Monday, September 30, 2013

Curious

I am curious
and I am not the first,
but I am the one who is here now

And perhaps,
my curiosity is the kind
that your secrecy has desired.

I want to know
how your dark eyes look
when you're restless under the pull
of a full moon;

I want to know
how your skin feels, palm to heartbeat,
smooth and wild and ready as a paint pony
at sunrise in the high grass.

I am curious, and keen to find
if my curiosity is the kind
that your secrecy has desired.
_______

Sunday, September 29, 2013

28 years

"I stumble and fall, baby I've done it all, I'm only human on the inside." --Chrissie Hynde "Human"

 28 years ago today, two things happened. My favorite aunt died, and I took my last drink, from that day to this. I'd been trying, in that summer of 1985, to kick it. I'd been trying to get that beast to just shut up and stop calling me, stop grabbing me, stop sucking me empty from the inside. 

When you find yourself teetering on a chair, armed with a broom, maniacally trying to knock scads of spiders off of the ceiling, it's not social drinking anymore. It took me ten years of boozing to get that far. I was dedicated. Ain't livin' long like this, am I baby? 

I'd first gone to AA the year before, in 1984, and I'd string together a few months and then relapse. In the late summer of 1985, a 500-pound gorilla had assigned himself to ride on my back 24/7. I fought him off a day at a time, an hour at a time, for weeks on end. I'm talking about a very real pressure, almost a goading, to drink, that leaned on me every waking minute. 

Finally, I did. When I saw my messed-up self in the mirror the next morning, with my head and heart pounding from the poison, I realized how much I had started to like the sober me I had been seeing up til then. I told myself to remember that moment, looking at wrecked me in the mirror. I never wanted to see that person again.

But the craving and compulsion came back soon enough. I'd done meetings, phone calls, literature, will power (ha!), the whole deal, and still I'd relapsed cos the hold was just too strong. So I prayed. I asked Goddess to take over and ride me through it, to get me past what I couldn't get past on my own; to see me through, sober, until morning. When the sun came up, there was one damn dead gorilla, and me still sober. I've stayed sober ever since, by the grace of Divine intervention. 28 years, today.

Addiction is no joke. My best friend from teenage days is dead because of it. I am only here because something bigger than me cared. I had no power over alcohol, but now I have the power to say "no" to that first drink, one day at a time. My son, my friends, my employer, none of them have ever had to deal with me drunk. I am nobody's expert at Life, but I know to treasure a gift when it's been given to me, and every day I wake up sober is a gift. 

28 years. Today. Thank you, Goddess.



 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Harpies

Night is a shell we were half out of--
its edge an obstacle at eye level.

We only saw each other's soft side
in those days when the jagged break seemed benign,
like a string of crescent moons made of party paper.

We didn't know we were already growing flight feathers
and talons as large as grizzly claws.

Honey, we were sheathed in the things that killers are made from,
seasoned with the urge to fly or fall,
and of course,
an instinct to claim and use them.
_______

Thursday, September 26, 2013

baby devil

Don't worry about me--
I'll lay low.

I will keep my wicked thoughts tucked into the roots of my hair,
and my hair will spread and rise and wave in the wind
like a black prairie.

Crows will come out of my cogitations.
How long will those window panes of yours keep them out?
My Goddess, but they're noisy.
They are made of bibles and molasses,
and they want to sink their sharp parts into your lazy dreams.

Don't think you did anything wrong--
I would never say so.

Still, if I were a scarecrow such as you, I would soak myself in gasoline
and lean into the sun just as it goes down.
That will be your only chance to shine,
so you really should grab at it, like someone falling.
My hair can be your landing place,
full with baby crows just itching for their first disturbing instinct.

They will love your eyes,
just as I did when I walked the earth, up and down,
a baby devil so pretty it made you look.
________

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Athena, SWF

I'm just a woman
with an owl on her shoulder
and the moon at her back.

