Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Indian Rope Trick

 As a child, it was always expected that I'd climb.
For the rope trick to work, the jamoora assistant must be obedient,
but I was always more likely to be a burning bride,
going up fast, but on my own peculiar vertical gradient.

In the trick, a rope is left coiled in a basket
at some distance in an open field like a baby at a fire station.
It will then begin to rise like a bhoot as the fakir tasks it,
straight up--it's only disbelief or cartoons that add the ululations.

I was the skipper's little daughter, my father in his linen suit
who read me Longfellow--The Wreck of the Hesperus--
and planted without knowing it, the ghost, the bhoot,
that sank my obedience and scotched the trick for both of us.

When the rope has risen, the child is sent out to climb,
disappearing in the clouds, not answering the fakir's call,
He follows behind with a knife and rose in his smile,
to chop her up, bring her down, and reassemble her after all. 

Do you believe in all that?
Or the tales the Upanishads tell?
Do you believe the Victorian accounts as fact?
And the zombie obedience of jamooras as well?

Of course, the trick is just bullshit.
I disappeared into Ginsberg and Grover Lewis--that's real--
reassembled myself, got high then got straight,
and put my queer shoulder to the wheel. 

For First Poems: Door To The Wilder Eye at Earthweal, hosted by my dear friend Hedgewitch. She wants to know what instilled in us "...the  maker's rage to order words." 

Notes: The earliest poem I can remember being thrilled by was Longfellow's poem about the Hesperus. My father read it to me and showed me the book--which I still have--so that I could find it again and read for myself, which I did many times. Later, I found the same visceral feeling of discovery when introduced to Dickinson, Ginsberg (from whose poem "America" I have taken my final line), and my man Grover Lewis, all of whom crashed into my orbit and altered my trajectory by the time I was 18. I come from a family of achievers, and my great love of poetry, music, baseball, and not much else came as a sharp disappointment to my parents. But, the die was cast, and as Emily wrote: "The Soul selects her own Society--Then--shuts the Door"

The Indian rope trick goes pretty much as I have described in the poem. It is probably a Victorian fiction from the time of Empire, but who knows? A jamoora is a child assistant, blindly obedient to the fakir or magician performing the trick. The term can be used simply to describe a mindless conformer. A bhoot or bhuta is a ghost. The Upanishads tell a fable similar to the rope trick, except this time it's a juggler whose juggled objects disappear, then come back down and reassemble. 


Saturday, October 29, 2022



We have been
for a long
time. First,
left the
fragrant grass of
and the 
copper smell of
Later, we left
as if they were
soda cans
first loves in 
aluminum bodies
10 cent refund in MI and IA.
Jobs, apartments,
appliances and
various gods 
in our wake 
as we
Now we can't 
get the damn toaster to work
let alone
move our bowels
or anyone's
The finale
should be 
a snap.
After all,
we have been leaving
for a long

Blogger Is Off The Rails

 If you're on Blogger, you may want to go to "comments" on your dashboard and check for spam comments. (Hit the little arrow at the top for a drop-down menu and hit "spam") I've discovered that, lately, Blogger keeps shifting perfectly good comments from old posts into spam and I have to re-publish them. Like, half a dozen every day. This morning, there were 6 comments in spam, all from September of 2013! All of them were perfectly good comments from people I know. None of them were in spam yesterday. All of them had been on various posts for 9 years, and suddenly Blogger decides they're spam. So you may want to check.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Word Garden Word List--Susie Clevenger


Hello! Hooray! (As Alice Cooper once sang.) As you who have been following the Word List know, I have been delving into my early influences of late. But now it's time to switch things up! 

This week, our list is taken from two books by my friend Susie Clevenger: "Dirt Road Dreams" and "Insomnia's Ink." Susie is an amazing poet I have been being impressed by since way back in Real Toads days, and she only keeps on getting better. 

You can find her at Confessions Of A Laundry Goddess and at Black Ink Howl, two blogs chock full of poetry to get lost in. Her writing is always heartfelt, incisive, and original. I urge you to go see! 

Meanwhile, without further ado, here is your list! Just choose at least 3 of the 20 words I have selected from Susie's books and use them in an original poem of your own. Then link up, visit others, and bask in a quiet air of sublime accomplishment. :-)


the nurses deferred


the nurses deferred
to masquerade doctors in balloon pants
who told them 
go to the underwater pharmacy
--a nickel a snorkel--
and dispense tobacco to the terminals
rules are restrictive
and they gave these instructions via telegram stop
from the big band ballroom stop
where the rhumba and the mambo
never stop
and they used the bandmaster's baton
to perform minor surgery
on this poem.

In that town, at that time, the women never cut their hair
because of sorrow,
and the river's edge, and the need to weep
while covering their faces with their hair like bent willows.

