Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Ghost of The Midway

The ghost of the midway
is weighted
like a milk bottle,
stacked
like a sucker's game,
but no one can see her
so it doesn't matter anyway.

One night in July,
she fell from the Ferris wheel--
jumped
or was pushed,
and might only have been sleeping--
dreaming--
except that her body,
like a corn dog wrapper,
blew away
while the rest of her stayed.

The ghost of the midway
cannot get a grip,
cannot tuck little useless gloves
in her sash as irony or accent.
You could trust her, 
you could tell her--
knock her over 
with a feather--
but she is gray and gone to embers,
a holiday no one remembers;

so if you reach for her hand, dreamy fool,
like last year's fair
it won't 
and can never
be there.
_____

for grapeling's word list. I used fall (fell), grip and glove(s).

 
 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Bone Cage


Do not mistake the bone cage for the free wing.
One is just a draped cloth,
and the other, oh honey,
is everything.


I love you for talon and soft breast, both.
Whether we're gray or black,
with wings we're born,
and so formed, can go.

Do not mistake the bone cage for the sky entire.
One is filled and forgotten,
while the other finds its own
with endless unbordered desire.
________

I think the image, which I found at weheartit.com, looks like my love.

I am greatly saddened to hear of the passing of one of my lifelong favorites, Joe Cocker. So here he is.
 

 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Wax Angel

In the widow year of the bootleg bible,
seven plagues were worn in the hatbands of devils.
In the fortune cookie of the palsied calendar,
these were read--
fear, death, murder, disease, hate, horror and waste.

In summer, I planted a window box;
in autumn, a stripe of leaves on the sill,
and in winter, the pretty almost-weightless tail of a sleeping beast.

In our bed that November, you left me your bones
and gave your body to the noisy starlings.
Each evening, I wait for them in the dusk--
they assemble and there you are, whole again;
watching me cry over impossible things.

In the widow year of the bootleg bible,
a man selling loosies was killed right there on the public sidewalk.
His killers couldn't see him, and so they felt for him with their hands.
He said he couldn't breathe, but they wouldn't spare him any air,
because he was not a bird, and they were not the wind.

My love, survivor of the funeral year,
I bought you an angel carved from wax,
a pretty thing from a funky little shop before they lost their lease.

I will place her carefully between your ribs
to help you re-make yourself when you return.
Until then, I have my crystals, a Magic 8 Ball, and my Catholic faith,
a mighty fortress against the vagaries of life in your absence.
________


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Love Letter

Cradled lightly in her gloved hand,
inside her raincoat pocket,
folded carefully within a cream-colored envelope,

a love letter lay nested.

Though no bigger than a minute,
and kept closely by a private sort of girl,
in the way of small things well loved it could not help itself,

and took over the world, 
quietly, 
in ascension.

_________ 

My first effort since before I got sick. Be nice.

for the mini challenge and open link Monday at Toads.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Sick As A Dog

With apologies to Miss Skittles, I have been absent because I am sick as a dog, and have been for several days already. I have some incredibly ucky flu bug.  Skits does try to help by pouncing on me and barking, but I am worthless as a playmate. 

I will be back when i finally feel better.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Data Not Commonly Known

Neil never came back.
What is she supposed to do now? Dust?
She can't--
the task seems too monumental, 
and with him gone, who cares anyway?

He came out of the blue, fell from the sky,
a knight in shining armor.
She should've known he'd have a wife.

He went home to get some things
in 1969.
Now, here she is alone--
losing her mind,

getting older,
and wearing his stupid flag around her face
like a wedding veil.
______


Friday, December 5, 2014

Bells

Quasimodo hefts himself onto the handicapped bench of the cross-town bus,
then takes the newspaper crossword puzzle out of his backpack.

"This metal object has a tongue." 4 letters.
Quasimodo smiles and squirms in his seat because he knows this.
Bell!

"A set of tuned metal bells or tubes." 6 letters.
Chimes!
Quasimodo looks around to see if anyone has noticed his success.
No one has.

"Alexander Graham ____." 4 letters.
He doesn't know this one,
but he's arrived at his stop anyway.

At the Office For Americans With Disabilities,
Quasimodo has a desk. 
On it is a telephone which converts voice into text.

His friend Guy, at the next desk, waves at him.
Pointing to his phone, he signs "drunk asshole again."
Quasimodo's laugh is surprisingly pleasant, though of course, Guy can't hear it.

Quasimodo's phone lights up, indicating a call.
Guy has transferred the drunk dialer to him,
and can be seen hurrying off toward the break room with a bag of Doritos.

Looking at his screen, Quasimodo reads what the caller is saying:
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
                     How it swells!
                     How it dwells
                 On the Future! - how it tells
                 Of the rapture that impels
             To the swinging and the ringing
                 Of the bells, bells, bells -
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                     Bells, bells, bells -
   To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

"May I have your name?" Quasimodo types in.
"Eddie," comes the reply. 

