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.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

T-Rex, ed.

The merciless T-Rex takes a cold delight in tearing its victim apart, biting to the bone and seeking out the tasty morsel of the heart, which it cannot chew but devours by tossing its head back and swallowing whole, followed by a satisfied bellow.

Though they write little of note themselves, the T-Rex often finds a position as editor of a poetry journal or publishing house. Seeming to grin, the T-Rex copy-pastes "Thank you for letting us see your manuscript. However...." The T-Rex will never see you as anything more than a plodding plant-eater. Might I suggest a more sensible career, for example dental assistant or elevator repair technician. 

Next week: the pros and cons of asking a three-toed sloth to be your beta reader. 

for Just One Word "apart"

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Space Invader

I walk in and, once again
the bedding is all in a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind mountain
at the foot of the bed. 

I point at my dog.
"What did you DO?" I don't really mean it, but he
takes me seriously and curls all sorrowful.
"Baby," I say, "Noooo. Mama's not mad."

I sit on the bed I've only had since November
(beds are expensive),
take his little face between my hands and smile.
I am so grateful for a nice place to sleep and for
a sweet dog-friend to muss it.
"I kissa you face," I tell him softly, and then I do, and he wags.
Little mischief maker,
I love you so. 

for Wordy Thursday

Zacky Peanut sleeps with me every night and is quiet as a bug--though he IS a bed hog. Every time I move over a little, he claims the space and eventually has me on the edge with his little self getting all the rest!  But during the day he likes to go in there and do one of two things: either he lays his head adorably on the pillow and has a nice nap, OR he digs at the covers until they are all in a pile at the end of the bed. Why? Who knows.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

In The Silent Hour

in the silent hour
indigo of night sky
through branches of walnut and mulberry
full moon shines on
my dog as he wanders
while i stand hugging myself, waiting, watching
while i stand hugging myself, waiting, watching
my dog as he wanders
full moon shines on
through branches of walnut and mulberry
indigo of night sky
in the silent hour. 

for the Wednesday Muse--night sky.

There must surely be a name for this type of poem. Anyone know what it is?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

4 American Sentences

   The image above was first used with my poem "The Girl Who Loved Hemingway."
                  I suspect she might also love American sentences.

Allen Ginsberg's American sentence, in case you might not know, is a response to his feeling that haiku did not work well in English. It is simply 17 syllables arranged how ever you like, and it must be, of course, a sentence. (That doesn't mean it can't have periods within it.) While haiku are normally concerned with nature, an American sentence can be about anything. Kerry, at The Imaginary Garden, first told me about them. And so here are four I wrote today:

my joints grind like old bricks. 
garden warms.
my cane is sturdy.
sun is strong.

dog, i am your mother
though i am not a dog.
bed is yours to hog.

baseball on tv.
dog and me on couch.
we sleep through several innings.

in age i find beauty in more faces
than i ever did when young. 

And so, I have written 30 poems in 30 days this April. As I depart The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads--like a tv actress or a back-up singer embarking on a preposterous and disastrous solo career--I want to say that the inspiration from all of you has been instrumental in the writing of so many of the poems on this blog, Coablack's House of Pain, and Black Mamba. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. I will still see you when I appear as a  "legendary" (read: washed-up!) guest on the show. (Fireblossom as Aunt Biddy, with one line: "Follow your heart, Chrissie!") xoxoxox

a little road music:

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Blues #3

(image is "Play For Me" by Ian Dooley)
At Susannha's, when they asked for "As Time Goes By,"
you gave them "St. James Infirmary Blues."
That's when I knew
Suss had chosen right.
You play as crisp as your white shirt 
and as blue as the river my brother never came out of
when he was just eleven.

I showed Suss his notebook
with the stories about stowing the teacher in a closet
and running down a dirt road in summer.
Suss said she liked his made-up world better,
kissed my cheek and whispered, "You're a dreamer, too."

When I slide my hand between your suspenders and white shirt,
you play "St. Louis Blues" when they want "Sweet Georgia Brown."
It's my fingers running through your hair,
and my breath on your cheek when it's Suss's you want.
Then you play "Smokestack Lightning" to break the moment.

