Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spraying For Aphids

A fondness for tomatoes is just more lies.
The leaves are ugly,
the stems weak, sagging like a tubercular outcast waiting for her next beating.
And "love apples"? 
Poets are dreamy defectives who should be drowned like cats at the earliest convenience. 

I kill aphids because they are so smug.
They crawl around on their stupid stalks,
fat with sap,
experts on everything except what is that big brick thing with the patio,
what are seasons?
and what garden, what planet?

Aphids have never felt any ache and rush
at the sight of you, undressing.
They do not run into traffic like some inevitable idiot,
talking nonsense to the gorgeous grille that will kill them.
They do not bury their dogs or their children.
No aphid feels unable to contain the moment's misery,
and they don't--wise vermin--hope next time will be different.

And so, stupidly unwilling to bring myself to burn
these poems, 
these pretties, 
these pictures from a shoebox kept like guilty dope in a drawer,
I spray for aphids instead.
I watch them fall, from the noxious cloud,
never having felt or thought about anything at all.

The same heart-drop that wrecked me
at certain suitcases and closing doors overtakes me now as the aphids die.
I realize I haven't changed them,
just stopped their motion.
There will be so many mocking Beefsteaks and Early Girls to give away,
almost begging,
as if they held all my mistakes and desires in their dumb meaty red hearts.

I will clutch the arms of near strangers, piping
"Take one! Take them all!" 
A pathetic madwoman for whom "no" has become an expectation, a way of life, a savagery,
like the gardening so many of us take up.

for Sunday Muse where Chrissa presides, faithful dog at her side.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Silent Bird

There is a silent smoke-bodied bird
in a stone nest
on a broken branch
overseen by a gape-eyed imbecile.

"All hail," say purple asters.
Hollyhocks drip with faked tears.
Sunflowers babble.

In evening,
all blooms combust to ash.
A silent smoke-bodied bird 
lays dead eggs 
in a broken bell
with a millstone tongue.

Multi-mothered monsters calve.

for Friday 55, hosted by the haughty and magnificent Hedgewitch. ;-)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Book Review : "Furiously Happy"

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well...this is a difficult book to review, because different things about it struck me in different ways. It is often very funny. Other times, Lawson seems to be trying way too hard to be funny and it comes off as manic and forced. Then again, her mental illness is central to the book and when she actually took time to talk about that, I found it engrossing, relatable, touching and brave.

The trouble is, she doesn't really slow down and talk about mental illness that often. When she does, her writing is wonderfully easy to read, heartfelt and honest. She spends an enormous amount of time doing a sort of free association football (to borrow a phrase) that isn't really that funny and made me feel like the entire book could have been cut by a third and lose nothing. Ultimately what I liked the most about the book was when she talks about how her first book made people--including herself--feel so much less alone, and how it actually saved lives. She talks about depression being a liar who wants to kill you (which it is) interspersed with the funny/unfunny stuff I mentioned. Recommended, but with reservations. I would say, feel free to skim where necessary, in order to get to the better chapters. That said, I really admire Jenny Lawson for writing about this, writing about it in such a non-textbooky way, and in simply finding the wherewithal to take on the challenge of writing a book and accomplishing that while dealing with a disease that talks against you all the while.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary would love these steps
(I would think,
watching my black-stockinged knees 
appear in front of me 
as I climbed.)
There should be sherpas
and glory,
admirers to celebrate my sister and I.

I remember my flat palm against the stone,
warm as a bird's breast 
rough as burlap,
hard as any other thing that had always been
and would always be.

Today I can't recall 
any sunrise in particular.
Lovers' names elude me like the love itself,
and months go by as hours did then.
How clear the memory of a hat's woven straw
or the smooth handle of a red umbrella.
How faint the sounds outside my window now.

What day is it? What difference
does it make?
Nothing disturbs me with yearning or surprise.
I recall we had dolls, trolleys,
skates, books,
and a million days ahead of us.

There was a doorbell,
a screen in summer time,
and always (of course!)
someone busy, and ours, inside.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Book Review : "13 Rue Therese"

13, rue Thérèse13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Glorious! This will remain a favorite novel of mine for as long as there are books. It is, in part, the story of a woman named Louise Brunet and events that take place in her life in Paris in 1928. Having lost her much-beloved fiance in the Great War when he was just 20 and she 19, Louise has drifted into a steady but passionless marriage to a man who works in her father's office.

Louise loves to get away with small transgressions like making up wild, sexual "confessions" for the parish priest, or indulging her lust for the handsome teacher and former fighter pilot recently moved into the same building as Louise and her husband. She longs for a child, but hasn't conceived. She misses her soldier fiance, who has died. She feels stifled in her marriage and so she looks for little rebellions to help her feel alive and less like a caged animal.

We find all this out in a rather remarkable way. An academic named Trevor Stratton has discovered a collection of photographs and mementos from Louise's life and has begun to study them. The photos and objects themselves are pictured in the book and are part of its interesting construction. We get to actually lay eyes on her lost fiance, her mesh gloves for church, and any number of other items. The items themselves appear quite pedestrian or only mildly interesting until Trevor begins explaining what they are and what they mean.

