Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Shall Use Vulgar Language When Simians Rise Aloft From My Netherparts

Marian says write a poem using words which begin with each letter of the alphabet in sequence. The task is beyond me, and so I offer this rarity from the immortal pen of Lady Constance Brillow-Wigg, the grande dame of  the Oriental fukyu form in English.

Ass baboons cannonball

down every fucking guano-hazed intestine,

jackassy kissass lickspittle macaques,

not odoriferous pyorrheal queasy rhesus shitheads,

thrilling unfortunate venereal wart xpressing yammering zombies.

Generally considered to be the most genteel of the British fukyu poets, Lady Brillow-Wigg shocked Edwardian society when she married a Bantu warrior and bore him thirteen screaming children. Living out her days as an expatriate with a dinner plate wedged into her lower lip for beauty's sake, Lady Constance eventually died at the age of 87 from an overdose of laxative. The loss of this great literary genius is still mourned today.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nonsense Verse

There is a nuthouse where they keep the nabob,
the North Star, the water lily,
and the brilliant negotiator.

Under the portico, there is a set of wind chimes;
in the rectory, a set of keys blessed by St. Gertrude of Nivelles,
and in that place, also, her chair, and comfort for suriphobics.

Patients are cured under a vague influence from the sea,
siren voices thick inside the fog and haze,
which lifts from the rocks and rises to the windows--a swan dive back into life.

The porter is pop-eyed from all he has seen,
and the doctors here are beautiful women,
educated at the opera house by Etruscans in their lovely extinct language.

I can see the skepticism in your hard eyes;
you go, even as we speak,
for the basin and the restraints--

but I'm telling you, it's true.
We live here under each others' mutual protection,
angels in repose, here just to vex you with our exquisite madness,

placed though it is, 
and by design, 
just beyond your dull, practical, grasping finger tips.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My New Book Is Here!

Hello my readers! I have exciting news. My new book of poems, "My Mad Love" is out and it's available at! I'm really excited about it!

"My Mad Love: poems out in the noonday sun" is divided into five sections: Travel Stories For Girls, The Doctor Will See You Now, Clever Gypsies, Boris & Natasha Live Again, and Catholic Girl On The Loose. Regular readers will recognize most of these as being labels I use frequently here at Word Garden.

In my book, you'll find story poems like "The Catalonian", in which a woman plots escape from her botanist husband, "In The Eggshell Of My Mind", the story of a woman detained by the secret police because they want her to tell them about the beauty of her lover's hair, "Paul Newman's Eyes" about a woman astronaut who never really returns to earth after retirement, and "Valentina" about a wannabe actress who learns assertiveness from her tiger lover.

There are quite a few rhyming or form poems here, including  "Favor", "Crow Against The Moon" and "The Healing".

Pack your suitcase for "Paris, Au Revoir", "St. Petersburg" and "The Girl Who Dreamt Of Polar Bears." 

And, of course, there are lots of love poems, including "The Hill Is Closer To Heaven", "Fire", "Crusade", "The Queen Of Small Spaces" and, naturally, the title poem.

None of the poems which were included in "Gemini/Scorpio/Capricorn", my combined poetry volume with Kelli Simpson and Joy Ann Jones, are repeated here; this is all different stuff. After G/S/C came out, there were so many poems I couldn't believe I didn't include, that I decided to do a whole book, and here it is. Besides, it's time to see if I can do it without Kelli and Joy propping me up!

I hope you'll read my book. I know you'll enjoy it. 


Friday, April 26, 2013


You like your steak--
I hear the prairie in your voice,
and the open country breeze behind it.

Me, I am always sticking to my smoothies and salads--
my rabbit food, but the truth is,
I'm something else entirely.

Out of the blue, you say something hilariously vulgar,
and there we are, laughing like two blue angels
who got kicked out of Heaven.

Compared to how I feel myself from within myself,
I am this great heavy horse of a girl--
I feel like there must be highway bridges with more grace.

I start to feel down, but then something I say pleases you,
and I could float around the room for the sheer simple joy of that.
If I could wrap myself in this feeling, what might I emerge as?

I expressed all of this to you, once, 
and you said, "Baby, why would you think you're not beautiful?"
That was when I first felt it,

an uncomplicated and natural unfolding of my heart,
when, because you love me, I go peaceful on the leaf of my life,
and something marvelous inside of me spreads,

colorful wings out,
then up,
then out again, in a way that I was surely born for.

for Fireblossom Friday.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Once & Again

jealous jealous jealous
of how she looks, that face, those ways--
gah! the perfect woman.
but wait a minute,
she survived divorce, like i did.
she survived old-school parents, like I did.
she still believes in love, believes in following her heart
and her instincts, just as i do.
she even dresses like I do.
Maybe I am a little bit of remarkable...too.

