Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

A poem by Erin O’Luanaigh


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Suzanne Pleshette in The Birds


Comes the silver Aston-Martin
and the vague apprehension
that some terror is on the wing.
Don’t they ever stop migrating,
these bottle-blondes from the city,
flying down the highway, san souci?



While the heiress slept though transcontinental flights, she ran aground. A slash of dirt on the apple of one cheek. Husky-voiced, earthy, she tills compulsively, teaches children, tends reality.



Two caged lovebirds in the blonde’s front seat.
Special delivery.
Oh, I see.



Wedding on the coast this weekend. An atmospheric pressure gathers
in my head. The vulturous hairdresser calls my curls “hopeless,”
predicts their frizz will ruin the pictures.

        The numerology of the bridal party:
tissued flocks of favors, symmetrical photographs, the demand for pairs.
Then, looking around, the realization that I’m the remainder, inauspicious,
like a gift of knives, a glimpse before the altar. Like my black dress, an augury.



Outside her schoolhouse, the beating of wings.

An old god—mimeographed, disseminated—drifts like nuclear fallout on the jungle gym.



Raven-haired, a few rungs down Hitchcock’s pecking order,
her bob fans out like feathers in the Bodega Bay breeze.
Hayworth on her mailbox, bombshell name. Love returned to sender.

Her vividness dissolves like a Percodan dropped in water.
Fade to white: the blonde addresses a letter she will hand-deliver,
not trusting fate to the whims of the mail.



her modernist prints, her furtive Modigliani (why the long face?)
her hard-backed library
her brandy—dark liquor, distilled warmth
her Wagner record propped against the turntable
her New York melancholy, her bookish vocabulary, her beatnik style
her hamlet doesn’t offer much to the casual visitor
her cigarettes soften her gestures, bank her in fog



He looks like he models shorts
        in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue,
this California man, unworthy,
        unwitty, unwitting.
She wouldn’t want him, bland,
        hen-pecked by his mother,
but for the humiliation
        of not being picked.



Darkling, she listens to the lovers’ phone call,
smoking in the foreground on her analyst’s couch.
Oh, to fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
as she has been forgotten. To kill the evening
like a gull, head dashed against her door.



Ask not for whom the birds caw,
the sparrows crow, the larks bark.

Ask not for whom the seagulls seethe,
scattered like seashells on the seashore.

As not for whom the ravens stave in
the ceiling, at whom the peckers peck.



Body left on the battlefield, turned to carrion.

The incessant mating calls, the crush of competition.

The ancient imperatives come home to roost.



You went through with it,
despite a morning-of vow that you would always love me.
        (Explain again why happiness is beside the point,
        why passion counts for nothing?)

I put a sign up in my heart: “room for rent,”
but couldn’t find a lodger.
        Take care of yourself, you said,
        just before leaving me for dead.



Her red sweater, threading the eye of the midcentury’s gray-scale storm.