Sunday, November 29, 2009

Passage



"Hold on...

Hold on to your self,

This is gonna hurt like hell." --Sarah McLachlan


There's no short way.

Move through it

Like moving through a fever--

Move through it

Like waist deep water--

Dark below,

Dark above.


The night is full of tigers.

Oh yes,

They have broken hearts, too;

Tooth and claw no more use than

Vapor

Against these enemies

Whose names are

Pain

Loss

Fury

Hopelessness.


Lay down with them all.

Lay down with tigers.

In the morning, you'll rise up off their sleeping warmth

With stripes of ambivalence and experience

On your body, too.


Go stumbling back to the farm.

They'll know you are not the same.

You'll know it, too.


The night will stay with you

In every black stripe,

But when the fever breaks

And the tide goes out,

You can walk through the world as a woman again--


In the noon,

Tomorrow, or next week or next year,

Someone will see you and say,

"Oh,

You are so beautiful."

You will dip your head,

And once again it will be your choice

What you want to do.

__________


Thank you to the tigers, who continue to inspire me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Birmingham Nursery Rhyme



I was brought up right--

I carry my mother in a little box

Wrapped in cotton

Under locks.


Weebles wobble

But they don't fall down--

Somehow I survived

A little angry, but alive.


It's just that, if you poke me.

I'll poke back.

Trust me, Pokey,

Gumby that.


I'm polite.

I say, fuck off please.

I wear no ink.


I believe in grace, poise, and a well-timed wink--

I carry a sap...


But it's pink.

__________

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Year That Began With Ravens



The year that began with ravens

Ends with sparrows.


I think my life

Is a candle in a paper boat;

Never meant to last.


The year that began with ravens

Has tested me

In ways I can't explain,


But nameless music

Can be as sweet as a split apple

Or as bitter

As an empty room.


The year that began with ravens

Spared a teasing taste of honey--

An aviary June.


The year that ends with sparrows

Leaves me humble

With just a jar of coins.


I think my life

Is a candle in a paper boat;

Never meant to last--


A sparrow in that twilit place

Where despair and peace are joined.

________

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving from the Succubus, Chloe, God, The Queen Of The Vampires, Denise, Danny, Fireblossom, and everyone at Danny's Coffee Shop.


Free coffee all day!
_________
Picture: Emily the Strange

Monday, November 23, 2009

For G.



A tree decides not to hate the ground.

"She could not have received you, my straying leaves,

Had you not let go of me first;

Not once,

But a thousand times.


You spread yourself over her as if she were precious,

But I think

She was just close by

And besides,

You had already fallen as far as you could go.


What good does it do me

To be so constant?

My arms are full of emptiness

All the same."


A tree decides not to hate the ground.

After all,

Spring, and fullness, will come again in time--

Still, each ring

Leaves her older

Though stronger,

And at night, in Winter,

She dreams of bending without a care,

Green again in a sweet breeze

Of June and the way things were.

_______

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Lorelei



"Everybody's somebody's fool" --Connie Francis


The Lorelei is brought into Maritime Court, charged with luring sailors to their deaths with the beauty of her voice.

A jury of her peers is empaneled, but disqualified when The Lorelei testifies in her own defense,

And nine of the jurors throw themselves over the rail to sit at her feet

Where she pets them like so many Pomeranians.


An all-female jury replaces the first one, but still, five of them pass The Lorelei impassioned notes,

Suggesting meetings after they have seen to her acquittal.


"Objection!" thunders the prosecuting attorney. "The defendant is to blame for dozens of shipwrecks and the loss of life and property!"

"Oh sure, blame the woman," mutters The Lorelei, rolling her eyes.


In the end, she cannot be convicted.

Even a bench trial fails when, upon hearing The Lorelei promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and so on, the judge drops his gavel and proposes to her on the spot.

She refuses him.


The Lorelei becomes a media darling.

On E! she is asked why she isn't blonde, as traditionally depicted in art and illustration,

And her silent scorn is potent enough to send the interviewer, a former soap opera hunk, away in tears.


The Lorelei decides to grab lunch at Danny's Coffee Shop.

She sits at the counter and tries to chat up the chick next to her, just because she can;

But she is ignored, which has never happened before, and The Lorelei gets flustered and drops her keys.


Chloe, born on a sunny Sunday in May, says,

"God what a ditz. Pick those up."

Chloe is the heart-breaking murderess of Danny's Coffee Shop, and has never felt sorry for a single thing she's done.

Look at her eyes--they are

Untroubled,

Beautiful,

Disturbing,

Feline.

