Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review of "Mother"

MotherMother by Linda Ann Rentschler

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Here it is, The Worst Novel Ever Written. I only read it all the way through as a sort of exercise in endurance, and to see how laughably awful the writing could become. Here's the answer: really, really awful.

Rentschler is the Queen of hyperbolic, cheaply emotional scenes populated by cardboard characters from central casting, described in utterly talentless prose, as they act out plotlines that are so unlikely and/or boring that to read them is to experience a massive die-off of brain cells. You know that completely talentless housewife at the local adult ed writing group? It's Rentschler. No, strike that. That's unfair to the housewife.

I don't know what weird time warp Rentschler lives in, but while her story is supposedly set in the present (the book came out in 2007), her college students listen to their music on "albums" and cassettes (!) with nary a cd or a mp3 to be found. Her two main characters meet at a luncheonette, over cherry Cokes. Wait, it gets better. The grief wall in the student union has pictures of deceased celebrities, but they are all old, like John Lennon, JFK, and Marilyn Monroe. The only "new" name she mentions is River Phoenix! No Kurt Cobain in Rentschler's world.

The whole book seems more like 1957 than 2007. Even while on her big adventure of taking time away from her family to (gasp!) smoke cigarettes and (shock, horror!) stay up past midnight and (facepalm!) have a tarot reading, her main character keeps lapsing into musings about housecleaning and casseroles.

All through this novel, everyone is always bursting into tears, falling down, having conniption fits of wild emotion at the drop of a hat. This includes women, men, everybody. Also, the main character, Mary, relentlessly treats everyone as if they were eight years old. For her son's eighteenth birthday, she and her young friend brainstorm and hit on party hats, noisemakers and cowboy napkins. Then Mary runs out and buys him a puppy! Lord above.

Like I said...Worst. Novel. Ever.



View all my reviews

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Method of Madame K.

If I were a princess, a grand duchess like the rest,
Plucking rounds and diamonds from the lining of my dress,

Would you say to me in Russian, "Little faker, fair of face,
Prove to me you're royal," with your hands beneath the lace?

If I had a little derringer tucked within my clutch,
If my ribboned wrists hid poison pills, cyanide and such,

Would you take them from me, one by one, a sweet preserving djinn,
Then trail the feathers from my hat along my lamp-warmed skin?

Raven-haired Inquisitress, who takes the truth by kiss,
Can you believe confessions you have won from me like this?

Sweetheart, I surrender; adoring you I fall,
And any other claims I made, matter not at all.

______

A princess poem for Real Toads mini-challenge.

The vintage photo is of Maria Doro, silent era actress, 1909.

A little bit of background: In 1920, a woman was hospitalized in Berlin following a suicide attempt. She claimed to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia, who was presumed executed with her entire family by the Communists in 1918. Her claim gained attention, and even some Romanov relatives believed she was indeed Anastasia, despite the fact that she did not speak Russian! The case remained a mystery for decades until modern DNA tests proved that the woman, Anna Anderson, could not have been the late Grand Duchess.  

Ghosts In Blue Ice

The lost picnic family ends up in the Arctic.
Father should have noticed the GPS glowing a deep ominous red;
Mother should have caught the smell of brimstone.
The children should have paid attention to the cruelty they heard in the voice that said,
"Turn here. Trust me."
And alerted their elders.

Instead, they are tipped on their side on the tundra,
Fried chicken spilling, attracting polar bears.

With powerful swipes,
The bears free the family from their safety belts and torpor.
They tumble out like Cheerios,
Their mouths the round open centers.

See, children?
No cute talking penguins in sight.
See, father?
Racquetball seems such inadequate training now, doesn't it,
For war with white behemoths?
And mother?
You worried for nothing. There are no ants.

The lost picnic family should have prepared itself for real eventualities--
Devils, ice, ravenous beasts--
Instead of going soft in front of television.

Now, they are the show that no one watches,
Glowing souls too frozen to rise;
They are the club-wheeled SUV in the reserved parking space of oblivion--
They are the unseen, unremarked ghosts in blue ice.
______

for Hannah's Transforming Friday challenge. 

