Sunday, March 30, 2014

Moth & Butterfly

Oruga, polilla, mariposa--
Caterpillar, moth, butterfly--
there was no other stucco and tile alleyway to walk down,
no other dish to taste,
no other moon for the coyote to sing under,
by the end of that summer with you.

Velas, beso, caricia--
candle, kiss, caress--
there was nothing left but to wrap myself in your blankets...
rojo, blanco, naranja--
and set myself solitary for the months it took
to turn my love from a careless flow through open fingers,
to a dry distillation,
paper wings of poems
that remember you, and though changed,
it is still me, corazon,
never far from the flame...

oruga, polilla, mariposa--
rojo, blanco,
naranja.
_______

For Susan's bi-lingual challenge at Poets United. My Spanish, 30 years after leaving San Antonio, is spotty at best. I hope I haven't mangled it!

corazon--heart

rojo, blanco, naranja--red, white, orange. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

AGS

In the high grass place behind the half-built house,
there were grasshoppers on stalks
and it was just a short, secret walk 
down to a creek no one else knew about but us.

Back there, we didn't care about the real world--
there were willows and birch
and a glorious feeling of being out of the reach
of those who didn't like the girls we'd become.

I brought Peach Creek and you had Berry Frost,
and then there was a bottle of Plum Hollow just in case.
You lay back on the grass and raised your arm,
shading your eyes as you watched the red-winged blackbirds race.

We should have been in class, mute and bored silly,
but instead we went down there and talked about everything,
most of it ridiculous, but it didn't matter--
we had the day and a buzz and our mood rings stayed cherry red.

I shouldn't have kissed you, I guess.
I shouldn't have given in to the comfort and the blur.
There were things we kept secret after that,
truth we saved for Annie Greensprings, and only spoke for her.
______

For the Real Toads mini-challenge. For anyone who doesn't know, Annie Greensprings was a cheap wine they had in the 70s. I loved the stuff. You kind of had to be there.

 

 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chums

"Six jolly soldiers to carry my coffin,
six jolly soldiers to walk by my side;
let six jolly soldiers take a bunch of red roses
therefore to smell them as we move along"

--When I Was On Horseback, Irish ballad

Bored of farm, of crow, of field,
we put our shoulders to the wheel
of patriot's game and patriot's folly,
for love of King and kin, by golly.

The station's bands and bunting were fine,
with cheering sweethearts straight down the line
to see us off to who knows where,
God help the Boche when we get there.

We joined the army with our "chums",
to sound of bagpipe and of drums,
that echoed off the bricks of Dublin
to let the bastards know we're comin'.

Here's your quarters, here's your dinner,
trench and rat and all you sinners
here to fight and done by Christmas,
not knowing the endless Hell that this is.

Here, no crow, no pretty crocus,
just splintered bone and bloated horses,
just bombs that scream and hands that shake
like earth itself when bedlam breaks.

Kiss the cross, go over the top,
wish yourself back in your uncle's shop,
buck up boys, and give 'em hell,
the kind that comes when flesh meets shell.

It's not so bad, you've still one eye,
what the trenchfoot takes will always be dry.
Go home and rest on a porch so cool
to think on your glory, and quietly drool.

The sentimental rose your sweetheart sends
on a card for the hero who bravely defends
the crow, the field, the farm back home,
will make a fine ornament for his bones.
________

for Artistic Interpretations with Margaret, at Real Toads. The subject: flowers and their meanings.

Image at top: Irish WWI soldiers.

"Join up with your chums." WWI enlistment slogan. Men were allowed to enlist with, and serve with, their chums. Because of this, some towns and families lost an entire generation of young men when they died together on the same battlefield.


Chum, noun: a close or intimate companion. "boyhood chums."

Chum, noun: cut or ground bait dumped into the water to attract fish; fish refuse or scraps discarded by a cannery.

Chum, verb: to lure (fish) with chum. "They chummed the fish with hamburger."



 

Job Application

Position: Flash Fiction 55 co-host.

