Saturday, March 26, 2016

Neptune's Dinner

Eileen searches pasta packages for bird's nests;
the banister for bowling balls. 

When she makes spaghetti for her absent son,
there is a great flapping and avian concern--rightly so--
about the eggs in the colander.

On the way to the guest room, strange ghosts who arrived by train
are sent to the sides of the staircase by a perfect hook.
Eileen apologizes, though they are incorporeal
and therefore unhurt.

She feels responsible, does our Eileen,
for perished sparrows and
heavy accidents.

Eileen descends to 20,000 fathoms
for some solitude and quiet,
but at her feet she finds little lobsters with rubber bands around their claws.
They are intended for Neptune's dinner,
and cannot deliver the mail.

Where is Eileen's son?
Is he happy on a beach somewhere, with a girl Eileen hasn't even met?
She joins a bowling league, but they don't bowl--
they rescue birds from tornados, and in doing so find purpose
and a comforting sense that when they are ghosts
wind won't matter anymore.

Neptune dissolves at last, perhaps allowing Eileen to believe again in something--
maybe lobsters signing the Gettysburg Address for the hearing impaired
under a blue sky
where being alone is common
and doesn't make her feel ashamed, and like dying.
_____

For "the crack in everything", part of Play It Again Toads.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Red

Nick Gravenites: A woman...

Janis Joplin: yeah?

NG: A woman...

JJ: yeah?

NG: A woman...

JJ: yeah?

NG: Just makes me mad.

JJ: Aw man....sheeit.

--"Ego Rock", from Joplin In Concert

While i was in the hospital
being the world's shittiest caterpillar,
you bought me
JOPLIN IN CONCERT
the double live album i coveted bad.

you were leaves on a high breeze.
i was a silk grenade.
we were young once, weren't we?
in Birmingham
so far down the rabbit hole, the wrong way down the telescope.

nothing from then is still the same.
i kiss the feet of the Goddess who arranged *that*, but
the desire i had to will wings out of my body
and rise is still there,

just like
JOPLIN IN CONCERT
and though i rarely play it,
i see the red cover
and there you are, smiling still, and standing right in front of me.
______

for Bittersweet Melodies at Real Toads.
 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Donald Barthelme vs. Russell Edson In Outer Space

At the space station, time stretched out like taffy.
We made up slogans
out of our asses
for absurd commodities which, if they exist, shouldn't.

We voted (ourselves)
into made-up offices.
We issued edicts to each other,
and had drunken fights over borders we dreamed, or misremembered
from wasted schoolroom afternoons.

Abruptly, we were summoned home,
though the trip took months, and we strangled or ravished each other
at intervals all the way, regardless of
gender or
consequences or
any pretense of sanity or cohesion.

Arriving from the Space Station, we were feted as heroes.
We had intimacies with heads of state,
and endorsed, on camera, preposterous shit with unknown risks and
dubious utility.

Wish upon a star, said our mothers
so many years ago,
as we lay in cribs like soft, wonderful jail cells for the innocent.
Wish upon a star, 
and we did, God help us, we did.
_______

I discovered two of my strongest (and most bizarre) influences in my teens (Donald Barthelme) and early 20s (Russell Edson). Barthelme is the author of several collections of short stories which describe dryly absurd situations rife with irony and failure. The first one I found was a paperback copy of "Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts" (find quotes from which, HERE). I owe a significant debt to Mr. Barthelme for the indelible mark his style has left on my sensibilities. Then there is Russell Edson, whose book of prose poems "The Wounded Breakfast" showed me that poetry, and story line, and creativity, and just about anything else on a page, could be however my mind could imagine it. Find "Angels" by Mr. Edson, HERE.

For Karin's "Under The Influence" mini-challenge at Real Toads. The artwork at top is hers.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Eduardo

At my husband's funeral, I was the ghost, not him.
I couldn't find the grave;
it was a crowded place, with the living and the dead
and I was alone, except for
one friend
but he
was not my friend, he was a rooster who didn't mind a mad hen.
 
Sometimes, high in the mountains,
a freeze comes,
or low under the vineyards
the Earth rolls with a nightmare--
either way, the birds leave.
Either way, something shears off inside itself, and this I
could understand.

At my husband's funeral, I howled my throat raw,
as unthinkingly as if I had been born shrieking grief.
A heart moves blood stupidly,
like an ox pulling a cart over a cliff;
gee and haw until you're cross-eyed, the sky opens and turns dark
for the heaviest bird the same as the lightest.

When it was over, I kissed my non-friend the rooster
on the cheek. 
I thanked him for not letting me be there alone.
Maybe being kissed by a screeching ghost scared him
into genuine gallantry,
or having missed his dinner weakened him,
but he only squeezed my hand and said, "Senora..." as softly as
a rose petal descending on 
the lid of a coffin.
______

This poem is taken from a dream that woke me up.

 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Olga

We were texting.
Olga said, 4 a portrait.
I told her no 1 does ur portrait in the middle of the night.

She knew,
yanno,
to be careful of older guys in chat rooms and stuff,
but this one walked right in,
said get ready,
come downstairs.

I said, where r ur jewels?
She said, in my dress, stitched inside.
She sent me a j-peg.
I said you rock that, girl. Now sneak
out. Meet me at Bigby's.

She said idk.
I said, they got BOGO. Just come.
She sent an emoji and that was it.

Years later, living in New York City and older than shit,
we still were BFFs.
She'd been sober 27 years.
I'd been divorced twice.
Sometimes she'd see Putin on the television and trash him in Russian.
I found her a meme of him falling off a horse,
and showed it to her on my phone.

