Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pussy Cats

Do you think crying will help?
All right, you're right, sometimes it really does.
I have wept, myself.

I have wept when I felt God in the solitude of an early morning trail.
I have stood there in my Reeboks crying like a girl,
like God--
that other Girl.

I have wept when someone hurt me
by their words,
by their fists,
by their absence.
I have wept when I have been angry and unable to change anything.

Peanut, there are idiots in this world;
people who leave the articles out of their poems--
people who chase money, abandon children, hit women--
people who enthusiastically murder themselves.

Let's forget them for an hour, babe.
Let's not cry this morning.
Let's never wear chiffon again unless it's for ourselves.
It's time to toughen up.

To help us, I have taken the liberty of making some changes.
I have added a few accents and grace notes;
things to keep us on our toes.

There is a leopard in the vestibule.
She's sneaky and quiet.
Don't come downstairs until you're really awake.

In the sun room is a pride of lions.
If we take a nap among them,
we will understand sisterhood better.
We will wake up with golden eyes and an instinct for survival.

Finally, there are cheetahs in the breakfast.
They are like us, they speak softly, almost like house cats,
but they catch everything.

Trust me on these things, sugar.
By lunch time we will know so much that was hidden before.
We will look the same, but we will have a new mantra:
Step softly.
Stick together.
Eat fast.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Snow White & the 55 Dwarves

Snow White and the 55 dwarves lived in a sub-let in NYC. An evil fashion model had slipped SW a poisoned apple and she fell asleep because it also had Ambien in it. The dwarves hired an actor to do the prince thing and kiss her, but wrong, because, hello, lesbian. That made it weird.

An ironic post-modern fairy tale in 55 words for Mama Zen. Come join us!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Water Witched

Lately, I find
that I slip loose from time,
like a strand of hair from its clip,
and no more remarkable than that.

It's like falling asleep in the daytime,
and knowing something passed by that I was unaware of,
but that did not harm me,
nor take much notice of me at all.

I half expect to find high button shoes on my feet,
and lace at my throat and wrists.
Maybe it's Emily, a glimpse of red hair I seem to see
at the other side of the garden,
disappearing down a worn track between the trees.

Now that the weather has changed
and the days are sweet with spring,
I go walking
so that I can sense you, on my skin and in my blood,
no matter how far away you pretend to be.

Anyway, I might head west and south 
the next time I slip loose.
I might follow the sunflower road
until I come to the place where the prairie grass is waist high,
and a stream runs through, all unseen.

Then, my love,
there will only be your Indian eyes,
and my desire coming up quick 
like wind-blown clouds
above the water that you witched to call me close,
as yours as storms are summer's.


“The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again. Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seeds as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had a sunflower trail to follow. I believe that botanists do not confirm Jake's story but, insist that the sunflower was native to those plains. Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom.”
Willa Cather, My √Āntonia

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Hospital For Dreams

I had dreams.
This is what had always differentiated me from the usual types
that fall from the moon and the dark blue sky
like sugarbirds.

I was not one of them,
though I wanted fiercely to be, when I was younger.
The snake of tough shit, babe
squeezed that notion right out of me
and told me I had other purposes to attend to.

But, about my dreams...

This latest one, this humdinger that I had,
turned out to be so much bullshit.
So what? you'll say.
So, dreams have been the guard rails on the killer curve of my life.
Intuition has been my merciful angel,
pulling me out of the soup again and again.

Now I feel like nothing but the bone.

I thought I was going home.
I thought it was gonna be warm cornbread and sweet butter from now on.
What it was, was
sorry, not you.
What it was, was
heft that bale, you dumb crazy bitch.

So I took my dreams--the new ones--
to the Hospital where they sieve out the serpents at the door,
and hand all the girls a gorgeous red apple.
I turned my open haversack upside down at the nurses' station
and said, "Save these.
Save this one in particular."
They said to me, girl, you are some wild kind of boho trash
to think anybody here cares.

