Friday, January 31, 2014

Pink Boots

I got pink boots.

WASPy god sitting on a cloud picking burrs out of his beard
and wondering why his woman doesn't kiss him.
He's sour, sends gray all day.

Weatherman's on suicide watch,
got the thousand yard stare
out the west window.

But I got pink boots.
Big western hat.
Skinny jeans.
Take that!
_________

55 stylish words for the G Man !


And guess wut?!? The three poets who brought you Gemini/Scorpio/Capricorn are back! That's right, Mama Zen, Hedgewitch and Fireblossom have a new book out, entitled Three-Note Howl: The Wild Hunt. We're excited about it! Pick up a copy at Amazon.com.

 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rain Light

Come in,
kick down the damage door where the skull-pitch bitchsmile sits,
have some nail and screwdriver stew,
burn down the kerosene cloud,
and rain light
little knee-capped fire goddess,
rain light.

Come in, 
crap out,
call the cops, cancel the Christ, 
sidewind down the ventilation shaft,
and eavesdrop on the vomit-talk of the municipal madman
who claps the tune to this whole gladhand genocide,
feed the lion crouched in the cushions of corporate homicide
and sink like a stone.
Down is the new up,
some like it rough
we need to know now, sister
whether you've got this.

Come in,
come on,
run down the hot tip of the century hidden in a 
pitchman's penny eyes. Let a lung loose,
scream it, scroll it, tweet it, fuck it,
be Bo Peep of the broken water main,
drown this demon-deck in the miles-wide plastic tide
and rain light,
little mercury-silvered mer-goddess,
for all the god damn good it will do
and fuck's sake and forevermore,
shine and shiver and

rain light. 

________


This poem was posted January 29th but then I deleted it cos....well, cos it is so angry. However, I have been urged by several readers to put it back up, so here it is.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The School For Brevity

meets only on monday.

masters stern as a disease
cut you dead off at the knees.

come be silent, locked away
before you half begin to say.

________

138 characters for Words Count with Mama Zen at Real Toads.
she asks for a twitter-like 140 characters or less.
sounds too much like haiku, to me! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poetry Appreciation

Spending the evening immersed in your poetry,
I feel wrapped in you,
invited into you,
turning the light and shadow of you
to my heart's content.

You have been my favorite from the first moment to this,
and from this moment on into the next...
reminding me once again of how I love
every day
come-as-you-are
beautiful
you.
____

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wide Brimmed Hat

I like a wide brimmed hat;
as if I could keep myself secret from the sun--
as if I could remain only a rumor to the rain.

I might wear it when I meet you beneath the clock in front of Filipe's.
Facing away, I will pretend interest in a passing autobus.

If I wear my wide brimmed hat and my big sunglasses,
then there will be fresh sheets on the bed tonight.
If I wear no hat, and keep my glasses up on my hair,
then I have found a stern gray god
and will soon be gone, to a mission in the hills.

This latter seems unlikely,
as fond as I am of my wide brimmed hat--
as vital to my style
as the ears that crown a cat.

Let the bus go by--
let me shyly dip my head as I turn,
so that my wide brimmed hat will hide the look in my eyes.
Hussy I am, 
and hussy I'll die,
but let's pretend just for now.

In my rented nest, you can cast yourself 
as the Seeker after Truth--
take my glasses lightly with your fingertips,
as the waiters do their trays when they pass the booths
at Felipe's. Give the lie to my girly lace--
remove it as if it were a stubborn student, and the Mistress--you.

A different fate for my wide brimmed hat, though,
I must beg. In exchange for my kisses bartered,
let it hang upon the post at the foot of my bed,
at a pleasing angle,
light blue ribbon cascading weightlessly down

like a lover's moon
after midnight above the Seine.
_________

for my Fireblossom Friday challenge at Real Toads: "The clothes make the woman"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In A Strange City

In a strange city,
where the local language sounds like gravel poured from a wine glass,
I found her selling tiny blue swans made from azurite.

Her swans were unexpectedly soft,
but she warned me that their blue would fade
with heat and time.

One eye was hidden behind her hair,
making her partial to half moons and split natures.
A caged bird faced away from her on its perch, singing to the public square.

She told me she was a Habsburg, and partial to carriages;
did I happen to have one?
No. I told her I was the Swan Police, and she must come with me.

When she laughed, it was the same,
exactly the same,
as a woman in New York, or Bucharest, or any other place where Gypsies are.

