Monday, February 27, 2012

My Petition To St. Creola

Beautiful St. Creola,
Our Lady of the Sea Shore,
The pockets of your blue linen smock stuffed with dawn clouds,
Intercede for me,
I beg you.

My nights have become unpretty, pungent, abrasive,
Like tar roofs,
Patched and leaning,
Unable to hold the rain.

St. Creola, patroness of all that is lovely and ambiguous,
I cannot decide
Between My Love in the morning, her skin warm as east-facing Italian stucco,
Or My Love in evening, wearing moonstone earrings and making a bird perch from sea ripples and snakeskin.

She is the bootleg water-dove,
The posey nightcatcher.
I am the indigo bloom, and your adherent.

St. Creola, hear me.
The stars turn at your command,
The skies open at your pleasure;
Let there be a rain of cormorants, sapphires, silver dust...
Let there be your own jasmine scent in her dark hair;
Let there be bells,
And within their ringing or their silence,
Her answer.
_______ 

linked to dverse OLN #33

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Healing

I spread five fingers and five seasons came;
I kept the one that had no name.

I closed them 'round the stepchild month;
She felt like love when love is done.

I stuffed the lost one in my mouth,
And spoke things scratching to get out.

The Gypsy wrapped around my eyes,
And by blue evening I was blind.

She wormed her way into my ear,
And whispered quite like you, my dear.

She burrowed deep into my brain,
Sweet and sharp like blade and cane.

But when the sweet bitch found my heart,
She bit and sealed the broken part.

_______

Optional musical accompaniment.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

tea

Millicent Menzies-McPhee
Invited me over for tea.

The mood was torpid, the talk was vapid;
The descent into fidgety misery was rapid.

Millicent droned on and on and on 
About her dismal daughter and stuporous son;

Neither was wedded, or even employed,
And of any interest completely devoid.

I sighed and suffered and wished I were dead,
As my mind dissolved and my poor ears bled,

Then, unable to take it, I exploded in laughter,
Took off my clothes and swung from the rafter.

"More tea?"
Inquired Ms. Menzies McPhee.

I said, "You are a tiresome, torturous bimbo!"
As the S.W.A.T. team came and rappelled in her window.

I was removed to the sanitarium post haste,
Which saved her life with not a second to waste.

And the moral is, most obviously,
If you want to have tea...

Don't have it with Millicent
Menzies-
McPhee!

_______

for Ella's photo challenge at Real Toads.

How To Make A Poet (Though Making A Milk Jug Lantern Would Be Better)

I was delivering the mail.
No, the actual mail.
There were steps,
It was icy,
and bullshit bullshit bullshit...

Anyway,
I slipped.
Something deep inside my ears whispered to me:
Whee, whirlybird,
Going down.

I might still have been all right, except--
I landed in the spokes of some kid's bike
Left on the walk;
Then I was dead
Cos I broke my neck just like Mama always said.

Lady come out, lady say,
Omg, call the lawyer.

Then I was floating above my body,
And I thought,
No.
No no no no.
I had almost finished reading a novel, and
I had thawed some hamburger for tonight and
I had a movie that came in the mail,
Set aside,
Like a a potentially distracting
Arranged bride.
So I can't die.

But I died.
I saw souls whipping into the light
Like their hair was on fire.
The love!
(they said.)
The well-being!
(they cried.)

Well, that's not how my experience went...

God looked at my life and then at me and said,
WTF?
And I looked at my life and then at God, and said back,
wtF????
I came back as a cat.

I peed the little potted tree,
I bit the hand that fed me,
I shed and shit and scratched and that was me.
I was angry.

Then I died again, and still,
No love for Shay.
I stood before God in her Radiance,
And was sent back as a geranium this time,
That I might learn patience
And the art of being still.

