Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bolt & Burrow

Out here there are those who dig and those who bolt.
There is surge and panic.
There is the split hoof and the blindeye.

There is the red African sun.
gone orange, going gold.

I have babies;
I hide them in the shade of thorn bushes.
I have the softstep
and the loose-backed sprint--
I'm on you quicker than your next thought.

I am not the strongest here,
nor the most ancient,
but I am the most immediate.

Will you linger, just long enough?
Will the new grass turn you stupid with satiety?
I am a stranger to that;
it is a luxury I can't indulge.

I wonder, under the now white-yellow sun,
will I be the engine of my cubs' survival--
the mother of their learning the savage crimson heart of this place,
our home?

Or will a dark burrower be my undoing?
Will the timid digger's den be my last fast step
before I stumble and fall, 
broken-legged and doomed?

There are no answers yet,
only dust, the next breath, hunger's unrelenting imperative,
and the gold of the African sun
gone orange,
red,
then disappeared until tomorrow.
______

for Poetry Jam, where the topic is "The Beast In You".

Poem For Love & Healing

If I were a florist,
I would grow mint, catnip, sage, and blackberries.
I would arrange them with red roses,
asters,
and blue violets.
I would speak your name over them.
I would deliver them to you with the sun at my back,
in the late morning,
by hand.

If I were a waitress,
I would bring you apricots, raisins, honey and ginger.
I would bring them on plates of white earthenware
edged in blue.
I would make sure your glass was green,
and the table yellow.
I would serve you by name,
and satisfy your desires--
even the ones
you only dreamed.
_______

All of the herbs, foods and colors in this poem are considered to possess healing qualities.

Red roses signify love; asters and blue violets represent love and faithfulness. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Vagaries Of Hunger

Ian cried tears on to the hard shell of a dead crab and knew in his heart he was finally a man*
I'm telling ya,
used to be I would have had a great big shiny new WTF? ready, at a time like this.
I would have said,
"A crab, Larry?" (Larry's been calling himself "Ian" lately. Hey, don't ask me.)
A honking dead, stinky, stupid-ass crab? Really?"

But now,
I know better. 
Now,
I know to keep my yap shut,
like when somebody invites you to their church and you can't weasel out of it;
it makes about as much sense as a drunk-butt family-values congressman in the back of a squad car,
but you have to be respectful.
You have to act like it's the unveiling of a masterpiece, for the love of mike.

Or Larry.
Cos it's my man Larry having the epiphany right here on East Warehouse Street,
bawling like the football game ain't on tv.
I have some tricks.
I have learned to get creative with it, during awkward moments
when I'd rather be in Arkansas hunting runaway My Little Ponys
than sitting on the curb like a lost pigeon,
watching Larry turn on the waterworks over a dead crustacean.

I plan the week's menus.
Lean Cuisine, reduced fat Oreos, 
big ginormous tubs of mac and cheese or caramel swirl, for when I feel weird.
I think about Gina,
who I loved like monkeys love bananas,
and who, if I didn't talk to her for more than 24 hours, I went all gonky.
I think,
WWGD?
if she were here, with weepy Larry,
who really isn't a bad guy at all, God love him.

"Larry," I say softly,
thinking of the time I tried to get that barn cat to trust me,
"Honey...are you ready to go home, now?"
Larry looks off into the middle distance, nobly, like an explorer.
Oh, boy.
This isn't going to blow over any time soon.
I decide to work on his weakness, as women have done for centuries:
"Are you hungry, Lar? How about a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger Barn?"

We set off, leaving Crabby to his fate.

We're almost there, 
to that palace of deep-fried happiness,
where I will get a large order of french fries and a strawberry shake,
and Larry will have his burger and regain his equilibrium,
and his not not-endearing Larryness.

It could have happened,
smooth as a dolphin's back,
but no.
Just half a block from our blissful calorie explosion,
who do I see coming our way, but Gina.
Gina, who I loved more than babies love their blankies,
more than pyros love a match,
more than anything, really, in all this world,
and she just walks right by without a word.

