Thursday, February 28, 2013

Come On

Come on.
that's what my friends say.
They say,
girl,
go conquer Egypt, or something.
Get a ring on every finger.
Did you know,
those are not Nile crocodiles
doing the old snap and roll
in the shallows?
Those are my old loves.
Talk to them.
See what I'm about, on my good days.

I still have them, sometimes
(good days, I mean)
but the nights have gone molasses black for me,
though not half as sweet.
If you could love me,
then why won't you love me
like you did
the first time?
Come on, baby,
I need so little, and you possess so much--
every toss of your hair moves the planets.

Come on.
that's what my friends say.
They say,
do that strut, like you used to do.
But that was before I went so girl-weak and needy.
That was before I knew how you could please me.
Before the fall.
Before I met you.
_______


 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Open Letter To My Younger Self

First,
don't think that it's hopeless.
Don't kill yourself,
because I--
We--
are worth saving.

Second,
almost everything that our mother has ever told you
is wrong;
just filled to the brim with fucked-up and crazy.
You can't see how small she is,
because she has made herself an eclipse,
blacking everything that might turn to light in your hands.

Baby, baby,
if I could do one thing for you,
I would rock you and tell you 
what a sweet beautiful darlin' girl you are--
and, yes,
you heard that right.

Say goodbye to doctors. You were never really sick.
Does that amaze you? Here is something that will amaze you more:
You were not born to be so shy.
You were not born to look down and say yes to whatever somebody said.
You will find your voice,
and you will just never shut up again.
Oh and did I mention,
you will wear red.

Trust the things that silently call you, in your deepest places.
Music.
The outdoors.
Books.
Dogs.
They are not for nothing. In fact, they will save you, again and again.

You think you are set up to fail,
poxed by some intractable god.
Girl, that's the wrong god.

You think you are a coward,
but you are braver than you know.

You think you are not loved.
You're not,
but you will be.

You think you are ugly,
but you will create words so beautiful that your devils will weep.
You will create words so gorgeous that it will make your devils give up evil
and become nuns.
Hang on.
Have faith.
There is room in the world for a queer Catholic girl like you.

All these things I have seen and swear to, so help me Goddess.
Amen.
_____

for the "Open Letter" challenge at Real Toads.

 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Satori In Mid-Air

How can it be possible
that in the end, you and I reduce to a problem of motion,
or a child's idle riddle?

Perhaps it is due to all the falls
and the late nights,
but I thought we were more than that.

It's so hard to bear that we should end this way,
with this impossible combination:
the weightless feel of new love in June in the Botanical Gardens,
and the elevator-drop nausea of irremediable fact.

I never saw this coming.
Should I have?
A new CGI-fed generation finds us less thrilling--
special effects having replaced
flesh and bone,
balance and muscle memory.

One magic obliterates another.

My faith, though, is the old familiar kind,
rooted in our hands holding each others' bodies, suspended,
hearts lit like floodlamps on a string.

Our landscape has always been nothing more than
a small platform, a swing, and thin air.

In the same way that I believed the next dot on the map would be there--
that the tents would go up and the crowds would come--
I never questioned that you would always catch me.
It was me who insisted that we not use a net during performances,
so entire was my confidence in your touch and your outstretched arms.

I was wrong, 
and it is the surprise of it that is worse than the concrete rushing close 
with its merciless kiss.
I wonder why you gave me up to the air and let me fall?
Ah well. I shall have the rest of my life to ponder that.
_______

Sunday, February 24, 2013

To A Kind Gravedigger

in the black garden
all my words unsay themselves
behind my lips
unbloomed.

in the black garden
things shrink backward down to the root
and the root is
rotten.

where are the beds, the borders, the paths that i planned?
where is anyone, anything,
some rare soil
that forgives?

fuck it, just bury me here and keep your ear to the ground--
that will be me beneath the blackflowers, rolling slow as grief through the pitch-dark bedrock of Despair.
_______

14 lines for Real Toads mini challenge. Top photograph by Isadora Gruye.
 

 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bombyx Mori

because, I wanted to be Hedgewitch, for one poem.

There is no sight,
no marvel for fingertips
to rival my love, langorous
in her gorgeous silk kimono.

I am perfect for her, because
I am the small white child of parents who could neither fuck nor feed
without the assent and assistance
of a greedy audience.

I devour each tidbit I am given,
multiform,
from the mulberry leaves in my love's singular garden.
My line is univoltine--
romantics of the most deluded stripe.

Behold me, my love.
I have consumed your casual offerings in their thousands,
and from deep within myself,
can now spin out the most magnificent and coveted stuff.

