Lisa Creech Bledsoe

The Flying Bird Brings the Message

1. She was too young to handle snakes.

I want Idris Elba to handle snakes for me.
Wilma Mankiller. Annie Oakley, maybe.

I only think absurdities
in the absence of better options.

She wasn’t taking it seriously
enough, not nearly enough.

2. Stay in the process. Be very careful.

Can I call her dreamy? It was a dream.
And the snake. Slim, the length of a woman’s hand—
a copper and apple-green lariat.

Can I call her enchanted?
No more than I’ve been with
moss, crow & bone. But she
was only innocent (?) and let it

3. Stay very small, very frugal, very sincere—

slip, a glissade of venom
and distortion. It swam toward me,
soared on ancient wings. I breathed in
epochs of air. It spiraled. Arced,
each instant a ceremony—

4. The shock of enlightenment

Two needles, little scimitars
pierced my shirt. It hung along
my solar plexus, grim charm.

5. This is not the time to try something important

I pleaded, making a cave of my chest,
bowing in terror, capture take 
remove remove this thorn
I beg you child, ancestress—

6. Do not think about the future

Grinning. She reached
for my silvery death, pulled it free.


Waterfall from Linen Paper

“Take the papers…Try to make something out of them that is more than you have now.”
Josef Albers, abstract painter, theorist, paper folder

The textbook says “proteins are the workhorses
of the cells” and guess what? They do origami.
Alpha helices become beta sheets, aka paper fans.
From there: barrels, propellers, jelly rolls.
Mine are filling garbage bags and dumpsters—
my foot drags, I arrive in a slant.
The artful contortionists in my brain have
left the building. Or would, given the chance.
They pleat and crease and nothing matches up.

Mountain, valley I can do. Crimps, petals, gate,
stair, squash, cushion, rabbit ear closed sink
reverse swivel I might be getting lost.
Huzita-Hatori axioms & mathematics
are screwing me over, my head is crammed with
paper trash and it’s hard to get anything done.

Show your work, I say to my proteins, then 
forget how to take the next step forward.
My hands shake. I don’t let go 
when someone offers to take my plate.
I used to be codified, now I’m just
confusing. Menger sponges made of playing cards,
scattered on the floor. Where’s the chiyogami
when you need it? Show your work faster, damn it.

Here’s what I want my operations to look like:
the crisp rush of water, wet-folded and
arcing like a woman in love. A polar sine wave,
ice flow in motion, singularly beautiful.

It was taught at Bauhaus, later 
at Black Mountain. It can be learned but
I need Mi-Teintes watercolor paper
pulp-dyed, cotton, fine grain on one side,
honeycombed on the other. Maybe.

Here are three boxes by a patient recovering
from brain surgery, folded from pages of
their medical chart. Precision is key and
there may be a thousand ways to say that including
elegant and efficient. I shake and zigzag down
hallways this side, that side, this side, fuck.
Laughter, when I don’t bust my ass on this ice.


Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer living in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. She is the author of two books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019), and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Chiron Review, Otoliths, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, among others. You can find her at her website,