Sunday, September 18, 2016

In This Room

Here, in this room, is where I left it. 
I carry a key,
cold between my breasts, hard against my heart,
that I will never use again.

You--reaper, slayer, bitch--
I bear no mercy for you, no kind thought.
May fire ants climb up your cunt and kill you very slowly,
and the balm stay in sight just out of reach.

Here, outside this room, is where the husk-body walks.
It lives, while the heart that was its passenger browns and curls beyond the door.
Love for my familiars is strong
but the rest I have driven nails through and fed to bald-head vultures.

Killer, drooling lunatic, dust-souled woman-forgery,
I spit on every mote that's left of you;
I feed your ghost great troughs of hate,
and curse you for killing me, again each day, as long as I have memory.

for Susie's "If Death Were A Woman" challenge at Real Toads.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: "Spill Simmer Falter Wither"

Spill Simmer Falter WitherSpill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an extraordinary novel. It's about a man, now sixty-ish, who has lived all his life in his father's house--which he continues to call it even after the old man is dead--in a little seaside village. It becomes clear after a while, as the narrator relates it all to his dog, that the father had been mad as a hatter, and completely unfit to raise a child. He wasn't sent to school. He was largely ignored, and left alone sometimes all night. He was even kicked out of the car and left by the roadside to be finally brought home by a passing motorist. The result of all this is that the narrator, whose name is never revealed that I can recall, is a very odd duck who feels set apart from the rest of humanity. "I am horrible."

As the novel opens, he is looking for a dog to be a ratter, as he has an infestation in his attic. He adopts a ragged beast from the local shelter, an escaped badger-baiting dog with just one eye. (A badger took the other with its claws.) He naturally names him One Eye, but the people at the shelter print the tag all one word ONEEYE. The narrator tells the dog he is named after an African prince. It becomes clear, as the man chatters endlessly to the dog, that the man has a fine eye for nature, and quite remarkable powers of observation about people as well. If Quasimodo possessed a dash of Walt Whitman, then he would be this narrator. He has never had a any pet other than a hamster before, but man and dog fall into a wonderful companionship together. Both are terribly wounded. Both fear people. But they love, and comfort and help, each other.

Not since Richard Adams' "The Plague Dogs" --he is also the author of the celebrated "Watership Down"--have I read a novel in which a dog is brought so absolutely, genuinely to life. One Eye does all the things dogs do, and the author has obviously spent a lot of time living in their company because her depiction is spot on, including all the things dog owners know but never think about. One Eye is, above all, an animal, intent on smells, food, life; he is often gross and always enchanting. The most enchanted one is his broken, aging, endlessly sad owner, for whom this shelter dog becomes a reason for living. The way the man always thinks of One Eye's comfort is touching. He isn't always the perfect dog owner--it's a learning curve--but he comes to understand more about his dog than most people ever do.

When One Eye, who was bred and trained to go fearlessly down burrows after badgers and kill them, attacks a dog out on a walk on the beach, he and his man have to go on the run. To avoid the animal control officer, they live for months in the man's car, driving to out of the way places and keeping to themselves. It is amazing to me that a story about a troll-man and a wounded dog who live first in a filthy house and then in a car could be so absolutely absorbing and make me wonder what would happen next as much as any conventional thriller. Throw in some utterly unique revelations from the man's past, and two unremarkable lives become positively gripping. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, while compulsively describing everything to his dog, the narrator reveals the heart of a poet. An unsentimental, keen-eyed one at that. Very very highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


There will certainly be a reckoning.
When you eat that slop for breakfast, angry fields roll themselves into earthquakes.
The bones of everything are broken and sticking up;
your wound is already there and calling.

Hi, I'm a nature fairy.
I always wear this leather shit.
There are whole herds whose hooves dream of nothing but my face,
and the agreeable aspects of gravity.

I love the moon, especially at dawn like this.
Don't you?
There is nothing there, nothing we can ruin.
Drop a penny, make a wish, live in a pool's reflection until a new season germinates.