Qualifications: I once met G Man in person. I am fluent in Englash.

Job history: fast food, phone sales, community service.

Why I want to host the 55: Because G Man threatened to expose my old sea monkey scam asked me to!

Co-applicants: Mama Zen, Saver of the Universe.

References: G Man, Kwame Kilpatrick, Babs St. Argent, Catblossom.

______

There is nobody who can host the 55 like our G Man can, but while Galen blazes new trails, it would be a shame to let the 55 die. 

So, on Saturday, May 3rd, it will take its place as a regular feature at The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads! (During April, The Garden is taken up with NaPoWriMo.) 

To keep the 55 fires burning during April, I will be hosting here on Tuesday, April 8th, and Mama Zen will be hosting at Another Damn Poetry Blog on Tuesday, April 22nd. 

Forgive the Tuesdays...I didn't want to compete with The Garden, where there is already a regular Friday feature, including my own. G Man put on his funny Pope hat and gave this his blessing! He better...he asked me to do this!

Photo: My beloved Aunt Lucy, posing in her car with Catblossom's dear old grandmother, "Muffy". 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Zulu Cat and Her Many Disciplines

I was at my doctor's office,
in the waiting room,
gestating the latest creature within me,
when the door opened and she invited me in.

Her fern plants swayed as if we might soon be plucking doubloons
from chests heaved up on the surf from storm-sunk galleons.
Did I mention that my doctor is from some island?
Off the coast of Spain?
Majorca, I believe.
Maybe Easter Island,
because I have sometimes interrupted her at her carvings,
and had to stand there under the withering stare
of some ancestor or other.

My first inkling that she was in a rare mood
came when I noticed that she had become a cat.
A gray cat, specifically,
or was she tortoise shell?
The light kept changing, due to the swaying ferns.
She meowed, but I plumbed her meaning immediately:
she was in the mood!

Now, you will argue that I was irrational,
deluded, hallucinating, or worse.
I tell you, I am as precise as a court reporter.
I relate only facts, 
repeatable data from the snow globe of my therapy.
How I love the little cabin inside it,
the fireplace,
the polar bear rug!

Setting aside her Zulu mask and disguise,
my doctor demanded of me a tribute, a token,
a task to be undertaken,
if I truly wanted to be hers.
(In a therapeutic setting.
Under control of protocol.
In the name of science!)
How incredibly thrilling it was,
to see her jump onto the desk and switch her tail!

I crossed my legs,
I looked shyly down,
then up again,
my head tilted to one side,
my tongue playing at the corner of my lips.
I was a woman singularly eager to dispense with boundaries,
and to publish my name into the text of her desire!

Coyly, she asked me my name.
Constance, I told her.
Beelzebub, Candy, Electra, Spuddy, Spock,
anything you like, babe.
She wrote them all down.
Tell me about your dreams, she said.
You. They are all of you.
Tell me about your mother.
You.
Tell me about your father.
You.
Imago?
You.
Fetish? Obsession? Idee fixe???
You, honey. All of them.

With that, she stopped being a cat, and returned to being a woman.
Doubloon? she said, offering me one.
I took it and bit the edge. Real gold!
She beat her spear against her stretched hide shield:
boom boom boom, like our hearts!
She had a Rorschach birthmark on her thigh,
and I kissed it as if it were the Blarney Stone.
Hypnotize me, baby, I said.
Already done! she assured me,
and from the things I went on to say to her while I was under,
she is clearly the marvel of the swinging watch,
my counter-transference chica 
with the cool cat claws and the sexy librarian smile.
______

for my BFF Hedgewitch's word list challenge at Real Toads!



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Death In Early Spring

I was born on a Sunday in late spring, nearly summer,
into a world already in motion,
just another new leaf alive in the daylight.

I will die on a Thursday in early spring, barely gone from winter,
and I will leave a world that remains in motion,
expressing itself in all the wings and blooms that take my place.