I like the windows open,
and the air cold.
I prefer cloth to satin, silver to gold.

I didn't just roll in, some girl from the burbs.
I have marks on my body
from lessons sharp and black.

When you kiss me, if you kiss me,
put your hands on me high, and I'll close my eyes;
just don't forget my owl

with her vigilance,
her talons
and her soft deceptive cries.
________

not for any prompt. *facepalm*

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Houston, we have a problem

Which way is up?? Bosco doesn't seem sure!

 

Candlehead

in a cup of ceramic moon bone,
i nest my ignited constellations.
i keep two eyes--
one for hot, one for cool--
kiss me and taste the entire sky.
______

this is my attempt at a tanka, for Real Toads. my dislike for oriental forms is widely known, so if this doesn't fit the bill, please choke on a cherry blossom! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Northampton

"where the coffee is strong and so are the women"

When I visited Northampton
in 2007,
I had never heard of you.

Imagine a covering of leaves,
an inch off the ground,
that seems to be a complete and complicated world
to the crow searching for her supper.
Imagine the unobserved moon overhead,
and all the stars.

In Northampton,
I got a lesbian discount at the little bookstore.
There were two moms pushing a stroller down the street together outside,
and even the mayor was one of us.
My companion, a poet friend, was high on new love
with her rock singer girlfriend.
In a week, they would be at the Red Sox playoff game,
and I would be back home, flying solo in Motown.

In 2007, I had never heard of you,
but, observed or not, the Moon keeps searching for the perfect face to show,
and the stars still cross beside her as they love to do.
What made you look up, sweetheart,
at the same second I did?
Is it possible to measure the moment
when crows remember that the sky belongs to them, too?
_______

for Marian's "Harvest Moon" challenge at Real Toads.


Friday, September 20, 2013

haiku (watdafukizit TM)

Don't feel like writing real poetry? Try non-prescription haiku. Haiku users have, however, reported the following: nausea, confusion, lethargy, skin rashes, radical changes in personality, strange or upsetting dreams, incontinence, and the urge to bomb Pearl Harbor. Ask your doctor about haiku. He'll say, "You batshit crazy asshole! Stay off that shit!"

Presented as a public service in conjunction with G Man's friday 55!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

convo

I listen to every word you say,
but all the time, I can't stop thinking about your lips.

I want you closer. No...closer.
I want to wrap myself around you,
and bury my fingers in your hair and kiss.

I want you in my arms, my bed, my life.

Meanwhile,
keep talking.
__________

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

banshee

I am not here at your summoning.
I do not blush,
and while I am obedient in my own way,
at my own peculiar hour,
you don't know a thing about me
nor command me in any manner at all.

At the edge of the green-gone woods
where the mist, like souls, shall rise,
you will find me washing the bloody husk
of the brave one who slowly, stoically, dies.

I move through the world in hag-face,
appearing ancient, for I am ancient,
but not weak.
That's for you, the young man who called to me,
mistaking who and what I was,
and when I turned my head, said,
"Don't look at me bitch!" and laughed along with your friends.
Did you feel the ice snake curl around your heart?
I had already looked,
and once having looked, I cannot look away.

At the edge of the green-gone woods,
where the peat fires burn unseen and deep,
you will find me bent to cradle the head
of the brave one whose heart slows, sinking to sleep.

This is the age of superfluous racket masquerading as song.
Myself, I do not sing--
my throat is too thick with writhing crows,
my nostrils too full of ash
for me to do anything but keen.
I am Morrigan, and I am a banshee;
when I open my mouth, the razor flock flies,
a black scream for the extinguishing stars.

At the edge of the green-gone woods
where bat and raven at twilight cross,
I am the coarse-cut shriek of death
the voice of grief, the soul of loss.

