Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: "Left Neglected"

Left NeglectedLeft Neglected by Lisa Genova

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lisa Genova is no ordinary novelist. For starters, she holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard. Eat your heart out, Jackie Collins. When I stumbled--literally stumbled, it was on a cardboard rack in the middle of a narrow aisle in the drug store--upon Genova's marvelous first novel "Still Alice" and read her bio on the back, I thought, "fine, but can she write?"

She can.

Genova is one rare bird. She combines her medical knowledge with an ability to write interesting, fast-paced, human stories on a par with anything by Jacquelyn Mitchard or Jodi Picoult.

"Left Neglected" is the fictional story of Sarah Nickerson, who spends her days running like a greyhound after a rabbit on a stick, pouring herself into her high-powered job at a Boston firm. She logs eighty hours a week, then squeezes in time for her three kids and her similarly driven husband Bob. This woman doesn't know the meaning of "down time." Even on her morning commute, she is making calls, or texting and sending emails when there are traffic back-ups. One rainy morning, she is messing with her phone and doesn't notice the cars all stopped ahead of her until it is too late. At high speed, her car goes off the road and turns over. Sarah is lucky to survive at all, but she sustains a serious head injury with a curious result: Sarah no longer cares about or even sees anything on her left.

Anyone standing on her left may as well be standing in Tibet. When asked to draw a cat, Sarah draws only half a cat...the right half. Her left hand and left leg are only rumors, to her. It takes a while for Sarah to begin to understand that she won't be breezing back into her office anytime soon.

And guess what? Things can always get worse. Sarah's estranged mother arrives on the scene to help her do everything from getting dressed to managing the bathroom. Sarah would love to put her mom on the next bus back to Cape Cod, but she can't; like it or not, she really needs the help.

They say, though, that every wound holds a blessing. Sarah's life won't be the same as it was, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Big changes are coming, and Lisa Genova makes the reader care about all the characters in the book from the first page to the last. I recommend "Left Neglected" enthusiastically. 

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Is that you
with your hair full of night,
the night full of crows,
the crows gone sorrowful and silent?

Is that you
with your black-step soft,
your moon-gone face,
and the dark coming loose behind it?

this poem written by Fireblossom with invaluable help from Hedgewitch.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fem Solo

She's always been different--
a golden-eyed girl apart from the others.

In her hours alone, she talked to the sky and the sky told her:
"Gather yourself, girl. Be still. You will be filled as I am filled."

That was when she noticed the first feather; the first spot.
She fought the strangeness, then invited it bone-deep to take hold.

Her lovers have woken with their arms around a creature
Both beautiful and Other, hidden just behind her kiss.

In her sleep, the messengers come; Joan and Emily on fire.
Don't think she is mad. She is burdened and she is blessed.

Woman, to love her is to love sharpness;
To love her is to fall together down a thousand feet and more.

Still, she is just a girl. She holds more than she was meant to,
and when she shivers, she will seek your arms, her second skin.

She will always be different; cat and bird together--
But if she makes herself yours, she will come to you today and forever,

bearing gifts.

For Mama Zen's "Words Count" at The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Kelli asks us to write about our power symbols. She also asked that we do so in 25 words or less, which I just this second remembered. Forgive me, it's not yet 6 in the morning. I hope this will be all right, lengthy though it is. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Remedy For Robbery

Remember the guest
Who stole the room
You gave her to stay and be sheltered in?

Beware the door
That opens to nothing--
A void where no guest can stay, again.

At the station, the stealer
Is stopped by her burden--
A room on a chain on the platform, stopped;

The thief is charming,
Policemen pet her,
Debating whether to hold her or not.

She steals the station,
The train and the tracks,
The schedules and benches, the smoke from the stacks.

Shutter the house,
Leave the lack,
Take only your heart and never look back.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Flowers" by GoldenMistPoet

"Flowers" by GoldenMistPoet

My garden explodes with much the petals, happening

Image! To colorful, the sun on its bicycle

Rides rainbow unicorns.

