Monday, October 31, 2011

Love Chant

(for  K  .

Happy Halloween, Honey!)

I made the witch
A black and fine array of gifts--
Amulet, ankh, and onyx stone,
A set of keys from black bear bone,
And a potion of pine tar pitch.

Men have laid their hearts at her feet,
And they lie there still, so still--
Now this woman waits by the storm-split tree
And love the witch she will, my dears,
And love the witch she will.

The marsh spirits cautioned me and said,
"Such folly to call the crow!"
But I'll sigh her name til I am dead
And down to Hell I go, my dears,
And down to Hell I go.

Now see my witch, she wears my stone,
And her Cherokee medicine smile--
She's meant to mark me as her own,
And has done all the while, my dears,
And has done all the while.

I adore the witch and we are two,
No pasty churchman's bitch--
To make a sweet black heart beat true,
Use sets of keys from black bear bone
And a potion of pine tar pitch!
_______

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three

(Note: This is probably a crap poem, and I expect it won't convey all that I felt when I was having the dream that it describes. I think that three is probably always a crowd, in waking life. What I do know is that for a few minutes, while I was asleep, I was happy from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes.)

Did you ever see that show
That corny episode
Where astronauts land somewhere and
It's almost like home
And they're not alone?

Last night I dreamed
That I was unironically seventeen
Not old, not fat
Imagine that
And had hair that fell
Right down to my happy ass.

My blonde friend
Could finish things I said
Just like she could read my mind
And when we slept together the one time
Because we were curious and close
We were each other's mirror in the night.

When she found a guy
I won't lie, I thought it was the end
Of the thing that kept us connected
But he was funny and sweet
Swept us both off our feet
And made us feel easy and protected.

First he turned to her
Then he turned to me
It never felt like a crowd, just us living out loud
We circled and burned
A little constellation of three.

I remember someone said
That every star we see is dead
It's just that light takes so long to travel through the darkness
I looked up and saw
Then woke up and it was gone.

Did you ever see that show
That corny episode
Where someone lands in luck from out of the blue?
It's just a made-up fake
Interrupted by commercial break
And only fools and children think it's true.
______



  

and...

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Breviary For The Eager

If one is to burnish A Calling,
One must learn one's tenets and sacraments--
One must find one's rabbi, if you will,
(for was not the Savior Himself called by this title?)
And finally, a suitable catechism must be dispensed.
Consider, neophyte,
Your betters:
Saint Mark The Evangelist, dragged through the streets and beheaded.
Saint Bartholomew, flayed alive and crucified.
Saint Sebastian, lashed to a post and shot through with arrows.
Saint Barbara, tortured and beheaded.
Saint Peter, The Rock, crucified upside down.
Faith is not for the sissified, or the weekend enthusiast.
It demands...
Everything.

Behold the lecturer, at whose feet you may learn
To mold the preposterous Play-doh of your gift
Into something truly fine.
Place no stock in his appearance--
He may look untrimmed, overlooked by the campus landscaping service,
Rumpled, ridiculous;
But his work has appeared in countless quarterlies.
He has thrown in with the ravening cream of his generation,
Tearing and ripping his way into the few available publications,
Subscribed to by 117,
Actually read by 44,
9 of whom read beyond their own contributions.
Let him guide you.
A hundred hours spent kneeling may yield a flashing moment in mid-air,
And it is only the very particular pigeon who may wheel,
High above the mob.
This can be you.
You can become one of His little favorites
If you keep your ears open, your mouth shut,
And avoid the unthinking spontaneous outburst,
Or any embarrassing, sick-making tiresome end rhyme.

______

for dverse Meeting The Bar

illustration: The Martyred Saint Sebastian by Gustave Moreau

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Selkie

Has she bewitched you?
She never set out to do it.
She came up from the sea to dance upon the rocks with her sisters
--wet gleaming smooth grace against hard gray stones--
Your eyes and hopeful nature did the rest.

"She would never say where she came from"
You would die there,
So you cannot go--
While she must always return,
Dying in her own way,
Leaving the antique ring upon the table.

There is darkness,
And there is cold,
And some become beautiful there.
Play your fiddle, fool,
She will come.
She is like no other you will ever know--
More enchanted,
More dangerous,
And neither by choice.

On the day when you cannot find her--
When the stony sands mock your panic with their resolute vacancy,
Will you believe that she did not love you?
She will have loved you
Until she could bear it no more.

The weakness will be yours,
And she knows it better, and sooner, than you do.
She is a beauty who will change, and see your face change, too.
She can surface, but the depths reclaim her.
She is human, in your arms,
But she is both more and less than that in her deepest nature.
You will lose each other and suffer for it;
Only the stones, in their hard indifference,
Will endure.

