5.31.2011

charmed

crossing the clearing
rocky widest riverbed
mullein, blue chicory
dragonfly anne's lace
tread on loose gravel
and reach the summit.

there he was

sunning
basking
waiting
preying

surprised, i jumped.

then held back
licked my lips
waited for him
to notice mine

watching
quivering
preening
preparing

as i approached
he twitched just
slightly, feeling
the ground vibrate
forked tongue out &
in out & in flickered
sensing my approach as
i crept slowly sloowwly
curious wanton desiringly

without fear

and
then
snap!

his eyes on mine

fast
faster
waves on
undulating
lateral waves

face to face
close to close

too close

as i melted
in his eyes
his strikes
left me raw
limp undone

prostrate
procumbent
and ready.

methodically precise
his devouring began
with my baby toes
tongue tickling
up my calves
pausing
for
a nibble
of my thighs
taking his time
with all of me til
he was inside me and
i inside of him fully

devoured
digested

eaten alive.
My Indie Ink writing challenge this week came from Barb Black of Black Ink Pad, who challenged me to compare a loved one to an animal. Of course my old man is a fox, but this was more fun to write.

the eyes have it

what i hope to see
when i squint, blurry focus
on you, crazy love.

5.29.2011

simple truths

harmonicas & party horns
little grins meeting mine
acolytes with candled cake
sunburn racing mosquitoes
as nailbeds fill with dirt
petunia impatiens marigold
you & you & especially you
climbing clinging wishing

like firey new nasturtium
loving roots in sandy bed
all in a glorious may day
dulled by the dark knowing
of being wasted.

older

forty-five today
all i can think about is
what the hell happened?

Older - They Might Be Giants from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

5.27.2011

alumna

holiday
celebration
years since
matriculation
orangey
& mighty
loud & clear
high flight
going nowhere
nostalgia
fasted like
a workaday
flirt
dally flying
til today
& now more
hurt.

5.25.2011

one hundred and one

My grandmother would have been 101 today.
Happy Birthday, Gram!

5.23.2011

the newness of new news

that was a big one
still working to understand
just stay with me now.

trouble & woe

It seemed like a good idea. She had been agitating for a raise and had reached an impasse with her board of directors. She had worked in non-profits for her entire career and had a narrow view of what kinds of jobs were appropriate for or attractive to her. But she needed to make more money, now that she was supporting a family. She worked full-time and her husband was home with their preschooler and their baby. The idea of working hard to make a higher income than she had ever considered, to be able to provide for them in a different way, was exciting, intoxicating even, once she opened her mind to it.

But the change was a really bold one. She was considering a leap from the frying pan that was running a local nonprofit into the raging fire of sales, working entirely on commission. She had never worked in sales before, and she had nagging doubts about her ability to pull this off. She had no money, no savings, no safety net at all. She and her young family were already living paycheck to paycheck. But she was reassured by the adage "everything is sales" and the fact that she was a schmoozer and a relationship-builder to the core. When they said she'd be running her own business, she yessed them, sure I will, of course I can, I'm a grown woman, a smart person, a lawyer, well-connected. I can do that.

So she did it, despite her nagging doubts. These people knew her situation, knew she was starting out with nothing and supporting her family, and still they thought she could do it. Despite the warnings of some friends and colleagues, and the cold shoulder of others; those people were being small, she said to herself. She said yes. After all, the people in charge said she was a rock star! They said she would shine! Of course she would. She was successful at everything she tried.

Almost immediately, the nagging doubts returned. Right away, she was required to contact everyone she ever knew to try to meet with them in her new capacity and try selling them the product. She burned through her address book quickly, and everyone wanted to meet with her, they were her friends and people liked her. But when she brought her new colleagues along as she was required, people weren't sold on the product. Her friends seemed tentative, suspicious even. Her new colleagues asked questions. Questions like What's wrong with you? Why do you not use your power? and Who hurt you?

