2.29.2012

misunderstood

Six in the morning,
dragged from dreams

When we're together
we don't have to speak,
slow and sullen,
lulled by pluck and strum

we'll always be
such good friends, you and I.
calling from your clock radio,
snooze button.
Well, I misunderstood
I mis-under stoo-ood--
Steady on
your waterbed, reaching
 

for you, my knee
between your legs, trying

I thought she was saying
good luck
to put shine in your eyes,
I knew I was saying goodbye.

but she was saying
goodbye.
Oh goodbye, bye for now.
I wish I had more time.
 

Saying goodbye, we don't
speak.  

I misunderstood.
 

2.27.2012

done

Some days, I can't help
but lie here, abject,
like enticing carrion
as the coyotes bay
and the hawks circle.
 

Today, that damn wolf 
reaved off a chunk of me.
Help yourselves, hunters.
Pick me clean. I'm too worn

to fend you off.

2.23.2012

technical difficulties

My head might explode
with frustration. Oh, Facebook,
I thought we were friends.

2.22.2012

again

Another woman was killed,
here in my town.
By the person
who said he loved her most,
of course.
Where is the outrage?

It's like that slogan
about military bake sales.
There will be no need
for vigils or benefit concerts
when people stop
killing each other.

Stop it. Stop it!

We'll blow out the candles.
No one will hurt and cower
or spend each day in fear.
Only living and loving well.
We can organize that bake sale
to benefit the PTO.

2.21.2012

snow white & rose red

Yeah, get your nail under there, you got it. Peel it, tear it off. Make it bleed. 

The pinch in your wrist, quick but precise, unmistakable. Sharp.
First time you felt that, you thought no, there's no causal connection there. Picking a scab on your embattled shin did not just cause a nerve to jump in your opposite wrist
But by now you've repeated that experiment enough times to know.

Yes, picking a scab in one place causes pain someplace else. Deliciously shameful pain.

Do it again. Even though repeated picking causes unsightly scarring. 

Pick it again. Right there.  

Yeah.

2.20.2012

vic chesnutt's gift

Not one
kiss hello,
pass the baton,
up all night until
smoke circles my neck.
I'd like to lie with you,
wrapped in warmest baritone,
flirt with you all my life.
The breadth of this couch
distant as imagination;
that he sang for us,
ours now to honor.
Kiss goodnight,
let's drift.

2.16.2012

medicine

She sat at the kitchen table, a rocks glass in one hand and her phone in the other, scrolling madly through tweet after tweet as though she might find treasure there, beneath the liquid crystal surface.

"Fuck." She tossed the phone aside.

A spider made its way around the edge of the table until it reached the barricade of her forearm.

As the spider paused, she considered the purple and bloody bruise circling the first knuckle of her thumb. The blood red matched the burgundy of her wine.

"That's gonna leave a damn scar."

She rose to refill her drink.

Come and play 100 Word Song: Hotel Illness over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.

2.15.2012

永延な希望の春


(the eternal hope of spring)

All sober winter
squatters riot the rosebush:
circus of sparrows.
 

Silhouette portrait
dover framed against ice sky:
mallards returning.
 

Heavy at pond's edge
frozen townsfolk await light
and grace: blue heron.

Pirate Grace has the Real Toads writing teikei (fixed-form) haiku this week. This is real haiku, not the slangy syllable-counting jazz I'm usually offering up around here. Please go and read Grace's very informative article and try it! Not so simple as it appears.

2.14.2012

i guess you're

break out 
 the
rock 'n roll
   that
 (lustily) 
describes you
  (just what 
     i needed)
ah, yeah baby
   c'mere
     c'mon 
like a record
   baby.

deep love

Deep in
the ocean bright,

I love you
with all my might.

This is my five-year-old daughter's poem for her daddy's valentine.

2.13.2012

instructions

Last night's lovemaking's
now cocooning. Tangled in you
and little girl limbs,
I have tumbled again, farther
than ever. You envelop me,
cupping my breasts. I breathe
the rosemary on her hair
and think god how lucky I am.

