Monday, February 14, 2011

bird of fire

a play

by haley hughes

SCENE 1----------------------------------------

( Growing, glowing gold cat waves in interior lit black box center stage. Daunting music growing.)

SCENE 2----------------------------------------

(In the dark the sounds of a horrific accident are heard. Metal scratching/ corruption...breaking down....shut down, etc.)

(Lights come up, now in the interior lit black box, a puddle of blood and six kittens playing with bloody wiggly intestines)

SCENE 3---------------------------------------

(The box is still lit and the kittens still roll in blood. The lights come up on the stage. Body parts and smoking piles of debris litter a field of tall grass. Ominous sci-fi music radiates and the bass is high. A woman, Bonita all in white but slightly torn lays over the box, center stage. This goes on for a while with a slow dance of jolting and attempting to breath and attempting to progress.)

SCENE 4------------------------------------

(Lights up stage left. Ivan awakes in his bed. He sits up in a sweats.

Ivan: Bonita!!!! ( A floating hand emerges and points at Ivan's third eye thus hypnotizing him. Ivan loads his mouth with bullets found in his bed side drawer.)

SCENE 5--------------------------------------

(Hours later, the blood has dried on the woman's hands and she wanders through an empty field in the night, slowly shifting her hips from side to side struggling with the tall grass and the sharp reeds. The sounds of the winds whipping through the grass and the branches of a solo tree are heard so that everyone in the audience might shiver. She breaths deeply and erratically. There is a black line from her forehead to her chin, she is marked. In her panic, what does she do, why of course she looks for her companion, her dog, her baby, her seal.)

Woman: (yelling) Conchi!.......Conchi!.......(she whistles and coughs) Conchi!..........Here seal. Keep my heart…..

(The Hypnotists finger re-appears pointing and says.)

Finger: Rattles from the sky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is dove season, woman!!!!!!!!!

(The floating finger evaporates.)

(The woman screams and falls to the ground just as a blaze of bullets from the darkness begins to fill the air of the set entirely. The gun fire shakes the set and the theatre and lasts for like at least five minutes,( There is a quick black out and a flash of Ivan's mouth, smoking like the barrel of a gun.) The lights come back up and the bullets have eroded the wall revealing a beautiful lake far off in the distance. The sun rises and the bullets stop. The woman stands up she is more wild than ever ( like an animal) with every step she trips over a doves corpse and falls. She begins to collect the doves corpses and piles them at the base of the tree. )

SCENE 6-----------------------------------------

(The birds are still piled at the base of the tree, bloody. A man (Ivan) dangles from one of the trees limbs, his hands are bound with chains and it becomes apparent that he in fact did not climb the tree but fell from the sky and with grace managed to catch himself on this limb and slide down as far as its circumference permitted, so his wrists are tight in the chain and against the tree. Below, Visit the cat begins to feast on the pile of dead doves. Ivan begins to flail and kick his legs in an attempt to wrap them around the base of the tree. However his efforts seem rather useless and only worsen his condition, blood begins to pour from his wrists and rain falls from the sky.)

SCENE 7---------------------------------------

(Time has passed. The stage is now full of the leaves, it is fall. The tree has now grown a new branch to hold Ivan and the positioning of this branch has forcefully curled him into the shape of a large kidney. The blood that once covered his wrists and chest has now turned to bark. And the look in his eye is that of a man being consumed slowly by a tree. The woman enters, looks at him bewildered, there is a dramatic pause, the lights go out and in the blackout the woman delivers this monologue.)

Woman: I watch your beard go... I watch it go from dark, I watch it go from full. I watch it covered with white, I watch it covered with thick foam. I hear it scream with the scratch of the razor, like the scratch on my face. I see it smoothed, I see it burnt. Skin. I watch it go from pale to red, I watch it go, each pore pouring the brightest color. Each pore pouring.

I hold my breath,

(the sound of crushing leaves and creatures creeping.)

I hear all of myself slipping into my colon.

I drop to the ground, just a colon, a time capsule waiting to be rubbed like a magic lamp in the right light.

