Monday, May 31, 2010

The Secret

Every Sunday, the amazing fashionista  Daryl has a feature called "Tell me A Story", in which she posts one of her photographs and asks her readers to spin a yarn about it. My story-writing skills have been slumbering, but I have tried to wake them in order to participate this week. So, without further ado, here is Daryl's photograph, and my story to go with it!

I was sitting on a hard white bench under a crab apple tree when I saw them. They were just two girls, quite young, and at first I thought they might be sisters, but then I realized that their hair had been dyed the same color. Best friends, then. Copying each other and magazines and other friends and grown women, trying on styles and personalities, they were trying to find their way and themselves, just as I did, and my friends did, once.

I am 84 years old. The woman who was my best friend is inside the building behind me and to my right, surrounded with flowers and her loved ones. I shall miss her. When Alice and I were young women, the world had changed so much. Any young man who was healthy enough to go was off fighting the Germans, or the Japanese, in places whose names we had never heard of until they started appearing in the newspapers, day after day. Many of those young men never came home, of course. Alice and I married two of the ones who did, but that was later. 

The two girls across the road are eating ice cream and talking. They are standing close, in their own little world. I remember how it was to have a special friend like that, one who knew you so well, she could finish your sentences, or tease you about something you were sensitive about, until you started laughing in spite of yourself. Alice was that friend, for me. 

Because of the war, we had opportunities our mothers never had. We didn't have to get jobs waitressing or doing sales in a department store. We got jobs in a factory, doing jobs where we didn't have to be charming to anyone we didn't want to be charming to. We punched a clock and collected a paycheck the way our fathers had, and it gave us a freedom, and a feeling about ourselves, that we had never had before. We tied on our babushkas, like peasant women, and worked each day assembling explosives, or bullets, or whatever we were told to work on. Some of the girls' fingers turned yellow from the chemicals. We didn't care. We had, for the first time in our lives, money in our purses that was ours, and we could go to the movies, or buy that dress, or put it away, but whatever we did with the money, what mattered was that it was ours and we had earned it ourselves. We didn't have to wait on a man to have the life we wanted.

Watching the girls across the street, I feel a sudden urge and ache to be one of them, to be young, and to be just starting out and discovering things. I wonder if they are discussing boys, or the ice cream, or other girls they know. I wonder if one has a secret, and if she will tell her friend today, or ever.

When I saw Alice, earlier, she looked beautiful, despite age, despite being....so uncharacteristically still. I wept. It is not just the loss of Alice, my dearest friend, but the loss of someone who knew me in a way that only happens when one has known someone else very well for a good long time. Oh, Alice. Who will love your honest smile they way that I did, where you have gone?

I remember sitting in the Aztec Theater, watching "Leave Her To Heaven" with Alice. The woman in it was a banshee, but I liked her anyway. I didn't know that, within a few years, both of us would be married and raising families. The men took their jobs back when they came home, making Fords and De Sotos instead of bombs. We fed babies, and also our men when they came in at the end of the day. Life settled down to being more as it had been before. After so much horror overseas, people wanted normalcy almost above anything else. Alice and I never went to the factory again.

I can't help feeling, as I watch the two young girls, that the one with the shorter hair does have a secret she's keeping. Maybe she is wondering if she can trust her friend enough to tell her what is in her heart. At that age, everything is so confusing, friendships are made and dissolved in the blinking of an eye, and it takes a very special friend indeed to share some secrets. How to be sure that this connection can endure? And, by telling, would she be ruining that chance forever? Either way, the telling or the not telling will nudge her life this way or that. Oh, but listen to me. They are probably just sharing an ice cream and nothing more.

I stood for a moment saying goodbye to Alice just now, you know. Inside the funeral home, with tears spilling down my cheeks, I told her what had always been on my heart, but I said it all silently, as I always did. Then I bent and kissed her. It was the first time I ever had.

__________

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don't Take Me Home, Baby....

...cos your mama won't like me.