People assume I mark time
in words on these pages, but
they are only partly right.
Upon review, I have discovered

a story of you and me,
our tale available to anyone
with an urge to analyze,
for better or for worse.

So maybe I am recording our
narrative, but more, they're
instructions for how to fly.
We make them up as we go.
Clasp me tighter, allow me
to taste your morning breath,
it's time for our ascent.
We are still learning.

2.12.2012

kerfluffle, cont'd

Naturally, I awoke a good twenty minutes before the alarm went off. Usually waking early made me sour and crabby, as the sleep-deprived tend to be when our well-earned sleep is stolen from us. But this morning, the extra twenty minutes to lie in bed awake, basking in memories of the night before, felt like a gift.

I moved closer to Michael and threw my right leg over him, nestling down into his arm, breathing in his funky morning smell. He turned to me, arm around my waist. It was perfect. I found myself wondering why every morning couldn't be like this, and then promising myself that they would be from now on. A kiss on Michael's neck woke him just enough that he groaned and rolled on top of me as I grabbed his ass and held on for the ride. Good morning, lover.

Almost thirty minutes later, we were officially behind schedule, but it was worth it. Michael had corralled the boys and prepared breakfast for all of us, a minor miracle in the history of our household. I caught him stealing glances my way as I dressed and primped for the day. I had always wondered what he thought about my habit of dressing for an office when I work here at home. And a sexy pretend office I was dressing for, at that. It seemed far-fetched even to me, my story about how I want to be ready to go on lunch meetings; that somehow it's easier to dress than to stay in my yoga pants all day.

The truth is, I like clothes, and I love looking good. There's something attractively insurrectionist about wearing a garter belt and bustier under a fierce business suit, even alone in my own house, that motivates me to work and be creative. So I do it, every day. Plus, it's not like I go unappreciated, even if Michael doesn't always notice. But he was noticing now, and he was certainly noticing last night, and somehow it felt like we had turned a corner. Like we had been given the chance to look at each other again, to appreciate one another anew. Man, I wasn't gonna squander that.

A whirlwind of lunches, gym clothes, backpacks, boots and coats later, I had driven the kids to school and was back again. Slinging my purse on the desk in my office off the bedroom, I noted for the thousandth time how peaceful it was to come back here after each other family member was off on his daily adventure. Now it was time for mine.

I booted up my laptop and lighted in the desk chair. Keeping my heels on at home was part of the charade; I crossed my legs, careful not to catch my stocking on the underside of the desk. Glancing into the bedroom as I waited for the computer, I let my thoughts return to last night, to the making up after our ridiculous fight. God, thinking about our lovemaking even just for a moment sent a particular ache to my belly. Quite a bit lower than that, actually. I had to cross my legs the other way.

Power up, email on, and first on the task list was marketing materials and magazine ad copy for the RoundHead Brewery. This would be a good one. And I did have a lunch meeting today, with Dave. Dave, CEO of Focus Marketing, from whom I was referred at least half of my clients these days. Dave, with whom I had history. This should be an interesting day. My eyes wandered back to the bedroom. We had forgotten to make the bed this morning, and that was perfect, the duvet tossed on the floor. That was just how I felt, though I strove to look perfectly pulled together.

Better get started, then. I opened my notes file for the RoundHead account, but almost immediately my cheeks flamed hot as the beep and green light of my email chat window presented itself.

Hey, Mo.


It was Dave. Of course it's Dave, we have a lunch meeting today, he's confirming. But why must he be so casual with his Hey, Mo? This is never going to end, it is just never going to end. It should be over, but it is so clearly not.

Hey there, Dave.

R we still on for lunch, hun?


The tingle below my belly came back.

Yep. 12:30 at Marchand's, right?

Keep it cool, Mo, keep it cool. Remember last night? How your husband made you so happy? How you and Michael made up for lost time, how he climbed way deep inside you and turned you inside out? How you held on and never wanted to let go? Don't fuck that up, girl. You should cancel with Dave.

OK, see u then. Maybe you'll have time for me after, even.


Oh, man. I won't. I won't have time for you. Oh, who am I kidding?

