Thursday, October 31, 2013

The weather buyer

The weather buyer met me in a public place.
I sold her an August night's breeze that had passed across your bare skin,
but I kept the sheets, cerulean blue
and the deeper indigo of your remembered embrace.

The dealer in hearts approached me then,
but I lied, and left alone,
saying you were waiting.
_______

55 lonely teardrops for the G Man.

Book Review: "Poe: A Life Cut Short"

Poe: A Life Cut ShortPoe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was not bad. It's a short book, and easy to get through; it might be ideal for someone who wants a general overview of Poe's life. However, although I did find a detail here or there that was new to me, most of it was familiar ground. I found Daniel Stashower's "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" to be a much better read, and more informative.

If a reader is not already pretty familiar with Poe's poetry and stories, this book won't illuminate much. There is very little of his writing quoted here. VERY little. Although I enjoyed this book well enough, I can't really recommend it except for newcomers to Poe, and then with a caveat to keep a copy of his poems and stories at hand to refer to.



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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dybbuk

Oh loosen up--
go ahead, go crazy,
open the mail on a Saturday.

Angel,
I can see that you're gonna need my help.
Pop this--
you'll relax in a jiff.

Mama said,
"A girl's reputation is all she has got!"
I've got a whopper,
but don't believe everything they say.

F'rinstance,
what would happen
if you didn't buy that PR about the Red Sea
and how it turned into the fucking Dixie Highway
just cos Moses needed a fire exit?

Ooooh, you know what would happen!
The Dybbuk will get ya!
Well here I am. You peed your panties yet?

I've been misrepresented, yanno.
Mind if I sit closer?
See? I'm not some stenchy horror from a nightmare.
I've got French nails
and fishnets.
Nothing but class here, honey.

Lemme in, lemme in, lemme in!
What've you got to lose?
What're you gonna do--
keep the inventory at the family business
until you kill your mother in law or she kills you?

Almost asleep?
Let me rock ya.
Just let go and I'll slip into your skin.
We'll be together and then the fun begins.

Did you hear the one about
the Hasidic rabbi and the massage therapist?
Baby?
Aw, she's asleep.
Time for me to make my entrance
and for the crickets to sing:
Dybbuk
Dybbuk
Dybbuk.
______

for Izy's Out Of Standard challenge at Real Toads

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Advice for selecting a useful male

Tell me, how is a lady to make her way in this world?
A world where men insist on paving anything they can't cleave with a power saw?
I'm telling you,
they don't care about your stylish hat.
They don't care if you can recite Amy Lowell from memory.
They are consumed with laying asphalt, tracks, odds, and yes--
pipe. Especially that.

Why do you think our shoes are designed to inhibit running?
Why do you think we are taught as little girls not to scream at the top of our lungs when, in fact,
that is precisely the thing to do?
Why are our pockets stitched too small to hold a simple Bowie knife?

Honey, let's sit out on the veranda and talk.
Pepper spray isn't going be enough anymore.
Neither is that useless MBA,
and if you think old fashioned charm is enough, then I don't even know what to say.

Listen,
keep wearing the hat.
Keep brushing up on the Lowell poems, especially the one that says
"Fate lays many springes for those with imagination".
Most importantly, bring the lion.
Properly trained,
he will still be lazy, but his mere presence is usually enough
to make the average idiot drop his projects
and treat you with the cowed amazement that a lady deserves.
______

image: The Guardian" by Alin Suciu

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hell Is Empty

You're right--
I failed to thank you for the pulsing crimson cancers you placed in little stiff formal envelopes
and then jammed into the heartwood of my bones.

I have been ungrateful
for your vigilance in doing surgery to my neck
with the sharp edges of your tiny Japanese fan,
that I might not succumb to pride.
How diligent you have been,
cut, cut, cutting just a hair's breadth each time,
but repeated so lovingly for so long
that my head now lolls 
and my new mouth is silent but lets my heart out in sprays.

I am abashed
that I have never properly expressed my admiration for your indestructible mask
that smiles within a flawless porcelain skin
while a roiling rot explodes underneath like a burst aneurism. 

