Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Paradox Of Rails

Travel by rail has always been my favorite.
Look Ma, no driver, at least none that can be seen.

In this way, the double rail makes sense to me,
guided as I am 
by faith on one hand

and intuition on the other, 
like a pair of Gypsy rings.

Over time, and with the blessing of both dove and crow,
I have taken to wearing sweaters as loose and full as folded wings.

My homing instinct is strong, seeking the pulse at your throat
and the curve at the small of your back;
mistaking your dark hair

for the cricket black
of the best September nights.

I love you. You know that. I always will, 
despite the uncertainty of schedules and
the paradox of rails each depending on the other

to be there, despite knowing
that they will never meet--

like separated lovers, or 
the perfect synchronicity of wingbeats.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Poet In Fuckyou Face

Observe:
the poet in fuckyou face.
haiku
haiku
haiku
haiku
rant
haiku
deletion
haiku
haibun
grocery list
sex story
manifesto
American sentence.

Aughhhh!
pain.
pain.
I guess you know what you may do with your very rude comment,
suggesting that I do not understand the English and how she is spoke.
Observe:
the poet in fuckyou face.
tears.
wailing.
gnashing of teeth.

haiku haiku.

That's better.
You may now kiss the hem of my

haiku

garment.

beret.

oh yeah.
_______

for Real Toads mini-challenge: Ekphrasis. "The Artist In His Studio" is by Rembrandt.

My computer seems to be working for the moment. Hopefully, it won't flake out again right away. We shall see. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lune

On the Moon, a girl can be what she wants.
Strangled critics turn blue and bounce away.
White cat on the sun side, black on the dark.
It's all avec fromage at restaurants.
She can spend all day on a roundelay,
and next to nothing on a place to park.
On the Moon, a girl can dress as she please--
skirt to her ankles, her hips, her knees.
Moon ring, moon pendant, moon necklace, moon cuff.
Black leggings with five-pointed stars and stuff.
She is Queen of seas that hold no water,
and boats with sails that nonetheless brought her.
On the Moon a girl can swing side to side
in a silver hammock to charm the tide.
_____

A silly sonnet for your Monday.

 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cherokee Kiss

Saint Creola,
patroness of crows and Gypsies,
hear my prayer
and bless our Cherokee kiss

in the asters and black jack--
like anything--
like this.
_______

For Play It Again, Toads #20 at Real Toads. I did Mama Zen's. (well no shirt, Shitlock.)

Sounds kind of like a song. I wonder who should sing it? ;-) 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Don't worry, Pookie.
There are no dinosaurs on the beach here,
no longboats crammed with Vikings,
no Roman legions trying to conquer the sea.

Wear your flip flops.
Take your paperback.
I made you coffee, because
I am as loyal as Sancho Panza, and as unobtrusive as Dulcinea.

I'm glad we came here.
Once, as a child, I went rolling down the dune--
someone took a picture, and in it there is nothing but me and white sand,
so that I seem to be falling through pure light.

Emily Dickinson is dead, though she's spoken to me since.
John Lennon is dead,
and my favorite dogs, too.
My mother is dead,
but Pookie, there's me. There's you.

No pterodactyl will come pluck us from the beach.
My brother won't come, and make it up with us.
No old lovers will rise out of the surf and say they're sorry,
but there are starfish
and a nice sunrise.

Here is your coffee. Your book. Where is my beach hat?
Let's not miss another wave.
Let's get out of here, like flirts in an old movie.
Let's be silent, let's do Pure Michigan.
Let's hold hands and make out and not act our age.

Let's BE HERE NOW.
Let's be beach bums, feeding the gulls;
forgiving how we got here,
forgetting the way back.
_______

for Susie's challenge at Real Toads. Photo at top by Douglas Salisbury.

 

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: "Insomnia's Ink"

Insomnia's InkInsomnia's Ink by Susie Clevenger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Having read her first volume of poems, "Dirt Road Dreams" in 2013 and having loved it, I was eager to read this follow-up volume and it didn't disappoint! The book is divided into two sections, "Midnight" and "Birdsong", with the theme throughout being insomnia and renewal.

Susie Clevenger's poetry is so genuine; she strikes no poses, but that is not to say that the writing is simple because it isn't. She tackles the most difficult stuff, from life and death to finding one's own voice in the world.

From "Currency Of Dreams" where she talks about "my voice fragile as a faded alphabet" to "Blood House" in which she ponders family of origin and writes, "Somewhere in the puzzle I am a verse" the first section is as shadowed and contemplative as a sleepless night. In "Fence" she comes up with this: "Gossip has a choir eager for a new song." On every page I found lines I just had to underline.
"Kool-Aid and Brimstone" and "Change of Heart" deal with living under the religious preoccupations of others and how stultifying that can be.

In the second section, she seems to come through the fire with a new strength and wisdom. There is the redemption of "Moon Fed On Imagination" and the lighter than air feel of "Pickled Thoughts Without Fins." In "Pictures of the Silver Lining" she describes her daughter as a "tigress with comedic timing" (!) and in my favorite poem in the book, the victory anthem "I Will Dance On Your Silence", she writes: "Pour salt in my wounds/ and I will best you by healing."

