Saturday, November 30, 2013

kindness

Kindness--
I aspire to it.
Think of the martyred saints secure in Heaven with their reward!

If it had been me,
I would have pulled the arrows out and made bones of them;
I'd have stood up out of the fire pit and made somebody pay.

I picture myself sanguine,
mild as milk,
but sometimes I get tired.
The day goes on and on as if it were The Train Of Infinity
hogging the crossing on some devil-hot day,
and at times such as those, it may become necessary 
for me to pat you on your head,
replacing the bloody divot I have taken out of it.

Look at my hands!
Soft and harmless, now, as unbaked dough.
I only ever have the best of intentions,
and that has served me well in my job with the Highway Department.

Do you think you could trust me again
some day,
in some bright future where mobs are made lazy 
by a surfeit of love and patient understanding?
Or will you will yourself to die just to get the ear of God
and talk shit about me?

Kindness
is my watchword and my natural way.
That's what I'll be explaining, hoping for acquittal,
pro se, having to do everything myself--
getting the pencils and pens,
getting my own glass of water,
getting the maximum,
getting the legal pads, the table itself, the chair.
________

 

Friday, November 29, 2013

lo tech

you smirked and whipped out the sun,
dangling from a chain like the celestial watchdog.

go ahead, try to hypnotize me with it.
try to blind me.
i will blink at the last possible moment.

your vision for us thus confounded,
and my own barely saved,
here we are--

two sundials telling time by shadows.
________

for G Man's Friday 55!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

white bird

i was in bed
when a buzzing curled inside my ears--
it may have been music i forgot to turn off, in the other room.
it may have been roadwork down in the dirt-turned, workboot street.
it may have been your name
spoken from my dreams by a female priest,
wearing denim and flannel,
on her day off, smoking on the steps of Saint T's.

i get so confused--
one rain drop and i'm growing green skin,
building arks,
playing midwife, saving the world.
then again,
there are days when i would barter the world away
just to be in your arms.

i grew you a song,
carefully,
in a coffee can on my window sill.
that spring, each white bloom
had dove's wings and flew
across all of this blue-edged snag-hearted geography we call living.
i told them to go to you.
i gave them sweet jam messages.
i leaned out my window and screamed, hurting my throat for a week,
and then i slept until winter.

i woke in bed
with a buzzing in my ears.
solitude embraced me from both sides,
whispering a bitter catechism.
they hid your name.
they silenced all music.
they said, "you are ashes, dear,
nothing more."

that was when my bird-blooms came back.
all of them, soft and lovely and innumerable,
each of them bearing your reply--
you said,
"these came from you and to you i return them."
i finally understood, and that was when i went up,
vaporizing my weird guests but sparing the birds,
scorching out poems like some kind of vengeful torch.

my immediate world reduced to ache and feathers, 
carbon and snow,
swirling black
white
black
white
black
white

magic i own
magic i birth
magic i can't stop.
blue
indigo
black

white.
______

for Kerry's black-and-white challenge at Real Toads.

 

Monday, November 25, 2013

poem girl

packed deep in the roots of my teeth,
i keep everything i long to say, but don't.
i am as pleasant and sweet as a drink of anti-freeze--
kiss me, i hold thirty-two volcanoes. 

it turned cold, but you had your scarf,
your soft gloves,
your navy pea coat;
what did you need me for?
nothing.

longing cracks my bones open
as if they had been dropped from height by birds.
impossibility is a handy rock--
bombs away, 
the fall,
the split,
the blood-heart in the white shell.
i am a love letter written in angel spit,
misdelivered into hell.

i thought of you last night
and moaned.
there is no other mercy like your hair, your voice, your body;
i am krakatoa
i am a siberian fireball--
my ribs lay flattened for miles,
they heard my stupid whimpering on the streets of paris,
and the skies over new york stayed dusky and dark at noon.

i'm just a girl,
in love with you.
you have a husband you keep close like a voodoo doll--
you hang your heart on him like a blue star.
here is my smile,
empty and harmless.
here are my words, crimson-black on the page,
and when they hit the sea, the sea boils
and every beautiful creature
every mermaid
every siren
every humble shell
is turned to ashes with the expression of my useless flow of sorrow.
_______

image from weheartit.com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

calling

i was thinking--
between the nail that breaks on the drawer handle
and the wicked in the world and the wick in the candle--
that there are great drifts of questions
and little leaves of answers
that come when they will and only for a moment.

i was walking--
and saw a ghost through the window of a vacant house--
she looked so bewildered and lost,
so out of her element and with such a space to cross--
i said to her, sister,
isn't that always the way
isn't that just always the way?

we only want to be loved, don't we,
whether time is on its way up or going down--
and those others who are gathered around
may be devils or angels--
may be lovers or strangers or really anyone under the sun,
all in or out of the same skin--
together and alone--
haunting each other and calling, like spirits far from home.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hey, guess what today is?