Look at me, I'm a flower--a venom bloom.
Bees help me displace what I feel when they collect, and carry, and sting.
Hold out your arms. Turn to wood. Include a door.
Otherwise my bees will make short work of you, and my emptiness will be for nothing.

Lazy deities piss me off.
That cloud looks like the last thing you said to me--
a nothing made of nothing floating on the invisible.
Hold out your gauntlet, here I come. Listen for my song. I only sing it once.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

With Telescopes

With telescopes,
everything becomes scientific.
I held still so long watching an insect on a stalk a half mile away,
that birds nested in my ears
and rented my head to a carnival.

When I open my mouth, it's oompah bands.
When I publish, it's pablum.
When you kiss me, it's junk data, but repeatable.
a 55 for real toads


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Garden Bells

September rings its
garden bells
when the year picks up its skirts
to run.

Some mornings
it has rained,
and others, the sky is
that impossible autumn blue. 

I wish I knew
why, even in sobriety,
even in maturity,
I am September's motherless child.

Before long, perhaps,
It will no longer matter
about the ache of wet leaf mornings
and impossible autumn blue.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Glass Girl

When I was younger, and stupider even than now,
I loved a glass girl.

The curve of her was the best curve,
and she never changed--could not change.

My friends said,
she was easy to talk to--
her mouth open all the time;
but they also said
she's somehow hard
somehow cold
and they were right.

I am a water girl,
as impermanent as a womb, a flood, or sweat on skin.
She told me, "I am empty; it all comes from you.
I refract your light, then send it back."

I am a water girl, 
she was a glass girl;
I could not maintain unless she held me,
and so she was, as I knew she was, exactly what I needed
when I was younger, and stupider even than now.

I miss her,
even knowing how hard, how cold.
She told me, "Fuck what anybody says or thinks. We are what we are."
Her black hair hung down and there we were
meeting on a borderline--
The deep. The stars.

I offer this for the audio; the video portion has nothing to do with anything.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: "Seasons In Hell"

Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and "The Worst Baseball Team in History" - The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers by Mike Shropshire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first third or so of this book is really funny. I mean, tears rolling down my face funny. Shropshire's wry descriptions of the utterly inept 1973 Texas Rangers baseball team is really good reading for anyone who likes baseball and loves schadenfreude. But, as with a lot of books that are funny at the start, this one doesn't maintain it.

I had several problems with this book. For one, the title itself is misleading. Yes, it puts "the worst team in baseball history" in quotes, but only the '73 team was bad. The '74 team was actually pretty good, and the '75 team was mediocre. In addition, well over half of the book is devoted to the '73 season; like the humor, it's as if Shropshire himself ran out of gas. There is a strange preoccupation with spring training, with as much space devoted to that as to the regular season. The big preoccupation here, though, is Shropshire's obsession with drinking. Like most drunks, he places tremendous emphasis and importance on what was being consumed, in what quantities, by whom, and where. Again like most drunks, he makes the erroneous assumption that other people are as fascinated with this stuff as he is. I found it really tiresome by the latter portion of the book.

There are some interesting portraits of such figures as Herzog, Martin, schoolboy wunderkind David Clyde, and such lesser lights as "The Strange Ranger" Willie Davis and "Beeg Boy" Rico Carty, so slow running to first base that "you could time him with a sundial." Shropshire fudges some of his facts--he repeatedly misspells Brewer manager and former Braves star Del Crandall's name--and screws up the timeline of some events.

It was fun to hear how some of these baseball icons talk when it's off the cuff, and having lived in Texas and been a (temporary) Rangers fan myself, I liked hearing stories about this team in particular. In the end, though, the endless frat party that Shropshire describes gets old, and like a drunk who was fun when the evening began, it ultimately becomes a little pathetic. Three stars for being howlingly funny for a while, but not really recommended.

View all my reviews