In the heavy hour, in the day of the pueblo mission,
a mockingbird perched in the bell tower was singing,
"Come to the river's edge, to the place of no explanation.
Let down your hair as the boatmen do their sails in the silent evening."

the security guards delayed,
unfurling silk kimonos to wear in the confusion of night
and they had dragons
and chrysanthemums
draped over their arms and holsters
and their coffee was rich with a stupendous dizzying energy
which spoke to them
"you must leave this place and go
to help
and heal
where the real

image at top: Socorro Mission, El Paso, Texas

I have used a technique I got from reading Grover Lewis, of alternating style and feeling between stanzas. 

music:  Jennifer Warnes "Song of Bernadette" 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Word Garden Word List--Christina Rossetti


Hi, and welcome to another Word Garden Word List, where we use at least three words from a themed list of twenty in an original poem of our own. This week, our inspiration comes from Victorian poet Christian Rossetti.

Lately I have been exploring and revisiting my earliest influences and this is no exception. While still in high school, I came across this poem of Rossetti's and became a lifelong admirer:

She often wrote of nature (though she was primarily a city dweller), the longing for love, mortality, and spirituality. She also wrote at least two Christmas carols and also children's verse. She was the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and her father was also a poet. She came to fame with her collection "The Goblin Market & Other Poems" in 1862. Usually writing in a rhyming, rather uncomplicated style, Rosetti's poetry is some of the most moving I've had the pleasure to read. Here is one of my favorites, entitled "The Queen of Hearts":

Our aim here is to use the word list as a springboard to our own creativity, not to copy the style of the featured poet--though homages are always fine. So, without further ado, your list:


The Goblin Girl (A Child's Fairy Story)

image by Gustaf Teggren

The Goblin Girl is cursed and wanders
over stubbled fields and passes under
the riven bridge that ice has split
and counts herself the cause of it.

Should the Goblin Girl admire the arc
of a lofty bird it misses its mark--
falters and falls like an iron omen
to fall at her feet in evening gloaming.

On thorny brambles she lays her head
with moon for pillow and stone for bed
to dream of peacocks and peahens crying
for the bride whose lily is cut and dying.

Who laid the wicked curse upon her?
Perhaps some coward behind a mask?
Or was it the smug and well-dressed hunter
who cradles his gun and ready flask?

Who burned her image and let the milk curdle
as done to them by an earlier other?
Why, the very one who rocked the cradle--
the Goblin Girl's Janus-faced mother.

for Word Garden Word List--Christina Rossetti. The poem is, in style, an homage.

For more about the two-faced god Janus, look HERE. 

Music: Sarah McLachlan "In The Arms Of An Angel"

Monday, October 17, 2022


 The summer I was seventeen,
I read The Bell Jar
A Coney Island of the Mind
and Lost Weekend.

The neighbor's garden had
decorative bells
hung above the river stones.

Every tongued bell
is keen to find language
for (w)ringing out its pain.


for dverse quadrille for whom the bell tolls

music: judy collins the bells of rhymney

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Word Garden Word List--Ric Masten

Hello friends, and welcome to another Word Garden Word List poetry prompt. Last week I featured an old favorite, Dave Kelly, but was dismayed at how difficult it was for people to find his work on line if they wished to. I've been mulling that. This week, our featured poet is "The Poet Laureate of Carmel" Ric Masten. When I returned stateside from overseas in 1977, I passed through Carmel and picked up a copy of "Who Wavin'? (a thin body of work)" which is indeed a thin body of work because the book is much taller than it is wide! However, the words inside are anything but thin.

The late Ric Masten, who passed in 2008, was not only a unique and prolific--23 books--poet, but was also a singer/songwriter, an artist, and a few other things as well. About his art, he had this to say: "I learned from Leger that I wasn't a cubist, He spoke to me in French and I answered in English. I didn't understand what he said, and I doubt he understood what I said. We got along fine." This is a typical remark. Of his habit of writing in all lower case without punctuation, Masten said it was "because I never knew how." 

I said earlier that I'd been mulling last week's prompt. Up until now, I have avoided including our featured poets' actual poems because the aim here is to use the words on the list to write something of our own, not to imitate the featured poet. However, like Dave Kelly, Ric Masten may be difficult to find, so I am including a link to three excellent poems of his HERE and am also going to include one in this post. Here it is:

the comedian

for william

he was a funny 
funny man

taking me
to the airport
he paused
in his routine
and the silence
was like a hole
in the ground
deep and dark
like his eyes

see those
gray wyoming hills
lying off
to the west there
my lilly
went off
into them
five years ago
and killed

i tell you this
so you'll know
i understood
when you spoke
of your

and then
he was joking

What we do here is to use at least 3 of the 20 words on the list below in a new poem of your own. Then link up, link back, and twist the night away. 

It has been a pleasure to share with you two poets who have been lifelong favorites of mine who I first discovered back in the '70's. In that vein, I offer Neil Young singing "Journey Through The Past." And now, your list:

veranda (Masten misspells it "varanda")



These early evenings, the sun sinks slowly,
like a 'do-ragged painter down spider-leg scaffolding.
We are all weary these days
as the world rolls beneath us and we logwalk,
our eventual fall following beside us like an unpredictable dog.