My heart the popping wow with rivers of passion...



Oh, disease of love!

(This poem is linked with Palsied Poets' Prank Phone Call, Jumble Word Head Injury, Sex With Llamas day 4, and Poetry Poop week 79.)


Pink Eye said: This is fantastic! Here's mine: http://mymonkeyfacedkids.blogspot/ode-to-jello

Mist My Plants said: Great to see you at Jumble Word Head Injury!  

Prinjit Bollywoody said: So the good! How much dowry are offering does?

TooMuchSugar said: Wowwwwwwww!!!! OmGGGGG!!!! FanTAStic!

Prof. Richard Hedd Phd said: The allegory here is weak, and the exposition is dreadful. Please sign up for my fifty part instructional seminar. Syllabus and rates available at my blog Smog Balloon. Sign up and receive a complimentary embossed gold-leaf copy of my poem "From Whence The Trumpet Of Triton Blows", my epic poem which was published in the October, 1967 edition of Smudge College English Department Notes, pp 47-92.

YinYangGangsta said: thank for your coment at my blog. Yours is relly good!

Loboto-Me said: I like unicorns.  I believe they are real.

My Lips Hurt said: nice...smiles....kind of, i dunno....flowery...smiles...

Tom the Troll said: hi. r u into rubber fetish?

KickMe said: I read this and cried! it is the most beautiful thing I've ever read in my life! I even showed it to Weepy, my parakeet! We both cried! Then we read the back of a cereal box and cried! Wow!

There's Something In My Ear said: You continue to amaze me. This is just so brilliant and deep.

Fair Is Wheel said: I think that when you talk about rivers, you really mean roto-tillers, because your writing really gets below the surface. Or maybe you mean rapids or rabbits or something.  Or maybe you just need to pee.

Mirror Ball said: this is about me, isn't it?

They're Coming To Take Me Away said: Each brilliant line of this makes me shiver with delight. Email me. I want you to join my Writers' Gulag. Aliens stole my spleen. Try my meme!

Rhyme Time said: cat. hat. shat. haha.

Oldfatguy said: is that your real picture?

Jumble said: Very moving and heartfelt. I didn't really read it though.

Fireblossom said: this comment has been removed by a blog administrator

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Midnight Jane

Midnight Jane knows a thousand candles
won't carry her prayer any faster.
Beautiful and blessed Saint Creola,
paint me a center line--
press a macadam pavement from every heart I ever carried between breath and skin;
give me, I pray, strong coffee and a name I can keep.

Outside Danny's Coffee Shop,
cranes contracted by the city manager raise the sun.
He would like to zone Danny's out of existence,
but it is as if God Herself were against him;
seven plagues have sogged his cereal
and set his ties to clash.

Midnight Jane, stay as long as you like.
Danny's is always open, even on a Sunday.
Margie, the city manager's wife, didn't get The Light sprayed on her blonde
directly from the Hand of The Divine;
she just lets on as if she did.

Jane, try the arms of the Succubus.
There, in a quiet corner booth,
it can always be night as smooth as new blacktop
and the stars that flash by like lane markers
belong to anyone.

This is my 1200th post at Word Garden!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Turning Turtle

Days follow nights--
Goddess in Her wisdom arranged it this way,
Divvied up small, with fresh starts at regular intervals,
So that there would not be madwomen running crazy down every boulevard,
A danger to themselves
And to others.

You are dark, you have eyes stolen from three a.m.
And hair full of beautiful nightmares.
I can't touch you enough, can't kiss you
You leave.
You say to my dog, "Agent Bosco...take care of her for me."
That will be impossible--
I am a stone well-thrown,
Desiring only to kiss the earth as she rushes up fast.

You are working.
I attend a noon movie, something about The Future.
I have heard of it, but I am a body full to bursting with Right Now--
I want to see that look on your face,
And feel your fingers inside me until I am Jericho coming down;
When I can no longer bear it, I hold your wrist--
Stop, I beg, stop, but The Future is what you decide it will be,
My Avalanche,
My Undoing.