Then years later, I have strapped to my back a sun-burnt seal of a baby, we hike along an old path at high altitudes with an army of mamas and babies mamas, llamas and two saaschwatch at the head of the trail. They mark the progression of time erratically with this sound (the sound of a clacker is heard, clack!)

(The lights come up again and they are in the same position as before, looking up at each other wildly.)

Ivan: How did the seal come to rest on your back. Perhaps with this blue ribbon. I can remember thick black hair and an indigo ribbon wound around and flowing, the wind washing it with the scents of spring.

Woman: Yes...........


(The Hypnotist is wrapped in a giant indigo ribbon and only his finger protrudes. The Dark Dark Mask in full black vail. The sound of cold glacial water is heard. They are inside of a glacier somewhere in Antarctica. They are doing a dance and between each line they clap as the dance does go.)

Hypnotist: We have them leaving then, right?

D.D.Mask: Yes, yes. He leaves in the night and she realizes weeks and weeks later that she has no proof that he was ever even there.

Hypnotist: None!!!///1/////2/////3/////4////2////4////2///4///2///4///2///4///2//4///5///6///7////6///5////4///3///2///1………..(The Hypnotist goes into a chant…)

D.D.Mask: Nothing……………… but the memory of a child.

Hypnotist: The seal.

D.D.Mask: Yes, the seal. The figment of a lost emotion remains inside of her head. ………….The seal was never born, doctor!!!!!1

SCENE 9---------------------------------------the hunters………………………

(Two hunters enter stage left, guns slung over their shoulders.)

Hunter 1: Those cats… Those cats (he lifts his finger slowly and points to the kitties.)

Hunter 2: Them cats… Them cats (Hunter 2 does the same but with even more difficulty.)

Hunter 1: You think them those cats that been eatin' those chicks.

Hunter 2: Naah, those little kitties wouldn't do a shameful thing like that… those kits know a thing or two 'bout the world.

Hunter 1: What those cats know about the world?

Hunter 2: Well… they know that dead things are for doing with and that live things aren’t for deadening. That’s why they're eatin' those doves, they're dead and that's why they wouldn't have been eatin' our little chickies. These kitties are too gentle.

(with this said the two hunters sit under the tree and begin to pluck the feathers from the doves, the kitties may stay or scatter, no bother.)

Hunter 1: Gentle……hmmmm…..gentle. House cats….

(Hunter 1 begins to hum a tune about gentle house cats and side cars while blood spurts everywhere.)

SCENE 10-----------------------------------idle nests……………………….

(Voice from the sky: And out of the alley floats a dark shroud.)

Dark dark mask!!!: (dark d. mask sings) Hum come along with me. Past the field to the sycamore tree. Reach inside and you will reel, flesh and bloody guts. Flesh and bloody guts.

Hypnotist: What? 1…2…3…4….5….6…5…4..3..2..1… I will smell it . Where?… I smell it raw and rotting. What is it? What is it?

D. Dark mask: There once was a man that lived in this tree, but not by choice mind you.

Hypnotist: Click, Clack, Click, Clack…What did he do, Dark Dark Mask? (Softly behind D.D. Masks monologue he continues with his hypnotic chants.)

D.D.Mask: One night, There was an accident. Something fell from the sky. With such a noise that it woke the man from his sleep. He wandered out into the night and the night was the sun with fire, and the storm with screams. Primal gutteral coughing, the man was terrified. He hurried back to his house and grabbed his gun and ammunition belt. He ran, he ran from his house towards the fire and through the smoke beckoned by the screaming of unidentifiable flesh. His eyes filled with blood and something from beneath the ground grabbed him by the ankles and began to pull him under. He screamed and threw his hands toward the sky and with this his gun disappeared! He then swallowed his ammunition belt . And then although all was still and slow he looked at the ground with rage in his heart and saw the eyes of his child and her tiny fingers pulling him slowly ….and with out a fraction of a seconds thought the bullets began to blaze from his mouth and into the child and through the field, killing every dove that had ever lived.

(The hypnotist pulls out a bell and jingles it.)

Hypnotist: And where is Ivan now? (he continues to chant.)

D.D. Mask: Why of course Ivan was sent to the woods that he once logged , To be slowly consumed by the very tree he was preparing to butcher.

