Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Mike Pence, Gemini, Visits The Mayo Clinic

We made our own zodiac from prayer books and beating-sticks, 
kept folded in narrow creases,
vermin parables for rot-paper effigies
writ down as paragons in the cheap potboiler of continuous torrent and industry.

Down at the harbor,
salt angels wave goodbye to ships laden
with cream-skinned babies in barrels,
alive in a circumscribed commerce
of palm
and funeral
and coral-colored sunrise.

We peddle our peculiar zodiac at stations
where all trains have evaporated,
the green and violet of bruises rain themselves clean,
and ballads are sung with lark tongues lodged
in mother throats that cannot exist, 
but which sing and sing and sing.

Come, find our graves in the rockery,
lend us new deaths by instant contract.
Arrange us on new stars aloft by decree,
and kill the old deities by stoning via television.
The night horizon will slide us
to the harbor,
to the arms of sirens
who will sing us, exploding, 
through dust-hearts and lie-lips 
to the stuttering surprise
of creatures too perverted and vile 
to carry the note that we plot, on charts, 
like a poem slipped beneath the door of permanent astonishment.

for Kerry's word list and Izy's prompt for the last day of April.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Book Review : "Owls Do Cry"

Owls Do Cry: A NovelOwls Do Cry: A Novel by Janet Frame
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first noticed this book simply because the title intrigued me. Since then I have read that the author spent part of her life in an institution, and was saved from brain surgery only by winning a prize for literature. And so this book is certainly autobiographical, to at least some significant degree.

It concerns the Withers family, well-named, consisting of the blustering father, faded and careworn mother, an older sister Francie who dies young in an accident, a bother Toby who is an epileptic, Daphne who goes into an institution after her sister's death affects her behavior, and young Chicks, who grows up to be a shallow status-conscious social climber. The book concerns itself very much with class differences and attitudes, and Frame has a remarkable ear for the way people discuss each other and talk about one another.

All of this makes the novel sound dreadfully sad, and it *is*, but the writing shines. it alternates between straight narration and a sort of dreamy stream-of-consciousness on the parts of Daphne, and to a lesser degree, Toby. The latter is actually more incisive and spot-on than the former, and reads like poetry.

One of the most remarkable passages in the book is Chicks's diary, in which she shows herself to subscribe to every paper-thin affectation that shallow people like her hold as important, indeed crucial. The fact that she is the most outwardly stable and successful member of the Withers family is a rich irony. Daphne, with her disordered mind, actually sees things as they are much more clearly than any of the others.

This is an unusual novel, some sixty years old, and as sad as life itself can be, and yet I highly recommend it because you won't read anything truer or more unique anywhere.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Why I Stopped Reading Robert Frost

As I reach the bottom
of the bag
of some shit I used to like,
I realize
I'm bored,
and don't want it anymore.

It's like
when I was mad for what's-her-name
mad to be what's-her-name
and the tide 
was mad to go
first to
then fro.
What a waste of time.

So here
are my
seventy-five million poems
that lifted,
expressed the flesh around these bones.
But today
I may
get up and walk right through the wall
and the me I leave behind
is just a stupid staring doll.

At the bottom
of this bag
is some shit I used to like.
Can you dig
can you see
the fish there riding on its bike?
in a lather
in a circle
with miles to go before it sleeps?

for Sunday Muse # 105.

art by Samy Charnine.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Review : "Animals Talking In All Caps"

Animals Talking in All Caps: It's Just What It Sounds LikeAnimals Talking in All Caps: It's Just What It Sounds Like by Justin Valmassoi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having just slogged through a pair of dusty old classics, I needed something light to read, and voila! This.

What began as something posted on social media became this book, with rather lovely photos of animals, birds, and other wildlife, accompanied by the author's hilarious, deadpan and spot-on inserted dialogue attributed to said creatures.

