Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dinner At Eight

The awful cook makes feetloaf;
And for dessert, a layer snake.

The terrible servants serve it;
Each course out of order and late.

We all sit down
And choke it down,
Then summon the incompetent doctor.

He pronounces us well
Though we itch and swell,
Then departs via helicopter.

The horrible host says goodnight by post
Three weeks later by standard form...

We're invited to dinner again next winter,
Alfresco in the howling storm.

_______

for One Shot Wednesday

Monday, August 30, 2010

Harbinger

Last night, it rained.

My mood fell with the barometer

Like a cat jolting and skidding down the trunk of a tree,

Outraged and offended.



I hot-footed it across the wet grass

Until I found sanctuary on the planks

Under the porch light.

There, I allowed myself to drift into dreams.



I dreamt that two realities had split.

I, and a few rag-tag others remained in one,

While the crowd was consumed by another.

I stole a small blue car

With a little boy in it.

I asked him, "Do you want to get out?

"Do you want to wait for the woman you came here with?"

He did,

And so I unbuckled him, reached across and opened the door.

When I saw her,

I longed to be released, myself,

But the road called me

And I answered, out of duty.



You may think it a strange thing

For a cat to speak of duty;

We have it,

But on our own terms.

That night

(in my dream)

I made myself human

(a weary dream in itself)

And made love to the woman I had seen.

It all came back to me

As these things will.



When I was a child,

Our neighbor would always ask, "What are you today?"

Because

Every morning I declared myself something different.

Today I woke from sleep

--and both of my dreams--

Asking myself the same thing.



Coffee seemed the only cure.

Do you find it odd that a cat should crave coffee?

Women wrap their hands around us both,

For our warmth,

And for the hint of other lands.

We love them

As we love ourselves,

And so I wanted coffee.



My cupboards are most distinctly feminine--

They have no handles.

One must place fingertips in just the right place

To move them.



I mix mocha

With Francais;

Perhaps I am a Moor,

But I think I am a simple tabby.

Today, skies are clear.

The outside light is off.

I say nothing of the things I have seen.

I go on looking.

I switch my tail.

There is much to be done, and I am doing it,

As still as a saint at her prayers,

On your porch rail

Under the steadily rising sun.

________

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Night Shift

The Dark Haired Chick walks into Danny's Coffee Shop.

She is wearing boots, jeans, and a white tee shirt with black cartoon figures on it. A girl is screaming into a microphone while other cartoons play instruments behind her.

There are lots of lightning bolts and musical notes.

The cartoon girl singer is wearing a hair band. The shirt says, "Hair Band."



"Ay! Muuuuuuuuy caliente, bay bay!" says the resident serial killer, Chloe, striking a flamenco dancer's pose and watching the Dark Haired Chick walk by. She wolf whistles.

The Dark Haired Chick mutters, "Oh shut up," but she is grinning.



There is a Vampire Hunter lying dead on the floor over by the free newspapers, and the Queen Of The Vampires, in the form of a black panther, is standing on his chest and tilting her head at him.

"Roowwwwwwwr," she says, which means "too late for Tums."

Then she sees the Dark Haired Chick come in and loses interest in the expired Hunter. She bounds gracefully into a booth and after joyfully ripping up the upholstery with her claws, shape shifts back into her natural form.

The Dark Haired Chick slings her bag into the opposite seat and slides in.

"Bitch," she says in greeting.

"Biaaaaachhhh," replies the QOTV, imitating her cat self with a big teeth baring hiss.



Chloe, born on a sunny Sunday in May, has gone back to reading Spin, but it doesn't hold her interest. She walks over to the window and looks out at the lights. When she burned down the neighbors' garage, it made the most pleasing light she had ever seen, but as usual, her parents failed to appreciate her achievement.

They were obtuse.

As a girl, sitting at the dinner table, she had decided a guest's filet mignon looked better than anything on her own plate, and so, after waiting for him to pick up his water glass, she pounced, popped it into her mouth and dashed up the stairs to her room with it.

Instead of admiring her grace and daring, her parents had bored and confused her with waves of disapproval. Apparently, the guest was her father's "boss", whatever that was.

It sounded like a type of fungus.

To her, he was weak, there to be fleeced, toyed with, dragged out to the curb and dispatched,

But her mother and father disagreed and punished her.

Was that any way to run a circus?



