Wednesday, July 31, 2013

' Blossom

Couldn't work at the saloon
cos I always kept a derringer in my garter
and anyways I wasn't that kind of girl.

Went and bought me a fine horse,
then built a bonfire and burnt up all my hoops and corsets
cos,
you guessed it,
I wasn't that kind of girl.

Stuck around town a while,
whilst I got provisioned.
When the corner boys laughed, I invited 'em to dance
to the music of my new friend Mr. Colt .45.

Coulda stuck around town,
raising chickens and fillin' a pew every Sunday,
but I wasn't that  kind of girl, neither.

So I lit out.
Made the moon my friend and bathed in the stream,
just adding a little scent that lasted until the current took it.

Days I didn't bother getting gussied up
for the prairie dogs and critters, cos they don't care.
Whistled a tune and nobody told me "Woman, hush!"

I'd-a plugged 'em if they did.

Pulled my hat down low over my eyes,
and listened to the eagle cry the same song that lived in my soul.
Nights, a good fire and a dime novel was all I need.

Got lonely, though.
Started to pine for that blacksmith's daughter,
the one that used to half smile as I went by,
makin' my heart ring like a hammer on an iron shoe.

Finally went back into town for biscuits and rose water,
payin' no mind to the weaker sex, with their scruffy beards,
until one of 'em shouted, "Hey mister!" and slap his knee laughin'.

I started to ride by--
didn't come for no trouble,
and I was dusty from the trail and not feelin' my very best,

but then I straightened my back
and brought my horse around as the afternoon sun went behind a cloud.
"Better step out in the street," I told that man.

I hadn't used the Colt in a month of Sundays,
but as my fingers flexed just touching the handle,
it all came back to me just like makin' a pie crust.

Sam Colt got a way of sobering up a loud man,
and he just looked down at his boots and mumbled,
"Sorry Ma'am."

I still had half a mind to put one between his eyes, just for the practice,
but then that blacksmith's daughter was at my side, saying,
"C'mon honey. Let's fetch some sweet tea."

She give me that half smile,
and said she knew a place where I could shake out my hair
and get fresh.

That's when I remembered what kind of girl I am,
and it put the dip back in my hip
and the glide back in my stride.

'Blossom's back in town,
and y'all had better 
show a lady a little respect.
________ 


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book review: "Husband And Wife"

Husband and WifeHusband and Wife by Leah Stewart

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


About six weeks ago, I reviewed "The Myth Of You & Me" by this same author. That book blew me away and became an instant short list all-time favorite. So, naturally, I was eager to read something else by Leah Stewart. That's always a dicey proposition. There have been times when I have gone years after reading a particularly beloved novel, before reading that author again, because of the feeling that they couldn't possibly delight me so very much again; it seems like tempting fate. Sometimes, an author has just gone right ahead and blown me away a second time, but sometimes my caution turns out to be well founded.

"Husband And Wife" is not a bad book. Leah Stewart is a keen observer of people and daily life, and tells a story from a woman's perspective extremely well, which I love. The story is simple: Sarah has two small children, a job, and a husband who has just confessed to her that he's not only had an affair, but that he's then written a novel about it entitled "Adultery", a thread that seems to be forgotten half way through. The whole of "Husband And Wife" is Sarah trying to sort out who she was, who she's become, and whether or not she wants to stay with Nathan, her straying husband. I would have liked the book better if I had liked Sarah better.

She spends an awfully lot of time obsessing about her arty grad school days, during which she met Nathan and a group of other friends. She became a poet, "not a high school or a blog-post poet, but a certified poet". Speaking as a blog-post poet who can write rings around this character, based on the two poems contained in the book, I wonder about this "certified" business. A few random publications in small press magazines? To me, Sarah and her grad school crew all sound like they spend more time and energy trying to be arty, and ironic, and strike a pose, than in actually creating art. A beret and a wry tone don't mean a thing. Besides, Sarah hasn't written a line in two years.

She's become a mother and a breadwinner and the time, heart, energy and patience that those things require are very well depicted in this book. If she had been fighting to save her family, or resolved to start a new life as a single mother, I would have connected with her and cared about her a whole lot more. Instead, she goes chasing the ghost of her grad school days, when she and her friends got stoned and had impassioned arguments about Gertrude Stein, and gave each other seven-volume sets of Proust for birthday gifts. People like that just give me a cramp. Indeed, I wondered as I read this, whether it was the demands of family life that killed her poetry, or if it wasn't more accurately her comfort zone of ironic distance and squeamish disdain for real sincerity that did the deed. Lots of people smoked dope and talked shit. It just isn't very interesting, except, apparently, to Sarah, for whom it is all a lost ideal.