_________

The song "Ruby Tuesday", from which I have quoted a line above, was written by Keith Richards.

sel·kie also sil·kie (s l k ). n. A creature or spirit in Scottish and Irish folklore that has the form of a seal but can also assume human form. 

Many thanks to my blogger friend Lydia, for inspiring me this morning with this post.

 

Monday, October 24, 2011

To The Young Man Sitting In The Park

You were sitting on the ground
in the tot park
in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon.
You were leaned back against
the brick stand for the drinking fountain,
wearing a dark blue security guard's uniform.

You looked to me
as if you were just so tired
that you had stopped there
and fallen asleep.

I asked you if you were all right...
your head was to one side,
like a little boy who had drifted off
while watching television.
You had on black shoes, and I had the odd thought
that you may have sat just this way,
years and years ago,
when someone taught you to tie them
on some other, happier,
sunny Sunday.

I feel certain,
though I don't really know,
that somebody loved you.
I feel certain, too,
that I will not forget the sight of your bright red blood
or your things--your wallet and keys--
placed so neatly at your side.

Why did you do this?
Did you think no one would cry?
I happen to know
that the lady on the bicycle, who found you, did...
and that she wishes, quite sharply,
that you had not made such a heartbreaking choice.


_____


This is not a made-up story. Yesterday afternoon, riding my bike across the local kiddie park on my way home, I found the body of a young man who had shot himself in the chest just minutes earlier. I called 911, but he was dead. I don't know what to do with that. I keep seeing him, sitting there, looking so young and defenseless. So I wrote this poem.

 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Succubus Athena

When I was young, and the world too loud
Too bright
My defenses thin as tissue paper
Ridden with nightmares
Blessed with visions
Hammered with practicalities
Shoved in a box,
Unfurling only in secret
After dark
Under covers like dense fog, and I the ground,

She came.

Her owl twisted its head, as if hanged and broken-necked in a gale.
She turned hers, the picture of grace and calm.
I closed my eyes, hard.
She touched me with her black glove smooth upon my face,
And my bones gathered and rose as one,
A white flock within my flesh
A firework
A soul released and rising.

"Little girl," she said in her perfect blackwinged voice,
"What has been happening here?"
Spirits seemed to peer from behind her shoulders, listening.
A blackberry bush scraped the window outside.
The door turned its own lock and breathed.

I had believed, always, that I was dust on a smooth tabletop,
A smear,
A trial sent by someone I couldn't remember,
To perform some evil that I didn't understand.
I tried to stay out of the way.
I swallowed my words.
I was the only red spark in a house of heavy dark emplacements,
A male preserve.
I set myself on fire constantly,
In shame
In silence
Sitting politely,
Going up.

I opened my eyes.
"Who are you?" I asked the woman, my visitor.
Her owl swiveled back, to stare.
The lady's eyes widened, just for a moment,
Then narrowed.
Trees sighed, swaying above the house like mourners, unseen.
Anger floated off her, like bright dead leaves, then scattered.

She looked away.

"This must be paid for," she whispered, to the dark room.
Turning back, she was calm as a frozen sky.
She leant forward, soft as a rumor.
"I am the Succubus Athena."
"And who am I?" I asked, not even realizing it or meaning to,
And half afraid I was about to die.
For the first time, she smiled--
Dark--
Beautiful--
Perfect.
Smooth as skinning a kill, she peeled off her gloves and took my face in her hands;
She kissed my hairline, soft as the falling of full dark,
In the spot where the silver still stays.
"Little girl," she murmured, in a tone I had never heard before,
"You have always been
And will always be
Mine."


_____

linked with Real Toads open link

Saturday, October 22, 2011

J. Jenkins Pomeroy Considers

It takes no small talent
To turn nothing into something
The way I do,
And though everyone may not admire
The Godlike way I make things happen,
I do. Oh, I do!

You see this building here
With its ancient cheap veneer--
A false-fronted horror, how I detest it.
See the pantywaist poets inside
Drinking coffee from styrofoam cups--
They all hate me, I can sense it.

But I don't care!
And what's more,
I can already see the trendy upscale store
That is as good as built.
I won't trouble with these weaklings, or curse them;
I'll simply have the officers disperse them.
Bring in your crew, Mister Harvey,
Place good strong charges between the bricks
And let them fall on whatever heads they will.

Profit is fine and simple, but never simply gained;
People envy a man like me,
And my starched white shirt doesn't show the cum or the cocaine.
These boneless little squatters may not like
The way I get things done, it's true,
But oh, I do. I do!
_______


for dverse poetics "the other"

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Plastictown Flood

Plastictown, Plastictown, lost in the flood!
The Resin River rose!
A plastic disaster of water and mud,
Bringing 1/24 scale woe!


Plastictown, fair jewel!
Molded by the hand of God--
We loved the sweet and rolling green
Of your old plastic sod!


