Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Air Strip

They are building an air strip in my back yard. 

An older guy who used to do bit parts in the movies showed up while I was reading a pulp novel in my Adirondack chair.

He said he needed a place to land his plane so could he build an air strip on the back part of the double lot?

Sure. Why the hell not?

He pays me six dollars a day in rent, cash money.
My dogs watch the work unfold,
or play with the guy's Boxer.
There is just him, his wife, his adult son, the Boxer (whose name is"Buddy"),  and an old truck.

Work progresses slowly. 
I collect my six bucks at 5 o'clock.

One afternoon about a week in, the guy stops by my chair, mopping his forehead with a handkerchief.
"I'm up in the air in my prop job, and I'm almost out of fuel," he tells me.
"'re here," I point out as gently as I can.
"Yes," he agrees, "I'm here, but I'm also up in the air in my prop job and really need a place to land."

The dogs play.
His wife and son lean on their shovels.
Inside, I have a refrigerator, a table and chairs, a tv.
I think I've seen the guy in something.

Right now, though, he's up in the air in his prop job,
looking down at himself building an air strip in my back yard.
"Good luck," I say, the way one does.
He nods, sweating and looking beat, then goes back to building his air strip.

I watch the dogs chase each other and try to think what can I buy with six bucks?

for day 9 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Lioness On The Bus

There is a lioness on the bus.
She may want a transfer
if her needs lie elsewhere.

Passengers speculate as to how she arrived.
"On four legs," says some sk8ter dude.
He is now Swami of the 7th Avenue Line.

There is a lioness on the bus.
Nobody tries to perv her. 
She could chase down the passing bicyclist
but she can't open the window. 

If you see a lioness on the bus, it might be her.
She is pregnant. Offer her your seat.

Her eyes are golden. 
Her favorite poet is Lorca.
She wishes the signal bell were more musical,

and that it could be night.

poem #8 of my 39 poems in 39 days. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020


On the freeway service drive, just outside of Detroit, we picked up His Holiness, who had his thumb out and a jewel-encrusted satchel over his shoulder.

"You should hide that thing," said Judy.

"Or swap it at Salvation Army for something, um, a little less conspicuous?" said Mel. "You know the Salvation Army has a store, right?"

"Very well," said His Holiness in his accented English. We couldn't tell exactly what he meant.

"You shouldn't be out here anyway," scolded Allie, who was scrunched between Mel and His Holiness in the back seat. His Holiness explained that he had come for us, not the other way around.

"I bless you tires, I bless you headlights, I bless you beautiful American noggins," he said, and did.

Much later, after we had let His Holiness off near Bad Axe, a light rain started to fall.

"I feel cleansed," chirped Judy, and we all laughed, but honestly, we were all glad to be close to Allie's house, her floor and couches, and some scrambled eggs scooped onto Dollar Store plates with birds on them.

for Day 7 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The List

Get on the list.
You can't do that unless you're on the list.
Tell me your hopes, desires, etc.
Then let me check them against the list.

Once upon a time, there was a list.
Through all the ages,
through every epoch and century,
the list endures.

Behold a lamb, stumbling through the verdant fields of April,
aware only of its mother's calm presence,
the sun warming its back,
and the list.

Those not on the list will be stopped,
tuned up,
seized and thrown from moving vehicles into ditches
where they may contemplate the majesty of the list.

In the Great Hall of the List,
a lamb clatters aimlessly across the marble floor.
Where is its mother?
Where are the dewy clover stalks, 
the fragrant dawn-lit pasture,
the benevolent black-and-white dog, the lamb's guard and guide?

The list is silent.
You should be, too, except to sing its praises.

for The Sunday Muse #101 and for day 6 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Cirque du Folle

There are other things we can do
in this time of dead clocks.

We can interview the air, jammed with blackbirds.
We can discard our clock-lungs,
turn our hearts to fragrant bowers. 

We can tightrope, half-awake
over the roofs of our old loves,

and fall into chimneys like bones into limbs,
fantastically existent, howling, dumbfounded.

poem #5 of my 39 in 39 days.

for Friday 55 at Verse Escape, hosted by the incredibly fab Hedgewitch O' The Wilds.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Wind

The wind was such
that it lifted my house 
creating a mouth

which spoke.

"See the woman
inside the fledgling

and its mother's beak
preventing its fall?

See how
earth and sky court you
as the sun brings chrysanthemums 

to egret and bamboo shoot?"

The wind was such
that it lifted my house
into fits of Eastern pretension

but soon,

the West wind's anger
was spun by the East
into silks of silence.