November 21st is all about a certain someone.

Here's some clues!

She's been around a hell of a long time,

she's both old school and hip,

she's a little bit rocker

and a very familiar blogger...

She's Kelli and it's her birthday today! 

Drop by The Zen of Motherhood or Another Damn Poetry Blog and wish her a happy birthday, won't you please?

Happy birthday, Kelli!

--from Shay, Catblossom, St. Creola, and all the Danny's girls

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What the fox said

Rooster guarded his white brides;
strutted 'round the yard with pride.
Cockadoodle-doo, Rooster,
cockadoodle-doo.

Fox said, "Rooster, let me in.
Let Fox Confessor hear your sins.
Let me save your soul, Rooster,
let me save your soul."

Fox and bird went off alone.
Fox ate meat, spit out the bones.
"Never sin again, Rooster.
Now, where are those hens?"
______

this was meant to be for Mama Zen's Words Count at Real Toads, but I blew the 43 word limit, ending up with 59. Even G Man would say I overdid it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book review: "To Sleep With The Angels: the story of a fire"

To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a FireTo Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire by David Cowan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


On December 1st, 1958, in Chicago, a fire started under a remote stairway next to the boiler room in the basement of Our Lady of the Angels school. There were fire doors on the first floor, but not on the second, so after smoldering for at least a quarter of an hour and gaining heat and power, the fire leapt up the staircase, which had become a virtual chimney. Also, a disused connection to a water fountain allowed the fire inside the wall, where it found its way to the narrow cockloft above the ceiling of the second floor classrooms.

By the time anyone noticed smoke, the blaze was already set to be a killer. Like the elementary school I attended, OLA was made of wood, plaster, and paint, and went up like a torch. Children were trapped because thick, suffocating smoke blocked the stairway out. In the end, 92 children died, as well as 3 nuns who perished alongside their students.

This book is extremely well written and gripping. The description of the fire itself is both horrifying and mesmerizing, but the book goes on to describe the young man who confessed to having set the fire in a trash barrel, and the effect of the fire, even decades later, on the students, the nuns and priests, the firemen, and the neighborhood as a whole.

If you like true stories about ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations, I recommend this book highly.



View all my reviews

I am

I am a gravel road of a girl,
a glass jar filled with sharp-edged sea shells;
a spiky tail of a girl, swishing,
not the sort of girl you could take to dinner and impress anybody.

I have tried, at times, to be as smooth as a table top,
smooth as the slice-side of a wheel of cheese,
but the flock fills the arms of my sweater,
the body boils with them--

I am not going be able to stand still for long like that.

Did you hear me singing?
Did you say, please, please honey, shut up?--
that was the flock, filling my throat, stealing my breath,
rushing out of me with ribbons of red in their beaks.

Did you wonder why my kiss was so hungry,
my hands so restless?
I was afraid you would feel the flock and leave.
I was afraid I would have to give back your kisses before I even tasted them.

As for my hands, I was holding on.
The flock wants to take me like an updraft,
they want me to see what they see
until my illusions freeze one by one and the sky storms me back out.

I am a devil dancer of a girl,
a heart beating in a talon cage;
I am a blemished stone of a girl, swung on a leather string,
not the sort of girl you could leave at home and expect good things to happen.

I am a million wings with a soul inside.
I am gone like a broke-backed rat.
From the nest I came and to the nest I return,
and if I am torn apart and devoured, then at least I will be home--

in death I will be done,
silent, sky-shocked,
and still at last.
_______

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fireblossom Friday: my favorite poem

Dear readers,

Over at Real Toads it is Fireblossom Friday--or will be, a few hours after I post this--and I have asked everyone to select their best or favorite poem from their own work. I really had a hard time deciding. I finally couldn't decide between these two. One is more truly poetic, but the other is a story poem and as my readers know, I love to write that way, too. Please forgive me for trying your patience with so much babble, but I couldn't find any haiku in my notebooks!

 


"The Far Garden"


When I was young, I asked,

Why are my arms made of blackberry vines?

And why do I

Most love to sit

In the far garden filled

With strawberries and mint?



And why do I have

Cat-tail colored hair?