I regret the things I longed for that did not, or cannot now happen.
There will not be another love,
or any of the new beginnings I always depend upon
to assuage the losses and disappointments.

Still, I have lived pretty bravely.
I haven't been afraid, in the end,
to put all my colors on the canvas.

All of my life, I have felt the lack of something or someone,
always hidden around some corner I could never negotiate,
just out of sight,
too far to call.

In a little while,
I will find myself the one called,
by a voice so beloved and remembered
that it will astonish me--
so much, that I may hardly notice
that I have left,
and the world goes on.
_____


 

Brick & Mortar, Beat & Breath

“I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.”
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's: And Three Stories 



I used to live
there,
and there,
and there.

Sometimes, 
at odd times,
I dream of them--
that I am still living there,
with whomever I lived with,
slept with,
wounded with
there.

Look, here is the street
where I walked late one night,
my face wet with tears
when my marriage was breaking up.
And here,
here is the busy road where my screams stopped the cars
when my baby ran out among them.

Here is the table
where we ate Sunday breakfast.
I was doing impressions and had my ex and our son in stitches.
Here is another table
in the same house,
where I left my ring in a drawer
because it had lost its meaning.

Here is the yard
where my older brother put his football helmet on my three year old head,
and our dad snapped a picture.
I was bent at the knees, laughing so hard.
I could hardly see!
Behind me are the evergreen trees, new then,
that would grow so high and wild they finally had to be replaced.

Here is the door
where I carried in a four month old puppy,
to meet his new brother and sister.
They are gone now, and the puppy is a frail old man.

Loving brick and mortar seems absurd,
but we do it.
Loving anything with a heartbeat,
anything that needs to breathe the air,
anything that eventually will pass away,
seems crazy,
but we do it
again and again,
because it is worse to bear one's heartbeat,
one's breath,
one's dwindling days
alone. 
_______

for Play It Again, Toads #3. I chose Kerry's "The Story."


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Feast of Saint Creola

We are the adherents,
the Sisters of Saint Creola,
Our Lady of the Falling Piano.

We are a strictly female enclave,
here at the edge of a continent,
at cliffside,
with the surge of the waves below us
and within us.

Today we honor our blessed Saint C.,
she of the fair face and the wise word.
Born in the year 1899, she remains beautiful
in appearance,
in utterance,
and in her endless inspiration of us, her Sisters.

"Soooo, what's chocolate?" she demands in her honey voice,
entering the room like light from a taper.
If the Pope could see us,
in our unconventional garb,
and our unconventional affections,
he would want to be one of us, I feel certain.

Blessed Saint Creola teaches us that God 
is a waitress
in a coffee shop;
an expert at creating chalk menu boards,
and at assuaging that indescribable homesickness
we all carry inside us like some melancholy luggage
we don't know how to set down.

Today there will be blends from Turkey and the Orient;
chocolate from Europe and from two old hippies
who have a store down the coast a little way.
There will be the cerulean sky
and the indigo waves.
There will be the white stucco of our convent,
and the toasted tan of the cliffs,
the high grasses of late summer,
and our warm skins.

Today we celebrate Creola,
living saint and mother hen to all of us.
We are off the grid,
off the radar,
off the chain.
Have a chocolate truffle,
have a Girl Scout cookie.
The sun is right at home in the sky, her hammock,
and the pianos have long ago flown over the cliff 
and into the sea,
like gulls.
_____

for Out of Standard at Real Toads.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Terra Firma

I stopped the car,
got out of the car,
and started walking, barefoot, with my shoes in my hand.

It was early evening, in summer,
with a little breeze,
and the scent of lilacs.

The road felt warm and rough and solid beneath my feet,
but not far below it was just dirt and the roots of trees.
Above my head,
the branches of trees.

I thought, what if I were a woman going somewhere,
with my shoes in my hand, down this road?
What if I were a woman walking away,
putting space between myself and something else?

Over my head were the branches of trees.
In one of the trees was a red-winged blackbird and his mate, watching.
I stopped to look up at them; I turned in a circle,
beneath the leaves, and the birds nesting there.