No dealer in antiquities ever touched a vase, or a sculpture
more tenderly than she touched my breasts, that evening in her two-room upstairs flat.
No occupying army ever met less resistance. 

Later, on my back and insensible, I had just the strength to take her hand 
and move it from its craftsmanship to my face, where her fingers left a sweet shine;
she laughed again, this time as rare as a royal.

I had to leave in the morning, of course,
but I packed the swans carefully, like sleeping babies,
more beautiful and less blue than even the day before.

_________

the city pictured at top is Prague, Czech Republic 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love Song for Connie Corleone

You made a fine and unforgettable bride,
but your husband...?
We won't be bothered with him anymore.

Beautiful as you were,
it is you, now, who captures my greater admiration.

I love your hair tied back headache tight,
the widows' weeds, and the jewelry
heavy as freight on a delivery truck.

What I love most is the flock in your eyes,
the murder of crows,
the steel of the guillotine behind your smile.

Let me be your command, darling,
already carried out.
________

for Real Toads. The theme is "eyes". I have exceeded the 75 word limit by 7 words, but it wasn't personal, only business!
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review: "Mavis"

MavisMavis by Brenda K. Marshall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Those of you who read my reviews know that I do not give 5 stars lightly. This novel, however, richly deserves them. Before I get into my review, just let me ponder aloud how unlikely it was that I even picked up this book. I found it on a bargain rack at some book store years ago, and it sat on my shelf for ages before I chose to read it. No one at Goodreads.com has even reviewed it, though its publication date is 1996. And yet how beautiful and engaging it turned out to be.

The title character, Mavis, is the eldest of six sisters raised on a farm in North Dakota. As the story begins, the sisters have all reached middle age, and half of them have moved away, but a shocking event brings all of them back home. Six months after their sister Irene dies in a fiery car crash caused by her vicious lout of a drunken husband, someone empties a shotgun into his face on a country road.

Mavis, the strong, no-nonsense, dependable, honest backbone of the family, confesses to the murder, even though no one, not even the investigators, believe she really pulled the trigger. So who did? What is going on here? Well, what is going on in this novel is, surprisingly, much less about a murder mystery than it is about the land, and this family, and the way all of that is tied together forever.

There is an age gap between Mavis and Maxine, the two oldest sisters, and the younger four. Maxine is a college professor in another state, Judy devotes herself to trying to preserve her looks and find ever-younger boyfriends, Janice is the quiet sister who works 9 to 5 locally, and Irene and Isabelle are the youngest, and twins. Isabelle lives in California, with her lesbian partner of nine years. She has never brought Linda home to North Dakota, but now she does. I hadn't realized there would be any gay storyline in this novel at all so I was stoked to find two of my tribe as characters.

Someone said, about Russian author Ivan Turgenev, that each of his stories is like a month in the country. After reading "Mavis", I felt I'd spent a long rewarding time in North Dakota (!) with characters who were real, and human, and whose problems mattered to me. Despite their differences, in age, in circumstance, in sexuality, and even in how they remembered their childhoods, these women all shared something vital, and unbreakable, that I loved being able to be part of as I read this book. Highly recommended.





View all my reviews

Monday, January 20, 2014

Noon

At noon, I licked sweet white frosting from my fingertip,
having already forgotten the little grease burn, 
from earlier, on my palm.

Later on,  I will find you sitting at the glass-topped table outside,
in your favorite teak wood chair with the green cushions.
I will run the same finger through your familiar curls,

under a half-stirred sky of light and shadow.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Plath at 350

At the top of some stairs,
at The Bus Stop of the Eternal Downpour,
I met a man.

He wore a beret,
and an old-fashioned high collar,
giving the impression that he was forever being jauntily hanged.

He told me that he had recently broken up with a life sized doll named D'zeray,
and then taken up with a cello.
Either one of them--but not both--
could fit easily beneath his bed.

He went on to explain that although the doll had been a fine listener,
she was a disaster as a dancer,
and Farran (for this was my new acquaintance's name)
could not live without music in his world.

I whistled a little of the Trumpet Voluntary,
and swayed on my boot heels like a Sikh snake charmer.
Nearby, a depressive fought a losing battle with a watercolor,
but I could tell my cello man had better possibilities.

"Where did you get your...companion?" I asked.
"I slipped her out from under Sylvia Plath's tear-stained cheek," he told me,
but the temperature in her final dream had dried out the wood,
and ruined its tone.

"I'm taking her down to the boat docks
to use as an oar,
and I will tell her the fable of the Selkie and the fisherman."