I don't know that this is really a poem, but it is my response to Isadora Gruye's Out Of Standard challenge. She asked all of us over at Real Toads, to do the "Cliff's Notes" version of our favorite book or movie or such as that.  I love the old tv series "Once & Again", in which Sela Ward plays Lily Manning, a divorced mom of two who finds love the second time around with architect Rick Samler. Life is never smooth for her, but she finds her way and keeps her heart right there on her sleeve, and shows a lot of courage and soul. Besides that, she's fricking gorgeous. 

Sela Ward also played the character of Teddy on the old nighttime soap opera "Sisters." As a black sheep and a recovering person, as her character (eventually) was, that role meant a lot to me, too, even though "Sisters" was never very realistic, and "Once & Again" is.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hello, Doctor

Hello, Doctor.

What a relief to see your bag.
No, not your tiresome shirts and socks
and your paperback novels;
I mean your black bag, filled with the shining apparatus of life.

Follow me up the stairs, if you would be so kind.
Do you like the dark oak?
We find it somber, like a casket.

This is why we need you so desperately, Doctor.
We have nearly given in.
So used, are we, to the predations and the despair,
That we women wear black, even at Easter time,
and the men drink, and are sick on the front lawn.

I apologize, Doctor.
You've only just arrived, and I haven't asked you about your trip.
Did you have a nice seat on the train?
Were there blankets for the chill, 
and windows you could slide closed against the smoke of the engine?
Were there porters and cooks,
solicitous conductors?
A woman across the aisle, saying her rosary and weeping?
Monsters and archangels in your fitful dreams, 
shooting it out like they do in the flickers?

I'm teasing, Doctor.
Forgive me for my familiarity.
Forgive me for trampling upon your necessary reserve.
Do you know why I was the one chosen to meet you?
It is because I am the sanest one here.
I am the limb that can, perhaps, be saved above the knee.
I have a nice singing voice,
but can no longer afford the risk to indulge it.

Are you good with severe injuries, Doctor?
You're not just some kindly old hand-holder, are you?
Here, one has to have eyes in the back of one's head.
We form fierce attachments all in a single afternoon;
a glance becomes a kiss becomes a fevered coming together,
and all before the dinner bell.

Don't look so disapproving, Doctor.
In this place, life isn't a game of whist in the stuffy parlor.
We must rip at it, and at each other, as one would a carcass,
or we starve,
gnawing on fear as if it were a rib.

Have you seen our Wolf yet, Doctor?
Were you uneasy, sitting on the box seat on the way in?
As a physician, you know how the organs and sinews are knit together...
did a tremor run through yours, like doomed babies holding each other?
Let me tell you about our Wolf.
After you've unpacked and taken tea,
I'll take you to the graveyard,
where the earth is always freshly turned.

Our Wolf is large, the same off-white as the doilies on the table downstairs.
The hired man we keep insists that there are no wolves here,
the last one having been shot years ago.
He swears it was a bear, or a cougar,
that gave him that ugly scar across his face.
He admits he didn't really see it, though, Doctor,
and that was when he could still see, at all.
Now he sits polishing the silver, like an Irish servant girl,
fuming under his breath.

I saw our Wolf myself, Doctor.
I was out gathering tomatoes from our vines,
just feet from the main house,
when there he was, standing as still as January, 
staring at me from next to the smokehouse.
Something in me shriveled, like a frost-struck bloom,
and I thought, Cook will have to improvise her sauce tonight.
The fresh red pickings rolled out of my apron and onto the ground;
so many drops of blood.

It let me walk away, Doctor.
I've been distracted and unpredictable since.
Some wolves eat the organs first, did you know that, Doctor?
The heart, the liver, what have you.
Tell me, what is it, in them, that makes us animate?
Are we just some accident of chemistry, when we hope, dream,
fall in love?
Are we nothing but green vines with red eyes,
dumbly waiting?

Once again, I apologize, Doctor.
You're tired and want to unpack.
Will you think of your wife and children,
or does your head fill like a well bucket with the stuff of achievement,

Come down to dinner when you're ready.
We eat on the veranda,
because we have to keep the big table clear
to lay the injured on.
After dinner, relax a while, enjoy a cigar, read your journals.
Then, take a walk in the evening air, just at sunset.
Watch for our Wolf, though,
and I'll watch for you, from behind the curtain.