As a teenager, she had torched the neighbor's garage, subtracted a few cheerleaders (they irritated her) and been thrown out of the house.

She had stayed for a while with a friend, then took up residence in the rough at the local country club, where her parents were members.

What's one less golfer more or less? Like cheerleaders, they were annoying. But she had been shuttled through the legal system, where she was tried and convicted despite having bribed a judge with sexual favors. Did no one else in the world understand simple pragmatism?

She was sent to prison.

With the help of the Succubus, she escaped.

For the past seven months she has been hiding in plain sight at Danny's Coffee Shop.



"How come you don't have donuts?" It is the shorter of two cops who have walked in. 

Chloe stays facing the street and goes very still.

The Queen Of The Vampires lifts her head from the Dark Haired Chick's shoulder.

Savanna's hand falls down beside her boot, where she always keeps a knife.

The Succubus is thinking to herself, "if only they had stayed asleep in their cruiser, I could have stolen their souls!" Then she remembers that policemen have bitter tasting souls and abandons the wish.

Silence fills Danny's Coffee Shop.

Then God (the waitress) speaks. "Look y'all," she says brightly to the officers. "Your cop car is going on a call withoutcha."

It's true. Their cruiser is rolling away. They both bolt out of Danny's and run like big blue bats out of hell after their disappearing wheels.



When God laughs, it is like spray from a fountain.

Chloe looks perplexed, then her eyes get big. "YOU did that!"

"Uh huh," says God.



Chloe's parents never understood her, but God does. Every black sheep girl is still her little chica.

The Succubus is looking sleepy.

Savanna goes back to her underground comic book.

The Queen Of The Vampires has her eyes closed and her cheek on "Hair Band."

God is in Her coffee shop and all is well with the world.

Amen!

______

photograph by James Bengel. Used by permission.
______

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sarah

She was not admirable, but she was hard to forget.

She was not kind, but she was high tide coming in, careless, filling everything with herself, sweet and foaming and temporary.

She was no angel, she dropped acid, not blessings,
And yet she always had her acolytes.

She was graced, singular, and so beautiful.
She was profane, predictable, and utterly ordinary.

She was just Sarah,
And between empty innocence and the weary later,
I loved her with all I had.

_________

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jocelyn's House

Jocelyn's house...

It's pretty, yeah?

At her party last year, there were trays of everything, wheels of cheese,

And her husband, the charming guy with the battered hands

Who could play guitar same as he could build an addition

And who sang "Wicked Game" so beautifully that we all just stood there and stared,

Dumbfounded,

All of us, even me, half in love with him.



I didn't know then,

That you had already slept with Mikey, the local stone butch.

I didn't know then, that she was "helping" you in ways I never imagined,

I just thought she was cold, and unengaging, when I tried to get to know her on your account.

Always the last to know,

That's me,

The stupid Bo Peep whose flock is butchered, consumed and made into seat covers before I even miss them.



That's Jocelyn's house,

With the bird feeders.

I bet she fills them with poison just to stand there alone and watch them drop,

And I don't blame her.

It was you who famously loved anything that flew, and what I want to know is,

Are you straight now?

Publicly, unimpeachably straight, not to mention relentlessly sober, and all the rest of that shit?

I wonder if, as he sang "Wicked Game", he had the first notion that he was to be your

Lab rat,

Your livin' proof,

Your ticket back to a place where snarky bitches don't laugh at you from behind their hands?



I don't see you around anymore, though,

So maybe it all just blew up in your face.

I see him, walking alone, and he won't talk to me, just keeps on going.

I loved you, and I think he did too...

Now we both know how stupid that was.

If I could ask you one thing,

In the pointless too-late of it all,

I would ask you this:



Looking out of Jocelyn's windows that night, did it never sink in for you that the scene is the same through any shape of glass,

Or that when darkness devours the world, it may as well be gone,

And all you will see,

No matter how hard you stare out,

Is yourself?

________

for Willow's magpie 29

________

Pleasantville Lost In Fire

Not far from Detroit, just two or three miles up the road in a northerly direction, lies a little bedroom community called Lathrup Village. "So what?" you'll say. "Those are a dime a dozen and all the same." Au contraire.

As Villages go, Lathrup belongs right there with that one that M. Night Shamalayan made a movie about, except without the guard towers.