In the final third of the book, the story heads down some very unexpected rabbit holes, reminiscent (to me) of John Kenney Crane's excellent Boer War novel "The Legacy Of Ladysmith" except, unlike "Ladysmith" there are no monsters to be revealed. That is not to say that the the ending isn't amazing--it is! I'll say here that this is one of those books that isn't for everyone. If you like your fiction very straightforward, this one might lose you a bit. There are sexual situations that might make your Aunt Millicent tut tut. But I give it an enthusiastic 5 stars and highly recommend it.

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Stag At Evening

There is the stag at evening,
the careful doe at dawn.
In between, bewildered stars
and night-black crickets whose song is sawn.

I am the woman whose silver hair
is with a red rag tied.
Under the step, a queening cat
hides from the husband of the bride.

I bake loaves and new red bricks.
I sing but never talk.
A lonely moon my trembling hen
will cradle close and hex the hawk. 

There is the crow at evening,
the raucous jay at dawn.
In between, bewildered stars
and night-black crickets whose song is sawn.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Hail! Assassin

Hail! Assassin in your golden robe,
you are farewell incarnate, cold as a stone tablet.
Your masters dole out a new Fahrenheit, warming nothing
while whispering to the Ferryman that there are no coins, only handshakes.

You are farewell incarnate, cold as a stone tablet,
a corporeal machinery producing fine dust
while whispering to the Ferryman that there are no coins, only handshakes.
You palm medicine from your keepers to those already dead.

A corporeal machinery producing fine dust
is your rubber stamp of onionskin love, a doublespeak of no return.
You palm medicine from your keepers to those already dead
as your masters cry, "Hail! Assassin, in your golden robe!"

A pantoum for Skylover's word list.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Welder (dedicated to Carl von Cosel)

The welder with the sickly wife
replaced her failing parts with metal
so as to preserve her precious life
albeit with skin more plating than petal.

She was calm and sweet and very grateful
and in him placed her faith and trust
to restore her as best as he was able
even after she began to--sadly--rust.

A stove pipe neck, a ball bearing eye
forestalled the Reaper's pitiless visit
even as neighborhood kids would cry,
"Holy honking shit, what IS it?"

Her lips of bronze, her lids of tin
and her gams of ducts meant for the furnace
made his bride a gadget so lovely to him:
"Ain't no other contraption as fine as her is!"

The most famous work by the celebrated American poet Aldous W. Bates. The poem first appeared in Popular Metallurgy in the June issue for the year 1913. Bates was, in fact, married to what we would now refer to as non-bio companion named Alice Menzies, who had previously been part of a steam engine. They had one child, a boy, who the couple named Boot. The child showed early promise as a can opener before succumbing to an over-fondness for WD-40 and dying in obscurity in 1957. A full account of the life and work of Aldous W. Bates is available in book form under the title "Hard and Steamy: A Love Story" 353 pages, Slagheap Press 1931. The volume is renowned for both its fearless eroticism and the inclusion of a formula for what was, at the time, a newly discovered alloy. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Book Review : "Dog Boy"

Dog BoyDog Boy by Eva Hornung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy cats. Or, dogs I should say. What a book. A four year old boy is abandoned in an empty Moscow apartment by his mother and uncle. He wanders out alone for a short time and then he is adopted into a clan of feral dogs who live in the basement of a half-destroyed vacant church. For the next few years they become his family, he does as they do and they are his family. At first he is useless but eventually becomes indispensable thanks to his ability to strategize and to melt in and out of human spaces. The feral clan is fiercely loyal to each other, and together they survive even the harshest winters. I was pulled in completely, and cared fiercely about the pack as I read.

Understand, this is no children's fairy tale. The realities of their violent, brutal lives are told with no mercy. I had to put the book down a couple of times when something bad happened to the dogs or the boy. Eventually, the "dog boy" draws the attention of the militia and also a pair of researchers who run a clinic for children who can be rehabilitated. One really wonders by the end, who the beasts really are, here.

This book made me howl at the end. I wept. The whole thing is searing and engrossing and difficult and beautiful and awful. Like an unexpected vivid memory of home or a sudden grievous wound, I will never forget it, or quite get over it, I think. Wow.

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Monday, June 1, 2020


The President of the United States has something up his ass.
He addresses the nation:
"I have something up my ass."
Someone shines a light.
"Can you see," asks the President, "what is up my ass?"

The President of the United States cannot find his head.
He addresses the nation:
"We have Antifa and radical Democrats to blame for this."
Still, there is something up the President's ass.
Surrogates clarify:
"The President has golden rose-scented freedom bombs up his ass."

The President of the United States cannot find Colorado or his ass
with a map and both tiny hands.
What could be up his ass?
A rocket, to power his golf cart?
A monkey, to whisper in his ear?
A member of Congress, in its cozy nest?
"I have something up my ass," says the President of the United States.
What could it be?