Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Froshus

Dear ferocious man-eating tigah,
ooooh, hims so GRUMPY today!
Whassamatta?
Did that last villager not agree with hims's tummy?

Ow! Hey!
Enough with the caveman drag-her-by-the-hair routine!
I just had it looking the way I like it.
*sigh*
You a big, striped, pain in the butt sometimes!

My girlfrens say, honey, that cat gonna swallow you whole.
I say, pffft, hims a pussycat.
See, what if I dangle my charm bracelet in fronta your face?
Eyes left, eyes right, eyes left...
You got such purty golden eyes, pooky.

See this charm?
It's a cat. It's cuzza YOU!
I knew we could handle all this like adults.
After all, you're nearly three.

Tigah in the mangrove swamp.
Tigah want his lunch!
Tigah swipe my Cobb salad.
Tigah, thanks a bunch!

Now, lookee.
If you eat me, Mr. ferocious man-eating tigah,
then I won't be here no more to tell you
ohhhhhh, hims so pretty,
hims so strongggggg!
And blah-dee-blah, don't pretend that you don't lap it up.

Okie dokes, now quit messin' around and kiss me
with that big rough pink tongue.
Exfoliate me, baby!
Put those dinner-plate paws to a good use.
Uh huh!
I think you got a bad rap, dude!
You're no man-eater.
Hehe.
_____

a bit of ridiculous silliness for Helen at Real Toads.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Debutante

Things were going wrong.
Dogs roamed the streets in packs,
even rode the local trains across the city.
I took my violin, a can opener, two lipsticks, and a pistol
and joined them.

The quarter moon at night was like a dropped ice cream cone,
or the fat on a steak.
How we howled for it!
How we bargained, lunged, begged!
The moon was too far removed, and too composed to reward us,
and yet we still loved her,
like children.

Men came in special trucks to collect us,
but we ran!
We knew the way through every abandoned building and vacant lot. 
We knew who would help us and who would shoot us.
We knew who we could steal from,
and who knew our language.

I abandoned my former life entirely except for one thing--
I had to have books.
I would creep into the public library to curl up with a novel,
and if anyone disturbed me I would show my teeth and snarl.
Sometimes a man wouldn't leave me alone.
I would leave,
and he would leave,
and then my pack would follow and kill.

I told the dogs, did you know that I was once a debutante?
Did you know that I come from privilege and a desirable address?
That was ages ago.
Now I throw up where I stand,
and make no apologies.
I wonder what would happen if I showed up at the old mock Tudor now?
I have fleas and a chunk missing from one ear.
I frankly stink, and I eat without regard to ingredient labels or fad diets,
but I am loved and sleep like the righteous every night.

Things are going well.
Society is breaking down.
We come around every night and tip over the trash bins.
Our males mark the yards a little further in from the alley every time.
I have a pistol,
and may write a novel--
a paper one,
independent of any internet or e-commerce,
written in Dog.

You are my target audience.
The moon is almost down to nothing,
and we are coming, coming for you.
In the end, there will only be our white teeth,
lined up like priests
except without mercy, 
without a forgiving Christ in reserve for emergencies.
_______

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poor Werewolf

A wealthy werewolf wearing worsted and a Windsor tie,
wondered whether I'd witnessed a wench -- his wife.

I said, she whispered to me that she can't stand stubble--
which, for you, I think, means trouble.

On Wednesday last, she wandered by and slept
with me; and when the werewolf heard -- that worthy wept.
_____

for Marian's letter W prompt at Toads

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Suit Case / Stair Case / Head Case

Lisa Gordon Photography
These days, I want everything made of wool and fire.
I count fireball sheep, but never get to sleep.

Mama said, I'm at my wit's end
with you, girl.
Mama said, you got the devil in you,
and that I can't abide.

Doctor Willoughby asks, why did you set the fire?
Do you remember setting the fire?
His eyes swim in turpentine.
I dream of painting him; painting him on fire.

At home, I went out of my bedroom at night,
down the double rut path that cuts through the woods.
Mama found out.
Mama whipped me good.

