ALL CAPS, the interview

Today the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads features an in-depth interview with yours truly about ALL CAPS. Lots of spoilers! Rush off to read!
Full Name, ALL CAPS: an interview


an open letter to those i've loved

If I’ve loved you,
I hold memories of you,
but the good news is
I’m told my memory
is wiped each morning
and re-booted,
plus, I live in the present
and am happy right here
who and with whom I am.
So though I do remember
your eyes, your smell
and the way your hands
felt on my hips,
I have forgotten
the details of our demise,
and the shitty things
you said to me in anger.
And even if I have the idea
that you’re an asshole,
it’s only in a general way,
and not with any real malice
or specific annoyance.
I’m willing to bet, though,
that you haven’t forgotten
the crappy things I said to you
or the times I threw things
or stomped out,
and I bet you think
I’m an asshole
because probably
you don’t have a convenient
memory impairment
like mine.
That’s why I’m writing
this open letter to you,
offering forgetting
and suggesting the possibility
of just leaving behind
all that pain and junk
so you can remember me
like I remember you:
Someone who captivated me
with your beauty--
because that’s what’s stuck--
Someone I loved.

Kerry challenged the Real Toads to write an open letter. Here's another:
open letter to technology and cold germs

I hate you.
Everyone hates you.
You are a plague on households
and a stifler of creativity.
Go the hell away.
Signed, Marian


grape soda & paper route

A huffy three-speed with fenders
is heavier climbing uphill
with saddlebags full of newspapers,
all of which will be placed gently
between the screen door and the inside door,
not tossed on the porch
or the front lawn or the hedges,

and it’s heavier still when attempting
to collect the weekly dues
for the newspaper subscriptions
all of which adds up after weeks
of not answering the door or come back next week
or giving the papergirl cookies
and a wink instead of cash,

but that bike’s sure as hell heavy enough
to practically take flight
after pedaling out to the nursing home,
wiping out face-first in the gravel pit,
sweating and wiping and smearing ink grime,
whipping down the hill to the Gulf station
for a six a.m. cold Nehi Grape from the soda machine.


Criteria For Normalcy

Looky, looky, gentle readers! Released today from ALL CAPS PUBLISHING, a stunning book of short stories by Yve Chairez, Criteria For Normalcy:

Click here for all the news at the ALL CAPS website... or, what the heck, just click HERE to buy it on Amazon. You will be so glad you did!


cold kerfluffle

Of the days when nothing's well,
everything's said and nary works,
the tales are long and faces longer,

Malady drapes across the roof
like duck cloth, no billowing able
to provide a fresh-air respite,

No recovery in sight, your wistful
wishing for a healing now seems
almost adorably quaint,

As your bibulous over-brain wrestles
with your virtuous conscience
to dominate not only your dreaming

But your choices. Seems a crash-course
in skirting mirth in favor of ignominy.

Kerry asked the Real Toads to write a 14-line poem, sonnet or not. I used a word list generated by a group of folks in the ALL CAPS PUBLISHING Facebook community, including these words: kerfluffle, malady, billowing, recovery, wistful, bibulous, mirth, and ignominy.



road, waddling porcupine
joins along, just as I'd guessed,


will write for food


rain on the roof (redux)

Concentric circles
on Spring Creek
outside a bathroom window--
a woman perches on a clawfoot tub,
her mouth reflected in the beveled mirror
above an ancient pedestal sink,
incanting into the telephone:
No, listen. No--
She is beautiful, as is the rain
reflected on the roof--

Mama Zen asked the Real Toads to contribute to the constructing of a Toad House in 48 words or less. I decided to re-write and condense a long, rambling thingy from a couple years back.



Taping my hems,
helping to identify objects
in ceiling water stains:
   That’s a stick.
   No, that’s a fart!
   What does a fart look like?
Wondering if I can write poems
to a Rob Zombie soundtrack
plus a litany of mama, look!
And whether I can keep up pace.


stellar remnant

The thing that sparkles wondrous,
with which you must not interfere,
avoiding wrath upon us--
It’s the black, sparkling wondrous,
frightened, midnight nebulous,
in its vast shroud you’ll disappear--
The thing that sparkles wondrous
take care never to interfere.


what i remember about when you died

My cabin in Fisherman’s Paradise,
a place you loved.

A quantity of painkillers
for a busted back, a turned-off phone,
a knock from a neighbor:

It’s your grandmother.

Driving in a car named Silver Bells,
bad back on a bad seat,
a John Hiatt song bringing my tears.

An osteopath,
forever-after referred to as The Healer,
and a leg adjustment.

My cousin Sue, rising from her chair,
holding me in her eyes, then in her arms.

Cutting my braid,
drafting lawyerly letters,
receiving your writing desk and papers,
my mother crying in my lap.

Not being there before you died,
not talking to you, not seeing you.

Not saying goodbye.

Fireblossom has challenged the Real Toads to write in free verse this weekend and has written a wonderful, informative primer on the subject that everyone should read. It's here:
Free Verse: My Love In Her Wild Magnificence


ten years ago today

Ten years ago, we walked in pain,
marched down our city streets:
invasion planned, we took a stand.
Though now it seems in vain,
were not alone;
we join our voices with
our brothers, sisters globally,
resisting tyranny,
rejecting thought that dropping bombs
fosters democracy.
Today, Fireblossom challenges the Real Toads to write a poem with a particular ballad-ish form and meter.

