About The Bird

Cindy Schnackel

I was invited to one of those huggy, huggy group meetings. You know, the type where everyone reveals inner lies about themselves, others, and the world around them. Well, we soon started picking out animal personalities for each other, which sucked, because someone else chose what animal you were. So, right off the perch, things weren’t going to be honest, just brutal like a writers’ workshop. There were cougars, bears, eagles, dolphins—lions, owls, deer, and yadda, yadda. Me? I was a bird. Not a specific bird, just a generic, B-I-R-D, bird. That’s the word. Not an avian personality like a bluebird or gold finch, but a plain old bird. What were they trying to tell me?  All I could do was pretend it was a compliment. My feathers weren’t ruffled and I didn’t chirp up. I wouldn’t dare peep in public.

If I was to be a bird, then I must be a flightless bird. After all, I drove ten miles to attend the meeting.  Somewhere, back in my sordid evolution, I had the ability to fly. Now, for reasons of survival, that ability was lost, because I wanted to drive a Prius, Passat, or Volvo and feel good about it. I developed a quick, efficient waddle that could outrun stupidity. Unfortunately, stupidity is stubborn and I have had to keep running, continuously. My beak became sharper. I needed the perk to peck the shit out of anyone who was particularly problematic. My eyes moved to the front of my head from the sides, so I could see who was insulting me and who I insulted back. I went for easy prey, foraging in schools of overpriced degrees, chewing on grants, choking on loans, leading to a career inside an aviary called community college. This led to teaching kids who don’t read, who prefer spark notes instead of critical thinking. Thinking is for the birds. Go America. I watched out for (not always successfully) bigger hunters who would kill my personality. They fed voraciously upon individuality like it was Tweety’s feed, spewing out rotten eggs of ego during union meetings. I would mate with those of my kind, but since none of us could fly we kept to ourselves. Occasionally a kindly scientist patted me on the head and gave me a treat, but they always wanted something in return.

So, the meeting was a success, yes I’m a bird. I’ve now been caged.  But, I’m going home proud. You’ve heard about migration, so I’m going to get seasonal. By the time you hear my birdsong. I’ll be long gone. I just need to find my keys.

Posted in Flash Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

A Score To Settle

John Cage's 4'33"

John Cage’s 4’33”

We share the intros

Melodies, harmony and noise

Along the loud life…enough

To vibrate the moon

Shake a star loose

While all our faults

And splits of passion

Deepen beneath our feet

Buzzing between brackets

Of time signatures, rattling keys

Propping up our city by the meter

In preparation of the worst

We sing our bridges into soundness

Reinforcing our staved streets to

Protect us from dissonant gravel

Engaged with our theme and variations

Through further development

Counter melodies, extended harmonics humming

Then unexpectedly, the earthshaking shimmy arrives

we enjoy its counterpoint

Addicted to our contrapuntal connection

To the falling structure of song

Frightened and exhilarated by the penultimate beat


Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments



Volumes of discussions done

Words have been ditched

Along the convenient shore

By the images we abhor 

Who Dig out words at low tide

Constantly consonant, foul on the vowel

Slipping through the hippest lips

Without a stutter, lisp,……….creating hits,

Files full of future teleprompt air

With the utmost care, fonts as thin as hair

Free verse, sometimes perverse

Or preoccupied by its own purse

Taxations on the bipolar rich and poor,

We listen to the giddy whore…. Of our own

Goofiness, measuring watchers, polling who’s there

Just when you think someone cares

We turn back to Bumblr, Facecrook

And Goofy Plus, our stick-made nook

To utter and give forth, to fish

In the stream of eternal bitching

Seems like witches burning

On the electric rotisserie, then

You try to turn it off and be free

At least given the words to disagree

But, we are in the desolate lands of the unlistenable

Discourse has been hijacked into the subliminal

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Turning In



I tell the child to simmer down, relax

Hoping the child is not me, so

The kid keeps me cooped up longer…..

Minutes confused in conundrum

Periods of time, bent, sealed, released

Sounds of breathing, sounds of morning

Birds, bottle collectors bent on deconstruction

Deposits of thought, dependent on clocks

I fight the surly rise and shine baby,

Held between brackets of sleep’s

Birth and a very, very, very long jog

Along outside sunrise and inside sunset


Inside, I see the child’s face, dark,

I’m arguing now. I’m an arguer..yes, yes

For night never smiles ….Or if it is smiling

No one would recognize its embouchure

And that’s hard to argue with

For the child’s smile is not one

That appears on lips, or gives the joke away

It’s a thought that fires in a daze

Held by my skull hiding between pillows

Keeping my brain in heat

Away from expressionless states

That forget limbs, love, and sometimes sadness

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments



I place insoles and inserts

Inside my boots

To dampen effects of sidewalks,

The hard boiled surfaces

In which I watch for cracks

Who stub and trip my stride,

Enough to throw me onto

Wobbly ankles and tender tendon seas

………………………….You see

My body is a micro ocean  

Without a Moses ……..and

The city is so red, red, red, red

With its pyramid condominiums

And no matter how hard I stomp down

Upon the wimpiest concrete

My boots scuff and scratch



In my garden, I pry my boots off

My toes have been taught

To cluster towards the center.

Nails curl down, out, and away

Like claws who have forgotten

How to scratch, dig, take hold.