The best sections of this book were the descriptions of Sarah's children. She got that absolutely right; the deep love, the maddening moments of tantrums and chaos, the way having children makes a woman's life, and even her body, not just her own anymore, and the price and rewards that brings. More of that, and a lot less of the nostalgic, snobby navel-gazing would have made this a better book.



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Monday, July 29, 2013

blood egg

It only hurts at first.
Look--
the stars still wheel,
and you are still here, miles beneath them, like before.

To be consumed, whether by rapture or dumb beasts,
is the opening of the blood egg.
Thank the tooth or the jagged shell edge
that teaches you this sudden language of ascent.
_______

Sunday, July 28, 2013

shhh

Shhh.
be still.
Curl and breathe,
turn heart's blood rich,
never minding the
tiny mote in the flesh,
so small, but more powerful
than all, a shadow that will fill
and then destroy its fragile cocoon.
Shhh, be still, be perch for dark butterflies.
__________

an etheree poem for my Witchy BFF.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

some facts about milk

Milk is made from stars;
Milk is liquefied stars.

Jars for milk are made from glass;
Glass is made when lightning touches sand.

Jarred milk is most similar to the Moon;
Jarred milk wants to be the Moon.

One becomes an astronaut by drinking milk from jars;
Inside each astronaut: stars.
______

a list poem for "Are You Listing?"

and 55 words counting the title for G Man.




 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

santeria sixpence

One Fury,
One Fate,
One Muse smoking by the garden gate.

Black bird,
love bird,
one on a perch--
other in the sweet ground, buried in the earth.

Do you ever get the urge to boil up a root?
Brown on the surface--
inside, blue.

Do you ever take a mind to shake a purple gourd?
A kiss for the curious,
lies for the Lord.

One card, two cards, three cards, four--
Aunt Annie likes diamonds,
hearts turn whores.

Five cards, six cards, seven cards, eight--
gone bird and baby
by the garden gate.
_________

for grapeling's word list at Real Toads


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Connie

Connie's dead
but her dream is still there,
in the air,
and cannot find its way home.

Connie's bed
is crowded with strangers,
and flashes red blue red
from the ambulance dome.

Connie's dead
but her dream is still there,
in the air,
and cannot find its way home.
_______


Thursday, July 18, 2013

thanks to the poet's union....

...I get to take a short break now. I'm tired from work and the heat and also my periodic depression is kicking my tail. See you all in a few days.
 

under the heat dome

under the heat dome

like being fried in haiku

all day every day

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Confession

Bless me, baby, for I have sinned.
It has been a day since my last confession--
in the form of a poem
about a broken heart,
one that happened seven years ago and every day since.

I find that my life has two constants,
just like my two hands,
my two empty and idle hands.
Come up and see my workshop, honey.
I'll write you a love poem
or do anything,
if only you'll come.

I confess that I have sinned,
and that I can't walk out my front door,
or go to the mailbox
without a few mortal and venials happening almost on their own.
I covet another woman,
someone else's wife,
not even a Catholic.
Sweetheart, stop me if you've heard this one.

They say that Divine radiance can fill any heart.
I know I should look for God in every difficulty,
shovel the shit to find the pony,
but I am so hit-and-miss in my faith.
I try.
I do,
but honestly, the thing in this world that delights me most
is simply hearing you laugh.

Hope is the thing with feathers,
so says Emily,
and I think that surely she wrote it after saying something silly to Susan,
whose snort and open laughter sent whole flocks up into the Amherst sky.
_________

Got a confession? Tell Sister LaTonya. 

 

Monday, July 15, 2013

your kiss

Your kiss,
one of the last ones,
after I already knew that you had lied and cheated and played with my heart,

was still something I had to have.
I hadn't wanted to confront you on my birthday
with what I had so cleverly put together about what you had done;
I wanted one more day of being stupidly happy, first.

You put everything you had into everything you did,
and when you turned that on me, it was thrilling.
I'll never deny that.

Oh, I was noble and righteous and proud.
The next night I gave you one chance to come clean--
a chance you wasted.
So I broke it off, and told the world what and who you really are.

But what of that kiss, the one I remember,
the one right before you handed me the cat card, saying,
"I thought you should have some really good pussy for your birthday!"

You won't believe me when I tell you that your kiss sat in a museum
for years, in a glass case,
a forgotten exhibit ignored even by me.

Then the zoo took it over, because it had bitten someone,
or buckled her knees, or something,
and I heard about it from a friend, or a friend of a friend,
and by then I wasn't so proud anymore.
Being alone will erode a girl's confidence, and I have been alone.