Ten years ago today, people around the world marched in protest of the planned invasion of Iraq by the United States. My husband and I (ah, my boyfriend, then!) marched in Pittsburgh. This earlier poem, called "Invasion," describes that night:

I was suited and stockinged,
high-heeled, pregnant.
You were quietly outraged.


As the bombs dropped,
we paraded more than marched,
then walked all the way home

united in pain.

"Invasion" appears in my poetry collection, Responsive Pleading.


you are still

Babe to my Hey,
Declan to my Diana,

Dada to my Mama,
Old Man to my Good Wife,

Love to my Love.

Sharing an older poem for my old man, because hey, it's still true. Happy Valentine's Day!


what is Love?

No hesitation
or junkie-shaking what-the-
fucking exigent begging
for absolution
gonna change this life’s atrocity;
nothing can do that.
It’s atrocious.

In a moment
I thought I lost you
and all the bullshit melted away
like a wax figure in a brick oven,
rendered insubstantial,
as meaningless as dust
in the desert.

We can spend all our days
searching for rainbows,
wishing for the power to fly
beyond the muck
of humanity,
or we can thank the sky for being blue
and focus on one another.

All I know is,
the prospect of your absence
spurred a tectonic shift,
the resulting tidal wave
washed me clean of what came before,
and I am purely yours.
No reservations.

Susan challenged the Real Toads to write about an event that answers the question, "What is love?"


Idear Man

What were we thinking?
Like impertinent fools,
turning off a true path,
I was yes to your yes
as I’d never yet tried.

This was all your idea.
I just followed along,
like a lamb to slaughter
allowing your sacrifice.
What was I thinking?

Oh, those little lambs,
suckling at mama’s teat,
unable yet to swagger,
yet helping themselves
like impertinent fools.

Trapped in your confines
atrophy set in, like love
attacking the core of me,
cardiomyopathic rhythms
clicking off my true path.

Heart insists: no regrets!
Steady on and love again.
How I wish for other days
with the strength of no,
but I said yes to your yes.
The gods are ever outraged
by any human sacrifice,
and I am sick to death
of my heart’s dirty truth:
I ain’t ever been tried.

What was I thinking?
I just followed along,
unable to swagger still,
in cardiomyopathic rhythm.
I was yes to your yes, but
my heart still ain’t been tried.

Hedgewitch has challenged the Real Toads to write a cascade poem this weekend. I confess an aversion to cascade and some other forms featuring repeating lines, but I tried anyway.


deformation zone

aqua velva nights
pink terrarium sunrise
kaleidoscope years


otherwise bombogenesis

She adhered
to merciless missing
the way a drunk can’t shake
the innocent amber liquid
that burns going down
and swelters from the inside.

It was her secret,
the simple holding on;
such a tangible desire
that even a flicker of loss
would require an assault,
conflict of great magnitude.

A complex question, then,
woven like dreams of giving
clouds plus nervous-service:
What will the explosion be like
when opposite but equal forces
collide? Projected bombogenesis.

Fireblossom set the Toads loose with an A+ word list today, from which I believe I have managed to use seventeen in this little poem. I took liberties with the forms/tense of many of the words. Bombogenesis was not on the list, heh.

choose or lose

it’s the windows:
open for flying through,
or closed tight and up against it.
We choose.


caught between what and if

Far away
yet right up close,
close enough to blur
the breeze between what
and if--
Sparrows throw a rose parade
but if I march, they’ll fly.
What if I threw
caution to the wind
and flew?


somehow i expected a different result

Déjà vu's funny.
What was I thinking when I 
tried this shit again?

* * * * *
Gentle readers, I have some new videos uploaded to my YouTube channel! What, you don't know I have a YouTube channel? You better remedy that by clicking right over and checking it out:
runaway sentence on YouTube!


groundhog day

so settled in,
it’s hard to imagine
walking my long evening shadow
in spring.


midtown ballet

after darkness,
blanketing other realms
stays at bay, streetlights & neon
your guts
to wander, search
each block for clues absent
in daylight, but obvious when
bills owed
accounts received.
Behind glass, mannequins
illuminate your extra pounds,
dead weight
but curious
and strangely beautiful,
meant to be shared with someone yet
intimate, blue
translucent heartbroken
light shines on a city you had
to wander, search
behind glass mannequins--
meant to be shared with someone, yet

photo by Marian Kent
I'm playing Teacher for the weekend over at Real Toads, and the subject is dear to my poet's heart: the cinquain. Many Toads have taken on this challenge beautifully, please do go and read!

This is my attempt at a garland cinquain--one I haven't pulled off yet, and am not sure I have this time, either. It's five cinquain stanzas, plus a sixth made up of lines from the first five.

ghost stories

Cousins, on holidays,
huddled in a flash-lit circle, 
poring over Fantasmagoria magazine,
watching Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark,
scaring the lights out of the little ones
who never forgot
the story of the Hairy Hand
or how it felt
having a big cousin like you
to tell us the dark tales.

This poem is my response to Laurie's request that the Real Toads write a phantasmagoric poem. That word brings up this memory strongly for me, so I just had to write about it. 

This poem is dedicated with love to my cousin Susan.