Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Toffee Lipstick



I will always be drawn to small bodies of water,

Especially in the autumn

When leaves the color of toffee lipstick

Settle on the surface like recaptured kisses.


When I sit beside a pond on a raw day like this,

An unforgiving flame takes my heart in a hurtful embrace,

Consuming me until I can scarcely breathe.


And yet,

I cannot share what I feel, except with you;

I jealously guard my pain and keep it in a locket made of leaves

So that every word I speak will burn.


The water looks so soft, it reminds me of your lips

And how your arms slipping around me made me feel rapturously weak,

Like an escaping soul.


I miss you,

And evening falls earlier every day.


But soon, speaking of you to someone, I will simply turn to glowing ash,

Like leaves the color of toffee lipstick,

Spinning inevitably down

To their waiting lover below.

_________________________

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Last Gangster



The last gangster wears a felt fedora and a bathrobe,

Shuffling towards the dining hall with his cane.


The orderlies all look like G-men and call him "Pops."

The nurses are pinched and damp with antiseptic,

Nothing like the swell dames he used to know!


There are paintings on the walls--

Sailboats and pastoral scenes;

What's that crap all about?


Oh how he'd love to have the shuttle bus driver bring around a big fat Doozy instead,

He'd stand on the running board and his cane would be a tommy gun!

Budda budda budda budda!

Eat lead ya dirty rats!


"What're you smilin' about, Pops?" asks an orderly.

The last gangster points at him with his cane and says, "You look like Melvin Purvis."

Budda budda!

Ha!

___________________________

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Demons



Some demons get bored and go to Denny's.

The smoke alarms go insane,

And their ice waters must be continually refilled.

One demon takes a hissing sip and admits sheepishly, "I always wanted this in, you know, hell," and is smacked.


The waitress smiles as she approaches, but the demons scream and writhe in agony.

"Oh, sorry," she says, tucking her gold cross inside her shirt.

"What'll it be, ladies?" she asks them brightly as the edges of her order pad darken and curl.


The cook has taken a shine to the demon closest by, and he steals looks while his deep fryer bubbles and spits.

She catches him out and winks.

His face turns a devilish red.


The demons order chocolate cake.

"Sinful," sighs one.

The big window steams up as the flirty demon smiles slyly at the flustered cook,

Her coffee steaming away all the while, unattended.


Later, when the waitress comes back with their bill, one demon says, "Watch this!"

The demon next to her groans and mutters, "Not again..." as the first one shakes out a napkin and holds it up.

With a dramatic flair, she blows on it and it bursts into flame.


The waitress goes, "Oh my god," then makes a face and says, "I mean, you know, wow!"

The first demon grins until the second one kicks her under the table.

"Skirt chaser!" she chides.


The cook wishes his shift were done, and when he looks up,

He sees the clock's hands spinning crazily ahead.

"Walk a girl home?" asks the flirty demon, nibbling on a stick of red licorice.


One leaves with the waitress,

One with the cook,

And the others with coffees,

Bell, candle and book.

___________________________


Friday, October 24, 2008

She Says



She says, "Why am I never invited to your home? What are you hiding?"

I say, poems washed up in drifts, piled on the furniture, sleeping in my unmade bed.


She says I love you, just like a native, she may even be telling the truth under certain circumstances.


I say, you are talking to empty space, I am over here, flesh of your flesh, your daughter.


She says, I have only sons.


I say, thank you for your recent gifts, they are utilitarian and practical, especially the gaffs so cleverly concealed. I will write you a thank you note in blood.


She says, you're just like your father.


I say, I have better taste in women.


She says, in this family, things are as decorous as a row of hospital beds, charts neatly clipped at the foot and always trending upward.


I say, I have learned to bandage myself with words, and to scream bloody murder. I have taught my heart to beat, and the noise of it is all I live for.


She brightens and says, it's supposed to rain tomorrow. All day.

_______________________________________________________

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Fairy Tale



A pint of Ben & Jerry's Caramel Sutra ice cream sits shivering among her miserable sisters

In the freezer case

At 7-11.