Then I am crying, just like that,
and I can't stop.
Larry, who never knew Gina or what she meant to me,
looks over and, saints bless him,
knows better than to say anything.
He just takes my hand and squeezes it like a stress ball,
and I love him for it, speechlessly, through my tears.
_________

*This is for Out Of Standard, with Isadora, who asked us Toads to use one of an array of first lines for our poem today. The first line of this is the one I chose. I plead guilty to having written the rest.
 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: "The Lion Is In"

The Lion is InThe Lion is In by Delia Ephron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What do you get when you throw together a runaway bride, a five-months-sober hottie, a drab minister's wife and a retired circus lion? You get "The Lion Is In" by Delia Ephron. Tracee is a kleptomaniac who goes to a Baltimore Orioles game with her cheating boyfriend, and is sure he is going to propose to her on the Jumbotron, but instead, he goes to get a hot dog and never comes back, breaking up with her by text message. What's a girl to do except run out of the bridal shop with her now unnecessary--and unpaid for--bridal gown, and into the driver's seat of her best friend's Mustang?

The two friends high tail it south into North Carolina where they have a flat tire which neither of them really knows how to fix. A mousey woman who has just left her overbearing minister husband for the third time ("Who cares what YOU think?" he likes to ask her when she expresses an opinion), comes walking down the road and helps them fix it and all three head further on. However, Tracee falls asleep at the wheel and they end up crashed in a ditch outside The Lion tavern, a ridiculous makeshift building which, in fact, has a real live lion in a cage as an attraction.

Can they find love, sobriety and a sense of self in tiny Fairfield, North Carolina? Does a tired ex-circus lion named Marcel just need a little TLC and a scratching post? Is he a guru and a higher power, or just big lug with a stinky mane? Find out by reading "The Lion Is In", an easy, entertaining novel by the author of "The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants." I loved it.



View all my reviews

The Queen Of Small Spaces

I am the Queen of small spaces--
one ripe plum on a clean white counter,
a single filigreed chair,
and August moonlight for my hair--
these are all I claim.

One night, near the end of Summer,
I filled a vase with love poems folded from crimson blooms.

Verbal as a Saimese,
and aching for your slightest touch,
I put on the soft black shoes of my persistent, hopeless desire,

to come haunting your door at dawn, offering you everything--
these trifles,
all I have.
_______

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ladies & Gentlemen....Coal Black !

Those of you who were habitues of the late, great Coal Black's House Of Pain may remember these 8 little gems, which are now being released as part of Poison Apple's concept cd "LeSabre of Love: The Bitsy Henderson Story". ( And also, now that the House of Pain is inactive, I'm always afraid that WeirdPress will suddenly zap it into non-existence, and I want my favorite Coal stuff here at Word Garden, too, just in case. Paranoia strikes deep....)

"dr. phil"

during the week
that became a year
that i let fuckhead stay at my trailer,
he took to watching
dr. phil
afternoons.

one wednesday,
about 430,
i had just gotten up and was
polishing 
my stage boots
when fuckhead says,
we need to work on having
a healthy
relationship.

i threw one boot
at his ear
and the other
through the screen.
i'd prefer not to,
i said.
i'd prefer
not to.
_____

"god"

god sees when you do bad, mama said.
does not, i said.
does. god sees everything.
this was bad news and i didn't care for it.

then i don't like god, i said.
i'll give god a bloody nose.
can't, said mama.
your arms are too short.

jenny at school say
it's against the rules.
jenny say
i'm gonna tell.
but jenny ain't god.
guess how i know?
_______

"easy"

do ya think it's easy, babe
what the night has to do to get by?
do ya think it's easy
to get
so dark, so deep, so high?

when i look at you,
i know just why the moon goes so crazy
and so blue...
it's cos she's so helpless in love
with a star that's only passing through.

do ya think it's easy, babe
to love someone so dark, so deep, so true?
every wicked thing you do drives me crazy...
and it's never easy
never easy
lovin' you.
______

"northbound / southbound" 

early, i took the northbound bus,
and the whole world seemed quiet, holy and fine...
late, i took the southbound bus,
and i never saw such a devil-cursed line.
______

"coneflowers"

i left my leather boots
in the closet like buddhas,
and wore white heels to sally's summer wedding.
in the morning,
one lay in the wet grass,
and the other in the deep green leaves of the coneflower plants
at the foot of your wooden steps.
______