(Sum Dum Luk 1684-1729)

poem #4 for my 39 in 39 days. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Next Voice You Hear

please stick to relevant things--
the throes of nature,
the hilarious pratfalls of modern love, or
figures of worship in their august magnificence.

Stop this foolishness about hair styles,
and what your husband does in his garage--
the world is filled with such horrors already.

Commune with your higher self,
fast, clear your mind and physical body,
then return to us and to your postings.

Tell us about your ex-convict grandfather
and the spotlight he keeps in the attic.
Give us stuff that works at the box office,
such as your journey from Jenny Craig to heroin and cult religion.

Reveal to us your unabashed embrace
of outre philosophies garnered from the complex and authentic human being you met at the bus stop.

In summary, cut the crap and give us
your True Self
in all of her shadows and lights.
Give us the hagiographic treatment, 
the old college try,
Pose for a picture holding a French visa open to show your patronymic name.

Otherwise, we unsubscribe
and banish you to a wilderness where only dumb animals and cosplay Vikings can survive in the late-winter rot of your usual content.



from a word list for post #3 of my 39 in 39 days.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Book Review : "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous"

On Earth We're Briefly GorgeousOn Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Sorry, I'm not on the bandwagon with this one. Before I get into the many reasons why not, let me quote Hemingway, an author Ocean Vuong should add to his list:

"If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written."

Although the first third of the book had some decent stuff in it, on the whole, I hated this book because he borrows his sorrow. The most truly affecting scenes in the book aren't his-- they're his mother's and grandmother's. He is poetic to a fault. If he were on his way to the drug store and you asked this guy where he's going he'd say, "My feet are boats on a river in Viet Nam. The ground beneath the cement is water weeds seeking to keep me where I am, while the boats that are my feet, with their pointed prows, float me to the place of American peace, the drug store where Trev gets his Oxy and I buy, with my green (like water weeds) American dollars, a candy that reminds me of childhood miseries and so I whisper to it about the monarchs." All the bleak suffering this American college kid takes us through rings second-hand, to my ear. He's like, "Look how well I can write, my professors love me, let me drum up some pathos and toss in a fair bit of animal cruelty to make my scenes raw and real, when in fact, I'm messing with your emotions."

If he had written a novel about his mother and grandmother and Viet Nam and being an immigrant here, he'd have done better. But no, it's about him and his largely unearned suffering. If you want to read about genuine first hand suffering, read Lucy Grealy's "Autobiography of a Face". If you want to read about racism, read Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man." If you want to read about Asian experience, and being gay in a repressive society, read Anchee Min's "Red Azalea." And there's another thing. Vuong's love angle with Trevor isn't love, and he goes out of his way to show that it isn't. The physical sex is mechanical to my ear. Also, it just is all of a sudden happening. One minute they're hanging around the tobacco barn and the next they're going at it, and Vuong describes it all in extremely unpleasant and joyless detail. Then, as if war, animal cruelty, prostitution, racism, domestic abuse and gay issues aren't enough, then he starts in with the many drug overdoses in Hartford. Yet, somehow, despite coming up hard (hey, he listened to rap with Trevor!) he has managed to become the darling of the literary world with his overblown, overwritten, self-conscious bullshit poetic writing. Come back when you've earned all this sorrow, Vuong, and read some Hemingway in the meantime. Real, earned suffering is usually understated, and all the more powerful for that. Run along, kid.

Final note of warning: about forty pages in, there is a horrific scene of animal cruelty that I just never needed to have in my head. It's reason enough to skip this book right there. Vuong, throughout, doesn't report things unflinchingly for a higher purpose--it's just miseryporn described at excruciating length in sometimes almost laughable "poetry."

View all my reviews

My Milieu

I found myself in a milieu.
Was this some kind of French gag?

All my stuff in a dumbshow around me.
Paraphernalia patting at invisible walls--
quelle stupide!

A standard poodle carrying a canoe on its back
became part of my milieu.
I fed it aphorisms as we set off downstream.

Eventually, after long exhausting effort,
the poodle and I arrived back at my milieu.
The poodle up and spake:

"Life is circular. The end is the beginning."
I brained it with a paddle to make it shut up,
then composed a letter of complaint.

So. Here is my milieu, with me in it,
holding my letter, 
openly weeping, 
hoping to impress you.
Have I failed? 
Or, is your heart a stone, part of its own milieu
where love languishes, calling out, dying,

Like an actress on stage 
with the plum role in Camille?
Elle est morte, and yet she lives on, superfluous.

for Day 2 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Monday, March 23, 2020


"Get in the middle," someone said,
but I could not find it. 
The group grew impatient, irritated, 
began chucking stuff at an effigy of the facilitator.

"This is your fault," said an old woman,
waving knitting needles meaningfully at us.
We fell upon her, reading favorite passages
from the handbook to her in Portuguese.

