Friday, February 28, 2014

Letter To My Love

My love, beware of snakes--
skin they understand, but they have no arms,
and so, in jealous anger, will do what it takes
to see you come to bitten harm.

Use every skill, every charm
to remind them of their low degree,
and then, carrying their empty skins, ride on untouchably.

Peacock feathers in your hair
denote the flight of thought and dream,
with beauty a posing passenger there,
mere shade to what you are, and seem.

The leopardess, that lonesome queen
bestows her outer cloak enchanted
to help you leave the snakes laid low, their venom weak, destroyed, recanted.

A rhyme royal for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads, featuring the art of W.T. Benda.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cold Martha

Cold Martha was known
in specific
for the school she established
in the arctic.

"Inclement weather," she told her girls,
"is no reason to look less than one's best."
And indeed, Martha's students
were always exceptionally well dressed.

There is a story
of Martha's encounter with a polar bear
on the icy white lawn--
and how she instantly,
commanded the beast to sit down.

Cold Martha wore furs
with tassels and trim;
no one knows who her husband was,
or what became of him,

but I can tell you that Cold Martha
could be warm, generous, and fine.
Anyone who claims that she was saturnine
is assinine.

Cold Martha?
Exacting, demanding, indeed--
but she had other sides, from those besides--
and saved them sweet for me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

local girls

Don't be an idiot.
The whole of the ocean
is a fool's desire.
It teems with men and ships
hauling who knows what
to who knows where,
and, really,
who the hell cares?

Dreams are better drawn
from the little
bit of wet
at the tips of her fingers.

Once, a lady of advanced years
told me, dear,
every fox goes gray;
every beautiful face 
must give its grace
away or lose it for nothing.

Look out at the water, honey.
Let's leave it,
it will still be there
should we care to come back.
For now, I only desire
the little
bit of wet
at the tip of your tongue--

a tide that rides from me 
to you
to me again
sweeter than anything 
any selkie
could pursue.

for Susie's "Bits Of Inspiration" at Real Toads. I pursued a water theme.

photo: from a 1957 issue of Playboy, or so the source says. 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No Face Pete

No-Face Pete skids off the road in a snow storm and ruins his cruiser. He doesn't consider that having his eyes in the palms of his hands had anything to do with it, though it necessitates handless driving; he steers the wheel with his forehead, hands raised as if in surrender, or a friendly wave if he is resting one eye. 

No-Face Pete arrests the offending cloud, but instead of taking it to jail, he deposits it in the bank. When the bank manager shakes Pete's hand, it makes Pete seem to wink.

In the place where a face would normally be, Pete has a Coca-Cola advertisement, eternally urging people to "stay fresh with Coke." This can be ticklish for a law officer. Pete's mouth is on his chest. He must unbutton his shirt to speak into his radio, or to smile at Hattie, the waitress he secretly adores. It gives her nightmares. This is unfortunate. 

On the Tuesday following the storm, a busboy and a nail tech rob the bank, making off with the cloud. No-Face Pete jumps into his new cruiser and follows the snow, hoping to catch them before the trail goes cold, but of course, it is cold to begin with. The cloud will later claim to have been suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but for whatever reason and by whatever motivation, the cloud joins forces with the young bank robber lovers. Putting on gloves against the frigid weather, No-Face Pete blunders around blindly, discovering nothing. 

What can we learn from this story? Is it ever really possible to "stay fresh with Coke"? Why did Pete deposit the cloud in the bank, rather than escorting it to jail? What would you say if I told you that the nail tech is Hattie's sister? Can a cloud be held morally or criminally responsible for the weather? How does the story make you feel? How does it compare to other stories you have read? Did you care about/ identify with the characters?

Closing haiku:

car crashes in snow

but each flake is light as air

oh baby that's jazz

I wanted to write something using surrealism. This is it, I guess.  

The Farm For Critics

At the farm for critics,

the soil is rich,

and the poet sleeps well.


for Mag 208

"Poet's Sleep" image by Chang Houg Ahn.

Please click on "older post" for the poem I wrote late last night. It wasn't up top for very long. Bless you.