"she"

she
got a wild-ass dog that sleeps with her.
she
swears a blue streak.
she
don't speak no yankee.
she
rather drive than fly.
she
rocks a sweet pair of boots.
she
don't listen to no shit music.
she
the only one in the room, to me.
she.
____

"bring me all of your dreams, you dreamer" *

bring me all of your dreams,
you dreamer,
i will hold them tender in rough hands.

dream sweet, sweetheart,
my bed is old, but knows how to give,
and here your dreams will rest easy.

bring me all of your dreams,
you dreamer,
bring me the best one before you forget.

the windows are frosted,
but my quilts are warm...

lay your dreams and your body safe in my arms,
and then, my sweet baby,
dream on, dream on.

* as part of a prompt, the title and opening line are from the Langston Hughes poem "The Dream Keeper", which may be found HERE.
_______

...and my favorite Coal composition by far...

"stones"

i said i wadn't gonna throw no more stones at your window,
and mama say, if you gonna open you mouth,
tell the truth, girl, or hush.

i said i wadn't gonna throw no more stones at your window,
oh, but honey,
there were so many stones
and i missed you so much.
_______

"easy", "she" and "stones" are for Coal's favorite waitress down at The Egg Explodes diner.

    

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Garden

The Winter played a trick at my expense,
seeing that I am in love
and have been so, for so long--
it scorned my heart for its impossible longing,
and sent out-of-season blooms,
purple and purposeful
to destroy what I cherish most.

At my doorway, lilacs--
guardians late in arriving, My Love having already come
with kindness and claim.

Vexed, the Winter spread iris across the morning,
and set money to buy them in my hand;
but my hand set itself to weaving my beloved's name
into a pattern of desire and rhyme.

The Winter called me a fool,
and sent me a chill beyond all warming,
made from the distance between My Love's skin and mine.
Within it, were folded sly inducements--
snapdragons to find out liars,
asters for the things that fade and die;
pansies to mark the path by which the lost love leaves,
and alyssum as cure for folly
and wounds of every kind.

None of this could break my devotion,
so the Winter showed me bulbs from purple tulips
planted by another hand to rise in Spring
around My Love, to please and keep her--
and a blue clematis
to bind the sting.
_______

lilacs--love's first emotions
iris--wealth, prosperity, fortune
snapdragons--deception
asters--something delicate and dainty
pansies--remembrance
alyssum--treatment for the bite of rabid animals
purple tulip--royalty

 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lexa, the Local Goddess

Lexa the Local Goddess is the shining star of Cormier Avenue.
Tomcats mistake her for the moon,
and set up a terrific yowling in her wake.

If a little black dress went to a dance,
and fell in love with the darkest summer midnight in the whole place,
they would have a baby on the downbeat
and that baby would be
Lexa the Local Goddess's hair.

Look, I know that you're in love with her.
I'm in love with her.
Everyone is.
Halfbacks and housewives, cops and cool girls, 
she is catnip to them all.
Spacemen and coma chicks want to come home
just to get her to give up a kiss.

Lexa the Local Goddess has the world on a string,
and a complete collection of 
Cindi the bank teller's
sighs when she sleeps.
What more could she want except
everything else--
all the things she's seen in magazines and on movie screens,
all the flickery silver shooting stars
that fall adoringly at her feet.
________

image posted by Ingeborg Rodven at Weheartit.
 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mystic Krystal's Revelations

Fat Angie has one last mini cupcake and closes the package.

She is troubled as she looks out of her second floor window--
troubled by the bare-branched silver maple,
surrounded by edges of frost that form a ring around it,
and what bothers her most

are the five hundred red-wing blackbirds squabbling
on the bare branches
of the silver maple
ringed by frost
that frames the scene outside in the cold.

Many have felt like this,
Fat Angie supposes;
many have felt the future and trembled.

She pushes away the plastic package of mini cupcakes,
throws on her favorite maroon and white scarf
(her old school colors),
shrugs into her mail-order knock-off designer winter coat,
and hurries out the door and down the stairs.

One cannot wait,
thinks Fat Angie with a fierce resolve,
for the slings and arrows of cruel fortune to show right up at the door like Jehovah's Witnesses.

