Monday, September 16, 2019

civil defense

concussions rain dust
on flowers in a fruit jar
steady in my palm

a fauxku for Out Of Standard "Gimme (Fallout) Shelter"

the image is from the movie "10 Cloverfield Lane"

Sunday, September 15, 2019


Hey, it's crowded in here. 
I've got one's scaly dry elbow in my ribs
and another's Manolo Blahniks on my toes.

What? What? Speak up.
Tell me which one you want and I'll try to find her. 
Goddess knows if she'll be available, presto, just like that, though.

Whoa, back way the hell up.
Is that any way to talk to a child?
Okay, now you're patronizing me. I'm not twelve anymore.

Come and get it, sugar.
No wait, don't. I'm to old for this.
My parents are always telling me what to do, and now you.

Wait...what? I'm having trouble concentrating.
Talk to one, another might grab the mic and riff. Check it out:
the 754 ages of woman all talking at once behind my calm smile.

for Sunday Muse #73.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Shell Game

Water is not the glass that holds it.
Words are not the lips that speak them.
A body is a shadow of one shape, then another, then none.

No one holds an apple and says, "Here is a peel, nothing more."
We eat the fruit and leave the ants the core.
"Simple insects," says the man.
Simple human, beneath the tree.
And on the ground when both have gone,
those humble and forgotten gods--the seeds.

A meditation on physicality for Art FLASH at Real Toads.

"You are what you believe you are." --The Prophet Omega

Saturday, August 31, 2019

In Age

In age, I dreamt myself a child again--
a blown leaf, my parents the wind.

Alone, I dreamt of family again--
my son a child, I rose and fell from the west.

Adored by a dog, I dreamt of dogs--
alive again, and my heart was calm.

In sleep, I dreamt of youth--
desire and sweetness came down from the hills.

In morning, leaves tap the sill--
dog and I raise our heads to the early breeze.

for Micro Poetry at Toads. "Fill the empty parts."

Saturday, August 24, 2019


image by Ali Falik
She is the painter with the borrowed style,
squinting as if every thing and person were the sun.
On canvas, her stars struggle.
Here is her garret, on stilts, shifting in the wind.

She is the painter with a surgeon's skill.
Her models go home with acquired malaise.
In space, she paints solar flairs as ruined starlets,
already seen, grasping, scorn in every stroke of her brush.

She is the painter with one set of supplies,
mail ordering locks from ghosts with discontinued accounts.
Galleries are cruel, declining her work before she creates it,
claiming they know as well as she does the grays of cats in the dark.

for Sunday Muse #70


The sea offered a knife for ceremony
carried on the tide to my feet.

At first, I refused. 
At first, I sheathed my face and pretended spiritual palsy.

The sea spoke, insistent, saying, "The world is empty.
Your body is dark earth, a mother for every seed."

In those days, electrical storms were continuous.
The beach was strewn, as all beaches were, with fragmented glass.

"Must every edge open a new mouth
before any creature can sing?" I asked.

Wearily, I took up the knife for ceremony.
My blood became cities. I became the sea as it became me.

Find fools, we urged ourselves.
Offer ceremony.
Insist, until the sky calms, 
and if the world then writhes, 

Blame the doppelganger god who sent us in the first place.

for Play It Again at Real Toads. I used grapeling's Pablo Neruda word list.

When There Were No Connections

When there were no connections
between us, our senses, our skin
and the world we were living in,
the white smear erasure of our minds made us birds in an atmosphere of anvils.

Survival left rippling cracks in the plate glass
of our temporal back-beat;
People mistook us for Dada tickets but we were 
just a wedge in a bar of a song in our heads

To be remembered each Fourth Of July
as we concuss, diffuse, and catch each other's eye
even in gravity boots,
even in the dark.

for Kenia's guest post at Real Toads. I chose the following song:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

In Case Of Typhoon

"Lion Afternoon" by Jacek Yerka
In the event of typhoon, 
or other natural upheaval,

the gathering of certain objects and creatures is advised.
Clocks, for their numerical appeal and sense of order;
flowers in vases whose delicacy illustrates contrast;
and lions, generally useful in all situations.

When traveling by public transport, always be sure
that you have fed your lion beforehand. 
Consult with drivers before installing fountains, saplings,
or other decorative additions.

When hosting relatives, serve ham w/ pineapple;
if a lover, light cakes or honey tea.
When arriving as a guest, be sure to bring your own seating and lion,
as your hosts may lack these essentials.