Young man, you don't want to know what I do
about the bad cast
and the locked door.
Beneath my crone's costume, I carry my beauty in reserve--
it is formidable, and fair,
and kept for the deserving.
Remember this: I will not keen for you.
What comes out of your mouth is yellow dust;
what comes out of mine is a glass-shard hurricane.
Your future holds the thing you know nothing about;
what awaits you just around the next coward's corner you come to,
will be all yours as I walk away--
utter
stillness.
_______

For Kerry's fantastic "Old Gods" challenge at Real Toads. 

Check out the amazingly cool journal that Margaret Bednar gave me, for my poems. I can't say how much I love it. Next to it, is the beautiful Celtic necklace given to me by Lynn, of Good Things Happened. I wear it a lot. Thank you, dear ladies. Your kind gifts mean so much to me.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frankengirl

There were thieves in the delivery room--
they stole my face.
Later, in the doctors' lounge,
my mother's obstetrician lit up a Parliament,
waved his hand and claimed that the wind must have done it.

The wind, emboldened,
blew through my head where my face should have been.
"Where is your heart?
"Hand it over," it crooned, as if it were a demented nanny.
I hid inside nightmares
until the room got too thickly blue for visitors.

Soon enough, my mother ditched the damned neighbors and attacked.
I rolled myself into a ball and kicked myself away,
though the rigged tilt of that house always brought me back.
I went through faces like a deck of cards,
all of them wrong,
all of them trailing shame like black kites.
I liked to play Fire,
and soon we went through addresses just as quickly.

So now you ask me, all these years later,
"Is this your face?"
It is a face.
Why don't you kiss me and find out?
If there is a cave-in, just stay where you are and breathe shallowly;
You may be all right, 
because I only have so many matches,
and there is no telling if the wind will whip all the way down there
to the scream-place where I left my jagged mirror shards 
lined up and waiting like euthanized dolls.
_______

For the Real Toads mini-challenge. Art by Kathryn Dyche Dechairo  

Book review: "The Dovekeepers"

The DovekeepersThe Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


"The Dovekeepers" is a novel told by four narrators, four women who find themselves at the mountain stronghold of Masada as it tries to hold out against the Romans. Seldom have I come away from a book with so many conflicting and passionate feelings about it, both good and bad. Much of the time, this was one of the most annoying novels I have ever forced myself to slog through. However, when it picked up, particularly in the second half, it was can't-put-it-down engrossing, and I know I'll remember the four women who tell the story for a long time to come.

First, the bad: the affectations and irritations started before the text even began, with a page that says "Part One, Summer 70 C.E.". C.E.? I had to look it up. It means "Common Era" and is essentially the same thing as the familiar "A.D." Throughout the first section of the book, which runs 150 odd pages, Hoffman finds it necessary to toss in the Hebrew names for just about everything. To wit: "We waited for the morning star, which we named Cochav hashachar, and others call Venus". This happens on nearly every page, in reference to all things great and trivial, and breaks the flow every couple of paragraphs. This Catholic girl just really doesn't need to know the Hebrew word for tea pot, thank you very much.

Also, in addition to an endless, teeth-grating amount of detail about ancient religious customs, Hoffman's narrators consistently refer to God as "Adonai.". If two pages went by anywhere in that first section without an Adonai or two, I missed it. With apologies to Walt Whitman, I wished these characters had not made me sick discussing their duty to God. To make it all worse, Yael, the first narrator, fills us in about her menstruation on a regular basis.

In the later stages of the book, these things largely give way to endless repetition about people's "fate" and how things are "written". Nonetheless, magic is a continuous theme, with people trying to change outcomes, even as Hoffman beats the reader over the head with fatalism. I know from having read some twelve earlier Hoffman novels, that she likes magic and magical realism, which works fine in those books, but I wondered why she worked so hard in this one to immerse the reader in this ancient world, and to fill it with the tiniest details to make it real, only to repeatedly throw in completely unbelievable--if poetic--flights of magic.