Hypnotist: And the smell?

D.D. Mask: (sings.) Yes……come with me to the sycamore tree where Ivan's body rots and he can only be seen by the hole in the knot.

SCENE 11-----------------------------------the story of seamen and sealy baby……

two fisherman are fishing off the back of a battleship. They are catching all the things they ever wanted . . . adventure and myths and plenty of fish and cars. They are struggling to land the next thing . . .

Fisherman 1: Check it out!

Fisherman 2: Looky there!

Fisherman 1: It's a big one.

Fisherman 2: No way!

Fisherman 1: Yeah! I got it. I got it. I got it!

Fisherman 2: Bring it on board!

Fisherman 1: Get the net!

(Fisherman 2 gets the net and they bring the sealy baby on board the Battleship Vertigo.)

Fisherman 1: What the hell is that!

Fisherman 2: Throw it back!

Fisherman 1: What the hell is it!

Fisherman 2: My god! My god! Throw it back! For the love of god! Throw it back!

Fisherman 1: It's a baby!

Fisherman 2: The sea carries no babies!

Fisherman 1: The sea is for ships and ships are likened to ladies and ladies make babies.

Fisherman 2: No lady made this baby!

Fisherman 1: I made this baby!

Fisherman 2: (Tries to grab the baby to throw it into the sea.) You'll kill us all!

(There is a struggle between the two fisherman and fisherman 1 prevails, slicing Fisherman 2's belly open like a fish and gutting him.)

Fisherman 1: Such a strange child . . . Let me give you a present, a blue ribbon I won for you. (Taking a length of Fisherman 2's intestines, he ties a ribbon of blue around the baby's neck. He coos and coddles the sealy baby for a little while singing it a sea shanty about killing women and children in foreign lands.) Let me introduce you to the rest of the crew of the Battleship Vertigo.

SCENE 12-----------------(Lights come up on Ivan's room. He lays on his bed with arrows shooting out of his eyes up to the open sky above. You can hear the sounds of Flamenco music faintly drifting out from the barn out back. Bonita enters holding a candle. She wears long strips of black and white and gold lace and in the flickering candle light you can see her dark hard nipples shadowed by lacey impressions. She begins to sing the most crazy, mad, beautiful song ever. The Hypnotist's chant comes in behind Bonita's song from the darkness. Bonita crouches back to the audience and begins to conjure ghosts and demons and then Ivan begins to levitate, arrows sticking out of his eyes the whole time. Then an insane amount of leaves and bark cascade in from the window above his bed. The wind blows Bonita's candle out and the music comes to a peak.)

SCENE 13----------on the battleship vertigo….madness becomes an isle and a prison………………………………………………………………..

(Five years have past. The stage is now full of sheet metal bolted together loosely. And the sounds of a creaking ship can be heard just as the wind and the metal from the first scene was heard. Five scruffy dirty gray faced sailors sit with pots and pans around a pile of ashes that are still smoking. All five sailor are actors from the previous scenes.)

Sailor 1: Good we had.

Sailor 2: Good god we had a lot didn't we.

Sailor 3: Did we?

Sailor 4: Shiny buttons up top, yeah…yeah, we had them.

Sailor 5; I had a dog with a shiny collar, he was good to me, slept at my feet every night.

Sailor 3: I never had that, no.

Sailor 1: I have had this ship for as long as I can remember, but what good is the length of your memory if it is all the same shade of gray.

Sailor 5: But did you not see the sky, the sea birds as they try and match the speed of the bow, the suns spears spinning out off the wake of the ship. And the never ending openness of a calm clear day.

(Suddenly the hull shakes and pulls to the left everyone slides along the floor, all the pots and the pans clanking. The floor shakes from all around. And the sailors are truly terrified!!! A slow low groaning begins to rise from the depths and lighting bolts shoot out from the ground. And every one screams!!!)

Sailor 5: Is it my seal pup, come from the high mountains where I left him waiting with the sasquatches and llamas. Come for vengeance, come to take me into the deepest underwater cave!!!

Sailor 1: The land consumes, the roots to stab. Has the land declared war on the sea!!!

Sailor 3: Oh Mother, Oh Father, give me my release!