All right. As you wish, then.
We shall pretend
that you do these things because you love me,
and that they do not murder my lit nerves with hammers and snake venom.
I will smile,
sick and struck with putrefaction,
lying worse than a waterboarded used car salesman when I croak out, "Mother,
yours is the very face of tender kindness."
You will blush and preen on cue,
but we both know you will never really be satisfied
with anything short of my complete demolition.
________

for grapeling's fantastic "masks" challenge at Real Toads.


 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Doll's Eye Lullaby

Deep in the shadow of the baneberry leaves,
hide in the doll's eyes all unseen.
China doll, rag doll, sitting down to tea.

China doll, rag doll, sitting all alone.
Girl with the sweet tooth never came home.

I blamed the moon.
Dollies blamed me.
One girl still beneath the baneberry leaves.
_____

a flowa poem for Kerry at Toads, and a 55 (counting the title) for G Man.

 
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marjorie

There were sounds,at night,
from down in the kitchen when no one could have been there.
It was just me, wishing.
It was just me, remembering.

There were moments when you could tell you were not alone;
you stopped half way up the stairs, frozen,
with me right behind you.
I'm sorry for that.

You were lonely,
and I was lonely,
always separate in the same space.
Does it matter
if I say that I had been alone for far longer?

There were cold spots.
That was my fault.
You wrapped your sweatered arms around yourself, and oh,
how I longed for those arms.

Bless the day you got bored
and went up into the attic!
Bless the trunk with my old photographs and letters.
Bless your curiosity.
Bless the curve of your shoulders 
and the shape of your small hands as you knelt there reading.

Dearest Esther,
How endless the days seem without you.
November has brought light snow already, and early nights.
Eddie and I went out for a long walk today, out across the fields--
he found a fat mouse to chase and he was so proud of himself, and so confused
when he came back to find me crouched over, sobbing.
I miss you so much.

What was it in my old bent-cornered portrait
that made you look, your dark eyes so concentrated,
and your lips parting without you knowing it?
What made you decide to carry my letters downstairs?
Why did you stay up until the moon was high outside the little window
as you read my heart?

Some girls say, "your daddy probably works for my daddy!"
Some women say, "A few of us play canasta Thursday afternoons. 
Won't you come?"
I say, "I have been dead since 1915,
and am buried behind the old wrought iron fence under the sycamore."
Please forgive me if I have lost the art of light conversation.

After the day you went to the attic,
and after the night you spent reading my poured-out words,
I could feel your fascination for me.
I wanted to feel more than that,
more badly than you can ever imagine.

Did the sight of my high lace collar
and my feathered, wide-brimmed hat from Chicago
make you think I was different?
After the faithless, casual women with their short hair
and their short hearts,
did you think you saw something different,
something richer and truer and warmer
in me?

I can't deny, mine was a different time,
but we had horse manure in the road--
life was still life.
People loved, and left,
and died,
just as they do now.

Tonight, I have come to your bed.
I am a lot of things, but I am not shy.
Against the flow of my time and place, I loved Esther,
and against the flow of time and death,
I want to love you, now.
I want to show you how longing expresses itself
when given a chance to become joy.

I am just a woman--
that is the thing I want you to see.
Tonight, I will undress,
leaving my long white dress across the arm of your reading chair,
and my Chicago hat on the dresser as if it were a landed bird.
Give me your hand, beautiful one.
Let me press it to my hip, my thigh, my breast.
You see?
In spite of everything,
my skin is warm and vulnerable and made for touch,
just as yours is.
________

photo: Evelyn Nesbit 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book review: "The Beautiful Cigar Girl"

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of MurderThe Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


On a sweltering day in July of 1841, a body was discovered floating in the water off a beach in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was hauled in and, upon examination of what was left of it, it was determined that the girl had been beaten and strangled. She made anything but a lovely sight.

In life, though, she had been uncommonly beautiful. The victim turned out to be none other than Mary Cecilia Rogers, "The Beautiful See-gar Girl" who had gained fame in New York while working the counter at Anderson's Tobacco Emporium. While such employment may seem workaday to modern readers, at the time it was a departure, and there was a fair amount of hand-wringing over whether such a job was proper for a respectable girl. In any case, Mary had what it took to bewitch and beguile Andersons' male customers with her dark good looks and her bright and friendly personality. In no time, Anderson's was teeming with cigar aficionados and those who bought cigars just to be near Mary.