This is not "I Can Haz Cheeseburger." The grammar is correct and punctuated. The animals opine about very specific coffee orders, relationships, veganism, bands they like, work, cosmic truths, and being very very high. What makes this book particularly funny is the author's ear for how people actually talk, even down to the stuff that most of us think but rarely express. There is celebrity lust. Petty complaints. Stuffy snobbery. Revenge on exes. Musings about the Universe.

An orange tiger asks a white one to explain the appeal of Coldplay. A tree frog wonders what Joseph Gordon-Levitt smells like. A horse gets excited about knick-knacks in a shop window. An over-enthusiastic insect tries to sell you a property. A goat touts the quality his meth. A turtle couple squabble over what "taking a break" from each other means. And so on, including pedantic animals who are sensitive to bad grammar.

You will recognize yourself and those you know or have met, on these pages. You will laugh yourself silly, and just sometimes, you will see yourself and it will hit a little close to home but you'll still laugh. A lot. Above all, this is a pin of a book aimed straight at the balloon of our human preoccupations, pretensions, and puffery. It is spit-your-drink funny, Linda. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review : "Metamorphosis & The Trial"

The Metamorphosis and The TrialThe Metamorphosis and The Trial by Franz Kafka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would like to give the first story, "Metamorphosis" four stars and "The Trial" three. As there is no way to split my rating, three it is for the whole shmeer.

"Metamorphosis", the story of a man named Gregor Samsa who awakens one morning to discover that he has changed into a verminous insect, was surprisingly--for me, at least--funny. Samsa continues to fixate on dreary daily minutia instead of directly reacting to the horror of his situation. He concentrates on how to get out of bed, how to deal with his employers who want to know why he isn't at his job, and what his family's situation is as far as finances and what changes they may make to his room. He never just goes GAH, I'm A FREAKING INSECT! And so, the absurdity is pretty amusing, even if his situation is disgusting. I was also (darkly) amused by the ending, which I won't give away, but which says a lot about how the author feels that people deal with crises.

As for "The Trial", I found it much harder to read. It is just as bleak and dark, but without the humor. A man named Josef K. is placed under arrest for an unspecified crime. He spends the rest of the novella trying to navigate his murky legal troubles and the ill-lit, obscure, suffocating places he must go in order to try to save himself. Throughout, every human interaction K. has is weighted one way or the other; he either has no power, or exercises his own power over others, usually women. That latter fact made it hard for me to feel too badly for K. in his plight, as he could be more disagreeable than even his bureaucratic tormentors. I *was* amused by the god-like lawyer Dr. Huld who , laying in bed, turns his back on a supplicant named Block as Block kneels and entreats him to help him and not dismiss him. And indeed, it is a churchman who tells K. a story containing a riddle near the end of the book. I will just say that there are certainly themes at work here which are beyond my ken. I won't pretend, here, that I understood it all. In fact, I was assigned to read "The Trial" in high school but was unable to read it then. As with many other books I could not read at the time, I have come back to it, lo these many years later, and read it because I wanted to.

A note on the layout: whether it is because of the age of the book, or some other reason, there are few paragraph breaks. Full conversations are unbroken and sometimes hard to follow because of that. The entire book is just unbroken block of text after unbroken block of text, which was wearying to this reader. Nonetheless, I am glad to have now read these two stories, though I can only honestly recommend the first one.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Dharma Baby

With milk stirred into my tomato soup, I was wild as a landscaped yard,
worldly as a tabby kitten.
Still, venomous lies thorned my pulse with the odd fist thrown in for punctuation.

Staying corner-quiet as the vacuum slammed the baseboards a room away,
I searched for a kind of touch on the bottom book shelves.
As soon as I could, I went feral, a lonesome library hider ghosting the book store, on my way to a gifting high of pages and substances,
a bad apple for a sick teacher.