Flustered by this line of questioning, she would go out into the world, attempting to be strong and powerful and sell the product. But the questioning made her wonder about herself and shook her. Several times a week, she would meet with colleagues in sessions that resulted in her questioning herself and feeling afraid. It became a badge of honor for her colleagues if she left such a meeting in tears. Good work! they would say. And then she would face the telephone, bucking herself up to be strong and confident to go into the world and sell the product. The truth was, she wasn't very good at this.

Within months, she could see she was failing. Although she achieved sales success celebrated by the company, her commission income was low and sporadic. She had to pay for family health insurance first, and that was expensive through the company. She started falling behind in the household bills. One month, she couldn't pay the rent. The next month, her car insurance was cancelled; but of course she needed her car to do her sales job. She became obligated to the company and her colleagues, who lent her money for basic living expenses. She stopped eating so that her children could eat. As the price of gas increased, and her commissions continued to be sporadic, she stopped drinking the kool-aid and started thinking about getting a real job. Not a "career," but an actual job, with salary and benefits.

Her colleagues recognized it right away; they saw that her allegiance had been broken. They became more aggressive in their questioning. Why are you allowing yourself to fail? What is wrong with you? What is wrong with your husband? Why is he not supportive? Is he on medication? Perhaps you should consider divorce? As ridiculous and maddening as those final questions were, she would later be thankful that they had asked them. Because it allowed her to stop second-guessing herself and see clearly that she was in the wrong place.

But she couldn't do this work and look for a job at the same time. This work required everything, it took all of her. It required her to present herself all the time in her sales capacity, to be "on" all the time. In order to save herself, she had to leave and switch gears to job-search mode. As she left, her colleagues asked her why she chose to fail. They asked her what was wrong with her and who hurt her. They asked her what she thought of them, and hoped she thought highly of them.

She went home and licked her wounds for a day or two. Then she began applying for every job she could find. Being self-employed in commission sales, she was ineligible for unemployment compensation. She was the breadwinner for her family, her husband and their two small children. Her baby, her baby was less than a year old when this nightmare began and she had barely seen her grow for the past year. And now, she couldn't feed her, any of them. She might not be able to keep them in their home. She owed money to everyone, every medical provider, everywhere. The company claimed that she owed them thousands of dollars in home office commission loans. But that was the least of her worries, she needed to find a source of income immediately.

As she spent every day applying for jobs and attending the occasional interview, she went to all of the temporary employment agencies to try to get any kind of work, any kind of income coming in. They all looked at her resume and said they didn't have many requests for placements at her level. She kept saying she would do any kind of job, she just needed income, but she never got calls for temporary jobs. She was simply unemployed. With no income. For a couple weeks, a few weeks, a month, then two months. She had never been unemployed for even a day, before.

For the first time in her life, she questioned herself. She wondered what her talents and skills were; what could she say she excelled at, had enthusiasm for? She faltered. She cried. She didn't sleep. She was tentative in conversation, and particularly in interviews; she didn't shine as she used to. She had been knocked down a notch, many notches. She had tried something and had completely failed. Not only did she not succeed in the career change, but she invested everything in it: all her money, her family relationships, her friendships, her trust, her credibility in the community. And most of all, her husband and children, their happiness and safety and their very lives. She gambled them, and she quite nearly lost. The bottom line was, she should have known better.

Eventually, she got a job. A good job for which she continues to be quite thankful. And what has stayed with her? Guilt and shame. Shaken as never before, she really has yet to recover.

My Indie Ink writing challenge this week is from Sir, who challenged me to "write about something that you thought was a good idea at the time, but later found it rapidly growing into a world of trouble and woe." All I can say is, FUCK.

5.22.2011

photostream

you in a santa suit
child's eyes wide

you with girlfriends
clinking your pints

you wrapped around
tattoo sleeves woman

mine? self-portrait
click it closed.

5.20.2011

what if we said what now?

i say let's hike the hills
to that mountain stream
let the rushing cool us
before tromping on
we'll bring back
fiddleheads
fry em up with olive oil
crusty bread
some good pinot noir
watch the stars come out
on the back porch.
don't forget your camera.