My rather challenged mail lady (you know how they can be) just recently delivered my April issue of Curve magazine (Curvemag.com). I got my May issue, with Sarah Silverman on the cover, weeks ago. Anyhoo, the cover story is elegantly entitled "The Hot Stars of Lesbosploitation" and has a cover shot of the three female stars of the movie "Bitch Slap." Nothing but class on my coffee table! I'll set it right next to Town & Country!

But I digress.

One of the three ladies depicted is actress America Olivo, in the role of Camero, a "drug addled nutcase." Oh my gosh...my dream woman!

The wildest I ever get is putting chocolate sprinkles on top of my frappuccino. But you know what they say. Girls like bad girls. Or something like that. Camero, Camero....*sigh*

_____________

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Unhappy Toothpaste

The Unhappy Toothpaste sulks inside its tube.

"Look at me," it complains.

"I am all pasty and pale. It is almost June, and here I am, stuck inside."



"But you are minty fresh!" points out the cap.

"Oy," moans the Unhappy Toothpaste. "That hardly makes me unique, now does it?"

"Just trying to help."

The Unhappy Toothpaste can hardly stand it. It mutters, "I am surrounded with morons."



Then The Lady comes into the bathroom and the Unhappy Toothpaste goes all gooey, which isn't difficult for it to do.

At her touch, at the slightest squeeze, the Unhappy Toothpaste gives part of itself to her without hesitation, and that part is soon all foamy with joy!



Then she spits it out and it goes down the drain.



Now the Unhappy Toothpaste is even unhappier.

"I kill germs and bacteria that cause gingivitis. I whiten. I freshen breath. I can even be used to fill small holes in plaster. Why am I not loved?"

Even the cap doesn't know how to help with the awkward silence that follows.

Then the Unhappy Toothpaste squeaks plaintively, "I even give good oral."

But it makes no difference. The Unhappy Toothpaste has no brain, no heart, no hands, and no survivability outside the tube!

A movie career seems unlikely, except, perhaps, in a supporting role. 



Enter the Dissatisfied Hand Cream.

I can't give away the rest.

_________

Friday, May 28, 2010

By The Numbers

She only told 1 little lie. A baby one, really. 15 years of marriage and a dozen regrets later, they were just 2 people at 6's and 7's with each other. They'd been married on the 4th of July. The fireworks lasted 8 months, then faded. The little lie? "I still love you," she said.

_________

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fete Me, Fete Me Now!

Darlings, it's not as if I go looking for it. What kind of blogger to you take me for? But when the amazing Sharon and the shocking Senorita both wanted to fete me, what could I do? Let's be real here, Cherubs. Most of the time, I spend locked up in my library, talking to the dust bunnies and channeling Miss Havisham. So I wasn't about to say, "Thank you but no, my 'Matlock' rerun is on." 

Sharon has feted me with this Versatile Blogger Award. Sharon, in addition to being an ORIGINAL and amazing writer, is so cute she makes Louisiana gators roll over on their backs at her feet, like house cats. If you haven't visited her yet, you're missing a wonderful blogger.

And then, perhaps noticing my fete-me heels and just-feted hair, Senorita gave me the Super Commenter blog survey. Senorita is a blogger not to be trifled with. She makes rappers blush and turn all shy. Not only that, but if you can't make head nor tails of what that man of yours is talking about, Senorita can do a flawless and magnificent "manslation" so that you can finally understand what he is babbling about. I stand in awe. But there are 10 survey questions I must submit to if I want to be feted. Well...what the hell!

1. What is your most embarrassing moment of all time? ...my most embarrassing moment of all time was when, during a party for family and friends at my old house, my mother decided to pointedly take me to task about needing to lose some weight. By the time she was done, the room had gone dead silent and I had gritted my teeth down to nubs. 

2. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? ...cheeseburgers. See #1. 

3. How old were you when you had your first kiss? ...I was five. I had a little friend in kindergarten. 

4. What is your browser's home page? ...Google. I know, I can't stand the excitement either.

5. What color do you never, ever, wear? ...olive drab. I would rather be pitched off the Mackinac Bridge to certain death in the swirling waters below, than ever ever EVER wear anything olive drab or camo. 

