Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Unfortunate Hat (a prose poem)

The milliner suffered from insomnia. When he did sleep, he was subject to dreams involving his lost love, Lucinda.

He would dream that he could see her at the other end of a train station, waving with a folded newspaper held in her gloved hand. However, in the manner of dreams, when he tried to hurry to her, each movement required Herculean effort just to budge an inch. He would never be able to cross the entire station in time.

And so, he would wake up and go down to his basement shop to work on a new hat. As if he were a public fountain of loneliness, his sadness dripped from his mind down through his arms and out his fingers, into the material for the hat, into the ribbons, into the packaging for mailing it to the customer.

Upon receipt, ladies would see the lovely color, feel the softness and delight in the unique design, hand-made only for her by the milliner. Unfortunately, upon wearing the hats, odd things would begin to happen.

Mrs. Arthur Popovich, after wearing her hat to her bridge club, failed to return home. She was found sitting on a bench at the local train station, fanning herself absently with a folded newspaper, with tears streaming down her cheeks. 

"Do you see the platform?" she asked a bewildered Mr. Popovich when he finally found her. "Do you see how it makes no move to hold the trains as they arrive and depart? How cold it is! The rails never meet. Did you ever notice that?" 

"Come home, darling," he said gently, and she did, but she was never the same. Other husbands from Dubuque to Sioux City reported the same baffling behavior, and read about each other in advice columns.

Meanwhile, the milliner saw his Lucinda once again in yet another dream, waving to him with a folded newspaper held in her gloved hand. Inside, were letters from men whose wives had purchased hats. These men sat in telephone booths along the wall, the doors folded back, their overcoats open, not talking, just staring. When the lonely milliner tried to run, to get to Lucinda in time, each of these men picked up their respective receivers and began to dial. The milliner found himself moving so fast that it made him dizzy. In the time it took him to realize it, he was at the departure platform, losing his balance, reeling and falling past Lucinda. She turned his way and blew him a kiss, her lips a perfect red, her gloves as white as electric lights. After that, he did not dream anymore, and there were no more hats, despite dozens of orders scattered across his work table, unfilled.
_____ 

for Bjorn's "Butterfly Effect" challenge at Real Toads.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Drunken World

The drunken world leans in, then away,
like a dancer on break who confides a confidence,
then tips back laughing as if to say it was nothing, 
just a gray cat switching its tail atop a fence.

Every season must first pass through my windows--
so I like to think.
Come in, sit in the slant on the boards of the hallway
and we'll drink
as if we were pretty as petals on a rose.

I have given up, that's the truth, 
and it's such a damned sweet relief to just let everything slide.
The drunken world sways, rights itself, then moves
with us on it, choiceless, birds perched upon a train at night.

I love you. One day I won't, and it breaks my heart.
We're not new at this,
and what can be broken already is.
Please let yourself, this once, just be in my arms;
think of nothing beyond this moment's kiss
so it won't be so bad when we joke it off, let go of the barre, and part.
_______

For my own "Touch of Gray" challenge at Real Toads.
 
 

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: "Terror In The City Of Champions"

Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society That Shocked Depression-Era DetroitTerror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society That Shocked Depression-Era Detroit by Tom Stanton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Imagine an America just starting to right itself after an economic calamity. Imagine a changing America where racial and religious resentment lead to a sometimes polarized society, whipped up further by demagogues and religious media stars. Imagine "a low type of mentality, men easily incited by mob psychology, who have taken a silly pledge and gone through a crazy ritual apparently created by a fanatic who seeks power."

Imagine, too, politicians and police who often place political gain or personal prejudice above the common good. Imagine further a sports-crazed America, in love with the champions of professional baseball, football, hockey and boxing. Imagine Detroit in the mid-1930s, a place amazingly similar in many ways to America in 2016.