 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cycle

a volcano rose from the koi pond,
giving birth to burning red birds.

these flew,
and wherever they landed,
the earth turned to stone.

i placed each stone in a silver setting,
and gave them to you
for your ears,
your wrists,
your fingers.

the sun, jealous,
wept itself into the pond.

you shone, a knife's edge,
a moon-perch for your restless summer flame.
_______

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How To Write A Poem

Learn to distinguish
Voices
from voices.

Don't say, "who, me?"
Yes, you
with the whole of Heaven at your back.

Call out
mockery,
injury,
flattery,
churchmen...

Love the truth.
Light your own flame.

Burn hard.
_________

At The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, the fiercely fabulous Mama Zen wants us to peez shut mouf, stuff a sock in it, and stfu already! 35 words or less, she says, and I made it in right at 35.
_____ 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rachel

Gilled creatures,
go back.
Back to the sludge-depths,
down where the dead-roots rise.

What were you thinking you could offer me?
I wear white lace gloves
even while shucking oysters.
They must be bought live, in their shells,
so that they may whisper to their conquerors
at the fateful moment.

All right.
I'm being ridiculous,
but you didn't know me back in mushroom days.
We took our German professor
down to the cold beach.
I have his accent still, in a jewelry box, in a drawer,
a little trophy for me to keep.

Back then,
I admit it, I was toasted most of the time.
I have a lot to answer for,
but I'm not sorry for the road I took.
I had a cute top I made from hurricane flags;
when black-haired Rachel ran her fingers up under it,
I blessed her for it, as the gooseflesh rose.

My universal veil and my bullshit affectations are gone.
I'm sober these days,
no shrooms, no Schlitz.
Listen, I could give a shit less
for the dead things
and the depths.

Let me just stand here,
sailor,
mermaid,
woman of my dreams...
when I sing to you, let me do it in daylight,
facing into the wind
like a sea bird.
______

I got some of my words HERE. Flipside, do you like that picture? I knew you would!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

7 Things

My friend Buddah Moskowitz tagged me to tell 7 things. I lub me some Mosky, so this is them.

You asked.
You opened your mouth,
opened the door,
opened the cage, and I leapt out--
whatever I do from here is on you.

7 things about me.
Here's one--
I unfold from sky, from clouds.
I sit, I nod, I'm still,
but all the time, the dark could-be spreads across me from the inside;
lightning shocks my heart,
thunder rolls,
wind knocks me open like a wooden gate that's wild to run.

Here's two--
when I raise my head,
I raise it twice;
one is wicked, one is nice
and neither one listens to any damned old men.
I am the double bloom
on a double stem.
Cut me if you like; I'll grow again.

Here's three-
mother, mother's daughter, and me.
The other is the one she thinks I am,
and we all stare at each other
unblinking, unforgiving,
and as unrelated as bird, ghost, and stone.

Here's four--
four legs to take me all directions at once,
and the screaming you'll hear
from the trees at night
is frustration shaking my human form,
breaking its neck
and carrying it back through hell towards surcease.

Here's five--
root, base, stem, leaf, bloom.
I told you that I would grow again.
Reapers, did you forget?
You, lost on the overgrown path of me?

Here's six--
the six women I have loved.
One of them I love still, and without caution.
All dark,
all damaged,
all with an extra ear that the gods sing into.
This is why they are driven mad by the moon,
and why I have needed to be near them,
like stars.

Here's seven--
There is a storm from which I find no shelter.
There is a will within me that nothing can kill.
There is a name that I've given myself--call me by it or expect no answer.
There is a fire I walk through, not because I love the burning, but because I love the promise that it will end.
I am vines. There is really only a way through for one.
There are pieces of God in every woman. This is why we embody so much beauty, and how we endure so much pain.

There are your seven things.
Destroy the cage.
Close the door again, softly.
Shut your mouth, at last, at last.
Whatever I do from here is on me, like rain on a cat's coat.
She can't find home,
and yet, always, she hurries on.
_____

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gregorian Jump Rope Chant

Here's a little Frenchy fable--
Cook put cat bones on the table;
Crossed and crossed and crossed again,
They turned back into cats again.

Black as pitch,
Black as sin.
Where had all those pussies been?

Outside the Bishop's window, singing--
Cracked the bells and stopped them ringing;
The Bishop fumed, the Bishop frowned,
He read his bible upside down.

