Monday, June 30, 2014

Heaven

Hey, babe,
it's me.
Your same old girl
who fell out of the sky--
slipped up from the sea.

These days,
there's not as much of me left.
I'm light as a breeze,
the way I used to be--
but with more things before--
not as many next.

I love you, sugar,
like a black-faced ewe loves 
milkweed and sunflowers.
I'm always at sixes and sevens,
eternally wool-gathering,
eternally wandering watersides and bowers.

Here's an old path we could take,
or here's another--
which one d'you like?
When I was a girl, a lot of times, I'd be a bird,
but there are sea-songs, too--
and I try, at night, to work out the ones
floating like lilies in my dreams, half submerged, half heard.

Take my hand, sweetheart,
and if anybody's watching us,
then let them be jealous.
There is a shore road, 
and also a way through the fields where the warblers are.
Either way,
you and me, babe, we're Heaven-bound--

though I couldn't say by what direction,
or tell you, honey, how far.
_____

for KJ.

image: Alicja Bachleda from the movie "Ondine".  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Apropos Of Nothing

Apropos of nothing,
these thoughts,
this poem;
this moment and this room.

I've been pondering oddities:
sundogs,
Marfa lights,
rings around the moon.

Unbidden,
unchanged--
love...love itself,
and my crave called love for you.

I'll not always be here;
behind this door, ajar--
my heart, this house, vased iris,
as far fragile these things are.

I've been pondering sanctities;
my dogs,
cool nights,
things said kept entre nous--

Unbidden,
unchanged--
love...love itself,
and my crave called love for you. 
_______
 
for Kerry's non-challenge at Real Toads.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Candace Cleopatra Beautiful

Her parents were stage actors,
dreamers,
and they named their little girl Candace Cleopatra Beautiful.
She spent the summer of 1910 sleeping in a nest of blankets
inside a suitcase,
backstage,
cooed at by every passing dancer and extra.

Unfortunately for Candace,
she grew to be only a pleasant-enough looking girl,
not a true beauty like her mother.
She went by the nickname Candy until one Sunday afternoon,
on a rare visit to her maternal grandparents' house.
"Awful name," remarked her grandmother from over her tea cup.
"Candy. Sounds cheap." complained her grandfather.
She was never taken to visit them again.

There are those who can create loveliness in the world,
and they seem to spin it out of thin air, or out of themselves by magic.
Candy Beautiful's parents were such people.
They could be standing in the wings, fanning themselves,
shrugging their shoulders and taking deep breaths,
on clay feet like anybody else, 
but then when they went on stage, 
a thousand faces would look up at them, there in the lights.

Those people had been just a crowd, faces sticking out of furs,
or tuxedos,
out for an evening,
talking about nothing,
smiling, concealed;
and then Candy's parents would get hold of them,
with every line and every gesture.
They would win their hearts, then break them, then mend them again,
all within an hour and a half.
Each person in the audience would blink and cover themselves as the lights came up,
feeling themselves naked in some way,
exposed,
but gloriously so,
and then their faces would break into smiles and they would clap.
Oh how they clapped!

After each show, Candy Beautiful would watch her mother as she removed her stage makeup,
asking her endless questions as children do,
only to be interrupted--every time!--by some lackey delivering huge bouquets.
"For the leading lady!" he would announce with a flourish.
To the end of her life, Candy Beautiful could never think about her childhood without thinking of flowers--
how lovely and delicate they were,
how fragrant,
and all of it a tribute to the beauty her parents could create.

They were Gypsies in those years, the three of them.
What fun it was to grow up riding trains and running up and down the aisles of theaters during rehearsals!
In 1918, just after the war, 
warnings were published in the newspapers to avoid crowds
such as restaurants, 
public transit and gathering places; the theater, for example.
Actors always say, "The show must go on!" and it did,
for a while,
playing before thinner and thinner crowds.
Times became lean, and then her parents--
her young, beautiful parents--
died from the Spanish flu, and there she was,
alone.

Candace Cleopatra Beautiful never liked to talk about the years that followed.
In time, she grew up,
though she did not grow any more beautiful, to match her name.
She worked, at different times, as a waitress,
a telephone operator,
a sales clerk in a department store,
and as a secretary in the War Department.
None of it had any loveliness to it.
No handsome lackeys ever came sweeping in with flowers for anyone.