Goodbye, Doctor.
I meant, for now, of course,
but I wouldn't unpack everything, if I were you.
Don't tax yourself the way our previous doctor did.
I don't think he really understood the things that come upon us here, 
sudden and hard,
and always from an oblique angle.
Rest now, Doctor.
I'll let everyone know you've arrived,
except for our Wolf
who already knows.

A little over a year ago, I was walking to the grocery store on a Sunday morning, along a street devoted to small independent businesses, which were all closed. There was no one around. I heard a strange sound and looked up from my thoughts. Across the street and ahead of me a little ways, was a closed gas station, and standing next to the dumpster was a large off-white animal, clearly wild, vocalizing again and again. It wasn't a dog. Its fur was matted, and though it looked well fed, it had "wild" all over it. There are no wolves here, but it looked like one. What it had to have been is a very large coyote. It scared me. I was all alone, and there was nothing between me and this animal. But it seemed to be intent on something inside the dumpster. It stopped to give me a stare, then let me walk away, my heart pounding. The way it kept calling was eerie. I've never seen anything more remarkable than a poodle or a stray cat, any time before or since, and I've walked there for years.

for Susan's "Hello and Goodbye" prompt at Real Toads.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Soul And The Postal System

In Her wisdom,
the Goddess wraps each Soul in flesh,
like a folded letter,

and then each letter into its envelope
to come aware by degrees and be delivered--
and loved--
if not by her bearer,
then certainly by the Deity.

This is why philatelists
are the true priests.
"Six pounds, nine ounces."
Care and Time are the postage which sends each mailing out
and into the World.

Touch my body,
My Love, my darling--
my skin, my face, my breasts are the characters
of the language which is both Common
and Mine alone.

Corrupt and change my usage, as I will yours,
until we say more together
than we ever did before.

As if in a mailbag,
here we are, for the moment,

Carriers are the new Angels,
and though the paper of us will be read--
will fade--
will go illegible and lose meaning,
thrown away--

In the same way that each thing and creature
dissolves, even while flowing forward,
we will return,
two souls wrapped around each other,
couched in our own particular and hybrid tongue,

delivered back the Goddess, who says,
"Ah! You're back,
My brave and wandering Beauties."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


In an electric age,
what of Pandemonia,
a calm girl
oddly named?

The books at her fingertips
contain words of every language,
depending upon her mood
and the angle of the sun, or her delicate wrist.

She shames the stones
set so solidly, by men, in place
with the softness of her body
as on the steps she sits, alone.

Pandemonia's dress, all of a piece designed,
made from common cloth; cornflower blue, and white,
is one of three she owns, the same,
but she has need of none, in her rooms at night.

In an electric age,
she dreams of trains,
an odd girl, lovely,
calmly strange.

thank you to my BFF Joy Ann Jones, who knew I would love this picture.

Friday, April 19, 2013

St. Petersburg

Peter lifted a great city from out of a swamp,
like a big, drunken, bearded midwife,
with ambition his doula.

Black butterflies rise,
holding up the gaudy double eagle,
and they are the carriers of the souls of the thousands
who died to build St. Petersburg.

Everything had to be brought in--
breath of lumber, breath of bricks
to bring the cry of creation to this muddy shore.

Now, Tatiana stands by the window.
Beyond her, the majesty of architecture--
the bold, solid embodiment of a giant's vision.

Tatiana wears very little.
She is curved, like the earth.
She doesn't know her Czars from her motorcars,
but she is well aware

that when she stands there like this,
the magnificence outside the window may as well not even be there.
It melts, the admirer's eye already full with better design.
She conquers the way the Moon does,
with desire and insanity,
and with only as much blood as may be needed
in order to get the job done.

for Isadora's challenge at Real Toads.

I have no idea if the photograph is actually of a place in St Petersburg, but it looks as if it could be.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: "Dirt Road Dreams"

Dirt Road DreamsDirt Road Dreams by Susie Clevenger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll confess something here, right off the top, about a guilty habit I have. One of the first things I do when I pick up a new book to read, is to see how many pages it has. So, I knew, and yet, when I got to the end of this book, I wasn't ready. I felt like someone had snatched away my ice cream, or a friend with whom I had been having a wonderful conversation suddenly got up to leave. What? Already!? That should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed "Dirt Road Dreams."

