Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Broken-Necked Swan

The swan with a broken neck
lies half-in, half-out of the water.

Yesterday, hissing, spread-winged,
she ran at a child who stumbled backward and fell.
The bird then returned, stately and gorgeous,
to its pond, calm and fine as Fourth of July morning.

A man wearing wet shoes sits silently nearby.
Someone has already called police.

for my BFF's flash 55 party.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review : "Us Against You"

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying that the earlier installment, "Beartown" was magnificent. This book has almost all of the same characters, and is written in the author's engaging style which makes me want to keep reading "just five more pages" until it's the middle of the night and I'm half way through. He makes you care about this little town and its hockey club.


Backman does something in this book that he did not do in the first one. He keeps breaking the fourth wall. He does this often, and in two main ways. The first way is by stepping outside the story to deliver little homilies about people and life. Let the story tell it, like in the first book! The second way is by constantly saying what kind of story this is. Just tell the story and let your reader decide. I had one other gripe with this book. Red herrings. I know, it's done all the time, but at some point I felt like I was just being manipulated and messed with. I could almost feel a grinning Backman sitting at his keyboard saying, "Watch this!" as he pulls the (carefully laid) rug out. Plot twists are one thing. Heavy-handed set-ups are another. Backman is plenty skilled enough to make a reader invest their heart in his story, but apparently not restrained enough to stop screwing with same readers.

I would give 3.5 stars if I could. I rounded up on the strength of the two books together. Recommended, but with reservations, and strong advice to read "Beartwown" first, not because you won;t understand the second book if you don't, but simply because the first book is better.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

I Linger In Dreams

I linger in dreams,
large as unspoken devotion,
warming a small world from its center with my body.

Brenda Lee, "Little Miss Dynamite"
whispers sweet nuthin's in the bowl of one ear,
her body a soft jukebox, my tongue coated with quarters.

Billie Holiday, "Lady Day"
sings desires, a pigfoot and a bottle of beer
to the spoon of my other ear like a sweet poppy mother. 

Above, jostling spheres, circular activity, temples, threnodies.
I linger in dreams, a small world warmed from its center 
with hallucinations, 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Book Review : "Hope : A Tragedy"

Hope: A TragedyHope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one crazy novel. A Jewish man flees the big bad city for a farmhouse in a tiny community, but no sooner does he arrive than a firebug starts burning down homes just like his. But wait, that's the least of it. After hearing noises in the attic of his new castle, he goes up to investigate and finds Anne Frank living up there. She's ancient, hideous, bitter, stinky, and foul-tempered. What to do?

Shalom Auslander is a seriously funny writer. I laughed myself silly, especially in the first half of the book. The narrator, Kugel, is forever trying to figure out life's knotty questions, a task made harder by having to deal with his ever more disappointed wife, his neurotic Holocaust-obsessed mother, and old crazy hag Anne Frank in the attic.

Why is man born, only to suffer and die? Kugel may find out, if he can dodge the falling anvils long enough. This novel is wildly absurd, hilarious, dark, and at times frustrating. Have you ever watched one of those sitcom episodes where a character is trying to do (or undo) something and keeps running into obstacles and further problems for the whole half hour? This book is like that at times. I hate those kind of episodes, and at some points, I got tired of it here, as well. On the whole, though, I found this novel refreshing, funny, and just the thing for reading during lockdown. Recommended.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Aztecs Have Abandoned Downtown

The Aztecs have abandoned downtown.
They used to row their canoes down the San Antonio river,
and sacrifice hearts to Huitzilipochtli down by the Cenotaph,
a stone's throw from the Alamo.

The police ran them off.

A few of them sold tee shirts and key chains in little shops in latter years, though,
and now they live in McMansions with sprawling lawns and gates,
though they're discouraged from displaying their enemies' heads on the points of their wrought-iron fences.

Things change. It's sad.

Now the Aztecs keep their feathers and paint in attics or long-term storage units,
too sentimental to throw them away.
They wear L.L. Bean and J. Jill. 

I'll open a crummy theater for third-run movies and call it the Aztec.
It'll be Pachuco heaven where truants can make out.
I'll know the cops by name and offer them coffee
while actresses younger than my kids tear out their hearts on screen for cokey actors in dumb costumes.

