Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Future Imperfect

A poem appeared, saying it was sent by the horizon.

Naked except for a hibiscus bloom in its hair, it danced upon a pile of old tires burning behind the strip mall.

"A signal fire," it said.
The smoke became blackbirds, their beaks a collective compass needle.
The poem was itself a flock.

Looking up, I said, "Curiosity killed the cat.
Satisfaction brought her back."

That was the last I saw of the poem,
but its hibiscus bloom hangs from a chain I wear on my wrist
like a false hand 
with a true ring
in lambent light that doesn't show the blood.

for Skylover Word List.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Do What You Can

After a storm knocked over the circus, Tom Thumb watched Boris the Strong Man set his Royal Carriage right side up again and said,

"Fuck you anyway. I can't even handle cutlery if it is too heavy. House cats bump against me and I'm on the damn floor. When the storm came, I had to climb inside a steamer trunk and pull it closed over my head so I wouldn't be carried on the wind to Cleveland or Des Moines like a damn leaf. So to hell with you, Boris. You could take Yankee Stadium and toss it in the Atlantic if you felt like it."

"Zees upsets you," said Boris, who was not really Boris but rather a Frenchman named Marcel L'Amoreaux. "I tell you some-sing mon ami. When I see zee tight rope walker smile and she scoop you up, zat make me so jealous! She not do that ever avec moi. So, Le fuck to you aussi."

Then they were both sad. 

After a minute, Boris clapped a huge paw across Tom Thumb's little fairy-ass shoulders, but with care. "Leesun, my fren. In life, we all do what we can do." Raising a finger importantly, he added (from beneath his impressive mustache), "What we don' do ees do what we can't do. Dat shit make you fou. Crazy. So fug dat. Like, I never gonna be tightrope walker, eh? So why I worry bout dat? I don'. And you should not be the worrying about lifting heavy sheet. So don'." 

Tom Thumb started laughing so hard that he fell over on the ground and rolled there in merriment like a drunken pill bug. "You! A tightrope walker!" And then the real tightrope walker came by and, smiling her gorgeous smile, scooped Tom up and love-mugged him with noisy kisses.

Boris watched them as they moved toward the breakfast tent. He shrugged, then looked up at the sky, wondering if he could lift it if he really tried.

Written for Words To Live By at Real Toads but my link was deleted for not being poetry.

I don't now recall who the wise soul was who said it to me, but they said, "Do what you can, not what you can't." I must say this to myself twice a week, and it lets me feel good about the cans and not fret about the can'ts. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Butter Shoes

Exploring abandoned places is not for those too firmly anchored in the present.
One must wear butter shoes to slide across the temporal griddle.
Here, we have a record player inside a pink carrying case.
Over there, a cane and a broken mason jar.
And in the basement, a figure mummified inside a rolled-up rug,
stored carefully underneath a work bench.

Investigating further, we find mismatched dishes.
Red for the furious wife,
green for the husband submerged in murky dreams,
and yellow for the children churned by hand under a butter sun.

Afterward, we are hungry, for food and for the physical.
We slap each other playfully, clomping on peg legs across the wooden floor to the bedroom, 
where we hop like Russian dancers upon the griddle of our love.
You suggest we should buy cows,
Guernseys to provide us with milk and children already grown,

Who have their own houses devoid of plywood and yellow tape,
the emblems and talismans of our journey into urbex mystery.

for Sunday Muse #84.

Friday, November 29, 2019


There is no reason for us to fight.
Here is a ticket,
exempting you from fighting.
A ticket
out of town, praise whatever gods there are.

We fight in the town.
We sell tickets beforehand.
We call each other bitches and all sorts of things.
Every woman is a god(dess.)
Don't forget to tick the box.

There is no reasoning with you.
God knows why God(dess) made a great honking bitch like you.
I exempt myself from all this.
Let us now praise famous men.

Men like us when we fight.
In the town, by the fountain, glittering with coins.
Fight, fight, that's the ticket
to a life filled with famous men swooning over our dumb butts.
Whatever god(desse)s there are
can't cope, they lie down in a bed made of doves
as we fight, under the imprimatur some bitch, in a box, atop a pole

That the famous men have put there, and we appease, to great applause.

for Weekend Mini Challenge at Toads.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Troublesome Book

I am done with a book, but it is not done with me.
I go to the movies.
There is the book, hanging over the back of the seat in front.
"I was better," says the book, bitterly.
"But I am done with you," I tell it. 

I start a new book.
The old book falls off the shelf and knocks the new book aside.
"Motherfucker!" we say simultaneously.
I throw the old book into the fire,
but it just looks darker and more dangerous.

I enjoyed the book, at the time.
(The book and the clock got along famously.)
I took the book into my bed, into my heart.
But now I am done with the book and there are so many other books.
On this, the clock and I agree, which makes the book crazy.

I tell the book to forget me,
though, as is sometimes the case, I am unable to follow my own advice.
I will recommend the book to my friends.
I will review it favorably.
But the book is full of hate and wants to kill me and my new book, both.

After a few days, my new book becomes an old book also.
They join forces,
follow me down the street,
troll my place of employment,
spread lies about me.
I tell my troubles to the tv. It says, forget books, I love you, you're home.

for Bits Of Inspiration at Toads.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Book Review : "Enormous Changes At The Last Minute"

Enormous Changes at the Last MinuteEnormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't enjoy this collection as much as I hoped I would. I like offbeat stuff sometimes but most of these stories didn't grab me. One big complaint I have is that in most of these stories, Paley doesn't use quotation marks to denote conversations, which makes it difficult to follow conversations. When I have to repeatedly re-read sections to figure out who is saying what, it bugs me.

Some of the writing is busy and dense, adding to the difficulty in getting through it. I've read that Donald Barthelme, a favorite of mine, was her mentor. Barthelme certainly knows how to add the absurd plot, crazy detail, and nutty dialogue but he does it more sparingly. He brings you along on a raft of normalcy before springing some jack-in-the box on you, and it's more effective for that. Paley throws whole sentences of one clever but odd thing after another until the reader is going down for the third time, to stretch my metaphor. The worst story was called "Come On, Ye Sons Of Art" and if you can figure out wth *that* was all about, good for you.

All that is not to say I didn't alike any of the stories. One of the longer--and oddest, in its way--is "Faith In A Tree" about a recurring character who literally goes up a tree to observe and converse with numerous other characters in a park. Sounds nuts, but I liked it. She pulled off her crazy style in that one. "Samuel" is, dare I say it, a well written straightforward story. And "The Little Girl" was really sad but really well done.

Imagine my surprise when, in the story "A Conversation With My Father", the character's father complains of many of the same things that bugged me about this collection, imploring his writer daughter to just tell a simple straightforward story in the manner of Turgenev or Checkov (two of my own favorite story writers.) I was thinking, "I'm with you, pops."

So anyway. The stories are unique, certainly original, and portray a certain personal impression of New York City in a certain period of time. But I don't really recommend this book, though I do recommend "Faith In A Tree" by itself.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Charon's Obol

November sun is June's grown older.
It makes its nest in my eyes, no brim on my hat.
My dog trots through leaves the color of rusty wheel wells
as the light goes low like melting butterfat.

I will stay with him as he will stay with me,
each of us faithful, finite and flesh-fragile
until the dusk-time when we both sleep at last,
he with his red collar, and in my hand his leash and Charon's obol.

for Sunday Muse #83.

Charon is the ferryman who demands a coin, or obol, for passage from this life to the next.