My final gripe is that, even though I know from her previous books that Hoffman knows how to write the progression of a love relationship, in this book, it's always lust at first sight, fated, written, etcetera, and her characters risk everything, even their children, without much other reason ever being shown. Along with the very formal schoolroom English the narrators speak in, it made the whole thing feel like a play, not something real and immediate that I could relate to. For example, when people die, surviving relatives tear their garments, which may have been an actual custom, but to me it smacked of hoary bible tales about gnashing teeth, and didn't bring these characters' pain home the way it should have.

Okay. Now the good. Though she really needed the services of a brave editor, Hoffman did manage to make this ancient world and its people come to life. Her descriptions of the desert and of ancient cities like Jerusalem and Alexandria, as well as Masada itself, really put the reader there. 

Mid-way though this 500-page novel, things pick up at last. From there on, I got caught up more and more in the characters and their struggles. Each of the four narrators is fascinating in her own right and in her own way. Yael is a red-haired girl blamed by her assassin father for her mother's death in childbirth, and yet she will one day face down a leopard, and later, a lion, unarmed. Revka's two grandsons were rendered mute after having seen Roman thugs torture and murder their mother. Aziza was allowed to learn the things normally reserved for boys, and she is an archer, rider, and warrior to be reckoned with. Shirah is the "Witch of Moab" and Aziza's mother, fighting with another woman over the man they both love. All four women work in the dovecote at Masada, and their stories intertwine throughout the whole of the book. It is so refreshing to hear a story like this told by and about women, and a lively and resourceful group they are. Another good thing about the book is that the ending is extremely well done.

If Hoffman could have just reined herself in a little bit and concentrated on her story without all the instruction, and if she could have decided whether she wanted to tell a realistic recreation of the story of Masada, or if she wanted to tell a story about spells and potions, it would have been a better book.



View all my reviews

Friday, September 13, 2013

Repairs

Jenny has a broken heart.
A municipal crew arrives at her house.
Paunchy men in orange safety vests and white hard hats knock on her door.

"Yes?"

The foreman has a beat-up clipboard and flips pages.
"Broken heart?"

Jenny thinks he said "broken hat."

The foreman speaks again.
"Okay boys, hot patch it!"
Men fixing things.
______

a 55 for the G Man

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gypsy

There are red-haired Gypsies, you know.
Have you ever seen a blackbird against a pink sky,
or a silver ring balanced on its edge beside the bed?

Red is the fox, the bad wound, the roadside house
abandoned for years,
but once the first home of the then-young, now gone on.

What I wanted to tell you was this:
how I kept a wasp in a jar--
how it beat itself against the hard glass air of its artificial world
until, out of pity, I set it free
and it stung me in my throat.

Ever since then,
there is never enough water,
but always enough anger;
I have sent cardinals into your dreams to be my messengers,
to try to explain
that my silence is my love for you.

Now, today,
the wasp's sad mate has come
as I was gathering lilies,
to sting me on my wrist, just above the onyx bracelet I wear
but which did not protect me.
Her sting is harsh, and now her pain is mine
and it is merciless.

Her revenge makes my eyes water,
and forces my singing,
though some would call it moaning.
Our house will disintegrate,
or burn,
and it will have been my doing.

I don't expect to find, ever again,
a soul that can reach me like yours has.
With my silence broken, any answer I might receive is drowned
by my own endless grinding shrieks;

still, I weave a bright red message through all of it--
come back.
forgive me.
dig into the wasps' nest and find my heart.
_______

Sunday, September 8, 2013

book of numbers

We women know--
that to everything,
there is assigned a number.

From the creatures gathered two by two before the flood,
to the 666 of the beast,
each thing has a value before God.

Let men talk
and talk
and talk.
We know the natural math of the rings within each tree,
growing silently and for their own purposes.

We women can feel it--
23 pairs to a strand inside us,
three seasons gone before the first cry comes.

