Up The Proletariat Skycase

On the day Princess Profound
plies her Predestined Comeuppance,
the Plebes will parade Parliament
parrying Ploughshares for Panache.

The Measure of Magnificence
will make Merry Men quite Mad.
Even Monsieur Mountebank, mounting
a Mordacious Mortar Masterpiece,

admits both Allies and Adversaries
are Ably Animated in their Avarice.
And again, as All's Aye that Ends
Aye, our Average Abe avec le Sky.

Kerry challenged the Real Toads to write in the Steampunk tradition, and this is my offering, steampunk or not, up the down or whatever.


A mountain zephyr
refreshes the crowd.
Children's voices sparkle,
a bat cracks a ball, cheers rise.
As you breathe the breeze,
you taste the picnic on the air,
BBQ mixes with beer and laughter.
A cold drink, a kiss hello,
it's our big reunion.



A woman could drown in conjecture.
Did I choose right? Wherefore the others?
But at age forty-six
And a lifetime of tricks,
She's not just getting older, she's better.


within me

It was my first year of college. I'll never forget the upperclasswoman who lived in the dorm room next door.

She was strong, spoke German fluently, and got up at 4:00 every morning to row with the crew team on the Allegheny River. You did not mess with her. Everybody knew it.

Because she was next door, she observed what I was up to. Comings and goings, happy days and tears. She noted everything and analyzed.

Eventually, she posted a sign on my door that said, "I love everybody and you're next."

I think she saw me before I saw myself.

I'm playing 100 Word Song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. Last week's song (yes, I am trying to catch up!) is "Within Me" by Lacuna Coil.



Maple floor revealed
beneath ancient carpet glue,
the smell of tar shampoo.

Dr. Pepper tastes like 

childhood. My skin is much worse 
since last you touched it.

That station wagon was a tank,
or a bassinet, or a womb.
He, and you, gone too soon.

The famous singer's girlfriend
made a mosaic stars & stripes.
I was in the process of leaving.

Do you still suck your thumb?
Press your belly against
the cool wall.
I pieced a star.

mosaic by marian, photo by marian

This weekend's prompt to the Real Toads is a photo gallery of Isaiah Zagar's mosaic installations by Daryl Edelstein. I was inspired to write the story of a mosaic I created, photographed above. Below is my favorite of Zagar's mosaics. 4,000 Poets, yes!

mosaic by Isaiah Zagar
photo by Daryl Edelstein

disturbed equilibrium

Seems the perfect time to share this short piece by my grandmother, as this is her birthday weekend and I just spent the last two days scurrying around working Reunion. I'd describe my equilibrium as a little off at this moment; it seems here that's she's trying to retain hers.

Everything has been in such turmoil all day. Why must girls fuss around so? Why do they let such a little thing as a mixup in a fraternity rushing party disturb the equilibrium of a whole day? The mad dashes from window to window, the wild scurryings up stairs and down, the secret conclaves assembled in one room, that gradually disperse and gather in another, soon grow to be wearisome rather than amusing. All this disturbance goes against the grain--against the philosophy that I prefer to be following today--to sit by and rest and take life as it comes.


one hundred and two

My grandmother would have been 102 years old today.
Here she is, in her mother's arms, circa 1910.
Please click on "my grandmother" in the tag cloud
to experience some of her magnificent writing,
more photos, and some of my writing about her.



You came from winter,
set numbers in the grass,
conquests 99 and 100
in divots near the woods.
I caught your eye,
greeting you from summer.



Frank's brother Larry had asked him to take a look at his piano, to see if it needed fixing or just a good tuning. Frank was no piano technician, but Larry was right, he could probably diagnose a problem, if there was one. But Frank could not understand why it was so important that he have his piano in good working order when so far as Frank knew, Larry did not even play piano. He didn't understand why Larry had a piano in his house at all.

My friend SAM at My Write Side tagged me in an interesting blog meme called Lucky 7. The instructions were to go to page 7 or 77 in my current manuscript, go to line seven, and publish the next seven lines. This is an excerpt from page 77 of my novel manuscript. Though these lines are fairly innocuous, the scene turns very dark a couple lines after this. There is a strong possibility that this scene, and maybe Larry's character, won't make the final draft.



Think, she thought. Where was that revolution?
She could damn well use a solution, but television
or no vision, ain't no revolution envisioned here.
Ain't no revolution in the institution. Think.
Where was the chairman? And she could damn well
use some fresh air, man. Fresh air, not this institution
pollution. Is anyone listening? Or just the television?
Think. You are older and slower. Think. Am I a tin star?
Or was it an El Camino? That's a car. Or was it a truck?
Try not to feel, love. It's gonna be all right.
                            You know it's gonna be.

This week's 100 Word Song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog is "Revolution" by, ahem, The Beatles.



Let me tell you something
I know about hopeless grief.
It is green, acrid, violent,
and unrelenting in its ache.

Nothing passionless about that.
In my view, it's when the grief
subsides and the dark moves in
that you should start to worry.

When the numb hits the limbs,
that's when the time is right
to stage an intervention. Bring
barrels of wine and love, please.