We laughed til I started coughing.
She banged her palm against my back until I could breathe.
"Thanks, Your Highness."
"Fuck you," said Olga, but she meant "welx".
_____

for Izy's Out Of Standard.
 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Roundelay

Both times I died, it was in the Spring--
blackbirds and orioles arrived, their songs caught in my bones
and then released; the chime and ring
of their heartbeats rapid as loss or seasons begun and ended alone.

Look at the lies I tell, my mouth stuffed 
full of them, nests of poison and nonsense, or just blowy leaf-rot
assembled into rounds of order by tufted
dandelion balls--birds of instinct, my betters likelier than not.

Both times I died, the summer came anyway,
and I walked all night, a bag of storms wandering from the crossroad
to haunt myself mad, a gibbering roundelay
of keen and commonly human desire, to be sung after all, 

from the fire and from the bone.
_____

 

Monday, March 14, 2016

213B

In this wing, on this floor, in this room ("my" room)
I assume she must be a woman,
though I'm not sure and
don't care.

She is wound and stitched like a baseball.
She has soared, and fallen,
rolled and stopped.
She is Icarus, that precious dumb-ass, with hawk-heart and glider balsa.

Put this on her (his?) chart:
I love her. All of my poems, scratched out left-handed through a
fog of medications, are fragments of the cosmos,
stanzas of burst confetti stars,
and oh,
oh,
how I do go on.

All night, she alternates between coma and suffocation,
drawing moth-nurses at 3 a.m. to the light that is her.
They coo, stick, shock and revive her,
and though stumbling residents up to their eyeballs in vending machine coffee hold the paddles,
it is the nurses who coax her back like sirens on some rocky shore.

She is Ulysses. She is Gina Lollobrigida, Madonna and Sylvia Plath.
How can I sleep in such a crowded room, which expands like a heart
with her every dream, her every sigh?

Dawn comes, and the murder of dark birds that is her family arrives.
They cock their heads and strut along the top of the divider.
"Are you going to finish that?
The jello?
The July issue of Redbook?
Life itself?" 

If I could handle weaponry right now I would scatter them,
but a pen is all I have--
that, and the raw, almost painful devotion I have come to have for her.
Doctors and friends shake their heads.
"You have to want to get well." 

Oh mercy, look at me. 
If she lay her beautiful bandaged head on my breast,
I would grit my teeth and not scream;
I would pet her and whisper to her like a velvet bell in the House of the Holy Concubines
and then I would pass out, from joy and pain.

They want to transfer me to another floor, to a place
--they say--
where I can get the type of care a woman like me needs.
They talk to me as if I were crouched on a ledge, twenty floors above the parking lot and threatening to jump,
but I am simply in love. Is that so hard to understand?

(End note, written during a break by Cheryl Durban, R.N.)
Patient transferred to psych this morning, but left behind these notebooks full of uncommonly beautiful poems. The roommate's name was on the first page, but roommate is PVS and family says the books aren't hers and to throw them away. Alert janitorial; I can't be the one to do it.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Medea, NASA Wife

Death is the ultimate gravity.
Astronauts understand this, and live forever,
but weep as they work, knowing they can never go home again.

What friend, what doctor,
can comfort the deathless in their solitary endlessness?
What aspect of research, 
what nourishing knowledge
could ever make their exile bearable?

Look! In the sky!
Nothing. 
Woman, you cannot touch them; there is nothing so remote as a departing spouse,
sure of everything and saying so,
all the while

fearing the fire of re-entry
and the facing of wives and waves which once welcomed, and now destroy.
______

for get listed with grapeling at real toads.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Thing That Was Created

Among the rolled up plans,
the coffee mugs,
the beakers,

there was one thing which was not like the others

because
it was alive.

At first, the thing that had been created was the object
of much lively discussion,
amusement and
conjecture

until it demonstrated that it was dangerous.

Then they
wanted to kill it, but it 
wanted its life as much as they wanted theirs,
as much as I want mine
and you want yours.

It fought
and was denounced;
it killed
and was set upon by its very creators.

Among the observers, both lay and professional,
the officers of the court
and those accusing and accused, judging and judged,

there was one which was not like the others

because
the bloody thing,
howling and unhuman,

alone among them all,
was innocent.
______

 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Progression

Ice broke the bowl
of the bird bath.
Spring had revenge upon the ice.

In summer I watched my sweet dog
step up and hide her head
against my stomach, for love.
Winter cared nothing for her.
She is gone.

Illness broke the bowl
of my body.
Today's better, though.
I tell the empty room.
_____

a flash 55 about extremes for Kerry at Real Toads.
 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pearl Harbor

What you did before?
Can't do it anymore.
Shoulda done it when ya could've, say all the dark mothers,
whispering from the walls. 

Lookitcha.
Fat as a battle ship, slow as one, too.
Girrrrl.
Unh unh unh.

All that time, the Zeros were flying,
there you were,
lazy as an umbrella in last night's drink.

Now you're a mess, damn.
On fire and sinking,
feel like shit all the time, and might lose that breast. 

Steam for the mouth of the harbor,
and tell that stupid band to shut up.
Who the fuck are those guys in the planes, where'd they come from?

So many questions, you're so inquisitive! Let me try to answer.
No, this isn't a drill.
Yes, those are real bullets.
No, you never did anything to them; they don't even know you.
Yes, they're trying to kill you.

What's that last question you asked, dear?
On purpose? Bless your heart. They came out of the Sunday sky, that's all.
_______