Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Betrayal Of The Flesh

When I was small,
I lived in my own little Ellis Island--
I could not make myself understood.

See the ghost woman,
With a clever tongue in Prague or Stockholm--
Thought backward and ridiculous on a new shore.

Certain words
Beat me before I spoke them--
People said, sharply, "Speak up!" until I went mute as a stone.

It was not my history that was foreign,
But my flesh that betrayed. And now again, when I am cold or tired,
Words lose themselves before they reach my lips.

It makes me feel small and stupid,
Though I have taught my hands to speak
In languages no one else can touch.

In 1915, a diva visited Detroit--
She was the darling of the Italian opera,
But she couldn't order her own breakfast.

At the next table, some swells snickered at her accent
And her fumbling. That night, the same dandies wept when she sang,
Remarking nervously to each other,
Isn't that the same dumb wop bitch from this morning?

After the performance, she spoke in the cadences her lips would allow her,
Saying, I feel lost here, it is so cold
And I am tired.
_______ 


for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads

art by Alphonse Mucha

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The School Of The Ancients

A bird spiraled down out of the sun,
Black as a Bicycle ace,
Glib as an undertaker.

She broke her fall on the turnips from the truck I had lately fallen out of,
And, oh, what a fabulous line of bullshit she had.

I made her pancakes,
The good kind, with spiced plums;
She ate them,
And ate me,
Indiscriminately.

In the shadow of the wing of the bird with the fabulous line of bullshit,
I gave birth to a child,
An unlikely child,
The scourge of the countryside, in those days.

That's the sort of stuff that I called joy,
When I was younger,
Before I knew any better--

But now my child is grown;
I know bullshit from bath water,
Shibboleth from Shinola;
I am ready for you, my fresh love, the way Athena was ready,
Setting her owl after the faker birds,
Smiling to herself,
Finally satisfied.
______ 
for Ella's challenge at Real Toads. My words were child, bird, shadow, and joy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things I Said

Set a lemon on the window sill--
I will come with the April freeze.

I loved a man like you, once.
He was a hack, like you.
He was carob when I wanted chocolate.
Did I say I loved him?
I tend to lie.

Never mind me, I am just a shadow-girl,
Like the violet growing in the green pot your mother gave you.
Your mother and I, we wear the same root
Crushed, in vials, around our necks.
When we speak,
We disturb you, I can tell;
And yet, we never run out of chatter.

Here is an almond--
Ask it anything.

Every specter was beautiful once;
And every beauty will writhe with worms, given time.
It isn't what you wanted to hear, I know.
Forgive me--
I can be soft.
I can be yielding.
I can be kind...

Just not tonight,
And not for you.
_____
for Monday Melting #10, which required me to use the following words: almond, root, fire, carob, hack, lemon, specter, violet, writhe, and disturb. (And I just noticed that I edited out the line that had "fire" in it Oh well, I'm not sticking it back in now.)

The Picnic At The End Of The World

At the picnic at the end of the world,
there were volcanoes at our backs, a deluge at our feet,
and wailing and gnashing of teeth across the land.

There were no s'mores.

An angry God split the clouds and came down
on a bright silvery bolt of lightning,
grabbing Sinner Jim by his shirt collar and shaking him.

He dropped his barbecue tongs.

Battalions of imps and angels teemed in the park,
bringing the hounds of hell down upon
the wicked and the just alike.

They ignored the "no pets after 5pm" sign.

Then came a mighty roar, and the picnic park was washed
in flame, turning the hot dogs and hamburgers to cinders,
and burning every green thing down to the ground.

The city crew will not need to mow this week.

Let the judgement of the picnic park at the end of the world
be a stern lesson to you to change your ways;
turn off the computer, go out and do good.

God will get all up in your grille if you don't.
______
for Real Toads Weekend Challenge. 
Photo by Kat Mortensen  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mail





Dearest Heart,


Darling Mine...

I am picturing you, wearing your dragon kimono, with your dark curls tied loosely back, carelessly, beautifully, standing in your doorway where the yellow forsythia appears every Spring,

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You could break my heart, you know, just standing there, fanning out the bills and ads, but with that look on your face that you get when you're unaware of yourself; the look that expects something pleasing, something nice, to happen at any given moment...

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My love, how you won my affection with that, from the very beginning. And now, I will be the one to ruin it all. Now that what I feel is so much more than affection, more than desire...more than I can bear, anymore, because you have become so indescribably precious to me.

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You have always been the one to see what I never could, by myself, and to believe that I was so many admirable things that no one else ever had. Now, my only one, you will see that I am owned by others, and heartless, and not even worth hating.

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You know what the price would be, for us to make a life together. You would do it, I know; you would fight anyone, even put yourself between the world and me, if I asked you to. Oh honey, I will tear myself to pieces writing this, and doing this to you. By the time you hold this letter in your hands, the hands that can make me tremble even in memory, I will be gone. I will do what is expected of me, live the life that has been planned out for me, and I will do all of it with a dead heart. I will be called fine, and proper, and pleasing, but what I will be is hollow and weak.

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In my life, I will only, ever, love you. I am so, so sorry. I leave my heart and all that is best in me, here, with you, though I don't expect that to mean anything, after all I have just done and said to you. I am a coward, but I do love you, and always will.


Sarah
_____


for dverse patterns pictures and poems


top photograph by James Rainsford. Bottom photograph by Robert Holden.

 

A Note From The Desk Of Albert Raj Puddentane IV

My title is quite honorific
Of nothing very specific

My lineage is legend
So I really must mention

The numerical end hieroglyphic.

____

for dverse form for all

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Survivor of The Night

I dreamt of my ex,
and my ex laughing.

I dreamt of horrors, each stacked upon the others,
like mating monsters.

I dreamt I was trying to deliver misshapen parcels
to tiny mailboxes
in a dark room,

And all the names were wrong, and of dead people,
interred inside the walls, throats filled with dust and plaster.

I dreamt of enormous violent insects
which ate each other's faces.

I dreamt they had zebra stripes and fish mouths, gaping.
I hit them in the eyes with a hammer
again
and again
and again.

I dreamt that they wrought horrors too sickening to tell;
I dreamt that I failed to save my children.

I dreamt of my ex
and my ex laughing;
of exoskeletons and murder and shame.

I dreamt of these things over and over,
all in one night, like an exorcism.

I awoke, ill and afraid,
in a still, dark room that was orderly and quiet and untouched by these things,

Ten years removed from you, wrapped in my own life,
still breathing.

_____

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sisters

dedicated to my Sista Poet, Dani.

I've always been hungry for female company,
Having grown up with none
Save for my own.

(You'll ask, where was my mother?
My mother was crocodile;
I spent my days hiding.)

I used to daydream that I was some sort of Grand Duchess,
Speaking a language with hard R's, and sipping lemonade on the porch of a dacha.
I would have a thousand sisters.
The men would wear uniforms and do vague things
Always at a distance,
Unless we needed admiring.
Then, they would be lavish,
And we would feign indifference.

I still haven't any sisters,
But I have a yard full of wild mulberry trees.
Botanist, sit down.
Don't bore me with sexing the greenery--
I know what I know about the souls of things,
And my mulberries are female.

At first there was only one.
She barely touched the lowest edge of the garage roof,
But over time, she became tall and beautiful.
When the big prideful locust behind us fell in a storm,
She was ready to fill the empty place, to take the sun and protect us,
Like an older sister doing what needs done
And doing it smoothly
While swaying to a song on the radio.

There are two near the windows. 
They gossip;
I love their nosy, familiar companionship.

Two others love the side fence.
They are the restless ones--
They wear birds from all over, and lean to visit our neighbor next door,
Though he is an idiot who sometimes hurts them for their efforts.
I walk out to them, when this has happened,
And mother them
In soft tones.

Finally, there is my mulberry closest to the house--
Practical men with pick-up trucks have advised me to remove her,
But I cherish her.
In weaker days, I cut her down twice--
I am not proud of having done it.
She grew back each time, and never mentioned what I had done.
She is Russian, I feel certain, and knows me better than I know myself;
But these days,
I listen better.

In summer, I drink lemonade in her shade, while she prefers rain water.
She is our graceful matriarch--
I and the other mulberries are her girls.
So, you see?
Some wishes do come true,
Even if a little differently than I used to imagine.
_____
for Kenia's Wednesday Challenge at Real Toads.

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lovely Bride

She made a lovely bride.
Wearing her white dress, she looked like a sexy cloud.

Her happy groom had their days planned out ahead of them,
As numerous and alike as the whiskers on his cheeks when he smiled.

Later, no one would admit to having invited the wolf--
To having brought the wolf;
Perhaps he brought himself, from deep in the forest's secret heart.

Up the aisle he came,
Right in the middle of the ceremony.
No one had a gun,
(it wasn't that kind of wedding)
And so no one knew a way to stop him.
He helped himself to a big fat bite of organdy and lace--
As if confusing the bride
With the wedding cake--
And half-dragged, half-carried her off to his sylvan hideaway.

Well.
Pandemonium!

Maybe her perfume attracted him.
Maybe she knew him before.
Maybe she knew him still!
She had only been standing there, trying to get married,
But the woman always gets the blame, yes?

The groom wept, then shouted,
"What do they want?"

Here is what we want:
In the morning, the bride crawled out of the wolf's den,
Her dress in shreds and tatters, bloody,
With scratches all over her skin and leaves in her hair,
Stinking to high heaven of wolf.
"Wow!" said the bride.

In a few years,
She will divorce the wolf
When he forgets her birthday again--
When he forgets to bathe or use cutlery--
When he drags home another big dead-ass elk, expecting her to turn it into pot roast.

But it will be all right.
There will be no kids.
In time, she will find somebody different--
More human, maybe.
More verbal.
Maybe even female!
Who really knows? But when that day comes,
One thing won't have changed at all--

She will make a lovely bride.
_______

for dverse open link #36

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Sunflower Road

There is a wound deep in the helix--
a hard grief down in the dark family blood--
and I can't turn monkshood to maple sugar by denying it.

Still,
There is the Sunflower Road
and this warm-going afternoon--
the bug on his back doesn't talk rot or doubt my hollow-stalked soul
when I flip him in my palm
and watch his simple ascent.

Yes, baby,
one day I'll line the lily casket with my wicked bones
sweet as cane in the marrow;
black-dress ladies'll allow as to how I had my uses,
and later they'll slice peach pie and fan themselves with prayer cards
like pretty caged birds.

All of this is why--
plain-root simple-face bloom that I am--
I tell you honest,
same as you have always been with me,
that I could not have found my way
without you.
______
photo by Shanyn Silinski

posted for Real Toads Open Link Monday #19 and Monday Melting #9  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Primer For Young Lovers

Tarot Girl and Manx Man
sat upon the rocky ledge
of a craggy cliff
high above the eternal sea.

The Sea said,
"Those who touch my body
whether cruel or tenderly,
will lose their breath--
lose themselves--
and become a part of me."

Tarot Girl demanded of Manx Man,
to tell her his purpose
hidden behind his questions
set, like faith, before her deck of cards.

The Cards said,
"Those who see my faces
will need a thousand eyes,
a single mouth--
a single heart--
and many flames to make a fire."

Tarot Girl and Manx Man
sat upon the rocky ledge
of a craggy cliff
in the face of a howling wind.

The Wind said,
"Let he who has no tale
kiss her who tells them well;
then throw two birds
into my keeping,
and name one Heaven, the other, Hell."
_____
for dverse poetics--fairy tales

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2 pretty girls

2 pretty girls
lifted morning's veil,
walking where they hadn't ought to go--

down by the fence line
called The Devil's Tail,
just one come back, but she don't talk no more.
_____

picture by Shanyn Silinski for Real Toads.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Winter Witch

The Winter Witch takes in an injured phonograph record;
She could not bear to see a sister suffer.

All phonograph records are, of course, female.
Constellations, rain, roundabouts, all of these fall from the fingertips of the Goddess.

Men are as linear as the stories they like.
Trains, bullets, unwavering logic, all of these are spikes driven into a brick wall.

Women are round, and all begins inside their roundness.
Stars wheel in empathic dance with the Winter Witch's turntable.

But...I have said that her guest was wounded, and so she was.
A red polished nail in the groove brought sweetness, but also revealed broken blackness.

"Poor baby," soothed the Witch, and the world turned beneath them both;
It always does. All stories double back. Clocks obey the soft word, not the strident command.

The injured phonograph record could not be saved, but she could speak, and did so.
The Winter Witch lay down inside her, and called that night. She dreamed with a double voice.

"I don't understand a word you say," complained the Warlock, after that.
"Bless your heart," said the Winter Witch, and when she did, she sounded like the wind.
______

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Linguist

"Come to church with me," I begged,
with my hands spread to the backs of your thighs.
"Do you think that's wise,
pretty soap-winged angel?"
Leave it to a Cherokee Gypsy to fill me with the spirit in spite of myself;
to see in me
a woman who can create her own saints.

"I love you," I managed, through serious desire;
and from my knees,
I let my fingers open the hymnal,
wetting my lips for my tongue to find song
in the holy indigenous language of joy.

______
linked to dverse OLN #35

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cowbirds

Be reasonable.
Don't die here, not yet.
Besides,
A good French manicure should never be wasted;
So keep fluttering your hands,
Asking for water (good!),
And variously demonstrating that the heart within you still beats.

You think me unkind.
Why?
I stomp on anybody's hands
When I find them hanging from the high wall by their fingertips like that.
If Goddess meant for us to be vines,
She would create us as slender,
Graceful,
Rising things;
Not great crashing beasts
Caught in nets,
Idiotically bellowing.

Hold still.
Be a lady for once.
Pretend that you forgive me,
And I will build a nest from assorted debris,
As birds do,
A little round emblem of natural perfection
That we can call home
Just long enough
To fall out of.
______ 
for Real Toads Open Link Monday

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Stone Baby

Blessed Saint Creola appears in a village where, they say,
A woman has borne a stone baby.

No suitable bassinet can be found, and so the stone baby is placed
In a wheelbarrow. Religious graffiti soon covers it.

The mother is unhappy. Her baby does not have babysoft skin.
He does not smell nice. He seems to belong in a quarry.

Driven mad by having to lift her baby with a hoist, she takes him to bathe
In the lake near Saint Creola's shrine, but of course,

He sinks immediately to the bottom. A tow truck hauls him out
On the end of a good sturdy chain; the good news is

That the stone baby has no injuries. No skinned knee, no
scraped elbow. Still, he cannot play with the other children

Out of fear that he will will topple over on them. Sitting by himself,
He is accosted by the village bully, who hits him, breaking his own hand.

"Beautiful Saint Creola," cries the mother. "I have given birth to a
Cannon ball. His own weight breaks his bed. What can we do?"

It is said by those who were there, that the lovely and holy Saint Creola
Took up the stone child in her slender arms, and prayed over him,

Turning him to a cloud, which disappeared into the open blue sky.
In time, the child's mother gave birth to numerous birds,

Unmatched in the perfection of both their feathers and their souls;
"Behold, I give you sisters to bear your spirit up to God," spoke the mother.

It is another miracle of the celebrated Saint Creola...
Birds and brother, wheeling upon the very countenance of the Divine.
______
for Ella's mini challenge at Real Toads. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fast Bitch

I am one fast bitch--
Keen to fill the world
With as many spotted babies as I can.

To do this,
I quick-step the hot dry grass, bold as noon,
And get backchannel mojo from the moon.

Don't fuck with me--
I have killed and eaten myself, then been mother to myself,
So I am not afraid of much.

I say what I want.
I make my own rules.
When I die, it will be because my heart has burst,
And I will not, even then, be sorry.