For the rest of the afternoon, The Lorelei sits at Chloe's feet like a Pomeranian.

Despite the ruin it will bring, she cannot help herself.


From The Lorelei's glass of water,

A thousand sailors laugh

And sing songs honoring Chloe,

Their unexpected Queen

Of ironic revenge.

____________
Those unfamiliar with Chloe can find her here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moon Rabbit



In a dream I saw a face

Which was half the moon and

Half a woman's face.


I said, "You are so beautiful."

She said, "I am dying."


In a lake, at night, in summer,

We swam naked;

I offered myself just below the surface,

She did the same for me from just above.


I relaxed and let my body float up--

She let herself float down;

And when we met,

We called that making love.


Now, I am as still as the stars in the moment of a kiss--

I am not all I wanted to be,

But I am more than I was before that night.


"Darling," I whispered, "I don't want you to leave."

She wrapped herself around me and said, "I already have..."

So I gave her a garland of poems and a touch of fingertips,

And sweetly lied that I would be all right.

______________
Thanks to Cloudia, who introduced me to the story of Chang-O and the Moon Rabbit. I have taken certain liberties with it here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Questions, One Answer



"What is it like?" she asked me.

It is like

Carrying clouds around in my pockets;

When I want music,

I take them out and shake out the birds.


So the birds asked me,

"What is it like, loving her the way you do?"

It is like

Carrying clouds around in my pockets;

All day, the winds blow west to east,

Moving through me, shaking out poems like these.

______

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rasputin



A wandering holy man named Grigori Rasputin comes in to Danny's Coffee Shop.

He is not mad.

He is not a monk.

He orders tea.


His hair and beard are greasy and he smells like a barn.

He wraps his huge hands around the cup as women do--

It is like seeing a polar bear do cross stitch...

Absurd, incongruous, and somehow pleasing.


A panther, who is really the Queen Of The Vampires, insinuates herself onto his lap.

The huge hands caress her ears and a contented rumbling begins.


"I was debauched," he says softly, into her fur.

"I drank prodigious amounts. I slept my way through Saint Petersburg. All those bored wives with their salons and samovars!"


The panther is falling asleep in his lap, completely blissed out.

"But yet, my pretty one, this does not mean that I was not touched by God, and possessed of the true gift of healing."


At the mention of the Supreme Being, the panther does manage to half open one eye,

But she has gotten used to all of the waitresses here.


"When the Little Mother, Alexandra, implored me to save her son, the heir, I did so."


"Did you know, kitty, that I knew Maxim Gorky? As boys, we sat beneath the apple trees in summer;

I would laze about, good for nothing, and call out lewd suggestions to the local girls.

Maxim would listen to the starlings going mad in the branches at sunset, and he would write down all that they said. These jottings became his poems!


"In later years,

Lost in a cloud of startling white hair and whiskers,

He would sit on a bench and feed the great grandchildren of those same starlings, with loaves he would buy from old women.


"People would see him and say, 'There is Gorky! He is even this moment creating beautiful verse in his head!'


"But he wasn't. He couldn't.

His head was as empty as a sleigh in July,

And he was only there for the starlings,

To thank them."


A waitress named Denise brings Rasputin more tea.


He continues.

"I was the Little Mother's spiritual advisor and the protector of her son.

The Grand Duchesses I loved like my own children, with never an evil thought.


"My enemies made up lies about me, you know.

I have always been able to please women, whether by vulgar or holy means;

For this, they shot me, poisoned me, bound me and threw me into the freezing Neva river in the middle of winter!


"It had nothing to do with politics! That's all pigsh--"

He had been going to say 'pigshit', but when the waitress walks by, he softens his voice and says to the cat,

"It was nonsense."


As it grows dark outside, Rasputin grows melancholy.

"Look at me, kitty. I'm dead. I can't get a woman anymore, and without that..."

His voice trails off.


The Queen Of The Vampires, who can shape-shift,

Has been on a being-a-black-panther kick for three weeks,

But now she stretches, yawns, and becomes her natural self again.


Dark.

Beautiful.

Eternal.


"Come on, sailor," she says. "Let's get out of here."

She gives Rasputin a wink and lets her sharp canines show for just the briefest of moments.


Rasputin feels as if he has been healed.

He feels as if he has finally stopped bleeding,

The lucky recipient of supernatural intercession.


"Look!" says an excited patron, someone from out of town. "It's Grigori Rasputin! He is probably plotting his Machiavellian schemes right here in Danny's Coffee Shop!"

