Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Tell me your name--
like something sweet on a spoon,
still on your lips,

Tell me your name--
like something lethal on a spoon,
hidden out of sight,
prettily white.

Come down the Tunnel of Love--
no purse.
no wrap.
close your eyes.
come barefoot,
expecting glory, as the boldest explorers do.

for Hannahballistic's "Hungry Eyes" challenge at Real Toads,

and G Man's Friday 55 !

image: the Tunnel of Love in Kleven, Ukraine


Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It's time for MZ's "Words Count" feature at the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. She says:

"Imagine yourself in the safest place you've ever known.  Let yourself sink into the details.  Feel the texture, the temperature.  See the angle of the light.  Breathe deep . . .
And, tell me about it in 53 words or less."
Okay. Here it is, in exactly 53 words!
She had a voice so right she could make the Moon sneak to meet her on the down low--
So new-car fur-cuffs fine she could make concubines cry and quit for jealous.
But that night, she soothed me sweet,
a mother for the mother-hungry...
the perfect gift, and I
never forgot.

Ohmuhgaw !

It is mid-afternoon on a Tuesday at Danny's Coffee Shop.
Denise the waitress is doing her nails.
Chloe the serial felon is meditating to "Relaxing Sounds Of Ocean & Surf".
The Succubus is crashed with her face on the table, drooling, but she still has on her cool shades. Savanna the teenage runaway puts a sticky that says "kick me" on the Succubus's huge black wings.
She thinks this is enormously hilarious.

The kitten Giuseppe Verdi wanders up to a table full of girls, wanting the standard fuss and adoration he is used to at Danny's,
but these are popular girls from the high school.
One of them screws up her face and says, "Ohmuhgaw. Why do these places always have cats??"
There is a book sticking out of her bag. Perhaps it is ornamental. She doesn't seem like a reader.

Denise looks up from her mani.
Chloe's chi goes off center and she ditches the Relaxing Surf.
The Succubus wakes up and flutters her wings,
which sends Savanna off the deep end, laughing.

One of the popular girls notices the charged silence and asks, challengingly,

Just then, a blinding black blur comes hurtling at their table and lands on it, scattering all the bottled waters and ipads. 
"RAWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!" says the blur, turning in circles on top of the table, like a maniac.
It is, of course, The Queen of the Vampires, in black panther form.

"OhmuhGAW!" screech the popular girls, as the QOTV demolishes their booth.
"Eww. Why do these places--"
but she is interrupted by the QOTV clawing out her nasty overdyed hair.
Luckily for her, the cat is distracted by the book that the kitten Giuseppe Verdi has pulled from the girl's bag.

Together, they go from one end of Danny's to the other, destroying the book with unrestrained glee.
they say.
It was probably not a history book, but now that book is history.

"Ohmuhgaw," squeaks one of the popular girls from underneath a table.
Chloe the serial killer sticks her head upside down beneath the table and inquires,
"Tell me, lame popular girl, what was that book?!?"
Popular Girl's glossed lip trembles as she says,

"The Oxford Book Of Haiku".

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

mad skillz

Forget the bathing suit--
burn it.
It is always stormy in my world;
the trees are like crack ballerinas--
never still.

I wonder if you could help me--
you, with your mad skills.
I don't like grease, unless it's in the pan;
but I do admire arcane knowledge--
such as rests better on a girl.

Take a look, touch inside--
be a whisperer for my ride.
Smaller hands are better fitting;
prove that purring
suits this kitten.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: "Raven Girl"

Raven GirlRaven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fairy tale, written and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, author of "The Time Traveler's Wife", which I loved. In this tale, a postman falls in love with a raven, and they have an egg, from which hatches a girl who is human in appearance, but who feels like a raven. She grows up feeling shy and out of place, until finally, she goes off to college and meets a surgeon whom she asks to change her into a bird. Despite a hue and cry from classmates with no stake at all in the matter, she goes ahead. The doctor tells her that even if she is given wings, she won't be able to fly, because she is too heavy. Then it is discovered that she has hollow bird bones; that she is quite literally a bird on the inside, just as she has always known.