Cherry Garcia says, no one will ever buy us, we are trapped here forever!

Phish Food says, Oh woe! Woe!


Then a gentle hand embraces Caramel Sutra.


The hand wears no ring.


Before you can say "Jack Robinson", Caramel Sutra is in a bag with two french bread pizzas

On the front seat of Hand Lady's little car.


"We are more like chunks of ice than pizza," say the french bread pizzas.

"I am more like a very chilly brick than ice cream,"

Says the pint of Ben & Jerry's Caramel Sutra.


Then, in two shakes of a lamb's tail, they all three find themselves on Hand Lady's kitchen counter,

Next to her little telephone.


It does not ring.


Hand Lady has broken up with her boyfriend (girlfriend?).

His name was Anthony, and he called her his "old lady."

Or,

Her name was Belinda, and she told her she was supporting her own subjugation

By wearing cosmetics

And using hair spray.


But then! Quick as a cat can wink its eye, the french bread pizzas are in the oven.

They say,

It is warm, so warm! We feel gooey with gratitude,

Cheesy with an unrestrained devotion!


Hand Lady puts on a movie.

Debra Winger (Julia Roberts?) is dying of something, and Shirley MacLaine is there to make pithy remarks,

And love through the tears.


In no more time than it takes to make a wish, the pint of Ben & Jerry's Caramel Sutra ice cream joins the french bread pizzas

And they are all three part of the kind, lonely Hand Lady who brought them home with her.


But! They have a plan!


Any day of the week

Could be the day she meets a new boyfriend (girlfriend?).

He will say, your arms are as warm as two french bread pizzas;
Or,

She will say, your lips are as sweet as Caramel Sutra ice cream!


She will feel just like Meg Ryan (Cinderella?)

And live happily ever after

In a cute little house

Right behind the 7-11.

_______________________________________

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mothers



Mothers at the store

Rattle out the door

And never take me home with them--

They're funny that way.


Oh, but I'm

Cuter than cake mix,

Sweeter than summer squash,


Please,

Pretend I'm a new product

And give me a try;

Don't leave me

High and dry.


When I was small,

They called me Little Bones;

Quiet, and cold

And always alone.


Mothers at the store

Rattle out the door

And never take me home with them--

They know I'd beg to stay.

________________________________

Caroline, Remembered



Something brought you back to me today,

Like a forgotten fragrance that shanghais my senses

And suddenly,

I am tangling lavender-scented sheets again,

Remembering your skin.


The song said,

Caroline,

Please be mine,

You're my kind of girl.


How is it we can forget pain or bliss and carry on, parking the car,

Fixing the leak,

Starting the stew?

Today was like plucking a morsel back from a simmering pot--

I snapped my fingers,

And savored a hot delicious memory

Of you.

____________________________________

Sunday, October 19, 2008

17



Let's steal down by the river--

I want to hear fugitive leaves crunch under my back

And look up at the moon caught in lonesome branches;

I want to see a cloud of breath escape your smile

Right before you kiss me.

Let's steal

Down by the river.

___________________


Nightbird


(for Liz)


I've been thinking about you, and the years we spent together--

I rarely do,

But a blue moon rose in the sky last night;

And you were the nightbird flying across it.


I don't know why I thought

That my way was the best to do,

And I don't know why you thought

That others should take care of you.


I don't think you'd know me now,

The lady in the gardening hat;

I'm more humble, and I'm older,

But none the worse for all of that.


Still, I've been thinking about you,

And how it was until we lost it,

Because a blue moon rose in the sky last night

With a nightbird flying across it.

___________________________________

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poor Gypsy



Last night there was frost,

And today the moving van ramp slants across the chilly earth;

Hard times for a lady who loves her garden.


Last night the moon was full,

And today I trail vague dreams around the emptying rooms;

Missing already the touches and scents of my home.


I make a very poor gypsy,

Even more so because

You won't be coming with me.


I hate to leave my garden, and your memory ever blessed--

Annuals are pretty,

But it's perennials I love best.

