Dolores Hayden


--In 1896 Harriet Lawrence Hemenway co-founded the Massachusetts
Audubon Society to stop the killing of birds to decorate women's hats.

She's worn aigrettes, admired how prettily
the snowy egrets' mating feathers curve
to frame a woman's face, and yet she knows
plume hunters leave the egrets' chicks to starve,

she's seen the bloody nests and bloody grass
where Southern feather merchants deal out death
as easily as deal a hand of cards.
She spies a roseate tern, the twentieth

today, found counting hats on Newbury Street,
numbering Boston ladies who all tread
past plate glass windows flaunting their dead birds.
Just thirty-nine and bored at home, she's read

that Modern Woman can uplift the Race
but females here boast ignorant displays--
bonnets where saw-whet owls lay eggs on straw,
chapeaux where robins light with squawking jays.

Loathing the taxidermists' bright-eyed art,
she spots a Greater Bird of Paradise,
wonders about new money--streetcar fortune?--
strutting this carcass, scarce at any price.

She's birding for her sanity today,
scanning each head with a flightless landscape on it,
marking the wings and tails. Friends drink her tea,
she snips and sews, designs a birdless bonnet,

she shames ten million preening under claws
and topples feather merchants, fashions laws.

A Grand Display of Fireworks and Illuminations, 1883

When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, what is man? Psalm 8, 3-4

Catherine Wheel,     Common Cracker,
Cracker Bomb,     and Cracker Bon-Bon
nest in his cedar     sample chest.

Smith pitches     shows by Surefire.
For boys who built     the Brooklyn Bridge,
he plans a party     with Public Works:

Fizz-Gigs, Flares,     Lady Fingers,
Roman Candles,     cordite cartwheels
will rip the night,     ripple the river,

stipple the span     of stone and steel,
stripe lifted faces     with lingering light.
(Can he sell these guys?)     His gestures grand,

Smith whispers     speeds and sequences,
waves huge hands     as he heaves
and juggles a giant     Girandole,

pauses, boosts     pyrological pleasures.
Sky-Serpents     will slither,
Whiz-Bangs     will wheel,

shudder, spill,     shower their light.
Humble heelers     and party hacks
sniff his gunpowder,     grab at greatness,

civil servants     share the seduction.
Of course this canny     pyrotechnician could
sell salves, shoes,     warehouse space,

diamonds, dishes,     or Dr. Pepper.
Smith stays     with high spectacles.
He turns the talk     to rarities,

lightning gashes     green, not gold,
rumbling of round     Arctic rainbows,
far Northern lights,     he nails New York,

makes vast commerce     in thermochemical night.
Totaling the tab,     Smith tarries to prod
how fixed their funds     for fingering the firmament.

"More Farandoles?"     "More Flares and Fizz-Gigs?"
Public Works,     don't doubt,
you guys are going     to outgun God.


Dolores Hayden's collection, American Yard, was runner-up for the Margaret Motton book award from the New England Poetry Club in 2005. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Slate, Margin, and many other journals and anthologies. Her most recent non-fiction is A Field Guide to Sprawl, a "devil's dictionary" of bad building patterns. She is a professor at Yale, currently on leave at Stanford.


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Jehanne Dubrow
Anna Evans
Midge Goldberg
Dolores Hayden
Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Julie Kane
Luann Landon
Susan McLean
Julia Randall
Terri Witek

Therese Chabot creates delicate, ephemeral installations carpets, dresses and crowns using flower petals and natural materials to speak of the stages of life and the paths we are given to choose from.
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