All Afternoon

All afternoon in my flower garden--
wolves, imps, children, heavy equipment.
I wore gloves.
I had a trowel and a shotgun. 
A bushel basket.
Tarot cards.

All afternoon, clouds traversed the sky,
reminding me of childhood days in Singapore.
Here are things which can change in an instant:
a steady heart beat,
the four walls around you.

All afternoon I'd had the urge
to shove my gloved hand down the throat of the earth
to draw out the devil's vocabulary.
Don't be stupid--
you know, the one that badgers speak,
the one that drowns anyone listening--

All afternoon I slaved like a grave digger,
my straw hat gone, 
incubi dancing on the handle of my shovel.
I got a letter from the city, saying
cease and desist.
I got a letter from the Diocese,
saying I'd been excommunicated, along with the postman.
I got a letter from you
and it didn't say a god damned thing.

All afternoon I wondered why I opened it,
why I ever cared,
and whether I could use my 'do rag to flag the bombers
and sic them on your stupid paper house
with you in it.
I would like to stand on the rubble afterward, a martinet with round spectacles,
a cup of tea, 
and not a crumb of love left, 
but oh, one hell of a sense of righteous fury.


Sioux Roslawski said…
Shay--I wasn't familiar with that song, but it was a perfect pairing.

(Do you promise to leave your body to science so your brain can be studied? How in the world do you channel so many different voices?)
hedgewitch said…
There is a driving force to this that never lets up, and yet it has the delicacy of a difficult surgery, where everything is orderly, perfectly placed, and lives hang on the micro-millimeter depth of the cut. And what a cut it is, sterile and cold as steel, hot as a cleansing flame, full of the hindsight that is perhaps the most galling human experience of all-- "why only *NOW* do I see it?" I especially like the casual travelogue feel to the opening, almost peaceful, but with little jars, finally seguing into a series of visuals that stream faster than Netflix could ever manage, the devil's vocabulary, the garden gone surreal, the neutron bomb of a letter " from you,/and it didn't say a god damned thing." The conclusion is epic. I am literally shaking my head in stunned response at how many chords this strikes for me. Fine, blasting writing--you know how to tell it, girl.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Joy leaves the best comments ever. I agree, this poem blasts - good word. The lines Joy quoted struck me too, and the poem builds to a fine, furious closing. Wow, kiddo, you amaze.
Dani H said…
damn girl! fan-fucking-tastic!

only you could have created such mind blowing visuals and you always finish with flare.

LOVE this!

Sanaa Rizvi said…
My goodness this is good!❤️ The tone in this poem is literally blazing with fire and gosh that close completely blew me away!❤️ Kudos!❤️
Anonymous said…
Delicious imagery from start to end and oh my what an end. Triumph with bells on.
brudberg said…
Oh yes.. sometimes we need that righteous fury...I dig the digging..
Julian said…
Brilliant piece of writing, cracking end,too.
I'll give you my ex-wife's address, send the bomber over there too. la la
Anonymous said…
This is great and alive.
angie said…
A rousing round of applause here. first with a shotgun, yes. then with the things that change in an instant. yes. the hand down the throat of the earth....oh ya. a lousy letter. umph. sic ' slay me. I want this read aloud. dress like Earhart. I'll bring my trowel and spend all afternoon tromping that paper house with you.
tonispencer said…
You point out that paper house and I will bring a box of matches and my rifle. Oh yes!
Sarah Russell said…
Love the intensity and passion in this one. Why or why do we let them into our lives??
You remind me of Leonard Cohen, the way the over-the-top originality of your imagery nevertheless hits home with perfect rightness, as though we all knew all along there was never any other way to say it.
Kim M. Russell said…
This is riproaring writing! Just the list of things in your garden gets my heart racing. I particularly love the lines:
'All afternoon I'd had the urge
to shove my gloved hand down the throat of the earth
to draw out the devil's vocabulary'
'incubi dancing on the handle of my shovel'.

Hold on to that 'sense of righteous fury'.
Marian said…
Ahhhh, love this! Especially that third stanza. Really great.
Shadow said…
Ha! I'm all for expressing my anger before it consumes me whole, you just expressed it so much better *grin*
Susie Clevenger said…
Oh, as usual I am in awe. Anger, I'm feeling it lately. Where's my plane?

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