"Detroit the Dynamic" was home, of course, to the mighty American auto industry, the 1935 Champion Detroit Tigers in baseball, the Lions in football, and the Red Wings in hockey, a major sports trifecta that no other city has ever matched, making Detroit truly "The City of Champions." Add to that, Detroit native Joe Louis' rise to the ranks of the boxing elite.

However, Detroit was also home to the notorious Purple Gang, and to the secret and sinister Black Legion, a Klan-like organization that draped itself in flag-waving, Constitution-spouting patriotism, but who terrorized and murdered people simply for being black, or Catholic, or leftist.

Author Tom Stanton brings the long-ago streets of Detroit to life again, along with the outsized personalities of Tiger player-manager Mickey "Black Mike" Cochrane, his Jewish star player Hank Greenberg, Catholic radio priest Father Coughlin who drifted from bible lessons to antisemitic diatribes before being shut down by his Bishop, and the strangely disinterested FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Stanton also brings to life the mean, violent, racist members of the black-robed Black Legion and the people they harassed, bombed, shot and sabotaged.

From the bright sunshine of Navin Field and the World Series (What exactly DID happen to star pitcher "Schoolboy" Rowe's hand that caused him to lose to the Cardinals in the 1934 World Series? What led to Cochrane's nervous breakdown in June of 1936?) to the shadowy clandestine meetings of the Black Legion, to the offices of the three major Detroit dailies and the halls of government and justice, this is a truly a tour through one American city's best of times and worst of times. What really struck me the most is how little people and institutions have changed since then. Highly recommended.



View all my reviews

Saturday, May 21, 2016

If Found, The Moon

If found, the moon
should be placed in the hands of an origami expert
to be folded into itself--an envelope--
and mailed immediately to its mother, a bird.

I say this as advice, and as instruction
for those in darkness or earthbound, overly wakeful
in hours fractured like a broken parcel, 
that no one inquires about or missing it, waits for.

Never doubt that this message is for you,
as flightless as an egg or a stone, sad as a star at noon;
if stone, bolder in rain--if bird, born to rise--
if star, then sister to the sun--if lost, Atlantis, if found, the moon.
_____

for Play It Again Toads. I did Susie's "Taking it To The Streets."

 
 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sappho of The Pharmacy Counter

"All I ask of you is one thing that you'll never do"--Morrissey

I got rave reviews for 
cleaning under the couch.
Museums called. 
Anderson Cooper texted, saying "keep in touch."

Well fuck all you guys.
From out my ass, brilliance,
a fine new poem
and so how about that? and you haven't even seen the best ones.

Listen, sweet Sappho of the pharmacy counter,
here I am, the mermaid--you've sat waiting for my call.
Put down those pills, but keep the glasses and white coat--
You can be my Blind Ghost of Future Love, as on the bed we fall. 

In my yard, the trees sway
with birds who could talk but don't,
because if they did,
no one would ever leave them alone.

The sun comes up, doesn't it ever think of anything fresh?
And the sky, endlessly insistently blue.
Sappho honey, parlez black words that shine like ravens in the rain
and I'll kick out this beautiful shit for you,

beautiful, fantastic, fucking feathered perfection for you.  
____

for grapedude's list thingggggg         

 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

No More Of Jerry

At some point, there was no more of Jerry
and yet, I kept walking him around anyway
no matter how he billowed and sagged,
no matter the film-melt at his hands, his feet, his face.

I kept thinking, this is Jerry, MY Jerry,
and he will rally, he will laugh it off and start dancing
even though we would both know it hadn't been a joke;
love can be that way, can't it?--illogical, like improv, chancy.

Okay, I lied.
We had got to that point of inattention where things get missed,
or recast, or denied,
and so when I walked down the street with Jerry I wore no black,
but the night lent me its share
and I wrapped it over my shoulders
and knotted it in my hair.

Look, Jer, I'm 3 a.m.--
your girl full of stars, still circling, ever faithful.
There's no more of you, but life is crammed with leftover me;
I don't know what to do, and it's lonelycold, unbearable, rainful.