What if I were a red-winged blackbird, or lilacs in a field?
Here I am, walking, but I don't know where.
Above my head, sky, beneath my feet, roots.
I didn't bring any shoes.
There never was a car.
_______


Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: "Love's Harvest"

Love's HarvestLove's Harvest by Peggy J. Herring

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Oh dear. Where to start with this mess? First of all, even before I get to the writing itself, I have to mention that throughout this book, paragraphs end and begin in mid-sentence. Also, quotes seem to double as apostrophes. Doesn't anyone at Bella Books proof read?

Now then, the story. There actually is a kernel of a story here, but it is buried under a dung heap of terrible writing. I have read Herring several times before, and don't know what happened to her here; she is usually good for a reliable, if unspectacular, lesbian romance novel. This time, however, her characters are cardboard, the dialogue is wooden, the sex scenes are tepid and predictable, and the big climactic scene is more Three Stooges than suspense.

As if all that were not enough, Herring unerringly chooses to be vague when she should be specific. It never becomes clear exactly what one of the major characters does at her job. Oh, she reads files and makes calls, but it never gets any more detailed than that. That's just an example. The whole book is general and vague, more like an outline than a finished novel. But wait! There's more! Herring's word choices are comical at times. For example, her characters don't "think" something, they "reason". Over and over, she uses rather mechanical sounding language when plain language would be better. "A gentle kiss after a regular breathing pattern was restored" sounds like something from an engine manual.

It's awful. Don't read it. I can't believe she put her name to this nonsense.



View all my reviews

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ursa

A bear is no creature to be trifled with.
She's a ferocious mother,
out there in the piney woods, making something out of nothing,
top of the food chain,
taking out a hiker or two any time she wants.

Still, with all her talents,
she's got a fat ass and smells bad.
She sticks her snout in old rotten logs going after termites,
and when she vocalizes, 
she sounds like a old city bus.

So,
spray her with a little lavender.
Have you ever seen such a nonplussed look?
You can almost see the memories floating reluctantly up 
from the deeps of her big bad bruin brain,
reminding her of a time when she was young enough to think
that she might one day be pretty
or popular
or loved.

There was a time, indeed, 
when she could go up a tree as easy as a breeze in June,
and look out over everything from a height,
thinking she was just mighty special and fine.
Goldilocks had nothing on her,
and even though she could put away all the porridge in three counties,
she was still cute,
and young,
and full of herself.

These days,
--at least right up until you spritzed her--
she wanders the forest on ankles that ache every time it rains,
and a back that feels like a creaky bridge.
She looks behind her for her cub, only to recall
that he has gone off on his own long ago,
and has grown to twice her size.
Now, he leaves her a carcass from time to time,
looking after her instead of the other way around.

Oh well, now there will be a temporarily sweet-smelling bear out there,
rooting through the town dump for treasures, 
or breaking into somebody's car for Tostitos.
Maybe she'll get a wild hare and take a loping run at some hikers
just for old time's sake;
hidden in her goofy gait will be the girl cub of so many summers ago,
running just because she could,
because it felt good,
and there was the whole wide world to head into
top speed,
with nothing out there big enough or dumb enough to stop her.
______  


Managed Care

Do not be alarmed at the pace
our doctor plies his noble skills--
one potion cures, the other kills.

To heal is not a game, a race--
a dance between the grave and flesh
with partners green with rot, or fresh.

Accept the process and embrace--
the literature we gave you;
the surgery that can save you!

Depend on skill, dumb luck, or grace
negotiate another breath--
your enemy is not us, but Death!

The Reaper waits, or nears apace.
Patient in aspect and of mien--
takes possession or leaves unseen.
______

This is an invented form called a Constanza, which Real Toads has inflicted on me this morning. How do I hate this form? Let me count the ways: I hate that all the lines are four feet in length, making a sing-songy quality almost impossible to avoid. Over time, I have come to enjoy a lot of forms, but this one felt like trying to play tennis while wearing a straightjacket. (Some say I would look good in one!) Let's shed the jacket, and try this again...