I will stay open as long as I can. Ars gratia artis.

for Sunday Muse #108, where I am hosting this week. I can't figure out the new dashboard to make this a link. Things always change. Pffft.

"Ars gratia artis", the slogan MGM used to use with the roaring lion, means "art for art's sake."

Monday, May 11, 2020

Book Review : "The Book Of Bunny Suicides"

The Book of Bunny SuicidesThe Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These cute little bunny fluffballs simply can't face another carrot dinner. They're ready to end it all, and find ever more hilarious ways to dispatch themselves. Their deadpan faces as they engineer their own demise only makes it funnier. Of course, it goes without saying that finding humor in the idea of adorable little bunny rabbits offing themselves belies a warped sensibility and a deeply disturbed spirit. I laughed myself silly, so what does that say about me??? Recommended.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Mercy Of Tigers

My loved ones with their fish-hook tongues 
kissed me, blamed me for the blood.
I took to pulpit, text became
curse you
and you
and you the same.

I took to keeping tigers fine
right here in Shady subdivision.
Code Enforcement lost their minds,
saying no.
god no,
it's violation.

Tigers, soft as angel's nest,
muscled, purring Detroit dreams,
lay anvil heads upon my breast
and striped my world flame-and-cream.

In back yard buried the barbed wire ring,
more notices drift against the door, 
no, just no,
these prohibited things
forbidden, verboten, forevermore.

Tigers sweet as caramel nuns,
teeth smooth and strong as hymns at dawn,
across your tongues devotion runs
in me, with me, on and on.

for Sunday Muse 107 .

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Book Review : "Good Boy"

Good Boy: My Life in Seven DogsGood Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not your father's animal book. Hey, I've read "A Dog's Purpose" and "Dewey, the Small Town Library Cat" and adored them, they're fantastic. I'm just saying that if you pick up Jenny Boylan's "Good Boy" expecting it to be the usual neatly divided seven chapters about seven heart-stealing dogs, you won't get what you're expecting. Oh yes, there ARE seven dogs, and they have all the wiles and charms that almost all dogs possess. But this book is about more than that.

If you've read any of Boylan's memoirs, such as "She's Not There", then you know that she lived half her life as James Boylan, before becoming--or should I say, expressing--Jennifer. This book is as much about that journey as it is about the dogs. At every step of the way, dogs were there --as they have been in my own life--to make the whole experience of life more joyful, deeper, sometimes sadder when the time comes to say goodbye. I would go so far as to say that this book is about the most important things that make us human--a subject dogs seem to know an awful lot about.

Boylan is honest in these stories, sometimes talking about things that burn in the remembering of them. Some are small, like the day in childhood when young James breaks all the crayons in a girl classmate's desk, scarcely knowing, himself, why he does it. Other moments are larger, but the author doesn't shy away from any of them. As I read the book, I found that the honesty about the moments she is not proud of made the shining moments more vivid as well. It's not easy to tell it like it is (or was) but it certainly makes for a richer telling.

The book is also very funny! I laughed hard, especially in her descriptions of Matt the Mutt, a dog entirely untroubled with restraint or household rules. Boylan gives a dog's eye view of Matt's full speed ahead take on life. My son has a knack for voicing what my dog would say, if he could speak Human, and Jennifer Boylan has that same knack.

In the end, this is a book about love, family, taking care of each other, and how our lives build one thing upon the next. It's a book with heart. Very much recommended.

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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Russian Doll

You cannot, ever,
said the night around the sleeper 
in her empty fullness of dreams too real for remembering.

No. Never,
say mouths of faces looking in
from beyond a smoked glass.
She cannot touch them, they are too far.
She cannot be touched, she is further yet.

Here is a heart you cannot have.
Here is a fist you can.
Here is laughter with you, but foreign.
Here is laughter at you, that uses your real name.

You can die, we can kill you,
say those holding roses at the wrong door.
You can die, you can suicide,
say the voices without bodies to your body with its lock.

I am a Russian doll,
says the girl inside the woman inside the skin.
Walk out any time you like, say the mute ghosts.
You are a disgrace, 
say the holy, standing blind in filthy mirrors.
You are mine, says the workman
bloody with her wounds, reaching his hand
at the edge of a precipice.

You are known,
say the stranger in the desert 
and the woman waiting.
You are more than this husk of flesh,
says the silent angel 
on this bare dirt path a breath away from union.

for Sunday Muse #106.