Absolutely recommended.



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______

Note for my blog readers: My mother passed away this morning. Our relationship was tricky to say the least, but this book of poems, and all it has to say about pain and redemption, meant a great deal to me on this day, especially. I will sleep better tonight for having had the opportunity to read it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Temporis Circulum Frustra

In a suitcase--your bones--
scored and yellow--
under the bed.

In fact--and in spite--
not destroyed--
not dead.

You visit me in dreams, in Winter--
Winter always--
down a frozen well.

Come to this--come to take me--
by the hand--
into Hell. 
_______

for Real Toads mini-challenge.

Book Review: "My Poems..."

My Poems...: Selected PoetryMy Poems...: Selected Poetry by Marina Tsvetaeva

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I discovered Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry quite by accident, while searching the quotes at Goodreads. Her poems are full of fire and spirit, but also longing and heartbreak. I love this: "I have been blessed with these two gorgeous/ Wings and I refuse to load my heart with weights." There are bird and sky references throughout her poems, as well as a fierce determination to love or not love on her own terms.

There is a real progression here from her early poems--some written while not yet out of her teens--and the later ones. As she goes along, she gains gravitas and skill, but her youthful fire, though tempered, remains. Tsvetaeva doesn't rely much on poetic imagery, metaphors and the like, but rather engages the reader in an almost conversational tone which belies the skill of her writing. The poems are brief, and often terribly poignant.

The translator, Andrey Kneller, tries to retain the poetry and structure of Tsvetaeva's work, and not turn it into literally translated prose, or "stick figures" as he terms it. This is particularly important with a poet such as Tsvetaeva, because structure is crucial to her work. The original text, in Cyrillic, is on each odd-numbered page, and the English translation faces it.

Recommended.




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Friday, August 14, 2015

60

I live at Number 60 and have, through industry and dispensation,
made it onto the day roster at the rock factory
where we build birds to which we attach small personal compositions
which can be read after they come through your window on arced trajectory.

I was born in a nest in a mailbox, lo these many years ago,
delivered by a newsboy who pedaled his bicycle out of Hell to help me.
Mother only bled a tiny drop of Freon, but complained that he smoked;
she could smell it on his rags and anyway, he wasn't a DuPont, now was he?

Carrying around an hourglass, I fell in love with one man and a dozen women,
tilting my head up, offering them chickens, Cokes, anything,
as I ran alongside the bus on tip-toes, wearing a prom dress, stoned and winning,
until it was discovered that I was just loud and starving, like any fledgling.

Let's skip to the chase, shall we? I love you. You're the last.
Give me your disease, I'll spit stones and build a house all hammer and tongs,
where we'll live when I quit the factory and you quit on life, wearing a white dress
as beautiful as any bird in the sky, every bit pitched and gorgeous as my songs.
_______ 

 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pigeon Superstition

Why did they put a ledge here?
I've got to get you out here.
The cop's got erudition--
he'll read me Yeats in prison.

He called you on his cell phone
cos baby you're my love jones.
I'm out here on a mission--
it's pigeon superstition.

Three steps left will make you be
my bitchin love eternally;
and if that fails, then turn around,
and magnetize you downtown.

If you come and if we fall,
we'll look like ants but feel like gods.
We won't blame the Irish cop
if we come to a sudden stop.

Backwards counting down by threes
will bring your smokin' self to me.
It's not infatuation fiction--
it's pigeon superstition.

It's you and me and Walden too,
that's what superstition do.
________

for Out Of Standard at Real Toads. "Pigeon Superstition"

Thanks to Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals, who famously quipped "That's what speed do."

The song whose melody just happens to fit. Thank you Susie Clevenger.
 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: "All We Know Of Heaven"

All We Know of HeavenAll We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Sometimes I really like Mitchard's books. I loved "Still Summer" and "Cage Of Stars." But sometimes she draws you in, which she is really good at, only to drop the ball at the end. (See "Breakdown Lane" with its happy-sappy ending.)

"All We Know Of Heaven" is about two teenage girls who are in a terrible car accident together. They look very similar anyway, but given all the injuries, identification becomes dicey. One dies and the other is in a coma, and everyone has them crossed, thinking each is the other. (Yes, such a situation actually happened a few years ago.) Finally, Maureen wakes up, and along with dental records that don't jibe, the error is discovered. One family, who thought they had already buried their daughter, suddenly finds out she is alive, while another family finds out their daughter is dead. All of this is really absorbing and well told, as is the lengthy section of the book dealing with Maureen's recovery.

What really annoys me is that, after investing in the story and liking it through 80% of the book, the last section devolves into a teenage beach blanket bingo soap opera, but without the beach. Mitchard, do you mean to tell me that this brave girl cheated death, survived the loss of her best friend, fought hard and long to regain her faculties, and handled the resentment of her friend's family gracefully, all so that she could agonize over which boy to date? So NOT recommended.