Maybe I will.


This is part SIX of an ongoing Thing That Has No Name that comrade Michael Webb and I are creating. SIX, I tell you. It's so complicated now, I'll need to figure out how to link to them all so you can read 'em in order. But for now, go back and read Part Five by Michael, and he's linked to the earlier ones if you haven't been following along. Yet. Hope you enjoy reading these as much as I am enjoying writing them.

2.11.2012

metro north

On the 7:07 express to Stamford,
local to New Haven, I'm listening
to a debate about creative naming
in the seventies and early eighties
by parents presumed to be named 
Tom and Mary and George.
I answered the question
which way does this train go?
with a point, rather than the obvious
well, not in the direction
of the stairs you just walked down.
Another story, about a schoolgirl,
punctuated by 
  nobody likes me
  everybody hates me
  nobody likes me
  everybody hates me
concludes with I don't know
what do do, she needs 
a lot of help.
Something happened in the toilet:
I ain't got not choice 
but to address it.
Mighty early for such messes.
Reading the poems of Mary Oliver
and Patti Smith, I look like
I stumbled from bed to this train,
because that's just what I did.
Attempting to exude hipster cool
with my jeans and pashmina,
tousled hair and notebook scribbling,
obviously I live the life 
of late nights, jazz clubs,
and hotel rooms.
Eh, it's only me. Work is done.
I'll be home for lunch.

2.10.2012

neverending

Your notebook
teases your words
to burst out in forms
you barely recognize,
but that you read with wonder,
admiring their speaker.

As it drags you
unwittingly
through caverns of memory,
desire, and imagination,
remember, it's your journey.

Words are for
honoring what was
and who has been lost,
creating new playgrounds,
love affairs,
gardens and galaxies
of truth and beauty
built on their sturdy backs.

Emerald sky awaits,
so lift off and sail.
If your trips around the sun
teach you nothing else,
learn this--
don't let the sadness
overtake you.
The light will come.
Fly before you die.

I wrote this for 100-Word Song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, inspired by one of my favorite songs, "See a Little Light" by Bob Mould, and also by a challenge to use the word emerald in a poem, and by seeing the movie The NeverEnding Story for the first time.

peace & noise

We're finding inspiration in the words and music of Patti Smith over at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads today. It's my occasional music-related writing prompt. Come tramp with us!
peace & noise

2.08.2012

miss amy's sideboard

Miss Amy smiled up at me. I can remember so vividly how she used to have to smile down at me as she told me enchanting tales of the days of her childhood when she and my grandfather and her older brothers, John and Matthew, had romped through the attic of the old house where I was born. As I grew older, she told me more and more about the year she and my grandfather had been engaged to be married, and of how her mother had broken off the match because she thought that my grandfather would never amount to anything.
This particular morning I had gone down to Miss Amy's to get a recipe that Mother wanted. As usual, she and her house were spic and span, she herself looking as calm and fresh as though she had not been busily cleaning and baking all morning.

"I love that sideboard of yours, Miss Amy," I said strategically, for I knew that there must be some story connected with the massive, marble-topped cupboard standing against the dining-room wall. Every article of furniture in the old house had its own particular history, which Miss Amy was easily persuaded to relate.

"I love it too, child. It belonged to my mother. She promised to give it to the first of her children to marry."

My surprise must have betrayed itself in my face, for she hastened to add,

"I know you're wondering how it came to be mine then, since John and Matthew both were married long ago, and I'm still an old maid, and will be all my life. I'll tell you all about it if you've time to listen."

I insisted that I had absolutely nothing in the world to do but listen, and we sat down opposite each other on two of Miss Amy's stiff-backed chairs, I with one foot swinging and the other under me, Miss Amy very prim and straight, with her little, wrinkled hands folded in her lap. She watched me seriously as she began.

"Matthew was married first, you know. He ran off with the girl who was visiting at Eldred's. They fell in love at first sight--but then I've told you that story before. At any rate, their elopement almost broke poor Mother's heart, but she kept to her promise to give the sideboard to the first of us who was married. She offered it to the young couple, but Hilda wouldn't have it. She was very young, you see, child, very fly away, and very modern. She wanted nothing in her house but the hideous plush stuff that was then in vogue. And so, the old sideboard stayed here in its own environment, where it didn't conflict with any new-fangled arrangements.