6. Are you a nature lover or a city slicker? ...nature lover. You can find me out there gnawing on picnic tables with the squirrels any day.

7. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? (no saying "more wishes") ...Wish 1: to look exactly like Jordana Brewster. Wish 2: For all my debts to go away. Wish 3: To sleep with...oh, you didn't really think I would say who, did you? That would be inelegant! But she's not a celebrity, she's someone I know. The only celebrity we have here is Kid Rock, and I don't want to sleep with him. 

8. Do you have any scars? How did you get them? ...I have a small scar on my left wrist which makes me look as if I had a self-destructive moment, but it was actually Bosco's toenail that got me, when he was in my lap and heard something outside and had to get up and go investigate instantly. To be honest, I am astonished that it left a scar, but it did. 

9. Ever see a ghost? ...I have never seen a ghost, but I have sensed one, many times, in the house I grew up in, and also heard him loud and clear. My reality was affirmed later by my nieces, who hated staying the night at Gramma's house, because they sensed him, too, and were totally creeped out.  I have never felt that any other place. 

10. What is your dream job? ...Poet Laureate of the United States. I don't see a single reason why I shouldn't be. 

Thank you, gals, for thinking of me with these awards, and for making me late for work this morning, doing them. (and do please forgive me for the ridiculous suggestive tone of this entire post! I'm old, and have no idea what I'm actually doing!) You both rock. :-) 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Transference

New paint on an old door is a sly trick.

Wait for a sunny day, and then

Wave the brush in your hand up and down as a signalman does--

The train will be coming through...

That is the only certain thing.



Set your can of color on a newspaper,

And both in the morning sun.

If you see, beyond its silver rim, that someone you know

Has died or gotten married,

Or discussed your heart in an interview,



Remember that this job will take many coats,

And each will have to dry before starting on the next.

In the meantime,

As you sip tea on the steps and read further, out of boredom,

Don't be surprised at the ink that stays on your fingers,

Or the paint that remains on the page.

_____________

Monday, May 24, 2010

Girl Jox

Like the frequency that only dogs can hear,

Something hums in me, in here,

At the sight of these

Swoon-worthy women,

The girl jox.



So ok, all right, maybe it isn't exactly my heart

That goes a little tilt, a little faint

When I'm around all those ponytails and high fives...



Guy jox are like too-loud music,

But girl jox are like baby bear's frappuccino--

Just right.



Girl jox, where do you go

After the game,

After Pizza Hut,

After torturing ones such as I

With your golden

So kissable

Thighs?



Home with each other, I suppose--

Or to a boyfriend? Say it ain't so!

But never to the starstruck poetess

With the glasses and the library card;

Never to the girl with the black-cat remove,

And the chalk lines drawn around

Her stupid

Hopeless

Endless desire

For you.

____________

(This is a new edit of an old poem of mine)

photo: Jessica Mendoza
____________

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Starling

Odd and sweet little creature that you are,

Who told you that you couldn't play?

Who dares to shush you, little spirit? It's criminal is what it is.

Nobody died and made them sheriff.



So bang away.

Even the vainest singers began by screeching for worms,

Bald and absurd,

Hardly birds at all, just bold little balls of noise;

But they knew, as you should too,

That there are only so many beats to a bar or to a heart,

And every one of them drips with the sacred.



Small and daring,

You have no idea how much I admire you.

Keys white and black are like stars in the night, and you can touch them all, even now,

Though you can hardly reach the peanut butter

Or the door knob.

Come, I'll share with you all that I have learned.

It is not much,

Only this:



Keep singing, and just as the days appear and then fade, over and over, year upon year,

Keep playing,

And damn the critics.

God will love you and you will love yourself,

As the cat does

And as I do,

Every time you start in with your irrepressible gorgeous noise.

__________

It's A Girl

Like Chloe, I was born on a sunny Sunday in May.

I'm a girl, though my mother remains unconvinced. She tells people I am the help, or perhaps the Antichrist.

It's my birthday. Happy Birthday to me.
_____________

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Girl Blue

"Honey I know just how ya feel" --Janis Joplin

__________

art by Zwobel

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Red And The Black

Red is the color of no going back--

I like my sky in motion.