5.19.2011

(untitled)

what if it all stopped
and we said what now?
not like this rapture
mumbo jumbo,
just a big pausing
so we can catch our breath.
what would we find to do?
where would we go
in our stillness?
i say let's hike the hills
to that mountain stream
let the rushing cool us
before tromping on
we'll bring back
fiddleheads
fry em up with olive oil
crusty bread
some good pinot noir
watch the stars come out
on the back porch.
don't forget your camera
as we will want to document
every little thing
before pressing play again.
[A little exercise for Poets United Thursday Think Tank #49.]

plan B

look the other way
take a deeper breath
bathe my woe in rosemary
pretend it never happened.

5.18.2011

you are

babe to my hey
declan to my diana

dada to my mama
old man to my good wife

love to my love.

5.16.2011

broken things

"Mama, I was so sad when I broke my arm," said her little one, over bites of yogurt at the breakfast table.

"Oh, yes, that made me sad, too. What about it made you sad?" Mama asked gently, not wanting to press but curious about why her daughter had brought up her broken arm again. She'd mentioned it a few times lately, the idea that breaking her arm had made her sad. The arm had been broken more than six months ago, in a cast for Halloween. And a cool Halloween cast it was, purple with glow-in-the-dark stripes. Just perfect for the Tiniest Witch.

"Well I was sad because I couldn't sleep when I had my broken arm," was today's little-girl explanation. "My cast hurt me. I couldn't sleep." Yes, sleeping had been more difficult. Mama herself had been bonked out of a deep sleep by that cast more than once.

"Mama, if I break another bone they'll take me away from you, right?" the little-girl lilt in her question more urgent than that accompanying the ordinary barrage of questions ending with "right?"

"What? What did you ask me?" said her Mama, as the question lodged itself deep in her midsection. "What was that?"

"Gramma said if I break another bone, the doctors are gonna take me away from you. Is that true?" 


Her big brother was now looking up from his reverie at the breakfast table, as well, waiting for an answer. Two beautiful children, looking for all the world like kittens in this moment, had their eyes firmly locked on their mother, who usually had the answers, waiting for an answer.

It was something she worried about, without a doubt. When your baby girl breaks her arm before she's even two years old, then breaks her leg for her second birthday, and then breaks her other arm at four years old, yes indeed, the spectre of Children's Services and their power weighs heavy on your mind. When you're referred to a famous children's hospital for batteries of tests to rule out bone disease or other horrors, it's very much on your mind. But those are adult concerns, not burdens a child should carry.

"Baby, oh, love, you don't have to worry about that, oh please don't worry about that. No one is ever ever going to take you away from me and Daddy. Never. Do you understand? No one, never. You're all mine!" And she gathered her little one up for the closest of hugs, her face wrapped in her daughter's delicious hair, in the warmth of her neck.

The next day, idly wheeling in the kitchen again while Mama washed the dishes, the little one spun herself right off the Sit-n-Spin and quite nearly cracked her her head on the counter. "Watch it, love," warned Mama, "Maybe standing on that thing isn't the best idea. You could get hurt, or break your toy."

"Yeah, you're right, Mama. And the doctors will take it away if I break it."
My prompt in this week's Indie Ink writing challenge came from Seeking Elevation: "Write about the experience of a child uncovering a truth about the adult world."

5.13.2011

thunder follows

embracing the buoyant & almost flying
to hell with the timing i wanna let go

bird in hand searching for aqua vitae
your radio flyer sears past my redbud

what will confront when i open my eyes?
your tailfeather flicks your ride lites

if i greedily claw you off your wagon
grasping you'll toss me off underside

flashed open in a lightning bare moment
crushed like eggshell under your wheels.

walking & talking

how should i keep you
steady on your wagon? i've
fallen off my own.

