Monday, September 1, 2014

Red-Haired Jane

Red haired jane
smells like fresh cut grass
and the black behind the moon;

if you're on your way to red haired jane,
come soon
come soon.

Red haired jane 
knows every nested branch
and how beds and plans get disarranged;

red haired jane knows leaving light and calling jay,
then the rain.
then the rain.



Book Review: "Hate List"

Hate ListHate List by Jennifer Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This young adult novel about a girl whose boyfriend commits a school shooting is an entertaining read, but uneven. It starts out well, and Brown's writing is highly readable. The narrator, Valerie, is believable and the descriptions of the shooting itself are well done. I could feel the confusion and terror, especially on the part of Valerie, who had no idea of what was coming.

She's caught in a strange limbo afterwards. The "hate list" was her idea, a list of people and things that she and her boyfriend Nick couldn't stand. Is she a perpetrator or a victim herself? At this point in the book, I couldn't put it down. Then the problems started mounting up. (warning, spoilers on the way)

First, there is Nick's dark friend Jeremy, who seems to have influenced him, and who, in fact, drops him off at school the day of the shooting. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop about Jeremy, but he completely disappears from the story at that point, and is never mentioned again. Then there is the art supply store owner Bea, who seems to know Valerie, even calling her by name, but we never find out how she knew. Plus, she is so airy-fairy that I half expected her to pull out a wand and some magic dust. Just the right person at just the right time, and discovered totally by accident! Wow! Really?

The secondary characters are well enough drawn, if they would keep their mouths shut. The dialogue is pretty weak. However, I did like that the boyfriend is shown as being a mix of good and bad, reading Shakespeare and capable of sweetness, then committing something monstrous. Valerie's parents aren't likeable at all, but I found them to be believable, at least the weak, hand-wringing mother. The dad was awfully harsh, but some people are. Also, the adults at the school didn't seem real to me. Call this the YA Fiction Syndrome, in which adults are robo-dolts who spout cliches and miss the important stuff entirely while fixating on eat-your-peas.

At its best, this novel had me itching to return to it any time I got interrupted. I mostly loved the first three hundred pages, but the last hundred were a letdown. Everything slows down when it should be paying off, and story threads and problems that have been ongoing from the start are neatly tied up in a page or so. Dad's a heartless sonofabitch who always cuts you off at the knees? No prob, a glance his way at graduation lets you know that all will be well in time. Oh Valerie, you simple bumpkin. At least she doesn't just take off without a plan at the end. Oh wait. She does.

Half-heartedly recommended, kinda sorta. Or, just dig up a copy of Judith Guest's "Ordinary People" and read that instead. 

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Chloe the serial killer is having the devil's own time dragging the tv pitchman's body into the weeds.

How's that for an opening sentence? Eat my dust, rubes.

She had had her thumb out--
cute as a box cutter in an angel's hand,
chin up
hip cocked
standing in the harsh shine of the rising sun.

She hadn't given a damn about limescale.
She hadn't cared how many ShamWows he had in his trunk.
Now his shitheap Hyundai is parked crookedly on the shoulder,
and one lonesome long-legged caffeine junkie is trying to stash him behind the hollyhocks.

It must be the Bohemian in her.

She has almost got him to the center of the cloverleaf when she hears something.
Shit. She's not alone.
Chloe turns in a slow circle. 
Then she sees a dark form nearly obscured in the shade of a trash tree--
it is the Queen of the Vampires in black panther form,
and she is crying.
Have you ever seen a cat cry?
They do it silently, but with their whole soul.

"Here is the place," she says to Chloe,
"where Athena, Artemis, Hestia and I used to hang out.
In those days, we killed all the developers before they could draw their first breath.
Artemis used to turn guys into jackalopes; no construction crews.
Hestia would build a fire,
and the four of us would pass the Mad Dog around.
I liked us better then."

The tv pitchman forgotten, Chloe sits down in the tall grass,
as the Queen of the Vampires resumes human form.
She continues:
"Now Athena is some muckety muck with the power company.
She lives in a condo,
and her owl is just some detailing on the door of her fucking Audi.

"He used to hunt here, swooping down from the trees,
and Artemis loved him so much, just as if he were her own.
She would coo to him like he was Head Baby at the Adorable Factory.
With a mouse in his talons.
And those big eyes.

"Arty lives with some woman who wears an ankh and runs bullshit workshops.
She's gone vegan, and doesn't even remember Orion at all.
Chloe....?" She falters.

"Yeah, hun? Tell me." 

The Vampire Queen lets out a shaky sigh.
"She...she spells woman with a Y."

"Oh, hun." 

"I know, right?"

They are silent for a long time, the tv pitchman stiffening up beside them.
"What about Hestia?" Chloe asks, putting her arm around her friend.

"She runs a B&B,
making English muffins for couples from East Candyland,
chatting them up, then washing another god damn load of sheets in the afternoon.
What happened to us, Chloe?
We were cool. Why do we suck so hard now?"