I like my roses black.



The cats have taught me the trick of storms in afternoon--

It's in their steady eyes,

And in the waning of the moon.



Today I will cut a black rose for my white hair,

And think myself beautiful in a way I never could have done

When I was fair...

When I was young.
_________

Merciless

NBC has announced that it is cancelling my favorite show, the hospital drama "Mercy." I'm so disappointed! At least I'm not alone. I have been looking at forums and cyber petitions about it, and A LOT of gals just love the show and are as disappointed as I am. I'm gonna go cry now.
___________

Friday, May 14, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I want to compose a poem this morning, but my employers seem to think I should show up at something resembling my appointed hour, and so you get this helpful PSA instead. Happy Friday!

PS--I include this picture of my employers for your enjoyment.
_________

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There Were Girls

There were girls inside each drop of rain that fell that Spring;

Several could be kept

Balanced on the brim of a hat.



It was only later,

In the dog days of summer,

When we had grown and driven all the boys mad,



That we slipped down the well

To sweeten Hell

And the devil was awfully glad.
________

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Arrest Me

Arrest me. Please please arrest me. C'mon, Saffron Burrows, what else have ya got to do today? 

Oh hell yes, I've broken the law. All over the place. I turned right on red at that intersection where you're not supposed to Monday-Friday. Not enough? Well...I copied a dvd even though it had that FBI warning on it. I even loaned it to a friend. C'mon, this is practically an ongoing criminal enterprise.

I stepped on an ant. Check my shoe. I killed that ant. It will never carry a dirt clod twenty times its weight again, or be on Animal Planet. I took all that away. Look, Saffron, I'm a real bad-ass. (stop that laughing, Ily!) Riot Kitty sent me a bag of chocolates last Christmas, and I didn't report it on my taxes.

Still not enough? Talk to Mama Zen. Go see how often I've been first in her comments. Creepy stalky, right? Get me off the streets. Saffron, c'mon. Protect and serve. A role for each of us! 

I'll be here waiting to be thrown in the back of your unmarked car. Throw the book at me. I prefer women's fiction. I'm waitinggggggggg.....

_______   

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bread On The Water

She was born in the cypress knees,

And grew up with nothing solid beneath her feet but the backs of alligators.

She didn't realize that the only reason they didn't devour her

Was because they couldn't reach her.



She liked to pretend they were gondolas,

And that she was in Venice.

Great white herons were the clouds in her Italian sky,

Cicadas her Vivaldi.



When she grew up, she was a woman nearly always alone,

Blind to kindness--

Even her own.

"See how beautiful their teeth are," she would say of the alligators.

"Triangular, like the points of stars."

To hear her tell it,

They were constellations,

Not glinty-eyed fat-bellied reptiles floating like driftwood in the filthy water.



When they needed it, she would tend to them like a mother,

Binding their wounds,

Sharing her own food.

Our Lady of The Gators,

Praying in the middle of a thunderstorm,

For their hurts to heal.



She was born in the cypress knees,

And looking up into the canopy, she believed herself to be very small,

Hardly there at all.

On the day that the ranger from the Parks Department arrived in a noisy craft that looked like a giant window fan,

She could not speak to her;

She had only ever heard the hissing of the gators when they squabbled.

The woman with the yellow patch on her sleeve may as well have been speaking Martian when she said,

"Oh honey. What has been goin' on here?"



On the day that she left,

Strapped into a seat on the giant window fan,

The alligators only blinked impassively or grinned from a patch of harsh afternoon light,

Indifferent right down to their rotten green bones.



Months later,

Marveling even in half-sleep at the softness of her lover's enfolding arms,

Tears rolled sideways across her cheek and the bridge of her nose in the darkness.

No war bride ever felt as displaced nor as happy.

Signora,

Our Lady Of The Alligators,

It will be all right now.

You have come home, like a little swallow;

Like a silkworm on a white mulberry leaf;

You have floated here, not as the gators do,

But, sweet girl,

As bread on the water.
___________

Monday, May 10, 2010

Family Album

Here on the rolling lawn,

I feel alive and not drugged by that stuff I was on.

