Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: "Dogspell, or Sally & Seemore & the Meaning of Mushki"

DogspellDogspell by Karin Gustafson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Karin Gustafson, author of the manicddaily blog, has written an absolutely winning children's book with the most charming illustrations ever. Sally is a girl whose mom (Ruby) is always salvaging things and making gadgets and clothes and book bags and Rube Goldberg contraptions (now you know why she's called Ruby!) out of them. When she suggests building a robot pal for Sally, though, she's gone too far. Sally insists on a dog, and so they go get a little curly white puppy Sally names Seemore, or Seemie for short.

The book alternates between Sally's voice and Seemie's. The dog's narration is beyond cute. The story deals with school, mean girls, not fitting in, and finding confidence in one's self, but the book is never preachy, always fun. I have given it 4 stars just because I reserve 5 stars for books that seriously rock my world or change the way I think. This book is simply a wonderful book for children or the young at heart, and is highly recommended.



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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sisyphean Haiku

The last pages of this book are full of sand--
enough to bloody my fingers.
My pockets are filled with sugar I pretend is stars. 
When I touch my fingers to them, they stick to the blood and turn pink
like cherry blossoms in haiku.

I put the tip of my tongue to the sand and stars
to taste earth and heaven together, but it's no good--
grit in my mouth makes me grind my teeth until I spit red.
Having combined dirt and deity, I carry the experience
but produce no pearl. 

_______

I am not sure if this is pastiche, Kerry, but it is my attempt at it.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

In This Room

Here, in this room, is where I left it. 
I carry a key,
cold between my breasts, hard against my heart,
that I will never use again.

You--reaper, slayer, bitch--
I bear no mercy for you, no kind thought.
May fire ants climb up your cunt and kill you very slowly,
and the balm stay in sight just out of reach.

Here, outside this room, is where the husk-body walks.
It lives, while the heart that was its passenger browns and curls beyond the door.
Love for my familiars is strong
but the rest I have driven nails through and fed to bald-head vultures.

Killer, drooling lunatic, dust-souled woman-forgery,
I spit on every mote that's left of you;
I feed your ghost great troughs of hate,
and curse you for killing me, again each day, as long as I have memory.
_____

for Susie's "If Death Were A Woman" challenge at Real Toads.

 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: "Spill Simmer Falter Wither"

Spill Simmer Falter WitherSpill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What an extraordinary novel. It's about a man, now sixty-ish, who has lived all his life in his father's house--which he continues to call it even after the old man is dead--in a little seaside village. It becomes clear after a while, as the narrator relates it all to his dog, that the father had been mad as a hatter, and completely unfit to raise a child. He wasn't sent to school. He was largely ignored, and left alone sometimes all night. He was even kicked out of the car and left by the roadside to be finally brought home by a passing motorist. The result of all this is that the narrator, whose name is never revealed that I can recall, is a very odd duck who feels set apart from the rest of humanity. "I am horrible."

As the novel opens, he is looking for a dog to be a ratter, as he has an infestation in his attic. He adopts a ragged beast from the local shelter, an escaped badger-baiting dog with just one eye. (A badger took the other with its claws.) He naturally names him One Eye, but the people at the shelter print the tag all one word ONEEYE. The narrator tells the dog he is named after an African prince. It becomes clear, as the man chatters endlessly to the dog, that the man has a fine eye for nature, and quite remarkable powers of observation about people as well. If Quasimodo possessed a dash of Walt Whitman, then he would be this narrator. He has never had a any pet other than a hamster before, but man and dog fall into a wonderful companionship together. Both are terribly wounded. Both fear people. But they love, and comfort and help, each other.

Not since Richard Adams' "The Plague Dogs" --he is also the author of the celebrated "Watership Down"--have I read a novel in which a dog is brought so absolutely, genuinely to life. One Eye does all the things dogs do, and the author has obviously spent a lot of time living in their company because her depiction is spot on, including all the things dog owners know but never think about. One Eye is, above all, an animal, intent on smells, food, life; he is often gross and always enchanting. The most enchanted one is his broken, aging, endlessly sad owner, for whom this shelter dog becomes a reason for living. The way the man always thinks of One Eye's comfort is touching. He isn't always the perfect dog owner--it's a learning curve--but he comes to understand more about his dog than most people ever do.

When One Eye, who was bred and trained to go fearlessly down burrows after badgers and kill them, attacks a dog out on a walk on the beach, he and his man have to go on the run. To avoid the animal control officer, they live for months in the man's car, driving to out of the way places and keeping to themselves. It is amazing to me that a story about a troll-man and a wounded dog who live first in a filthy house and then in a car could be so absolutely absorbing and make me wonder what would happen next as much as any conventional thriller. Throw in some utterly unique revelations from the man's past, and two unremarkable lives become positively gripping. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, while compulsively describing everything to his dog, the narrator reveals the heart of a poet. An unsentimental, keen-eyed one at that. Very very highly recommended.



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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reckoning

There will certainly be a reckoning.
When you eat that slop for breakfast, angry fields roll themselves into earthquakes.
The bones of everything are broken and sticking up;
your wound is already there and calling.

Hi, I'm a nature fairy.
I always wear this leather shit.
There are whole herds whose hooves dream of nothing but my face,
and the agreeable aspects of gravity.

I love the moon, especially at dawn like this.
Don't you?
There is nothing there, nothing we can ruin.
Drop a penny, make a wish, live in a pool's reflection until a new season germinates.

Look at me, I'm a flower--a venom bloom.
Bees help me displace what I feel when they collect, and carry, and sting.
Hold out your arms. Turn to wood. Include a door.
Otherwise my bees will make short work of you, and my emptiness will be for nothing.

Lazy deities piss me off.
That cloud looks like the last thing you said to me--
a nothing made of nothing floating on the invisible.
Hold out your gauntlet, here I come. Listen for my song. I only sing it once.
______

Sunday, September 4, 2016

With Telescopes

With telescopes,
everything becomes scientific.
I held still so long watching an insect on a stalk a half mile away,
that birds nested in my ears
and rented my head to a carnival.

When I open my mouth, it's oompah bands.
When I publish, it's pablum.
When you kiss me, it's junk data, but repeatable.
____
 
a 55 for real toads



 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Garden Bells

September rings its
garden bells
when the year picks up its skirts
to run.

Some mornings
it has rained,
and others, the sky is
that impossible autumn blue. 

I wish I knew
why, even in sobriety,
even in maturity,
I am September's motherless child.

Before long, perhaps,
It will no longer matter
about the ache of wet leaf mornings
and impossible autumn blue.
______