Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book Review: "Insomnia"

InsomniaInsomnia by Stephen King

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


A friend, who knew I liked King novels, gave me "Insomnia" for Christmas some 20 years ago. That was during King's unfortunate "Gerald's Game"/"Bag of Bones" descent into the yawning trough of crap writing that afflicted him around that time and led me to decide he had been shot in the head or something and become unable to write. I didn't read him for years after that, but books like "Cell" and the excellent "11/22/63" brought me back.

So. I was stuck for something to read last month, and pulled out this long, overstuffed turkey to read. Giddy with naive optimism, I thought a book with a 70-year-old protagonist might be kind of cool. Indeed, it didn't start out so badly, but neither did the Titanic's maiden voyage. We meet Ralph, a nice old fellow whose wife has recently died. Ralph begins suffering from ever-worsening insomnia. One would not imagine that his nightly struggles would make very good reading, but in fact I cared about Ralph and his circumscribed oldster world. Then the weird stuff starts. Good, right? It's Stephen King, the "Master of Horror", right? Not by a longshot.

Ralph starts seeing people's auras. He sees so very many auras, on so awfully many people, and King describes each one of them in loving detail. This continues throughout the rest of the book. Trust me, auras are not something I ever want to hear about for several hundred pages ever again in my life, thank you very much. There are also balloon strings floating above people's heads. Don't ask, they aren't very compelling, either. At this point, the reader begins to wish to be impaled by a javelin, or anything, just so as not to have to keep reading, but I did, because I'm ever-hopeful.

Wait, it gets worse. Much worse. Ralph hooks up with neighbor widow Lois, or as I took to calling her, Lois The Load. Lois mostly seems to be there to emote, and to go, "Oh my god, Ralph, what is it???" Lois speaks in this particularly cloying fiddle-dee-dee super G rated parlance that would make the Pope long for some good hearty cuss words, and she stands wringing her hands as Ralph does battle with an unspeakable creature bent on their destruction, bleating, "Promise me you won't HURT him!" She survives all the way through the end of the book. A shame, if you ask me, because she made me want to stick the spine of the book in my eye sockets so I wouldn't have to know about her any further.

Add to all of this, King at his worst, making absolutely sure to slow down any actual action or plot progression to a glacial pace through the use of myriad tedious tangents. Is Ralph in a showdown with the forces of evil, with thousands of lives depending upon his swift and decisive action? Time to have him launch into some lengthy "that reminds me of the time..." side bar. Time to stop and describe the full history of the surroundings, or to flash back to a conversation held with some irrelevant third-tier character during calmer times. Time to recite the full lyrics to obscure songs by The Turtles. Time to attract attention while riding on public transportation by screaming, "GET ON WITH IT!" repeatedly at the book, which only stares dumbly back and goes on another skull-crushingly dull tangent.

If you're dying to read umpty-hundred pages of utter drivel, this is the book for you. NOT recommended.



View all my reviews

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pythia

"If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." --Matthew 5:29

"The best deal is the one that makes the most profit." --Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, Rule #2.


I have been making some changes; scaling back.
Behold my lovers, who brought me poems in baskets and cages,
with locks and without, with good intentions and without. 
Here they are,
male and female,
two by two,
plucked before the flood.

They are white and hollow, and have nothing to say.
I shake them; they grin and nod, just as they did in life, but the best thing is
that they now lack any flesh, and cannot shit me like before,
cannot use curve and skin to make me stupid
and set me to my writing like a trained seal clapping.

Nonetheless, the itch remains, a wind in my ear,
a crawly under the pillow case, the world's most beautiful bubo blooming 
in places where the poems are kept.
Listen, they say, listen to us....

I have been making some changes, scaling back.
Mama croc is dead, my lovers rolled away like an aftershock,
and I've never been happier, but the vapors find their way up
through cracks in the foundation.
It's God, isn't it, mightier than the utility company,
whispering, instructing, handing me the Golden Wisdom which I spout,
serene as a vegetable,

no idea what I'm saying, 
but free to say it and unencumbered by wondering what you'll think.
_____

for Brendan's "Voices" challenge at Real Toads.