I will wrap this poem around myself like second skin--
cell memory sings to me of transformative sleep,
but also of the boiling pot.
Now is the time for you to scald me,
kill me,
devour me in turn;
What sort of sweet grotesquery can it be,
to wear another's work
as one's own beauty?

You must forgive me if there is now a break in my lineage;
I have hidden my cocoon in solitary shadows, where,
though I stir within its walls at your calling,
I am not fool enough to reveal myself.

One day, you will look up to see
Bombyx mandarina
dull and gray,
common and beneath regard,
but able to catch the waft from the pretty fan you so desultorily wave,
to rise, departing,
and fly.
______

Notes:

Bombyx mori, the domestic silkworm, is the caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth, which cannot fly, nor feed itself, nor survive outside of human care. When the caterpillars reach the pupa stage, they spin raw silk around themselves to form a cocoon. This cocoon is then boiled in water, and the heat kills the pupa inside, and makes the silk easier to unravel. Pupae dishes may be served and eaten.

univoltine--breeding once yearly

Bombyx mandarina is the wild silkmoth. This unremarkable-looking moth is able to fly and to survive independently.   

 

Other Loves

I don't need much--
just flame beneath the kettle,
and in letters carefully kept.

In my hands, a book--
and a good dog curled behind my knees.

Is it enough?
It will have to be.

Other loves may fail us.
If so,
we have soft familiar blankets,
and sleep.
________

for Mama Zen's Words Count. Describe a home in 48 words or less. This poem is 48 words exactly, and the picture is of a house on wheels.

 

 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Sisters Of Saint Genesius

I would like to see
if we could stay silent for years,
like spirits;

You, the ghost of the tangled garden--
me, the shade of the nightnoose stairway.

I would dance with no floor beneath my feet,
and you would be blue catmint coming closer
by only inches over the course of entire summers.

"You have beautiful eyes," everyone tells the two of us.
"Too often sad," we tell each other,
our voices soft as dust.

I would like to see if we could love each other this way--
just don't count on me when you've gone green
and I've gone gray,
withering even as you toss the rose, red and resplendent,
at my feet.
_________

catmint
Saint Genesius of Rome is the patron saint of actors, lawyers, clowns, comedians, converts, dancers, epileptics, musicians, printers, stenographers and torture victims. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

In A Beautiful House

In a beautiful house,
we will rent a Tuesday afternoon
and a wedge of window light.

I will read myself out of a book,
and there I will be--
all that I never knew,
between breaths and heartbeats,
set before me like the colors in a Persian rug.

In a beautiful body,
I will run myself through myself
and out of myself,
through every age and into your arms,

but darling,
you will have already changed your name
and forgotten me.
_______


Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Love, Alexandrian

My Love is as smooth as the most beautiful lie,
and as merciless, and raven-clawed, as absolute truth.

See the hunk of shit she drives,
and the impossible perfection of her elaborate expletives,
caressed like sleepy babies
on her lips until the language seems
almost holy.

She licks me with her tiger tongue,
wearing me away;
she planes me, layer by layer,
until I am nothing but shavings,
fragrant and useless and
utterly at the mercy of gravity, and her moods.

I am a single leaf of milled paper,
carried like a new future in a thylacine's mouth.
My Love, she is the burning library at Alexandria,
sending everything she can so magnificently be
directly Heavenward, but piecemeal,
as ashy birds,
word by
word by
gorgeous
word.
_____

the thylacine was a wolf-like marsupial which lived in great numbers in Australia and New Zealand, but which is now thought to have been hunted to extinction. The thylacine had the widest gape of any known mammal. 

The library at Alexandria was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, a repository of the world's knowledge up to that time. It burned.
_____ 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Favor

When far from me my love does lie,
she wears a silver ring.
She moves the stars at her command
with every gesturing.

Night--
deceive me not.
Owl--
be thou my second sight.

If, far from me, my love forgets
her simple sterling band,
may darkness spare a coiling kiss
to strike her where she stands.
_____

for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads: "Fireblossom Goes Old School"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Last Night

I had put away the cat's teeth,
and the blood of what I had to be, and do,

because, darling, I am after all
just caught up, mid-step,
as you are,
in the way of things, and in the set of the stars in their indifferent sky.

Still, there is only one Moon,
and only one for whom I wait softly like this,
unguarded,
all girl and garland, asleep in the ribbon grass.

Soon, the cat will come back,
and with her, the harsh edge of all I must do--

but last night, why was the air so chill,
the Moon so dark?
and where, sweetheart, where
were you?
________

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The World's Greatest Lover

The World's Greatest Lover was holding forth at the bar,
with a woman poured over his arm on each side
like swooning raincoats.