I was pink, and pretty,
And people said, how nice.
All the time inside I was screaming
GAHHHHH! GAHHHHHHH!
Cos I was angry.
Then some kid, maybe the child of the one with the bike,
Said off with your head, 
And I said
Nothing after that.

I screeched at God, WTF?
And God said back, well, wtf?
I went back as a tropical fish
And an ant
And a dung beetle
And a labrador retriever,
The only one in history that bit.

I died and died and died and died.
And stood before God,
And got the trapdoor in the floor,
And a bon voyage.

It stopped being funny pretty fast.

So, after I was a monkey and a microbe and a
Frozen test tube baby in a basket,
God finally sighed.
One more time, She said, and 
Off I went.

My mama tried to kill me cos
She knew she bore a poet.
But I wouldn't die, not again.
No no no no no,
Not having it.

So I grew,
And scribbled, 
And went GAHHHHHHHHHH!, but
I did it pretty, so pretty.
I didn't love no men, and they didn't love me neither.
I loved some women til it made me cross-eyed,
But they said, we can be friends, such friends.

Then some dweeb at the mall told me God loves me,
And I smack him hard upside the head
With my latest volume.
I beat him
And beat him
And beat him
And beat him,
And that's the most use poetry ever was. 
I beat him, but I did it pretty, so pretty.

I went to jail and they said,
What's your name?
What's your gender?
What's your credit score?
What's your sign?

Then they gave me ten to fifteen years
To contemplate the Divine.
______

picture found on weheartit.com

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dear Red

The Soul selects her own Society--
Then--shuts the Door--
To her divine Majority--
Present no more--

Unmoved--she notes the Chariots--pausing--
At her low Gate--
Unmoved--an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat--

I've known her--from an ample nation--
Choose One--
Then--close the Valves of her attention--
Like Stone--

(written by Emily Dickinson)

Dear Red--
Are you at your table--by the window--
Beyond the Evergreens
Where I beheld You once?

In the Room where you welcomed me--
An old Friend--
As though we had been--for a Moment--interrupted
And so easily--Again--picked up?

They think you a hermit, my Red--
A mouse--by baseboard held--defined--
But you are a Heart--Divine by nature
A Soul in Flame--beyond confine--

Dear Red--I know--She is near as your next Breath--
Yet as Distant--as Persia--or Africa's Nile--
A peculiar Torment--a lifesblood of words
For Her--survives--through Eternity's while--

Dear Red--
I know the Heart--forever in debt--
Written out--put Away--folded neatly, like linens--
I know what it Cost--I know what it Meant.
______
for Kenia's challenge at Real Toads

Note: for those who do not know, or read here regularly, when I visited her home in Amherst, in 2007, I felt Emily there; not in any vague sense, but THERE, and personally. She was glad I had come, she welcomed me, and she knew about my writing. It was, for me, an intense and spiritual experience.

E.D. was in love with her sister in law, Susan Huntington Dickinson (see the book "Open Me Carefully") who was married to her brother and lived next door at The Evergreens. The relationship spanned decades, shows up again and again in Emily's poems ("I Cannot Live With You"), and must have been both sustaining and incredibly frustrating for Emily.

I tried to find the version of her featured poem, above, which seemed to me to be most true to Emily's actual style. One of the things I love dearly about her is that she wrote in her own amazing and unique way, resisting advice to write in a style more in keeping with contemporary convention. Up at least into the 1950s, and even today, editors have changed her punctuation, capitalizations, and even her wording, to make it more conventional. (Why?!?) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When Saints Emptied, White & Weightless, Out Of Heaven

It snowed.
(then it didn't.)

She stayed with him.
(then she didn't.)

The world turned.
The sky was wide and clear
Like a blue fat girl with good skin.

The traffic was rosary beads
moving up one by one,
a honking, half-assed Rapture.

She attended classes.
(then she didn't.)

She was a February gray angel.
(then she wasn't.)

She went out, wearing a pink scarf
and black leather boots.