5.12.2011

college girl

wood fire & pine needles

A sweet and delicious essay by my young grandmother; the writer's note at the end is hers, not mine.
We were up early that morning, I remember, you and I. The dew was still on the grass as we set out, gayly splashing through the fields in our high boots and knickers. You were so much taller and you could walk so much faster than I, but I did my best to match my steps to yours. I wanted you to be proud of me that day. Even then I knew you thought of me only as your younger sister--a good kid to walk with and to tell things to. Perhaps you sometimes suspected a part of my blind adoration for your quaint, individual little phrases and for your boyishly honest, lovable self. But that day we hiked together is the only one I can truly call ours alone.

The world seemed deserted of all human kind save we two. As we neared the foothills, the haze around their summits gradually lifted and the last faint star disappeared as the new, bright sun came up. Away in the distance we could hear the shrill crowing of a cock greeting the sun. The crisp, cool air blew the scent of pines and late April violets into our nostrils. The combination of the air, the morning, and our naturally healthy constitutions soon filled us with growing hunger pains. I shall never forget, nor will you, I know, the eagerness with which we swallowed the bacon and eggs, rolls and jam that you had carried in your knapsack. Never since have I tasted bacon so delicious as that, cooked unsanitarily over our smoky wood fire and eaten as we sat exhausted on a slippery, jaggy, uncomfortable carpet of pine needles. Every time I suddenly catch the aroma of a wood fire or pine needles, I have a startling vision of you as you sat opposite me with your light hair carelessly rumpled and your red-brown eyes shining in the firelight.

You talked to me of her that morning, and I was unsympathetic, wasn't I? I understood, you see, for I felt the same way about you--then. No matter what has happened since, no matter what may happen later, that day is torn out of the world's record of us both--it belongs only to you and me.
(This was supposed to have been an emotion expressed as I really felt it then, but it seems to have turned out to be a great deal of mush, rather badly cooked. A.G.)

5.10.2011

timing + gravity

embracing the buoyant
we're practically flying
to hell with the timing
don't look down just let go

as if we have wings
for floating our loving
your kisses revolving
buoyancy x and o

despite best intentions
and mighty resistance
gravity irrelevant
we're actually flying

wrap your words around me
i am yes to your yes
fly me like you need me
to hell with the timing

but gravity is gravity
and timing is everything
gone again though you need me
down again i let go.

5.09.2011

jack & diane

Flying through the night, what was she doing listening to this stupid classic rock station anyway? Sick of all her music she needed some new CDs in here all her music was really his music anyway she couldn't listen to it anymore so she had resorted to the radio. Which was annoying except for this old John Cougar song which was so good it was worth suffering through the rest. What a beautiful night starry clear and crisp windows down and flying on that mountain road she'd driven so many hundreds of times before a long day and an even longer evening in one painful meeting after another. But now flying down the mountain the woodstove and a bottle of wine waiting at home, oh yeah, this is a good ole song
"suckin' on a chili dog outside the tasty freeze
diane sittin on jackie's lap got his hand between her knees"
Yeah his hand between her knees oh yeah and ahh what the hell is that! Holy mother of god that is a fucking moose. A moose. Oh my god my god don't hit it oh swerve don't hit a fucking moose for chrissake what is that moose doing in the middle of the road? Ahh no
She pulled away from the stop sign, slow and uncertain, it being only the first day after getting her driver's license. Tentative, she glanced left and saw the red hatchback careening towards her, that heavy foot on the gas pedal too late as the crash on her left sent her flying forward snapping backward watching her car smash into the embankment oh that fucking drum solo she pulled her legs up where were her shoes? crawled across the seats across the console those m&m's are fucking everywhere dammit climbing out barefoot standing up oh the sun oh her head oh ouch ow owww and looked back at the red hatchback as she heard the wail

The woman oh that woman all that blood and her baby! that tiny baby screaming in her arms oh my god all that blood where did all that blood come from? the woman's face obliterated the baby soaked all in blood everywhere. Scanning the country crossroads only fields in every direction oh there was a house in the distance she took off sprinting across the cornfield oh barefoot sprinting I'll get help I'll get help oh I'm so sorry and I'll get help and she didn't remember the rest when she awoke in an ambulance what where am I who are these people what happened and out again