He had pretty boys pouting near the potted palms,
and they rolled dice to see who would get
his cuff links and his legendary cock.

So softly that he had to ask me to repeat myself,
I said that he was nothing but a mouthy, well-dressed fraud
and that he knew nothing at all about love.

"Little seal with the red ball on your nose," he said, smiling benignly,
"keep clapping. I like it."

I introduced him to my acquaintance--
a not particularly pretty girl wearing carnival vendor jewelry.
In her bag she carried nothing but a paperback,
twenty dollars,
and her phone, which played "Beat It" when it rang.

A year later, I saw him again,
and he looked like hammered shit.
He stared right through things with a slightly stunned expression,
and did this nervous thing with his jaw,
but blessedly, he had stopped talking altogether.

I walked up to him.
It was easy; he was alone.

I said, poor sad little seal,
I see she taught you well.
_________

for Susan's challenge at Real Toads, which asked for a poem about love. I used one of the illustrations provided.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wreath Around The Moon

I'm the ballerina in the open air,
the broken neck at the bottom of the stair;
I want to kiss your breast,
be your baby and
Best In Show,

I want to know what it means to
be the coffee on your lips
and the color of the tile beneath your toes.

I want to step out on the stage
like a rose wreath around the moon,

I want us to slide on down to Austin
by train, in a storm,

where you'll call me Cat Mama Honey,
check us in, and lock the door.
_______


Envoys

There was Campbell's soup in the cupboard.
Velveeta cheese.

TV spoke the expected language.
Street signs were green.

13 years together. Innocents. Envoys.
Futures negotiable. Like toys.

As we bargained the trappings,
our Masters sacrificed us.

How fooled we were
by the familiar, my dear.

We didn't know how foreign we'd become,
or that the well-meaning die here.
________

Monday, February 11, 2013

Questions Under An Oklahoma Sky


What happens when even the ghosts can't go back,

when the poison is so deep in the land that

even the memories go blind?

What happens when the streets are empty

the windows empty

the feeling empty

when you can't go back

and neither can the heartbeat that's gone from this place

never to come back

not for a thousand years?

__________

Siobhan

Siobhan the neighborhood Goddess
makes cupcakes out of kerosene
and frosts them with a cigarette lighter.

What that girl won't do next.

It was nobody's birthday,
but still--
the mix, the bowl, the eggs with their soulful yellow eyes.

Siobhan picks up frequencies in her fingers.
If she boxes your ears,
you'll hear music.

Everybody out,
the food is on fire!
But wait...
wait...
the only way out is to overspill our sweet white skins.

Siobhan the neighborhood Goddess
is an Irish girl.
Cops and firefighters jump from every picture frame.

Now comes the miracle--
the little paper baking cups in their thousands
rise as fire birds!

Siobhan lifts her hands,
and they recognize their song
at once.
_______

image by laurent chehere. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The House Amid The Lupines

Two wolves with but three eyes between them
set each half its teeth in my heart;
having given such rare food to feed them,
it killed me to tear them apart.

The shepherd with spectacles woolen,
was convinced he certainly dreamed them;
while his damned bloody blindness emboldened
two wolves with but three eyes between them.

As Mistress, I sanctioned the pasture
for concealing the Moon and the Stars;
but the Sun, in league with the Master,
set each half its teeth in my heart.

The cook baked her devils some sheep's heads
from her oven she built in the deep den;
then she served herself with their sweetbreads,
having given such rare food to feed them.

My wolfish love with the Master
set hooks through the meat of our hearts;
when our opposite tempers tugged faster,
it killed me to tear them apart.
_______

For Hedgewitch's excellent mini-challenge at Real Toads!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"When Limpid Light Upon Mine Eyes Shines Weary" by Pontificus Henry Bookfield, 1892

How blah, the blah of the Immortals,
When blahs spread ever blah-like
O'er sylvan blah and hellish blah alike!

Blahs, doth blah emblah us
To take up Blahian blahments,
Even as Blah himself did
In that oft-blahed time,

E'er blah set the human heart
Against its very blahhood?
Blah again, Blahnanians! Blahlujiah! Excelsior!

Note: Believed lost for more than three decades, a nearly illegible copy of "When Limpid Light Upon Mine Eyes Shines Weary" was discovered at the bottom of Lady Philpott-Tewksbury's handbag when she expired from split ends in 1933. Her nephew, Aldous Tewksbury Smythe, painstakingly restored P.H. Bookfield's legendary poem. Unfortunately, he died fifteen minutes after completing the restoration in 1976. The beautifully restored manuscript now hangs in the British Museum of Interesting Debris, where it can be viewed and admired by all.