In a cafe, she met a blue fat girl.
She called her "zaftig."
She said, "You have a beautiful face."

She didn't consider her.
(then she did.)

Again, it snowed.
They went home together,

orbiting each other closely all the way down the street,
like a couple of she-gods
with aprons full
of catnip.
________

for dverse open link #32

Monday, February 20, 2012

What about this Fireblossom....

Would you buy a used car from her?

Trust your child with her?

Do word verification for her? Okay, now I know I've gone too far!

Nice

Nice to see you again.
Nice like slamming the door on my hand,
Nice like cramps,
Nice like kiss my ass.

I wish I had back every word I ever said to you,
So that I could eat them,
So that I could shit them smack in the middle of that sanctimonious crap you call sobriety.

Nice to know you're alive.
Nice like a stick in the eye,
Nice like fuck off and die.

Thought I'd forgive and forget?
Fat chance.
Nice try.
Love was the drug,
But hate is the high.
______

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Anya

Until she was 17,
The only big city she had ever seen was Kiev.
At 19, she saw New York,
Chicago,
St. Louis,
Though only from train stations and tracks
That took her past the backs of warehouses
And then out into countryside again.

Peter arrived to take her the last few miles in his wagon;
He introduced himself, looking down at his old boots,
Then hoisted her bag, helped her up,
And took her home.

Wheat is wheat,
Wherever you find it;
Men and women not so different, really, either.
Sometimes he would imitate the way she spoke his name,
With the hard "r",
But his smile and the look in his eyes
Made her lower hers and turn to some task to hide her pleasure at having pleased him somehow.

The sun is the sun,
Wherever you find it;
And night falls warm in summer just the same.
With her head on his chest,
Together in the bed he had built and she had made sweet,
She told him how, when she was a girl,
They would sometimes see the Gypsy wagons going by on the dusty road.
She loved the women's red skirts, and knew then that she would wander.
"And look where I end up," she would say, smiling,
And swing herself on top of him,
Her hair unbound and just beginning to gray.

She was his match, you know,
His Ukrainian wife;
"What does that mean?" he had asked,
So she told him the old saw,
That a Ukrainian wife nags like a mother in law,
Looks like an ox,
And beats you like a Cossack.
Then she brandished a wooden spoon at him, eyes big;
Laughter is laughter,
And a good thing wherever you find it.

Three heads in the afternoon,
She would see across the fields--
Two horses and her husband under a prairie sun.
When late one morning she felt a pain low in her belly,
She kept beating rugs, mucking stalls,
Telling Russian fairy stories to her little Sam;
The one with his daddy's eyes
And her father's silver cross around his neck.

It may be that home is where the onion domes rise,
Or it may be that home is where the wheat grows high;
But life and sweetness are wherever you find them--
Down Ukrainian Gypsy tracks
To American sod.
_______
for the Weekend Challenge at Real Toads, featuring Mary Ann Potter.

I was inspired by this photograph of Mary Ann's, which made me wonder what and who this house had sheltered in happier times, and also by this haunting song written and sung by the spifftastic Emmylou Harris.

  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ethereal

Come.
Here, where leaden birds have broken all the windows.
Here, where the wind is a wild thing gotten indoors, thrashing.
Here, where waiting is more like living than anything I did before.
Come to this place, Love.
I promise, your kiss does not shock me into seizing insensibility as it did the first time.

Darling,
I savor it.
I beg for it,
Prideless.
I am sick for it as others are for white powder, sharp edges, or the dark cards.

I have waited all night.
I waver, I do not eat anymore.
I wear your clothes, surrounding myself with their emptiness,
Willing them to consume me.

Come.
Here, where reason has slipped away.
Kiss me.
Pull me down into your root-home.
I do not mind your throat with its silenced pulse;
But my own, quick and ceaseless,
Drives me without mercy to insanity's bitterest edge.
_____

for A Word With Laurie at Real Toads. ("ethereal")

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pretty Things

Stars are heavier than dreams--
Five fingers are enough to steal most things.