I brought a suitcase here, and inside it are postcards
of famous pretty people who cannot sleep.
(I know because I watch them.
Their eyes never close, so I scratch them out.)

Dr. Willoughby speaks to my mother in private.
I don't know what he says, but she never comes back.
That is the end of the good news.
The bad news is that he is worse.

He tells me that I am full of sexual waywardness,
and moral decay.
He asks about boyfriends, again and again.
I tell him Mama kept the rooster, cut the head off the hen.

If I had wool and fire, I could keep it quiet inside my head.
They fill it with fireball sheep, and afterwards,
I can't remember things,
and sleep for most of a week.

Dr. Willoughby asks why I set the fire.
Do I remember setting the fire?
I tell him that ever since I was born
I've only wanted to be warm.

Somewhere in an attic several floors above my head
(my poor head),
is my suitcase.
It's up the staircase.

I'm not a rare case, says Dr. Willoughby;
but when he forgets and sets his pen down near my hand,
I can think of nothing but his eyes--fire and eyes-- 
when he sighs and shakes his head.
________

for Margaret's super superb challenge at Real Toads. She asks for a first person account inspired by Willard Asylum.

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: "The Midwife's Confession"

The Midwife's ConfessionThe Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Diane Chamberlain's books kept coming up in my recommendations at Goodreads, so I finally caved and bought this one. I'm glad I did. It's the story of three women friends, and also of the daughters of two of them. The odd woman out, the only one unmarried and childless, is Noelle, who is the midwife of the title. Her unexpected suicide, and all the secrets that come to light as a result, will send shock waves through the lives of the other four.

This novel explores friendships, mother-daughter connections, and the tricky territory of what secrets can do. Although I thought the writing got a little wooden for a brief while in the middle of the book, it gained traction again and I couldn't read the last 100+ pages fast enough to find out what would happen. The characters were varied and believable, and I cared about them all. If you like Jodi Picoult or Kristin Hannah, you'll like this book as much as I did.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pussy Cats

Do you think crying will help?
All right, you're right, sometimes it really does.
I have wept, myself.
Often.

I have wept when I felt God in the solitude of an early morning trail.
I have stood there in my Reeboks crying like a girl,
like God--
that other Girl.

I have wept when someone hurt me
by their words,
by their fists,
by their absence.
I have wept when I have been angry and unable to change anything.

Peanut, there are idiots in this world;
people who leave the articles out of their poems--
people who chase money, abandon children, hit women--
people who enthusiastically murder themselves.

Let's forget them for an hour, babe.
Let's not cry this morning.
Let's never wear chiffon again unless it's for ourselves.
It's time to toughen up.

To help us, I have taken the liberty of making some changes.
I have added a few accents and grace notes;
things to keep us on our toes.

There is a leopard in the vestibule.
She's sneaky and quiet.
Don't come downstairs until you're really awake.

In the sun room is a pride of lions.
If we take a nap among them,
we will understand sisterhood better.
We will wake up with golden eyes and an instinct for survival.

Finally, there are cheetahs in the breakfast.
They are like us, they speak softly, almost like house cats,
but they catch everything.

Trust me on these things, sugar.
By lunch time we will know so much that was hidden before.
We will look the same, but we will have a new mantra:
Step softly.
Stick together.
Eat fast.
_______

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Snow White & the 55 Dwarves

Snow White and the 55 dwarves lived in a sub-let in NYC. An evil fashion model had slipped SW a poisoned apple and she fell asleep because it also had Ambien in it. The dwarves hired an actor to do the prince thing and kiss her, but wrong, because, hello, lesbian. That made it weird.
______

An ironic post-modern fairy tale in 55 words for Mama Zen. Come join us!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Water Witched

Lately, I find
that I slip loose from time,
like a strand of hair from its clip,
and no more remarkable than that.

It's like falling asleep in the daytime,
and knowing something passed by that I was unaware of,
but that did not harm me,
nor take much notice of me at all.

I half expect to find high button shoes on my feet,
and lace at my throat and wrists.
Maybe it's Emily, a glimpse of red hair I seem to see
at the other side of the garden,
disappearing down a worn track between the trees.