 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mbira Duet

I am in your kitchen,
bigger than a bread box,
formerly sponsored by Gaddafi. 
Come on, 
get up, get up, you lazy sl--iver of early morning moonlight, you.

Look for me.
(I had a key.)
In plain sight, where everyone's eyes go sleepy.
I'm as unstable as rising dough,
follow your lips;
theirs is liturgy in language any fool can understand.

We are the two, the last two
that the local Lothario hasn't fucked. 
You, because you're out of his league--
me, because I am made from African wood that splinters in the dark
and that no sandpaper can smooth. 
The Bantu left their mark on me, as a talisman and ornamental warning.

Have you found me yet?
It's your kitchen, get it together, Princess.
In this bottle over here, the anti-msg
for rendering the over-seasoned tasteless.
Let's start over, just you and me.
Moon Dog and Moon-ette, just two girls who went wrong so many times
we became a brand, with an anthem,

rolling figure 8's together in a math our bodies translate into mbira music.
_______

for Literary Excursions With Kerry at Real Toads. 



 

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Plague Doctors

What we need
is plague doctors.

Oh, you laughed, in the garden,
during summer,
a bloom hanging from every branch and stem.
You tossed your head back, showing perfect teeth--
the same ones that fall out now
in your sleep and in your tea.

I am not popular.
I admit it, and grow even less so now
for having been correct.
We need plague doctors, and where are they?
Where are the students, the masters, the institutions
that could have turned them out
where caution and courage intersect?

Very well, I'm the girl
for the job, and damn the looks I'll get
from the upscale ladies whose smiles 
are meant to suck the fight from their perceived lessers.
Hear how they cough now,
how their buboes distress them
causing cancellation of their little dinners
in favor of charlatans with vestments and censers.

I am the one.
I am your only hope.
See how winter has taken hold, and the dogs eat
your unburied glassy-eyed girlfriends.
A beak stuffed with spice and roses helps me to endure
the stench of you, and your kiss
as I save you so that you'll owe me
in the spring, or lie blue as the gentians.
________
 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tortoise Shell and Dog Brain

I see everything through
tortoise shell and dog brain--
it's all in an effort at honesty that I'm filling you in up front.

My cheaters might be rose-colored or dark as molasses--
you'll have to decide, based upon
my attitude, subtle cues, and giveaway pratfalls.

Okay, maybe I've been panting after you, like you think.
I'm more tortoise than hare,
so you'd better invite me by degrees after all, 
perhaps by post or 
smoke signals, because once startled I'm gone and it's a job to get me back.

So what d'you think? Never mind.
Ever since I turned seven hundred years old, I'm not as rash
as I used to be. 
Nonetheless, play your cards right and I could be
keen for your bed, hogging it,
living for nothing but to make you happy, Master, but still
prone to wander,
chase my tail,
and act stupid at the drop of a hat. 
______

by request.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Port Of Call


Hey sailor,
this is the lunch counter
anyone can sit at.

Hey handsome,
buy a girl a soda?
They'll bring one glass, two straws.

Tell me, Lonesome,
why aren't you in the bar? Do the stools there
pitch and yaw?

Too bad, swabbie,
about the girl you left behind.
Do ya miss her? Do I remind you of?

Listen, sugar,
set your sea bag down. Noah knew
--bet you do, too--
that a pigeon is still a dove.
______

for "escape to the past" at Real Toads

 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dolly

You dismiss us;
me and Dolly.
"Run along to your room," you say.
"Stay there...all night. All day."

You think we don't know
that you crawl with every loathsome perversion
of flesh and spirit.
You believe that Dolly and I don't see it.

Fine. We will whisper over our tea set,
cups as delicate as a veneer.
We'll discuss you, you know, and send anonymous notes
to Mrs. Muffington, the police, and in the pockets of strangers' coats.

Dolly says your lungs are weak.
You stumble when you walk. Cough when you speak.
"Hello," we'll say, "Hello, what's this?"
as you lie on the floor we'll give you a kiss.

Dismiss us once more.
Wave your hand airily.
Say, "Go talk to your doll!"
but...

my doll talks to me.
______