Just a little bit longer, if you please.
Sit down. Read a magazine!
(They go back to 1983.)

The doctor is a very busy man.
He will do everything for you that he can.
Fill out this form.
Learn the French horn, try a language or get a college degree

while you wait.
From Mail Order State.

Come in, come on, stand on this scale!
Oh my goodness...
all we get are
skeletons and whales!

Any complaints?
Catarrh?
Were you hit by a car?
Put on this gown, then sit down.
The doctor will see you if you'll just shut your mouth,
sit here and wait through his rounds of golf.

Knock knock! Hello!
And how are we?!?
Oh yes. Oh my. Oh dear. I see.
I think we can dispense with dreary tests...
Have this prescription filled.
If it doesn't work, come back, we'll drill.

Pay up, pay now, pay through the nose!
Your co-pay is more, your coverage is less,
and all gone to receivership
of Mr. Death, our C.P.A.

Have a nice day!
_______





  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My wish for you

If I had just one wish for you,
it wouldn't be for anything stupid like money.

I would whisper you my wish,
until it refused to be denied.

My wish would be this:
A 1969 Pontiac GTO, 
black as your hair,
for you to drive, hella fast

with my tongue in your ear,
fuck yeah!
______

a selfish wish in 55 words for STWIASD  (and  G Man) from me!

 





Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tar Baby

If I don't answer the phone, by all means,
keep calling until I pick up.
A light touch was never something you understood.

As my phone makes its missed-call chime again and again,
I think of something I haven't thought of in years.
Tar Baby didn't have to do anything but show up and sit there,
to drive Brer Rabbit nuts.
The more Brer Rabbit tried to fight,
the more stuck he got, as I recall.

The youngest in the house by a decade,
I was an ace scavenger.
One of my favorite things was the box of old 78's
that I could play on the big cabinet record player.
The radio part had never worked, that I could remember,
but how I loved to put a record on that soft old turntable
and set the needle down so I could listen.

Little Orley,
Song Of The South,
and all the others left behind by children no longer children,
could fill an afternoon for me, 
and I loved nothing better than to sing along! And dance!

Along you'd come, saying here, take some of this.
It's good for you.
Pretty soon I couldn't stay awake,
asleep among my records on the floor.
I didn't know then, about codeine,
but it sure could shut a kid up for a few hours, I bet.

Once, I woke up around dinner time to find my dad sitting by the bed,
watching me, looking worried.
Overdosed me, didn't you?
Didn't count on me still being out when he got home.
There was no more take-this-its-good-for-you after that.

The chime on my phone goes off again.
Missed call.
You'd like me to talk to you now, now that I'm out of reach,
but it's too late, Tar Baby--
I learned the way to stay unstuck
is to give you a wide berth,
stay alert,
and sing for myself if I damn well want to.
______ 

for Kerry's flashback moment at Real Toads

Happy Birthday, "99" !

As a little kid, I wanted to be Agent 99. I think I still do! Happy birthday to Barbara Feldon.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Here's The Thing...

Here's the thing about plans--
it's okay to make them,
but don't think making them makes them happen.
(I'm gonna lay my hand on your arm and lean close,
lower my voice...)
Honey, believe me, I know.
(pat pat)

Yup, there I was, in a chair on the patio,
lost in an article called "Forget About Frizz!"
and keeping my dog company,
when these workmen--
they were supposed to be workmen--
ditched their ladders and came over from the neighbor's yard.

They walked all easy and boneless-like,
thumbs hitched in their jeans,
grinning like they knew a good joke.
Look, these were white guys with a van with a name on the side--
how was I supposed to know it wasn't theirs?
How was I supposed to know they were criminals?
How was I supposed to know the trunk of their car would be so dinky
and smell so stale?