Surrounded on all sides by the much larger city of Southfield, Lathrup Village with its numerous mock-tudors and bungalows with attached garages--by city ordinance!--looks like the sort of place where Beaver Cleaver might come pedaling down the street at any moment. I like to call it "Pleasantville", or "The Land That Time Forgot."

Lathrup Mansion circa 1927
Lathrup was the creation and darling of Louise Lathrup and her mother Anne. It was, in fact, one of the first planned communities in America, so says the official historical site. In the middle of a series of circular streets which form a bewildering wagon wheel, a mansion was built in 1924 on six and a half acres of land. This was the Lathrup mansion, and for a time, Lathrup's first City Hall. In its day, it must have been impressive indeed.

Partial to things both English and Californian, the Lathrup ladies gave the streets names like Middlesex and Kilbirnie, San Diego and San Jose. These streets are not laid out in a predictable grid, but rather, meander and wind, giving the place a pleasingly bucolic feel. A few of the streets remain unpaved, even into the 21st century.

Anne Lathrup School
Anne Lathrup school was erected, with that name inscribed into the very cement over the entrance way. A new City Hall appeared. The place became what it set out to be, a comfortable, pretty place to live, famously devoid of anyone without a WASP card. Even such a famous person as the Detroit Red Wings' "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe lived in Lathrup Village. Gosh, Wally...what a swell place to be!

old City Hall
Fast forward to the mid-1980s, when I first encountered the place. City Hall had become a decrepit derelict, with peeling white paint, crumbling cement steps, and scads of pigeons living in the elegant cupola, crapping up a storm. By that time, the building was no longer serving as a municipal building, but was occupied by a realty company. I often wondered who would engage a realtor who could not find better digs. After some hue and cry, the building was eventually torn down.

Anne Lathrup school, where laughing blond children had once attended, became first a Jewish school, and then an academy for African American students. Anne Lathrup must have been rolling over in her blueprints. 

But what of the famous mansion, the jewel and heart of the place? It had become, as of some twenty five years ago, almost completely obscured by a wild tangle of overgrowth and untended trees. I had occasion to take a walk up the crumbling cobblestones of the old circular drive one day and ring the bell. There had been no name or street number on the tilted curbside mailbox across the street, but I knew this had to be it.
The Munsters' home, 1313 Mockingbird Lane

I was pretty sure that I must have mistakenly arrived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane and that Herman Munster would presently be answering the door. It happens that, around this time, I worked with a woman who was living in the house, though not related to the family. She told stories implying that the occupants had become a rather odd and eccentric lot. Then again, they weren't really stories. She liked to imply. If asked about the weather outside, this co-worker would characteristically pause, stare off at some indeterminate spot in the middle distance, and say something cryptic, like "I wouldn't buy new spoons today, if you know what I mean," followed by a knowing, conspiratorial glance. I never had any idea what she meant at all. She must have fit right in!

So anyway, I stood for a few moments waiting for Herman to answer the bell, and gawking at the splendid decay that was the mansion by then. When I gave up and walked back down the drive to daylight, I actually had to duck under the vines that were choking the overhanging trees.

Nonetheless, I was saddened last year when I heard that fire had destroyed much of the old house. Though my mind immediately flashed on visions of some suburban Miss Havisham having an accident with a candle, it was reported that faulty electrical wiring had been the culprit. The house is shortly to be demolished at the Village's expense, as the family has no money.

Exclusionary though they most certainly were, nonetheless the Lathrup ladies had imagination and energy enough to conceive of an idea they considered would be beautiful, functional and worthwhile, a haven if you will, and they made their vision a reality. The Lathrup mansion, and the Village which surrounded it, had an undeniable beauty, and it makes me sad to think that the romantic--if ruined--old place won't be there anymore.

Meanwhile, Lathrup Village itself has fared much better, having become a pleasant melting pot of white, black, Chaldean and Asian people, and who knows, maybe even another queer little Catholic gal like me. The Village has changed, but survived, and I confess a soft spot for this little dot on the map, which will lose its heart, the Lathrup mansion, any day now. I'm sorry to see it go.
___________

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jump

There is a rock at the bottom of the river
Round on one side, flat on the other
Give it to an Indian, Indian giver
You can't always do
Wha choo druther

One fish,
Two fish,
Three fish,
Four
Pull 'em from the water and
Toss 'em on the shore
Five fish,
Six fish,
Seven fish,
Eight
Take out the bones and
Stick 'em on a plate

There is a flyer that lives by the water
Watch for the ladybug and holler when ya got 'er
Black spots, red bug, ya should notta caught 'er
You can't always do
Wha choo otter.

for One Shot Wednesday
_______

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ferryn

Ferryn the wanderer complained,

"Nothing sweet ever happens to me," and went to pull up the sheets--which were silk, but felt like burlap--

Wrapped her arms around her pillow--which was down, but felt like a stone--

And tossed off to sleep.