How does it all turn out for the raven girl? Read it and find out!

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 26, 2013

in the season of catkins and maple keys

This year, my yard and walks are thick with maple keys
and catkins from the walnut tree,
washed in heaps at every fence and barrier.
They believe in time,
having faith in the thing they need.
I haven't got that kind of time, not anymore.

When I was young, I wanted the whole sky,
without an idea at all what it might contain.
Now, the dome of Heaven has become, for me, particular and small,
but as full as my heart, which is just a heart,
but as tempestuous within me as beating wings.

I would like to say, darling, that now is the moment
for a tender comfort in each other,
a whispering in the evening hour, as all the red goes for sunset,
leaving our blood light and calm at last--
but you, My Love, would call me out,
and I can't lie to you, even for the sake of pretty lines.

We have had to do what we have had to do.
Our patterns are not perfect at all,
and the things that have given us lift are showing the damage of their utility.
There is blood; ours and others', 
mixed with our markings.

Open your arms for me as I will, mine, for you.
We know that doing this is dangerous,
but like will always seek like,
because that is the way home,
even if we spin and roll in mid-air in the dare of loving.
The vain sunset is still there, a spoiled prima donna, 
but we have this moment 
to forget her.

I love you, in every imperfection.
I trust you to touch talons to my scars,
and to somehow soothe them despite all sharpness.
Here is where we have come to, and it is a fine enough thing.
Look at the maple keys and the catkins--
they are blameless, 
but the minute they leave their mothers, they are looking up at us.

Ron, at Shutterbugs, has very kindly allowed me to use his breathtaking photograph at the top of this post. The image is his and may not be used elsewhere without permission. Please visit him.

maple keys


Book Review: "Bird of Paradise"

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise by Vicki Covington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honey Shuggart (now, there's a sweet name) is a Southern woman of a certain age, who has never had it easy. Her husband, whom she loved passionately, was a drunk who died young. She's never owned her own home, and lives sparely, as if to pick up at a moment's notice. She has waitressed and done what needed doing, always getting by.

Now, late in life, she has just a few things. She's always had the gift of voice, and sings in the senior choir at the Baptist Church. She has a grown son and a group of loyal friends, all as long on the tooth as she is. Honey's idea of cosmopolitan sophistication is Birmingham, Alabama, not that she ever strays that far. Her life is local.

So, when her sister Dinah keels over dead from a heart attack, while visiting the cemetery with Honey, it sets in motion a series of unexpected events. Turns out, Dinah had some money, something Honey has never had, and she leaves it, along with three fourths ownership of the family homestead, to Honey. The other one fourth goes to Dinah's late husband's grown daughter by a previous marriage. That would be Neva Joy, who wants to sell it.

Honey Shuggart is a woman who senses angels and believes in the Lord, so imagine her surprise when, at a zoning board meeting (to change the homestead from residential to commercial, to increase its value) she meets Judson, a retired attorney and avowed atheist, who has returned home after many years, to take up residence on Nectar Hill.

What do you suppose a woman who has stopped expecting anything from life except a comfortable routine of delivering meals on wheels, attending Wednesday night covered dish prayer meeting, and quilting on Fridays, does when life suddenly serves up all sorts of bounty? She might make it wait out on the porch like an untrustworthy stranger, or she might invite it in for casserole. Hon, you'll just have to read the book to find out.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 24, 2013

bordered by ice cream tiles

bordered by ice cream tiles,
i am a creature of smooth soap,
soft steam and honeyscent;

female in every summer-dark inch of me,
i loosen like curls from the clip,
or dreams from new sleep;

this is the only time my thoughts grow lazy,
beading on my skin and mind in languid language,
speaking your name

your name
your name
in a fine sensual hour of being yours,

even from here,
without reserve
and entirely.


for Fireblossom Friday "Location, location, location!" Mine is claw footed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prairie Rose

When you shuck off your sweatshirt
and shake your hair out with your hand,
I can hardly bear to let you go
to shave your legs
or write a poem
or to admire the dark summer color of the prairie rose.