"Oh my sweet and idiotic owl," I said softly,
"she can never be the listener your old love was."
Then I slipped my arm through his and asked if he wanted to get out of there.

He did.
I feel certain that he never saw my tail switch beneath my raincoat,
but when he saw my cottage on the sand 
and plenitude of tuna fish cans,

he only told me how much he liked the soothing green of my bedding,
and, kissing the bell on the collar around my neck,
assured me that I was all the music anyone could ever need.
_________

for The Mag #203

image" "Musician In The Rain" by Robert Doisneau

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Spider Bride

I am Night.
I told you so from the start.
Half-asleep all the time, 
lit stars spill from my lips as I talk nonsense beside you, 
never with any notion of what I say,
not remembering,
but no less la magnifica noche for my failings.

When we make love, I hold a spider in one hand.
She is no bigger than a white lie,
and as light as a first doubt.
She is silent, something I can never be.
Perhaps you will choose her,
your spider-bride,
and leave me reading my empty palm by wick light.

A black cricket may linger in my hair to seduce you.
Duplicitous and sleek, she could show you
the way to loose silver moonlight from my red tangles.
Then, in the morning, 
dressed only in my blue silk robe,
I would find her set beneath the paving stones near my door,
as people appear and chatter until I can no longer recall my dreams.

There you'll be, low in the early sky, smug Sun,
ascendant and arrogant,
insisting that even my long shadow
is more your child than mine.
_______


Friday, January 17, 2014

Gypsy

I was born in a taxi cab--
mama had to rush home and dust,
so the cop who came
laid me on the seat of his cruiser,
near the shotgun.

I had such a tiny ten card
that it kept getting lost,
so I kept getting off.
I had a cardboard nest behind the bus station,
where I dreamed often of the prettiest judge
in the juvenile division.

When I met you, so many years later,
I fell in love with you instantly,
with an instinct and a hope
that you might be lenient in your sentencing.
Your kimono reminded me of Her Honor, and of a black sail,
and dragons who kindly devour those
who know they will never find their way.

The London, Ontario Holiday Inn parking lot
turned out to be a fine place to make out.
Businessmen shifting briefcases from one hand to the other
and beeping their car doors open, would have a story to tell
about the two women poets they saw
Frenching in the January wind.

It was the best day of my life--
better than my wedding day, better than my divorce,
better than not being able to afford an attorney,
but being provided with one.
When you took my hand inside the mall,
and the girl at the ice cream stand liked us because we were in love,
it was like blowing up against a bank bag full of happiness.

The car I drove home that day had a sticker that said,
"Sorry I missed church, but I was busy practicing witchcraft
and becoming a lesbian". 
It died one day, next to the freeway,
having forgotten Canada, and you, and its own name.

These days, I wait for buses on the slushy crap-ass streets of Detroit,
and I don't expect to be loved, or let off,
or forgiven for my Gypsy ways.
I've heard the mermaids singing and I've heard another woman moan,
but I was born in a taxi cab--
I'm never going home.
___________

for Corey's "Person of Interest" challenge at Real Toads. I have written about a woman I knew on a lesbian poetry forum, and we met in person half way between us, in London, Ontario. It really was one of the best days of my life. Weirdly, I experienced one of the worst days of my life two years later in a different London....the one in England.

image at top found on weheartit.com

I was inspired also by Tom Waits' song "Whistling Past The Graveyard".

 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Notice of Temporary Changes at Shay's Word Garden Blog

Hello, reader!

Let me just hang my hat up, and we'll go over the changes!

As some of you already know, Fireblossom is on vacation. (woman pictured is not Fireblossom; she is a paid stunt double.)

What you may not know, is that her trusted moderator and editor Catblossom is also on vacation.

However, Catblossom's staff of tigers will still be working to bring you the best in modern poetry. Here they are shown greeting an applicant known for writing haiku.

Also, visiting professor Dyson Hoovervac will be on hand to go over your submitted manuscripts. He is a rare talent, one of the only editors likely to tell you that your writing is not mechanical enough!

Even though Fireblossom is on vacation, she will still be writing and posting new poems with regularity, when she isn't discussing literature with friends....

...or retiring to her private library...

...for periods of deep meditation.

Meanwhile, don't forget to visit other bloggers, such as the mild and soft-spoken Mama Zen,

or the shy and retiring Hedgewitch!

