Old Ptarmigan says to me, “Strange—”

the crepitant squeal of a bloated boiler
shuffling crushed up Tums up
wheezing seams and rivets
run raw with sweat and conviction—

“The moods we muddle or mell of the
  meddlesome tongues preposterous songsters stir
  and prickle round girded ribs and spatchcocked sternums,
  breastbones svelte as the gibbering wishbone
  stripped from a chortling hen, coquettish and
  comely, unbroken, cracked on the feckless faerie’s face
  to pick at some scowling eye—” he dipped his beak
  in a verdigrised thimble, nursing at nettles distended
  in dew and duckweed, and offered a plangent wince
  with a wall-eyed peridot dewy and garbled, heavied,

“to tune that disgruntled trace of a smirk.”

Then Ptarmigan slopped those lilies aligned upon
cat’s-pawed scowls of a muttering crick,
wan lilies, greened by the brush-sieved sun,
left lined to leer like a foreign phrase
embossed in red above brambling barbwire.

Preposterous songsters,” rolled as a robin barks,
“ill-perched upon straggling thorns enshrined
  in a litter of sensuous locust flowers
  flexed to a fretted and threatening furor or
  fanned round flinching fans of fragrant ginkgoes
  sucked to a puckering gold—”

He threaded his feathery feelers through
a bedraggled coif of quills and sprigs
grown glaucous, gizzardly, shriveled
and shy—

“And your smile’s stiffer
  than pinions poised upon pampering breezes, updrafts
  shyly spit from a diffident storm cloud ever unsure of its shape, and the
  piling sapphire buffed to a powdery silver
  nettles and pecks an arrested, reckless ken,
  sows gobs of groaning roe amid flexible flesh
  fresh-furrowed and scratched to a scowl.

“And the golden world, in its wistful wisdom
 warped to a sinuous flange of sumac,
 bids its jonquils generous spans
 to crane above giggling halberds,
 green as that comely cat mint
 (dark as the morning who’d suckled a barrel of arils
   around its chipping lips);

 those jonquils born of the briny germ,
 the squealing weal of gulls and terns and
 sanderlings shooed from a slavering tide;
 the sea spit squeezed from a peafowl prised
 from the pride of its peerless fan
 by an echoing reprimand
 unfounded, floundering

 free as the starlings’ symphonies,
 free as the frenzy fanned in a charring theatre.

“The sun’s encased in a quailing caul,
  some omen snapping a smile straight
  as the cat nip’s crazed and abrading chatter
  entices eyes disguised in grass.
  The burp of a wasted worm I slopped
  upon seventy seeds of unfounded flowers
  maybe had sickened me, maybe
  had twisted the senses wild and lithe as ivy.
  Or was it the doleful croon a bassooning rock dove
  sews round brambling boughs and
  louring wires cruelly shaven spruces splint,
  charred legs of a  scrunched-up spider’s stilted fist
  unhinged, incensed, compelled
  to spool, as an assuming garland,
  lamp wick tinsel, tarmac taffeta
  teased to but comely, languorous tresses
  racked up a reticent cello’s neck
  (that longs for the coaxing stroke of some
   brazen bow restored to a finger of rosewood);
“garland tamed and hanged in the
  deathly decorum of tight-lipped wights
up with the bilious foam of dyspeptic tides
  uneasily worming and burbling over the hip of a trash-studded shoreline;
  veins of garland honoring shinnying shadows shelled
  by a stammering street lamp;
  veins of a blushing bulb that roll with the withering prickle
  of brusque and dismissive winds,
  grown glaring and garish with crystalline tendrils,
  finicky mucus seized of a hundred sundry sneezes silenced—
pit as a pearl.”

Then Ptarmigan, dribbling nettles and dew
and duck weed down his beak blown brash

as a bulletshell cocked at a clockwork star, 
his eyes rolled over embrangling branches
cloaking a scowling canopy,
lurid as matcha clung at a moth-eaten lambrequin,
green as an ensign’s first crusade.

The faerie figured him practically drowning,
nettles and such ensnaring his gurgling beak
and breast as an ascot wrested fresh from a splintering gibbet.

His body ceased to pulse in affected stillness,
possums plopped in a pothole,
spiders splayed across silken ribs that
days ago sloughed their petals of nacreous glass
and blenched to a delicate shrillness. “Now,”
the Ptarmigan’s engine turned with the thump of thwarted stock,
“the canopy seems a repurposed gallows,
green as the tumbling fledgling flung from a
darkly sharpened scarp or a staggering bluff
resplendent as icicles, snagged
about breakneck boughs of a maple whose
shadow some skulking storm has softened;
its bark as obsidian seized in sere and tumultuous
crests, some meddlesome siren’s wry meringue,
the restive tang of a prickling epic inflamed and
stiff as the stern and fang-sharp shadows of street lamps.

“The chill of impending tears that tickle
  cerulean glims to a rasping jasper
  crawl and claw up a crimping beak
  as flesh left stippled from feathers threshed
  by a painful, pulsing, pregnant pause
  grows cold as a wave-lapped wishbone ripped
  from those jigs you dangle through delicate ice.
“And you’re thinking, my! what feathers threshed,
  what quills uncurled! what will’s compelled
  and pealed from a thrashing chrysalis
  floundering lithe as a strangled fish
  across searing quays in stridulous mimicry,
  braying, My! what feathers threshed! and etc.

“You’re the malingering chaff an articulate quern assays
  and casts in deep and disquieting cracks of a tortuous workshop.
  You’re that shrillest husk of a doll that’s resolved from
  doubling nubbly corn husks over and under an undulous knot—
  this molten pearl of a pitying engine lapping up
  stop-leak brusquely as cat’s claw curtains.

“And as pregnant germs of jonquils threaten to,
  blot by blot, disturb the coif of your fresh-combed coat,
  and you’re winnowing cruelest cryptids clawed
  in the umbrous bellies of brambling leaves;
  a basooning dove entoils each chortling leaf
  with a silvered, sepulchral majesty,
  summons each golden glint as a farrow of
  fireflies roused from resolving dew
  (as tadpoles squeeze from a scummy scab
   some stone’s seduced to begrudgingly shoulder,
   or as cantoring crackles of thin and ephemeral
   music squirm from the fleeing sea foam)

“Look,” she says, the Ptarmigan’s beak like a rusted syringe,
a mosquito’s broken nose attempting to eskimo kiss an ant lion,

“I get it. You’re feeling weird. It’s fine.
And tomorrow, below but a new-shorn sky
split red as abandoned placenta, maybe
you’ll dredge from a different dream or
sift amid screeds of the sillier starlings
strewn in a county-wide call-and-respond
of Samuel Barber, Sullivan, Schubert,
Strauss, a more pleasant impression of flowers
picked and pinned to gussy-up moldy chestnuts.
Get me? Cool? Now shut the fuck up.”

And the old Ptarmigan, drunk as a pixie,
slumped in a pool of pernicious esteem
and bubbled, “The night is young, my darling.
Dare I dream it younger still?”