Charlie, the police chief stood
On his sturdy polymer base
With a look of uncomprehending horror
On his painted plastic face!


To the stained glass of the First Plastic Church,
Where people sang Old Rugged Plastic Cross--
They peeled the plastic warning bells
And prayed all would not be lost!


Alas, too late the clap-on sun
In its lofty plastic socket--
Its light too weak, its warmth too late
Too stem the flood or stop it!

The cotton clouds, too thick, did bring
Calamity upon the land!
The waters swallowed dear Plastic High,
And the entire marching band!


Heroic Fido swam the current
To reach his master's boat!
Old Dobbin was already aboard,
Still munching plastic oats!


The Plastic Express went into the drink,
Likewise the Main Street trolley!
The Titanic sank over by the bank,
Despite the Plastic Guard's brave volley!


Plastictown, Plastictown, lost in the flood!
In the Spring of '92!
Not a trace of dear Plastictown now remains,
Though the sky's been repainted blue.

(from the book "Realistic American Disasters: A History In Verse" copyright 1952 by Herschel Wadsworth Whitman)


And, by popular demand...



Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Small House

In the small house
A small girl
Spent a small part
Of every afternoon.

In the big house
Her big family
Acted all the time
Like wild baboons.

Clean windows, silver locks,
Flowers in a window box--

That's the small house
Where a small girl
Dreamed dreams as pretty,
small,
and distant
As the moon.
_____

A poem in 55 words.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Giuseppe Verdi At Large

Some dweeb holds open the door to Danny's Coffee Shop too long,
And the kitten Giuseppe Verdi is loosed upon the world.
Bounce
Bounce
Pounce
Pounce
Bounce
Pounce
Pounce.
"Come back here, you little shit!" shouts Chloe the cute blonde serial murderer,
And takes off after him as fast as her cross-trainers can carry her.

Meanwhile,
The Queen Of The Vampires, in panther form,
Has her great fearsome paws stuck up in the air
As if she were a Saturday morning cartoon character.
Her head is up against the Dark-Haired Chick
And they are both in a booth,
Joined at the hip as usual.

The Dark-Haired Chick says to the Succubus,
"Tell me what she's dreaming."
The Succubus squints,
Then tells her,
"She is dreaming that she is with you, in your kitchen.
She is dreaming that she is right side up, wearing red socks,
And that whenever she looks at you,
She feels as if she were riding in a gypsy wagon
Swaying in the wind."
Anything else?
"Yes. She wonders why the floor feels so light, like skating on chocolate."
With that, the QOTV's toes twitch;
The Dark-Haired Chick gives her dark-haired head a little shake
And her lips turn up at the corners.

Chloe comes breezing back in with the kitten Giuseppe Verdi in her arms.
"Bad boy. Baaaad boy!" she croons.
Danny's is just full of remarkable creatures
And the killer chicks who love them.


_________

Monday, October 17, 2011

Morrin

Morrin lives in the shadow-bog, the storm-side, the cold hour.
She has no lace gloves, no roof--
She has no mother, no confessor, no beguiling face;
She fell full and bloody from the wolf's mouth,
Like a moon-pale broken tooth.

Morrin nay speak, nor sing, nor pray upon her knees.
She kills cuckoos, catches crows, kisses bees.
When your carriage passes by, Morrin writhes and spits;
She wishes your horses snort, bolt, and carry you quick
Out beyond the road and the twisted trees.

Oh but you, sly and sick with dull ennui,
Bade your driver stop, to set your tiny foot
Upon the mossy grave where Morrin sat.
How delicate your fingers, how soft your tones,
When you touched her, told her she was beautiful, bold, and good.

The grateful girl let you see her cry
In the moments before new devotion turned to helpless rage--
The servants cross themselves as your carriage comes back,
Carrying your smug, giggling face beneath a wide-brimmed hat,
And broken Morrin locked in a gamesman's cage.

______

for Real Toads

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Interview With Lady Death

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lady Death over fraps at Danny's Coffee Shop. Here is the interview!

Shay Caroline: Thank you so much for agreeing to this. Did you have any trouble finding Danny's?

Lady Death: No, I Mapquested it, so getting here was no problem. But...

SC: Yes?

LD: Well, when I tried to find a place to park, all the meters were expired. 

SC: I hate when that happens.

LD: I know, right?

SC: So, other than the meters, what do you think of our little town?

LD: To be honest, honey, it's pretty dead here on a Sunday night.

SC: You're killing me.

LD: It's what I do!

SC: So...have you always been Lady Death? Or did you have other jobs before this one?

LD: I did stand up comedy for a while.

SC: Oh really? And how did that go?

LD: I died out there.

SC: Of course you did. Anything else?

LD: I worked as a gardener.

SC: How long did you do that?

LD: Not long. I had a black thumb. But as you can see, I found a way to make it work for me.

SC: You go, girl. 