Your ever-vigilant girl reporter,

Shay

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

For Young Poets

First, stop banging away at silence 
like you would with a snow shovel against the ice.
A poem is not a dancing dog,
summoned to perform on its tiptoes at parties.

Put away all spirituous beverages.
Those who write while pitching in a sea of booze
do so in spite of such idiocy, not because of it.
If you haven't the imagination to see things differently without such props,
then become a mail carrier or a bus driver.

Read.
Read Lorca and rip your hair out til you're bald.
Read Neruda and flail, little fledgling on the cliff-side!
Read Plath, tuck your children safely in their room and then
to the kitchen with you to contemplate why cowards can't be poets;
at least not for long.

All you wild spastics shouting at the coffee bar,
waving pages and thinking volume and auctioneer-speak make poetry?
Sit down. Have someone duct tape your cake hole shut.
Think about what you haven't done, until you're ready to join us.

Now, to purge.
Write several great long hunks of unreadable shit,
staggering along on broken syntax,
with words strung together willy-nilly like last year's holiday lights,
all the similar-colored ones in a row, and half of them burned out.
Write haiku about a yew tree or a cherry blossom.
Get your paper plate-eyed friends to declare it all "brilliant!"
Then throw it away and we can get started.

Light candles.
They won't help you to write, but I like them.
Lock the door and don't answer it;
your husband will find his favorite golf shirt on his own,
and your children are already ruined anyway.
Let's do this thing.

The hard part is already done!
The lonely rejections and upheavals of childhood,
the sexual confusions and self-destructive rebellions of youth,
they're over with.
The burials, the pointless treks, the lovers who laughed and left,
the beetle of doubt and otherness digging its burrow behind your heart--
all of this is long complete.

Now, just stare out of the window at the sorrowful blue of the sky,
and the silver beauty of the impossibly distant moon.
Bite your knuckle if you have to, but stillness is best,
even to the point of drooling and apparent catatonia.
"What are you doing?" you'll be asked.
Working. Slaving. Making art.
Understand this, give yourself permission for this,
even as the dishes fester in the sink and the baby cries;
The seeds of greatness will germinate inside the still soil of you, The Poet.

It's not an easy road,
but there is soul and pride to it.
Your poems will be your own particular inverse garments to wear,
heart and guts to the world.
You have joined the cabal of those who possess a true talent:
unicycle riders have their uncanny balance,
lesbians their tongues,
demons their blackness;
now you have your poetry and people to admire you and say,
"It's nice",
"This is what you were doing?"
and "Huh."

Or,
you could still apply to Beauty College.
It's up to you.
________

for Get Listed at Real Toads, this time with Brendan.
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Library Of Longing

"scratch a cynic, find a romantic"

In the library of leaves and longing,
in the candle annex,
near the catalog of degrees of evening light,
I found you, at your desk
as if in the cockpit of an indigo dream.

You had set your glasses down
upon an open page of The Divine Magazine--
the one that no one wants to read;
the one that breaks everybody's heart.

I am here to sign the register
of those for whom your face is the only face--
the Special Collection, shown only by arrangement,
of the unlocked, though tangled, vine.

What can I say, but that I love you?
though you are not free
though you are not mine.

I know enough to say nothing else--
not here,
not now,

but I'll leave these poems on every stair
to help you find your way
even through these, the most terrible volumes;
even through separation and broken bindings,
even through the most blinding tears.
______

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Illuminati, 20 Years On

Here I am,
arriving like a hailstone from the storm,
a little woozy from the impact
but still present enough to flash you my after-midnight smile.

We were a fantastic gabbling litter of girls,
crammed together in a Longaberger basket--
you were bound to love one of us, need another, fuck a third...

Have some of this pale lifeless shit I baked--
some kind of cornbread up to its eyeballs in ergot mold.
Spread out on the minor island of my rote embrace;
hold still and one of us will slather you in something resembling a genuine emotion,
purchased for a price on the trip in.

I love a reunion,
love to haunt the living and make them watch slides of long excruciating trips we took together,
the whole pod of us,
betraying each other, ourselves,
and making loud drunken scenes to remember.

Not like now, when remote-control Jesus
comes walking across the pool to scatter us into the hell we reserved for ourselves
without a thought,
when we were young and you believed you could illuminate us
with your stupid poetry
that cowered, pissing itself,
calling the mess it made, art.
_______

for the Sunday Whirl #143. The words were: illuminates (I dropped the "s"), scenes, haunt, impact, price, pool, litter, need, one, remote, storm, and lifeless.