Passing beneath the silver maple filled with
fighting
fidgeting
farting
red winged blackbirds,
Fat Angie sets her course as determinedly as Magellan,
if Magellan had been a size 16 unemployed typist living in Eau Claire
like a big blueberry inside a pancake.

She walks east two slushy blocks, then north for one, and through a doorway to a tea room called Mystic Krystal's.
There she is, Krystal the Gypsy herself,
blonde and
babushka'd and
listening to an old Dave Brubeck cd on a portable machine.

She uses a tiny blue remote to turn off the tiny blue player
the minute she gets a look at Fat Angie.
As smoothly competent and focused as any ER nurse,
Mystic Krystal knows
that this will not be the usual whiny plea for lottery numbers.

"Cut the cards three times and ask a question," she says,
and without even removing her heavy coat, Fat Angie is on it like white on rice,
as if they were both sitting in the situation room with the rockets coming in.

"The birds are just a parlor trick,"
says Mystic Krystal as she turns over cards in neat rows.
"They're just a distraction,
dark
and disturbing, but
definitely bogus.

"Your girlfriend is sick. "
It's a statement, not one of those phony baloney shots in the dark
that fake seers use to try to get a clue.
Fat Angie allows as to how this is, sadly, true.

"Lemme ask you a question," says Mystic Krystal,
tilting her head to the side as she looks at the cards.
"Suppose that you,
and she,
and her crazy-ass dog 
were all aboard theTitanic, and there was only room in the crap-ass lifeboat for two of you.
Who goes?"

Fat Angie answers promptly that she would volunteer to suck salt water
so that the other two could bob in the boat upon the ocean blue,
until they got rescued by handsome sailors
speaking Turkish.

Mystic Krystal ponders this.
"Don't you think,
that this girlfriend of yours would stick Fido in her lap,
or shove some salesman overboard
in order to make room for you?"

"She would. She would."

"Everything's gonna be fine.
You got twenty dollars, honey?"
Fat Angie only has eighteen dollars and fifteen cents,
on account of having bought the mini cupcakes
in a fit of emotional eating.
Mystic Krystal says, "Gimme fifteen and we'll call it catnip."
(Mystic Krystal sometimes says odd things like this.)

When Fat Angie gets home, the blackbirds are gone,
and there is a message on her machine from the girlfriend.
"Hey baby. Whatcha doin'?"
Fat Angie is as pretty as a pony in a daisy field when she smiles,
and for the first time all day,
she isn't hungry,
and feels easy with the world, and satisfied.
_________

I shamelessly stole the title from my BFF Hedgewitch, who used it to hilarious effect in fellow Real Toad Kay's post HERE, in the comments.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Treatise On Gender Inequality ( by "Cookie" O'Flanagan )

The thing about my husband is--
the most irritating thing about my husband is--
his face
his face
his face.
I said, look, lumberjack,
either grow a beard, or shave--
cos this everlasting
endless
eternal
three day stubble stuff
sucks dead donkey lips, dude.

I know I talk trash--
I know you'll scoff--
you'll cue the quizzical look, and ask,
"Why did you marry him, then?
Why?
What was it that happened,
that caused you to choose him
from among all choices,
from among all men?"

Well, I'll tell you.
Hell, I'll tell you the whole sorry thing.
There I was
pocketing a lipstick,
just as innocent as a spring breeze,
when they caught me and rolled my dainty fingertips
in black ink for fingerprints,
and hauled my happy ass before a judge.
I ask you, does that
suck much?
You bet it does!

I was sent for counseling
to the aging, crumbling, crappy south wing
of a cruddy community hospital,
for the solving of my mental
panics and peccadilloes.
What do you think was the first thing I saw?
After the
boring-ass
reproduced,
faded pictures on the wall?
His face
his face
his face.

He invited me to sit down,
so I did, cos the assclown had my paperwork,
and i really wanted to
put this behind me,
so I smiled quite benignly, and said,
"Lay it on me, Spike.
What d'you have in mind?"
"I'd love to get my hands on you,"
he revealed,
setting his clipboard across his knees.
I told him, "Keep dreaming, cowboy,"
and spat on the floor
like a Nawlins whore.