LD: Thanks.

SC: Where did all this happen? Where is Lady Death from, originally?

LD: This may surprise your readers, but I am from a rural area just outside of West Branch, Michigan.

SC: Well now, that is surprising. You look so put together, I would have thought you were a big city girl.

LD: Nope.

SC: Do you still have a home there?

LD: No, I don't. There was a developer who had plans for building a retirement community with a big eighteen hole golf course. He bought the farm.

SC: I think a lot of people picture Death as a scary figure wearing a black hood and carrying a scythe, not as a stylish woman wearing an Ann Taylor suit and heels.

LD: Do you like the look?

SC: Yes, very much. The heels, especially, are TDF.

LD: I saw them and they took my breath away. I had to have them.

SC: Your hair looks fantastic, too. Is that your natural shade?

LD: No. I dyed.

SC: Wow, it looks great. You must get noticed a lot.  Are you in a relationship?

LD: I was.

SC: That doesn't sound good. Can you share?

LD: Sure. It started out beautifully. He told me that, when he first saw me, his heart actually skipped a beat. Several beats, in fact.

SC: That sounds exciting! What went wrong?

LD: The feelings died.

SC: If I had to guess, I'd say that this has happened to you before.

LD: It has. But why dig up the past?

SC: Fair enough. So, if you're not out painting the town, what does Lady Death do when she isn't working?

LD: I'm a movie buff.

SC: Really? That's interesting! 

LD: Yes, I watch upwards of a dozen movies a week.

SC: How do you find time to watch so many?

LD: Well...I sort of cheat. I only like to watch the endings.

SC: It's been lovely spending this time with you, Lady Death. 

LD: Are we done?

SC: We are. I'm sorry to cut this short, but I've got a deadline.

LD: Touche, Shay.

SC: I thought you'd like that!


_______ 


And, in totally unrelated news, just because it's my blog and I can...


Friday, October 14, 2011

The Story of Three Calls

Wolf calls Red.
on a public line in Marylebone?
No.
on the green concourse's courtesy phone?
No.
on her cell?
Yes.
Lunch, lunch, lunch, says Wolf,
but he slavers so.
Can't, says Red.
To Grandmother's house I go.
old
old
old
Grandma sittin' there in bed
babushka tied around her head
Maybe live,
maybe dead.
knock
knock
knock
Must be Red.

Red calls Wolf.
via singing telegram?
No.
via Western Union candygram?
No.
with the iphone in her hot little hand?
Yes.
Baby, baby, baby, says Red
wish I were with you instead.
tick
tock
tick
tock
Red stay with Gram til half of four
then Gram fall over on the floor
so Red get up
and out the door.
wait
wait
wait
ain't no bus til half of eight.

Red calls Wolf.
do she call him King? Khan? Shah?
No.
do she call him Golden Ra?
No.
do she call him late for dinner?
Never.
She sing oh, oh, oh,
I got the blues, Wolf, please believe me
Everybody I love, up and leave me.
sniff
sniff
sniff
It'll be all right.
kiss
kiss
kiss
Do Red stay the night?
who knows...
She turned her phone off. 
______

for Real Toads. Co-written with Coal Black

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Come Back

Come back to bed--
the winter is coming.
Then, we will wear nothing but black and white
except for your crimson scarf.

Come back to bed,
while red leaves still blindly find the window glass,
like flames to us, two moths.
Let me kiss your brown and orange wings.

Look,
it rained while we were loving.
Come back to bed--
soon enough, January will settle and stun,
leaving us riven as fence posts.
I don't like to think about it.

Come back to bed.
Your brown sweater and wool socks are somewhere on the floor,
if you want them. If you're cold.
My heart loves nothing as it does
the sight and touch of your warm skin,
and beats best under your protecting palm.

Come back to bed.
I need little else to live for, but that.
By the time winter is done, you will have gone,
and the world will reduce to black and white.
I will go out walking
over the ice-sheathed leaves,
carrying only what I can't let go of,
and wearing your crimson scarf.

_______

Monday, October 10, 2011

Helpless Leaves

Good sense is a good thing,
and good things deserve admiration
and consideration;
it's a fool who says it isn't so.

I'm thinking, though, about the helpless leaves--
all summer they keep a pleasant, constant green,
and none of June's cajoling charms
can make them break that easy grace.

Winter has still less success--
she is too hard,
too harsh,
and has no reward but her deepening cold.

It is the Autumn that makes me think of you,
because that is when the helpless leaves
love the shortening light,
a certain angle of the sun,
and the crisp late mornings of spiced cider days.

Good sense is a good thing,
but god how I love the things that are,
simply because they must be--
yellow, gold, crimson, these rise because Nature insists.
Like my love,
the helpless leaves can't help themselves;
it is Autumn's touch they were born to adore...
They fall.

_______