Call the Cardinal,
Call the Pope.
Tell them bring some strong lye soap.

Pox on Monday, Tuesday plague--
Cook serves raw piano leg;
Sister's late, where has she been?
At the bottom of the Seine.

Voici le chien, voici le chat--
Voici les jambes, aussi les bras;
The Bishop and his whole Cathedral,
Wide the arch, so small the needle.
_______

for Fireblossom Friday "devils"

the French lines say: "Here's the dog, here's the cat, here's the legs and also the arms" There is also another way to read it, but I'm not telling. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sans Gateau

Birthday!
Behold--
meat loaf.
a pomegranate!
peas.
missionary stew.

Why does it have to be cake?
Am I cold, 
horrid,
heartless, if there isn't cake?

Look!
South Dakota.
interesting bugs.
Hope Solo's underthings.
a cow catcher!

Break out of it.
Frosting isn't everything.
trust me trust me trust me trust me.

A magic 8 ball.
an elephant in full eastern regalia.
The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
dog dreams.

Take 'em.
I gitcha more.
does it have to be cake?
why always cake?

Be reasonable.
Do it my way.

Joy
happiness
inner light.

My love
my devotion
my body
my slavish and rapt attention to every word you say.

But no cake.
If you want cake, then fuck ya.

Happy birthday,
baby.
signed, Mistress Marjorie, the budget dominant
who does not
bake.
______

a bit of playful foolishness in honor of The Imaginary Garden's birthday!

corset gloves by autumnlaughter on deviantart. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Carmencarrion

Darling, don't be scornful of the little cripple
selling newspapers with your headline.

It was she who taught your mother a silence so deep
that it ran through her like black blood, carrying rot;
it was the endless shushing at mama's knee
that made a dancer of you after all.

Poison, though trembling in a perfect sphere
at the tip of the world's most beautiful finger,
is still poison;
taint is still taint,
even if you christen it with a fine swung champagne
and send it down the skids into a clear blue channel.

Your fans, they love you erratic, charmingly gut-shot.
They place the rose in your teeth, and you live off the thorns.

That doctor you keep leashed at your feet
can't even find the lesions beneath the lace;
he delivers his diagnosis while dancing on his hind legs,
in traffic,
with silly paper hearts taped over his eyes.

In the end, you still manage to remain obscure
even while performing, spot lit, in front of thousands.
You are a snappish, self-governing state
draped in silk, and wearing a stylish hat groaning with feathers.

Darling, don't be scornful of the little cripple.
Don't do her your turned brand of vile mischief,
then walk away in three inch heels,
laughing.

Your reviews have been slipping, and your notices turn up in birds' nests
with the dead mice and blank-eyed fledglings.

Feel the clips in your hair, like talons.
Sense your mother's eyes on you from out in the red plush seats,
though the footlights stop you from locating the bleed.

Take my hand.
Trust me.
I'll lead, just this once, light as a draught horse,
and you, Darling,
why, you will follow down stage
like a pretty hearse,
driverless and sinking
through the brittle ice and into obscurity.
_______

I wrote this using words found HERE.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Locust Month

In early summer,
wait for the solstice.
Pour China black tea on the mulberry vine,
and the fruit that it gives
will draw the desired fingertips to your skin.

Bear this person's child
whether they be woman or man.
Bear their love by making a ladle of your flesh.
Bear the pain if you can.

July will bring the straw grass
and the warmed, full-spread wing.
Steal away--save what you can from the Locust Month;
and never look back when the bird that you've loved to hear sing
makes its nest in the mouth of the cat.
________

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Abbess

The Abbess said,
--each loaf has its limit--
--each fish, its own skin--

Though I am here, you there,
and the wall with its cross upon it strong between us,

Don't breath and beat sit side by side
within the same breast
wrapped in soul, keeping it?

There is God,
and there is You,

One seeming to keep me from the other
like words obscuring prayer
until I feel dizzy, and more lost than before.

I must accept what cannot be mine,

Remembering that the door without a frame
is superfluous,
mocks itself,
and leads nowhere.
__________

for Real Toads. Kerry wanted a monk's tale, but femcentric me wrote about an abbess, instead.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Family Politics

Little Red Riding Hood
chopped some wood
to build granny a house to die in.