A 55 for the G Man  

A Vulpine View Of Common Maxims

(in 40 words)

"A bird in hand..."

I got
no
hands.

"A stitch in time..."

one
ring,
twelve crows.

fox by flock,
sleepin' on the
snow.

"Which came first...?"

church
or
stones?

good books stacked,
heavy and
black.

look quick, child,
foxy smile.
________

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pop Quiz

This test is compulsory.
It is a timed test.
We started without you.

The first and last questions count the most.
What is your name?
Please put it at the top of your test.
Hint: this may be a trick question.

Let's try a story problem:
If Jane has three apples,
and gives one to Billy,
why would she do that?

Suppose that Billy takes another of Jane's apples,
and gives it to Mary;
now deal with each one's pride, happiness, anger.
You may not leave the problem blank.

Extra credit:
Why Jane?
Why apples?

Section three.
Do you play a musical instrument?
Have you ever wanted to play a musical instrument?
Which one?
Here is a different one.
Start playing.

Does it bother you if people watch, say things, judge?
While you're doing that,
here is one other person,
two,
several.
All of them want something from you.
Keep playing.

What is your best subject?
Please complete all the other subjects first.

Now, answer the following questions "YES" or "NO".
What is the best approach to doing well on this test?
How have previous experiences affected your answers?
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
What do you remember most about your parents?
How do you feel about your spouse?
What have you kept from them?
What things are truly "yours"?
What will you do when you leave here today?
Will it be today?

Final section.
Remember that the first and last questions count the most.
Do you feel that the test was unclear,
or even impossible?
Did you feel that you were given enough time to decide your answers?
Were you doing the whole thing for someone else,
or for yourself only?
While taking this test, did you experience
rage?
gratitude?
exhaustion?
wonder?
love?
amusement?
despair?
indifference?
Did you want to quit before the test was finished?
Did you quit?
Would you recommend this test to others?
Do you trust the examiner(s)?
Do you feel that the test contained an ultimate "point"?

Do you care that the test will continue on without you?
Did you find the whole thing overwhelming and unfair?

Final question:
Do you think that makes you unique?
_______

for Poetry Jam, "yes or no"

image found on weheartit.com.



 



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Simple Thing

it's a simple thing
to put away
half a white onion, a leftover ripe tomato,
and a half-gone jar of grated parmesan.

it's an easy motion
to pull the sleeves of my favorite long cardigan over my hands
as i hug myself
and stand staring out of the little window
above my kitchen sink.

the old refrigerator kicks on behind me,
and i wonder whether to read,
or go for a walk,
or if i should simply stand here quietly
while the dishes dry.

it's a simple thing
to miss someone.
is there a place for putting that away?
some easy compartment of the heart
that i can't find or imagine?

it's a simple thing,
but not easy,
to feel so uncertain and empty.
is something wrong with me, to feel this way?
and i wonder
does it ever stop?
_____

for the Get Listed challenge at Real Toads. I used just one word: "simple".

 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Fable Of The Matryoshkas

When I met you, you already had
almost everything.

You spoke, and from a halved lime,
a golden-eyed tiger stepped.
From the tiger's mouth, came vermillion birds,
and in the birds' beaks,
silver rings to please you.

If I had told you I loved you then,
I could not have borne the weather of your face--
a clear sky of indifference,
or your smile, constant as any equator.

I knew,
that to win you, I would have to get beneath your heart--
I would have to fold my yellow wings,
with their India ink edges;
become vermiform
and as light as a ghost's fingers on a cotton ball.

There I slept.

After six Novembers and a single Spring,
I opened my eyes--
a solitary traveler when I arrived, I had become four.
You felt the North, South, East and West of me
within yourself, nesting your heart,
as if you were a Russian hat, and I, Medusa's vanity: her hair.

Now, we are together forever,
like bone and limb
or
the closed and golden gates of your almond eyes.

I am more than content to be your courtesan,
your slave,
your palm leaf, arched over you like Desire's own angel--
but if you dismiss me,
all the matryoshkas of our union will break.

You will see me, at last, as I really am,
a constellation of spilled confectioner's sugar
anointing these shattered nesting dolls
with their linseed smiles,
drug store red lipstick on every jagged edge.
_______

Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, or babushka dolls, consist of a series of similarly painted dolls, each one revealing a smaller doll inside it, down to the last and smallest doll, which is typically a baby.

Both images were found on Weheartit.com.