The book is divided into three sections: "Barefoot On Gravel", "Kicking Up Sand" and "Dancing In Dust", each devoted, loosely, to a stage in the writer's life. Susie Clevenger writes in a direct, simple manner, but what she has to say is nuanced and emotionally rich. The title poem brought tears to my eyes. Other favorites were "Hallucinogenic Artistry" about a medical misstep, "Escape By Letting Go" which contains the marvelous lines "We'll leave a blank note/ for no one to read", and "Mute Beauties" which may be the freshest description of butterflies that I have read, and I'm partial to them, as the author is.

I didn't read this book without a slight quibble, though. To me, Susie's strength is in the genuineness and honesty of her poetic voice, and when, in the final section, she once or twice lapses into stiff language--"we shall" instead of "we'll", for example--it rang false. It's a little thing, but it bothered me.

Something Susie Clevenger is uncommonly good at, is choosing titles. I admired them throughout the book, and also, she is adept at writing striking final lines. Therefore, her poems tend to be "framed" beautifully.

My favorite poem, apart from the title poem, was "Bored With White Illusion". In it, the speaker asks for the passionate over the prosaic, and it contains the line "Let me feast on poems that feed my hunger". I'm always hungry for excellent poetry, and this book is that kind of feast. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: "I Knew A Woman"

I Knew a Woman: Four Women Patients and Their Female CaregiverI Knew a Woman: Four Women Patients and Their Female Caregiver by Cortney Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I Knew A Woman" is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I always enjoy reading books on medical subjects, but this one was special. The subtitle at Goodreads is "Four Women Patients and Their Female Caregiver", but on my copy it's "The Experience Of The Female Body." In any event, the book is written by a nurse practitioner at a women's clinic, who also happens to be a poet with two volumes of poetry to her credit. The result is beautiful writing about women; as patients, as caregivers, as mothers and as human beings.

The four patients in this book are composites, so therefore no issues of confidentiality came into play. Still, Davis draws them so richly, that they each seem vibrantly particular, and real. There is Lila, a fifteen year old street urchin, pregnant by her older, tough-guy boyfriend. There is Renee, a heroin addict who has lost her previous three babies to the state, and whose heroin-addicted newborn fights for life even as his mother fights to put her life back together so that she can bring him home. Next, there is Joanna, who complains of vaginal pain whenever she has sex with her boyfriend. When no physical cause can be found, it begins to seem as if an emotional cause might be hiding in Joanna's past. And finally, we meet Eleanor, a middle aged woman with cervical cancer, who has to undergo a hysterectomy.

Cortney Davis approaches her work and her patients with a poet's eye, a compassionate heart, and the skill and expertise of an artisan. The way she describes the physical workings of a woman's body, and the things that can go terribly wrong or marvelously right, is illuminating and immediate. She doesn't stop there, though; her patients are always whole women, with their own minds, fears, demons and, very often, great courage.

I loved this book, and recommend it highly.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scorp Angel

I come half awake
in the hour before dawn.

I keep my room dark
but I rest easy,
knowing that something is rising just east of my dreams.

nothing else is so pleasing to me
as simply knowing that there is you in the world.

Whether you are near me or not,
I always hear your voice in my ear,

and the sound is
soul-soothingly familiar
and sweet.

top image: Cristina Scabbia

music: Jewel "Angel Standing By"


Near-Sighted MacFiggin & The Coquette

Professor MacFiggin,
whose vision was blurred,
was dining on pheasant
or some kind of bird

when he heard a voice
belonging to Fran--
a wasp-waisted lady
in search of a man.

"Enjoy some wine!"
(He hoped it would tweak her)
so he held a carafe
which was really a beaker

he'd brought from his lab,
filled with--well--something
that could not have been wine
but it set his heart thumping.

"I've got giant white caterpillars
here on my cheeks,"
he said with a smile,
"and they've been there for weeks!"

"I've got a crustacean
perched on my head,"
said Fran, quite boldly
suggesting they wed.

Cafe In Paris by Joaquin Sorolla

for Hedgewitch's mini-challenge at Real Toads to write something in "approximately 100 words or less." This is 106. Goddess love approximation!



Saturday, April 13, 2013


Having created the world in seven days,
God ends up with time on His hands.

He makes some weird dinosaurs and whips 'em down there,
but how many can you make?
After triceratops it's all downhill.

Then comes The Bright Idea.
God decides to hand down one commandment every day during April.

The first ten or so go well;
then things start to get dicey.

There are days when He just doesn't feel like it.
Can't a fellow get Saturdays off?
"The Rabbinical Council would have My ass," He sighs,
and so goes back to the drawing board.