She built it and said,
"Bring your own bed--
the one that you made and must lie in."

Red Riding Chick
went all sick,
past the point of reviving;
Granny asked
the admiring pack,
"Am I so wrong for surviving?"
_______

55 for the G Man

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Millicent Jarr

Some women fall apart, like old barns.
They go grey, they bend, and then
over they go
in a little cloud of dust,
annoying the poultry, who scatter.

Millicent Jarr wasn't like that.
What she did, my googly-eyed friends,
was to take stock.
Doesn't a human being deserve at least the dignity one gives
to a row of preserves in a cellar?

She set her feet on the path to another life.
Literally.
She stacked her limbs in the back of a tiny flatbed,
as a logger might.
Her neighbors clucked.
She gave them the finger.

She rolled her heart in meat tenderizer,
and hung her spleen in the smokehouse.
As she cooked,
her hands got into everything,
and her fingers she laid aside because
Goddess knows where they'd been.

Millicent Jarr played cage-the-bluebird with her ribs,
and the thing sang like it had lived forty years on the Delta.
Pleased, she released it
after giving it her eyes as earrings.
The things she saw, from then on!

Her teeth she turned loose--
they had always smiled only when they felt like it anyway;
and her tongue she tossed into the fire.
After that, men resented her, each hoping to catch her alone
in order to show her the error of her ways.
Women clipped her burning tongue to their ears,
then, blushing, locked their bedroom doors and stayed in there for hours.

Millicent Jarr does what she wants.
She's everywhere,
like Jesus,
like kudzu.
She's not the barn, but the animals that left it
to turn feral once again.

If you men go out onto the plains to catch her,
rotsa ruck.
She will see you first, and start running,
hell for hopscotch
on Tuesday,
and out there on the flat lands,
you will still see her happy ass on Friday,
but too far ahead of you
to shoot.
_______

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shit Poetry Fans, Weep As One!

Jennings Mulderhorn Strophe,
father of the modern shit poem,
croaks off.

Mazdas and Fiats barrel past him
as he lies helpless and beyond saving
in the middle of La Rue Merde.

The young Strophe could scald the soul
with his grim, fiery fables--
"Cockroach Floating In A Backed-Up Sink" 
won him legions of alienated young fans,
and made him the undisputed master
of random allusion.

Lifted from the pavement, and placed,
too late, into a waiting ambulance,
Strophe is already being eulogized.

Pen & Quill laments, "Like his poems,
Strophe's death would seem to mean something--
but what?"

Indignant, heartbroken female fans throw themselves,
and roses,
at the emergency vehicle as it trolls slowly away
toward eternal fame and routine embalming.

The women carry Strophe's later, softer works
close to their little valentine hearts
like brain-damaged kittens.

Oh, the sharp grief
for the loss of the adequate word at the right time!
His publishers immediately issue a luxurious, leather bound edition,
and advertise it in the coupon sections
of Sunday newspapers across the nation.

How tiresome a world,
without Strophe's genius for 
paint-by-numbers, derivative drollery!

Little is said about Strophe's "blue period",
or his heaps of paeans to carnal love
in which
no twitch
of anything truly erotic can be detected,
thus pacifying the church, and parents,
both of which endorse him for their fragile,
malleable
children to read.

Let us remember a man of letters!
Who better to speak for Strophe, than Strophe himself!

"Perplex-ed I am, when the crumb of life is to much,
And the mountain climb-ed behind us
Shrinks puny before my flaming love as I cry,
Your the one! Adieu!"

Jennings Mulderhorn Strophe
1926-2012
bringing shit poetry
to an adoring world!
_____

my word list was: sharp, indignant, detect, tiresome, luxury, malleable, fable, perplex, grim and scald. 

 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Relativity

St. Creola is Our Lady of the Shoreline.
Drowning sailors call to her,
but beautifully, like carolers.

St. Creola is unperturbed by them.
They are leaves gently falling
from those trees--their wooden ships.

The beach has so many grains of sand,
changing color with every passing wave;
and the waves arrive ceaselessly, like babies.

St. Creola advises to accept peace where and when you can.
Rushing water makes as poor a floor as roof,
so bless the dry interlude, and the fruit section offered at noon.