She dreamt that her bed had filled up with mangoes,

That bananas and oranges bounced in off the window sills, and fell from her overflowing dresser drawers;

She wore pineapple rings on every finger,

And a river of cream flowed in every open space

With sugar confection gondoliers floating by singing opera.

As if that were not enough,

When the cream seas got rough, she was rescued by a most remarkable chocolate mermaid who gave her caramel kisses.



Ferryn the dreamer woke up laughing so delightedly that she woke the dog,

Who ran into the hallway and brought back his toy, thinking that his Mistress had lost her mind and that he'd better act fast.

He was right, you know,

She had,

She had,

She had,

Become Ferryn the joyful,

Ferryn the mad,

Ferryn gone sweet,

Now, is that so bad?

________

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ascension

When they built the highway,

They had to blow up the mountains.

Workmen wedged their sticks into the sleeping stone,

Then ran like they'd stole somethin.



I am just a gypsy black bird,

I came up here to get away

From ribbon-cutters, bone-breakers, sharp shysters and lovers who lie.

Sometimes I see another, prettier bird.

Sometimes I see a climber with the zen in her eyes,

But mostly,

I am alone.



If I were human,

I would take to the streets of some city

With tangles in my hair, no beauty secrets.

I would have dogs, about five of 'em.

I would kiss their filthy heads as if I were the Holy Mother,

Pass love from me to them like morning sun through a honey jar.



But I am just a gypsy black bird,

A speck in the sky;

My flight feathers spell out my name and that's all I need.



Always,

There is some man with a plan, or some witch with a little bitty raisin heart

Come dynamite the mountain

And my home of woven straw along with it.

It falls like a spirit out of Heaven, and I take off flapping like hell,

On to the next place,

While people look up and shout,

"Shoot it!"

"Catch it!"

Or sometimes,

Just sometimes,

"Fly like a bitch, baby, yeah!"

And I do.

________

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pssst...

Ya got no business--
Like a sneaky cat in the fish cannery;
Ya got no right--
Always singing after midnight,
Crossing against the light...
What are you thinking when you say to me
That I'm "your" girl?
I'm nobody's girl,
Not even the wind's.

Oh, but you'll say,
When you call me "your" girl and such,
That the lady doth protest
A little too cotton pickin much.
When you call me "your" girl,
I want to strut, preen and pose,
From the protest on my lips
Down to my cotton pickin toes.

Ya got no business--
But I just want to let it drop
That since you've called me "your" girl,
It's all right if you don't stop.   ;-)

_________

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Once Again, Fireblossom Fails To Fit In

I have decided to participate in various common blog themes. Here goes:

MY SKY

What, yours looks different?



WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

"................."



ONE SHOT WEDNESDAY

(chocolate milk for me)

What?

Am I doing it wrong?

_________

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear Son


I'm in the bath tub.

That's just a fact, son.

So, whatever the need, the request, or the trouble,

It will have to wait til there's no more bubbles.



I'll be out in an hour.

Wait, maybe a day...

Or I may stay here soaking

Til well into May.

_________

For Joe, who spent half his childhood walking cross-legged. Poor guy!

written for magpie #28
_________

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shape-Shifter


See the pretty bells of the Foxglove

All along the garden path

Where I once reached for you

As if I were

Some stupid but beautiful hummingbird.



Now,

I curl around the stalks of the Foxglove

As if each one were a caduceus.

Darling,

See the Sabi Star, the Daphne, and the Suicide Tree.

See them and come back;

Come back to me.



I have tea--

Yellow Jessamine.

White Snakeroot.

Mountain Laurel.

Don't tell me that it's over.



I wait in the shadows of the Foxglove

Like the garden cat

You picked up, stroked, and stole.

My feelings haven't changed; they continue intense...

No matter what, believe that I'm still your girl.

Have a care, come to me, any time at all.