There was a trust exercise.
We pitched each other out the upper windows
until only a few weaklings were left.
"It is finished," we said, and assumed our roles.

Back at work on Monday, we sprouted feathers
from our backs and began assembling in groups.
"The song of my people," you said,
and began barking like an asthmatic. 

Next weekend, paintball 
to mortify the flesh,
exalt the soul, 
and occupy us as smoke rises over the city.

I am starting my April poem-a-day now, because the voices told me to. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Swans At The Door, Complaining

Swans arrive at the door, complaining
that I stole the horizon.
The lake (they claim) has drained, 
and the plumbing bill is enormous.

"Do you think we can live in a desert?" 
they demand. "Where will the sun rise?
Have you, thief, considered that?"

Never before have I been shamed by swans.
Never have they appeared at my door en masse
with their troubling litigations.

I produce the horizon and brandish it
like nunchucks. Feathers fly. I am torn by beaks.
The sun loiters down on the corner, watching.

The swans persuade me to have the plumbers re-install the horizon. 
The sun ascends.
The swans disperse.
The lake is calm.
My door is sulky but will get over it.

Now for my next heist....

for post #100 at Sunday Muse.

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Thing I Couldn't Tell You

I wear black gloves, and in my palm
a white candle burns. The priest wears
a black shirt, and offers the wafer
from a silver ciborium lined with gold.

The magpie is a white bird ashed with black.
In its nest, the thieved medals of saints,
and a tryptich taken from my superstitious lips:
Good morning, Captain. Good morning Sir.

I have thick black hair, and on my breath
is the white lie I tell with the tongue
of a sanctus bell. In my palm,
the icon to whom I neither listen nor pay.

So you see, I am damned by the lie
and by the bird who stole my honest word.
My love is white but ashed with black,
stubborn as a mule with thorny roses on her back.

for Sunday Muse #99.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book Review : "The Opposite Of Everyone"

The Opposite of EveryoneThe Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was the sixth novel I have read from Joshilyn Jackson, and they have ranged from super terrific ("Never Have I Ever", "Backseat Saints") to very good ("The Girl Who Stopped Swimming", "A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty", to okay ("Someone Else's Love Story") to...this one. Oh, it's well written, her novels always are. And some of the characters are so alive and engaging that I won't forget them soon, like Kai with her Eastern/hippe dippie stories and Birdwine the (sometimes) drunken private eye with, yes, a heart of gold, or at least something quite valuable. But there are problems, or at least there were for me.

First off, I just plain didn't like the narrator, Paula Vauss (or Kali Jai, by birth.) Yes, I admired her willingness to fight to survive, and when the story centers on young Paula, on the road with her gypsy mother, and then later, in the system, when Kai goes to jail, I liked it and things moved along and I cared what happened. But half or more of the novel is about grown-up Paula, who is a shark lawyer dealing in big-bucks divorce cases. She's into casual hook-ups and always has her emotional walls up.

Yes, she comes by this honestly, but I just didn't like her; she's the kind of woman I wouldn't voluntarily spend five minutes around, given the choice. She has a snarky put-down and an easy box to put everyone else in, but most of them are more together than she's ever been. When the story is in her hands, it slows and I had to plod and slog to keep going. There are two reasons why I did. One, I am just stubborn that way, and as long as the writing isn't awful I will press on. Two, the reviews said that many people struggled through the first half only to be wowed by the end, in tears, la de blah. Well, the end--I mean the VERY end--*is* pretty darn fine. But getting there was not worth the time it took to get there. It took me three and a half weeks to inch my way through the first half of this book, and two days to read the second half. Having reached this shore, I have to say I could have been reading something better. Not recommended.

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 1, 2020


Listen, she is merciless as a Saracen.
My poor heart jumps for its den at the sight of her,
leaving me a little breathless,
wobbly, tongue-tied, what a mess.

'Scuse me Miss, what lovely teeth you have,
pretty maids all in a row,
the better to slay me with.
Her voice is cream to the cat, I'll fall off the fence.
dazzled and stupid, upside down on the ground.

She wears tortoiseshell glasses,
she's a rocket scientist distant as Mars
because I am shy, uncertain, starstruck, clumsy,
knocked over by the fragrance she wears,
gone from austere bookworm 
to clueless spaz
with no escape except into the stacks to recover.

Like a ninny I return to the shrine,
her reference desk lair
where I hope to inherit a word or a smile
to check out and take home and keep
like an overdue volume.
That's when I'll go back
and say to my librarian crush,
"Hi, I'm your fool, can you help me?" 
And hope, like an idiot, that she can.

for Skylover's word list.