But the truth is,

He is thinking of nothing except the joy of walking out into the evening with the Queen Of The Vampires.

He is there only for her pleasure,

To thank her.

___________

Sunday, November 15, 2009

La Bruja



Two sisters live in this house I know.

It's not a gingerbread house,

It's not a witches' house,

But it has a curvy front walk

And a cat behind the screen door.


One sister

Is quirky and friendly.

She wears

Leopard print ear muffs in the winter time.

The other sister

Is seldom seen

And won't pass the time of day,

Won't even

Look your way.


What's up with that?

I'd love to know what's up with that.


When she moves, she's so at home in her own body,

She makes it seem like all the rest of creation

Is just a guest in her universe,

And when she turns

The leaves burn

Just because she stands near them.


What's up with that?

I'd love to know what's up with that.


The friendly sister

Always has a good word,

And a smile like honey;

But the other sister

Makes me feel like a blackbird

Shot from the sky

And falling, falling...


What's up with that?

I'd love to know what's up with that.


I think the gypsies

Kicked the dark sister out

Because

Everywhere she stays

It rains the ace of spades

And she was too intense

Even for outsiders like them.

And so I

Ponder her again--

The mother of the moon

In the form of a cat.


What's up with that?

I'd love to know what's up with that.

__________
Photo: Cat Power

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ghosts



Ghosts love roses--

I know this

Because every time I wear silver jewelry,

I catch their fragrance

And they tell me

Senora,

Mira,

The constellations gather

At your throat and fingertips.


Ghosts are fine dancers--

I know this

Because late at night after even dreams have gone,

The rain touches the curtains at my window

Lightly,

As a lover should;

Finally, when I am as empty as a wine glass,

They give me music

And forgetfulness made of glass and wood.


So, give me my silver jewelry

And toss me down a fragrant rose--

Though I will not stir, I will be dancing

With the ghosts who whisper,

Senora,

Are you ready, now, to go?

____________

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Advice



Unless you are one of my sisters

So close that

When one is cold in the midnight

You can see the other's breath;


Unless you are one whose presence I carry like juju

And keep close against my heart,

Do not say


"What you should have done is this"

Or

"I used to be like you are now, and did the things that you are doing;

But I have conquered all that and live like the ocean, inside my conch shell of serenity."


If you say

"I eat starlight

And crap sunshine,"


I will not dispute you.

I will not debate.


But beware of magick.

Beware of long memories.

Beware of silence and the one who waits.

________

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Denise Endormi



The succubus is having a latte at Danny's when some dark haired chick walks in with a panther and they grab a booth.

The chick wears killer boots.

"Bitch," mutters the succubus, before finishing off the latte.


Poor succubus.

It's only eight, no sleepers to stalk, but she gets up and makes for the door anyway.

"Nice boots," she says to the chick, with a wink. The panther stops shredding the booth with its claws and fixes its yellow eyes on the succubus.

Its lip curls up, revealing gleaming canines and dangerous intent.

The cheap silverware lifts off the table and bends from the charge in the air.

The succubus leans close, her red lips nearly touching the ebony ear of the cat.

"Honey...don't you ever sleep?"

They hiss at each other for a moment, and then the succubus is off like a prom dress, out the door and into the street.


If you're thinking of becoming a succubus,

This one could tell you

It's not all daisies and puppy dogs.

Sometimes,

Succubi sit home on a Friday night just like anybody else.


But not this time.


After smoking for a few hours with a gargoyle on the roof of the Frank. J. Wabeek building,

She crosses the street and slips in a window.

She creeps down the hall.

"Nice Muchas," she thinks, admiring the prints of vintage advertising art on the walls.

Then she is slipping through a doorway and into someone's dreams.


In this dream, there are chocolate trees and caramel streets.

In this dream, the sky leans down and kisses any woman walking by.

In this dream, Brazilian music plays and there is the constant feeling of sultry anticipation.


The succubus knows

She is there to steal a soul.

She also knows

She can't.


Slowly, the way hot fudge melts ice cream,

She settles in next to the sleeper, wrapping herself around her like a sarong.

"Mmm...Chloe," she murmurs helplessly.

"Uh huh," comes the soft reply, and then the arms, the butterscotch lips that everybody needs, even demons.


In the morning, the sleeper turns out to be a waitress named Denise.

She goes to work, lets herself in, and starts the coffee.

She smiles, thinking about the succubus,

Hoping that when she gets back, her apartment will not be empty;

And,

In the middle of all these early morning daydreams,

She sets down a saucer of cream

For the panther

Asleep like a baby

In booth #5.