Your hummingbird waits,

Deep in the blur and beating

Of her impossible breathless wings.

__________

for One Shot Wednesday

__________

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Half Moon



--summertime and the livin is easy--



You might think that angels drop blessings like rain,

Gentle as their wing beats--

But they fly cheek by jowl with devils.

It takes both air and friction

To light a fire.



If you have a gift,

It was contained in the knife edges that marked your very bones

As well as in the graces that come like balm in the silence of the hours that bleed.



--lookin out my window, lookin out at the rain--



To sing in a way that everybody goes WOW and feels it like a charge through their own beating hearts,

You have to have to sing,

And not be able to imagine not.

It has to be both a holy hallelujah

And a profane kiss this.

It has to come with tender care and without a thought.



--oh lord, won't you buy me a mercedes benz--



Angels and devils will both try to kill you--

Glorious survival lies somewhere between saint and casualty;

And if it is not quite balance that you find,

What you gain will still be yours

In the notes of a blues

That nobody else could sing.

_________

the photo is, of course, Janis Joplin

_________

Friday, August 13, 2010

Portrait In Monochrome And River Ice

He had married the town beauty,

But the glad hands were gone when she divorced him in 1917 and left upstate New York for good,

Their five year old son's small fingers wrapped in hers

As they stepped up on the stool the porter had set down

And boarded the train for Detroit.



In January, Schenectady cold gets into your bones.

He went to work, played a little cards, skipped church,

And his nights were frozen rivers, hard and unnavigable.



Maybe he saw the dark of the river in her eyes,

--The woman he met in 1925--

Or maybe he just liked her cheek bones, high and perfect;

Anyway, the day came when he asked her, in his upstate accent, what was on his mind.

She made a fine bride, with her black hair against the white lace of her borrowed wedding dress.



The ice holds a happy man, with a Christmas flask in his gloved hand;

But springtime brings thaw and madness--

Nobody walks on water, then.



She was as silent as the beauty had been lively.

She made his life a Summer of swaying grasses,

And when, by candle light, he kissed her swollen belly,

He felt himself fortunate beyond all measure.



She bore him twin girls--

Held them one in each arm, like moondogs, and she the moon.

Then came the rocking,

While the babies cried unattended.

He would find her, twisting her hair and staring at something no one else could see;

Something terrifying.

Something unnameable.



A motor ambulance took her east as the Autumn came,

And a wagon took the babies west.

Neither ever came back again.



A man undone by twos,

He found a new double to numb himself with--

As the bottle stood, diminishing, on the bar,

He emptied, too,

Like a spilled shot glass,

Or a full moon river spirit,

Cursed and luckless as the northern winds that bring Winter,

Leaving him pale, cold, and gone with the first warm day.

_________

This is a true story, though I have taken the liberty of filling in some of the minor details. The five year old boy grew up. At 43, nine years after the last one, he became a father for the third and final time. That child...was me.

art by Alphonse Mucha

_________

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Miranda

Here, drink this.

It won't do a damn thing.

In the morning,

Forget the sky.

She will shake the sun out of her hair,

No matter how much you chart houses, trines, oppositions,

At the start of the day--

Fever.

At the end of the day--

Fever.



Distraction means nothing.

Tease the boys until they jump through flaming hoops;

It's no use.

She knows your tarot.

She has your number.

She reads your palm and all the rest of your ready skin,

With her nails on your pulse point

And her tongue tracing your heart line,

Until you come back to your

Senses,

Back to your so-called

Right mind.



Stop wasting time.

The world will not end if you kiss her.

The world will not end if you go down the valley to find her heartbeat,

But it might

If you don't.

__________

picture from "Picnic At Hanging Rock"

poem written for magpie 27 (because Willow's picture had me thinking about hidden waterworks. *blush*)
__________

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Troika

When I feel this way,
Nothing will do except that I have wood.

Wood in the strips dividing the window panes.
Wood in the frame of a picture on the wall.
Rotting wood birthing foxfire in the wild.

You are the wedge
Around which my heart is split,
Riven to its shivering core.

When I feel this way,
Nothing will do except that I have glass.

Glass the skin the rain crawls upon.
Glass the blanket over a sleeping portrait.
Glass the spirit jars hung from moody trees in the dusk.

You are the heat lightning
Around which my heart wraps, refracting
Colors where there were none, blood with no wound.