Have you ever come out of some coffee bar, walked a block,
running your mouth to a girlfriend and then realized your bag was still under your chair back at Java Jim's?
It's a real bad sinking feeling.
I got that feeling and then some, while I was folded up, gagged,
on the wrong side of these dudes' tail lights.

Somebody better take care of my dog.

So anyway,
(leaning back now, but still confiding. 
Listen to this shit, girl, you never know!)
they took me to some bungalow safe house they had,
where there were two other girls,
Kimberly and Siobhan. 
They did dishes and laid around watching Wheel of Fortune.
They'd been there a long time and hardly talked at all.

So I looked around,
got the lay of the land.
These three dudes, they weren't exactly Murder Incorporated.
What did they want with me?
I decided right then that I would go all Patty Hearst.
Oh, that's a funny joke. God, that's funny--
Cool story, bro--
You look good with that stubble crap on your face--
and so on, till I wanted to throw up.

They started to relax around me, or at least two of them did.
One had nice teeth lost in that stupid face of his,
like he lifted a movie star's smile and then left it in the shed for a year.
The second was skinny, always snorting something,
never wore a shirt,
like his ribs were a permanent display at the Witte.
I called him Skeletor,
the other one Charlie McCarthy.

Not to their faces.

The third dude was mean, he didn't give a damn about anybody,
and bossed the other two around like kicked dogs.
I called him Aztec cos he had no heart.
So the days went by,
(do you want some Diet Coke or something?
a Greek yogurt maybe?)
and I kept worrying about my dog.
I said so once, and Charlie McCarthy said, "Oh he's okay"
and told me he'd seen him and he was fine.
I believed him. It was only later that it occurred to me 
that he could be lying through his pretty teeth 
just to keep me manageable.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb got so they hardly watched me at all.
Aztec, he was different,
he looked at me with this cold suspicious look,
like I was a grenade, or pregnant, or something.
As for the Doublemint Twins, Kimberly and Siobhan,
they were hopeless.
Skeletor would mumble "C'mon" to one of them and off they'd go,
into the bedroom.
Later, they'd amble out, looking like they'd spent the night in a bus station.
(What did you ask me, honey?
Did I...? 
Hey, do you want to try some of that Diet Coke with lime?
It's really good.)

One day while Aztec was out behind the house,
molesting the engine of the car I'd come here in,
Dumb & Dumber left me sitting on the door-end of the ratty brown couch they had.
The Doublemint Twins were watching some shit on tv,
like they'd been lobotomized,
and the screen door was all that stood between me and a run for it.
Skeletor went off to look for his cache of lost shirts,
and Charlie McCarthy kept telling me stupid jokes like he'd never stop.
Ha ha, yeah, too funny, shut the fuck up already I kept thinking at him.
Finally, he turned his back.
Finally.

I was on my feet as fast as a speed freak debutante that's asked to dance.
Kimberly and Siobhan turned their heads, all slow mo,
and Siobhan moved her mouth a bit.
"Shhh, shut up!" I mouthed, slipping through the unlocked screen door and out.
Man, can I run in bare feet. 
Gone like summer I was, over the grass and on down to the street,
off like a prom dress and then some.
I looked back--
Charlie McCarthy had just come out, and even from a quarter mile
I could see that he looked hurt.  
Betrayed
Now who's the sucker?

Well, they chased me.
First Charlie McCarthy jogged after me like a broken Tonka toy,
then they got a clue and went for the car,
but I guess Aztec didn't have it running right yet.
Later, I saw it cruising up and down near my house, 
but by that time I was back here sitting on the bedroom floor,
peeking out the window,
with my arms around my dog, who was hungry and confused but all right.
They shouldn't have come back,
cos the cops arrested them p.d.q.
Dumb, that's what they were, and that's what I had counted on.

(So do you like that lime Coke?)
Smile smile.
I can tell you really didn't like it,
hug hug kiss
and that you don't believe a word of what I said.
Buh bye! Yes, soon, for sure!
C'mon, Bosco,
who needs her anyway?
_____