However, one not particularly young man did notice her,
and he did bring her flowers,
and she did marry him.
His name was Ed, and he slicked his hair back with Brylcream.
He turned out to be quite good at turning a buck,
and he called her his Little Queen, because of her middle name.
Ed was slightly buck-toothed,
but when he smiled at her, she thought him pretty marvelous,
and when he died of a heart attack in 1954,
she wore black and wept all through the funeral, leaning on a cousin's arm.

Candace Cleopatra Beautiful had been through bad times before.
At least, this time, she had a lot of money in the bank,
and was a grown woman, able to make her own choices.
So, before long,
she made two important ones:
first, she bought a dozen acres in Ontario, Canada;
then she bought a cat, a little calico that she named Miss Daffodil.
The kitty was a great comfort,
and when they finally moved into their new home,
Candace said to the astonished mouser, "Welcome home,"
and set her down in the big sunlit entranceway.

Over the next forty years, Candace Cleopatra Beautiful created loveliness.
The house had a rounded,glassed-in greenhouse around one side,
and she filled it with every pleasing bloom she could lay her hands on.
She papered all the rooms with floral patterns,
each more calming and remarkable than the last. 
The windows were enormous!
She bought white couches and chairs,
installed potted ferns and small indoor trees.
It was like living in a gorgeous light-drenched garden.

After a year or so, Candace Cleopatra Beautiful,
who by now insisted that the workmen and visitors call her "C.C.",
added another cat.
Then another.
They were so delightful, 
and brought such an elegant loveliness in with them!
The Queen of Egypt could not have valued those cats more than C.C. did,
giving them the run of the place and all the devotion of her heart.

Cat calendars!
Cat sofa pillows!
Cat books!
Cat everything,
and ever and always, more cats.
How they soothed her. How their antics and their needs filled her days to bursting!
It's true that she began to go out less and less as she got older,
but everything she loved was right under her nose.
Flowers! 
Cats!
Loveliness around every corner and down every sight line!
Even her clothes, bought by special order through the mail,
were mostly floral designs or cat themed.
Peace.
Happiness.
Her own Eden.

Candace Cleopatra Beautiful died at 90, of a stroke,
and distant relatives came to take care of the cats.
There is still a note on the refrigerator door:
"Be sure to pick up and handle the kittens three times a day!"
but the cats, and everyone else, are gone.
C.C's house sits empty on its dozen acres,
but the long windows still let in a lot of light,
and the plastic plants--she couldn't get around well enough to water live ones--
are everywhere, still bright, still waiting to be admired,
as if they were famous actresses from yesteryear.

__________

Thank you, if you've taken the time to read this whole long tale. I was inspired by a YouTube video taken by urban explorer TikiTrex. It's long, half an hour, but if you have the time to watch it, it's really interesting. It's called "Urban Exploration: Abandoned Cat Lover's House" and you can find it HERE.

Meanwhile, a little Elvis Costello to close with.







Wednesday, June 25, 2014

*sigh*

Oh honey,
baby,
sweetheart--

you make me feel like nobody else can.
You carry a better world within yourself
like some camel come in from the desert,
except camels are nasty and you're so very drop-dead beautiful.

My love,
all I ever want to do is to be inside you and stay there.
Hey everybody who isn't me, 
(I'd say)
eat your heart out!

Sugar?
Gorgeous?
Miss Thang?
When you let me trail my fingers along the length of your body,
shivers go right up my arm.
Now I know how little bright stars feel
when they move across that scrumptious sky.

Bewitcher,
how you do it is a mystery to me.
What goes on, unseen, inside you
must be some kind of delicious outlaw magic--
there can't be any other explanation.

Creamy yellow
with a black back;
oh what you do to a girl.
Open up, sugar pea,
I could stow my whole heart, my whole life,
hell, maybe fifty-seven suitcases or so,
next to the upright spare tire in your trunk.

Purr to me baby.
Make me feel it from my feet to my...
well now, see, you made me blush.
V-8's the only way this girl ever wants to go;
I would follow your jetliner hood ornament anywhere.
Skip the optional seat belts.
Let's live dangerous, take the turns too fast;
let's keep the top down
and my hair loose.

You're such lady killer, Lady,
so hot when I park you in the jealous sun.
No other girl ever had such a caramelsweet honey
as I do in you, Miss 1955 Pontiac Star Chief convertible.
*sigh*





for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: "Evening News"

Evening News: A NovelEvening News: A Novel by Marly Swick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What do you do when your child does the unforgivable? Giselle is a returning college student on her second marriage; she has a nine year old son from her first marriage, and a nearly two year old little girl with her second husband. One day while she studies in the back yard and her daughter plays in her wading pool, her son goes next door to play with his friend. The friend knows where his father keeps his new pistol, and he pilfers the key to get it out. He insists that his friend handle it, and, reluctantly, he does. As he is aiming it at a row of trees, pretending to be hunting with his father, two things happen: the phone rings, startling him, and his friend, thinking he hears his mother coming upstairs, grabs for the gun. It goes off, and kills the little girl in her wading pool.