As I am leaving the theater, something terrible happens--
A distracted driver hits a girl;
Her bones break, the thing that was inside her deeper than her skin,
The thing that was always there, the thing that defined her, is shattered.
I know her leg shouldn't be like that,
I stare,
I think, thank Goddess it wasn't me.

Then I see you.
I know that woman, and I know that way you have of leaning close
Just before you say something so profane and wrong
That my knees buckle and I know I'm falling, whether right there or in bed later.
I look back at the girl with her twisted leg and am nearly sick.

Hearts break,
Right Now becomes Never Again,
But I know
And you know
That there are sequels all the time
And stupid girls to drag themselves across the parking lot like so many smashed turtles
Who ache to hear the sea
Before they die.

for Fireblossom Friday #10

Note: I don't love Belle anymore, wherever she is. But I did. Oh, I did. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012


"What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered, ripped her and bit her;
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn and
Tied her with fences and dragged her down." --Jim Morrison

The sea gives up a child,
But the child that comes is wrong.

It holds a rot-bird by its limp dead throat,
And, sick with eating of its companion, goes walking up and down.

Love me, says the child,
Its lips an obscene wet wound--

But no one can love it,
This black-fruit from a fever flower bloomed.

The sea gives up a child,
A rapeling ill-conceived--

It dies but leaves its zealots loose
To spread what it believed.

for the Poetry Jam prompt "genre". I have chosen the protest genre. 

I cannot listen to this song without weeping. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: "Chain Gang Elementary"

Chain Gang ElementaryChain Gang Elementary by Jonathan  Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when a stay-at-home dad with demons in his past takes the position of PTO president (and soccer coach) at his son's elementary school? Why, Machiavellian plots, shocking betrayals, a kinky affair, grand larceny, spying, bodies being unburied (literally!) and gun play, of course.

Author Jonathan Grant has taken a crew of Anytown stock characters and set them down in a suburban twilight zone of school year craziness. He eases the reader into this story so skillfully that it all seems completely plausible, not to mention hugely entertaining, when it all veers off into a wild and darkly comic bad trip of a climax.

There is Estelle Rutherford, queen bee and principal, ruler for life it seems, and not about to let one bit of her primary school empire slip away. And by the way, she would like the PTO to buy her a Persian carpet and cherry wood furniture for her office, thank you very much!

There are the two apparently CIA-trained counselors she hires to extract usable secrets out of her enemies' children, so that she can ruin them.

There is Stan, a rumpled rabble rouser whose mission in life is to promote No-TV Week each year. He takes this mission *very* seriously.

There is Teresa, the married former exotic dancer turned PTO treasurer, who has eyes for her PTO president.

And there is Richard Gray, at the center of all of this, taking on, almost accidentally, the mantle of office. Richard has a stale marriage, a son he loves dearly, and an urge to Do The Right Thing. Naturally, this embroils him in every horror a sleepy suburb has to offer, and if his obsessions, a vindictive principal, or his sexy treasurer don't do him in, then the flying bullets might.

"Chain Gang Elementary" is darkly funny, entertaining, well-written, and has a great deal of heart as well. One of my favorite things about the book was how Grant shows how a teacher known variously as "Bullfrog Eyes" or "Mz Ebonics" turns out to be not only the best teacher in the school, but the bravest.

My quibbles with this book are small. Richard's wife, Anna Lee, makes a Frigidaire seem toasty. I wanted to know what brought them together in the first place, but there is really nothing about that in the story. A paragraph or brief flashback would have sufficed. My other quibble is easy to fix. Mr. Grant, would you please write another book with Teresa the sexy treasurer in it, as Joshilyn Jackson did with a side character who got her own novel in "Backseat Saints"? It's a small thing to ask. It will only take a year. What could go wrong?

I recommend "Chain Gang Elementary." I'm glad I got the chance to read it.