Monday, February 24, 2014


On an afternoon that chose us
like picked blooms from the roadside,
you wore jeans and a purple shirt.

You did this to make me mad as the moon to get them off you,
so that your skin could preach gospel to me
smooth as a Gypsy barker.

Afternoon light came through the sectioned windows,
as you put pasque flowers on the turntable
and I poured last year's red maple leaves from a wine bottle.

The shirt, the jeans, they fell,
swooning angels drunk on honey and sunset.
We were a bowl of sweetness gone caramel, warm as bees.

Outside under the arriving stars,
an owl stood sentinel on a cherry branch;
your laugh made her swivel her head to capture the sound.

That day, into that night,
we made love bold as summer sunflowers,
then wore each other's jewelry under the stars, near the corn rows.

You went home in the morning,
with puffy lips, hickeys and your half-lidded smile,
pungent as new earth, smug as a cat.

How was your visit with your friend? they asked you.
How nice you know a girl like that, a pal like that, they said, 
blind as bats, not even listening for the answer.

the lock

There is a small lock inside me,
kept close between my ever-folded
falcon wings,

and it keeps beating,
keeps keeping me here,
bless it.
Bless its tireless devotion to this life I've made

from scraps and blood, sugar and hope.
I don't think I'll see the summer again,
but I remember her as she was when I was young--
long, careless, cicada-buzzed and deep.

What have I done, with all the cloud-changed hours?
Have I loved you?
I have.
Have I told you?
Yes, constantly and every chance I got.

I want to finish this book, and then one more.
I want to enjoy a few more meals.
I want to see these mighty snows made meek and melted.
I will miss my dog, but he will rejoin me in time.

The falcon inside me is worrying the ties
that keep the lock in place.
I can feel her working, and the sky, waiting.
It will be all right.

If I am a little bit melancholy, it is because I am surprised,
astonished, really,
to feel the catch loosening
and I wonder what it will be like, when the door swings out,

and I leave this place for home.



Sunday, February 23, 2014


In the path of a hurricane
is no place for such as I.
My two cat companions, who walk with me at either side,
dislike getting wet, unless it is with blood.

My lionesses might put off another lover,
but when you feel wild-coarse fragrant fur at the bedside, moving,
you dangle your hand and smile, half-asleep, unperturbed.
I love your heart, which hides in the high grass of your body.

The hurricane has all the Weather Channel reporters in nerdgasm,
spinning counter-clockwise and yapping
as if they themselves were noteworthy storms
auditioning for the indifferent sky.

You know me, I don't give a shit for the usual women--
but you have worn your oldest, softest, queerest red flannel shirt,
and black boots the devil might covet, but can't rock the same.
You are flame and smoke, but it is me who is consumed.

It has been a bad season for me, sweetheart.
My helmet with its feathers and nose guard has a crack in it;
I will use it for a planter to grow geraniums come springtime.
See? I kid myself that I will be here, then, in your arms still.

My cats have gone, they have an instinct about disaster.
Why do I feel awkward, naked in front of you this way?
You have seen my skin, touched it and possessed it, many times;
but this is a deeper baring. 

The hurricane is coming, the water is a strange gray-blue;
its restless brooding is noisy and ominous.
I will wear my silver wrist cuffs and all my rings,
burning sage and balsam to keep my hennaed feet close to earth.

I hate this, this goneward flow of all my art and cunning;
the hurricane is coming and I can't do a thing to stop it--
when I was strong enough to crack the necks of jackals, I loved you.
Now, I wince as I lower myself into the bath, but I love you still the same.

Don't forget me, baby.
Don't forget the girl with the cats, and the way with words.
And you? My Love, you were raised in the teeth of the storm,
and you pace the beach, singing to it inside your head,

fearless, familiar,
with your perfect up-yours smile,
Indian hair twisting behind you in the wind,
ready as any woman can be.

for Margaret's Play It Again, Toads #2. Because I am shameless, I have written for my own Lights, Camera, Love challenge.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Deaf Jensine's Mix Tape

Deaf Jensine,
opera diva from right here in (Townville? San Creola? Duckburg?),
brings to our assignation--of all things--a mix tape
which she whips out of her boho bag while flicking clips out of her hair
as if she were some sort of many-armed devil-goddess.