Suddenly, Giselle's world is turned into a nightmare. She's lost her baby daughter. Her husband has lost his only biological child, and blames Teddy, her son. She herself is torn between being furious with her son and still being his mother, still loving him. Teddy, for his part, must live with having caused the death of the little sister he adored.

Swick's prose is easy to read, but because of the unflinching treatment of such a dark storyline, this is no easy book to read. However, the author hits every note true, and brings these characters to vivid life, flaws and all. Giselle had, like most people, thought that things like this only happen to people you see on the evening news. Now it has happened to her, and nothing will ever be the same.

I'll be looking for more by Ms. Swick, and I absolutely recommend this novel, provided the reader understands that it's no day in the park to read because of the subject matter.

PS--this novel came out in 1999, but the only thing dated about it is that nobody has a cell phone, and in a couple of scenes, they chase around looking for a pay phone.





View all my reviews

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Cherub of Pierzanie Prison

Pierzanie Prison, where I was sent, 
without dessert,
without ceremony,
and without remorse,
for 12 to 24,

was unique in that it had a resident cherub.
Well, fuck me.

We hags would crowd around the antiquated barred windows
for a look at the smug little bastard.
There he would sit, in the courtyard like a Canada goose,
preening,
his doughy index finger raised as if in divine pronouncement,

and then a moment later he'd be digging for gold
winking at us nags and scolds.

Pretty Sarah,
her long black hair carefully braided every morning,
smiling blameless and pure as a saint,
with a kind word for everyone,
drowned the hell out of two just like you, Cherub.
She held their little heads under
as the minutes ticked by.

At Pierzanie, I wished every morning for an ice storm,
so that you would slip and come sliding to us.
The warden's darling you were,
allowed to taunt us and to crap in the flower beds.
You got inside our heads--
half of us wanting to cradle and lull you with melodies

and the other half dreaming of your empty fragile skull
and a thousand ways to stave it in.

I'm free now,
driving a little crap-ass car to a straight job every day.
The smoke from the factory stacks rises into the stagnant sky
and reminds me of Sarah's hair.
The windshield does my crying for me,
the wiper arms furiously sweeping the tears aside.

One morning I stop at a church,
to pray that Sarah's parole board might be composed of idiots
and lunatics.
Set her free, I beg. 
Set her free to come home to me.
The priest sees my shoulders shaking and he touches me,
saying "dear child, dear child..."

When the hysteria hits and I start to laugh,
he jerks his hand away as if he'd been electrocuted.
I hurry out, half-blind,
out of my mind,
and the baby Jesuses in the stained glass look just like
the cherub of Pierzanie Prison,

except without the deliberate dare in the eyes,
and somehow forgiving, even to us.
________

for Play it Again Toads. Top photograph by Isadora Gruye.

"pierzanie" is Romanian for perdition, undoing, loss. 



Friday, June 20, 2014

Revolution

We are the Workers and Peasants Red Army,
victorious in the smoky lunacy of 1949.

We shoved those kissers of Imperialist ass off onto their island,
where they may kindly sip tea and go to hell.

Of course, we don't believe in it.
Hell, I mean,
even though we have just slogged straight through it,
men and women together,
blowing our enemies' brains out, hoo rah.

For a while, we had to join forces with them,
because we both hated the Japanese more.
The Flying Tigers came up from Burma and helped us;
each plane with a mercenary white man crammed into its cockpit.

Enough of that.

Now we have kicked tail and this whole smouldering shit pile is ours.
My love and I, both wearing military uniforms and our revolutionary caps,
wandered in a dull moment through the ruins of a museum.

We held hands, rifles slung across our backs.

Miraculously, we found one perfect unbroken vase,
and we turned it in to our commander.
He probably swapped it for cigarettes or sex,
but we did the right thing, we honored our ancestors
and then went back to shoving our bayonets into people's bellies.

In a stolen moment, my love said to me,
"I always think of them as babies.
I think how they had mothers; that someone loved them
and had hopes for them."
Here are your hopes, the glorious Red Army.

I spoke gently in my love's ear.
I said, "Don't. You'll lose your mind, thinking that way."