Do you want to know what he really meant?
No, you don't already know,
and I'm getting to that.
Deep in the basement of that crumbling,
cruddy,
crappy-ass south wing,
he stood before me
and with a flourish of professional pride,
proceeded to show me his thing.
No, not that thing.
Here, have another drink;
you're going to need it.

I said, "Whoa.
Holy shit!
What in the name of Isis and Indiana Jones
is this?
It was a gadget, with a chair,
and a helmet made of glass;
it had electrodes, and dials, and a scary-looking switch.
He told me, "Sit your happy ass down,
and we'll get started now, Miss."

Girlfriend,
listen to me.
Next thing I know,
I was in 1843,
five-fingering candles, and dowels, and
all kinds of useless shit.
Pretty soon, they hauled my happy ass before a judge.
Some things never change.
Some man was fucking with my brain!

The jowly judge, who had hair in his ears,
said, "Hear me, young strumpet!"
Oy.
Can you believe that?
He actually said that.
Anyway, he told me I could marry my doctor,
or, if I preferred,
rot in a rat-infested prison cell
at the Podunk Penitentiary For Women.
Hmmm...
I thought,
and I thought,
until the bailiff stuck his baton under my chin
and I was urged to hurry up
and make my decision.

"Honey!" I exclaimed.
(not being in full control of my brain)
and so we became man and wife
for life.
Holy fucking Christ in a prom dress!
I figured, keep smiling, girl--
baffle 'em with bullshit until you figure a way out
of this whole stupid mess.

Do you know what he should have done?
(besides shaving his stubble?)
Do you know what he should have tried
if he wanted to save
a whole lot of trouble?
He should have locked the door
back to the main floor
of the crappy, crumbling, shitty south wing,
and the time to which I am most accustomed,
back where a girl can find
a decent store with decent things.

But never mind.
See, I knew this guy.
Everybody knows a guy,
right?
So, by the following Tuesday night,
he had thoroughly fucked with
my husband's stupid glass helmet,
to make it do my bidding
and to hopefully undo
our ersatz, antiquated wedding!

I went back down
and put on this ginormous, voluminous gown,
which nonetheless
was quite a lot less
than was customary in 1843.
I told my husband, "You must be tired--
leave everything to me;
just sit right here and close your eyes--
mama's got
a nice surprise."

Honey, I didn't waste any time.
I switched it on,
and like that, we were gone,
our happy asses jerked right quick
into the year two thousand and ninety-six.
Okay, so here comes the good part.
Cross my heart!

We landed in a land
where it sort of sucks to be a man--
they just fetch and carry
for Jane and Mary.
Not only can't men vote--
they can't marry!
Science has made enormous strides
bringing bouncing babies
to blushing brides.
It's too bad for the doctor;
pretty harsh, pretty tough.
I'm telling you, girlfriend,
I couldn't make this stuff up!

So I hid the key,
which I'd stolen long before--
you know the one,
to the first floor door
of the crappy, crumbling, mental health clinic place.
I'm afraid I'm mean.
I'm afraid I'm cruel;
I left the doctor in the future, living out his days.
Oh, and one thing more--
I made him shave!
_______

for Kerry's "worldbuilding" challenge at Real Toads, and "breaking the rules" at Poetry Jam, hosted by my very own Sista Poet!!!



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold Comfort

I had a lit jar
and I told the Winter, lying through my teeth,
that the incandescence was your heart--
or, at least, the spirit, or true intent, of your heart--
and that you had taken on a glass body
so that your biographer
could fingerprint your lovers
and make them, one day, over pastries in the afternoon,
admit their love
or their indifference.

What a fool the Winter was,
with a cardboard suitcase
and a phrase book that had been meddled with.
Smooth and obsequious as a maitre'd,
I ushered it into my jar
which held light, not from the desire of your heart,
or even the leavings, or the still-warm slag from your heart,
but from fire
and so many moths in their yellow-gold tunics--
temporary, and
deceivingly bright.