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Monday, August 10, 2015

A Canine Cautionary Tale

The dog who chewed the couch
insisted at first that the sectional had offended God--
and other odd statements,
finally blaming the previous dog, which had died.

Nothing could make the dog admit
that it had worried and bit and torn the fabric
in a manic effort
to find out if any food was hidden inside.

The dog eventually hired a lawyer
in an effort to be coyer,
and declared that he hadn't even been there.
I almost believed him...

...until he started on the chair.
_______

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bill's Railroad

Since taking up model railroading,
William receives a lot of parcels in the mail.
They contain little cars, little engines,
and a little plastic boy carrying a pole and pail.

To his face, the mail lady calls him Bill,
but behind his back she calls him "that old shithead."
She should be kinder; she doesn't know
that when his wife passed, he wished himself dead.

It was the Beverly Hills Express that saved him.

There are trees with lichen leaves,
and a mountain made from papier mache
with a tunnel going through it and
next to that a neatly painted little highway.

Muttering "more crap for this asshole,"
the mail lady arrives with an important addition.
She smiles, he thanks her, and he knows
it is his beautiful plastic lady, arriving in perfect condition.

Bill admires her kick pleat skirt
and her sunny smile which will never fade.
Carefully gluing her feet to the platform,
he offers her his devotion, and a tiny glass of lemonade.

Bless my hobby which has saved my life, he thinks, and bless consistency of scale.

Bill gives his '50s lady a cotton bubble
in which to say anything her heart desires.
What does she say? What do women ever say?
Anyway, they do seem happier talking, and now his town is entire.

She will always stay. Where would she go?
The tracks are circular and end where they began,
so even if she heeds the "all aboard!",
it will always be 1955, in Beverly Hills, and there she'll be again.
________

for mag 282.



Thursday, August 6, 2015

Knife & Basket

Early morning, knife and basket
to cut and lay the iris blooms;
in vase, by parlor's dying noon,
tasked to do the thing I ask it--
lift melancholy; move the moon.

Fool to love you, fool to miss you,
more foolish still to think a vase
--that plenitude of empty space--
could soothe my heart and keep the bloom,
or separated root replace.
_______

for Artistic Interpretations With Margaret at Real Toads.

image: Still Life: Vase With Irises by Van Gogh

The iris's history is rich, dating back to Ancient Greek times when the Greek Goddess Iris, the messenger of the gods and the personification of the rainbow, acted as the link between heaven and earth. Purple irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the Goddess to guide the dead in their journey. (source: www.proflowers.com)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Review: "First Fig and Other Poems"

First Fig and Other PoemsFirst Fig and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When I was in middle school--or junior high, as we called it then--a hated English teacher made us all miss an event that most of us wanted to be part of, in order to study Edna St. Vincent Millay, thus setting me dead against both of them for decades after. What an old lady name anyway, she couldn't possibly have anything to say to me! Well....wrong.

I am grateful that I finally gave Edna a chance after a friend introduced me to her poem "Recuerdo." Old lady my eye, here was a passionate soul! Her poems are full to the brim with desire, an eye for nature, the desire to get up and go, love who she might, and make gorgeous poetry out of all of it, even the regrets. My favorites here, besides "Recuerdo" were "Spring", "Song of a Second Spring", "Prayer To Persephone" and the light-hearted "The Bean-Stalk." The only poem I didn't like at all was the lengthy and --to me at least--dull "Ode To Silence", which read like a roll-call of mythological figures, all to no very thrilling point. The rest? Amazing.

But wait, there's more! I've never particularly been a fan of the sonnet form...until now. Millay was an acknowledged master at it, and after reading hers--and there are many in this volume--I'm converted. I read them all multiple times, first for the emotion and meaning, and then again to see how she did it, complete with margin notes. Hey, she told me it was okay. In the included poem "The Poet and His Book", she writes "Read me, margin me with scrawling", and so I did. I did!

I am so glad I gave her poetry a chance, despite Mrs. Griffith of middle school infamy. The whole book was a joy and a revelation. Here is an unconventional woman who could write the most conventional forms in such a way as to set them on fire with her words. Very much recommended.



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Monday, August 3, 2015

For J. ( A Sonnet)

"One loves well only once; the first time." --La Bruyere

All that winter I waited, close to you
as breath to words, and yet I was silent,
wise enough to be mute and not intrude,
content as your listening instrument.
No voice was ever so adored as yours--
no hands that made me wish to be the book
they held, so memorized, all else ignored
in my single wish for your favored look.
The devil finds a weakness and within
it builds the sweetest of all illusion.
So, for such deception, thanks are due him;
pieties are best spent when we lose them.

Why did you kiss me, just once, with no word?
Kisses evermore, superfluous...absurd.
__________

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Love Poem w/ Wolves

wolves
understand how your body
can sustain their body,
but wolves
have no restraint.

wolves
--these wolves, my wolves--
are as lonely as a motherless girl.
wolves can sing,
and by singing,
become smoke around the moon.

wolves
take my heart and leave moonbeat:
you, you, you.
i never trespass,
and i am a fool.
______

for flash 55 at Toads.