Then quietly, as crickets guard the evening filigree,
your ghost comes to me
where I smoke in the Adirondack
under the weak-sister yellow moon of the outside light,
to portend a storm that's already passed and gone.

In a canning jar, under the basement stairs, 
I have kept your hoodoo,
that sacrifice chant-dance made of woodsmoke and razor grass
that you wove to your bones
to make me love you as if you were food, as if you were solid earth.

Whether in Butte or Chicago, Pushmataha County
or Devil's Hand, it makes no difference.
Even the ocean is not shatterproof, so my bags drowse in the attic,
with old costumes and dressmaker's dummies
that you went to while I slept off the soft poison of your words.

I know why you're here.
I know why yellowjacks have stingers
and I can't write these poems forever just to stave you off.
You'll use the knife I gave you as a pick
and play some stupid banjo breakdown at my funeral

as if it were spring, as if you were sane, as if I didn't matter.

I don't smoke. The poem lies!

Music: Gordon Lightfoot "Dreamland"

Monday, October 10, 2022

Lesson In Entomology


Red ladybugs, often made of wood or plastic, are the cheery ones. The dull brown ladybugs are the ones that bite. Born yesterday, uncelebrated and infused with the bright mindlessness of relentless summer, their hate is genuine; they wait on a pretty stalk for your bare arm. Your pain is their nectar. 

October is the time of show-off leaves. Red ladybugs burn their own houses down. Ask one. She is her own child in the blaze, and to her, death is quite romantic. She loves you, without the slightest notion what that really means. They are as vacuous as lawn ornaments. 

When waiting winter compels a choice, your heart will say, choose the brown ladybug, she knows your soul, even as she destroys it. Your sense says, choose the red, she'll make you happy. But no. You have decided and offer your arm.

Today at Dverse Prosery, Bjorn wants us to use a line from Bob Dylan's classic song "Desolation Row', a piece I have long admired, both for its lyrics and also for whoever that was playing the guitar counterpoint to each line. Bjorn instructs that we must use the line "To her, death is quite romantic" from this song. I will comply, (143 words)

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Word Garden Word List--Dave Kelly


A long time ago--longer than I like to think it was--I bought a copy of "Poems In Season" by a poet named Dave Kelly. It was Volume Five of the Texas Portfolio Chapbook Series. Inside, I found a collection of blunt, truthful, unsparing, and unforgettable poems about every day life. I have moved many times since then, gone through myriad changes, but this book--along with others by undeservedly obscure poets like Michael Curley, Ric Masten, and others, as well as famous volumes like 'Howl"--have made the journey with me all the way to this very moment. They are part of who I am and who I've been, and it is from these poets that I learned to write fearlessly.

Dave Kelly is a difficult man to find, but in researching this list, I did finally manage to find out some biographical information which can be found HERE and HERE. I have taken the opportunity to order a couple of his other books, as well. This is the kind of thing that blows my skirt up, if I wore skirts anymore. To say that I am eager to read these new (to me) books is an understatement. 

And now, time for your weekly word list. What we do here is to take at least 3 of the 20 words provided--all taken from the poems in "Poems In Season"--and create a new poem of your own. Our aim is to use the list to spur new writing of our own, not ape the source poet, though a nod of homage is always a fine thing. So, compose, link up, visit others, and I hope that you will look into Dave Kelly's work as well. Enjoy!

Your list:



 Nobody thought he was handsome except for me,
the sharp-elbowed stick girl with the camera around her neck.
Always, he would show up on the street early,
a midnight cat sliding in on private grooves, to sit and wait
on the curb for the other workmen and the Jonah bus 
that swallowed them away.

If I could've, I'd have built him a church,
with Host of egg sandwich and coffee black or white.
I'd swear I saw him take out a rosary one diesel-rattle dawn
and it was strung with candy skulls and baseballs.
I imagined his prayers were colorful foreigners wandering 
in warehouse downriver drab Detroit, hated by strangers, loved by God.

After an absence, getting off gin and bad poetry,
I returned to find him gone, the bus stop shifted, the lone tree down.
The starlings had lost their home, me my jones,
and my camera stayed empty for a year after that, like an unfed stray.
I asked a girlfriend once, "Remember that guy, the different one
we used to see waiting?" Ugh, she said, that one. 
Like I said, only I thought he was handsome, like rain, 
like new work boots pawned.

Saturday, October 1, 2022



Mid-August, the weather patterns change,
but slowly,
like something forgotten in the fridge;
the holy
turning secular, then profane.

We had our own world, you and I,
a beautiful in-joke
but, behind your back as I looked at you,
a green-screen took
over and spoiled it with the whisper of a lie.

All summer, verdant leaves and cool shade
were hiding
the dying brown when the sugar stops flowing.
I'm finding
endings gorgeous, and terrible, like the love we almost made. 

Music: Jennifer Warnes "Pretending To Care" (written by Todd Rundgren)