Now, here you are,
not the way you were--
not the way I imagined you--
but giddy
and cavalier,
lacking only one tiny strand of a particular brand of devotion;

I cannot deny you--
my arm outstretched like a caution bar at The Holy Railroad Crossing,
I offer you the Winter.
I have it in my palm, cheek by jowl with a long green stem,
sleekly thorny,
which might have ended in a rose.
_________

Monday, January 21, 2013

At the Aviary

There is a woman screaming.
She snaps her compact shut and asks, "How did I get so fucking old?"

"Cry me a river," says GorgeousCrazyGirl.
She and the World's Most Brilliant Unemployable Violinist are sitting on some concrete steps at the bird park.

"My fingers hurt," complains the Violinist. She has arthritis in her joints.
"Quit bitching, darling," says her companion, serenely.

A peacock calls.
oh OHHH, oh OHHH.
His spread tail makes the Violinist think of a Japanese fan.

"I played Tokyo once. They loved me. I played them a program of Bach and Vivaldi."
GorgeousCrazyGirl says, "Are they the ones who bind their feet? 
How do they get to their seats? They must be like Weebles."

"You need treatment," says the Violinist, sitting hip to hip with her.
"Treat me, baby!"
They kiss. There is nothing wrong with the Violinist's lips.

The Violinist says, "When I was young, I didn't know there were lesbians."
"There weren't," replies GorgeousCrazyGirl, as calm and smooth as new snow. "There were just dinosaurs, and covered wagons and shit."
The Violinist smacks her on the shoulder, then says, "Ow" and inspects her hand.

It has been a long time since the World's Most Brilliant Unemployable Violinist was able to perform in a professional venue.
It has been almost as long since GorgeousCrazyGirl has been socked away in the bin, or gotten her pretty ass arrested.
They are arcs,
moving in opposite directions,
together. 

GorgeousCrazyGirl is wearing a ginormous cowgirl hat, a white tee shirt with a quote on the front, and cut off jeans. 
Her bare legs could stop an army in its tracks.

The Violinist is wearing dark glasses and a Burberry rain coat. She might be attending a funeral. 
"What do you think happens, when we die?" she asks her friend.
"Don't be morbid, honey, "advises The Girl, untroubled as a blue sky in May.

Once, The World's Most Brilliant Unemployable Violinist was reasonably famous, financially well off, and as lonely as the last Great Auk, if it lived on a precipice surrounded by a shark-infested moat.

Once, GorgeousCrazyGirl got her dinner out of dumpsters, and believed the wacky shit her head told her. She didn't have a nickel, or a clue, or command of her own mind. She knows what terror is.

There is Aleve, and Wellbutrin. 
At the bird park, most of the birds are paired off, making babies like Detroit once made Packards.
"They have wings. There's nothing to stop them flying away. Why don't they?" The Violinist is looking up, into the April sky, as if it were the steps to a stage.

"Maybe they like it here," suggests The Girl, as zen as a zebra in a hay factory. "Maybe they have everything they need."
"You really are awfully beautiful," says the Violinist, playing tenderly with The Girl's long black hair.
"That's the rumor," she says, wearily.
"No," the Violinist continues, "you would be beautiful in the dark. To a blind person. With no hands."

GorgeousCrazyGirl snorts loudly, then laughs, a sort musical braying. "You're crazy."
"So was Mozart." The Violinist looks quite young when she smiles.
Then, they are intertwining their fingers and saying nothing at all, 
and everything;
like rests and notes,
which, together make peacocks and people go oh OHH...
oh OHH.
______

Dedicated to Dana, wherever she is; the first charming crazy girl I fell in love with.

I bear this in common with The Girl: I frequently wear a ginormous old cowgirl hat.

Linked to Real Toads Open Link Monday.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Perspectives Of An Idiot

The perspectives of an idiot
may a certain beauty bear--
as a sorceress in stocks, under questioning and locks,
shorn of her hair,
fed on flung incivilities, poxy blackbirds in the air--

Tell us.
Do not reject the embrace of mercy.
Confess to us
what you are capable of; healing, harlotry and heresy...

The choreography of the somber
may dark comedy conceal--
as a seductress sent to ash, under pretense, purpose and mask,
purified by flame,
removed from those grinning cretins who call hypocrisy by name.
______

photograph: Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil

tongue-in-cheek musical accompaniment