This poem is a response to the famous poem "Grief" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Kenia asked the Real Toads to write a poem containing a line from a poem of which we are not fond. It's not that I dislike this poem of Browning's, but I have never experienced grief as passionless, so I tried to describe that. And now the idea is brewing in my brain, so I'm posting in response to Kenia's prompt but this feels like a very preliminary draft. Stay tuned!


skylover loves geese!

My friend and comrade Kerry O'Connor has written a review of Responsive Pleading that is so flattering I'm beside myself with blushing over here:
A Wedge of Geese
Kerry is Queen Poet-Wrangler over at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, a community for which I am extraordinarily grateful. And Kerry writes exquisite poetry herself at her Indie blog, Skylover. Please click over to read her review and then spend some time perusing Kerry's writing. You will be glad you did.

5-speed & high heels

Man, I'd had enough
spreadsheets and emails
and drama for one day.
For many days.
I slung my satchel
over my shoulder, tight
over my bosom, really,
hit the lights
and clicked out.

As I click click
clicked up the brick
walk, searching the conifers
searching for the hawk's nest
(I could hear them
screeching like clarinets
through my office window)
the anxious in my belly
began to dissipate.

Couldn't see them,
but I could still hear them,
bucketed in my car seat,
windows down,
guitars screeching,
in reverse, then first,
second, third, I like
how the clutch feels
driving in tall heels.

This poem came from something I tweeted yesterday: "I love the way the clutch feels when driving in tall heels." Southern Mike reacted to my tweet (I think by saying "dayum!") so I challenged him to write a poem, too. I think I like his better, please read:
Date Night


molecular memory

my head in the
lazy susan cupboard
for red potatoes, I'm struck by
their smell.

My Gram's
kitchen bouquet
turns out was potatoes
aging under the sink, combined
with Schmidt's.



With all fancy hope of spring
at last returning, you'd think

happy thoughts of daffodils,
iris, would fill to the brink

and overflow. And yet loss,
now, is the cause of season
change escaping much notice.
Loss, and choice, without reason.

Late I noticed October's
charm, forever embedded
in memory, twisting round
my heart, once found, not wedded.

This is for Pirate Grace, in response to her last form challenge for the Real Toads. (Boo.)



The train rumbles by
a huge white swan
treading in muddy water,
dust rising from a gravel pit.
Why wouldn't such a creature
choose a more bucolic site
for preening? wonders the girl
who's looking at the world
through glass smudged 
with the grimy fingerprints
of generations.


cyclone rock

Soon enough, you're staring 
down the barrel of a hurricane,
egging her on. God it's great
to be alive, you shiver
as you stand your ground. 

This one's magnificent, full
of dark foreboding, a doozy.
The powder's gonna blow
if you keep tamping on her,
but you won't and you don't stop.

Like a sure shot, you bust
through her fronts, conceding
nothing but a soaking and
some bedraggled trim. This one
might be the perfect storm.

Refusing cover, you think
how could she do that?
Maybe it's time to stop
chasing storms. Stand.
Let the rain pound you down. 

This week's 100 Word Song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog is Deadman's Gun by Ashtar Command.


fraley's robot repair

Pausing the pretty words in order to share this fascinating video tour of our friend Toby Atticus Fraley's award-winning public art installation currently being exhibited in a downtown Pittsburgh storefront.

Toby is an amazing artist and sculptor, and you should check out his website, too. We hope to be able to visit Pittsburgh before the installation closes but it might not be in the (financial) cards. (Tee hee, inside joke, watch the video and you'll get it!)

Toby has a Facebook fan page, too. If you stop by to say hello, tell him Marian and Aaron sent you.


man, the dancing couple

They're awesome, wicked awesome,
two-stepping amongst the hippies,
swaying to the uke jams & diggin'
the fiddles, they's high on life
& anything goes here but whippets.

But what about the dancing couple?
Where'd they come from? Oh he's IT
for sure, she's somebody's Girl
Friday Executive Assistant & such.

Or maybe they ain't playing no role
'cept they lost all their corn, &
can't pay back no loan with no corn.

That dude looks a bit Amish, man.
Didn't the Amish grow corn? I mean,

This is Pennsylvania. And whatnot.

Pass me that jug,
----I wanna get high,
--------here in these cornfields,
------------where accordions flyyyy--

Written in celebration of the life of Levon Helm, my occasional music prompt over at Real Toads. "I raised myself, heh."


alone, with cats

Got something fun to share with you today, friends. My pal Jessica Schnall is yelling about my book today over on her blog, Alone... With Cats. You must check it out! 

Jessica's a pal, a smart writer, and one of the funniest, cleverest people on earth. Or at least in the internets. And she paid me the highest compliment I have ever received about one of my poems, so I put it on the back of my book. She said: 
"Marian's poetry is like the American songbook: simple, full of heart, timeless."
The nicest thing anyone could say about my writing is that, right there. I am all swoony still, thinking about it.

So anyway, Jessica is trumpeting my book today, and frankly, you should be reading her blog anyway because she's just damn funny. And lovely. Go read this post, and then stick around and read all the other ones, too. 

And then I got a book deal and was mentioned in the New York Times. Sort of.