__________

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Perfect Day In Duckburg



Sally, who calls herself "Wynd", is propped on an elbow in bed, running her fingernail across her lover's bare skin.

Jane, who goes by the name "Rayne", opens one eye and smirks.

"Let's call in queer," suggests Sally.

Jane's smirk turns to a laugh, turns to a kiss, turns to... well, just never mind.


Outside, in the sunny driveway,

The U-Haul sits where it's been for the past two weeks.

Perhaps birds will end up nesting in it.

Who can say?

Meanwhile,

God is in Her heaven

And it's a perfect day

In Duckburg.

__________

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lies



I was the first girl baseball star.

Babe Ruth once came to me in the holy wooden clubhouse where I dressed alone;

He arrived sober, quiet, hat in hand,

To ask my advice.


I told him:

Live temperately.

Recognize the hand of the divine in everything that you do.

Realize that the pitcher is a major leaguer, just as you are.

Be patient, wait for your pitch, but when it comes,

Swing hard and wail the living snot out of it.


I once met Mister Eddie Rickenbacker,

The celebrated flying ace.

I asked him what it was like.

He told me:

"The sky is filled with devils and blackbirds.

I find the enemy, then send them bullets like children's prayers;

When smoke begins to pour out of their machines like hubris,

They go down singing Lutheran hymns

And German beer drinking songs--

They fall

As softly as spring rain.


I once loved a dancer

Who worked at the One Eyed Cat in Baltimore, Maryland.

She told me she had once danced

For Mister Edgar Allan Poe

On the last night of his life.

People said it was drugs,

Drink,

Bad living,

But I think he was driven mad by love for someone he could never touch.

He died scratching poetry

Into the cobblestones

With his fingernails.


I was the first girl baseball star.

I once struck out Babe Ruth.

That was when I learned

That failure can be more beautiful, sometimes, than success--

And so I went home to the gypsy camp I came from.

I told them how I'd gripped the ball

And done everything the way I'd planned to;

These women who had known me all of my life,

Just laughed toothlessly, silently,

And sent me to collect the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe.

I took him up tenderly, like an angel, or a new mother,

Stroking his filthy hair;

I told him how every time my bat kissed the ball,

It would fly far and fast into the sky, disappearing like joy over the tin Coca-Cola signs

And into the hands of some grinning urchin in a newsboy cap--

Then I kissed him

And his spirit flew away like an oriole,

Set free by my love

And gone.

________

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Victory Of The Sycamores



The mulberry leaves turn yellow-green,

So pretty and transient

Like duchesses.


The sycamores just cover everything in a utilitarian brown.

See here,

They say.

See here.


Oh I miss you.

Every thought of you peels my heart like an apple,

The pain so sharp that it almost makes me beautiful again,

My skin as white

As winter.


The maples are shockingly heartless,

Draping themselves in such a shameless, compelling, and unforgettable red

Just before they grow bored

And turn to naked bones,

Lovers transformed,

Offering nothing.


Oh I am the Queen Of All Fools,

And yet even I know the supreme idiocy of trying to put the leaves back,

To retrieve June

In immaculate

Perfection--


With the first snow in the air,

The train is at the station.

The duchesses, with all their trunks and hat boxes have boarded.

The bell clangs,

Summer is gone,

And nothing you love is ever coming back.

It is the victory of the sycamores--

See here,

You on the platform in the dusk,

See here.

________

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Frankenstein's Monster



Frankenstein's monster gets up off the slab and fixes some eggplant parmigiana.

It is late in the year and getting dark early.

He has a nice french loaf and Kenny G playing in the background.


Still, despite his huge hands and appetite, the table seems wide as a desert, and the meal somehow paltry.


Frankenstein's monster goes and examines himself in the mirror.

Green. Tall. Flat-headed.

Like a steroid-enhanced Gumby.

If only...

There were someone.


Frankenstein's monster attempts to join Eharmony,

Only to be met with rejection.

Not because he is green, or seven feet tall, or pieced together from parts,

But because he wanted to meet

A nice man.

This the Eharmony people shrank from in righteous horror.


Frankenstein's monster re-papers his master bath in an attractive floral pattern.

The work distracts him, but in the end, there is no one to look at and ask,

"What do you think?"


He turns on "Top Chef" but is soon lost in a daydream.

He sees himself dancing in the Tiki Room, with all the flaming torches and the good rhumba music.

Perhaps tonight

He will find someone to share it all with...