Just then, there is a rustling in the grass.
Chloe looks up, the sun seeming to traverse the lenses of her shades.
"Look what the cat dragged in!"

It's the Succubus, fluttering her black wings lazily.
"What's this?" she asks. "GSA troop 17?"

Chloe explains, shrugging a shoulder at her friend sitting next to her.
"She's feeling old and uncool."

"Fuuuuuck," says the Succubus wisely,
as she and the charming serial killer lift the Vampire Queen to her feet.
"What you need is some coffee, lady.
And guess who's sitting in your favorite booth at Danny's as we speak?"

The QOTV sniffles and wipes her face with her sleeve.
"Uh...Emmylou Harris maybe?"

"Nah. Even better. The Dark-Haired Chick."

"She not in Toronto?"


"Not in Chicago?"

"Nuh uh."

Not in L.A.?"

"She's at Danny's, waiting for you, you silly shithead. C'mon. I saw a Hyundai we can steal. We can be there in fifteen minutes."

So the three of them step over the dead tv pitchman and in fourteen and a half minutes,
they are at Danny's Coffee Shop,
once again the cool queens of caffeine.

black night hollyhocks
Although I only used one word ("queen") from the list, it was mood wings's word list that inspired me. This is also for the Real Toads mini-challenge. Kelly Letky's photograph "Dance With The Ghosts of Tomorrow" made me think of the spontaneous scrub that springs up in unused patches of land, like next to freeway interchanges. The top image is hers. 

Athena, Artemis and Hestia are the "maiden goddesses".

Diana the Huntress (Artemis)
Dedicated to cool girls everywhere.  


Friday, August 29, 2014

Creola the Kind

Hive-heads, you human honeycombs of disordered thought,
drip yourselves out of day rooms across the complex.
You have been made to feel like ants in a land of bustling giants,
each one of them wearing enormous, iron-soled clown shoes,
and I'm here to tell you--
things are about to change.

Come out to the green paradise of the asylum courtyard,
where morning glory and clematis vines climb the catatonics.
Which the cleric, which the classic presenter?
Come to where the learned diagnostician finally shuts his yap
and sits the fuck down 
on a pretty, donated bench depicting tiger swallowtails in flight.

Feel that? Inside your poor flood-damaged skull?
It isn't the medication.
This is real.

Even if you aren't Catholic--
though the mind reels at such easily remediable error--
Creola the Kind can help you.
See her enter by the main gate, with a cheetah on a chain.
The tethered cat is emblematic of the mind caught up in the Play-Doh sludge of encumbering madness.
Enter the healer.
Enter the liberator,
Creola the Kind.

As she joins you in the garden, 
she brings with her the sea breezes characteristic of the Creolan Mission,
though this institution exists landlocked,
sandbagged into torpidity by a ballast of text books and dogma.
At the touch of her hand on your cheek,
you begin to feel something nearly forgotten,
as if she carries in her fingers a series of bees
who introduce peace, and a spreading sweetness.

Forget about your doctor.
Her nervous condition has become acute,
causing her to build elaborate nests out of prescription pads.
To burn sacred candles there would only result in disaster.
Instead, my dear florid crazies,
lean into Creola's offered remedy like infants at the breast.
Watch the clouds float by like milkships,
sending nets over the side and into your stormy constellation of symptoms,
plucking you new and gleaming from the tempest.

She is a fisher of men, and more particularly of women,
sent here with your own personal Bonus Round from God.
She is Our Lady of the Falling Piano,
Creola the Kind.

written with inspiration from a word list invented by mood wings!

image: the ridiculously cool Cristina Scabbia


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kiss The Scarecrow

Kiss the scarecrow.
Go on,
you've waited all year for this.

Through mincing, droolmouth springtime.
Through a summer of blindlight hiss.
Girl, go kiss that scarecrow.
For the hit, for the high, for this.

Mama found nine black feathers
in your sheets, your skin, your head.
She slapped you smart with an open fist;
next thing, Mama's dead.

Kiss the scarecrow.
Go on,
step quick between the stalks.

Start from the porch where the black bell hangs.
Cat's cradle noose in the dark.
Girl, go kiss that scarecrow.
Til it tremble, til it burn, til it talk.

Image from Inspiration from mood wings.


Bosco Speaks!

English: "Woof!"

Bosco language:

Last five minutes of your movie? Miguel Cabrera up to bat? Last ten pages of your novel? Just got comfy and half-asleep?


Just started doing dishes? Coloring your hair? Writing a poem?


Alternate version:

Bosco: woof!

Translation: "I love you, Mom!"

Shay: Awww. I love you too, Bosco! What would I do without you, huh?

Image from

For Mama Zen's Words Count at Real Toads. She asks for a little personal weirdness. I have regular conversations with my dog Bosco. I often handle both ends of it.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Froshus Bear!



(dun worry, Teddy.
I save you!)

a little bit of Monday fun from Shay's Word Garden.