Kerouac and other people's cars, coolers of beer,
paperbacks on the back seat, center lines snaking by,
these were my caduceus and my catechism.
I ate Vonnegut,
drank Brautigan,
shot up Burroughs,
fucked Ferlinghetti but not my road companions.

My boozy keepers kept me from a thousand mistakes.
Off all summer from their classrooms, 
they had no wives to explain shit to, 
just me in the hungover mornings, useless and funny as a three-legged cat.

I almost died.
Wrote some tripe in blood and got it published.
Joined a book club and the human race,
married wrong, raised a child,
kept my books like holy relics, poetry bones on which I learned to stand and stumble and survive.

I built a new heart out of sentences,
slept with other women,
changed my name, went too far but did it sober.
"Why do you keep these old books?"
Because they are life rafts,
holy texts,
soul food,
lovers who never leave.
They are me and I am them, a bad crowd lit with halos.

You can go if you want,
I am beyond injury anymore.
The nurses here make bedding from chapbooks,
whisper soft as pages turning,
are immortal,
and know my name.


for the Sunday Muse #104 where I am hosting.

Friday, April 17, 2020

This Morning At Danny's Coffee Shop

A well-dressed bird talks on a cell phone. We only hear one side of the convo.

"Take the long view," advises the bird.

"Okay...just give me the nut of the problem." 

"They'll need seed money..."

"Piggy bank, nest egg...whatever..."

"Take a flyer? No...they'll take a bath."

"Yep, same old song. Bye, Robin."

A Friday 55 for my BFF at Verse Escape blog.

Today's birbs:

Thursday, April 16, 2020


The first thing they noticed was an earthquake; then the shape that the earthquake revealed.

A once-living thing,
like a bank president or jilted lover,
it had turned to stone and worn the same expression for lo these many millenia.

An expert from the university was dispatched,
along with a few dozen anonymous local sherpas who would be doing all the work.

The expert knelt, pupils dilating, and forgot to breathe.
"Is he going to propose to it?" wondered the sherpas.

Once, the thing's gut was filled with enough sweet summer grasses
to fill all the holes left by the earthquake, and then some.
Its tremendous scat was as big as the expert.
It knew a tropical sun and carried bizarre shrieking birds on its back.

Sometimes, when you are just trying to run a business,
or staying in bed willing yourself to die,
some know-it-all bastard comes along and tells you that you have to evolve, 

or pull yourself together for the children.
This is when aftershocks come in handy,
and rubble suits become these officious fucks,

who, in a thousand or a million more years will find your visage unchanged
and earthquakes as impotent as priests or Pollyannas. 

for Day 16

NOT the "official video" btw. But still.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Book Review : "Beartown"

Beartown (Beartown, #1)Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hockey story and a growing up story and the story of a little hard-luck town stuck deep in the forest. It's a David & Goliath story and story about families and a crime story and a story about backroom politics. And it's just one of the finest, most couldn't-put-it-down novels that I have ever read.

I bought it on a lark, off the "recommendations" at a site where I get most of my books. I'm sure glad I did. The book is about Beartown, the aforementioned hard-luck town deep in a Swedish forest, and its junior hockey team which has advanced, against all odds, to the national semi-final, led by their star player Kevin. Kevin is the skill, the "natural" who is protected on the ice and off by the lion-hearted delinquent Benji, who is his best friend since forever. On the eve of the big game, a mighty mite with blazing speed named Amat is promoted from the boys' team to the juniors, adding to the drama as he is cast in with older boys, some of whom have tormented him and his friends for years.

At a party, something happens. There is an allegation of rape against the star, Kevin, and everything turns upside down. Beartown takes sides, some of the mighty fall and some others show what real courage is, and very little of it has anything to do with hockey, and yet, it is always about hockey in Beartown.

I don't know how to convey how rich this novel is. It reminds me of Steinbeck, if Steinbeck had been a Swedish rink rat. I spent most of three days devouring the story, and have already ordered the second installment, titled "Us Against Them." You don't really need to know a puck from an end table to like this book. Hockey is just the crucible the characters are thrown into. It's really about how people really are, under the skin. I would give it ten stars, if I could.