Bobby, upstairs I've got
spray starch on the shelf,
raspberry jam on the table. 
Here, you've got Suss's picture instead of sheet music.
It's late, close the lid over the keys.
Come sleep on my couch again
and play "St. James Infirmary Blues" in your head.
I miss her as much as you, dear Bobby,
and wish it was me instead.

For Margaret's images at Real Toads.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Swans & Roses

Eleven swans with one
voice brought a warning,
delivered in a dream.

"Your love is sick,
dying. Her bones are 
stems. Her hair, thorns."

Each swan carried a
bloom. I followed, eleven
miles. Behold, my love:

In the earth, stems.
On the earth, roses.

A quadrille for Wednesday Muse.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Triolet On Parting

This is an African wild dog, not a blackbird, obviously. But he inspired me.
The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
We love, we leave, the blackbird and the marshland reed.
What is stone, what is wind? What is burned, what is blessed?
The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
The bed and window, street and station, all our palimpsest.
Each in skin, each in summer; each in plenty, each in need.
The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
We love, we leave, the blackbird and the marshland reed. 

for "Substitutes" at Real Toads.
Friends, I lack the words except when I write poetry.
And so, this poem is for all of you.

digital art by Andrea Hill



Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday

Late April 
Sunday morning 
silent but for
shifting winds.
Dead leaves 
hurry toward 
the roof peak,
then, dizzy,
off the edge
to thin air.

I miss you.
I don't--
miss you. 
I've put my 
on and off a 
dozen times.
My dog likes
facing into 
the breeze.
He can't
decide, can't
stay still.

Easter morning,
Sunday silent 
but for
shifting winds.
I listen
for your car
on gravel
and for 
birds who
the cat.
They are
they search and
I get up to 
leave, but 
stand there.
My dog looks
a question.

I miss you.
I don't--


for Sunday Muse #52. I am hosting. You are invited!

Saturday, April 20, 2019


"There you stood on the edge of your feather/expecting to fly" --Neil Young

April rain came like a too-long book.
Aimless starlings, poised buds, everything waits as I do also, indolent, supposing suns behind closed lids.

for Wednesday Muse "Busy Body" .

Thursday, April 18, 2019


There were bells, and shaven-headed monks in saffron.
Prayer flags whipped in the wind.
There were stepping stones and a cat as silent as a yogi.

There were bells and waist-high goldenrod.
A gust caught your open shirt like a sail.
There were tiny drops and your hand sure and solid holding mine.

There were bells and a nine-paned window;
my desk permanent as a tattoo.
I wrote this poem to the sound of bells, from my fingers, the walls, the sky.

There were bells. 
There are bells still, 
sounding from every form and object, and in every tone. 

for Susie's "Bits of Inspiration" at Toads.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Library Science

"Goddess, make this mirror your river...
show me what you would have me see." 
Another woman walks in
as I stand at the sink taking in
my own face and flaws and shaking in my boots.

Silly girl.
Silly woman.
Go out that door and up to the reference desk.
All this time,
all the books checked out,
and I still haven't talked to her--not really--yet.

I wonder what's in her mind?
Austen? Ferlinghetti or Faust?
I wonder what's in her bag?
Lipstick? A leather cord with an ankh?

Goddess, make my lips your instrument,
let me say what you would have me say.
I want to kiss her. I want to hear her whisper "yes..."
I want her not to think me a fool. 
Goddess hear me, Goddess bless.

She's with her desk. In her life?
Is my boho baby someone's girl? Someone's wife?
Gee I love her hair, her smart-girl glasses, 
her long fingers, her long skirt.
I think we could be really beautiful
or I could just look stupid and get hurt.

(Anyway, here goes nothing.)

Goddess, make my lips your instrument,
let me say what you would have me say.
I want to kiss her. I want to hear her whisper "yes..."
I want her to see me, and understand.
Goddess hear me, Goddess bless.

Now's the moment. Smile! 
Say something! "I...."
She tilts her head, I think she knows...
And then, so softly, "Yes?" 

For my last Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads. "Love."

I love this song. Good grief, scratch a cynic find a romantic, I guess.