What does a devil-goddess play, 
you might ask,
on *my* player,
without any clothes on or clips in her hair?

Cha cha mostly. A little reggae.

How, you might further ask, 
can an opera diva be deaf?
She isn't, in any strict sense. 
Her detractors--talentless tailor's dummies eaten up with envy--
call her Deaf Jensine because she ignores 
their advice,
their insults,
their very existence,
and breezes by with her nose in the air and, at most, 
a "fuck you" on her lips.

Tonight, we're going to try this goo that warms you where it counts,
so they said at the product party, anyway.
Jensine wants to try it on me first.
Moving on hands and knees above me on the bed,
she looks like rain looks to the parched,
like a black-haired many-armed devil-goddess looks
to such as me.

"I love you," I say, like a perfect dolt.
"Fuck you," she says matter-of-factly, and starts doing what she does,
which she does very well.
Deaf Jensine says for me to shut up for once in my life,
then communicates digitally and in her own remarkable tongue.
When I come back from (Townville? Nirvana? Mars?),
I'm afraid I may have said all sorts of things,
but it's fine, who cares?
Jensine can't hear me anyway.

a mixed up mess of wanton desire for Corey at Real Toads!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Beautiful One,
committing rabid bloody murder
out on the wind-howled dust flats
of this dismal place, come back.

I have repaired the roof of the Environment,
and gotten some of the circuits to work again.
The hours here are intolerably empty without you,
like space, indifferent and suffocating.

At the Program, when we still had futures
fragile as the ecosystems on rocks that circle dying stars,
you were the only Scottish-Asian woman there,
or maybe anywhere.

I should have known then
that I had no chance of discovering anything distant,
when the only launch I cared about
was of my fingers through the black tracklessness of your hair.

Each heart is a rider contained
within a human ship of beauty and bone.
How fragile, how vulnerable we are
to a touch we have longed to know without knowing it.

How defenseless we are when the right face appears, 
making us feel everything,
or the virus which can disguise itself and enter
without being felt at all.

Doubt, fear, terror, carnage--
these are the commanders we answer to now.
Madness sprung from alien chemistry--
destroying us golden gods of science as if we were cardboard.

Cruelest of all, each infected madman here believes themselves sane;
it is the others who have clearly become maniacs.
Honey, if you have disemboweled Anderson from C Deck,
you had to do it. It was self-defense.

At the Program, our lives and our passion had possibilities,
lined up, sparkling and precious, like gem stones in a row on proud display.
My collection was always only
your warm skin, your wicked smile, and the seeking of them both, eternally.

I hate to think that we have shared our last moment
of strictly illegal carnal sweetness.
What I mean is, if I can never kiss you again,
then freezing under a too-distant sun is no different to me than living on.

Eckhart, from supply, looked so crestfallen when he saw what I had to do,
yesterday when we met in Pod B.  
I didn't know that it would be so gory, so awful,
or that he would just stand there, waiting for the blow, his mind already gone.

The rest of the crew is either dead or reduced to
quasi-human, semi-ruined caricatures, carrying flamethrowers and bibles,
ever-present and ever set on the complete destruction
of all that is still good, and gentle, and ennobling.

Listen to me ramble, I sound mad myself, don't I sweetheart?
I'm not though. We are the last two, the Anna and Eve of the end of the world,
and I cannot bear it here without you.
Come back. I'll leave the airlock unsecured,

to let you in, and on the monitor I will see your face,
like a picture of home, or of our days at the Program,
when madness was a delicious thing, the high we wanted again and again,
and if there were consequences, well My Heart, what a way to go.

For Get Listed with Kenia! I used the entire list, and kept the sci-fi theme of her book from which the list was taken.

Image from the movie Another Earth.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Come up these stairs,
down this hall--
There's nothing to worry about--
hardly anything at all.

Remember the fire escape,
The window's too small--
and if anything should happen,
I'll try to stall.