Now that the weather has changed
and the days are sweet with spring,
I go walking
so that I can sense you, on my skin and in my blood,
no matter how far away you pretend to be.

Anyway, I might head west and south 
the next time I slip loose.
I might follow the sunflower road
until I come to the place where the prairie grass is waist high,
and a stream runs through, all unseen.

Then, my love,
there will only be your Indian eyes,
and my desire coming up quick 
like wind-blown clouds
above the water that you witched to call me close,
as yours as storms are summer's.

_______

“The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again. Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seeds as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had a sunflower trail to follow. I believe that botanists do not confirm Jake's story but, insist that the sunflower was native to those plains. Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom.”
Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Hospital For Dreams

I had dreams.
This is what had always differentiated me from the usual types
that fall from the moon and the dark blue sky
like sugarbirds.

I was not one of them,
though I wanted fiercely to be, when I was younger.
The snake of tough shit, babe
squeezed that notion right out of me
and told me I had other purposes to attend to.

But, about my dreams...

This latest one, this humdinger that I had,
turned out to be so much bullshit.
So what? you'll say.
So, dreams have been the guard rails on the killer curve of my life.
Intuition has been my merciful angel,
pulling me out of the soup again and again.

Now I feel like nothing but the bone.

I thought I was going home.
I thought it was gonna be warm cornbread and sweet butter from now on.
What it was, was
sorry, not you.
What it was, was
heft that bale, you dumb crazy bitch.

So I took my dreams--the new ones--
to the Hospital where they sieve out the serpents at the door,
and hand all the girls a gorgeous red apple.
I turned my open haversack upside down at the nurses' station
and said, "Save these.
Save this one in particular."
They said to me, girl, you are some wild kind of boho trash
to think anybody here cares.

Out by the bus stop,
waiting to go home,
I took a big lungful of magical Detroit exhaust,
like the last Pontiac giving up the final air filter.
I held my dreams tight in my arms,
and told them never mind, babies, just never mind.
_________

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Incandescence

Incandescence
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

Mary Pickford tried to destroy all her old films--
the fragile, flammable celluloid
her incandescence lived in.
A new generation found the silents simple and sentimental,
and their "talkies" stars spoke
in a clipped, faux-English way
while portraying canny, glib sophisticates.

Mary didn't want to be made fun of.
Honest emotion had gone out of style,
much as it has today.

Still, everybody wants to be made to feel
that their loves, hopes and desires,
their pain and struggles
mean something noble, something beautifully human.
Everybody would like to be young, beautiful, and in love,
and everybody would like to kick the landlord in the butt.

As the lady said,
silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces.
Florence La Badie can forever lean over a balcony,
gone for 90 years,
smiling for a lover dead for decades,
and she will always be gorgeous, and alive, and we will want to be her.

See the little dog running down the dirt road
after the Gish sisters.
We hope they turn around.
We hope he catches up,
because we all know what it's like to be found
or left behind.

"They're so blessed, so lucky,"
we say of movie stars,
and we wonder why they flicker,
though it isn't such a mystery.
 
Incandescence 
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.
________

for Kerry's silent movie challenge at Real Toads.






Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cuckoo Child

Her water had broken,
and she counted contractions as the moon came and went.

She conspired with the window,
the clock,
and the ghosts of all the women in her line,

to hand out some bullshit story and steal away
into the woods.

She sent the doula on a fool's errand,
and dummied up a version of herself to leave propped and weirdly silent
in the four poster at the corner of the house.

How do you feel, they asked the doll, the changeling,
the shed skin of herself.
What a long wait they will have,
for a baby made of goose down and mattress ticking.

Under the trees like a morning dream she went,
as the sun came up
and the river called to her in a language past remembering.

Alone there in a mossy copse,
she bore the child and bit the cord,
blood giving way to a fierce rolling wave of love.

The tiny face, perfect hands,
the soul as open as an April sky,
made her know she could not take this one back
to the house, the keepers, the upstairs corner under the eaves.

Birds make fine conspirators,
and so she slipped her daughter into a nest like a cuckoo,
and, riven with what she had to do, 
carried a stolen fledgling back to her bed.