Finally, treat typhoons, tornadoes, landslides and such as equals--
talking down to them or shouting does no good.
Invite lions into your home.
Serve hors d'oeuvres made from antelope or cape buffalo.

Follow these simple instructions and avoid high winds,
use bus and train systems without worry,
and assure yourself of being welcome in the best venues
in tandem with a lion who neither owns you nor is owned.

for Sunday Muse #69. Carrie kindly stepped in for me with this fantastic image, because, like a blithering fool, I simply forgot I was supposed to do the post today!

Thursday, August 15, 2019


A cicada is a simple thing.
Given the power of speech, it would say,
"I am respectable;
I have worked years for this."

The tree upon whose branch the cicada clings
has stood on the same ground for decades,
but is not unchanging.
"As with me," the cicada would opine.
"I am a miracle of industry,
and purpose."

On the August breeze, birds float like daydreams,
their songs summer scarves folded on a table by a vase of cut flowers.

A cicada has shed its empty brown skin.
It would tell us, "I have left myself behind on a journey to myself.
Admire me,
collect the lessons I give,
strong, solid and marvelous."

On the August breeze, birds float like daydreams,
their songs summer scarves in myriad tones of impossible variety.

Then, the cicada,
droning its unmusical single note,
insistent that its noise and buzz is all there is
because that is all it hears or can imagine.

for Wednesday Muse "Cicadas!"

Sunday, August 11, 2019

From A Shell

From a shell came Divine instruction
insistent as a drowning man's hand,
his ear a barrel of seven-year whiskey.

As his bones grew longer, firmer,
the ground gave way so that he was always at sea,
a perpetual castaway in the solid world.

A woman, his mother,
said his head was in the clouds;
another woman, undressed and unhappy,
said he never heard a word she said.

He hears, but his heart is a barrel of seven-year whisky
a sea within a sea within a man
at the mercy of the Selkies who shed 
their seal-coats at his feet and sing.

for Sunday Muse #68.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Peculiar Blindness

"If I were blind, would you be my eyes?" --Todd Rundgren "Pretending To Care"

It's a peculiar blindness
so many of us have. 

There you are, little bug, looking for a place to land
never giving much thought to how you came so far.

That's why a breeze brought you me.
You think you are small, unremarkable,

but I can see your big glorious wings
spread out like an exclamation

right behind you,
in fabulous display,
plain as day.

for Wednesday Muse "butterflies."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Wounded Deer

Quincy Washington "Emperor of Dawn"
I carry the dead with me and they are never silent.
When I whisper in your ear, listen for the echo of the dead,
those riders screaming.

Every moment spent forgetting
has been a revelation of peace.
But still, the dead, on the end of a chain, grin and wait.

You admire me, all the things I have done,
all the dragons in ditches by the roadside.
The dead take the teeth and stuff their yapping mouths,

Slurring that I'll never make it,
never be worth their spit,
never take another step,

But I do, and they are shamed with every movement,
my life a pulsing illustration
that the wounded deer runs fastest after all.

for Real Toads Art Flash. I chose symbolic.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Psalm For Students Out of Windows Staring

It's yours--that spot of sky obscured.
Dream aviary day and night.
It's yours, that blue by distance blurred.
It's yours--that spot of sky obscured.
Woolgather wing, woolgather bird
with astronaut for acolyte.
It's yours--that spot of sky obscured.
Dream aviary day and night.

for Sunday Muse #66.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lightning Bugs In July Darkness

Lightning bugs in July darkness
make me think of your Indian hair by firelight.
It's like being hit in the head, these tiny stars--
this pleasant longing with a barb on its tail.

Air is a funny thing, especially at night.
Like you, it seems expansive while obscuring entire worlds.
I need wings to keep from falling, writing poems on foolscap
about you, and eyes that can't help but follow 

The foxfire there-and-gone glow of lightning bugs
In July darkness.

for Wednesday Muse "Night Sounds." I see now that I have written about a night sight instead and hope to be pardoned this departure from clear instruction. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Damned Foolishness In The Balkans

The Balkans may not be worth the bones
of a single Pomeranian grenadier, but

cats are not much for Pomeranians anyway.

They do not care for your cause,
they do not show up to vote.
They do not seize the means of production
and do not care about class struggle, because

they know themselves superior.

Cats do not care about damned foolishness in the Balkans,
nor your schedule 
nor your needs.

They live by their own (laser) lights,
but if you want to storm the cannery in Belgrade,
summon them by electric opener and they'll
talk turkey (or tuna) but marching in formation is off the table 

(along with your papers and everything else)
from the start.

for Sunday Muse #65.