Now, this is Bessie.
Give her your bag.
She knows what to do,
should we hit a snag.

It's all right, I'm a doctor,
and also a priest--
with city hall connections
by arrangement with police.

Do you have the money? All of it?
A tiresome detail, it's true--
Ah, that's fine, thank you my dear.
Right this way. After you.

Your dress is remarkably lovely,
and naturally must come off--
then, please, lie on this table,
and breathe deeply from this cloth.

I'm here to help. 
I'm here to fix.
It's normal if you're feeling
dizzy and a little bit sick.

Science! It's wonderful.
Medicine! The same!
I'm seeing a slight inflammation
originating in the brain,

flowing through the limbs,
and settling in the womb--
Bessie, would you kindly
set up the other room?

Can you hear me? Miss?
All right, she's out.
Let's get on with it, Bessie--
the same as the others, no doubt.

Hand me that.
Dammit, woman, the other one.
Did you hear the joke about the midget,
the rabbi and the nun?

This is getting a little dicey.
Come on, you little rat.
Hell's bells, I guess she won't be
having another brat.

All right, that's it,
can't put the bark back in the hound--
put my tools back in my bag,
then bring her back around.

Hello, how are you feeling?
We're done, you did just fine.
Others have lost far more blood.
Others have lost their mind.

With Bessie's help, do you think you can stand?
I'll help you with your coat.
Go home and rest, drink some tea--
and, perhaps, a little toast.

Tell no one of this. Forget you were here.
Forget this place, 
this room, my face...
and the shame of it, my dear.

Ah well, she's gone, that went all right.
She'll live to ninety if she lives the night.
Did you know her fiance is a financier?
Clean up, then Bessie, let's get out of here.

 for Mag 207

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Leap / Revival Season


A salmon sees the bear and leaps,
whether to safety or surcease.
Please don't pretend you know its mind--
You can't know fruit from watching rind.

While fish-brained babies softly sleep,
a salmon sees the bear and leaps.
Say "baby mine and baby sweet"
and kiss its tiny foreign feet.

O world of ease and world of woe
reclining in a gob of roe;
a salmon sees the bear and leaps,
the gateman waves, the gateman greets.

Little bubble on the surface,
rise or sink and think you've cured this
fever's damaged dreamy heat--
a salmon sees the bear and leaps.


A singing skull knows just one song
and sings it, flays it, grinding on;
agreeable to itself it is,
screeching musical sentences.

Nerves nestle hot in fireplace tongs--
a singing skull knows just one song;
the ear can bleed a fine red rose
and trickle crimson from the nose.

Come dressed for evening, gown and hat,
and take the arm that's white and fat;
a singing skull knows just one song
and sings it, brings, it, on and on.

Pose and smile, promenade and grin,
and be damned glad you're not like him;
bat space of eyes where eyes are gone--
a singing skull knows just one song.

2 quaterns for the Real Toads Sunday form challenge. I'm really pleased with the first one, and I include the second one because, hey, today is BOGO day at Shay's.


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Song of Phoebe Bates & C.C. Avalon

Let us go then you and I,
naked as jaybirds,
balancing barefoot, high-wire
on the rim of the railing out on the 
seventh-floor patio.

If we are not the usual blue movie queens anymore,
let's own it and strut anyway.
Those jaded trolls operating the trolleys and booms
wouldn't know real beauty
if it bit them in the ass and sang La Marseillaise.

In the rooms we will come and go,
talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
for the long-awaited re-release of all our star turns
on blu-ray and dvd,
making us goddesses again and forever,
eternal and incorruptible,
like some sort of erotic saints.

Listen though, baby...
come close, my peanut, my prairie rose.
At heart I am as wholesome as a Michigan apple,
polished up and shining.
My skin turns red any time you look my way.

Today I scribbled down a poem for you,
and hid it in the folds of your bed.
I know you hate store-bought sentiment, but nonetheless
I dare to wish you a happy St. Valentine's Day.
I dare to eat a peach, if only in my dreams;
Guess whose?

Apologies to T.S. Eliot.