No surprise, then, that the khaki-wearing student volunteer should find me
in the very early morning,
with my naked body wrapped around your kiss,
which still fit perfectly with my heartbeat.

Stop crying, she said.
Get dressed. You can't stay here.
It was just like the morning after I broke up with you,
except with no one to admire my backbone this time,
because
I no longer have any.
_________

Sunday, July 14, 2013

trash trees

my yard is thick with what they call
trash trees--
mulberry, ficus and others I don't know the name for.
I love them ferociously,
as a mother does.

my companion is what they call
a mill dog from the pet store--
he'd never been out of a cage before,
and space astounded him.
I love him fiercely,
as a mother does.

I used to think
that I might meet somebody--
maybe by Christmas,
or in the spring time.
I used to think that I would not always carry this weight,
me and Sisyphus
idle and laughing by the road side.

Passion is the acid that eats me alive,
but I go up so gorgeously--
poet with her trash trees and her mill dog, beloved.
I've given up on finding anybody that's free to be found,
but I have come to love sleep--
where someone, maybe God,
holds me in a moment of respite and tells me I am worth something,
as a mother does.
_________

for the Real Toads mini challenge: passion.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

In Character

The actor portraying the character of my significant other walks in.
I have to kiss him,
though I'd really rather beat him to death with a shoe.

My character is mild.
Kind.
Self-effacing.
It's in the script, written by some man.

Lighting and make-up's gonna make me look fetching
despite my bad night.
I had interminable dreams of being stalked by tigers
inside a house contaminated with hostile spirits.
I blame it on the medication
given to me by the character of my quack-ass doctor.

I shovel out some really stupid dialogue.
"Have a nice day.
Thanks for the rose.
I love you."
Who wrote this shit?
Probably some hermit trash novelist from Erie,
wearing a ratty sweater with elbow patches,
head down over his keyboard like a hunchback.

I let the actor portraying the character of my significant other fuck me last time
on a different set,
because at the time I was trying to be normal;
I'm an actress, I sleep with my leading men,
even though they wobble their heads and kiss me like ticks--
I exsanguinate slowly, and look up at them, pale as a blank page.
They fill me in,
in a foreign language,
and in black and white.

Suddenly, I can't stand any of it anymore--
the fat pretentious director in his chair,
the endless re-takes,
the sheer idiocy of the story itself.
My mild,
kind,
self-effacing character breaks a prop dish against a table,
and holds the jagged edge to the throat of the devil who imagined all of this.

Someone calls 911.
Someone else calls the producer.
A rent-a-cop shows up, disturbed from his detective novel,
fumbling for his starter's pistol, mistakenly restraining the continuity editor.
At last, here is the character of my quack-ass doctor,
with his palms out,
trying to calm me.

I make the familiar motion to cut the scene,
and this crew of self-important baboons gasps like they'd never seen that simple gesture before.
I try to tell them all to fuck off,
do not pass Go,
just please, for once and for all, fuck off and leave me alone,
but I can't articulate my lines, because

I've gone off-script,
off the rails,
off my nut,
and the feeling is glorious
for as long as it lasts.
________

 

Friday, July 12, 2013

From My Mouth

From my mouth, an egg.
From the egg, a monster, 
wearing a wet, sticky veil.

Above: the sun, stupid, cancerous.
Below: everything.
Below: my monster, full of a ravenous emptiness.

Let there be summer, never-endingly.
Let there be my monster,
consuming one, and one, and one.

Let there be lawyers and elected officials.
Let there be a rot-bog of stench and glory.
Let my monster be Lord of it.

Let the language of my monster's groans ascend,
come deluge, come Judgement.
Let my monster's instant of joy be cemented.

From my mouth, a new history.
From this history, another monster,
dwarfing the first one, and less merciful.
_______

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: "The Silver Star"

The Silver StarThe Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


"The Silver Star" is about two sisters, 15 year old Liz and 12 year old Bean. When Liz was three, she saved Bean's life by reminding their mother not to drive off with the baby carrier still on the roof of the car. It was also Liz, who has a penchant for rhyming, who gave Bean her nickname by calling her Jean-Bean, and soon, just Bean.

The story takes place in the early 70's, with the girls living in Lost Lake, California with their wannabe actress/musician mother who, unfortunately, is prone to disappearing at a whim and staying gone for days or weeks, leaving the girls to survive on chicken pot pies until she gets back. Eventually, the cops come poking around, and so the girls hop on a bus bound for Byler, Virginia, where their mother grew up and where they have an Uncle Tinsley who still lives at the family mansion, Mayfield.