__________________________


Friday, October 17, 2008

Saying Goodbye To Alex


Dear Readers,


As you know, The Word Garden is meant as a place for poetry. But just today I would like to use it to write about my little dog Alex, to whom I shall be saying goodbye in a few hours.


In January of 1992, my Belgian Shepherd, "Sundance", was well into his declining years, and besides, he had always been my dog, and my partner at the time wanted a dog that could be for her. So, we went to the county animal shelter and met an energetic little sheltie-cocker mix who had been brought in only shortly before. He was curious about everything and looked about him with a bright intelligence and a natural charm. I was particularly happy that he could hear me when I spoke to him, as Sundance had gone entirely deaf and I could only communicate with him using a system of hand signals I had developed for him.


My partner, Liz, smiled and nodded and so it was decided, this was the one we would take home. But the shelter informed us that he needed to be neutered first, and so that would be done and we could pick him up in a couple of days. That day quickly arrived, and unfortunately, I was working, so Liz and her (our) son Joe went to collect him. She had decided to name him Alexander.


They spent the entire day getting to know the new addition, and he delighted in the attention. When i arrived home in late afternoon, in my postal uniform (how embarassing for any self-respecting canine!), Alex came running up to me barking as if to say he was already firmly dedicated to defending his new hearth and home from questionable intruders like me! This became particularly amusing in retrospect, when, despite all intentions for him to be Liz's dog, he attached himself to me as if he were velcroed to my leg.


Wherever I went, Alex would follow and stick close by me. And he knew I wouldnt allow anyone to punish him, lol. One morning, Joe discovered that Alex had pooped in his bedroom, and came hunting Alex to scold him. Alex esconsed himself underneath my desk chair where i was sitting, and I explained to Joe that, clearly, a mischievous raccoon had crawled in his window during the night and perfromed the wicked deed. of course, Joe immediately recognized this hooey for the nonsense that it was, but when it became clear that I wasn't going to allow Alex to be extradited to Joe-land to face charges, Joe abandoned the case with much eye rolling and mutterings. Poor Joe! But Alex seemed to like the result.


The house we lived in then had a fenced back yard and Japanese bamboo growing behind the garage. Alex liked to go in there and play George of the Jungle. The dogs--Daisy, Molly, and Alex by that time--liked to dig a little pit over by the chain link fence, and sit in it. I think it was cooler in summer and warmer in autumn. They would vie with each other for this choice spot, which, over Liz's objections, I allowed them to maintain in the yard. However, Alex rarely was able to claim it, because he was smaller than the girls. Well, one day he stood up, raised one front paw, and stared intently at the Japanese bamboo, as if--shock! horror!--there might be a cat or some other horrid intruder hidden there. (for the record, I like cats lol) Well, the girls, Molly and Daisy, went charging into the Japanese bamboo, and when they did, Alex nonchalantly ambled over and took up residence in the prized spot, it having been vacated by one of the bamboozled girls. Clever little stinker!


When Liz and I split up in 2001, I was the only one willing and able to take the dogs, and so all four of us moved into a new home. By that time, Alex was having trouble with his back legs and his walks had gotten very short and he had to be picked up and placed on the couch, though he could still jump down ok. We saw each other through the terrible sadness of the dissolution of our little family.


Alex, little trouper that he is, maintained his sunny disposition for many years more, though his body continued to fail. In 2003, Daisy died of cancer, and six weeks later a new addition, Bosco, arrived and stole his Mama's heart from the start. For his part, Alex took to snoozing in the bedroom most of the time, rousing himself mostly just to eat, and (sometimes) go out. My carpet got stinkier, but I had shared too much of my life with sweet little Alex to let him go on that account. But now, he can barely get around; I have to carry him to the yard and back in, and he can't really do anything but sleep. And so it is time.


This afternoon, I will place him gently in the car and we will go the vet's office and I will gather him in my arms one last time. This time, for the first time in sixteen years, I will not be able to protect him. No tall tale about raccoons will change what must be. But, I hope, this will be one final gift i can give the little fellow who has given me what pets give....unconditional, delightful, never-failing love. I can release him. I will say goodbye.