But it is late,

And so he just takes off his shoes and lays down on the bed he got from Ikea.

He says, "Four posts around my bed,

Four angels around my head,

Something, something..."

And despite the clumsiness of his prayer,

He feels certain he has been heard by God and Saint Michael

Who will surely

Protect him from the small,

The mean,

And the stunted bogeymen who so assiduously guard the public morals.

_______________

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Rapture



With the sound of trumpets, The Rapture arrives.

Unexpectedly, though, the trumpets sound disappointingly like muzak.


The Rapture arrives, on a Tuesday morning, to the sound of a Herb Alpert knock-off band.

Righteous people are vacuumed up into the sky from wherever they stand, but

Unfortunately, some are not vacuumed powerfully enough, and come back down,

Leaving messes for the wicked,

Who didn't like them anyway,

To clean up.


The Rapture comes, right in the middle of Maury Povich.

Unhappily, some of the righteous are not vacuumed up in their entirety,

Leaving behind an arm or a leg or someone's head.


Someone's head says that it feels certain this must be God's plan for it.

Unavoidably, whatever else it said is indistinguishable when some of the wicked begin using it for a soccer ball.


On the whole, say reviewers later,

--and one must remember that these reviewers are wicked--

The Rapture does not live up to its hype.


Everybody goes back to work, or school, or to doing nothing,

And waits for Armageddon.


(Teaser clips available

at Armageddon

Official

Website.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nothing



When your words are sharp and cutting,

it hurts my heart--

i feel like nothing


i fall down a long dark well;

if you ask, i'll only tell

you that "it's nothing"


(i feel like)

nothing.

________

Dia de los Muertos / Remembering My Father



Today is Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead. I don't have an ofrenda or altar to honor my loved ones who have passed, but what I can do is write a little bit about my Dad.


He was born in Schenectady, New York in 1912. When asked how to spell "Schenectady", he would reply "A-L-B-A-N-Y."


The consuming passion of my father's life was the newspaper business. Like me, he loved writing from an early age, writing "Boyd Stories" (his first name was Boyd) for his high school newspaper. In time, he got a job as a reporter for the Detroit News. Not much happened for him until he was sent on what appeared to be a fool's errand to cover some labor problems at a Flint, Michigan auto assembly plant. The workers locked themselves inside the factory and staged a sit-down strike and there was my father right there with them, getting the scoop. It was his big break.


One thing about being the child of a newspaperman so passionate about his work was that dinner table conversation was an insider's view of the events of the day. He also had a love for detective work, and he would investigate such things as a man who claimed to be the missing Lindbergh baby. My father could spin a tale, and it was fun to listen to! I've found that most people who love what they do are fun to listen to, when they discuss it.


By the time I was a teenager, my father had risen to become city editor of The News. He had started the Secret Witness Program and been featured in magazines and even been on "To Tell The Truth" (as himself)and "David Frost." His career success is what people seem to focus on most when remembering him. But none of that is why I loved him.


What I remember is when I would be ill, and he would stop off at the drug store on his way home, not for medicine, but for a comic book for me. (I loved them! I even still have some of them. "Clyde Crashcup" is my favorite.) He took time to read with me every night, and between that and growing up in a house filled with his books, I learned to love the written word.


He had an old Royal typewriter which he kept on his desk--the very same desk I am sitting at as I write this--and he would bang away like mad on the poor keys. He hated letters that hadn't struck properly! He typed with two fingers and thumb of each hand, and so do I. I also hit the keys too hard, but not as much as he did. Poor keys!


One of my favorite memories from when I was very little, is of being held on his lap sitting at this desk (again!) and being presented with my first-ever chocolate milkshake. Well, if you know me, you know how I am about chocolate! He also took me to my first Detroit Tigers baseball game, took me to stand on the gallery and see the big presses at The News running, and took me on so many of his beloved nature walks when we would rent a cottage some place in the summer time.


My father wasn't perfect. He was 43 when I was born, and by the time I was about ten, my relaxed and beloved Dad had become driven and difficult. The very job success he is so often remembered for was the thing that took him away from me, in many ways.


Regardless of that, he gave me so much. He loved slapstick comedy and passed that love on to me. This past week, I was watching a dvd called "Slapstick Masters" and just rolling at the antics of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Monty Banks and Laurel & Hardy. I felt him there, as I always do, watching and laughing with me.


I have written this in "courier" font, just like he had on his old Royal typewriter, where I wrote my first little stories as a child, with him always as the hero.


I love you, Daddy. You were always Superman to me.

________