Here is the real importance of numbers--
how much yeast to a loaf,
how much sugar to the flour,
and how may places to set for those we call ours.

Meanwhile, men count borders,
build-ups,
and days left to linger in hell
when the things worth counting have been obliterated.
_________

 
 
 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

tempered

You knew I had horns,
just like I knew you had guts--
pretty, guileless ones
that fell off the turnip truck of your silly white bones
and onto their points, like ringers.

You knew I breathed fire,
just like I knew you breathed smoke--
trying to make yourself into an ethereal angel,
soft and white, impaled on a stick
and turned to ashes right under my nose.
______

image by Lolamouse

for Real Toads weekend mini-challenge

  

 

Postal Logic


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the pious sex toy

The pious sex toy feels that its daily life
does not reflect its deepest yearnings.

Why is it that others' desires must always come first?
The plunging, buzzing, frantic inanity of the toy's utility
masks a quieter, more contemplative nature.

"Oh God!" screams the owner, but the owner knows nothing of piety.
Her rosary hangs from the door knob,
reduced to the status of unseen ornament.

Tucked in its drawer, the pious sex toy has hours to devote
to prayer and fasting.
How jarring to be taken from these musings
and made to gyrate and probe,
leaving lubricant everywhere.

Dignity is hard to come by for a sex toy,
and eternal life is only a joke when, after all,
the toy is completely dependent on its off-brand sale-priced batteries.

"I am not even a real rabbit, like in the storybook,"
says the pious sex toy.
"I am not velveteen, but rather, hard plastic.
My owner reserves her love for Bob, who never appears,
though she calls out for him.
I think he may not be real himself."

The pious sex toy cannot even request to be taken to church.
How absurd!
What a scandal!
At least there is a bible in the drawer where the toy is kept,
along with a Tarot deck missing The Fool,
and an old tube of hooker red lipstick
with which the pious toy underlines its favorite passages
to be found again easily
like a G Spot.
___________

the inappropriate wrist watch

The inappropriate wrist watch
does not tell the time;
it slyly suggests.

Like the acquaintance not respectful of personal space,
the wrist watch takes your arm--
obsequious and demanding all at once.

The inappropriate wrist watch leers and fidgets,
making "two forty-seven p.m."
sound vaguely filthy and perverted.

In addition to the time, the inappropriate wrist watch offers the date.
The little number sits there,
like a room key from some misadventure drenched in shame.

If thy wrist watch offends thee, pluck it off!
However, then there is the problem of the tan line,
pale and not meant to be seen, like flab.

The inappropriate wrist watch is the admirer one cannot discourage--
the one who shows up at the door at odd hours
wearing shoes with mouths, and clicking its teeth like a second hand.

How, then, to avoid being lured into depravity and ruin
by one's inappropriate wrist watch?
Ask not for whom the tinny chime tolls--

it tolls for thee.
____________

 

Monday, September 2, 2013

green shirt

I like your green shirt.
You wear it out at your hips,
and undone at your throat
to the perfect balance between promise and secrecy.

I like your glasses.
Your dark hair sometimes rests on the place
where the bow meets the frame,
and curves around it in a way that just undoes me.

Though I love them on you,
how I long to remove your shirt,
--gently--
your glasses
--gently--
with fingertips and long kisses.

Tonight my sleep will be slow in coming,
for thinking of you, your name, and these desires.
Then, in the silent hour, I will dream of pine forests
and streams that bend to reflect the stars.
_______

 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

your favorite lesbian

It's important to know your girl,
because the way to her heart
starts at the outside.

I always wanna know
every little thing--
what floats your boat
and what cramps your style--
I'll always want you to gimme the details.

I just watched your favorite lesbian
on that show you told me about.
You know what, baby?
She reminds me of me. 

A favorite is a fine thing to have...
every day of my life I think about mine.
I heart her. You know?
I heart her, my dark brilliant baby.
Heart her like crazy.
________

Find the scene I was writing about HERE.