That evening, at O'Brien's Tavern, 
Quasimodo and Eddie sit mooning over a pretty Gypsy girl.
"Go say something to her!" urges Eddie,
but Quasimodo just grins and shakes his head sheepishly.

At nearly two in the morning, Quasimodo hoists Eddie onto his misshapen back
and carries him back to the apartment he had mentioned.
All the while, Eddie mumbles rapturous boozy verse about the Gyspy girl.

Catching the last bus to the group home,
Quasimodo thinks of the girl, and of Eddie's beautiful poems.
"So...lovely..." he says out loud, but no one hears, 
not even the driver perched like a raven in his high seat behind the wheel.
_______

for Fireblossom Friday: mash-ups.  The quoted poem is, of course, by Poe.


      
    
    

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review : "Dickinstein: Emily Dickinson--Mad Scientist"

Dickinstein: Emily Dickinson - Mad ScientistDickinstein: Emily Dickinson - Mad Scientist by Shannon Yarbrough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A friend sent me a book I had won in a drawing and, knowing what a huge fan of Emily's I am, she slipped this one in with it. What a treat! Even though I had some quibbles, nonetheless this is the most imaginative, wild, unexpected, and entertaining book I have read in some while.

Yarbrough does something that few male authors seem to be able to do: he gets the women right. He has a real ear for how women talk to each other, and best of all, he brings Emily Dickinson to vivid and intimate life here. Her poems appear at the beginning of each chapter, and the descriptions of life at the Homestead made me feel like I was walking next to Emily every step of the way. Having visited the Homestead myself, and felt Emily there, this was pure joy for me.

So, naturally, Yarbrough then turns our girl into a mad scientist! Truth be told, she is not mad at all, except in the way of much madness being divinest sense. A friend sends Emily a copy of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", and that sets the wheels rolling. (I'll have more to say about that book in a minute.) Emily manages to create a machine that can restore life to small dead creatures. She starts with a damselfly, then a chipmunk, some bees, and a Labrador duck. All the while, she adheres to a set of rules she invents for herself, to keep her pursuits good and right. How long will *that* last, you may be wondering. Not long.

An alliance with a charismatic preacher she comes to call her Master takes Emily down a dark and disturbing path, involving grave robbing, reanimation of a corpse, and the whole hearse-load of Gothic stand-bys. But just when I thought the book had spun away from a believable Emily and straight into late night movie cliche land, it righted itself and stuck the landing.

I did have problems with some things. The author admits beforehand that he altered the timeline of when Emily attended school, for purposes of his story. No problem there. However, there are several other time snafus that just don't wash. One chapter is headed "1845", but then references, in past tense, an event that happened in 1856. That's the year Amherst's new train station opened, and Yarbrough has it electrically lit. He also has a motor car take Emily for a ride home, all in the mid 1850s, a quarter century before the earliest automobile, or electric lighting. The electric lights I could overlook, because it furthers the story, but the car just jarred, in my opinion.

Then there is the business of the "Master" fellow. One minute he is a new, if intriguing, acquaintance, and the next he is her Master with a capital "M". This is not the spirited redhead I know at all, sitting still for that!

I doubt that a copy of "Frankenstein" would ever have made it into Emily's hands. In fact, she was advised to avoid the poetry of Walt Whitman as "unsuitable"! (Too bad...I bet she'd have loved him.) However, the introduction of the Shelley book sets the story in motion, so let's just go with it!

Despite these hiccups, the novel never flags, Emily lives and breathes again (without electrodes!), and this is simply a gorgeous and singular humdinger of a book, if you love Emily (and creepy tales) as much as I do. To make it all even better, the soul of who Emily was stays true right to the end. Even the cover art is way cool, though uncredited. Five stars!



View all my reviews

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Devils

There are devils--
never doubt it.

They are in the details,
and they lounge on the brass cross-piece at the foot of your bed
all through your decumbiture.

Decarnate devils fuck with your read outs
and your precious little decastich.
This little devil screwed the meter.
This little devil scotched the poem.
This little devil cried we we we 
will goose you at your desk
at our will
and all the way home.

Here's your désobligeante 
with a devil on the box beneath the moon.
Here's your digitorium
with a devil to call the tune.

Forget what you've been fed
about doromanic deities.
All there is is devils,
all over,
all in,
all red.

Die now. Why not?
The devil gonna getcha anyway.
Maybe tomorrow.
More likely today.

But what about redemptive grace?
What about angels?
Oh, grow up.
To shelter?
To save?
The devil you say.

_____

thanks to march debzati for some devilishly darling D Words.

decarnate      denied or deprived of physical bodily form
decastich      ten-line poem 

decumbiture      the time spent by an invalid in bed 
désobligeante      carriage for one passenger 
doromania      obsession with giving gifts
digitorium      silent piano for practicing

 
 

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The King of November

Turn up the collar of your coat, King of November,
and keep talking. Coffee fresh from the pot couldn't warm me any better,
or make my cat eyes betray me and follow any more closely.