Out by the bus stop,
waiting to go home,
I took a big lungful of magical Detroit exhaust,
like the last Pontiac giving up the final air filter.
I held my dreams tight in my arms,
and told them never mind, babies, just never mind.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

Mary Pickford tried to destroy all her old films--
the fragile, flammable celluloid
her incandescence lived in.
A new generation found the silents simple and sentimental,
and their "talkies" stars spoke
in a clipped, faux-English way
while portraying canny, glib sophisticates.

Mary didn't want to be made fun of.
Honest emotion had gone out of style,
much as it has today.

Still, everybody wants to be made to feel
that their loves, hopes and desires,
their pain and struggles
mean something noble, something beautifully human.
Everybody would like to be young, beautiful, and in love,
and everybody would like to kick the landlord in the butt.

As the lady said,
silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces.
Florence La Badie can forever lean over a balcony,
gone for 90 years,
smiling for a lover dead for decades,
and she will always be gorgeous, and alive, and we will want to be her.

See the little dog running down the dirt road
after the Gish sisters.
We hope they turn around.
We hope he catches up,
because we all know what it's like to be found
or left behind.

"They're so blessed, so lucky,"
we say of movie stars,
and we wonder why they flicker,
though it isn't such a mystery.
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

for Kerry's silent movie challenge at Real Toads.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cuckoo Child

Her water had broken,
and she counted contractions as the moon came and went.

She conspired with the window,
the clock,
and the ghosts of all the women in her line,

to hand out some bullshit story and steal away
into the woods.

She sent the doula on a fool's errand,
and dummied up a version of herself to leave propped and weirdly silent
in the four poster at the corner of the house.

How do you feel, they asked the doll, the changeling,
the shed skin of herself.
What a long wait they will have,
for a baby made of goose down and mattress ticking.

Under the trees like a morning dream she went,
as the sun came up
and the river called to her in a language past remembering.

Alone there in a mossy copse,
she bore the child and bit the cord,
blood giving way to a fierce rolling wave of love.

The tiny face, perfect hands,
the soul as open as an April sky,
made her know she could not take this one back
to the house, the keepers, the upstairs corner under the eaves.

Birds make fine conspirators,
and so she slipped her daughter into a nest like a cuckoo,
and, riven with what she had to do, 
carried a stolen fledgling back to her bed.

They took it, as she had known they would.
They taught it,
so well that it never sang a note,
never knew its wings,
the flight feathers plucked by hard lessons and bible spouting.

Meanwhile, she paced the widow's walk like a haint,
ears grown as keen as any animal's,
listening for wings or the call of her own, from out there.

When the house burned,
God did not intervene, but rather,
willed it Himself with a holy delivery of lightning to the cupola.

She was the only survivor,
and she sat on the incongruously wet lawn in the morning,
still as a stone, 

Imagine the smoke-black ruin behind her.
Imagine the wind-stir in the maple branches above her head,
as thin as circumstance, yet strong enough to stop the sun.

Imagine the child appearing from the edge of the copse.
Imagine her moving slowly to her mother,
with the same black hair,
and the same instinct to survive.

Imagine their common language,
without words.
Imagine touch and tears,
and the years ahead like a natural migration,

direction in the dna,
and a way home, at last.

I don't know what this is. It just came to me, wanting to be told.

Note: the cuckoo bird finds another bird's nest, and leaves its egg there to be raised by the unknowing surrogate.


Two Questions and a Riddle

Hello, young lady,
and what are you?
"I am the answer
to five times two."

Ten year old, ten times--
a hundred and a day!
Light as a dandy seed
with wishes on the way.

Hello, young lady,
and who is your cat?
An African lion--
what do you think of that?!

I think if he fancies fish,
then send him off to school.
Wrap a napkin 'round his neck
in case he starts to drool.

If a bully bumps your books,
your lion can defend!
Bully down the lion's mouth,
then out the other end!

Farewell, young lady,
and to your lion too!
What's ten and has six legs?
Your kitty cat and you.

Written for Margaret's children's verse challenge at Real Toads.