They took it, as she had known they would.
They taught it,
so well that it never sang a note,
never knew its wings,
the flight feathers plucked by hard lessons and bible spouting.

Meanwhile, she paced the widow's walk like a haint,
ears grown as keen as any animal's,
listening for wings or the call of her own, from out there.

When the house burned,
God did not intervene, but rather,
willed it Himself with a holy delivery of lightning to the cupola.

She was the only survivor,
and she sat on the incongruously wet lawn in the morning,
still as a stone, 
waiting.

Imagine the smoke-black ruin behind her.
Imagine the wind-stir in the maple branches above her head,
as thin as circumstance, yet strong enough to stop the sun.

Imagine the child appearing from the edge of the copse.
Imagine her moving slowly to her mother,
with the same black hair,
and the same instinct to survive.

Imagine their common language,
without words.
Imagine touch and tears,
and the years ahead like a natural migration,

direction in the dna,
and a way home, at last.
______

I don't know what this is. It just came to me, wanting to be told.

Note: the cuckoo bird finds another bird's nest, and leaves its egg there to be raised by the unknowing surrogate.

 

Two Questions and a Riddle

Hello, young lady,
and what are you?
"I am the answer
to five times two."

Ten year old, ten times--
a hundred and a day!
Light as a dandy seed
with wishes on the way.

Hello, young lady,
and who is your cat?
An African lion--
what do you think of that?!

I think if he fancies fish,
then send him off to school.
Wrap a napkin 'round his neck
in case he starts to drool.

If a bully bumps your books,
your lion can defend!
Bully down the lion's mouth,
then out the other end!

Farewell, young lady,
and to your lion too!
What's ten and has six legs?
Your kitty cat and you.
______

Written for Margaret's children's verse challenge at Real Toads.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

All Revealed

Florists
often sing each to each
from beach and gondola
and also from pier and bay.

Water, they know, is essential to soul,
and no drop can exist removed and solo.
Like floral film-makers, they study p.o.v.,
framing, lighting and, in every arrangement, fragrance and hue.
What results is a visual sweetness.

Florists wait until the optimum moment to speak,
as if words were buds blessed in shades of crimson, saffron and blue.
From pool and bowl and vase they call,
vining and trailing over container and wall,
as simple as sparrows, and as mysterious as Anasazi.
________

for Hedge's challenge at Real Toads, featuring the art of Odilon Redon. At top, find his painting "Flowers."

 
 
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April

We are playing softball
--orderlies vs. residents--
out on the lawn.

The sun is out at last.
A robin is playing short fielder.

Tyrone belts one
way out to the divots where 
Rita dug in her heels
screaming, fighting Tyrone,
who knew to leave the shiv in or she'd bleed out.

She did it to herself.
Today was fun, but
we missed Rita, who couldn't come.
________

"the flowers bloom like madness in the spring" --Jenny Anderson

"No matter how hard the winter, regardless how bumbling they were the year before, come April we always thought our team would be in the thick of it. With the ice melted and everybody 0-0, just the crack of the bat was enough to make the hardest of us believe that our hearts would not be broken this time, and that a benevolent God surely loved the Cubs, just as we did." --Jeanette Prolsky

66 words exactly, for Words Count with Mama Zen.

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Word From Fastblossom

Hello, readers. Let me introduce myself. You all know the moderator here, Catblossom. Well, I am Catblossom's out-of-town cousin, Fastblossom. How do you do?

It has come to my attention that Fireblossom doesn't have a poem to share with you tonight. Not even one teensy weensy haiku. Not even an entry for The Big Pop-Up Golden Treasury Of Torpid Doggerel. Alarming!

In the wild, Fireblossom would probably be eaten by a crocodile, but here, she will probably just crank out something in the morning. Something immortal, like a collection of sonnets about adhesives. We'll all be on tenterhooks.

Until then, please bear with the absence of poetry tonight. If you like, you are all invited to join me in chasing down some small game, and then I'll look forward to seeing everyone at the afterglow party at Club Spots!