Listen...
The cuckoo kills, then sings;
The mother bird's babies on the ground
Like dead leaves.

When I feel this way,
Nothing will do except that I have water.

Water dappling the sill, like first signs.
Water rippling preserved paper against its backing.
Water falling from the oak leaves, into shadows.

You are the devil
Around which my heart curls
Like ashes, haloing the match that bore them.
_________

for One Shot Wednesday

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Shoot Me

There is a mishap with Jennifer's botox.

One minute she is saying, "Well if you ask me" and the technician's hand begins to shake...

One minute she is saying, "I tried to tell her that dress was all wrong" and suddenly, with an unfortunate jerk of the arm holding the needle,

"Don't say you heard it from me" becomes

"Eeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuughhhh."



Jennifer goes home.



"Foooooouuuuuuuhhhh," she says to her husband.

"Of course, dear," he replies mildly.

"Guuuhhhhhh! Fuhhhhh buuuuhhhhh!" she tries to explain, pointing to her mouth.

"I'd like to eat out, too. How about Chinese?"

That night, they are intimate. After all, it is Saturday.

"Fluuuhhhhh!" she shouts, drooling. What she means is,

"Are you done yet? Get off me."

Her husband cannot remember when he last saw her so excited.



Monday brings Garden Club. Jennifer is to address the other ladies on the subject of rose aphids.

"Bluh. Bluuhhha ayyyublubla..." she says, reading from notes.

The ladies eat cakes and whisper unkindly to each other about her new hairstyle. Afterward, they clap and tell her she was marvelous and that they've simply got to rush home and try all the remedies she suggested.

"Bluh boo," says Jennifer. She is trying to pronounce a common vulgar expression.

"Love you, too!" cry the ladies and kiss her cheek before getting into their Volvos.



Desperate, Jennifer turns to her children. She has their names written down in her date book for just such an emergency.

She babbles something incoherent to them, her eyes aglow with tenderness.

Her son goes on talking on the phone, messaging on his computer, and eating pizza.  Yes, all at the same time. 

Her daughter shrieks, "I knew you'd say no! I hate you!" then runs upstairs and slams the door to her room.

Jennifer is left standing in the hallway, alone.

"Bluh?" she asks no one in particular.



In time, the injection wears off.

"Bluhhh duhhh" becomes "goo bornee" becomes "good morning."

"I'll have toast" says her husband.

"I hate you!" says her daughter.

"Love you!" say all her friends, but they say that to everyone from the pool boy to their wretched poodles. It is completely meaningless chatter, like "how are you?". 



It's been an ordeal.

Jennifer switches botox clinics. 

Her worry lines vanish. 

__________

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Pastor Jim heaves himself up the steps,

Mops his brow and, winded, pants,

"It is a sin to carouse, gamble and drink,

But even worse to dance."



That is the word, but just then a bird

Flies in and cracks Jim in the skull;

After turning the page, he falls off the stage

And dies, creating a lull.



Deacon Don frowns, throws himself on the ground,

And cries, "Jesus has called our Jim home!"

Is there something celestial about a disoriented kestrel

That flew in and did in his dome?



Like a helium balloon, Jim's soul rose through the room,

Toward the voice of a late pop diva;

He passed Hottentots and Hindus, sitting in the windows,

And three shiksas who kindly sat shiva.



He rose up and found God in the Heavenly place,

Cutting a rug with some woman named Bubbles;

Jim saw He was a She, and mumbled "Dear me,

This is only the start of my troubles."



The natural fact is, there's a Heaven for Baptists,

Though it's not clear why anyone goes there;

Everything's gray, and nobody's gay,

And the angels have quite disturbing nose hair.



Meanwhile, Jim's flock got over their shock,

And buried him out in the churchyard;

But kids dug him up and that night set him up

On a flaming pyre of birch bark.



So ends my tale of the church on the plain,

Jim is gone and his body is toasted;

His name is now written in Heavenly fame,

Though there's a rumor that says it was ghosted.

_______

artwork: "Archy & Mehitabel" by Don Marquis

_______

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Gardener's Breviary

First, take stock of what is in your garden.

All plants are distinct;

Seek the animating spirit in each vine and bloom.

Let them speak to you, in moments of quiet

Before beginning.



Do not stake pansies.

Refrain from flooding roses.

Leave the lotus in the pond--

Do not insist that it grace the sill.



