Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Sweet Sixteen ( A Personal Best Of )

Dear Readers, it's the 10 year anniversary of Word Garden.

I have been writing and posting on this blog since 2008, and for two years before that elsewhere. Even prior to that, in my younger incarnation as a writer, my work appeared in a few dozen journals.I thought it might be time to make up this list of the sixteen of my own poems that I am most proud of and pleased with. I'll list them in ascending order, with some thoughts about each one and a link to the full poem. (Clicking will open the poem in a new window.) I hope you enjoy them.

16. Beeville (2/21/09)  Always, I have liked to write prose poems that tell stories. In this poem, I have combined my love of small Midwestern towns, girls' and women's sports, and storytelling. 

15. Lady Franklin Bay (2/7/11)  I have written several poems about Arctic explorers and on far northern themes. Most of them are longer story poems, but this one is short, and uses the Greely expedition into the Canadian Arctic in 1881-1884 as a metaphor.

14. An American Girl In The IRA (1/25/16)  I made a trip abroad in 2009 and had a horrible experience which left me with a jaundiced eye for all things English. I combined that with my penchant for creating outsider characters, and the result was this. 

13. Decompensation (12/3/10)  Sometimes I know right away that something I've written is good, and then other times--like with this poem--I don't. Over time, though, I liked this one more and more. Decompensation is a medical term denoting the breakdown of a system that had been working but which breaks down due to stress. Thus, my homeless lady trying to hang on to something good in spite of everything.

12. Vantului (11/24/11)  Pestera Vantului is a wind cave in Romania. Those of you who read my stuff know that  have an unexplained fondness for things eastern European. This poem uses the wind caves to talk about a feeling of approaching mortality.

11. The Witch In Springtime (5/4/10)  I was going through a dry spell with my writing and had experienced some relationship disappointments, so I wrote this poem about a Witch who's lost her powers.She is feisty, though, and the fact that the poem title denotes "springtime" probably says that her struggles with ice and winter detritus is temporary.

10. No Matter (4/12/16)  I posted this under the title "Singer & Song", which I later changed to "No Matter" when I included it in my book Catechism For A Girl On Fire. It's just a love poem that says, no matter what, I will be there.

9. The Hill is Closer To Heaven  (2007?)  Although I posted this poem to my blog in May of 2008, it is older than that. I wrote it in 2006 or 2007. It's a very simple love poem, but it remains a special favorite of mine. The person I wrote it for seemed naturally good to me, "closer to Heaven." I still think she is. 


8. While Pouring Coffee (5/3/15)  I would be remiss if I didn't include a flash 55 poem. It's more than that, though. When I was younger, I went out into the world. Now that I am older, I find that it more often comes to me. Oddly, I don't think that's what I was after when I wrote it, and it has been edited a bit from its original version--improved, I think.

7. Fire (7/15/10)  This was a reminiscence, about something that happened when I was young. We didn't actually crash into a tree; we miraculously stopped about an inch short of it. We did have to call a tow truck. 

6. Rose (12/12/15)  I think that this is the best rhyming poem that I have ever written.  I was thinking about the death of a very young child. 


5. Heaven (6/30/14)  I find that the love poems (of my own) that I like the best over time are the easy breezy ones more than the overwrought ones. Though we like to say we're going to feel a certain way, or do a certain thing in the future, really who knows? All we can do is love today and head in a direction that feels right. 


4. The Cherub Of Pierzanie Prison (6/21/14)  "Pierzanie" is a Romanian word for "perdition." I stole the idea of the cherub from a remaindered novel called "The Building" by Thomas Glynn. He opens the novel by describing a cherub statue in a trash-strewn apartment building courtyard with an upside-down shopping cart draped over its head. I took that and ran with it. While the novel is blackly humorous, my poem is about needing love despite all the shit that rains down sometimes, and despite our own flaws. 


3. Love Poem For K. (2/13/12)  I'm very proud of this poem. Writing something complex, simply, is a hard thing to do, and this one time I think I got it absolutely right. Sometimes a thing or a person doesn't seem to fit in our lives and yet they keep on appearing as if to say that they do, after all.


2. God & Eros (6/2/11)  I have tried many times to write about my childhood, but this poem is far and away the best of them, except for the one that follows. "Playing church, I lied" is one of my favorite lines I have ever put down. When one is denied one place, one looks elsewhere, and  I did. 


1. The Far Garden (12/27/10) One of the things I recall most vividly about my childhood is the little patch of garden way in the back of the yard which had strawberry and mint planted there. I was always out of doors, wandering, and was always very curious about myself and about the world, as I still am today. However, answers weren't forthcoming when I asked questions, back then. Somehow, though, I kept that wandering, curious spirit alive. It is there in every poem I write.


Catblossom and her associate editor Crackblossom don't think anything I have ever written is anything but "tiresome claptrap and derivative drivel." I hope you disagree with them! ;-)


Friday, February 23, 2018

Rain

The sky couldn't hold it together anymore.
You think it's just always there, 
full of stars and big honking planets,
light, every kind of bird,
the freaking sun for goodness sake.

That's woman's work, babe. 

But I knew. She'd been gray for days.
Unwind, girl.
Close your eyes, shake out your hair.
Let go.

Rain.
____

 A 55 for my BFF at Verse Escape.

It's raining here today. Zacky Peanut and I are fine with it!

 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Internal Injuries

I hear dead people.
1965 continues endlessly,
elms rustling in summer breeze,
baseball and Beatles cards spread on the sidewalk still,
screen doors and monarch butterflies fragile but immortal.
You can stop now
(don't stop)
you can stop
(don't)
you
(don't)
stop.