My first dog's name was Phoebe. I grew up on Bates street. That makes "Phoebe Bates" my porn star name.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Old Fashioned Notions

I am given to old-fashioned notions--
you might find my calling card
and have to fuck with it while juggling groceries and your keys,
your life a tough clog, the door a riddling Sphinx.

You might think me too quaint to take seriously, 
wrapped in my shawl, a book under my arm.
You're in, setting shit down, taking a breath, but there's the bell--
who, now? Just me, peddling anarchy,

slipping the dynamite stick into your mail slot;
whispering baby talk to the bomb I made and set on a doily
at your doorstep, a shy and retro demonstration
of my love for you, and my devotion to things fashioned by firelight

and brought back, bursting, from a sweeter past.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Three Wishes

This day,
as I lay musing with my cheek upon the chopping block,
I may as well wish for anything.
What's to stop my REM-eyes from following
what they will while they can?
Who's to tell the old bird
that she cannot sing while circling
earthbound on one good and one broken wing?

I have three wishes, and the first wish
is for the Amish, the Amazon,
the changeling who bears the mark of my tribe.
Like me, she wrapped herself in plain disguise
before trying talons and flight feathers rare and serious.
What wish might I find fulfilled
while looking into 
her eyes
my eyes
eagle to eagle
eye to eye?

My second wish is a southerly desire,
a migration my lighter self yearns to undertake.
Could I just let go and fall, find myself in gulf-warm waters,
where what is spoken is often sweet but never simple
like the bible hidden under the bed,
filling with better psalms by proxy,
strung out and sung on the heard sighs of women instead of
ladies, promenading and proper,
privately contemplating sultry summer on the church steps 
while holding folded gloves empty and colorless as a northern winter?

My third wish is as southern as the second,
though a hickory wind has swept out the ashes of the morning
to be built back into fire all the way to the match tip strike.
Silver is a fine color for the sky in such dreams,
and whenever I spare a girlish glance at the expected blade,
and shift my unkissed cheek as the executioner sets aside my hair,
I think that surely now is the time
for dreams that can never be,
desires that laze just out of reach,
because, after all,
if my wishes are worth the quicksilver they are drawn upon,
a girl could find herself together again
with the wished-for squeeze, and why not?
If I'm to be mistress of my own madness,
let it be all that I imagined. 
Let it be soon. Let it be sweet.

for Real Toads mini-challenge featuring artist Lisa Graham. The image at top, "Wishing Sisters" is hers, used with permission.

Process notes, only for the truly curious. If my poem pleased you with no explanations, then skip this!

After a month of living my life unencumbered by having to go to work, tomorrow the salt mine beckons. Hence, the images of pending execution. But while a girl sits daintily on a hard bench in Hell's waiting room, she can dream, can't she? And so my three idle wishes involve my three celebrity crushes, in ascending order.

First, Kelly McGillis (on the left above, with Jodi Foster), who is as tall as I am, and who is also a lesbian, making her doubly "one of my tribe".  She starred as an Amish woman in "Witness", and so there's the Amish and the Amazon of it. The "plain disguise" is because she says she didn't think she was attractive as a girl, and in fact was teased for being "fat". I didn't think I was attractive, either. But we grew, into nothing so predictable as swans, but rather, birds to be dealt with!

Second, Sela Ward, who is from Alabama. She's got that whole southern charm thing going on, and is just ridiculously sexy, seemingly without half trying, which I think is an art. I went into deep mourning when I ran out of Once & Again dvd's to watch, and have been reduced to watching her on CSI:NY instead. Nonetheless, her Once & Again character Lily Manning is my favorite, though I never know if I want more to be with her or just be her. Yes, I know, she's fictional, but we're talking wishes here.

Third, and most ardently daydreamed over, is singer Emmylou Harris who was born in Alabama and grew up in North Carolina and Virginia. I referenced some of her songs, "Hickory Wind" (also associated with Gram Parsons), "We'll Sweep Out The Ashes" and "Together Again." Silver is a fine color for the sky and also for Emmylou's gorgeous hair. She said she started going gray in her 20s. 