"You've heard all about the long courtship between our John and Mary Ingram, too. She was a home-loving, comfortable girl, and by the time they were married they had saved enough to furnish a home substantially as they wanted it. Mary had scarcely a corner where she could put the old sideboard, but she took it because she understood my mother's feelings so well. But often she said to me, 'You're the only one of the whole clan who appreciates this antique of mine, Amy. You ought to have it.'

"And so, when Mother died, leaving the house and furniture to me, John moved the dear old relic back where it belonged. It's been here ever since." She settled back with a sigh, as she always does when she's recalling bits of her past for me.

"And now it's yours for keeps. Aren't you satisfied, Miss Amy?"

"Well, --yes and no, child. There was a time when I thought that maybe it would be mine in my own right, --I mean if I ever married. But when you're old enough to think about such things--"

The bell for my eleven o'clock class saved me. I ran out, first touching her soft cheeks with my lips before she could promise me her sideboard as a wedding gift.

Short fiction by my grandmother, circa 1929.

2.07.2012

91S

Snaphot.
Full hunger moon
smiling,
shimmering seashell sky,
seven sisters stand sentry.
I fly by
on the highway.

2.06.2012

time heals

It took a while before
I realized it was you.

At first that familiar
quiver fluttered in,

landing low in my belly,
just enough to be dangerous.

But as it turns out, I am
not all that interested.

2.05.2012

ghost dance

Your great-grandson told me
that if you look for a ghost,
it will stop following you.

Does that mean
I'm looking for you all the time?
Because I don't feel you near
though I crave you,
want you in my fingers as I type.

Are you here? With a wry smile
for my daily routine,
a scratch ticket for the kids
when they finish their schoolwork,

I can imagine you here.
Elbows on my kitchen table,
leaning in to judge a picture
or a spelling list, you'd talk
to them about what they like.


Stay up late with me, 
beer and my notebook between us.
Let's talk about writing,
working, loss and heartache.
Let me kiss you.

I want you so badly. Maybe 
on his advice I'll stop looking, and
we can walk together the rest of the way.

2.03.2012

confession

a god-fearing woman
would require absolution now
but as i am not, temptation
and desire are gifts received
without threat of reparations.

so, you are invited.
come inside, lick my lungs,
gut me from the inside out,
teach me what my name means.

save your penance for later.

Fireblossom asked the Real Toads to write about temptation and confession.

2.02.2012

hope floats

Are you sure about this?
We could get into trouble.
She knew trouble and wanted none,
but he insisted.
That's how you know it's an adventure.

So off they charged
into uncharted waters,
only a flimsy dinghy to buoy them.
Holding hands, they jumped headlong,
trusting their enterprise to float.

Naturally, they sank.
First one, then the other,
belly up for the sharks, who
gorged on the flesh of their affair.
He watched her drown.

Happy endings only happen in the movies.

Ella prompted the Real Toads to write a poem using a quote from a movie. My quotes are from Hugo, one of the most magnificent films (and books!) I have ever seen. Also, far more hopeful than this poem.

the ice age

Where are we going? We should be hunkering, out of sight. Fright has brought us a distance, but let's pause our flight tonight. Blot our trail for a time.

Here is a mossy mew, it will do for a day or two. Come, curl with me, I'll harbor you against madness and rue.

This is really happening; it's colder than cold. I am getting older. One day soon you'll be required to harbor me, and then I will leave you.

They are coming, you must believe. It's distilled down to two: ice and sky. Earth and trees. You and me.

Come and play 100 Word Song: Idioteque over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.

2.01.2012

home sick

Don't get me wrong.
Homesick is what I am
when I'm at work.

But here at home, nursing my head,
playing my 17th game of hide & seek,
listening to one more magical story?
Don't get me wrong,
I love all your efforts, little ones,
but I am home sick from work.

I just need to be sick.