View all my reviews

A Man

A man grew
up, out of the April Michigan ice
in my brown grave of a garden.

This man was never a child.
He never bounced some goddamned ball
or climbed into my lap for a story.

What I'm saying is, this man wasn't natural,
though he grew there
among the astonished screaming jays.

How can I sleep, knowing this shapeless bastard
is leaning upright out there,
moaning like the last lover on earth?

For now, the hard earth is his vice,
he stays half-born, entire,
fucking with my head, expecting some sick future.

Slashing rain and warmth as sudden and wrong
as a stranger in one's kitchen
will free him, he will roar the mud from his throat and tarnish my name on the dead medicine of his lips.

He will call, I will come, terrified and scalded,
to be touched and opened by him,
to weep in his arms, hissing damn you, darling, damn you."

for day 13.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Moon Rabbit

Moon Rabbit came back,
long after NASA had been sold for scrap.

"Bunny," I said, finding him there,
"you must be hungry,
coming from such a barren garden
so sparse of leaf and short of air."

I have a dusty hope chest
down a dusty stair
as dusty gray as the moonlit coat
of my silver-silent friend, the hare.

Moon Rabbit seemed
to like my hair
and made a red-spun warren there
where moon can light and moon can find
his loneliness and mine--entwined.

for Sunday Muse #103 

Friday, April 10, 2020

From Ashes

From ashes, 

My trunk of failures overturned
by your need,
and my humbling sorrow.

What is plenty, in a desert?
The bowl of your need I filled with double portions,
secreting my heart in the stitching of a new shoe.

From ashes,
From distress, alchemy--
lead turned to gold.

for my son Joe--we have always been there for each other; light in dark skies.

and for Friday 55, hosted by the best poet I know, who I'm proud to call my BFF, Hedgewitch.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Faux Foxes

You three.
Come to me.

Open this box.
Take out a fox.

They are color coded.
Don't tell me you didn't know this.

Now here's something you may not know:
Two are real, one is faux.

Ever wonder how this came to be?
What I'm saying, what I mean,

Is the thing that I most want to say:
ever wonder how a faux fox fffff-finds its way?

Okay, back in the box.
Come back next week--next week, ducks.

foolishness for Sunday Muse #102 and day 13 of my 39 poems in 39 days. 

Photography by Anatasiya Dobrovolskaya

Friday, April 3, 2020

Mrs. Sartre At The Beauty College

I said to the stylist at the salon,
"All is darkness." 
From the pocket of her smock, a candle
with which she beat me about the head and shoulders.

"Behold, I give you light," she said.
"Crazy motherfucker!" 
Who hired this bitch?
Wax in my hair.
Will an indifferent Stylist mold me at Her whim?

for my BFF Hedgewitch's Friday 55 bash, and also for Play It Again (existentialism) at Toads. Also for day 12 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Make Me An Instrument Of Thy Paws

the dog
the sign
that says
not to trot
in wet cement.

his print 
is perfect
though his 
are funky.
i shout
at the magnificent

for day 2 of Play It Again.
"street poetry"

for day 11 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Man With The Glass Eye

The man with the glass eye
possesses smooth clarity of vision.
He rolls his glass eye
to dispense balm for frail children who then recover.

Look into his glass eye.
You will see yourself split into fractals--
all the selves you are capable of being.
He greets each one
warmly, personally.

At night, he sets his eye on the nightstand
in a glass of solution.
It shimmers like a planet there, from which horoscopes might be drawn.
In the morning he replaces it and is filled with intelligent resolve.

If you meet the man with the glass eye,
do not ask what happened to his "real" eye.
It is in your head,
whispering sweetly.

for Day 10 of my 39 poems in 39 days.

image: Tete d'homme barbu by Picasso.