I gather in your abandoned second skin,
wrapping the sleeve around my wrist
so that I can tell time by the you-warmth still there and pressed at my pulse points.
There is mojo and sweetgum in everything you have touched--
it is medicine for every longing.

Outside the window is the redbud tree,
scratching on the glass as if it were some beautiful prisoner.
Come back to bed, honey--
I crave the tang and scent of you,
and to brush my face,
my fingers,
everything I am and all my desire
against the dark summer color of the prairie rose.


for Karen's word list at Real Toads.

I wanted to add Roxy Music's song "Prairie Rose", but they didn't have a good recording of it.

News note: today is my birthday! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Delicate Sensibilities

i yam a girl
of deli-cat sensibilities.
not just enny trash can
can make my bed--
not just enny edition
can pillow my hed.

in another life,
i wuz cleopatra.
and that, sir or madam as the case may be,
means you should have deli-cat manners
around such as me.

if you wave some pastrami,
it's possible you may charm me,
but if you're cagey
you will fish up for me
something dumb and scaly from the sea.

I yam a girl
of deli-cat sensibilities
and a fine poetic naychur,
so you probly want to make sure
to bring sardines and starfish--
one to eat and one to make a wish
if you want to win me.

i was an egyptian queen,
and you need to remember that.
now, thank you for your kind attenshun,
but it is noon,
and time for my royal nap!

Mehitabel the cat created by Don Marquis. The artwork is his.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Harem Girl

They kicked me out of the harem.
One minute I was sucking on a grape, 
listening to Trixie tell Helen Keller jokes,

How does Helen Keller drive a car?
With one hand on the wheel and the other on the road.
How did Helen Keller ruin her nails?
Reading roadside signs.
How did Helen Keller burn her ear?
Answering the iron.

and the next, I was being dropped at the old filthy-ass bus station downtown
with my duffel and my backpack, like some parolee.
Inside, there were no pillows,
no peacock feather fans,
just hard plastic seats and a vending machine filled with crap like pork rinds and pop tarts.
I guess they weren't expecting a lady.

It's not that the harem was the greatest place to be, you understand.
When he calls you, you've got to act all swoony and glad about it.
You can't roll your eyes and go, 
"Right now? Well fuck a damn duck!" like I did.
You also can't get away with a quick hand job while flipping through Cosmo with the other.
I learned that the first week.
You've got to be engaged, or he gets all bent out of shape about it.

A word about those Cosmo articles--
you know the ones.
1,000 sexy secrets that will drive him wild!!!
If those really worked, there would be grinning goofy-faced men walking around everywhere, wandering into traffic with their shirts buttoned wrong.
There aren't. 
I rest my case.

It was this kind of thinking that got me thrown out of the harem.
I needed that job.
I'm the single mother of a six month old chameleon named Rainbow Happy,
and we can't eat wolf whistles. 
I will admit, right here, that I complained a lot--
about those stupid pastel paint jobs on the walls, like we were living inside an Easter egg,
and the way the eunuchs never knew the baseball scores despite knowing that I would ask every morning.
I couldn't manipulate charm them, cos they weren't really men anymore,
but they could sure sock away the pizza like a bunch of doughy, pasty-faced truck drivers.

This is all very difficult for me.
Here, take my duffel, all my dainties are inside and I can't lose them.
Maybe I'll catch the four-fifteen to Seattle,
or the five-thirty to Salt Lake City.
Do Mormons have harems?
I can do a great Marie Osmond.
Listen to me belt out "Paper Roses"!
A girl with my skill set should be able to land a new gig in nothing flat, don't you think?

Hey, it's been nice chatting with you, but I've got the highway in my blood, and all that hokey stuff they say in the movies.
Marilyn Monroe put it best:

Just because you fail once,
doesn't mean you're going to fail at everything.