A dream I'd not yet had arrived today by post.
The mail lady stood there, licked her lips,
Said I owed her.

Dark hair is the hair I like--
You've got the Gypsy kind,
It's always in my eyes.

Rain collects at the lowest point,
And yet it comes from the sky.
Birds' bones are lighter than their feathers.

I swapped the mail lady a stone for a stamp--
She laughed and tossed it in her hand,
Then fixed it in a ring to charm the weather.

Gypsy, do you see what you've done?
With the bright cardinal in your hair,
Who sleeps and sings?

Stars are heavier, less graceful, than dreams,
And five fingers are enough
To capture and keep the prettiest things.
_____

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Black Lilies

She came,
Sweet/bitter, like blackstrap molasses.
Her skin was black tea,
Her voice was black earth.
She embraced me and that was the moon in eclipse;
She breathed in my bones, and my bones bent to her.

She stayed,
Like rain falling on the dark river.
She rocked me all night
As both lover and child.
She kissed me, and that was the moon in obscurement;
Her touch was black lilies, and her touch was light.
______

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Poem For STWIASD

My house is small.
If I buy an orange,
And bring it home in a canvas bag,

I have to decide what to get rid of;
What object it will replace.

If I lose something--
My book of Whitman poems, or
The card from my friend in New York,

It's bound to be right there,
As close as coffee to the cup.

Should the postman drop me a letter,
I must then send one out.
I dream only once each night, but richly.

There would seem to be no room
For Another
In my life,

And yet,
The sun comes through my window
Each morning,

And seems to belong there.
What about that?
______

Happy St. Valentine's Day, sweetheart!

______ 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Song Of A Red-Haired Girl

by Fireblossom, writing as Coal Black

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." --Arthur Schopenhauer

Mama Gator stand up on those little back legs.
She dab on lipstick.
She marry a man what's goin somewhere.

Mama Gator clean the house til it beg her stop.
She pretend her tail a train.
She crank out two nassy little boy gators.

Oh what was I thinkin
Steppin into that hell?
What was I in for
Still drippin shell?

Mama Gator scared tea ladies smell swamp on her.
She say don't touch me.
She sweep up her dropped scales in a right rush.

All the while
She smile.

Mama Gator say
Girl, you ugly.
Girl, you nassy.
Just keep goin like you are,
And you find out how that be.

What the neighbor's think?
What will people say?
Girl, come to Mama,
So she can tell you go away.

Got a little soft beatin heart,
Let Mama tear that shit apart.
You as shiny as a twice-washed dish.
You not my daughter.
You not worth spit.
You're like your father,
You little bitch.

Mama see and Mama know
Just how deep the deep can go.
Mama grab and Mama roll
But now she do it all alone.

And all the while
She smile.
_________
for dverse poetics with Charles Miller.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Glory

There was a war, and as with all wars,
Glory fell dead in her boots the first week.
The Orthodox priests were there as we boarded the trains.
They blessed us,
Made the sign of the cross and assured us
That the God who made us, down to the smallest sinew and bone,
Wished for us to be shoveled
Like coal
Into the fire of insanity
Which breeds behind the shining eyes of rulers.

What did we care about the French, licking pastry crumbs from their fingers,
Or the English?
At Masurian Lakes and Tannenburg, we were guided to our doom by imbeciles,
And for what?
Let Willie have Poland;
We cared nothing for it.
We cared for bread, and shoes, and getting the lice out of our hair.

The Little Father came to rally us--
He did not carry the stars inside his coat.
No sign of Divine favor radiated from him.
He was a runt;
I wanted to stand him on a crate and then face the crate toward an executionary detail.
He would fall, you know,
Just as we did.

The next day,
My horse was hit in the flank, and the wound became infected.
I had to shoot him myself.
That was different, a greater obscenity,
Than killing strangers for no reason;
I realized that our beasts,
Dumb brutes that they were,
Were holy
Compared to the imps who compelled us to be part of this.

There was a war, and like all wars,
It was a devil bathing in blood,
Washing filthy vileness into us
And setting screaming nightmares loose inside our riven skulls.
So don't ask me to tell you about it--
I left my tongue there,
Torn out and mute,
Fodder for empire,
Profaned and lying speechless in the mud.
_______


for Real Toads weekend challenge. Photograph by Talon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kids

We were just kids.

We liked Patti Smith, Pat Benatar and Quarterflash.

We drank a lot of wine and bowling alley gin.

The law was 18.

We were going no place, in thrift store leather jackets.

We read French poets, and didn't understand a word.

We had no plans,

But we had each other.

It was grand and glorious and stupid and temporary.

We were as random as a sack of cats.

We thought we were smart;

We were not always wrong.

We were nobody, but we were us.

We were just kids.
________
for Marian's music prompt at Real Toads.

this poem is for J.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Him, Danno!

Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to sea, and it turned my eyes green.

I lived on a boat and I bobbed on the blue.
I caught all the fish to put into my stew.

Mermaids and Selkies fell in love with me,
But I came back to shore to get on tv!

(His agent is Cloudia. Image used with her permission.)

this is a Friday 55 for G Man


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three poems for Kerry's magical realism prompt at Real Toads

DRAGONS

Oh honey, good for you--
For the bread you won and the dragons you slew.
It's enough to make a feminine heart flutter.

Who is she?
Who is she?
No matter.

All day I read the Tarot--
Some cards up, some cards down.
Some turn their back, some show their face,
But the cards themselves do not change.
Every morning:
The Hanged Man.
Every afternoon:
The Lightning-Struck Tower.
(And the dragon's tail
Of hours.)

Perhaps this is why
The dragons came to me,
Despite the ones we ate, and the ones you slew.
There are more--
more more more more more more more more.
They filled the yard, rang the bell.
What was I supposed to do?

One at a time, I took them in--
To my confidence.
To my bed.
They told me how they grieve, and dream.
And, oh,
The other things they said to me!

Honey, how I admire you--
For the bread you won, and the dragons you slew.
The deep scratches on my skin are from baking.
The smell of cordite in my hair is from
The salon,
Or from taking the kids to school.

How glad I am,
As I cool myself in the limpid pool of our evenings together,
That you find my nattering pleasant;
Like a woman standing on the next-closest planet,
Singing to you in a pretty foreign language.
_______

KITTY

You like Kitty when Kitty is nice.
I love Kitty all the time.

You like to toss Kitty up in the air.
I love to let Kitty sleep in my hair.

When you call Kitty, she hisses and spits.
When I call Kitty, she comes close and sits.

You like for Kitty not to rankle.
I love how Kitty twists 'round your ankle.

Upsy-daisy, down the stairs;
When we land, brand new pairs.
_________

BLACK CATS

Here is where you were wrong--
Black cats are not bad luck.

I am a nice girl, and you should not have set me on fire.
Is that how your mama taught you to do?

Here is a bowl of dove tears--
Wash in them.
It won't do any good, but at least you'll feel like you're doing something;
Not just sitting on the tracks
Looking like you just lost your best friend.

So many times, we missed the boat,
Stepping into thin air, like wobbling bowling pins.

This is my hand, cupping your face.
These are our beautiful memories, like butterflies on a board--
Is it my fault that they fly right into your head
Whenever you don't keep yourself occupied?

We quarreled, and you set me on fire.
It happens, and I bear you no grudge;
But witch that I am,
My ashes grew eyes, and landed on their feet.
Do you see, now, how wrong you were?
Black cats are not bad luck.
______  

top picture: Gregory Crewdson. middle picture:Michael Parkes. last picture unknown source.

for Kerry's Challenge at Real Toads.