Why is the thunderhead

A black mother bear?

Why is my skin filled with restless blue lightning

And the pull of the moon?



You dreamed it, child--

Is all that I

Was told, and it's

A sin to lie

A sin to lie.



When I was young, I ran

Away through the wheat under bright summer sun

Until I was alone

Save for sparrow and crow

With south wind for sign post

And further to go



I sang to the quicksilver

Dead in the earth

Who lay with the bear's teeth,

The strawberry red,

And the sweet things that were



You dreamed it, child--

Was all I was told, but the

Far garden called and we

Grew up wild

Grew up wild.

___________

"The Far Garden" is included in my poetry book My Mad Love, available from Amazon.
___________

 
"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 an old cowgirl hat.

Linked to Real Toads Fireblossom Friday.

Monday, November 11, 2013

trifle

There is a poem I wrote for you,
a trifle scratched with a fingernail file into some stranger's parquet floor.

There was an accident--
I stumbled inside the nearest house,
leaving smears of blood like sloppy lipstick 
on the glass panes of the study door.

Foolishly, I tried to kiss the air,
though it didn't have one molecule of your scent in it.
I fell, then crawled up into a chair, feeling sick and dizzy.

The alarms in the house were made of clarinets.
The police who came wore blue serge
and knew all the standards.

I told them I was delivering a donor poem,
so if they come up your walk with their little ice chest,
receive them. Remember your southern manners.

Eventually, the blood will wash out
and I will stay in my grave like a bookmark.
Until then, know that I was thinking of you
all the way up until the end.
_______

 

 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I waited for you

I waited, wearing the pink dress,
which should tell you how young I was,
how soft I was,
when I began.

When you're up to your eyeballs in estrogen,
you'll do things no sane person would ever do--
you wait your turn.
You hold your tongue.
You stand there and cry boohoo,
but your hair stays nice and that's something.

You see, I wanted to look good for you,
should you ever arrive.
I wanted to smell nice, too--
not like the usual napalm and pancakes one finds
in the trailer park
or the bus station.

I waited, patient as a saint.
Thinking me one, little boys beheaded me,
set me on fire,
ran me through,
and denounced me as a sorceress,
but I was just a girl
waiting.

An old woman came and cleaned my dusty eyes with a pungent cleaner
sprayed onto a rag made from the Pharaoh's robes.
After that, I saw how it was--
you were never going to show.
Oh sure, you kept sending pigeons with little messages tied to their legs,
but never anything substantial.
You never picked up the rotary phone in the warden's office
to talk dirty to me.
Not once.

Now, 
I hear from our spies that you've fallen on hard times.
I hear that your lips are turning black and curling off,
for lack of kisses.
Believe me, I know all about heartache and I'll be there
as soon as I see a dinosaur
driving a Deusenberg
and singing "Sonny Boy" in blackface.
Until then,
you can wait for me.
________

art: The Forgotten Expectation by Mark Worrall

for Real Toads mini-challenge.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hero To Us !

Corey Rowley walks into Danny's Coffee Shop.
Her eyes half-closed, the Succubus purrs, "Hi, Dreamboat!"

Chloe the serial killer steps in front of her.
"Pay no attention to Sleepytime Gal over there. Let's go get better acquainted, Cor."
With a roll of her hips, she steps closer,
looking down then back up.

"I can't consort with sinners, " says Corey.

"Huh???" say the Succubus and Chloe in unison. 

As Corey sits down, Denise the waitress brings him a bottle of tequila and a suggestive smile.

"None for me," he says. "Bring me a bottle of Squirt, and a lime, please."
She does, but with the most quizzical expression on her face.
When she sets them on the table, 
Savanna the teenage runaway takes the knife from her boot
and offers it, handle first, to Our Hero.
"For the lime."

"Is that a weapon?" he asks, sounding shocked. "Do your parents know you carry that? Shouldn't you be in school?"

As the Danny's girls all stand around looking at him as if he'd grown an extra head,
God the waitress walks up and plants herself in Corey's lap.
Crossing her legs, she unwraps a candy bar and feeds it to him.
"It's a Snickers, baby. Cos you're not you when you're hungry!"

He downs the candy bar and looks a little dazed for a moment.
In the next booth, the Dark-Haired Chick is wearing way cool shades
and petting the Queen of the Vampires, in black panther form.
The QOTV sets her ears back, shows her fangs and lets loose with a fearsome growl.
Corey blinks, then smiles.
"Hi, Shay!"

