastic sense, refreshingly, of much contemp. poesie. To watch out, to be pre-dawn, is not to get a leg up on everyone else, to get ahead. It's to persist, and to call out our medium. "...Who wants to live / long takes a shot / in the chest If / the more one sings the more / she sounds / like many an army / and mockingbirds of course / have the advantage of being / fast learners". Her work has always refused language's consignment to the ordinary, so I'm almost sorry to read into EARLY BIRD a poetics of should. But we should be reading everything Jean Day writes. - Corina Copp