Plans and designs may be made, but must remain flexible;

An unwanted plant may be hardy enough to appear year after year--

Trust its purpose.

Conversely, the most ardently desired flower may fail, despite love and care.

Trust its purpose, too.



When your plants are thirsty,

Water is best.

Vinegar, alcohol, noxious powders, and lye soap will all damage or destroy roots, stems and blooms.

Pruning, trimming and thinning can be beneficial if done judiciously,

But remember,

Everything will grow towards the sun,

And in its own time and shape.

Individuals of a common variety still differ in some particulars.

Fence out foragers.

Weed regularly.



Everything given to a garden, it will give back.

Does it matter if the sunflower blooms for you, or for the jay?

Keep soil turned, and loose.

Remove grubs and worms.

It is all right to save cuttings; a vase for your table or bedside will please for days.

Most things, even lovely things, are temporal, not eternal.

Beauty is holy.

Real love is never wasted.

Above all,

Remember that tending is not the same as owning.

Good luck and happy gardening.

_________

written for magpie 26

art by Gustav Klimt

__________

Northfork

Hello there my little popcorn puffs! (that's a tribute, Senorita. Not a "blatant rip-off" lol) 

Occasionally, I like to share with all of you about certain movies that I love. Today I'd like to tell you about the Polish brothers film "Northfork", which came out in 2003.

I am nothing if not cutting edge here at Word Garden. I mean, give a girl some credit. I'm watching "talkies" now and everything!

Northfork concerns, at its simplest level, a fictional town of the same name, in Montana. It is 1955, and a new dam has been built. Soon, little Northfork will find itself underwater and gone. 

A group of six men in dark suits have been dispatched to evacuate the people living there. This crew includes James Woods and Peter Coyote. They find some odd characters in residence.

There is a man living in an ark with his two wives.

There is the preacher, played excellently by Nick Nolte. 

There are four celestial beings, Happy (Anthony Edwards), Cup Of Tea, Cod, and Flower Hercules (Daryl Hannah), "the strongest man who ever wore a skirt." They are looking for the Unknown Angel.

There is an exceedingly odd creature who looks like a cross between a giraffe and scaffolding.

There is the couple, some guy and Claire Forlani (sighhhhhhhhhhh), who have brought back their adopted son, who is ill, to the preacher. The boy, when he is awake, claims he is an angel who was shot by hunters, and his halo and wings removed. 

What the movie is really about is death and rebirth. One reason I have posted about it here, is because it reminds me of my own story poems. If one of my poems were a movie, it would be this movie. 

The reviews at Netflix are divided. Half find the film glorious, as I do, and half just didn't get it, and hated it. Me? I can't recommend it enough.

See you at the movies! ;-)

Fireblossom

_________

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Eunice

Eunice MacNaughton-Hippelwhite,

Wife of Sir Basil Coddington Hippelwhite,

And daughter of steel magnate F. Pomeroy MacNaughton III

Of the upstate MacNaughtons,



Flung out her arm and tried to skip a stone on lake Michigan,

That cloudy September day in 1949,

But it sank like the Bismarck.



The sky above her was a particularly pleasing shade of blue,

The trees beyond the dunes stately,

And her clothing tasteful and expensive as she waded into the surf.



"Blaaaaahhhhhhh!" she said, startling some seagulls.

"Blahhhh gah fuckety fuck fuck fuck!" she went on.

Her tiny hands made splashing noises as she beat them against the surface of the water.



Eunice MacNaughton-Hippelwhite,

Wife of Basil Coddington Hippelwhite,

And daughter of steel magnate F. Pomeroy MacNaughton III,

Sat down on the bottom sand,

Shoulder deep in seaweed and the chilly waves,

As if she were attending a remarkably soggy polo match.



The big house behind her stood peaceful and distant.

Her hat floated away.

She wiggled her toes underwater.



Once, she had been kissed by Whitey Balachinsky,

Who now owned a service station on Route 28.


Once, she had danced to Benny Goodman with her friend Cookie,

Who wore Japanese harpoons in her hair, and told good jokes.



F. Pomeroy MacNaughton III, the steel magnate, had quietly put a stop to all that.

Sundays, Basil would call on her at the house.

They would sit on the couch like ornamental urns.



Eunice MacNaughton-Hippelwhite leant forward

Face down in the shallows, and blew bubbles until her chest hurt,

Just as those German sailors must have done.