After that, Corey hangs out and plays guitar for the Danny's girls, 
who are all over him like white on rice.
Somehow, he endures.
_______

for Real Toads "penny for your thoughts."


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ms. S.'s Love Song

There are gifts and then there are gifts.
Daddy gave me mine when he let me have you,
though, honestly,
he gives me most anything I want on a silver platter.

Like the runaway train said,
it's all downhill from here, baby.
Shhh, don't speak--
you'll break the mood, like men always do.
I have plans for you.

Come with me, down to the river.
Are you feeling a little light-headed?
Having trouble keeping your feet?
Just stick with me, babe.
I'm gonna roll ya,
roll ya like your back ain't got no bones.

Here we are.
Let me run my fingers through your hair.
A little touch on the top of your head
and you know what I want--
down you go, sailor.

I love the way your eyes seem to look up at me
as your head dips,
bobs,
sinks,
sated and seaworthy,
never to be thirsty again.
_______

for Get Listed at Real Toads, with Ed Pilolla. I used "river', "break", and "downhill".

picture: Cristina Scabia of Lacuna Coil

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

stage fright

i was right in the middle of something,
when i died, just like that.
my first thought, when i saw myself on the floor,
was to right the chair i had been sitting in.

i tried, but
my hand went through it like a breeze.

i had just really started to believe that i was gone
when the light appeared, just like they always say.
c'mere, said the angels,
take the tunnel ride to Endsville.

oh no.
oh nuh nuh nuh nuh nooooooooo.
i got stage fright.
i could see all my dead relatives waiting for me
under a picnic tent,
but i couldn't move, any more than my poor body could.

so i stuck around a while,
rapping on stuff and turning on the lights when no one was home,
but when they brought in a team to investigate me, i had to stop.
they held out a little microphone and asked,
"are you there?
what do you want us to know?" 
they were looking for EVPs, but 
i got stage fright.

i was one miserable gal after that.
i sat around all night, silent as the tomb,
and during the day i was hardly even there at all,
thin and pale as a sheer curtain.

into my misery and loneliness came the beautiful Saint Creola.
she said, "this way, toots," and held out her lovely hand.
when i hesitated even still, she added,
"i'll go with you. c'mon."

when you go down that tunnel, you spin.
did you know that?
you spin like a windcatcher.
i wobbled toward the picnic tent like a bowery drunk.
my old dog was there,
but Saint Creola had gone.

she knew that he would take good care of me,
soothe my nerves,
do dumb stuff to make me laugh until i got used to the place
and even afterwards, too.
woof!
welcome to Endsville.
on your marks, everybody.
annnnnnnd....
scene two. take it from the top!
and i did, just as if i'd been raised center stage by inveterate hams.
________

picture: cristina scabia of lacuna coil


Monday, November 4, 2013

Poem for early November

Many of the things I loved when I was younger, I still love--
split-rail fences,
yellow leaves from the walnut tree coming down in bunches,
and my dog lifting his face in joy to the breeze.

When I was younger, I loved older women;
some of them loved me back,
kissed me,
called me,
let me in their front doors.
I still love the same kind of woman,
it's just that they aren't older anymore.

As October turns to November, and I go out walking past the wooden fences
and beneath the tall, changing trees,
I realize that it's true--
the child is mother to the woman,
and I still love so many of the same things I did when I was young.
There are names that I love to speak,
faces that I look for in a crowd.

When I was younger, I loved older women--
I still love the same kind of woman,
but now,
I am older than she is.
No matter, as long as there are
autumn days like this,
some time to enjoy them,
and that something in her voice that lets me know
that, despite the season,
her door will stay open until I get there.
_______

 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Juniper Berries

Use juniper berries to season blackbirds.
For best results, 
serve them in the middle of the night--
wake your guests from their claustrophobic nightmares
with the ringing of small bells.
Offer relishes, garnishes,
cold water from a cistern,
and, if necessary,
warm illumination from shattered lantern glass and kerosene.

None of this will make you miss her any less.
None of this will make you forget how her long black hair felt
wrapped around your fingers or
trailing slowly across your breasts.
It is too much to ask of a juniper berry to restore sweet skin
where you are now nothing more than ropey white waste from old burns.

However, when you withdraw from the panic-scented chambers 
where your offered dish has been refused,
you may then feel free to retire.
Go moan into a backwards wind,
imagining feathers the color of her hair.
Capitulate to a nest of new misery
and an egg to enter
like time,
like regret,
like a hard beak-shell that will presently vomit you,
caroling poetry,
into Hell.
_______