Source material is two quotes by Otto von Bismarck, as follows:

"The Balkans aren't worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier."


"If there is ever another war in Europe, it will be because of some damn foolish thing in the Balkans."

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Proof For The Postulation Of An Old Poet

"There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.  Like, telling someone you love them. Or giving your money away, all of it."  - Mary Oliver - Moments

The generosity of madmen
--whether born or made so--
is like a pitcher overturned, 
sweetness wasted in the sharing.

I'm not about to mistake straitjackets for haute couture;
I am as hard and closed as a policeman's nightstick.

Still, you can lay naked in the spring grass,
holding a hymnal and a caramel.
Pretend yourself a parrot, all colors.
I will still be the crow from whom the night borrows its darkness.

When you have gone, I will play ancient games
with dying cicadas.
The years will fold themselves into pastries
the crumbs of which I horde and never drop.

Go, parrot. And this time
do not leave open my coat of poems
with sleeves like shaded roads, and wool like forgotten noons.
But if you do, I will have been right in my manic certainty

that you would make me cry in the end.

22 lines for Real Toads.

An American Sentence

Don't let me die in high summer; let there be frost and October rain.

I know there doesn't have to be nature in an American Sentence, but I couldn't help myself. For Wednesday Muse.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Living on the road is like being in love with a kleptomaniac;
the unfamiliar is always turning up
in place of old favorite fragiles that go missing.

Here's a prezzie, baby,
out of the blue,
because he's sorry he sold that thing he did
that you loved
in the old place, or ten places ago.

Grackles love the morning same as sparrows
and like your love, they woke up being what they are.
You know winter will come,
the road will ice over,
and nothing will be the way it was, again.

Be his sparrow, then,
and know that God and the cops have their eye on you both.
Honey, you don't have to tell them a thing
and your fingertips, your breath, your tired determined hope
are out of their jurisdiction and beyond their experience, 
like flight, 
like lightness, 
like the way he makes you feel.

for the Sunday Muse #64.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Trinket Jerry

Trinket Jerry senses your anger.
The gill-like organs under his lying tongue tell him exactly what booshwah you're going to spout,
before you ever open your mouth.

Trinket Jerry the bullshit fairy
knows you better than you know yourself.
He's got your number on his ticket,
your Shinola on his shelf.

"You're not making any sense," you complain bitterly,
following Ole Jer's latest escapade,
his Big Excuse Parade.

He senses your anger with the tiny hairs inside his big jug ears,
But Jerry just rocks on like a resistant virus
and there you are, Queen Twitchy of the 11th Hour,
wondering how Trinket Jerry turned I'm-with-stupid into us.

An off-the-cuff mess for Toads. (whispering) The password is..."trinket."

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lady H. M. Ainsley-Billington--A Celebratory Retrospective

Lady Hortense MacFarquhar Ainsley-Billington, grande dame of the English stage, is celebrated as much for being as pale and sweet as a blancmange as for her operatic rendering of the timeless classic "When, In Momentary Slumb'r, My Love Doth Recline."

One can scarcely hope to catalog all of Lady Hortense's triumphs in this small space. However, no one will ever forget her command performance at Buckingham Palace when she gave a fist pump upon hitting every note of the impossible five octave "Bobby, Be The Bric-A-Brac On My Curio Shelf," prompting the attending Royals to initiate an instantaneous in-the-aisles hokey pokey break dance such has never been seen before or since.

A month later, once again lucid after an unfortunate episode involving character actor and sometime companion Fredo Pastalini and "just a smidgen" of Chinese opium, Lady H. wowed 'em at the Royal Albert Hall when she sang "My Boy Lollipop" accompanied by a revue of muscular and scandalously (un)clad male dancers. Pausing for a photo-op with Lord Hampstead, Lady H. confided that she was happy all the folderol regarding her tryst with "my little Hamster man" had died down, though of course her referencing it left Lord Hampstead seething and abashed while Lady H. appeared positively smug! 

Interviewed for this article, Lady Hortense opined that, in her view, today's "slipshod copycat noise" cannot hold a candle to the "passion and derring-do" of the electric folk emo metal which first launched her into the limelight. Pontificating quite charmingly on a range of subjects, she reminded this writer time and again of why Edmund Mumzet-Pagliatano bestowed, in Your Evening Calling Card that famous sobriquet "The Sublime Hortense" on our national darling, Lady Ainsley-Billington.  There is no other like her.

for Get Listed.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Blue Child In Motion

 "Blue...songs are like tattoos / you know, I've been to sea before" --Joni Mitchell "Blue"

When I was a child, I learned
that not much falls from a blue sky.
Bored by the blandly pretty and never satisfied,
I waited on storms like rescuers.