The girls arrive and find out that the family owned the local mill for decades, and that the main street of town bears their name. However, widower Uncle Tinsley has allowed Mayfield to deteriorate, the family has lost the mill due to foreign competition, and their mother's horse-show, debutante childhood is just a memory.

When the girls refuse to wear their mother's old 1940s clothes to school that fall, and find themselves needing money to buy blue jeans, they look around town for work, but find only one offer, from control freak mill boss Mr. Maddox, as gofers. Thus, a whole chain of events is set in motion, which will test Bean and find out whether she can fight the formidable Mr. Maddox, save her sister, reconcile with their mother, and live up to the Silver Star medal that was her late father's.

I loved "The Silver Star", and were it not for an odd metaphorical sidetrack into a subplot about a couple of emus--yes, emus--I would have given it five stars. I loved the southern small town atmosphere and the girls the story centers around. Definitely recommended.



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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda was an intense guy.
We found him in some mom & pop Mexican place in San Antonio,
scribbling on a napkin, 
burning the place down wherever he parked his heart.

We paid for his breakfast.
Ginny let her shawl fall off one shoulder,
and the guy looked like he might slip right into her skin
and stay there, if he could have.

There is always something feminine about a man who can write;
something feminine, too, about a man who really adores women.
We sense it.
We're like birds who see our island and head for it without another thought.
I'm not saying he wasn't a man--
Ginny couldn't shut up about him, the rest of the trip,
like he had lit her, and she kept going off in spectacular colors.

The bluebonnets were out, in all the fields by the highway.
They only grow in Texas, and we stopped to stretch out in them,
drown in them
like a bunch of boho dolphins, sleek and weird,
gloriously out of our element.

When we got close to Dallas, we stopped in Waxahachie.
Ginny was asleep in the back, and Neruda stayed with her,
his arm around her like a mesquite branch across the early sun.
She was wearing red, and if you ask me,
he wanted to suck her like a strawberry, 
but was too protective of her Gypsy dreams to wake her.

At the washeteria, we scavenged empty soap jugs
and weaseled a last load out of them.
Federico Garcia Lorca was there, half sprawled across two plastic chairs,
high as a kite, his hair a mess, his mind a marvel of the age.
I kissed him as a sister would,
to get him to join us, and he did.
I kept close, whispering him my poems,
taking the wheel as we crossed north into Oklahoma.

You will find the right man, I told him,
even though he didn't speak English.
In Spanish, he told me I had already found the right woman,
but that she was hidden,
riding in the night-pocket of God's long sweater,
howling at the stars.

That was when I knew I liked Federico better,
though I was careful never to let Neruda see it.
Anyway, he had Ginny,
and we all had the white stripes going by beneath our wheels,
the warm southern air,
and our four heartbeats which came together for a while
in the unlikely, gorgeous perfection
of our uncommon common language.
__________
  
for Kerry's Pablo Neruda challenge at Real Toads. I don't like writing sonnets, so I hope that this will please, instead.

 
 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Homily

Transcendence fills the particular--
whether holy or secular--

nobody listens to a fool going on about "mankind"
or global concerns.

Do a million tulips care what you think of them?
What does just one feel like?
Tulips seem made for touch, 
and the curve of a hand is perfect to cup them,
as the sky does the orange-yellow sun in the afternoon.

Seeker, separate the petals with a fingertip--
lean in, let the flower brush the soft skin of your cheek.
Forget the field,
the road beyond,
the sun, the stars--
remember this scent, the one that captured you,
the one you will remember years from now.

There is a place, The Garden of Our Lady,
and that is where you should spend an afternoon
finding by feel
the gorgeous and singular meeting point
like a little humble wafer
where earthy and heavenly combine like prayer and answer,
placed on your lips by a benevolent spirit.
________

for Hannah's "haunted hearts" at Real Toads.

 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

wolves

The wolves who ate the sun
had all night to find my soft white sleeping-place,
my foolish face,
and then to circle me like a wild garland.

With the moon in their eyes,
and the stars caught between the pads of their paws,
they ran and left the sky behind them
trailing blue and silver
down into my skin as I slept.

Come to me, as you always do,
in your time, and as you can;
but understand
that all night, now, I am awake and watchful,
a different and darker girl than the one you could lull and tease,
keep and command.
_________

Redcoats!

Lambs, it's Independence Day! On this date in....oh, 1922, or 1654, or some time anyway, George Washington defeated Herman's Hermits at the Battle of New Orleans, and with Johnny Horton installed as the first president, our nation became free!

Don't quibble with me Darlings, I'm trying to explain what it all means. I can't be bothered with exact dates and trivia!