It reminds me of how things used to be back then,

When I had my dolls

And Mama had her men,

But I can see you don't believe me.



Springtime is so lovely here.

That's when Papa had his breakdown every year,

Strolling without a care on the factory floor,

Or the courthouse square

In his underwear.

Such a sensitive man, you have no idea.



Don't look so nervous.

Why can't we be friends? Is there some rule?

Some terrible taboo?

Minutes are like hours here.

Experience this.

Really be in it, dear.



Soon lunch time will arrive,

And the police, and the townies drinking beer

Along the fence line. They know that I'm a handsome woman still.

Yes, I know what they're thinking,

And how to use this thing.

My brother robbed banks and taught me well.
____________

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Child Of The Whispering Stars

At the edge of extinction,

The stars said to me,

"Little girl, step into us and you will drop like a stone.

Straight down is not flying.



The one we have entrusted you to has painted you thickly with the tar of self-loathing and fear,

Then wrung her hands to white bone, imploring,

'Why do you not fly,

Lazy wicked child?'



Here, sleep a while in the palm of our hands.

Wrap yourself in your own dreams;

Every soul has its own markings

And its own distinct and natural ways.



Your very bones will lighten as you rest.

Cut loose what isn't yours.

Spread what is from east to west.



Now, woman, step into us and be called sister.

Be known by your wings and singularity--

Butterfly,

Phoenix,

Dreamer,

Back from the edge of extinction, alive and beautiful.
_____________

Thanks, Mojo, for the inspiration this morning.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm Sweet

I'm sweet.

I'll greet you with a smile,

And I'll fix everything just the way you like it.

I'm cookie dough ice cream, I'm frosting,

But there's just this one thing...



Darling,

Precious angel,

You must adore me

Or you'll begin to bore me.



I'm a lamb,

But gracious and patient as I am,

No one is perfect.

Not one of us is perfect,

Not even me.

(Incredibly.)



There are just certain things I can't forgive.

They are random and capricious,

And while I never would be vicious,

Do the right thing.

Always do the right thing by me.



I'm sweet.

I'll meet you at the door naked, and what's more,

I'll treat you like no one ever has before.

Oh, sugar pea,

I want you to be comfortable with me.

I love you, you can place your trust in me,

But be careful.

Be ever so careful,

Won't you, darling, please?
_________

photo: Saffron Burrows

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinderella

Cinderella gets a job with the police department.

At work she wears sturdy black shoes, and at home she goes barefoot because her cat does.

She owns no slippers, expects no princes.



She once beat a suspect with a frozen lean cuisine.

She does not drink.

She reads trash novels.



Every day, she sees the worst in people.

It is like a Lifetime movie,

But without stars.



Every time she sees a woman with that look she likes, she thinks:

Kiss me.

Spring me.

Compromise me.

Take my stupid badge, toss it on the floor, come get me.



Cinderella has a job with the police department.

Today, her hands shook so badly, she couldn't cuff a suspect.

She tells her partner some bullshit about stress.

After dark, she lies on her bed staring up at the skylight.

She is naked.

Every night, she tracks the moon, but it hardly seems like enough.

There are no stars.

_______

(This is my 500th post at Word Garden!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Witch In Springtime

I am the witch in springtime--

My heart is frozen leaves pulled from winter's silvering river

And my blood does not flow, it gusts.



Under the dogwood tree, on the thick rising grass,

I have drawn my pentagram with tar.

You can see my breath in chilly puffs against every falling petal--

They shatter like dropped teacups before they even reach the ground.



Step into my ring of frost and touch my face--

Losing that hand is a small price to pay.

Put away your stupid silver dagger--

I am just a girl,

Though I have been old since I was small.



It is almost Mother's Day.

Mine said, "Child, here are your kittens,

And here are your runic stones, all inside this sturdy burlap bag.

Slip into it as if it were a christening dress."

But when the water came,

My sisters and I were nothing but panic and claws

And so we are today,

Froward souls walking up and down upon the earth.



One spring past, I stole a bride.