We have blown limbs and heads off,
all in order to establish a perfect Communist state.
Now, order.
Now, equality.
Now, a great China united in accomplishment and nobility of purpose.

My love is the most beautiful emblem of Chinese womanhood.
Me, I'm the girl who found the vase, and turned it in to our commander,
but we don't tell him, or anyone else, about ourselves and our passion.

There is a limit to the Communist ideal,
run as it is by men who began as farmers and ditch diggers,
and that limit is found hidden in the nerves at the tips and every touch
of our fingers.
______

for Hannah's challenge at Real Toads

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Third Moon

The moon,
the usual moon,
set itself in the dark of your hair.

At your shoulders,
waves took on silent motion,
but I stayed quiet, having seen that before.

A second moon

lit the dampness on your skin,
making anyone who saw you, dream you.

In strange light,
the long hair down your summer-colored back
looked like tiger stripes, and seeing, I was bitten.

I could still have lied to you, then,
could still have gotten dressed, exhaled, escaped,
slipping sly across a thorn stem.

But oh, Love, how you command the third moon,
the one behind your eyes,
that leaves me thrilled, speechless, compromised.
______

for Words Count with Mama Zen at Real Toads. At 105 words, I blew the count again, but maybe she'll forgive me since I did such a nice job with the theme of threes. :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Healers of the Creolan Mission

Saint Creola keeps cats.
treats them as her children,
even though, upon interview,
--and perhaps strangely--
they have not learned any catechism
and have no idea who the Pope is.

What the cats do know, is the moon
and how it lives in the windows of the Creolan Mission.
They hear how it pulls the waves themselves toward the cliffs
as a mother would; without words,
or, at least,
without words being the important thing.

During daylight,
the cats are allowed to wander in and out of the sanctuary.
I have never known them to act any differently
on one side of the arched doors
than on the other,
and while it is true that the toms go off to scrap at night,
they cause no refugees to appear in the morning;
everyone still has their beds,
their bibles,
and their babies in their arms.

The cats do not care
who may be Russian Blue, or tiger striped.
They do not fear the power of females;
they have sex, and kittens, and catnip,
and sleep on the sill without a qualm.

At night, if I am afraid,
Saint Creola gathers me to her breasts and the peace there;
when I am feeling bold,
I offer her mine and let my hair trail down over us
like a blessing from God.

Saint Creola keeps cats,
and a single shepherd dog who belongs mostly to me,
though he attends Mass at best sporadically,
and, like the cats, can't name the Pope.
He is what is called a Blue Heeler,
though I misspelled it for the longest time
in light of his gifts, Saint Creola's kindness, and my need.
______

Inspired by the cat art of Guido Vedovato, and linked to Fireblossom Friday.

 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In my own world....

...for a while. I'll see you at Real Toads on Friday, June 13th, though, for Fireblossom Friday.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Daffodil Namaste Chooses A Head Scarf

Hi.
It's me.
In you. Part of you.
Natural as can be.

Nestled among my pretty neighbors.
Singing to them, endlessly,
the traditional song of my people--
"Die, you jackasses. Make more room for me."

If I had a mind,
it would have a voice:
shredder, chipper. 
White noise.

I give the gardener
something busy to do.
Listen to my heart beat:
"fuckyou, fuckyou, fuckyou..."

Love me or nuke me.
I don't care.
I'm nature's perfect engine.
Growing. Gaining. There.

Girl, I feel good,
but you're starting to look like shit.
I do what I do, that's Ms. Nature to you,
frightening Miss Muffet to bits.
_______

For Real Toads mini-challenge, "Making a heart out of wild plants." I chose the weed.

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Colorforms

Dear KJ,

See, this is what happens when you don't write back. My phone's working, I know cos the shill for the company called, wanting me to pay up. I told her I had already worked it out with the other shill, the one that called me the day before.

Well, anyway. 

What I mean is, what happens is, I start to see things, to hallucinate; my eyes stick stuff into my world that I want to see, like the colorforms I liked to play with on the floor when I was little. Maybe Goddess is some girl somewhere, and we are colorforms that talk, and write letters and love people. You never know.

But, like I was saying.

I was on the 8 Mile bus, sitting in the seat with the extra leg room for my celery stalk self, just behind the back door. Just in front of the same door was a gal, a white gal, which is noticeable enough, but here's the thing: she had your dark hair, tied back like she did it in a hurry, and your librarian glasses. She was looking out the window at the gas stations and liquor stores and fast food places, all of them curving by in the back of her right lens as I sat behind her. I think she was seeing something better, filling in 8 Mile Road with Paris colorforms, or Martian ones, just to amuse herself, but maybe I am projecting.