Marilyn was smarter than people think.
She read books, she had a lot going on, but people think she was just blonde hair and great boobs.
Are you even listening to me? My face is up here, by the way.
I'm off into the great unknown.
Give me your email, I'll let you know when I hit Flagstaff.
I went through there once when I was thirteen, in May, and it was snowing. 
The guy next to me put his hand on my knee, so I faked a coughing fit and jerked forward.
He smashed his fingers on the metal edge of the seat in front of us;
it was just like breaking up a bird for Sunday dinner.
I got kicked off that bus.
They didn't understand the burden of beauty,
and I had to stand before a judge and explain my "violent outburst."
He told me I seemed like a nice girl and why don't we discuss this privately?
Well, I never look a gift horse yadda yadda.

But when he took off his robes and everything, he looked like a wookie,
and I couldn't help it, I started to laugh.
I got pitched out of his chambers and straight out of town,
like common trash.
No one in the modern world appreciates true beauty,
and so I wander like a mystic,
or a peculiarly hot-looking staretz,
searching for my place in life,
teaching when I can, loving when they agree to use protection,
and just trying to perfect my soul
so that they won't throw me out of Heaven before I've made any friends,
or gotten to try those little crepes that I hear they make up there.

I want mine with strawberries,
and not a man in sight.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Storm Chaser

The storm chaser
found the narrow way
down a straight road
into the wind's dark blue heart.

There, she found
Athena with her bolts,
wearing a silver-black snake around her arm,
falcon feathers in her hair,
and not much else.

When the storm chaser kissed Athena--
rippling strikes across the sky.
When the storm chaser loved Athena--
hail from the heavens, honey on her thigh.

When the storm chaser got home,
there was no sign of the damage to her car.
She had swapped out the mirrors
and bumped out the dents
herself, at a truck stop in Stephens County.

"Where did you go?"
"Shopping," she said,
with a forked tongue as sure and sweet as tupelo. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Moon

He put his arms around her.
She said, "Why do you hate me so much?"

He carried her to the car, past the new flowers in their beds,
pinning her arms at her sides and never saying a word.

The night before, there had been a spring moon.
Their son awoke; the hour was odd.
"Mama, why are you staring at me?"

On the lawn, robins cock their heads, listening for vibrations.
The yard teems with worms. He starts the car.

In the parking garage at the hospital, she does her rag doll routine.
Dead weight and mute, he has to load her into a wheelchair.

They met in the early summer, years before.
He hadn't known where she had just spent the past few weeks.

At the doctor's first question, she leaps up from her chair and stalks across the hall.
"There's nothing wrong with me."

Here is the thing about a spring moon--
it will cross the darkness in its own way.

Nothing anyone can do can change the cycles she must pass through,
but once a month she is beautiful again.

He can't help watching as she loses her light by degrees, 
eaten away, becoming a memory, impossible to love any longer,
finally and at last unrecognizable.

"and the flowers bloom like madness in the spring" -- Jenny Anderson.

for Izy's Out Of Standard at Toads. 

If You Had Asked

If you had asked, I would have told you--
I am sitting with the lions. 
I didn't go to them--
they came to me.
They always do.

The stench of their last meal rolls from their open, panting mouths,
like a ghost-scream from the one consumed--
the one that did not get away.

They are covered in flies.
The flies know what they want, but not how to get it.
They want death, but death is inside,
a backwards cub giving life to the lions.
The flies know this,
can hear this,
covet this,
see it in thousands with their minds' compound eyes,
but all they can do is buzz and annoy.
This is why we despise the flies.

Did I say "we"?
I am sitting with the lions, but I am by myself.
I can see for miles in every direction,
but I cannot see the curve of the earth.

If you had asked, I would have told you--
I am changing.
Always, I have loved the zebras.
I have been the admiring dust around their running,
and when they have made their distinctive coughing call,
I have always looked up
as if expecting a lover to say something kind.
Now, sitting with the lions,
I see the zebra's perfect hooves and think,
"I cannot eat those, or the hair; only the stripes:
This is not the woman I have always--or ever--been.
Rebel, rebel, you torn your dress...
but it is just the lions idly batting me to the ground
like an anthill made of girl.