When Mary turned up murdered, it was a cause celebre. The press ripped into the disorganized and slow-to-act law enforcement entities on both sides of the river. Anderson's had become something of a hang-out for the city's literary types, and one of these, a struggling alcoholic ne'er do well, decided to write a fictionalized account of the case and to solve it through what he called "ratiocination", or deductive reasoning. He set his version of events in Paris and titled it "The Mystery of Marie Roget." He introduced literature's first detective, named Dupin, who had first appeared in "The Murders In The Rue Morgue." The author, of course, was Edgar Allan Poe, who may in fact have known Mary Rogers in her capacity as counter girl at Anderson's.

In this book, Daniel Stashower skillfully intertwines the story of Mary Rogers with the fascinating and often dreadful life of Edgar Allan Poe, bringing the times and the people brilliantly to life. I learned a whole world of things about Poe that I never knew. As for Mary Rogers, her story had been largely lost to time, but here it is brought back to life vividly. I will offer a word of warning: no definitive solution for her death is arrived at here, though many possibilities are offered up. There is no final "a-ha!" moment, but the book is nonetheless well worth the read, and I do recommend it for anyone who likes to read popular history.



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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ruination

My love complained
that, within my brain,
my heart,
my soft little breast,

behind my deflections,
my affectations,
and all the rest,

she found me unknowable,
impenetrable,
mad, melancholy and inexplicable.

Is it (I asked)
the lazy way I've dressed?
or the time I've spent lounging as a lady may do
of an afternoon in my machine gun nest?

Why now, why this way?
Why when my hair is not looking its best?
Are there any other serpents caught in the lace
that you'd like to get off my chest?

To me, this seems unfair,
this demand of me to share
my moon
my stars
my air.

She said, you are a broken bird
whose beak is too silent and dark
to say the words that speak my mind
or ever hold my heart.
_______



Friday, October 18, 2013

fine.

A struggling author approached his friend William Ross Wallace who sometimes listened to the author's "not yet published poetical work".

"Wallace, I have just written the greatest poem that ever was written." Wallace listened and pronounced it "fine."

"Fine? Is that all?"

The author? Poe.

The poem? "The Raven."

He made nine dollars from it.
______

source: "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" by Daniel Stashower.

55 fine, nice, interesting words for G Man.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loaf

In Texas, I worked at an ice house,
for a cranky old New York transplant.

Little black kid brought pennies for a loaf--
old man blew up at him, chased him to the door.

Kid pushed, door stayed, face so scared.
I said "pull", he did, just in time.

Old man raised a newspaper rack at him, but I caught it from behind.
Kid went hungry.
_______

66 words for Words Count with Mama Zen.

In the early 80s, I had a job in a not very great neighborhood at a 7-11 type store. Texans call them ice houses. The owner worked the night shift with me, and he hated the locals. This little boy put all pennies on the counter for a loaf of bread, and this man took it as the boy messing with him, but the pennies were probably all he had. That was thirty years ago but I never forgot it. I've always wondered, if I hadn't been there to stop him, if he really would have brained that little boy with the newspaper rack over some pennies. I kind of suspect that boy never forgot that night, either.

Monday, October 14, 2013

a delay in moonlight

Here is what I think it was--
the edges of elm leaves were oval, like slow hours,
and they fell along the edge of the creek,
yellow as the lights in strangers' windows at early dusk.

Here is what hurt my heart--
a delay in moonlight, as the last crickets stumbled,
bewildered, into the crack in the dry wood 
at the base of my step.

I have been hearing them even in the overcast afternoons--
they know that my favorite soft black boots will only last
for one more season,
and that by the time it gets here, you will be gone.

Here is what I think will happen--
there will be ice, a little further from the banks each day,
and both itself and the elm leaves caught in it
will have edges, like each breath I take from now on.

Here is what I think it means--
there is nothing I could have done,
because the moon is caught in a reflection at my feet,
but will ripple and blur with the first step I take.
_______

 
 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

my dog and his new jones

A young man at the drug store saw me looking over the pet treats, and he recommended Oinkies bacon-wrapped chews. He said his dog gets one every night and loves them. I was hesitant, cos rawhide doesn't always digest so well, but he convinced me and so I brought some home. 