When I was a child I tossed
my minnow-thoughts to gulls I alone could see. 
By the cold waters of Lake Superior one summer,
I listened for my native tongue from every shell.

Later, I'm not sure I saw myself or my spouses at all
through the bottle glass I blew with every word.
From inside whales and outside of any map,
I did find saving grace in my own restless nature.

Now, it comes to me with the red sky at night,
that the Argo and the Dutchman fly
with my childhood gulls, and if I seem melancholy or far away,
it is because I am, and have always been

this blue child in motion on the electric air of my imaginings.

for The Sunday Muse #61.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

June 21st (Green, Wild Green)

My yard is green, wild green
as generous as a lover two weeks past hello.
All of this profusion, it doesn't need me--
it simply is, bursting with itself because it can
and will
and must.

Not so long ago, these trees and this ground
was bare as an old steamer trunk,
empty as an attic. 
It didn't need me then, either,
even in extremity.
Any words or prayers I may have said were said
to comfort
my own mind. 

Lately, I find myself thinking
(as I sit surrounded by green, wild green)
about clouds that change their motion and mien;
about doors and blooms and lovers
that open and close, arrive and slip away. 
I wandered spring and summer until spring and summer were gone,
and now green,
wild green,
reminds me of what I never understand or hold for long,

leaving me lonely to the bone 
thorned by my own stupid and constant craving
in a garden of green,
wild green.

for the mini-challenge.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


Icarus, always out in the garage,
him and Dad fucking around with their wax wings.
Dad says, don't fly too high or too low, 
but Icarus has clay ears, he just wants to impress some girl.

What do I know? I'm just his sister.
He'd sooner listen to a goat.
Up, up, excelsior! Higher! 
First he is a feather, then he is a stone.

Here's what I am gonna do:
Men always miss the obvious.
I will fly at night when the sea is calm
and the sky has no distractions.

Up here, I can't tell stars from reflections on the water.
Is this my skin or my wings?
It's quiet--nobody heaving anvils of what-to-do my way.
Is it hubris to have my own heart?

I don't know whether I am rising or falling,
but I am in motion.
The ground or the heavens will open,
and I will glide in, Girl Astronaut, Queen of the One Big Try.

for Ella at Toads.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Doing Dishes

There's letters in the box
and crows upon gate.
The boys stayed out there playing ball
until it got too late.
I'll wash these dishes if you'll stay and dry them.
I saw them years ago and thought I'd buy them.
Here's that book,
you take it, I don't need it.
I fall asleep 
each time I try to read it. 
Remember that old grill Dad had forever?
And how he loved that crazy Irish Setter?
There's letters in the box
and crows upon the gate.
The boys stayed out there playing ball
until it got too late.
One fall you almost married whats-his-name
til Joe took you walking in the rain.
Things work out
and every leaf stretches toward the light.
The boys are all in Bobby's room, 
your old one on the right.

My best *Jane* Prine  impression, for "Summer's End" HERE.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Anniversary Of A Breeze

It is the anniversary of a breeze.
Sometimes I look into the fire and see
wedding bouquets and funeral flowers,
party invitations and goodbye letters,
all burning in the same flame.

I don't care about any of it the way I used to.
My loved ones I will see again,
and my enemies are gone--why hate them anymore?

My yard brings me peace.
Every day I check the progress of every leaf
and enjoy astonishment that I am here
on this ordinary day, the anniversary of a breeze.

for the Wednesday Muse #9.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

I'm Not Waiting For You

I'm not waiting for you--
I'm just a still spot in a moving world.
I'm a headlight on a night road--
a moving object in a large stillness.

I'm not the same as I was
this morning, last week, or last year,
but my name is the same, and I still get my mail
general delivery, from the old clerk or the new.

See the sky? It doesn't care
if we kiss or turn our separate ways.
I'm not waiting for you,
but I'm here just the same,

seeming still but always in motion
like stars, like wheels, like a heart beating softly to itself.

for Sunday Muse #56

Thursday, May 16, 2019


She planted ice
and grew roses;
nobody knew how she did it.
Her sky was different
from anybody else's in that factory town.
She planted bibles
and birthed blackbirds.
Vines climbed the trellis
like acrobats swinging closer for her smile.

for this.