This morning, when the lions first came,
I thought to tell you all these things.
I have been a river, pure and deep,
a few dozen dreams from the place you sleep;
I have been the moments when your mind was still
and your limbs were loose. 

If you had asked, I would have told you--
everything that a thousand years of crossings have taught my flowing blood.
I would have told you how my fingers have no other purpose but to touch your skin,
and how this yearning has refracted and filled my imagination
a thousand times.
If you had asked, I would have told you--
but you didn't;
and here among the lions, 
I think it best, now, that I remain silent.

inspired by "Lions Abide" by Talon. Find it HERE.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Peacock and Crows

She gave the visiting priest the black-glove treatment,
and when he went back to the brothers,
it was with the gnostic gospel of her kiss still on his lips
instead of The Word.

She was just never gonna fit in, that was the trouble,
and so she went strong and weedy within herself,
strangling out the greenhouse virgins and marking the garden stones
like a dog or a boy or a moondevil, beyond the reach of common caution.

He found her crying in the parking lot garden,
wrapped in a mantilla of broody dark clouds,
with accents of deep red and sharp silver,
the poems in blood of her price, her anger, and her power.

He called her Little Pea Hen, and tilted her chin up with his fingertips,
a shepherd holding her hair in one hand and his shears in the other.
What would you have done, if you had been her, 
set out that day on the bright paving stones like a bottle jar?

Every time she put her hands together to pray,
the wind kicked up and a cold downdraft made her skirts whip around
like nervous wolves. 
Do I need to say the rest? Must some cleric put it down in ink?

All I know is this:
These days, her hips are as curved as cathedral bells,
and though she is covered in yards of cloth like a vieja,
she carries a secret, and will dance until red leaf Autumn,

then sigh and give birth to a black diamond,
held like fry bread or the host,
blessed and divided the way she demands it to be,
in the beaks of her devoted flock, her kindred darlings, the crows.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Violet Ward

Violet Ward's mother wasn't a smoker, but she got a cancer anyway.
Her skin was white and papery, despite her (relative) youth.
Her hair was brittle cellophane,
dishwater blonde, with a gold stripe around it from some kind of cranial jaundice.

At night, she smoked herself empty.
There are degrees of empty,
and sometimes empty just purely hates to be alone.

My dog loved Violet Ward.
He had made a hole in the upstairs screen, as if it were the ozone,
and he would run to stick his great head out, at a word from her.
Sometimes she would bring her friend to see The Dog From The Sky.
They stood like stargazers by the fence, looking up.
He barked a blessing.
It was a pure, fine thing.

Violet Ward had a chow chow named Gemini,
but one day the men with their loops came and chased him around his own yard,
and took him away.
That night, Violet sat outside cradling a broken radio, and the sound that came
from her poor raw throat was unlike any I have heard. 
There is no frequency for that.
It would break the air and stop hearts cold if it weren't contained.
"Shut up!" screamed Violet Ward's mother, in the public interest.

My dog's name was Sunny, and she was his faithful moon.
She called, he came, and he shone,
into her frozen world, as he had into mine.
Years later, I told my night-frightened son that Sunny could banish ghosts and devils,
and this was the God's Honest.
I had seen him do it a million times.

Because she was full of cancer, if nothing else,
Violet Ward's mother made an heirloom of emptiness
and screamed at her daughter to come collect it.
"You stupid little fuck!" 
And so emptiness took root and went to work from within.

Violet Ward had a dark doll she called Nigger Baby.
I sometimes saw her come out the side door,
wiping tears with the back of one hand, 
and shaking the shit out of Nigger Baby with the other.
Sometimes she bashed Nigger Baby's stuffed brains in against the side of the house.
"Bad Nigger Baby!" she would hiss quietly, so her mother wouldn't hear--
her mother with the perpetual headache and the cancer heart.
Every time Nigger Baby hit the siding, I flinched.
I would hold Sunny and breathe carefully around the broken thing in my chest.