'Bye, Jerry.
When dawn comes, I'll have to pretend there's a tomorrow,
and there it will be no matter what--
without me caring, without you there.
_______

For Karin's "No More" challenge at Real Toads 

 

 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

ampersands


(by coal black)




a cardinal and a rat on my feeder

dead porcelain doll in my hands.

people no one can see on the wraparound porch

like a row of ampersands.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: "The Castaways"

The CastawaysThe Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Apparently, I am the last woman in the country to discover Elin Hildebrand, but I can see why she is so popular. "The Castaways" is about a group of eight friends--four couples--who have been close for years. They all live on Nantucket Island (a character in itself) and they all are way more well-off than I will ever be, but this isn't one of those tiresome novels where it's all about stuff and glitz.

When one of the couples goes for an anniversary sail and are drowned in a mysterious accident, secrets begin to come out. Some of the friends were closer with another friend's spouse than was suspected, there may have been foul play, there were certainly lies and an undercurrent of restless emotions.

While the plot is engrossing, what I loved the best was the eight characters. They are all so human, so easy to relate to, and so marvelously drawn by the author, that loved spending time with them, and I cared about them all. There is no obvious hero or villain; they are all just human beings caught up in life. I wholeheartedly recommend "The Castaways" and look forward to reading more by this author.





View all my reviews

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Interval

She only knew two things--
mice, and sky.

So, when she was injured and the sky scorned her,
the thought that she must now be a mouse drove her mad.

They had to wrap her. She wanted to kill them,
but had become a lesser even to pigeons; she was all fury and no effect.

Nothing in the sky is sick, but the ground is full of bones and graves.
She became feet without wings, dying of stillness.

Why did they touch without killing?
Didn't they know that, under her feathers, she was meat like anything else?

Days went by. She fought them. She lived. So what?
They brought her food and she tore at it. 

After forever, she stopped hurting.
After forever, they took her outside and the sky was still there.

She took a step, then two. She tried her hurt place.
For her, gravity had always been reversed, and so she raised her shoulders and felt herself fall.
________

Monday, May 9, 2016

Woman In A Fire

"You've changed," she said,
and so I have.
Oh my love, get up, put on your clothes
(if you want to make the sun stutter in the sky;
if you want the swallows to go stunned and still)
and go outside.

Everything that was dead a month ago has sprung from the ground
or from the ends of branches.
Everything that was here a year ago is dead and sleeping,
forever, in that same ground.

You thought I was like an old lamp, always there,
always unnoticed and beloved at the same time.
I thought that too.
Now, though, starlings have found a way in, 
and I can barely keep my feet on the ground.
They call me;
they are a cacophony,
reminding me, so much, of--in those first days--you.

I had a dog, my whole heart, Mercury on four legs.
How I loved him! Now, he is gone
and I see a ginger cat in the garden every morning.
Goodbye, my love.
How it twists my heart to say it.
The starlings call, the ginger cat watches the birds,
and I change, rising on an updraft
or the ashy exhalation of a favorite book, now burning.
________  

 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jane's Guide To Engines

She finds eyes in a flea market basket,
hands in the sand at the beach.
When she gets home, the civil servant in her bed doesn't recognize her,
is desultory, communicating in lazy gestures,
dying of something 
and has been for years.

"I will leave the door standing open when I go," she thinks, and does,
knowing it will drive the civil servant insane.
This is as cruel as she ever gets,
but it feels good like a train station
when the cars are new, 
the line is clear and
the clocks are told by tarot and text message

sent by St. Creola,
Our Lady of the Favorable Signal Light.
____


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Indolence

Indolence
is my new
enchantment,

with

redolence
of inveterate
insouciance.

When ice gets tired,
it slips out of its winter bones
and comes down April easy
on my sill where the flower box keeps.

Kiss me.
Why not?
They sell
indemnity for indiscretion
by the pick-up window at the exit door
of the local concession. 
______

Inscribed and intended for Flash 55 at Real Toads.