And then I will cry.


_______________________________________

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why?



Why did you have to push me so hard?

Now I can't find my way back.


I know you did it because you "love" me,

But love shouldn't leave me bleeding,

Shouldn't leave me willing to do

Anything

Anything

Anything

To make it stop.


I know you did it because I am

Ugly

Stupid

Clumsy

Wrong;

And even if you stopped, I would take up the chant.


Why did you have to push me so hard?

Now I can't find my way back.

____________________________________

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wild Girls



Sometimes I long to be one of the wild girls,

With their unsettling sunflower faces

Both beautiful and blank.


Sometimes I wish I had hair that had never been cut,

Wild dark curls full of fireflies and jet,

Black and bold as my stare.


I would weigh nothing, just a jewel from a penny candy machine,

Roving with my friends in skinny packs like some sort of small social tigers,

Saying

Yes Mother,

Yes Father,

But at twilight when you call us to come in and brush our teeth,

We sprint for the shadows

And the sanctity of our own skins,

Those places where the wild girls

Hide.

___________________________________

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Planting



When the chill of the days

Suits my contrary ways,

I will tie my hair back,

Gather some things from my shed,

And work on my flower bed.


I can plant bulbs, or spread leaves across the ground,

And these grey days can be the most relaxing that I've found;

I will hold Lady Winter back,

Gather what I can from the final days of fall,

And be grateful for it all.


And if I lose my ring,

Well, I should have been wearing gloves;

I've lost so many things--

My youth, the years, and so many


Oh, so many


Loves.


But when the chill of the days

Matches my contrary ways,

I won't hold my emotions back;

I can blame the wind for my shiver and my tears--

It's just conditions of atmosphere.


And if I lose my ring

Well, I should have been wearing gloves;

I've lost so many things--

My youth, the years, and now also you,


My Love.

____________________________________

I Love Your Blog Award II


The Word Garden has been honored with another I Love Your Blog Award, this time from the Mistress of erudite and erotic erratum, Lil Bit! Her blog, lil bits of Lil Bit, is a marvelous place where you can even find me in my guise as The Affordable Bodhisattva. Anyways, thanks, Lil Bit! http://littlehmphf.blogspot.com/


So now, the way this works, having been given this award, one then links back to the giver and goes on to name up to seven new recipients and notify them that they are winners! Here are my all-star bloggers:


To A T: Gender Journeys (A Relational Journey Through Life And Thoughts), written by my very own sweet sister, Radha Smith. Radha is brilliant, insightful, and anyway, she's my sis, so read her blog or I kick you in the shins. *smiles sweetly* http://radnichole.wordpress.com/


Please visit also Susanna's Sketchbook. Susanna is just a ridiculously talented photographer who also features something called Angel Letters. My personal little opinion is that hers is simply the best photography blog on the net. Find her at : http://susannassketchbook.typepad.com/susannas_sketchbook/


Last time I gave this prestigious and august award to Sharkbutt the Cat at Advice From A Shark. This time, and only AFTER fete-ing her feline better, I would like to give it to my dear friend Sheena at East Coast Randori. Sheena is the kind of girl who has The Good, The Bad & The Ugly as a ringtone. Find her at: http://ecrandori.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Bone Bird



The bone bird

Born from an egg as tender and sweet as honey by moonlight,

Flies through an ash sky

Into an Autumn as smoky and crisp as the remembered dream of a last kiss.


The bone bird

Is known by her song of glass, and the Queen-of-the-Nights it holds;

Flowers like feathers

Beautiful only as an ache is beautiful, or a parting.


The bone bird

Has made her nest above my door;

She will not fly

When Winter comes like Lady Death.

Instead, we will be two crones

Sipping tea in the twilight,

And when she sighs and has no more songs,

I will let the fire die

And tell her of your smile.

_____________________________


(Thank you to the gorgeously talented Christene, who introduced me to the black tulips called Queen-of-the-Nights.)