My life of freedom and happiness may soon be over, but perhaps one of my honeys will swoop in at the last minute and support me in the style that I wish to become accustomed to. What, I'm the only one here with rescue fantasies??? Send me my Dyke In Shining Armor, even though two of them are straight. Damn. But hey, my wishes, my rules! :-) 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review: "Three-Note Howl: The Wild Hunt"

Three-Note Howl: The Wild HuntThree-Note Howl: The Wild Hunt by Shay Caroline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am honored to appear--once again--with two such extremely talented women as my two co-authors. Their words amaze me every time. I naturally won't presume to review my own section of this book, but I would like to say something about my co-authors and their work!

Kelli Simpson is a born story teller. Whether she is talking about her own life, as in "In Case Of Feedback...", which is about her time as the singer in a rock band, or "The Radio", drawn from her challenging girlhood, or delving into invention as in "Meidung: The Shunning" about a girl who must choose between self-affirmation or belonging, Kelli has an absolute knack for putting the reader right there, in both detail and emotion, and making the reader care.

She doesn't mince words, either, to say the least! Nobody can draw a bead on a subject and put one right between its succinct little eyes like Kelli Simpson can. Most of the poems in her section are quite short, but lack nothing in either point or punch. I would be remiss if I didn't mention her very sharply observed and wryly written humor as well. There is genuine wit and intelligence throughout her section of the book, as well as a depth of experience, pain, joy and perception. She can be damned sexy, too.

Joy Ann Jones is our anchor, imbuing the final third of this book with the kind of writing I've only seen in books with famous names on the front of them. I can't tell you how often, while reading poems like "Caribou", "The Greenhouse", or "Century", that I found myself simply shaking my head in admiration, wondering how anyone can find phrasing like hers.

She writes about the old Norse gods, an incubus, and various arcane deities and devils, but does so in such a way that they all take a back seat to the very particular human emotions and experiences she describes, and always in the most astonishing language. Joy also writes about nature with a deft and expert hand, making something as simple as a flower or a bird seem to be filled with sorrow, or menace, or redemption. She uses myth freely while creating myth of her own, drawn from her life and imagination. Many of her poems are form poems, and the structure only makes them more stunning.

I'm honored to appear, again, in the same volume with these two immensely talented women. Every time I read their work, I feel rewarded, and challenged to write better myself. When it comes to poetry, they are as good as it gets.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 7, 2014


See the mamba in the little garden--
all the neat rows I've planted show a green face to Heaven
and a splintered white one to the airless dark.

Droplet heartbeats couched in fur and heat
fancy themselves tiny suns, and cross my garden to the mamba.
She receives them and they set, as silent as servants.

Each night, the mamba goes home, and each night
I am so alone that my skin suffocates patch by pore
for lack of contact.

As my faculties wane and the sun boasts itself higher,
I have actually spoken to the mamba and discovered her history.
Between killings. Between intoxications.

She storied me her three sisters, each one green and fine--
the tall one, the dark one, and the one whose lover died by dreams.
I remember them now, and the skins they left behind.

How I suffer at night, when the mamba is away--
how absurd the rows seem, without the quick and the dead.
Every twenty minutes I am born again, more infected than before.

Last night, I gave the mamba a name--Apophis.
She is a black mamba, and it is not for her gray body she is so named--
it is for her mouth, so fatal and so perfect.

Tonight I will invite her into my bed, try to turn her
from her homeward ways. One strike will leave me at her mercy,
forever reduced to minutes, but I'll have asked the mamba to love me and she will,

filling me with dendrotoxin that's almost love-like,
or at least,
the version of it that I learned from childhood days in Eden.

It's Complicated.

CaveMAN: "Find mastodon, kill mastodon, 
eat mastodon, fuck wife, sleep.

CaveWOMAN: "Find masto--
hey, what are those flowers called?
They'd look nice on--
is Zug allergic?
Find masto--
Fug doesn't like mastodon. Mammoth, then?
Find mammoth, kill--
Mammoth goes straight to my hips.
Did I pick up the furs?
Dammit, cramps!
find mastodon...

a 55 for everybody's favorite primitive, the G Man!