I told you, and it's gospel--
I am one fast bitch.
_____

for Shawna's 1999/heat prompt at dverse poetics. In 1999, I was profoundly different. I was in the winding-down stages of a thirteen year straight marriage. Except for a dozen or so poems that I wrote during a brief burst in 1996, I had not written poetry in more than a decade, and would not again until 2006. Almost all of my energies went toward doing the right thing, with others in mind, and yet, all of that color by numbers just blew up in my face by 2001. In 1999 I had buried my true self so deep inside of the construct I had created, that I couldn't really feel a damn thing. I never cried. I might laugh or smile if I thought something was funny, but then it was gone as quickly as it came. I began to sincerely believe that I had lost the very ability to be feel happy. Now, I am all over the map, but I feel intensely, write intensely, and have reinvented myself and my life. I even legally changed my name a decade ago. So, what was 1999 all about? I used to look in the mirror and over and over I would find myself thinking, "Who *is* that?" It sure wasn't me. Must have been a brilliant disguise...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

For You

For you,
I have fixed my make-up in a broken mirror.

For you,
I have done my nails a deep tar black.

When you speak my name,
I blush red like the steps to a Gypsy wagon--
A little higher each time,
And closer to my bed.

Because of you,
I would have to be handcuffed and buried at a crossroads beneath ten feet of rocks,
Excommunicated and set on fire,
Before I would stop writing these poems.

For you,
I turn my tongue to honey and wrap it around your name.

For you,
I wear a silver new moon against my heart;

When it goes full,
You will know by sense of touch, that it is yours.
______

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Winter One

In the heart of Winter,
No one came near;
What choice did I have, but to
Summon you, dear?

Black are the branches,
Black are the crows;
What heart could survive by
Loving those?

In the heart of Springtime,
When my Winter One slept,
I rocked by the streamside
And bitterly wept.
_____

a triptych for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads

Farewell

Farewell, joy of my heart. Yes, I have to go, even though I would rather stay here with you. You know that, don't you? Oh now hey, please don't do the sad face...you'll break my heart.

I tell you what. I promise to come back the very minute that I can, and to bring you a bag of Barkery Bones when I do. Okay? All right then. See you after work, Bosco!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Merzi

Merzi comes
in the hour of glass bones
in the time of the last snow
Merzi comes
and I am waiting.

Merzi is from
Belgrade or Kiev,
She likes her coffee and her women dark and strong--
Merzi sighs
like the cars going by
on the wet street outside in the dawn.

Merzi comes
in the hour of the watching stars
in the time of the poem unspun
Merzi comes
and I am waiting.
_____

Monday, March 5, 2012

Descanso

The road weaved off ahead like the 
messed-up
more adventurous friend
who says, come on, let's pick the lock,
snap the chain,
and goose the gods who brought the rain.

This road is the place
where the one I was
met the lead-foot driver of who I would be;
and you know what they say--
women drivers
no survivors.

Oh, little tornado-heart,
shed that leaden skin.
Let the poison out, let the Jesus in.
Honey, a red car is the only car--
no you anymore, but only us...
I'll carry the best of you fast over asphalt and tar,
and leave the husk with these crosses
in the roadside dust.

_____

for Real Toads OLM

 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Romans

All roads lead to Rome, they say--
But the legions,
In their breast plates,
With their red plumes, and brilliant strategies,

Are screwed VII ways to Sunday,
Dead beneath the gravel,
Knocked flat by fat babies
And little black crickets.

Dandelion-seed emperors,
Ladies whose looks went centuries ago,
Dust-mouthed senators;
Their domes are as empty as old flower pots.

Beyond this gate,
There is a horse in a paddock
And laundry on a line.
What fool put them so close together?
I don't know...

All I'm sure of,
Is that the grass here smells sweet,
The sunset is pretty,
And that I want more than anything

To feel my back against the post,
Your lips against mine,
And your fingertips at my cheek.

Do what the sleeping legions can't do--
Open the gate, sweet honey,
And pass through.

______

for Kenia's photo challenge at Real Toads. The bottom photo is hers.

Written while drinking Bolthouse Farms vanilla chai tea, which I am convinced helps me to be creative. It's irrelevant whether this is true. It only matters that I *believe* that it is true!