View all my reviews

For another review of this same book, click HERE to read Mama Zen's thoughts on "Chain Gang Elementary." Unlike me, she did not need hand puppets and remedial reading classes in order to sound out the sense of it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Texas 9 To Utopia

On the road to Utopia that night,
You pulled ice house ambrosia wrapped in a napkin out of your clasp purse,
And a plastic flask of nectar from the air
Like a master magician.

"That's quaint," I said through a smile, and gave myself the indulgence of
Straddling you and sucking on your ear.

I wish I had a photograph--
I could have used our thick buzz for film.
I miss your slant look
And your penchant for burning down whatever begged for a match.

These days, I dress for work, keep a schedule;
I menace truants and make inquiry over matters of no consequence at all.

You were the field botanist in boots and boho.
Your herbarium could have gotten us five to ten--
I'd have had no reluctance to do the stretch and ask for nothing more than your kiss-this laugh,
A little taste,
And one more hour on the road to Utopia.

for Flipside's word list #7: penchant, reluctance, slant, menace, clasp, master, indulgence, distraction, utopia, inquiry, quaint, photograph, herbarium

jargon note to non-Texas speakers: an ice house is a party store.

confidential to STWIASD: I used the picture I found for you. I cannot be trusted!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Love Song From A Plain Woman

I am no beauty.
There is grass more glamorous than me;
There are weeds bolder,
And the simple red-winged blackbird
Is better adorned...

But, I keep your name as close to my heart
As nest is to branch;
I loved you this morning when the sun ran her light across the wild places nobody owns,
And I'll love you the same tonight under a curved moon, as constant and easy as cricket-song.

If I have beauty, it sleeps twined with devotion,
And the way you speak to me, sometimes,
I know that the old vain goddesses in their marble temples
Must grind their teeth and spit
For helpless envy
Of us.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Girl and Oak

I was young once, living on hope and ten dollars
In an upstairs flat in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I used to eat at The Busy Oak, where junkies and drunks lived in the weird apartments on the second and third floors,
And I went to the movies at The Washington.

I remember buying a jacket at Joe's Army Navy Surplus,
And a bright red scarf at some corner boutique where 80s chic was so thick that it made this ordinary girl feel out of place.

The sky was a brilliant September blue that day,
And I was on my last fine free days of being semi-employed,
An art I had perfected all through my twenties...

I needed time to read Vonnegut and Tolstoy,
And to go see Far From The Madding Crowd and Desert Hearts.

Late that afternoon I sat on the wood floor of my little place,
Listening to Joni sing I Had A King, while I read the album jacket and my dog slept in the only chair.

My door was open, as if to let the future in;
I was getting sober and I was getting older.

Who knew then, that I would shortly get a real job, a car, 
And marry some other damaged soul?

Who knew that the Busy Oak would become trendy stores for out of towners,
Or that The Washington would become a stage theater?

Who knew that I would ride by those places every day, a couple of decades later,
Having divorced, come out, come clean,

Or that I would still listen to Joni sing about kings and seagulls,
And still wear a red scarf against the chill?

Not me,
whoever I was,
waving to her future self
going by on the street like a ghost begun but not yet walking the earth.

for Mary's Mixed Bag "neighborhood"

Thursday, August 16, 2012


The beauty of it, honey,
Is that we don't know what we're doing.

We're like 1916 silent movie queens--
Stars of a medium too new to have any stock scenes.

Let me cake on the raccoon eyes and vamp--
You drive the open-top car, and we'll both wear enormous wide-brimmed hats.

We might be speaking Russian--
The silents keep it hid;
We can never say the wrong thing, honey,
Nor confess it if we did.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Pembroke, the predictive parrot
Is sensitive to seismic phenomena.

Even when his own cage rattles, and the ends of his swing jigger wild and spastic,
Pembroke's black beak remains constant in its expression of wry amusement.

Pembroke does not want a cracker.
He wants your finger, or, hopefully, two.

