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Lyn Lifshin
Three Hitchcock Poems
That Living Room
        The Birds

Like a Joseph Cornell box
someone might label
“terror.” The once neat
carefully arranged curtains
now have feathers caught
in their weave as if one
bird in the fireplace
wasn’t enough, like
a lover’s one time
infidelity. Then the rush
of birds down the chimney
and into the room. Talons
like flung mean words.
A cage, a box of
fear, shattered tea cups.
Portraits on the wall
askew as the world seems
when you find out
and then the news
like more dead birds
falling and you’re
trapped in a cage of
all you can’t shut out
On the Morning I Could Be
Tippi Hedren In the Birds

the crows have already pecked thru
garbage bags, left bracelets
of orange peels and crusts. Nothing
doesn't feel dangerous. The gulls
skitter to my wrists. I used to be glib,
had a sense of humor, loved walking
in black heels, jaunty, assured.
I didn't hate birds but I didn't love
them. I let my sister feed pigeons,
until her window filled with lice.
I gave her my java temple bird in
its cage. I've had my share of
domineering men, bossy, sure they
knew what was right for me, told
me how to dress, what color my
hair should be. But there is something
in this day of least light, as hovering,
as scary as a lumbering hulk throwing
himself against me. It's in the air and
the sky is darker, the birds. It's not
just crows but sparrows and jays.
They are louder than I've ever
heard them. If I shut my eyes
I feel them, something terrible,
in agony, shaking on the attic floor.
Hitchcock's Circles

Not just him, a symphony of
circles but the hole in the
roof in The Birds, in the
eye sockets, in the mouth
shaped in terror. All his
black holes, voids. The
circle head of the flashlight,
the hole in the fence. Was
it a hole of emptiness?
Or the O sounds in
Psycho or Vertigo and
Rear Window? The O of
the Erotica symphony
played in the background?
Menacing circles going
berserk? The crazy merry
go rounds? Or the phono-
graph in Psycho? That center
hole of a circular disk,
the circular label on some
circular table. Suddenly
signs, like the black shadows
of the birds circling. Not
surprising that Hitchcock
said he was frightened of
eggs, that white round thing
without any holes. Have
you seen anything more
revolting than an egg yolk
breaking and spilling its
yellow liquid?
he said,
blood is jolly, red. But egg
yolk is yellow, revolting.
I’ve never tasted it.