Her dress matched my floe, and the already encroaching swans;

She spoke to me such vulgarities that the tips of my ears turned pink.

So charming was she, that for the first time, I loved summer and my wrongly-gotten prize both the same.

All I can say now is,

Damn the swans.



I am the witch in springtime--

My heart is thawing leaves woven by orioles, my nestlings my various and virulent hatreds of anything fresh and new.

I long for what I cannot hold.

I burn for what I cannot have.

I dreamt I saw birds filling the sky down all the lengthening days,

And they said,

"Where is all your magic now, old witch?

Where?"

"Gone" was all I could think to tell them.

_______

photo: Jordana Brewster

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sitting With Cerberus

There is a fence around my garden,
But I have lacked the faith to plant anything.

In the evenings, I sit in the single chair that I keep out there.

I watch the spirit jars fill up as the sun goes down.

My bones are like those fence posts, my flesh the blank they give shape to.

I plant silence.
I expect nothing.
I grow shadows and harvest darkness.
__________

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Honest Scrap

It's true. I'm one of Senorita's bitches. She has given me this Honest Scrap meme to do. This is a good thing, even though I have done it twice before. There is a rumor that I am a meme whore. The rumor is true.

As many of you know, I am all about rules. The rules are, I must list ten confessions. Here they are:

1. As a schoolchild, I killed Jimmy Hoffa and stuffed the body in my locker. I told the hall monitor the smell was yesterday's pastrami sandwich, which I hadn't eaten. What? You say these have to be true confessions? All right then, spoil my fun. I didn't kill Jimmy Hoffa. I never had pastrami until I was past thirty. Now I love the stuff.

2. I have only ever accidentally broken one bone, a tiny fracture in my thumb. It happened when I took my bedding to the coin laundry and caught my thumb in the door when I closed it.  I had to miss the WPBA tour. Not that I would have, you know, been part of it anyway. I don't own any Izod shirts.

3. Post Bosco music review, I persist in listening to the late Rosemary Clooney. LOTS of Rosemary Clooney. I knew about her when I was little because someone left an LP around the house with "Come-On-A-My-House" on it. I loved that song. Still do. Also, she used to do ads for some chain supermarket on channel 9, the CBC outlet from Windsor, Ontario. Then I forgot about her until she appeared on "ER" as a guest star. (She was George's aunt). I discovered that she has a whole body of marvelous recordings, and can sing a standard like nobody's business. Neat lady.

4. I love soup, and like most of the western world, I was raised on Campbell's. Now I find it unbearably bland and would rather serve dishwater. (ok ok, I still like tomato, but that's all). I like Progresso, especially the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. I also like Bear Creek, which comes as a mix. The potato soup is especially tasty, especially on a cold raw day. 

5. I think Maria Bello is hot stuff. 

6. I saw a program last night on Nat Geo about Fatal Familial Insomnia. It is an inherited disease. In midlife, those stricken lose the ability to fall asleep! Within months, they die. I love sleep. It's delicious. I am glad I do not have FFI. (I confess, though, that such bizarre stuff fascinates me.)

7. I have some questions I would like to ask Goddess when I arrive on the Other Side. Reviewing my life, I would like to ask Her, wtf? WTF? What the fuck?!? I'll probably get reincarnated as a dung beetle after that. 

8. I love Mulberry trees. They have three different kinds of leaves on the same tree!

9. There are four tv shows I love. On Monday there is "CSI:Miami", and if that's a rerun, there is "Law & Order." On Tuesday there is "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." I love Jeff Goldblum as Detective Nichols, and his new partner is hot. Yes, she seems about two shakes away from jumping off a ledge, but hot just the same.  On Wednesday there is "Mercy." Veronica makes me faint with....viewership. She's hot, charismatic and fucked up. What pattern? I don't know what you mean. And on Friday, there is "Miami Medical", which is basically "CSI:Miami" but in a hospital.

10. I'm not doing a ten. The rules say ten, but you know how I get. 

Thanks, Senorita, for nominating me. I am nominating anyone who wants to do the meme. And before you go, wait....

11. I like rainy days. Today is one. Yay!