I left Texas, and what became of Violet Ward stays at the edges of my dreams,
out of reach.
Sunny died and went straight to Paradise.
I finally got sober.
I had a child of my own and raised him, and I hope I did more good than harm.
His dolls were called Stretch Armstrong and Donatello.
When I still went to Mass, I prayed for Violet Ward, for years.
I hope she found a glow-dialed radio
to watch over her with Golden Light
and play only the songs that Violet loves--
Maybe Mitch Ryder--
and that she is all right.

Everything in this poem really happened, a long time ago, in Texas.

For Marian's "Dead City Radio" and Kim Nelson's "Violet" challenges at Real Toads. 

It's Mother's Day. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Here's Babs With the NALC Food Drive !

Lambs, I'm so excited! It is time once again for the Letter Carriers' Food Drive! This Saturday, put out cases of 1929 Chateau Rothschild, semi trailers filled with beluga caviar, or whatever other trifles you can spare! It's all for a good get the hungry to stuff something in their whiney pie holes and leave us in peace to play Mah Jong already!

However, some mail carriers seem to have an attitude. Last year, I left 70 cases of premium ice cream out by the mailbox, and my lazy, overpaid, nasty little mail lady left it there! She mumbled something unpleasant about it being "perishable." Perishable? So's your job, honey. Who sends anything by snail mail anymore? I always just roll up notes and stick them in one of the help's collar, then send them off, with bus fare, to wherever I want the note to go.

Anyway, give give give! Oh, I feel saintly now, like Jesus, except with better bust and thighs.

Air Kisses,


(Babs St Argent is the gal with it all, from the late Objets D'art blog! This post appeared there one year ago under the title "Pheasant Under Glass For The Hungry". Fireblossom would have posted a beautiful new original poem instead, but she will be lugging &%$#@ canned goods around all day and must conserve her delicate self for this undeserved punishment worthy task.) 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Music Box

I brought a music box in from the snow and raised it.

It called to me in the deep blue nights, and I wrapped my body around it to give it lullabies.

It gave me being needed, and there we were--

flesh and cylinder--

a blizzard of simple melodies in the middle of the night.


55 words for the G Man. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Best Kept Secret

Best Kept SecretBest Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me after I had read Ann Leary's "The Good House" a little while back, and I am so glad that I got the chance to know about this novel and to read it. "Best Kept Secret" is the story of Cadence (what a cool name!), a woman whose marriage to workaholic Martin has ended in divorce, leaving her to raise her young son Charlie alone. Having given up her job at a major newspaper in order to stay home and freelance, Cadence worries whether she can generate enough income to support herself and Charlie. In a lot of ways, Cadence measures herself against her thinner, more popular sister, her driven mother, and the other moms at the play group and sees herself as coming up short.

Lo and behold, a glass of wine seems to take the edge off. What could be the harm? Then she needs two, to get that same feeling of being at home in her own skin, then one bottle, then two. Although she loves her son fiercely, she begins to slip, until the night she leaves him alone in order to run to the store for more wine.

Suddenly, Cadence finds herself in a battle for custody of her son, and for sobriety in the face of a sneaky foe that has snuck up on her and taken over her life.

As a recovering alcoholic myself--27 years sober--I found myself identifying with Cadence at every turn. I liked her; she clearly loves her son fiercely, she shares my love of cooking and good food, and she was just the kind of good-hearted but vulnerable person one can't help but root for.

Being a woman alcoholic comes with its own special troupe of demons, and Cadence meets them all, from the sour, starched ex-mother in law's withering scorn, to the snarky alpha moms at the coffee shop, to the enormous challenge of making peace with having been drunk in front of her son and having put him at risk. One of the surprises Cadence encounters is that her "best kept secret" wasn't very secret at all.

I loved this book. The author has a real knack for creating real characters who are neither all good nor all bad, but simply and heartbreakingly human. I loved Cadence and her son. I recognized all the secondary characters. Only someone who has undergone this journey could have written about it so marvelously. One of the beautiful things about recovery is that you find out you're not alone. This book was like listening to a friend who gets it. That said, this isn't just a novel for people with addiction issues. I think anyone with a heart would enjoy it. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews