Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bright Coin Of Forgiveness

At the north central bus station,
fashioned from the rib of a skyscraper,
sat an overcoated old man gasping in a mild breeze
of exhaust, apple blossoms, and cigarette smoke.

He tugged at the strap of my bag as if I were the signal to get off. 
"Take this," he said,
his eyes marbling up.
First, he drew a morning glory vine from his sleeve.
It made me queasy to imagine
where the root of it might be,
twining into the gray, dying husk of him.

"Don't encourage him," my mother's gone voice
jabbered in my ear,
correct, picked clean, horrible.
"No thank you," I said, borrowing a tongue.

Next, the palsied old fool produced a large, bright coin from a huge pocket.
Goddess only knows what lives in there,
minting rot and 78rpm records with knifey names
and purple labels.
"Take it!" he urged, holding it at me.

The bus station vendors will sell you anything--
tired sodas, foreign brides,
pills, candy, ID's, bird bones.
My sticky companion probably got his coin in change
when he bought a last breath
with wishes and turpentine.

"It's the Bright Coin of Forgiveness."
He looked like an open bible.

I wondered if I could take the coin,
file it down,
and split somebody's skull with it.
Someone who'd toyed with my heart,
or raised me 
in a pen with the starved cats
out back.

Just like that, the old nutjob died,
leaking oil,
dangling on the far end of instant erasure.

His coin fell.
I picked it up
quick as a juiced bus station sparrow,
and set it carefully over his good eye.

"I forgive you," I whispered,
though he had done nothing to me.
Everyone made a path for me to the 415
and in that moment I felt
celestial,
divine,
and so utterly alone.
_____

for Bjorn's goose at Real Toads.



"marbling"

I wrote thirty poems
celebratory haiku
counts as the last one

Sunday, April 29, 2018

In The Dry Year


In the tavern,
their glasses are full of sand--
they are as thirsty as widows,
eyeless starfish stranded and reaching.


Mrs. Jeffers keeps all weathers in a box
that closes with a clasp made from metal and bone.
The war is over--
her son lives in the shrubbery now,
beneath her shaded window,
saluting the rain.


All hymns began as drinking songs.
In biblical deserts they use whips and wooden wheels
to build women who wear
bonnets made from corn husks
in the dry year
of splinter and wasp.


In the tavern,
they have sung so much
that the beach is down to bedrock.
Mermaids drunk on moonlight come in on
wine-tides,
and the silver of their scales signals to distant ships
outlined against the moon,


Carrying tongueless sailors
who wave tasseled caps,
hoping their journey
is through.
______

Kill All Monsters

Mirror, mirror on the wall--
be honest with me one more time
before you go blind;
before I disappear and you start to lie. 

I am ugly,
so they say and have said
for as far back as my memory reaches.
The unkind ask straight-out,
"Were you in an accident?"
The kind remark on my beautiful eyes
and let the rest hang in the air like lost birds.

It's a great day for my mother,
hiding in her space suit of conventionality. 
The doctor in whom she has such faith--
who treats me like a block of wood
and speaks as if I weren't sitting right there--
thrills her when he holds my nose up with his thumb
and she gushes 
that now I look like her darling, my sib.

Mirror, mirror
tell it to me straight, as a sweet sixteen gift
before you lose the truth forever
and I vanish into this involuntary shift.

I know that others find me ugly
and that my mother finds me ugly
because she comes right out and says so.
But I am not ugly to myself--
I am simply me.

After tomorrow,
after blood and blades and anesthetic,
someone will heal and go back to school and marry and grow old,
but she won't be me.
I'll be riding inside, in my island prison, unseen.
Someone will say, "You look so pretty,"
and it will mean nothing to me,
it having been said about someone else,
this mask-face I can never take off even for a second.  

Mirror, mirror,
tell me the truth before you deceitfully bend--
before I submit to the will of others
and am never seen again.
_______

Dedicated to the disfigured, the different, the intersexed, and all children whose bodies are altered without their consent.

And in memory of Lucy Grealy, author of "Autobiography Of A Face." In the arms of the angels, Beautiful.

For Fireblossom Friday "This Is (Almost) The End" at Toads.

Image at top: Adele Exarchopolous from the movie "Blue is The Warmest Color" 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Kiss That Frog

Hi.

You can trust me.

I'm just a dinky froggy on a flower.
I'm green as a banker's front lawn.
Cute as a bug.
Sweet as a pond in the morning in May.

You aren't French, are you?
Frere Jacques, frere Jacques , dormez-vous?
Um...
Alouette, gentille alouette
je te plumerais?
Non?
Good.

Look at my feet.
Look at them! Orange!

I've got eyes bigger than my brain.
Bigger than my body!
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright...
Gee, I like you.
Pick me up!

Hey...
want to know a secret?
I'm really a handsome prince.
Pucker up, buttercup!
MMMMMMMmwah! Mwah!
Mw--
Um...
why are you not kissing me?

What do you mean you ran a background check?
What do you mean you searched ManHater.com?
It said what????
No, that's a mistake. 
That's not me.
That's my....cousin.
Honest!

Hey, don't go, we just---

Ah well.
Oh, looky here, who's this?
Pretty Woman, walking down the street...

Hi.
_______

for Margaret's "Let's Join The Children" goose at Toads.

the artwork is by a 10 year old 4th grader, and it is completely adorable.

 
 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Our Bear

Our bear
smells like an old cottage rug;
is partial to sleep
and us
and loaf
and jug.

Our bear
dreams of honey hives;
leaves the shine of
Ursa Major
and Minor
in our eyes.

Our bear
is our bruin castle keep;
we whisper in his ears
one left
 one right
constellated, constant, sweet. 
_______

for my BFF's weekly 55 thang

Thursday, April 26, 2018

5 Things To Do Before Writing A Poem

1. Obtain necessary materials.

Get a library card and ask the librarian for Lorca, Dickinson and Ginsberg. Avoid book stores, they'll only have Jewel, Richard Thomas and Suzanne Somers. If you see these, beat the book store manager to death with them.

Convince the head nurse that you can be trusted with pens or pencils. Summon up your old beauty contestant smile. Keep a sugar cube and any medications under your tongue; you can spit them out later. Don't waste the pens by making them into shivs.

Get the warden or the matron to let you out of isolation. Only authors of memoirs can write with their fingernails in the dark. Poets need light.

2. Ask others to look at things you've written up to now.

Show your previous poems to relatives or friends. Most of them will tell you it's brilliant, others will advise you to stop with this nonsense and go to secretarial school. Regardless, it won't matter because if you want to be a poet, you'll have shoved your pens through your ears beforehand. 

Show your work to someone who tells you it isn't good enough, that it's derivative, tired, meandering and lazy. Get as angry and butt-hurt as you like, but keep showing everything you write from now on to this person.

Do not show anything you've written to your spouse, lover, priest, employer or attorney. They'll urge changes, codicils, repentance and cessation. 

3. Think about what you'd like to write about.

Ha, j/k. 

Fuck what you'd *like to* write about. There are plenty of rhymes about love or flowers already, on the insides of greeting cards scattered in landfills along with the authors of same.

If you're really meant to be a poet, you'll be told what to write about. It may feel a little like really needing to be sick, or like a medium-sized lizard is crawling up the inside of your throat or under the skin of your fingers. You may think you have an STD or that someone dosed you with Spanish fly, but in your head and heart as well as your sex. You may feel like you're dying, or that it's one of those dreams where you forget to get dressed before going to work or church. If you're a poet, it's not a dream. 

4. Consider your poem's length and form.

If you write haiku, and it's the usual lazy shit, please go through the door on your left and into the crocodile swamp. The door will lock itself behind you once you've gone out.

If you've chosen a form with a rhyme scheme or a syllable count, don't forget all about it by line three and go careering off into the weeds. Don't jam in words that don't belong or make sense, just to satisfy said rhyme scheme or syllable count. That's like shoving a hand grenade smack in the middle of an apple pie and then serving it like nothing's wrong. Don't be a fucking idiot. Form is like bones, it makes a meat bag functional, pleasing, and upright. The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone, not the shoulder bone. Them bones them bones gonna walk around, but it's up to you whether they shamble or dance.

If you choose free verse, that doesn't mean to make it a journal entry. That doesn't mean make it the same as the shit you write in your diary about your ex-boyfriend and similar tiresome claptrap. That doesn't mean break bullshit into lines and call it poetry. If you're going to do that, please swallow this--it's quick and painless.

5. Place your bets.

Being a poet means accepting a certain level of commitment--what the unenlightened might call obsession, insanity, a certain hemophilia of the soul.  If all you want to do is post a picture of a flower above a breathless made-up love ballad every day on your blog, please take up knitting or hosting YouTube videos about boy bands or something, anything, else. 

To survive as a poet, you've got to frack for the black gold way beneath the surface--as well as avoid painfully poor comparisons like this one--and then hold on during the resulting earthquakes. Wear a hard hat. Don't place a lot of stock in the gathered well-wishers shouting "We have to let you go," or "You crazy motherfucking bitch!" from the sidelines of your life--that is to say, work, family, responsibilities. 

Do all of this, and you'll soon see your work on page 32 of Brick Spoons, the quarterly journal of the University of Southeast Nebraska State Normal School, or in an e-zine called The Vagina That Yodeled. Best of luck to you, Padawans, and

happy writing!!!!
_____

for Out of Standard, "List With A Twist" at Toads.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Softly and Tenderly

Softly and tenderly,
Jesus is calling

Cheryl and I sang with the others,
standing on the risers in our choir robes
like Christmas angels on a tree. 

Come home, come home,
you who are weary come home

So Cheryl came home
with me to the one-bedroom house
with the rag rugs and 
my grandparent's four-poster bed. 

It's a Kindness to each other,
something a lady understands can't be a sin;
it's a Kindness, our Mercies to each other,
and if breasts are for babies, then baby, I'm in.

See, on the portals He's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.

Cheryl sings it in the morning
softly, to herself
with coffee in one hand and keys in the other,
to drive the kids to school on the bus.

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling
calling, O sinner, come home!

I'm home already, or as home as I can be 
with the cream in my coffee all the sweet that I need;
softly and tenderly...taking care of my own,
and all who are weary, Come home!
___________
just something for Rommy's goose "Virtue or Vice" at Toads.

 



 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Involuntary

"I was born here and I'll die here/against my will" --Bob Dylan
 
Borne by a yellow-black bitch and dark as a plum,
our cat tried to asphyxiate me,
but angels slipped me breaths 
disguised as fists.

I became the cellar fighter of the infant ward,
with a smile that peeled paint
and the ability to read minds.

I planted nightmares
with bone-breakers 
from the little perfect fingers of every thought.

Now, here I am on the street,
baking bricks on my tongue
and cursing up cathedrals where burger places sank.

Come to bed with me, woman,
here in the alley on my mattress barge.
I'm a woman too, under the bruises and fractures.

In the middle of the night,
my instincts will kick in and I'll thrash,
whipping and snapping like a downed wire--
I can't control it. 
I'll sorry you a dove from my prison cell. 

All I want
is to be arrested with my dogs under the Mann Act
while trying to die in the pansy garden
under the birch branches
in Michigan in the spring.

Custody can be mistaken for love. Can't it?
I'll straighten my fingers for the first time in my life,
crawl out from a crease in my target-face,
and pretend I'm some beauty
on the Mackinac Bridge
stepping over into the clean of the breeze.
_______



for both Poets Of April and An Antic Disposition at Toads.
 
 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

This Is The Last Poem I Will Ever Write (yayyy!) Oh No I've Changed My Mind Again (booo!) Good Night & Thank You.

Well...

I made it through day 20 of

non-dairy nano neener or whatever,

and now I need to 
 attend to important retiree shit.

^^^(not a poem)

I want my mornings back.  I need to binge watch something and eat ice cream out of the carton with my hands. I need to sing "Puff The Magic Dragon" in a heavy German accent. I need to look up Roger Freed's career batting average, and how to make a bundt cake and then not make a bundt cake.

I need to put my feet on the back of the couch
with my head off the edge and my tongue hanging out
while watching "Alice" reruns.

I need to ask Zacky Peanut "Who's a good boy?!?!"  
(Zacky Peanut is!)

I need to blast the stereo.

 I cannot brain today.

I have the dumb.
_________


 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Sunset On The Cul De Sac

A pestilence took Jenny.
Our dolls' heads puked and did 360's.
Dad dumped Mom.
Bitches blew up his phone.


Kool Kat said,  pulp Jenny for a spell book.
Sun Rayz got her period.
I had a cool scab.

Doctor Rover couldn't save Jenny.
Mom's on bath salts.
Cloe kissed me for practice.
Damn the mosquitoes. 
______

a bit of foolishness for day 20

and for my BFF's flash 55 party.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Anodyne

Our Lady of the Blackberry Vine
reads Rilke for the thorn-caught ghosts,
herself their only anodyne.

With sugar cane and turpentine
she paints their lonely coffin-boats,
Our Lady of the Blackberry Vine.

She makes for them the Holy Sign
her foxfire flock in rotted clothes,
herself their only anodyne.

Willow wafer, cypress wine,
saint cards she sews in pocket-coats,
Our Lady of the Blackberry Vine. 

Her hair is braided serpentine
to be for them a woven host
herself their only anodyne.

No Diocese need her assign
to wash the feet that need it most;
Our Lady of the Blackberry Vine
herself their only anodyne.
________

for day 19, ever so slightly early.

I have never had any success trying to write a villanelle. The only one I ever managed to finish was a light-hearted one about my dog. But I thought I would try again, and this is the result. Thanks again to my BFF hedgewitch for the forms she recommended at my request.

Whee, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The G's

"We are but a moment's sunlight"

In the stylish modern kitchen of God,
we are all just a glass
dropped from the Divine Hand.

All that came before
and all that comes after
stretch immeasurably in every direction--
God's crib is huge.

Ahead of us,
the Italian marble the Divine Dogs tread
will smash our vessel to smithereens.

For now, though, there's this weird fleeting instant
while we're in flight,
very importantly sweating which way we slosh
inside our little temporary capsule.

Very soon we'll be released,
set free to flow in the Cosmic Spill.
Don't worry, He's got cupboards full of Waterford,
and we'll be launched again
like space monkeys.

Until then don't stress, Little Rider.
Just let the vessel rock you like a cradle you can trust
but won't remember
from this time when you are dinky, but growing. 
_______

for day 18.

and for Paul's "Write Here, Right Now" goose at Toads.

the quote at top is from the song "Get Together" written by Chet Powers aka Dino Valenti and made famous by the Youngbloods, Jefferson Airplane and others.

Many pardons are begged of the Goddess for my frivolous portrayal of Her as male in this poem.  I'll be doing dishes in the Celestial Kitchen for a year. Or emptying waste baskets in Her corner office on janitorial night shift. I am but a froward fool.