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Jim Cory reads from Birds and Buildings

I like in the title of Birds and Buildings how the birds come first and the buildings come second; there is something very poetic about that and also something a little askew. What is more important, bigger, the building or the bird? In Jim Cory’s work, there is always a question in the observations. And as awful as it can get, there is also something funny, something to laugh about. Cory’s poems could do stand up, and stand up on the tongue while they are doing it because these poems are easy to see and hear, and if you are a reader who likes to play intelligently with the writer, you will enjoy playing in these poems; these words are for you.

The Viles

after & in homage to Stevie Smith

Older than they know, w/o growing, down the street
these come, dark in sunglass mummery. Side by side bleats
a soft displeasure. Nothing satisfies by any measure & he, cheating

at feng shui. Again! Goth she favors: boots & blouse dishabille. Her hair
mascara pass’d thru the pasta press. Seldom contiguous, their
sex ambiguous. Is she he or he she? We can’t say. Silver the nowhere

moon roots in nose ring puddles o’er the darken’d house from where she peeks
between pokes of the vacuum. Her eyes one-way blinds. When she speaks
the tone blends disbelief w/only annoyance. Her rubbery beak

releases trills & silences roofdeck cigars. He leaps to do chores
she assigns, such as painting or replacing light fixtures. Tethered dogs snore
on car wash afternoons. Never enough is always more

& less in the colorless dark. They say he married the Mommy he hated.
(Sons of bitches often do.) And now they’re fated
to be what they are, the bifurcated

halves of a hateful whole. Down the street they come, waddling like
shipwrecked swans navigating cement wakes. What would it be like
to live on the pinched dust in a corner’s corner? Ask the coroner if you like.


Where did they go those glazed ham holidays & mistletoe soldiers?
Where flew the carroof binoculars & chestnut-sided daydream?
Where went the sungrass pears among misplaced wings & mandible flexings?
Where does the dough disappear to, into what flatbread vortex?

Where’s it begin, w/roses holding their noses to the snow?
Where does it end, in the meat teeth eat as greed’s mistake?
Where’s the spare tire on this slow boat round a bloated star?
Where’s the psychology of androgyny, in misogyny?

Where are the stares that trailed our orangey dreamboats to their mooring?
Where are their eyes flailing keyhole secrets in hallway darks?
Where are airships boarded & kisses recorded?
Where do Philip’s galleons sit, sea-sway’d & rain-betrayed?

Where in the Unknown Soldier’s tomb is there room to spare?
Where on dust’s dust is it writ ‘wash me’ or ‘shit happens’?
Where went the notes of Horowitz hovering above the chandelier?
Where’s are the stoplights on this road & where are the toads of yesteryear?

Where went green shoes & wiggy hair & le boyfriend imaginaire?
Where is the border between ecstasy & disorder?
Where does the in-crowd hobnob w/ the lynch mob? Why is
Where it’s at & how it’s done “none of your goddamn business?”

Where does biology become history & mythology toxicology?
Where did the “Wayne who stares” go, & bourgeois airs go, & “Be Prepared” go?
Where hide the tiny feet of despair, in which tidy corner?
Where’s the beef, she wants to know, so long ago.

Aural History

Their appeal all
feeling what the mouth
alone manages among
tongue teeth & lung

Breath moist & slow
measured, so as
to soften what the world
makes metal

If you must speak
use only the voice that was
there before

A flick here a nip there
will do for endearment what
a year of blow jobs must
fail to accomplish

For best effect insert a day’s worth
of chin whiskers en pointe
& imagine Cezanne
completing perspective details

Intimate weather or
ifice to orifice while
hands stray
into playground zones

Birds and Buildings is published by Moonstone Press. You can check them it here:


James M. Cory at Bryant Park. Photo by Seth Pennington.

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