Feet so thin, soft, and pinkish brown

Still, I pretend I can run barefoot

Until my hooves must be restored.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Last First Day Back


In the first day halls arise slight scents

Of layered floor wax, student nervousness

Static new shirts, cotton combed jeans

And hair blended with

The rising cost of chemicals.

After the blurred search for a room number,

We open the same books

We’ve always been opening

Updated with new footnotes, images

Fonts, page texture, and critical theories.

Our talk is mixed with a quiet

Summer attitude of late mornings

Florescent lighting spots a yawn

Coffee appears in an array of costumes

New pens have been invented

To handicap note takers handwriting

Lids of laptops are raised

For the ones who lack concentration

Who claim they are multitaskers

The multitaskers raise the lids

Finishing early as all first days do

The sound of so many steps upon tile

The newborn attempt to find the elevator

We all reach its doors together

The question is the same

Up or down?

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay


I sat down for a beer at a bar called “Dock Of The Bay”.  One was brought by a handsome little bartender named ….. Ah, fuck I don’t know. I was halfway through my beer, reading a piece-of-shit novel named Howard’s Hind End when the bartender starts whistling.  I thought what the fuck? This is no time and place to be whistling. There are beers to serve and deep-fried tater tots to dunk in boiling oil. You know, dried up pieces of batter, claiming to have potatoes in them that mysteriously taste like fish sticks.

He must have heard me, because that’s when he, the whistling bartender, returned with a bowl of foul smelling tater tots and placed them in front of some unsuspecting glut who suffered from an extreme stomach protrusion, named in its kinder version, a beer belly. Right next to the plate of steaming heart attack was a small bowl filled with some orangey goo with tiny green alien particles mixed evenly inside its custard. Whatever you do, don’t call them pickles. I was just getting over the initial stench when the tater tot eater started to whistle! That’s right, two blokes from my burb were puckering their way through happy hour, creating a duet that would make Sonny & Cher look like virtuosos.

Hey, I’m trying to read a novel jerk-asses. It may be not a very good novel, but damn, if I want to read something bad I should be given space to do so. You’ve got tater tots to worry about. Shouldn’t balloon man be filling his endless bag of belt-held storage called his stomach, and leaving Mr. Nameless a tip that won’t make a ding in his teeth bleaching bills?

I moved to a table outside and resumed Chapter 33 of Howard.  I read about an uptight woman, who was about to marry someone she didn’t want to marry, because she was accused of winking at a bartender (This is when I looked up to see if Mr. Nameless was lurking around looking guilty), leading her to social ruin. (Hey, it’s a Victorian thang mother fucker. Don’t try to understand.) Apparently, this was also the cause of her picking out bad furniture for a palace. See what flirting will do. And that’s when it happened.

My protagonist, who I had been following through 33 chapters of painful nothingness, who would never touch a tater tot in her life or else she be forced into prostitution, started to whistle! That’s when all the whistles (I mean alarms) went off!


One year later, influenced by the whistling encounter, my PhD dissertation turned out to be how incidental inharmonic noise, heteroglossia, and contrapuntal reading led 19th century realism to blossom into Modernism. I whistled a happy tune (In tune, by the way).


Posted in Flash Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Two Lips


You look so new tonight.

I remember those wild lips….that

I was frightened to kiss.




I’ve never listened to my fears

Passing by them, feeling

My triumph from meager beginnings

The medieval beginnings of us

Into an age of reason

Our passionate verse becoming

Sensible prose

Materializing into a lucid love




My fears have defeated me

Into states of wilted forms

Unable to stop the trampling

Nights of tears, the years

That can only be blamed upon myself

And the rigid forms of uncertainty

Established by a host of rules

Stretched out in never ending handwriting

Powerless to put the right words together


Our undoing?


I find it funny, that all I wanted

Was a calmness, a quietude

A place

Between your Anthropocene blankets

Use what literature we have

Sing as poets

Plot as fiction


And now,


You appear to me tonight

With your face fresh, blushed

Warmer than before

Almost feverish

I don’t know these familiar lips 

Perhaps, I never did

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Losing The Ability To Be Lost


Our roads, once trails of patted dirt

Unsure of the shape they would make

Indented upon the denseness of dust

Plains, forest, mountains, and brush

Containing rough unclear pathways

Forks of misdirection, choices full of haze

Where wisdom’s mark once picked

The path, guided by rounded stars


Now, we have paved our roads

Wandering upon them as they glow

Without fear of losing our way

In the gut of night and skin of day

Thick oiled-down gravel compacted

Lit by strings of light channeled

Never ending stripes of white

As if they have bone and marrow

We are filled with directions to

The solidifying shape of upcoming curves



We are forever found


Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Ardor Sustenance

Maestro Photography

Maestro Photography

Your heat is about me

It is a blanket, a cloak of feverishness

An eternal wrap of rays

Heating my outer shell ……brittle

Seeping into my inner softness.


At times you hold me too tight…then

I become a burner, whitest of flame

As if the air within my throat

Turns to wet fire and light

And whoever I touch

(Even the world)

Will be singed, burnt into glow


I’m in denial of your grip

Burrowing inside tall greenhouses

Filled with the hazy scent of air conditioner

My numbed fingers upon triggers,

Computer keys full of messages

About you, in response to you

Talk of sustaining our relationship


I see you spying upon me

Dampened by tinted windows

Only a simple film divides us

Your eyes are too bright

Not to be noticed

Once they have laid their gleam


Knowing I have caught you

You enter…….extending your touch


Upon my naked arm


Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments