Diane WaldDiane Wald

Working Note

For a couple of years the line “this world and all of its details could vanish” has been in my mind, although I’ve not succeeded in living my life mindful of that idea. This world and all of its details will vanish; perhaps they already have; perhaps that’s memory, or the memories we can’t remember. Or the future. Or something in between.

We have worlds to learn from other species, all of whom we need to approach with respect and kindness. How foolishly we waste them. Dinosaurs past and present. Beauty beyond science.

The images in this poem are related the way all the images in daily life are related — something outside of “me” is driving. Some days are more thematic than others; most days are collages or strata or floods or accidents that aren’t. Everything interwoven. Ride the connections.

voices of the dinosaurs


this world and all of its details could vanish


i didn’t know when to expect you or if to expect you at all
i had a feeling there was a cake in the garbage can
the voices of the dinosaurs haunt me in particular the wand-necked ones
i believe i have known them
i have listened to them gossip
is this some kind of lunatic conspiracy like the ones that say history never happened?
did someone say there were never any dinosaurs?
i’ve heard them singing alone and in chorus
sometimes like mockingbirds they imitate woodland sounds
some of them sound like monkeys although there aren’t any monkeys yet
somehow they hear them

now that the floor is shiny in here the table legs rest on themselves
i don’t think the room they made the dinosaurs stay in was even this large
i don’t know who they is
but i know they were mistaken

i don’t hear as much from you as i used to
the voice of your wristwatch was nervous and slow
like a wand-necked dinosaur a small one
today there are buds on the acacia but it’s not yet spring
and someone will be disappointed before too long

we don’t know where bridge street is
so we cannot cross over


the voices of the dinosaurs committed the first opera
they had been well cast in a tragedy of hours
their voices woven in and out with fronds and ferns
and they died in the end like opera stars swooning
gazing into one another’s eyes acknowledging eternity begetting no one

once again a bridge dream this time water sneaks up over the edge
and we wade in black shoes and acknowledge our eternity

my brother said a chamber-hearted dinosaur has been found

hard to believe it was no human’s fault the dinosaurs died
hard to imagine they simply had to leave us when they left us
hard treatment of animals has left me suspicious
today’s heavy rain has washed away the snow leaving rivulets
rain enough for dinosaurs
rain for the cock-robins yet to arrive
rain to forgive me


use not roman numerals unless you are roman
does that orange “x” mean the tree is coming down
and what about the woman walking past it
we have a plant in a birdcage trying to get out i would love to cut the cage
my husband says no two giraffes’ spots are the same
and that one of the first things he remembers learning
is that the human race could not survive without insects
last night a dream about a sea urchin and peter o’toole
nodder dolls we saw on the antiques roadshow fashioned after the beatles
and it struck me that in our minds we all have nodder dolls of those who’ve hurt us
and whenever the landscape trembles the little heads-on-springs begin to nod
and they nod and they nod and they trouble us a lot
i have dinosaur nodder dolls and they trouble me a lot
especially the wand-necked ones
wand-necked like guitars playing “wipeout” suddenly during a ballad
dinosaur fingers sliding expertly down the strings


this world and all of its details could vanish

one man and one dinosaur obscure one another mysteriously
like a tire in a nail
i dream white wrought iron lawn chairs tipped over in the snow
as the dinosaurs are tipped
the architectural worries of the millions of dinosaur years
expanses of snow-covered ice on rivers
injured geese still feeding
dragging their broken wings like capes across the snow
mirrors melting like ice around sunny faces
i dream ceilings of the great gymnasiums hung with rows of inflatable boats
but no one is escaping

the dinosaurs voices are long like water under water
these two branches long winched together are unhooked now by the wind

i dream of committing murder then of calling 911
because the victim isn’t dead
or not as dead as my poor dinosaurs


now that someone has tried to break in we know that the door lock works
the wand-necked dinosaurs move with the grace of camels
the grace of dinosaurs
what did they smell like — do they smell like lizards?
in other words a smell like mossy air
the dinosaurs tried to break into my dream
to tell me i am forgiven
the lecturer says our hands create empathy with the figure-drawing
because you always know where your hands are
i am old now and these children watch me write
those two branches are unhooked now over the water
and i dream of the water again and the dinosaurs who love me
the heads of dinosaurs high now on a dream of absent fear
still crave our alien hearts

we’re not sure why they love us

their hands might have been the size of our hands
they might have just turned into hawks and flown away


i’m not sure why you love me
in the snow everything can be seen so clearly the dinosaurs’ luminescent green
blue yellow red and purple (for surely they were not brown were perhaps even striped
or chequered like cabs or dazzled in paisley)
against spiky black trees lemon air and wedgewood sky
this gift of a red-tailed hawk up close to the kitchen window
holds me in thrall and indeed i cannot move or i’ll be seen he’ll fly away
my husband says it is another visitation
yes you can read it this way it is not hard
this is the way your mind arises
a thousand kinds of sparrows maybe a slight exaggeration not too much
all at the feeder at the same time what is that grey-eyed bird what is that white one
i do see white
white against the white snow a white bird impossible yes impossible
must be white cloud snow flying
or the frosty breath of the dinosaurs


a distortion in the window glass makes it look like squirrels leaping
in the blue spruces
i was sleeping when the fifteenth apple fell
and the groundhog we’d never quite forgotten went to sleep
in his plaid quilted jacket
o this world and all of its details could vanish
a phone faintly ringing in the background
you’ve forgotten the intricate games you invented as a child
in your world populated by you and the dinosaurs
o i would like to tell you they are sleeping
and their voices are only silent through the dream that we are dreaming
i wish i didn’t have to show you this crazy polaroid of the dinosaurs
in which they are fading away instead of fading into sight
all of this because we didn’t believe in time
all of this because we couldn’t imagine their voices

Bio: Diane Wald has three chapbooks: Target of Roses from Grande Ronde Press, My Hat That Was Dreaming from White Fields Press, and Double Mirror from Runaway Spoon Press. An electronic chapbook, Improvisations on Titles of Works by Jean Dubuffet, appears on the Mudlark website. Her book Lucid Suitcase was published by Red Hen Press, and a new book, The Yellow Hotel, will be published by Verse Press in the fall of 2002. “voices of the dinosaurs” is from that collection. Wald works for animal welfare at the MSPCA in Boston.

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