Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Lion In The Goldfish Bowl

"Poor great dull thing," they said about the lion in the goldfish bowl.

"She's out of place," they said about the lion on Main Street with bowl shards in her skin.

"Wtf?" they said about the lion at the dinner table, the date who won't be back.

"She's cool as fuck," said another lion, with golden eyes.
_____

Off the top of my kitty-cat head, for MZ's challenge at Real Toads. 48 words. There were two more but I ate them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: "Leaving Time"

Leaving TimeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This isn't a perfect book but it is a good one and it is a book that was entertaining throughout, in my opinion. Yes, there are a couple of characters that come straight from central casting: the alcoholic gumshoe haunted by the case that got away, and the plucky young girl who is just plucky plucky plucky until you kind of want to wring her neck. However, the elephant researcher and her floridly bipolar husband are more than enough to keep the pages turning, especially when a whole batch of fascinating elephants comes with.

There's a murder mystery, a missing persons case, and a ghost story all rolled into this thing, and I never once didn't enjoy what i was reading. Rather, I found myself not wanting it to end. As pure entertainment, or as a glimpse into the majesty of elephants, I would give this novel 5 stars, but I'm giving 4 because of the two cardboard characters.



View all my reviews

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mourning Dove

 "This is what it sounds like, when doves cry" --Prince Rogers Nelson


The Moon, secretive and flighty,
turned her dark side and within that cradle I was born--
a dove of dust fed glue-milk and told to sing.

The Sky was not crazy but loved Crazy's eyes.
His silent daughter collected sand timers and seahorses because
all girls love horses; all girls hear ship's bells 
and can feel those same ships foundering.

The Moon kept two faces in a sea shell--
one for the Sky and the other to use as a trowel
to create The Sea of Suicide and The Sea of Insanity.

Every mother takes her child to the beach;
every keeper takes her doves to the temple with a good sharp blade
wrapped in her skirts for utility, for God, and for the fucking hell of it.

The Moon is dead now, dead before, dead always with only death to hand down,
but Mama, I breathe and I sing just to spite you
The Sky we both loved is gone and my heart is full of sea water and stones.

I put my song where the Moon was,  
as beautiful as I can make it, that it might shame you,
and bring you back just to die again
from the music of my mourning, the lightness of my empty bones.
_____

for "Where Do I Come From" at Real Toads. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Have Eaten Stars

 “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I have eaten stars
but they brought their own gravity with them--
their own geography with them--
and now they unbalance me, so that I lurch and roll as I fall.

On the surface of the sun, 
everyone is blind and everything is done gingerly--
every effort undertaken temporarily--
taking a million generations just to create a gesture that is gone in an instant.

Uncross your fingers and kiss me.
Meteors remember, but are too thick and stupid to talk--
language eludes them and they are as celibate as nuns.
I would forsake all liturgy if you would only be God's recollection and bless me.

I have eaten stars
but their light is checkerboarded inside my skin--
their light diffuses until I am dizzy and that is when
I lie and tell you I was home all day,

wrote nothing and

sold your name for a song.
_____ 

for Kerry at Real Toads.

  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Stupidity

We took vows,
two fools stepping off the cliff,
full of the soulful certainty that marks conquerors and mental patients.

Rome blessed us, I suppose,
just as it mocked Hannibal,
driving him to fits of genius and savagery.

When you haunt my dreams, I think about the elephants.
I know that um-thousand poor nobodies met their death in the mountains
just to satisfy one man's idee fixe.

I know that they had dreams, wives and children left behind,
empty bellies, infected feet, all the traveling gear of sufferers since time began,
but I lose sleep and peace only over the beasts they took with them.

We made a point, you and I,
not to mash the wedding cake in each other's faces as so many do.
We were as sweet as swans on a summer lake.

Elephants have eyelashes fit for shy nuns or reclining models.
They know low languages kept for themselves and their familiars,
and we know only dropped chances, blood, and stupidity.

Hannibal impaled and beheaded stragglers, complainers.
His own men's faces gaped from poles as warning to the rest to press on.
Was he any kinder to the elephants? 

We were undone by restless ghosts, of madness, and of remove.
Elephants truly do remember every beating, and every mercy,
every bone left behind, and every calf that lay still.

I loved you, and I love our son fiercely.
If I can't forgive you, it's because of the elephants and the insanity of snow and thin air.
Hannibal is dead. Rome still stands. 
Huge bones litter the Alps, with no heart mighty enough to find them, touch them, and mourn.
_______

for "An Elephantine Challenge" at Real Toads.

 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Observations on The Construction of The Human Ear

Every ear is different, as unique as fingerprints,
and that is why the world
can speak in a million voices
and to each in her own particular language.