I'm rambling, aren't I ? 

I was checking her out, because she looked so much like you, honey. I thought to myself, stop staring at her, but I couldn't. Then the most unexpected thing happened; I got up to get off, and she got off behind me. I heard her call "thanks!" to the driver, and then she was next to me, and she said hi to me. This was 8 Mile, nobody talks to strangers, but she looked right at me and said hi. This is where I flubbed it, fell on my ass on the dance floor, so to speak. I went into automatic mail lady mode, flashed my for-customers smile and said 'hi, how are you?" just like a tape recording issued by the Postmaster. Jeez louise. I'm used to people I don't know saying hi to me, I smile, I nod, I might as well be a bobblehead.

I'm starting that negative self-talk thing, aren't I?

Well, anyway, she didn't answer, just turned to cross the same way I did, the first time, the way where three lanes of traffic are all turning right, right into one's soft and fragile pedestrian self. I almost called out to her not to cross that way, but I imagine she's already got a mother somewhere, so I didn't. I crossed the other street, the narrower one the cars turn out of, and stood on the other side watching her. She had waited for the tide of minivans and Dee-troit hoopdies to pass by and then she strode her long-legged self across 8 Mile to the center island. She was wearing faded jeans and a loose green tee shirt. She might have just come from mucking out stalls, and she walked like a ranch hand. Like I said, a total babe.

I'm such a lesbian, I know.

So there we were, walking opposite sides of an intersection rectangle, bound to meet again when we both came cattycorner. I was gonna say something to her, because she looked like you and I haven't heard from you, and my colorforms all go blue without you. I can only make midnight, or the ocean, or a leaking ink pen too sloppy for writing poetry. 

Now, what was I saying? Oh. 

I looked down just for a second, crossing the second side of 8 Mile, and when I looked up, Baby Longstrides had vanished. From there, I only have three short blocks to go, and I thought about why I didn't think of something terrifically clever to say, and I wondered whether my dog would have eaten his food or if he is still sick, and about colorforms and what on earth made me think of them after all these years, and I thought about you, you, as I always do....you.

Write me back if you can, babe.

xox

Shay

_______

for Corey's "Lost Art" letter writing challenge at Real Toads. I hope letters-in-my-head count! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Girl At The End Of The World

here at the end of the world,
hung by my heels,
my dress stinking of smoke from the bombardment,
picking glass out of my hair 
and my words to the military governor very carefully,

i am not the girl you remember
from the ball,
the one they built the jeweled staircase for,
just so I could descend it.

i never thought i would be the kind of girl to beg,
to promise vulgar rewards,
the kind of girl who would do anything, no matter how degrading,
if only i could get away from you,
hanging next to me
making small talk.

for a lady in my position,
the bright blood trickling from my mouth becomes an involuntary smile,
encouraging you,
and oh, dear Goddess,
you're going to tell me about your younger days,
aren't you?
you're going to rattle on about your children and grandchildren
until i want nothing except to die;
i just know you are,
i can see it in your eyes.

i am going to deliberately provoke the military governor,
so that he will order artillery shoved in my ear and fired,
blowing my happy brains out 
before you can move on to the time you went camping near Carlsbad.

here at the end of the world,
hung by my heels,
lit on fire and stripped of my dainty little gloves,
my dance hall days are over for good.
out of options and batshit nasty,

i'm not the girl you mistake me for--
the straight one,
the nice one,
the one who just loves your stories,
finds you charming 
and wishes you'd tell her more.
______


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Undead

Oh, don't look so stunned,
as if you'd found a snaky stowaway in your yarn basket--
my crazy green skin hiding in your orderly museum of every shade of gray.

Love is a beautiful emotion.
I know,
I saw it depicted on television when I was ten.
On a black and white screen in my aunt and uncle's basement,
a raven beauty of a Vampire Queen
made something turn deliciously over inside of me,
easy as cow-tipping,
cheesy,
thrilling,
the way it would always be from then on,
with every woman I loved.

I am the package you didn't order,
the garden you started, then regretted,
and the riddle you'll never answer.

So, why do I keep turning back to see you,
still holding up your cross,
casting its shadow on the very blood in my veins
that I can never get far enough away from to deny?
_________

for Get Listed at Real Toads. I used ten of the words: yarn, stunned, garden, package, cow-tipping, stowaway, riddle, crazy, and television.