She had been coming back from visiting her boyfriend, her new boyfriend, the one with the guitar and the Camaro, the dreamy one all the girls wanted. The one she'd have sex with the next day on the beach where her family was staying when her parents relented and allowed her to take the car to visit him, on the day after she got her drivers license. The boyfriend whose lap she loved to sit in, whose car she loved to ride in and make out in at the drive-in or parking on Creepy Lane. The boyfriend who picked her and turned her into a cool girl, the boyfriend who liked The Police and The Vapors and wrote songs for her on his Les Paul sunburst and called her Camouflage Girl. The boyfriend who made her speechless although she was smarter who got her shit-ass drunk for the first time who fucked her for the first time who said she had fat ankles and knocked her around for the first time. That boyfriend, they relented and allowed her to take the car to visit him, the day after she got her drivers license
"oh yeah life goes on long after the thrill of livin' is gone
oh yeah life goes on long after the thrill of livin' is gone"
Ah the drum solo the drum solo watch out my god what is that moose doing there swerve squeeaallll CRASH crash over over ah crash ahh the drum solo how long is this fucking drum solo colors swooped and swirled behind her eyes as the music soared the crisp air the starry stars oh her head oh ow ouch where was she oh where is he oh the swirls and the stars
"hold on to sixteen as long as you can
changes come around real soon make us women and men"

What week is it in the Indie Ink writing challenge? Probably doesn't matter. What does perhaps matter is the interesting pattern of death and mayhem in my challenge posts. Do you think it matters? Should I seek professional help? Hmmmm. My challenge this week is from my lovely friend (and Indie Ink wife) Mandy of My Plaid Pants, who has now challenged me three times out of (I think) twelve, oddly enough. Mandy's prompt was: "Colors swooped and swirled behind her closed eyelids as the music soared taking her back to...."

5.08.2011

bauble bubble

take care
not to
explode everything

if you are
petrified
i will feel
compelled
to bubble you up

so you
can reach
the brass ring

glistening
jewels in your eyes
so brilliant
and furied
you cannot see
what is right in front of you.

5.07.2011

god of thunder

oh i wanna 
write words
pretty or profound
but all i can think about
is that 

MIGHTY HAMMER.

check back tomorrow.

5.06.2011

on the playground

"What's your name?" ask the kids on the climbing bars, a girl and a boy just about his age.

He tells them his name. "That's a boy's name. You're a girl."

"I'm not a girl, I'm a boy."

"You're a girl, you have long hair."

"I'm a boy."

"And you're wearing a pink shirt and girl shoes."

"This is my Kirby shirt. Girls don't have to wear pink. Anybody can wear pink."

"How old are you?"

"I'm seven, how old are you?"

"I'm seven too, in first grade. Are you in first grade?"

"Homeschool. Let's go swing."

5.05.2011

sobering

i knew you would leave
as soon as you came, but still
i was unprepared.

5.04.2011

by jiminy

when wishing on stars
  close your eyes 

        cross your big heart
     pledge humanity.

'twill not be spring

A poem for spring by my grandmother. Let's pretend I posted it in April. Also, let's pretend I can write even half as beautifully as she.
When April comes and you are far away,--
Bitter-sweet April with her smiles and tears--
When meadows freshened by their winter's sleep
And gently falling rain, awake to find
Blue violets lift shy heads among the grass;
When hardy crocus flaunts its gayest hues
Along the paths we loved; arbutus clings
Around our rock up on the farthest hill--
That rock we found last Spring when you were here--
When mad rain swoops across the sky
And leads a trail of sun behind;
When over all, the soft, sweet breath of Spring
Lies, bringing old memories of you--
My dear, my dear, where April comes to me
With you not here to share--'twill not be Spring!

5.03.2011

whisper (birds fly)

do you
remember
how you felt
then?


i thought
i might

drown
swimming
inside 

your eyes

wrapped
up in you

nesting
soaring
flying
screaming

aahhhh you

now
i know
you must be
sick 

to death 
of me
 

i want
to go back
to the dusk

of our love
before
the dark

when you'd 

fly 
with me
every
single
time.

your riding

i have learned the hazards
of consorting with royalty.
mixed with the opulence
& the subverted etiquette
festers an abiding knowing
that one day you will
jump up on your high horse
and gallop away
leaving a rollicking
"thanks for everything"
floating on the air in your wake.