Same-same, the trick is to listen
to what's coming from every direction and to make 
nonsense into music;
foolishness into poetry.

If you can do that, the world will not seem so mean, so ugly,
but will, instead, whisper in your ear like a dream of the Divine.

 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Love Story

Down in the mines, Mordecai Centennial Brown finds Cerberus
guarding the gates of Hell.
He's alone. Spirits call to him. "Ah well," he says. "Ah well..."

Taking a triple headed dog by the jaw is a recipe for loss.
Any chippie at the lunch counter could have told Mordecai that,
but he never took advice about a dog, from a cat.

"Look at this blood, all this damage," said the doctor, shaking his head.
"Lucky you ain't going to lose the whole hand, young man.
Lucky you ain't dead."

Mordecai Centennial "Miner" Brown went on, with his acquired deformity,
to fashion a curveball that broke so sharply, so unhittably,
that it made him a star in the early days of the century.

Imagine the unlikelihood that he would wrestle Cerberus again,
get loose and come back, curving himself around your dreams
from underneath your bed.

He's in love with you, girl, or what's left of him is;
you with that Cubs cap hung on the bed post and your long smooth restless legs.
Hear him, how he cajoles. How he begs.

You don't look so good, showing up for work an hour late,
circles like coal dust under your eyes, too much for concealer,
and the witches in the break room whisper, "What's the deal with her?"

On October 8th, 1908, Miner Brown pitched his greatest game.
You weren't born yet, and he wasn't dead.
Now, all night, you see it, in dreams, in the rain, in your head.

He had that devastating pitch, and great command.
Being dead isn't his fault, being alone isn't yours--
Go on, fluttering bird, stop fighting. Let him love you. Swallow hard. Hold his hand.
_______

for both Karin's "remains" challenge, and my BFF Joy Jones' "poetry to the third power" challenge, both at Real Toads. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confession Question

I was raised Methodist,

then converted Catholic;

so if i try to confess in North Carolina,

will they say, "You're a Protestant. Beat it!" ?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Singer & Song

vintage Russian post card
No matter the storm
and the lightning bones that dance across the night--
no matter the bear
who wakes hungry from a winter of dreaming you--

No matter the snowdrop and crocus
who lie and tell you to leave your clothes by the frozen pond--
no matter the evergreen
claiming to be constant from behind its newly fledged fingers--

I will sing, 
as the blackbirds do,
for you, no matter how hopelessly, how strangely--
I will sing for you.

No matter the goat with its bell
who eats the shoots of grass before the sun can set on them--
no matter the shepherd's dog
who has run away and left the flock to whatever may pass--

No matter angels or devils
who quarrel and pose never-endingly under their different banners--
no matter creatures who hide 
and wait, only to have remained too long as you passed by--

I will sing,
as the blackbirds do,
for you, no matter how hopelessly, how strangely--
I will sing,

Sing for you.
______

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jacks

Noon is when I stopped being pretty--
no one cares and it doesn't matter, 
BUT
I was the spider bride of a textile tycoon and he
took one look and started laughing.

Out of my ears
crawled everything I'd heard and learned--
all Mom's good advice good for nothing, now.
I went straight to the mill
and worked everybody I could lay hands on;
they call me Saint Susan--
Bernard doesn't see those jacks in the palm of my hand.

When a woman loses her looks, anything goes.
Bernard recoils like I'm radioactive,
has a slut mistress tucked away in his office.
Meanwhile, I roam the factory floor like a suicide,
my fingertips solaced by
bolts of cat's claw crimson and
beautiful indigo.

There will be a revolution.
Bernard's gonna look good hanging from a roof girder,
his wrists knotted tight with my pretty scarf.
I'm an uggo but I kiss the blade that cuts the checks;
sugar and sorcery have made the shifts see me
not as I am, but as I could be and have become--
a red ball bouncing and a quick hand to catch it.
______


For "A Poem Of Our Own" with Magaly at Real Toads. I have incorporated the titles of four of my poems from our book "Three-Note Howl: The Wild Hunt" : "Noon", "The Spider Bride", "Advice", and "Beautiful Indigo."

Top image by cellmon, deviantart. Bottom image, creator unknown. 

After hearing it last night, I woke up with my head full of "The Minstrel In The Gallery" by Jethro Tull. I had it in my head all the while I was composing this. Lyrics HERE.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Brick-Dumb Motherfucker

A co-worker, a woman I'd liked quite well up to then
for her quick mind and ready smile,
said, as we were completing a delivery together,
that she thought
lesbians
only went that way because they couldn't get a man.

She said it as an observation
without any rancor
and without any idea who she was talking to.
Then she looked at me to agree, the way women do.
I thought of my then-girlfriend
and how she knew me like a crow knows its nest.
I thought of her blackbird eyes,
her sure touch and drag race temperament.