Coming in the front door later, sodden,

Eunice explained to the astonished downstairs maid that she had perished at sea,

Then telephoned her friend Cookie,

And was not seen again until Spring.

___________

for One Shot Wednesday

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Overheard

There is a coney island restaurant where I like to eat my lunch when I am working. It's just a little place, does a good business, and so it's impossible sometimes not to hear conversations going on around me, especially since I am by myself.

There was the young gal who went on for half an hour about fashion, her friends' love lives, and her dog. I loved eavesdropping on her, I found her delightful. I set down my book and just listened. There was the table full of starched businessmen, with one of them holding forth about the most killingly dull subjects while his protegees lapped up every word. Then, too, there was the upscale middle-aged gal who was sitting with her daughter and new grandbaby. Her cell phone rang and she cheerfully shouted her conversation to the entire restaurant until we all knew more about Shayna's breasts (her daughter was, apparently, nursing) than any of us ever wanted to know. All this and Greek omelets too!

Today it was crowded and I sat in a booth in front of two adults and a little boy. While I try to avoid sitting near men of a certain age who are holding forth in confident tones, I don't mind kids at all. This boy's name, it soon became obvious, was Sammy. Well, poor Sammy. Apparently, he had gotten syrup on his hands, and his mom, a 25 or 30 year old blond gal, just went nuts.

"I can't take this from you! I just can't!" she cried. The woman was hissing at him. I mean, she sounded like she could have killed him.  Now, I raised a son, and I know that children can press all of your buttons and leave you tearing your hair and dancing on your very last nerve. I get that. But I also know the sound of a child who is testing, or tired, or in a down-to-the-mat power struggle with a parent. That was not this child. She went on and on, about his attitude and his "whineyness." I didn't think he was being whiny at all, but she did, and let him hear about it. He kept saying "okay, okay!" and I could hear it in his voice that he had nothing on his mind except to somehow placate her and make her stop being angry with him.

Apparently, he did something with his drinking straw, and she went crazier, even, than before. "Why would you do that? Why would you do that? What were you thinking?" she demanded. Desperately, he said he didn't know why. He didn't know what he was thinking. I remember enough about being little, that I can remember that I truly had no idea why I did half the things I did. I was experimenting with the world, I suppose. Or just not thinking at all. As an adult, I don't have a thought-out plan for half of what I do. Kids certainly don't. Sammy was getting scared, and I was getting scared for him. She was so angry, and so relentless. "I will jerk you right out of that chair! Not another word until you eat all of that food, or I'm not giving you anything else to eat for the rest of the day!" I thought, who would feel like eating, if they were that little boy? I mean, I was ready to cry myself. 

I wondered why the man didn't put a stop to it. I had assumed he was Sammy's dad, but when I got a good look at him, I saw he was older, and dressed for business. He may have been a friend, or something, not the dad. He did say "thank you, Sammy, for eating your bacon." 

Anyway, here comes the part that really got me. After his mom had been after him non-stop for fifteen minutes, just letting him have it about how rotten he was, he goes, "Mommy, why do you hate me?" I know that every child flings "I hate you!" or "You hate me!" at a parent sometimes when they have been denied a privilege or been punished. This was different. His voice was so fragile. I felt so bad for him! I knew that, right about then, he probably wanted the restaurant booth to open up and swallow him. He was confused and had no idea what to say or not say, that wouldn't bring still more disaster down on him. But through it all, he sounded reasonable, though scared and distressed. It was her that was out of control. 

Anyway, she went, "How could you think that I hate you? I would jump in front of a train for you! Where do you get these ideas? Television?" I thought, he gets the idea from your entire tone and manner, lady. "I just want you to learn manners, and the right way to do things." I thought, she is well on her way to raising a young man with wonderful manners, who will throw himself in front of a train one day. Funny how perspective can be lost. She wanted him to learn manners, and her way to do that was to verbally horsewhip him. 

He asked her again, "Why do you hate me?" It was all pretty awful. 

I don't know that woman from anybody. Maybe she is a single mom. Maybe she lost her job yesterday. Maybe she can't make the rent. Maybe she is three days sober. Maybe she is hormonal, or bipolar, or any number of other things. But I know this: she was wrong. And Sammy had to pay the price. It bothered me all day, and now I am writing about it. 

:-(

_______