Sailor 4: Oh the wrath of the U-boat is upon us!!! We are under attack, ATTACK!!! And now worn and defenseless we will surely perish… oh fright!!!

(The room fills with smoke. There is screaming and hubbub and more lightning. From out of the smoke runs a child, the seal. He wears a beautiful headdress and has a black line from his forehead to his chin.)

Seal: And the wrath is upon us! And you knew it was coming and what! What did you do? Roots stab rocks and this once a natural pact. A pact from birth is now a cry for war. Land and Sea at WAR!!! Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that!


She didn’t like cut flowers, she said they depressed her because they died. Her house was full of living plants.


I am lying in a mid-air, in the middle of a city, in the middle of the day.

Time is only a weight, both pushing me up and weighing me down,

forever suspended between one road and two skyscrapers.

There is a story of ecstasy in which one realizes their dreams and will stop at no loneliness and will stop at no terror to grasp them.

This was me then, this is me now, on the verge of something.

My art is my understanding of love?

Ruin less shadows.

The beating of the drum.

The flanking of the bones on the streets of cold plaster and alabaster.

Freak out when you have to

For this is the shape of true chaos as art and as life.


Green sea foam from your lips is all I ever wanted,

But all you gave me was salt

And so my skin is worn thin by the rough tongues of the cattle you adore.

I don’t want this.

I want kindness and gentle notions and soft admiration and ease

a story from my mother

A story from my mother.

She hitch hiked to Canada in 1972. She got word of a spot to sneak over on the boarder, I don’t know why she had to sneak over. She waded through swampy grass and cow shit into Canada and walked until she found a road. She hitchhiked to Vancouver. She slept in flop houses and Became a Stripper. Her stage name was Sarah Gil and she performed in an act called Vanilla and Chocolate with a woman that looked like Tina Turner whose stage name was Trixie LaVonne. They were toppless dancers. The day my mother first danced she was almost fired for wearing the only shoes she had, the pimps told her she had to leave her stinky cowboy boots at home. She became a shoplifter, she shoplifted shoes, ligeriea and food. When she danced she would paint her face with crazy colors as if at a carnival and weave feathers in her hair. She felt safer from the men with the eyes (and especially the one that would poke them with the big stick)with her real face shaded by these paints.

we lurk like fleas

We lurk like fleas

upon freshly sheered

sheeps wool.

Praying that the weavers way

will not break us in two with their braid.

I fell, I say,

I fell.

Come well as you may

brave soldier sits upon the stone waiting to be recovered.

They're will be no easy recovery for you

smoke and frozen fingers

spooky furnature

I have been thinking of you tonight.

Sleeping in a haunted bed last night.

In Boston town.

There is a big bay with a defined edge,

of houses

and dark green curtains of land bush

that frame the water

only to be blocked

by the masts

of red

and blue

and white sail boats

in the silky salty

rock bottomed


I have been thinking about the ways that I love you.

Why I want to love you one way,

but refuse to love you another.

Still talking like this,


in this time.

In Boston Town.

In a haunted bed pretending that the hand of the ghost who strokes my thighs is yours.


A white egg sits in the deep ocean

Watched by a colorful couple

And guarded by a hidden reptile

The smiling corpses of lost love float along

And fake blood spills over the levies


Lookers sit in a row.

against a fence.

they are staring at you silently.

they hold mirrors mockingly.

your sign reads.

i am home, i am whom?

in the reflection you see

what you recall.

a tree in a field,

the angle of tall grass against the wind in a landscape of all the same hue.

the sound of a passing train.

of passing trains,

The flash of a city.a white out.

and after the explosion or explosions,

the angle of tall grass against the wind in a landscape of all the same hue.

and it goes like this...


Last minutes of work,

a mistake sends me into a rage.

One cut too many with a knife

(like a word) and all seems lost.

At least until it's fixed, with another cut of the knife

or a different design

pulled from the mind and the eye and the hand

and a love to make things right and beautiful.

Or so I'm reminded

to let an anger go

become a momentary disappointment

and become tomorrow when I return

something better than intended. Not merely fixed.

Or so I'm reminded, catching my breath, rereading

the words you sent me last night.