Pembroke the pedantic parrot
Can recite "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" in Portuguese, while swaying his body from side to side like a batshit lunatic.

The only time that Pembroke goes quiet,
Is if your house catches fire in the night;

He sees Mexican dancers in the bright orange flames,
And balls of smoke become marshmallow skulls floating in the air as if they were pinatas.

Pembroke the psittacosis-ridden parrot
Wants to mate with you and leave you great with baby birds.

He wants you to live with him in his shit-spackled world,
And to understand that, because he needs you, you must love him and never leave,

Even as he yanks out your hair to make a voodoo doll he'll call Mrs. Pembroke--
A monster he can drag around in the shredded newspaper at the bottom of the cage, captive and faded as yesterday's headline.

"Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" is a poem by Robert Browning, and can be found HERE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Neptune's Girlfriend

Neptune dumps his first wife (a mermaid),
Too embarrassed to admit that, in fifteen years, he never made it past second base.

At the bottom of the sea, there is every kind of wreck,
But Neptune finally rouses himself.
"I am the earth-shaker!" he crows,
But under water, everything is muted, and it just sounds like "I abda flug glug!"

Complete change is what Neptune wants, and so he hooks up with the Iowa Corn Queen.
She meets him at the door, dressed in provocative costume,
Purring, "Shuck me, baby!"
But Neptune is still dissatisfied.
He wants her to get a boob job.

Things don't work out,
And it's just as well that Nep isn't around to hear what the Iowa Corn Queen and her new lover say about him.
The new lover declares, with certainty,
"He's a moron! They're perfect!"
Then demonstrates that she really thinks so.

"What should I do with this stupid sea shell?" the Iowa Corn Queen asks, later.
Her girlfriend advises throwing it in the ocean.
They do, after using a Sharpie to write "U R A FLUG GLUG!" on it.
They hope it hits him in the head.

this is a magpie tale for mag 130.

image by Francesca Woodman 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Evolution Of Genius

The genius who treated us like shit
Stood ringing the triangle he wore around his neck in order to call himself to dinner.

A lackey brought a wheelbarrow containing the genius's ego.
Here is a riddle:
Why is it that, the more he ate of it, the bigger it got?

He was then taken to the local hospital, where demon doctors surgically attached extra thumbs,
Leaving him even more exalted
And superior to us vacant, slouching apes.
Wearing leather collars, we performed tricks which were never good enough.
We were given no days off.
We limped, stupid and miserable, in his shadow.

The asshole genius sat crunching the bones of his lessers,
An eccentric habit the authorities ignored because, hello, he's a genius,
And we are apes,
If kind apes,
Capable of love, and labor, and suffering.

The fuckface genius is always correct, and we accept that in our dim way,
As we accept his right to go strutting among the gods themselves
While we fumble and fart and fail.

The genius who treated us like shit had the world by the short ones,
Endorsed and indulged because of his brilliance,
Celebrated and hip-deep in sweet entitlement until it all went tits up one Tuesday in September.

A bearded single dude, homeless, probably a fag,
Climbed down off a tree and poked the dipshit genius in the chest and said,
"What you do to the least of these, you do to me.
Titles and talent aren't a ticket to treat anybody badly."

Since he joined the monastery, nobody has talked to the genius,
But we hear he has a funny haircut and
Washes feet and
Lives in a little stone cell like a zoo monkey.

for Flipside's word list #6: leather, triangle, thumbs, monastery, genius, eccentric, demons, correct, vacant, crunching, strutting, hospital, slouch, surgically, limped.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Down beside the willow water
Came the Reverend Wilson's daughter,
Looking for the one who loves to kiss her perfect face.

Across her shoulder, three times spun,
Her parasol to stop the sun;
White and new and edged with such a pretty ring of lace.

Back-buttoned dresses need a friend,
With eager fingers sweet to lend
A turn, a touch, and anything Miss Wilson might request.

The Reverend sent his man to check,
But all he found upon the deck:
A lace-edged parasol there tilted mistress-less at rest.