Well, Bosco LOVES them! No digestive issues, either. So now my dog has an Oinkies problem! It's really pretty cute how much he enjoys them, and the name cracks me up.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

art from wire hangers

I wasn't the kind of girl you wanted;
didn't want a girl at all, I guess.
Still, here I am--
a pretty smart, pretty funny, pretty different, pretty mess.
Gin didn't kill me;
I lived to tell.
Learned from thin air
to care for others and myself.

I'm my own kind of girl.
Your loss. 
_________

a day late for Fireblossom Friday and  G Man's Friday 55 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Contemplating the Divine

The locust trees have turned yellow,
and the sunset comes early in the evening.

Living across the street from Saint T's,
and feeling my own seasons shift,
I take to contemplating the Divine.

All that I am and am not
swirls in my imagination like leaves down the sidewalk.

How I love these poems,
and all the days and years distilled within them;

If you should see me looking half-lidded and sleepy in the wicker chair,
it is just this poet contemplating the Divine--

all the miraculous things
that I am
and am not.
_________



Sunday, October 6, 2013

For you, love

For you, love,
I have made my whole body a morning.
Birds rise from me,
a murder of crows gone soft as black lace
and as light as the tender intentions of my fingertips.

For you, love,
I know the wait has been long.
I know that you are a tangled garden
with a dark rose at its heart,
so I have spun a cocoon
and sleep next to you,
blessing the stem, your body, which called me.

For you, love,
I have clothed each clock with filament and incense.
Never mind them honey,
nor the things that seem to keep us apart--
you think you are waiting, but you are already arrived
In the shelter of my new wet display--
the one I bore and wear
always and only
for you, love.
___________

for magpie tales #89

Saturday, October 5, 2013

forgive like god

I love.
God loves.
Though God does not have a body,
which could get frustrating.

I loved you.
God did, too.
Then again, God loves everybody--
She spreads it around, that's what I've heard.

I knelt right here
to win Her ear,
and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed
my little heart out for you

that the most awful painful things
would smack you where it stings
and if
these wishes failed, why then,
I might have to consider
to forgive.

So I forgive
like God forgives,
though we both hold back flood and plague
just in case--

which could get messy,
Missy.
Just you wait.
_________

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Conquistadors

Across my back yard, trampling my hybrids and leaving divots in the lawn,
come Conquistadors.

They are a tired, yet arrogant, bunch.

They are unshaven and appear to have run out of soap and polish.
They have been wandering for a long time,
and they frankly stink.

My neighbors in all directions declared them gods,
and were dealt with at the point of a lance.
A few coughed themselves to death deep in the trees,
and their pets have gone feral.

I am the last to spit at mention of their name,
and now they have come for me;
I was waiting. 
My skin is rich with dark tattoos no Spanish lady would ever allow,
but do you see them here?
Watch, and I will summon them.

The Conquistadors laugh at the locals,
and have exterminated us for profit and simply because they could.
They have lice and diseases unnamed.

As they approach my door, I lift my hair.
I kiss the Catholic cross on its leather string,
and slip it over my head.
It rests between my breasts, where they can't miss it.

Do you suppose that men who no longer fear God
might still fear the trappings of God,
the ones they learned at their mother's knee back in Granada or Seville?

I conjure these women, sisters and sweethearts too,
each of them devout and pure, at least around family.
"Watch where you're walking!" I call.
The Conquistadors look up.
"Have respect!" 

I am dressed all in black, 
like the funeral of all they once had faith in.
I tell them it is Sunday--
they have been in the wilderness or at sea for so long, they have no idea.
I have tied a rope to one of my mules,
and he chooses this moment to take a few steps, ringing the bells.

The tarnished helmets come off,
and the Conquistadors make the sign of the cross,
stiffly, as if their fingers had forgotten the motions.
They may rape me tomorrow.
They may slit my throat and burn my house,
but for today
I have them in the palm of my hand.

I silently pray to my pagan American goddess
to inspire me with a way to close my fingers and snuff these Grandee bastards
while they mill in my yard
like rams who have, for a moment, forgotten their quarrels and horns.
_______