5.02.2011

jin go ism

what a strange day this is
what with the flag-waving
and anthem singing
and partying like it's 1999

or 2001

what have they done with my country?

i'll be the one
sitting just quietly under the tree
not celebrating the violence
that begets further violence

come and join me.

5.01.2011

motherhood

i could not escape
i could not escape
no matter what i did
where i went
he found me
he said he would kill me
he said he would kill me
i know he can
i know he will
now he has found me again
oh please
please
please forgive me
forgive
oh please please please
if he is going to kill me
i am a mother
mother
mother
i am a mother
my babies
my babies
oh my god please
please please
know
please know
they must come with me
they are coming with me
they must
it must
it must be
it has to be.

what they won't understand
is why
why
why did i do this
why did i take them with me
i'll tell you why
here is why
because he will fucking kill me
he will kill me
fucking kill me
and then what
what will he do
what will he do with my children?
what will he do with my children
my children.

my children
ah my babies
my babies are my world
my whole world
who am i? i'm their mother
that is who i am
the mother of my children
he will kill me
and he will fuck my children
i will not allow it
no
no
hell no
my job is to protect them
and that is what i will do.

we are ready
i'm all prepared
it's only now a moment or two
to catch my breath
and we will be on our way
no turning back now
we are ready.

here we go
on our way
we'll be safe
we'll be free
we will all be free.

ah
ah
ahh
ah there it is
there it is
am i really doing this?
there it is
all i have to do
is press down with my right foot
press down
press down, right foot
all i have to do is press down
am i really doing this?
am i really doing this?
ah
ahhhh

oh
my
god
have
mercy
on
me
here
comes
the
water
oh my fucking god
here it comes
here comes the fucking water

oh she is crying
oh no she is trying
to break free
oh no oh she is crying
oh no oh oh oh she is trying
why can't i hold my babies right now
why can't i hold them
i want to hold her
oh baby here i am
oh there's her foot
her teeny baby foot
oh at least
i can hold her teeny baby foot
the others
asleep
sleeping
dreaming
in their carseats
carseats
strapped in
into their carseats
remember those carseats?
what could make us scream fight hate
like carseats?
finally they saved us
the fire department installed them
and saved us
from ourselves
ah now they save us
those properly installed carseats
my babies sleeping in their carseats
oh now
i hold her foot
she has stopped crying
she has stopped trying
the water
the water

what's that
what's that
movement
what's that my baby
my baby
my firstborn baby
oh my boy oh my baby
oh baby
what are you doing baby
my boy
oh my boy
oh what
oh what
i'm going
i'm going
what is he doing
what is he even doing
ahhh my baby boy
what what what
ahh my baby my firstborn my boy
he is getting free
he is getting free
look at him so strong oh
so strong
he got himself all undone
undone there
and OH THERE HE GOES
oh my baby boy
there he goes my baby boy
there he goes
up and out
there he goes all free

what
what
what am i doing
oh what am i doing
who am i oh i am a mother
i am a mother
what
oh fuck what oh what
oh
maybe
maybe
i made a mistake
i made a mistake
oh oh i am a mother
oh fuck
oh i am a mother
oh please
oh the water
oh the water
please
oh please please the water
oh
oh i have made a mistake
i have made a terrible mistake.
Week Eleven of the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. This week Amy of Transplanted Thoughts challenged me as follows: "I don't know much about poetry, but since it seems that's how your form your words, in Honor of Mother's Day coming up, write a poem about what motherhood means to you."

This is a piece of fiction inspired by current motherly events. But to be fair to Amy's prompt, I have written many lovely poems on the topic of motherhood. Like, for example, "on the wing," "small moments," and "sleepy girl haiku."

flight school

hard lesson to learn
arrivals & departures
every day heartbreaks.

typewriter(s)