BettyAnn Mocek, Michael Heller
COLLAGE: MATRIX: CITY: BIRD
mixed media collage on board
48" x  54"
(Photo: Tom Van Endye)

CITY: MATRIX: BIRD: COLLAGE
                     
                     for BettyAnn Mocek


Sense of birds still in the city
of the endless city, inviting and destroying

grasp of the bird’s talons, truth’s grasp
rigid and hard against the swirl

that drags birds and all, our shoring,
our we amidst the battered who are avid to live

who know only of the bird in the city
as symbol, as focus for our lostness

and for the city walls we confront that are to us
as air currents propelling the bird off course

high up, flight-bound but struck and blunted
against headwinds, torque of circumstance

my own shaky heart, birdlike, bird, salt pulse
of a song of a bird crushed in a cage, bird at the park,

thousands of birds screaming down the sun
their tremendous noise as though they took up

our polyphony, do-decophony of voices who despair
and sing bird cries, song, music of the caged birds

embedded, beating with the rhythm of a bird’s wing,
uplifted, and then turned from their pathways

—as they are not—meeting air or not quite vanquished,
their shining Brancusi hardness, and some have become

seabirds wheeling, not so much cruelness but what is actual
in eye and beak and possibly a bird marking fresh tracks

to the moon’s loft, to the bird aquiver, to the fear bird’s
white wings, and what birds have flown off I will find

in glossaries--where they exult in the cry of nothing
—in being ghost birds, cages, a hexagram of bird lime,

of time or blackbirds, a dozen birds of the myriad birds
come and go, bird-lime on the building face, but one bird

listens to a bird on a tree serenade a fountain, bird book
the message? birds fly overhead, going north birds

gather above cities how the birds come back mind birds,
returning birds, winter birds, Egypt’s death bird, great bird

of Chance, invented birds, Memory bird, like a bird
I live

                                         
                                                         --Michael Heller
                                                                COLLABORATIVE STATEMENT
                                                       Artist BettyAnn Mocek and Poet Michael Heller

To get the process going, poet and artist exchanged existing work.   In reacting to each other’s work, each
created new small pieces.  The bird and city motif kept emerging.  Mocek’s collage work inspired Heller to
work up something in language that would be impersonal and incantatory rather than pinning down any
lyric or autobiographical moment, something that would acknowledge the reality of the bird, the traditions
of representation in both art and poetry, the ways each creator symbolizes them and injects hope, fear,
and even dread in the creatures.  Heller went through his poems, finding the word “bird” wherever it
appeared, its contexts, its surrounding language. He then enjambed them into a new poetic structure,
using the texts surrounding them and his own desires for an impersonal shape to create the poem
“City:
Matrix: Bird: Collage
."  Mocek studied and researched the words and their meanings in context.  In the final
large work, with its echoing title of “
Collage: Matrix: City: Bird,” the birds appear as incantatory presences,
active in the picture as both images of haunting realism and as surreal witness to an urban world.   There is
a kind of spiritual kinship between the picture and the words, though there is no attempt at imitation or
exphrasis.