"That's not true," I told my co-worker, who remained
unconvinced.
It's death by a thousand cuts, this living on the outside,
but we are warriors--have to be--and we keep on.

Later that day, I read about a transwoman who was murdered
by her boyfriend, who felt
he'd been lied to.
Listen, you brick-dumb motherfucker, I thought,
the woman beat herself up every day,
all her life,
until she found the stupendous guts to live as herself
and living as yourself
is always the stone cold truth.

The next day, some god squad evangelist
told me the bible says how I love is an abomination.
All I know is,
his squeaky clean Sunday jesus
wouldn't last ten minutes--
would be curled up fetal-style in some vestibule by the mailboxes,
sucking his thumb and begging to go home--
if he had to live where we live all the time.
_________

for real toads "women's freedom".

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Blood Bracelet

A blood bracelet is the best kind.
It is proof of life
and the ability to bear pain.

Before sleeping with you
in the big bed upstairs with the cuffs on the posts,
I spent six weeks living with religious lunatics
in the woods;
they had whips and crosses, 
thorns and theology.

Later, deep in the rabies dance of our mating,
I called upon the things they had taught me--
starvation without complaint,
dogma without tenderness,
and the acquired skill of animating bird carcasses with or without ceremony.

That was the key--the corpse cardinal, dead dove and rot starling,
all left on your pillow along with red script
from the blood bracelet your bite left
when you spoke to me
so ignited and
sure of redemption's need for absolute destruction as prelude.
_______ 

for bits of inspiration at real toads.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Weatherman

A weatherman
in crisis
is not something the public is interested in seeing.

They want
forecasts, temperatures.
They get tears, confabulations, outbursts and exposure.

This could happen to anybody.
One minute, you're talking about high pressure.
The next, Woody with Sports enrages you with his talk of baseball and
basketball; his death seems mandated
and necessary.

Listen to me and learn, Grasshopper.
Just backpedal through the studio doors two minutes ahead of the cops.
Take over the crosswalk from the street preachers
and roll with it.

The arrest of a weatherman is not a common thing.
Tazed, his delivery becomes staccato and shrill, disturbing, mad.
If it begins to rain, oh then the cops will need him,
the station will be contrite,
viewers forgiving.

But if the sun stays out,
all day, all night,
the whole Universe will have lost its mind and the Weatherman,
installed at last as Supreme Commander,
will have his revenge upon
the public,
the European Model,
and every trend and anomaly that unhinged and changed him.

Try voice command then.
Try the mute button then,
you worms, writhing expectantly under the shadow of his unstoppable boot.
_____

a compound of idiocy and nonsense for real toads. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

In The Haunted House

In the haunted house,
a ghost wrote a letter to the moon.
The moon, for her part,
was just an ornament for her admirers to sing to;
for wolves and cats to sing to;
for ghosts to write letters to.

Her lack of substance didn't bother or deter them
in their admiration or devotion--
each one believing she sang to the moon
but really, in silver light,
they composed their notes--
wrote their letters--
in alleyways,
next to frozen rivers,
or in empty rooms
alone.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: "Excelsior"

ExcelsiorExcelsior by Randall Silvis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Bloomhardt--we never learn his Christian name--is a real jerk. He bullies his wife, loves his son but manages to always hurt him somehow, and works in the accounting department of a steel mill, where his soul-shriveled co-workers pass the time by playing practical jokes on each other and locking the men's room door with a padlock because the last guy blew his brains out in there and they're all afraid they'll do the same thing at the first opportunity.

But wait, there's more: Bloomhardt works Saturdays at a mortuary, where he is supposed to be selling monuments, but instead has sex with his boss's wife. He gets caught--and chased around a cemetery with a chain saw. He has to wait for dark to wander home, because the boss took all his clothes with him and delivered them to Bloomhardt's wife.

But wait, it's even worse than that. When his wife begs HIM to forgive HER for not being a good enough wife, and therefore driving him to do this terrible thing, he decides he'll show her, and move out. Thus his (well-deserved) descent begins.

Bloomhardt commences an odyssey in which he moves into the world's shoddiest divorced-guy apartment, spends an evening looking for, and finding, his co-worker The Goathead, who has expired in a back booth at the world's rankest gin joint, and trying--always clumsily and unsuccessfully--to get back the life he scorned at the novel's beginning. His wife's new assertiveness-trained feminist friends form a Wall Of Scorn, and when he can manage to get past them, his wife is no longer the doormat he knew and abused, but rather a woman who wants a divorce and takes out a restraining order on him.

Despair and disaster don't get much funnier than this. Recommended.




View all my reviews