Yours truly,

Fastblossom

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Party

Par-tayyy! Cool, there's a band. But they're all singers! Isn't that....Steve Augeri, Arnel Pineda and Gary Cherone? What a racket! 

Hi, Samantha! She's with Dick Sargent now. Hmm. 

Plenty of New Coke. Oops, spilled it on Andrew Johnson's biography.

Isn't that Bobby Murcer?

Gosh, a cop! Nick Amaro. We'll keep it down, honest!
_________

Steve Augeri and Arnel Pineda replaced Steve Perry in the band Journey. Gary Cherone replaced David Lee Roth (the second time) with Van Halen.

Dick Sargent replaced Dick York as Samantha's husband on "Bewitched".

"New" Coke famously flopped as a replacement for regular Coke in 1985.

Andrew Johnson replaced Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. He was impeached.

Bobby Murcer replaced Mickey Mantle in center field for the New York Yankees.

Nick Amaro replaced Elliot Stabler on Law & Order SVU.

If you or anyone you know has written a Flash Fiction 55, or been replaced by a lesser-light, let me know and I'll come visit!

The next FF55 will be at Mama Zen's place two weeks from today, on April 22nd, as we keep the 55 afloat until it can take its regular Saturday spot at The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, starting in May.

In The Graveyard

In the graveyard,
I found lots to do.
I did it, and did it fine, several times and
without you.

In the graveyard,
I made a totem, out of oak leaves and sticks.
I woke Kathryn, wife and mother,
and together, we hit the bricks.

"Kath, babe," I said, as we sprung the grounds crew's traps,
"Wear my jacket. Feel the leather. It's your size."
Then we danced on the roof of the grounds crew's shack,
and that was a lively enterprise.

Later, by the chain link fence,
I held Kath's head on my lap.
I leaned down and kissed her, Mister Kath, Son of Kath.
Now, what d'you think about that?

That evening, by the mausoleum,
she confided that she rarely sees 'em.
Fair enough, quoth Kath, while kicking her feet;
it's been years and years since they saw me.

Boo. It's us. The graveyard girls from plot forty-five.
Dirty as bird's nests, slipping out the gate,
devil-may-care, revived, alive,
with wive's tales to perpetuate.
_________

 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday On The Moon

When Easter came,
we were still on lunar mission.
The men laughed, but we women
wanted new dresses so badly we could taste it.

How to know the winter and its heavy silent snows have gone?
The mild air on our legs.
The light material on our skin.

Ashes to ashes,
as last month the Wednesday came and went.
Dust to dust,
and that we have plenty of,
but here, there is no resurrection,
just craters
and our restlessness made worse by proximity to The White Lady.

Jen began to speak more and more often of apple trees.
Our spartan quarters, the view out the window,
were all white, like blossoms in April.
When she began to laugh for no reason,
and to see snakes in the electrical,
we knew she had crossed, retrograde, into some uncharted sector.

We had only two males on the mission,
now just one.
Jen planted a root-blade in the other,
dreaming of a man-orchard instead of wasteland.
She has undone her own purpose,
and gives her scented wrists indefinitely to the soft restraints
so reminiscent of passing clouds.

Jen-bird, we call her,
Sylvia and I.
Stephens just calls her "that fucking bitch".
It is Easter Sunday on the moon,
and we haven't got even the trappings of religion--
no statue of the Blessed Virgin,
no candles,
no censer.
It is a little shocking how important those trappings become
when they are absolutely, irretrievably absent.

This mission is like hearing an endless, hollow busy signal from hell;
There is hopeless, and then there is hopeless from here.
Sylvia and I made apple blossoms from anything white we could find,
and created a coil tree to lean in a corner of the med lab.
Jen-bird, we said.
Call the snakes, call down temptation--
God knows we could use a little more of it.

Stephens hates us for comforting the murderess,
and for not letting him fuck us.
"The nuns" he calls us, sneering, frustrated.
Jen-bird is the one who would have,
but he is afraid of her now.
Our one joy is offering to turn her loose,
just to hear him call us mad.
We are, oh we are,
and we were, long before we ever saw his face.
________

for Kenia's Sunday challenge at Real Toads!