This is not my usual haunt. I do most of my waiting
high in the sharp black branches, stuck on a thorn and seeming to sing.
If I go silent now, Majesty, please don't mistake my mood as so many always have.

Would the world end, if I brought my kiss out from shadows
where I have stored it against claw-cut strangers and foggy, distracted loves?
It would at least stop me from talking, this once, eh Highness?

King of November, ruler of a random moment,
turn up the collar of your coat, and by your leave, I will curl myself there,
smaller than usual, an ornament of warmth and pretty utility,

maybe even content, too, until the next breeze arrives
to remind me of my penchant for Queens
and the sweet impossible joy that cats can never claim.
_______

for Get Listed, with grapeling


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Skittles, Wonder Puppy At Large !

Hey! What did you wake me up for, Mom?

Ooh, fun, time for me to go outside and survey my realm!

Here's my tree. I have to make sure that no one steals it!

Okay, back inside to keep on eye on my mom. 


Linked to Camera Critters!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Younger Woman

I want to be a younger woman in a former time,
working in a clock shop,
living upstairs with my nine-lived cat.

As a baby, I was dusted with shine from the moon,
refracted through my window at a different angle for every dream.
Mama said, dreams are nonsense
and life is mostly duty and a difficult business.

I want slender wrists and a silver watch;
hips as round as the bend in a river stream,
and my hat piled high with blooms and feathers.

Mama's half dead now, not remembering what she said five minutes ago.
I say, "Mama, look at the moon, changeless, ever the cool Mistress
of outward sky and inward seas."
At last, mama doesn't contradict me. She has forgotten how.

I want to be a younger woman in a former time,
wearing deep blue dresses flared at the shoulder and cinched at the waist,
with white lace at every edge.

"Pussycat," I will ask, in the night quiet above the clock shop,
"What do you suppose we were, when we were older?"
Her attention will stay on the skylight, and the moon beyond, 

as if there were no answer there;
or as if there were, and what foolish girl could fail to see it?
______

for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads: "Youth & Age"



Monday, November 17, 2014

Black & White

Few things in life
are black and white--

so they say.

There is a small world, hidden and spinning,
that I call my heart.

It has days,
nights.
Black,
white.

Oh what I wouldn't give to see your trusting smile one more time.

I have a new friend,
and she's a gem--

better behaved than you ever were, at that age--

but I can't help this rocking with my arms around myself, sometimes.
Black,
white,
and this silly mama crying

because you are gone and I don't know how to be in this world without you.
______



Sunday, November 16, 2014

The World According To Madame Zygansky

Madame Zygansky put ideas in our heads--
that much is true.

But to say that she turned us into what we became,
is to say that one woman can feather the crows,
toss them into the sky,
and turn day into night, like a parlor trick.

Investigators,
keen-eyed sirs,
wearing ties that your wives switched out this morning
in replacement of your own unfortunate choices--
question us,
fall in love with us,
betray those wives.

Solve nothing.

We were girls born as a lesson in biology,
mailed by our mothers to Madame Zygansky's doorstep,
aeropost, naturally.

Arriving as witless nightjars, we underwent a lustration
inside our tiny birdskulls.
Madame Zygansky sent books into our brains like secret police,
and music through us to denounce the gray futures
escaped with every second spent under her tutelage.

Dance with us, detectives.
If you keep your little notepads tucked between your palms and ours,
you may still be able to keep our faces--
and the sound of wing beats--
out of your dreams tonight.
Otherwise, in the morning, you will have to report and jail yourselves,
fondling the bombs we gave you as the trains take you away.

Madame Zygansky put ideas into our heads,
cobalt blue on ivory white, with a few flecks of black.

If she turned us into what we became, we bless her for it--
Only a Gypsy knows how to feather the crows
and toss them into the sky,
her flock alive and aloft, with all directions open.
_______

for Kerry's mini-challenge, and dedicated to teachers everywhere.
 

 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fearless Journeys Into Foreign Lands

In my 20s, I loved the newsstand.
Neatly stacked out-of-town editions might have been
pillows for my future lovers, just arrived, or
stepping stones across a river, never the same one twice.

Daddy would have been proud, seeing my devotion
to the early street, the Sunday supplement and the sports final. 
All of my poems, then, were papier-mâché,
and I wrote them around the crumbs from French bread,
and between bottles of Milwaukee beer.

These days, I have become a homebody,
but when I press my face to your skin, 
I always smell newsprint along with shea butter and lavender.
Part of the pleasure in loving another woman is the feeling of being on home ground,
as easy as raiding your own kitchen in the dark.

Still, love is always a fearless journey into foreign lands.
Even though I practice a daily discipline of advice columns and horoscopes,
having learned the language of you the way a novitiate learns about faith;
and even though I find home in your hair, your eyes, your voice,
you will always be feathered with a thousand pages that I somehow missed.  

So, here goes:
down the hatch, take that turn, trust that guide.
I love you,
fearlessly,
and always in the manner of front page news.
______