"Thou shalt not eat Twizzlers on Tuesdays"
doesn't meet with the same awed response He is used to.

"No spitting on the sidewalk within city limits"
is another snoozer.

When He tosses out some crazytalk about men not lying with men,
His people won't even let Him in the disco anymore.

He declares jello pops "unclean". 
That's when he finds that He can no longer even get work doing infomercials.

Before April is over, God ditches the whole idea and hires an agent.
Within a week, He's guesting on "Hot In Cleveland."

"I'm coming all the way back!" He tells Entertainment Tonight.
"Then what?" the interviewer asks Him.
"I have another great idea," says God.
What is it?
"New Coke!"


for Lolamouse's challenge at Real Toads 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Alternate Science

They sound like they would be floating in space,
reclining in rings,
or swept by storms.

Named after Goddesses,
or the women of myth,
they are beyond the arc
of any ordinary thing except curiosity.

Now, comes the Traveler,
lately of places not certainly known--

delivered to the breast,

for Margaret Bednar's  artistic interpretations challenge at Real Toads, and for G Man's Friday 55!

acrylic art at top by Chelsea Bednar.


Thursday, April 11, 2013


"I cannot live with You –
It would be Life –
And Life is over there –
Behind the Shelf"

There are more ways than one--
that books can burn.
We sat in high school English class,
blank as babies--
as disinterested as the wrong lover--
being spoon fed the prescribed pablum
our curriculum required.

Our teacher was a young guy with a mustache--
nothing sinister about him.
He told us,
"This poem of longing expresses Emily Dickinson's desire
for a Philadelphia minister
whom she heard preach only once."
or Judge Otis Lord.
or Kermit the fucking frog.

I felt the fire.
I felt the funnel begin to turn--
the Rotation and the Dip--
and everything I had known or thought before was just blown to sticks and dust.

I got the infection,
felt the calling--
to put words to the weather of my heart.

In 2007, I visited the Dickinson Homestead in Amherst.
I saw the room--
the unassuming small space
where Emily wrote her soul out on paper,
then carefully stored it in a trunk under the bed.

Out the window,
the trees and garden, those double spirits,
vessels for both their own beauty and the beauty she gave them--
with each word, leaving the flesh and divinity of herself
caught on every thorn and stone.

Across the way, The Evergreens--
home to her brother and his wife Susan.

Susan knows
she is a Siren--
and that at a
word from her,
Emily would
forfeit Righteousness--

To a woman who felt everything,
this must have been the most exquisite torment--
a gorgeous bird contained in the cage of her time and mores,
and able to be holy enough,
and profane enough,
and human enough,
to make such torture so beautiful that it saturates Sight.

To own a
Susan of
my own
Is of itself
a Bliss--
Realm I
forfeit, Lord,
Continue me
in this!

The most particular and intimate feathers
held in those wings beneath her bed,
were fed to the fire
upon her death.

In that room, and in the garden later on,
She was there,
and she blessed me. 
In the simple passion of every word,
she told me, sister, sing it.
Over so many seasons, one bird can't last,
but another of its kind can lift her head
and there are the notes, still sung, from a Twin Heart.

But Susan is
a Stranger yet--
The Ones who
cite her most
Have never scaled
her Haunted House
Nor compromised
her Ghost--

To pity those who
know her not
Is helped by the
That those who
know her know
her less
The nearer her
they get--

My friend had given me a choice, the last day of my visit--
to meet her new musician girlfriend,
or go to Amherst to see the Homestead.
All the way from Plymouth, she played the girlfriend's only cd--
great the first time, then good, then...
well, she's in love, and she's making this trip for me.

She couldn't stand it, though, by the end of the tour.
"Why isn't there anything about Emily Dickinson's lesbianism?"
Our guide answered smooth as Teflon,
the non-answer she had been trained to give,
and quickly switched to a short course on the furniture.

I felt it, in waves, coming off my friend as she drove.
I felt it from Emily,
with the Evergreens as near as truth ever gets,
and as far, in its way, as places foreign on my Homesick eye.

And were You lost, I would be –
Though My Name
Rang loudest
On the Heavenly fame –
And were You – saved –
And I – condemned to be
Where You were not –
That self – were Hell to Me –
So We must meet apart –
You there – I – here –
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are – and Prayer –
And that White Sustenance –
Despair –

"I Cannot Live With You" and the three quoted pieces written by Emily Dickinson. I hope that I have done her justice with the rest.

For Corey's "Destinations and Dialogue" challenge at Real Toads.