He dove into the willow water,
Fearful for the Reverend's daughter,
Who if she lost her breath, it came from quite another cause!

Presently, she came along,
Collected up her parasol,
Then, smiling, spun its lacy edge and walked back to the house.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Smoke Tree And Apple

You can say, now,
whatever you like
to whomever is your latest life raft.

You can say that I faked you out,
told you lies;
that I was just costume jewelry masquerading as diamonds--

But we both know, don't we,
that you knew from the start, the woman I was?

In the softness of our bed, on pretty blue and white sheets,
you would goad me.
What about Denise?
What about Debbie?
What would you do to them?

When you did this, I would demur,
hesitant as any Catholic girl ever was,
but not because of sorrowful, crucified Jesus above me on the wall, beyond your shoulder--
it was because you were touching something that was only mine,
hidden so well, that even I had nearly lost it.

In the end, those nights, you won.
Despite anything, I did care for you, and loved to please you.

Oh, the things I said, with my lips to your ear...
how your body gave you away, 
filling me with a pride of power in my words,
but during our time together, I had not even the power to live in the world as myself.

When you came to your senses,
you would wrap my head in your arms, lower your face close to mine,
and, smiling, say,
"My girl. My girl."

I was not even my own girl, not then.

We had a house, a child, a nice yard.
You planted a smoke tree,
and the young apple tree was mine.

They are still there, you know.
Bigger, doing well,
and belonging to someone else.


for dverse poetics: the beautiful sadness

I really wanted to add The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" here, but copyright prevents me from doing so.

Church For Miscreants

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth (Proverbs 8:13)

I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. (Alan Ginsberg)

There is a church for miscreants.
A gatherer for dandelion seeds.

There is a kiss for those who have not been kissed enough.
There is a place, protected, for solitude.

I have dipped words in honey butter.
Each day I speak the names of those I love, who have gone.

Each creature exists for its own purposes.
Neither lion nor leghorn for ceremony cares.

Even a small pond holds secrets, icing over in winter;
In summer, the close shore, the grasses, the reeds.

There is a church for Gypsies and wanderers.
A gatherer for dandelion seeds.

for A Word With Laurie: "miscreant"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Last Thylacine

When you told me you had gotten married,
I thought about the last thylacine.

Isn't that just like me?
You, who once knew me so well,
Know it is.

In eight years, a lot of things change.
There are always more dingoes,
More hunters,
More outlet malls, all the same.

Normalcy eludes me--
Me, with the stripes on my back.
Maybe I saw things that were not there,
Like desire in return,
Or other thylacines.

Maybe I only embarrassed you,
Or myself,
But I always believed you rarer
Than you ever turned out to be.

So, when you told me you had gotten married,
I thought, of course...
Of course you did;
And if, in time, I cried, it was not for you,
But for the last thylacine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bigmouth & the End Of The World

Orbits decay.
Bombs go off.
No amount of dusting can keep it from happening.

When I was a kid,
We rode on yellow buses to see different junk.
They counted heads.
They said, "stay with the group!"
Teachers and moms kept a sharp eye on us.

Her eye is on the sparrow.
She sent us on this field trip,
Packed together like lunch for later,
You the pbj, me the apple.

Fissures in the earth open up.
Mad dictators push the button.

I don't think anybody is going to be able to line up, single file.

But still.
The life I was given, I have lived.
Chick In The Sky said,
"Be a woman, an American, a smart-mouth by nature.
Buck the tide. Do me proud. Go, girl. Here's a pen. 
Do it all from this little flesh jar I shall place you in."

There are germs that wipes can't kill.
There are voices in the wrong people's heads.

I have written poems until my notebooks tilt in stacks like drunks at the bar.
I have told those I love that I love them every day
Just in case of runaway trains.

Raise the hammer, I'm okay with it.
Crack the jar, I'll fly out and up,
A dragonfly
Perched once again in the salon-gorgeous hair
Of the Goddess.

for Out Of Standard with Izy