The sun has warmed St. Creola,
and when the moon arrives, later,
she will still be here--
a pretty Constant
under the imprimatur of the clouds and stars.
_______

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dispensation

There is a line of demarcation
Between dawn and regret for the night;
There is a point of fascination
Where the black lace touches the white.

Tell me no, and I will go
Deep in the brambles, bleeding;
Tell me yes, you love me best
And I'll be your saint interceding.

_______

for A Word With Laurie at Real Toads

both pictures from weheartit.com 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lightning Tree


When heat meets high,
hail is what you get.
Cold comes down to earth
Like a hard kiss.

Any woman who loves a Gypsy
sets her heart out in the wind.
Your girl's got the sunset eyes, doesn't she,
and the widow's peak you like.

I wouldn't want to tell you your business, girl--
keep dancing like the lightning tree in a gale;
call the sky closer and see what you get.

Turn the tables, sister--
read the five rings on her right hand.
Gold, for when she feels fine and satisfied.
Silver (moonlight) for when she's dreamy.
Turquoise (water) for when she moves in the mystery.
Brass, for when she's bold and her words burn fast.

The fifth is made of bone, with a ruby stone
for when she feels passionate and broody,
a bryndle spirit wrapped in Old Country colors,
a moment's flame between low ash and high smoke.

But you know, don't you,
it is her left hand, held behind her,
that will snap or sate you,
and stir the storm through the ice-white jasmine either way.

_________

for Monday Melting #22. I used the word "slap". Wait. No I didn't. At the last moment I changed it to "snap". The voices told me to do it.

If some of this poem sounds familiar, it is because I was working on it in my previous post. 
 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Process Serving

Izy, at Real Toads, wants us to parody ourselves for her Out of Standard feature. Allrighty then.

Okay, genius. We need an opening line. 

It was a dark and stormy night.

Oh, truly, that's brilliant. You're such a fuckhead. Something original would be nice. So...rewind. Gimme a decent opening line.

I can't think of anything.

Well, why not just jump start it? You know, trot out some of the same old trusty shit and see if it flies.

A Gypsy walks into Danny's Coffee shop.

Good, that's a start! Sounds kind of like the intro to a bad joke, though...

Hey, so two femme lesbians go on a dinner date. Why did their legs get sore?

Why?

From standing up all night, waiting for the other one to pull their chair out for them.

Oh please.

Why did they have to walk home?

I guess you're gonna tell me?

No one brought the car around.

Are you done?

No. Why did they almost drown?

No one to fix the leaky faucet?

Oh. You heard that one. Well, what did they finally die of?

Bad jokes?

No, they died of old age, waiting for the other one to make the first move.

Can we write this poem? Can you stay focused long enough to do that?

I'm hungry. Doesn't a sandwich sound good? Then we could turn on tv and--

FOCUS!!!

All right. A Gypsy walks into Danny's Coffee Shop. 

Now throw in some random observation.

She wears five rings, one for each of her possible moods.

Which are?

Envy, sloth, lust, resentment and sniping?

That sounds like 7 Deadly Sins For Dummies, or something. You can do better.

Not for what you pay me.

Think! Come on. What are the Gypsy's five moods?

One ring is gold, for when she feels satisfied. The second is silver, like moonlight, for when she feels dreamy. Another is turquoise, like water, for when she feels deep and mysterious. One is brass, for when she feels bold and mouthy. 

You're on a roll! What's the fifth ring?

Ask Dante, maybe he knows.

Don't be an ass. Get back to the poem. You were actually getting somewhere with it.

You make me crazy when you're bossy.

Focusssssss...

All right. The fifth ring is made of bone, with a ruby stone, for when she feels passionate and broody, as if she might burn herself up from within.

You had me until that last bit. It feels tired. Punch it up.

For when she feels passionate and broody, a bryndle spirit wrapped in Old Country colors, a moment's flame between low ash and high smoke.

Yeah baby. Now throw in a dash of religious junk...

Even God stops counting the inventory and looks up, almost in spite of Herself, when the Gypsy walks in.

I think you can take it from here.

Huh? What are you gonna do?

Oh, I'm gonna go read Verse Escape, or Another Damn Poetry Blog. They can really write!

You bitch!

Thank you, thank you...
________

dubious cat is dubious about this post.
________