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A swan

a swan  a swan  

a silver swan   automaton  articulates

articulates a   remove  from time   tells time

itself  mechanical   fool

proof        at 2 pm   in the provincial

museum, the dial


daily   wound  for the swan’s bath

streams   in flashing glass  the pinned tune

and little fish   likewise with levers

moved  zip under-over   a motion to water

the mind vacuums   nearer no   farther

what it has come for, what it is


on view        archival jewel, syncopate   tower

radial queue  clouded

remove, the silver   throat of silver

swan   reeling on

the proxy calm of the waters   , of the waters

on the face   "a living


grace   about his movement, a living

intelligence  in his eye" of strass   and paste

board gem  semisphere   it presents

half a rapid mirror   scaling back   in a second’s

glancing at  an i   the eye bit’s   inner surface

holds in, occludes with glue   the future


seen thro  antireflective   sheets of glass

lcd browser i tab not   close to   piled cams

that convert spin  to lineation   grate with semi-ancient

water   damage the permeated   hollow head  

the chug   of mind, the chore   of mind   its "exact

replica" of the female   mute  one year to produce


children   in an arcade who   purchase access to

merlin’s vertebrae  rising via   roller and spring

filed pin, riveted links   of the fusee  of the fusee

gear operatory  "perhaps no problem

in mechanics   ever solved  so simply and  so perfectly"

as the conic pulley   of thee fusee


the original chains   of the        made by

children   ages 9 8 7   "whose hands were small

enough"  and those of   their mothers  remain

the original chains   the living hand

to wind  "who living had   no" note

young mothers linking


when this   mechanistic swan glitz   outlives me  whose

bird’s will i be  what will i cede

shit’s in  iota and work   what will i

iota unwinding  the original   chains of being

the time   2 o  nothing   the reasonable

fee, the docent   opposing  key rachet to mainspring


teeth to touch   undo  "the swan is on the move"

"no sense   of touch it  has no   brain"

glorious legerdemain

bill eased   athwart back  patters at   a single solid

feather massed  auto preen   flap flap

no consideration   of lack of  appetite the swan


is figured on  substanceless it   scuds to

crystal curve, the bars that churn   the glass skewer

cascade of the till turn   the water curb

lifts its   mock fish, shining ifs

exhibit ifs, which nod   and whir  and in certain

centuries, states   of repair  "sporting about


scatter "  when swan darts surface, bill

encroaches, throat   opens  o   spin-y scrim  unexceptional

ifs  wish   into rictus  desire mechanic   avidity

fix  jaw twitch   flash gullet  end of exhibit

sleight of life   no secret to hide  ifs "born in

a morass"  u silver fish


wired in   an silver mouth  reeling in

and out  of time told by   small hands closing

the coil  century by   century  others scatter

over   those of  an effort   small enough  still  a swan

a swan   whose swan  thee everlastingsly

whose swan  who’s swan’s   i was




Alyssa Perry's writing appears in Annulet: A Journal of PoeticsThe Canary, Cleveland Review of BooksFence, and other journals. She is an editor at Rescue Press and teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Perry was recently an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago.  

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