Don't listen. 
Drop the sound out.
Roll with it if you can.
This house has been on fire for decades, why panic now? 
I hear dead people,
jumped up from eternal rest or damnation
telling me what they always told me:
child, you're fucked, and it's your own damn fault.
Can I stop hearing it now?
Can I stop living
(don't stop)
or start?
(don't start with me)
or
(you)
me
(us)
stop.
STOP.

1965 continues endlessly,
elms rustling in the summer breeze. 
________

for Poem As One-Sided Conversation at Toads.

 

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Marbled Blue


In a garden on the gray side of a dream I can't remember
Crows with beaks of marbled blue strut coolly to defend their
Claim upon what's yours and mine abandoned on a leaf's edge
With signature in red and gold on dawn's black-winged assemblage.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Getting Out The Hand Puppets

Well aren't WE the fussy bitch?
Silent treatment nothing,
I sent you a message in a bottle.

NOW you tell me it has to be an EMPTY bottle. 

So the message is the medium.
Read between the smears, sound it out,
work with me here, don't be so impossible.

"Smxxf bpht cgalpr." Got it? DUH.
______

a belated flash 55 for my BFF.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

JAMA to this, motherfuckers

I had a little ache in the heart,
and so sought the cure prescribed in pop songs
with you
and you
and you
and you
and you.
Results ranged from muttered obscenities Q 2 hours as needed
to inability or disinterest in getting out of bed, observed for up to 3 months.
In sum, none of it was worth
the elevated heart rate, 
the altered mood,
the little swimmy endorphins which followed my boat after you'd been aboard.
Darlings,
all of you may kindly fuck off.

Contrary data poured in in response:
"She is mercurial, alternately combative or child-like,
not as interesting as she seems at first,
too solitary, talks everything to death, 
writes those god damn poems afterward."
They allowed as to how I could kindly fuck off as well. 

Too bad
that we arrived exchanging charm and kindness,
only to follow the usual course of dis-ease
to a trading of vitriol and silence.
The good news is
that we are immune now,
free to walk again among men (or women) without fear or hope, either one.
Dig my dead smile
promising nothing,
desiring nothing,
done and cured after all,
patient X back at ground zero, sick of love but medically cleared--
a success story in journals that do not publish poetry.
______

for "Love Hurts" at Toads.

 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Ballad of Miroslav Barinsky

Miroslav Jubert Hans Barinsky
was fond of candied apricot whiskey
and drank so much, so cheerfully, so often
that they stuffed six bottles into his coffin
then down the side of a mountain on skis
they sent it, helped by sail and breeze
past the graveyard and off a cliff 
poor Miroslav...come to this. 
_______

a silly 55 for my BFF.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Tell Me No

Tell me no and all I hear is the 
ocean roll and sway in my ear
tell me no
but I'm deaf to reason.

Tell me go and I'll go until the lights
fade low and the moon shines mad
tell me go
but I'm blind to reason.

The stair is dark as a plum is cool
the rail is smooth as your naked skin
tell me no
but with a tongue you know I'll understand.
_______

finding some Bits of Inspiration on the stairway (to Heaven.)



Sunday, February 4, 2018

Of Course Of Course

They'd come a long way just to see him, these believers.
"Everybody has done us dirt--
taken our shop, our church, our children right off of our laps."

They'd hung on for a long time,
getting angrier every year.
"Where are we supposed live?
What has happened to the world, while we were working?
Who are these strangers?
Does anybody care how we feel?"

All they ever got was:

Look certainly at the end of the day freedom constitution committee values God tradition questions concerns contribution stand for investigation thorough Americans protect promise taxes statement position this office bluh-blah bluh-blah bluh-blah. 

So they voted for someone else.

They'd come a long way just to see him, these believers,
only to find the barn door closed
and Wilbur under investigation and under house arrest.

They can hear him talking (and talking and talking),
but he's turned the wrong way, this equine head in the bed of state,
just a new horse's ass doing all the speechifying now.
___________

for Camera FLASH! at Toads.

 
 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Pyromaniacial Glossary

You likely think living in a burning building is a temporary thing. 
No. It's a lifestyle unchosen--a birthright.
Nothing gets old here, that's true--
everyone wears the latest oily rags.

Kiss me, taste my turpentine lip gloss.
True love for ten minutes, 
then a hundred alarms,
a million exits.

Containment? Oh fuck, you're funny.
_______

for Friday 55.


 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Michigan Green Cab--A Eulogy

Dante was a cab driver.
He didn't have a lot to say--
pretty silent like the front coming in
or the energy efficient cab he drove.  

Dante kept a log--
place and time of pick-up,
place and time of drop-off,
miles traveled,
fare;
a whole day's work in neat lines and figures. 

Some drivers ask people questions,
talk about the sports teams,
or swing their arm across the back of the empty front passenger seat,
about an inch from your knees.
Some show up early, when you're still hopping around
with a heel in one hand and your phone in the other.
Others worry you, 
stopping for coffee or Red Bull,
showing up late and putting you past your time.

Dante liked living on his own,
down the block from the car wash.
No wife telling him to turn off the tv
or saying "we have to talk." 
No kids squabbling, bringing home trouble.
Nobody dropping in unannounced.

Every day, the roads could be depended upon
to be where they were the day before:
Walter P. Reuther Expressway,
Southfield Road,
Woodward Avenue,
8 Mile Road, Detroit side, suburb side.

He had a schedule--
don't ask him to switch shifts.
He had his log book
and lunch at 1 o'clock.
Last run as the sun goes down,
earth spinning slowly, 
dispatch taking the calls.

Dante will be glad enough to see Jesus, I expect,
as long as He has the good sense to ride quiet
and know where he wants to go.
_______

for Izy's Out of Standard challenge--Eulogy For A Stranger