Saturday, July 4, 2015


Dear Dante--
That chick isn't Beatrice.
Her name's Liz Siddal and she likes her laudanum.

Aligheri didn't really know Bice.
Oh, he bled a million words, like you do paints,
but it was just woolgathering, a big bowl of bullshit.

You keep that brush in your hand, but
she goes home,
zones out,
forgets you.

A 55 for Kerry at Real Toads. 

Process notes: Beatrice "Bice" di Folco Portinari is said to have been the inspiration for Dante Aligheri's writings, though he said he met her only twice, nine years apart, and she was married to a banker. 

Elizabeth Siddal was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's favorite model. He painted her thousands of times, often as Aligheri's Beatrice. Friends said "Beata Beatrix" (shown at top) didn't really look like Elizabeth.

In the spring and summer of 2009, I wrote several (bad) love poems for someone who, to me, looked like Rossetti's Beatrice, and so I gave her that nickname. It occurs to me that writers and painters may be beautiful idiots. I have tried not to be one again, since then.



Friday, July 3, 2015


China is so big, such a giant on the map and in physical space,
that a person might fall in love with someone,
go all stupid over someone,
and never see them again, disappearing into the crowd
in a port city
on a bicycle,
ringing the little bell and vanishing.

Pandas eat bamboo shoots, 
so poor in nutrition that they must consume mightily to survive.
They don't know how remarkable they are, they never see a mirror;
they just eat and crap and sleep and have no idea how loved they are
all over the world.

You are twenty miles down the road, 
but I am feeling equators and great walls.
Come back, I'll boil you all the rice you want,
and when I speak it can be in those little characters.

I have a shovel,
and I am digging digging digging.
I am hoping to hit bicycle tire.
I am hoping a big black paw will reach up for me, and pull me through,
or that I'll hear your truck,
the door, your bag hitting the entryway tile.

Opium's for suckers, your face is the only high I need,
so catch the first thing smoking and I will
cancel my expedition, put the kibosh on the dig.
I love you. Don't you know?
Or are you a panda, adorable and clueless,
wandering the bamboo forest 
when I've got something better in mind?

for Hannah's prompt at Real Toads.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Let's be together. We'll take pictures for proof.
Fill our mouths with those heart-shaped candies
and say the words, those melting words--
a dollar hidden in your hat brim, an amulet tucked inside my shoe.

Pretty wildflowers grow
fed from the slack-jawed smiles below--
blackbird, bluebird,
cowbird, crow.

Here is our memory book, let's fill it and call it a life.
If you need anything, ring this little bell;
I'll blow in to say the words, those healing words--
like the cutest little Christ-girl, your do-the-devil wife.

See the sunflowers, tall and fine
lining the road from our prairie cottage here--
sun burn, sour churn,
your lies, mine.

"Ghost Maiden in the Meadow," 2015, by Angela Deane

A little scribble for The Storialist.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

When Eaten By Sharks

When eaten by sharks, try to stay calm.
If possible, write down the genus and species;
call your old professor if you think she can help.

Don't automatically assume that being eaten by sharks is pure disaster.
Imagine that smug know-it-all relation of yours. 
Imagine his face when you greet his latest pronouncement by leaning out from rows of enormous teeth,
waving at him from between shreds of seal, 
laughing at him from your unassailable new address.

When eaten by sharks, try to remember which shark took what portion.
By doing this, you may be able to reassemble a prototype,
from which a full replacement may be constructed.

Most of all, try to acclimate yourself as soon as possible.
Inside these perpetually swimming creatures, travel is yours.
If limbs remain usable, hit the inside of the shark's belly with an open hand;
the resulting bass beat will astonish nearby boaters.
"Listen," they will say to each other, "that's Morse code."

Send letters, long, short, long, describing being eaten by sharks.
Query editors. Self-publish. Above all, work quickly.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Diary Of A Long-Haired Girl

“In you, I see the heroines of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
You, unhappy lady, were
never saved by anybody.”
Marina Tsvetaeva

I had long hair then. Jules had just made clear her indifference,
her wild desire for me to leave, and so I did, on the Greyhound.
The Soviets launched Laika the dog-
we sent rhesus monkey Sam into space;
I took pills from a baggie John pressed into my palm to stop me crying,
and I swung ahead without moving, dreaming of pissing on the whole Earth.

In Oregon, I met a guy. He said he liked Gordon Lightfoot,
"You've Been Talking In Your Sleep." I had never heard it.
He told me about himself, and I wondered, how do you know
I don't have a bomb in my boho bag?
How do you know I don't go around blowing up buses,
bulldozers, abortion clinics, banks?

When a woman broke my heart, sometimes I used to let guys fall for me.
It assuaged the hurt, kept me looking pretty
like a cut stem in a glass of sugar water that will die anyway, but more slowly.
It was riskless--I wouldn't love them;
I was just a hive of honey left out for the ants, a crust on the counter,
a sweet '56 left to rust and become art.

I cut my hair last spring. I gave up on love in 2009.
Look at my yard, I can't bear to clear the trash trees.
John put a shotgun in his mouth years ago, and I don't get high anymore.
I wonder if Laika slept at all,
I wonder if she dreamed of the alleys and garbage cans of Moscow?
I wonder what made me think of that guy on the bus through Oregon?

"I heard you softly whisper..."
I have given myself body and soul to half a dozen women and one man.
I live alone. The moon rises and sets.
Sometimes, in the morning, she is still there in the sky,
pale, beautiful, and if I spoke in my sleep, if I confessed anything,
she would never betray me, not from such a distance,
though I die in orbit, howling.
For Play it Again, Toads 18. Image at top by Margaret Bednar. I chose Kerry's challenge.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finishing School

Susie brought a pineapple
or perhaps a hand grenade--
Bernice barks and continually tries
to spit in the lemonade.

Linda likes to play 
with matches
and to sprinkle her gruel 
with sand and ashes.

It's not that we want to disappoint--
oh mother, teacher, lofty god;
but Susie is violent, Linda is mad,
and I am feral, mute, and odd.

60 words on the nose for Mama Zen's Words Count at Real Toads. I avoided using "thou" and "ye". You're welcome.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Woman Of The Year

Sylvia Hawthorne-MacNaughton opened a can of whoop ass,
but it must have been expired, or something, because
nothing happened.

There she was, in the girls' bathroom, quiet as a church,
still as a mountain spring at midnight,
and boy, did she feel stupid.

She went on to be given a swirly by a pimple-faced girl with stick arms.
She went on to become a lexicographer.
She went on a long trip to Tibet, having lost her faith in the order of things.

Who is Sylvia, what is she, the peace movement's fairest darling?
The number one non-violent nun of the year,
the fruit that fell from the fuck-up tree?

All her life, Sylvia Hawthorne-MacNaughton resents that moment,
when the can of whoop ass let her down.
Seven presidents and prime ministers attend her funeral at age 92,

Droning on and on about what a beacon she was, and blah-de-la.
She would have gladly traded it all to have stuffed stick girl head-first
into the trash basket, when she was fifteen,

With her own plan for her life, before God hijacked it
and turned her into Woman Of The Year, holier than Jesus, nicer than Santa Claus.