Now then. It's hard to imagine that we were ever subject to British rule. I mean, Cherubs, these are people who get excited to the point of rioting over a sport where the score is always 1-0. Trust me, Darlings, London is like a big elevator, where everyone is breaking their necks just to avoid having to actually speak to anyone else. And they're an island. Fiji is an island. Rhode is an island. No self-respecting country is an island. It's absurd!

And now, Darlings, you've got middle-aged duffers like Mabel Van Deusen's husband dropping their golf clubs and stuffing themselves into Revolutionary War costumes so that they can recreate the Battle of Bunker Hill in the park across the street from the 7-11 and the Instant Oil Change place. Why, last year, they sent a cannon ball through the Hyundai showroom window. 

You know me, Lambs. Forgive and forget, that's my motto. Never let the sun go down on an argument. Still, I feel so patriotic ordering escargot at Chez Pierre's, to support the French effort to sink Great Britain once and for all. I feel just like Nathan Hale, except with much more stylish shoes, and a better figure by far! Really, Lambs, what do we need stodgy old England for anymore? We're talking about a country that let a bald man wearing diapers kick them out of India. 

Oh all right, I'll stop picking on them, if you insist. But still! Thank Goddess we're not from some hellhole coal mining village in England, trying to survive by eating the bark off the hedgerows. It would be awful! If those English had any sense at all, they would have forgotten about Lexington and Concord, and established themselves in Las Vegas or Miami Beach. Or even right here in Pompano Beach! Then all we would ever have to say would be tut-tut, and here-here, and oh reeeeally. Life would be so simple! 

Well, I'm glad we had this little talk, aren't you, Lambs? But it still seems a shame, in a way. Well, Dears, I mean all of the struggle and kicking Brits off of the wrong side of the highway and everything, and yet you still walk around with your hair looking a sight. Is that creature who does your cut and color down at BoRic's English by any chance? Mhmmm. A mother can sense these things. I think I'll buy the entire chain and phase them into a line of washeterias instead. I'll put a little American flag in the logo! 
_________   

for those of you who insist on poetry, visit Coal Black HERE.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Vacation Of You

You came north. 

I took you more northerly still,
my arms around you green
as the hearts of young trees.

The lake gave us all it had--
shells, glass, smooth stones,
and pretty foam laid at our feet.

My dark-haired, dark-eyed stormy baby,
see me orange and black, a monarch girl
in love with you, transformed.
______

To STWIASD from your Michigan girl.

57 words for Mama Zen's Words Count Challenge.

image of Janine Mizera titled Emotions III Retouch is by Catliv and can be found HERE

Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: "Breathing Lessons"

Breathing LessonsBreathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


I needed something to read until the book I *really* want to read arrived in the mail, so I grabbed this old Anne Tyler off the shelf. I used to read Tyler a lot; I loved "The Accidental Tourist", liked "Saint Maybe" and "A Patchwork Planet", found "Celestial Navigation" almost unbearably sad, and had read eight of her novels all told.

Perhaps my tastes have changed, or I simply reached my limit. Maybe what I found endearing twenty-five years ago just annoys me now. In any event, "Breathing Lessons", which won a Pulitzer Prize, just irritated me. For one thing, even bearing in mind that the book came out in 1988, it all seemed more like it took place in the early sixties or something. The main characters, a married couple named Maggie and Ira, seemed OLD. They open the book by traveling to the funeral of Maggie's friend's husband, and the friend basically has everyone re-enact her wedding day by singing a bunch of pre-Elvis pop songs. Yes, at a funeral. I'm telling you, these characters practically trip over themselves in their zeal to be "quirky". For this reason, none of them seemed real to me. They seemed like characters assigned an array of quirky but not very appealing behaviors.

Ira ("Ira"? Really? Is anyone under eighty actually named "Ira"?) is a stock husband character who is designated as the sensible one, and yet he lets his scatterbrained, meddlesome wife Maggie call all the shots while he stands around griping and making faces but doing as he's told all the same. Maggie, for her part, seems to be devoting her life to trying to run and fool with the lives of her son and his ex-wife. She lies, manipulates, denies, exaggerates and pretty much sticks her Pinocchio nose in at every turn, and that's the main action in the novel; Maggie playing bird-brained puppeteer to a crew of characters who don't apparently have the spine to tell her no. She isn't even an interesting anti-hero because she's too silly to be that.

The book did make me chuckle several times, and there were sections where I was drawn in for a few pages, but unless you want to read a novel about a couple of dinosaurs who need an express ticket into the present, and who pretty much just drift from one goofy, contrived mess to another, led by Maggie, who got on my nerves by page three, then skip it. 



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