Gator

In my alligator dream,
there was not enough Revlon to reverse
all the signs of aging
and fighting
and staying in the bath for far too long.

Nonetheless,
I found it easier to smile.
I went through dentists like tissue paper,
because I just couldn't resist the urge
to snap my jaws 
and send them shaking down my throat, whole.

In my alligator dream,
I was too large to flush down the toilet.
As a result, I was able to occupy
any apartment I wanted.
The heating bills, however, were enormous,
and the water kept shorting out the space heaters.

I lost interest in reading,
opera,
gardening,
and all the other stupid shit I used to love.
All the wasted time!
I could have been squabbling with other alligators
over the bloated, stinking carcass of some unlucky waterside creature,
and making off with my share, triumphant.

That is what I did in my dream.
I used no fork and spoon.
I declined to chew my food.
I relieved myself in the water and made no bones about it.
Ever the lady, I laid eggs like some batshit brood hen,
and when they hatched,
I allowed them to express themselves
and raise themselves
because alligator mothers do not helicopter.

I woke up grinning.
I grabbed the inattentive lover at my side and shook the shit out of her,
then rolled.
"What the fuck?!?" she screamed, stumbling to her feet.
She grabbed her clothes--and on impulse, some Aspercreme--
and was out of there, rubbing her arm and cursing.

I liked being an alligator.
It gave me a lot of permission,
and I didn't care if people liked me or even tasted good.
I miss my powerful tail
and my short ridiculous legs that never needed shaving.

So when you disturb my bath,
coming in without knocking and asking some retarded question,
realize that I am not the same anymore.
Channel the small mammal you are built around,
and read the reply in my eyes
as they look back at you
from just above the surface.
______

Author's note: In reality, I have no desire to be an alligator; I would have to be an Aveeno-gator, and I don't go near the water unless there is foaming bath soap in it. I would get kicked right out of Alligator Finishing School.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Seeds

At the top of marble stairs,
those hard smooth stairs pressed from prayers that could not be granted,
I will leave twin birds each with half a song.

You will know them by their scent,
and by the midnight-storm sea-water blue of their melancholy.
My kiss will come back to you, folded inside their feathers.

Follow the marble to where it breaks,
take the root-bone broken dirt road that splits the upstairs floor.
I will strew lilies to guide you, as sweetly as an easy death.

Oh, did I mention how restless, how diffuse
is the road I have lured you down? It webs out, becomes thousands,
becomes legion, and down just one of them is my bed and my heart?

I wish you luck.
Place these non-seeds in your hand and let your breath begin them.
Follow them. Splinter as you do, and I'll kindly bury each letter of your lies.

You should have loved me right, when I flowed hard for it.
Now, well now, this is the only way, and I have avalanched everything behind you
with black gems that turn to rot if you touch them.

Just do the best you can, my second chance baby.
Just pretend your feet are magnets and that I am true north.
Just follow the strange-birthed backwards sun that comes up in the west,

so that you, too, can know what it means to be scorched by a blank face.
______

Milkweed orb by Deborah Glessner. Used with permission for Artistic Interpretations With Margaret at Real Toads.

Check out the song. I dare ya to sit still. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Report Of An Incident

When she spun out
in her little car
on the black ice
that waited like The Cosmic Punchline,

she thought
no,
I'm not done,
I'm not ready,
but then again

no more work
no more collection calls
no more having to get up and fuck with it all.

In the time it took
to hit the rail
time slowed down
and her coffee in the little holder

spun with her--
full on one side and
disappearing on the other 
as she thought,

I'm ready
I'm not ready
I'm ready
I'm not ready
I'm
I
am

not.
___

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kitchen Girl

There are stairs,
scarce been used--

the smell of wood,
straight cut and new--

all of it built
quite recently, for you.

Didn't I tell you, baby,
I'd get you before a preacher one day?

Didn't I tell you, Lonesome,
that I'd find the words to make you stay?

I saw it all,
can't prove I lied--

in the case of those
who've lately died.

A ring means an unbroken circle,
a rope means a broken neck--

I knew one day I'd make you fall,
and dance, and turn--
first east, then west.
________

Izy at Real Toads says take her to an exotic location where you'd never want to go. All right. I think a gallows is fairly exotic and I certainly never want to end up there.

The title is taken from a traditional song of the same name. It goes, in part:

I never will believe what one man says
though his eyes be blue or brown--
unless he's swingin' from a scaffold high,
sayin', darlin' I can't come down.