Monday, August 21, 2017


The rooster was dead.
My bible was blank.
The sun went down and I opened my eyes.
Stars, you don't fool me;
I'm not some country fool headed down the cellar steps.

The Moon is the only one I can trust--
Don't you think I know that?
Roads go both directions, no use to set out on them at all.

Rain made the river drunk,
and the fields lay back like whores for it.
Here I come, after dark.
Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches.

I wasn't always like this.
I was a bauble on a string, thinking myself rare. 
Then you wrote your name on my skin in fingernail blood,
and after that I was rare, a horse apple in a blind man's hand.

The rooster is dead;
He won't be traveling anymore.
My bible is blank and open on the berm.
Stars, you don't fool me--
I'm woke as fuck
and have forgotten more mercy than you'll ever deserve.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rather Large Cat Diary

Ah, our patience has paid off:
A Fireblossom in its natural habitat!
This one is a female. She looks to be
an older girl...I don't see any kittens anywhere,
although there does seem to be some sort of wild dog shadowing her,
hoping to scavenge a morsel.

Look, look!
The dog's strategy may be about to pay off,
because we see that the Fireblossom has moved to a large white object
in which she has stored food for later.
This is great....we get to see her pulling out...
what is that? Oh! Some apple pie, and now some ice cream.
(whispering) It's only ten a.m. here, so we were very lucky to catch this scene!

All right. The Fireblossom and her canine shadow are on the move.
They're on the way to a sort of den she's made,
something naturalists call a "living room."
See how she carries her meal on a round flat object rather than in her mouth!
Such ingenuity! 
She's half way there...but wait! Oh dear, what's this?

A small black object in the corner is making some sort of sounds.
It's hard to tell exactly what it is, but...'s some kind of rhythmic song.
Yes! It's what young hominids in the 1970's called "disco".
It's a sort of mating call, often accompanied by frenetic movements
designed to attract  a partner,
or, sometimes, they just do it for no particular reason,
at least not that we can understand.

Anyway,this could be trouble!
She's moving. With the round food-bearing object in her hand...
Oh no. Oh dear.
She appears to be reacting to the sounds from the box.
An animal of this age and size should never....
See that! She almost spilled the food! 
The wild dog was licking his chops,
he thought the dinner bell was about to ring!
Here she goes again. Watch out for that couch! And the coffee table! 

We've seen some close calls, haven't we?
She had better settle in a tree or under a shrub
or even on that couch and consume her meal.
Hyenas may come and try to steal it--
the dog seems to be trying to tell her this!
But no, she's swaying her hips, moving her arms around--
and there it goes! Oh no! All over the floor, er, ground!
What a windfall for the dog!

Oh! Listen! I think we caught her on mic.
Yes. Yes, there it was. 
When irritated or angry, she'll make these short aggressive vocalizations.
But look at the dog! He doesn't care.
Now the Fireblossom is headed back into the other room again...
Look! She seems to have cooled off
and she's making a sort of snapping noise with her phalanges, or "fingers." 
What's that she's got? 
I'm trying to see now... cleaner!

Well! I'm afraid we're out of time,
but it's been a pretty exciting morning, hasn't it?
Please join us next time on Rather Large Cat Diary! 

for Bits of Inspiration at Real Toads, where the topic is dance.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Upstairs, And The Fine Things Kept There

Don't dream.
Don't sleep.
Not yet.

Did you like dinner?
It was simple,
made from ordinary things.
A little pasta, sauce, and spice.

I brushed garlic on the bread.
I felt your eyes
and the warmth from the oven.

Lace our fingers.

for this.

someone once played this song, "Dreams", for me and told me I had a "totally amazing mind." But as another song by another singer has said, I'm just another silly girl.


Monday, August 14, 2017

The Winter Guest

You were the winter guest
wrapped in scarves and leather,
and I was the girl with red hair
and a dollar on the dresser.

One night, eating on the cheap
at the Chinese restaurant downstairs,
you turned an egg roll into a talking dog
who called me her Heart....her Air.

Do you remember when I played you
the song about a nightingale in Berkeley Square?
You called me a granny and kissed my ear,
then dropped your coat on a kitchen chair.

I loved the delicate balance
of my quilt on your back--
candle light in my bedroom--
and all of that....

You were the winter guest
wrapped in cable knit and leather;
now I'm a lonesome nightingale
with a scarf on her dresser.

from a word list.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Believe Me, Darling

The thing is,
You can believe in me
When I say
That there's bound to be
A place so lovely
That even we
Can't mar it.

And my love,
In all of your enchanting
Recently repaired
Almost perfection, can't we
Enjoy the evening air
That even we
Can't ruin?

Every time that the planets
In this certain way,
I find myself wanting to say
With only the slightest irony,
"Will you be mine?"

My nodding love,
We don't really need
The crutches that we
Allowed to become more important 
than this feeling
That even we
Can't poison.

So, now that the planets
Have aligned
In our favor, this once darling,
I find myself wanting to say
In an only slightly disingenuous way,
"Will you be mine?"

for Magaly's "Out Of Your Own Words" challenge at Real Toads. As per instructions, my 2012 poem "Sustenance" shares an opening line with this one.


Friday, August 11, 2017


 "Magic Mirror, if we only could / see ourselves as others would." --Leon Russell

I tried to call you last night.
I tried twice more but you never picked up.
Where were you?
Oh. Who did you go with? 
Yes, I know her parents. She smokes, doesn't she?
I'm just saying.
Nothing. Nothing at all. Don't get upset like you do, please.
Yes I know she's 21.
No, she can't be 37? 
Okay. I guess that's right, you kids are the same age. Time flies!
Well, you'll always be kids to me.
Did you get the recipes I sent you?
Some coupons, too.
Did you go to that job fair I told you about?
I thought it would be good for--
But you don't want to do that for the rest of your life, do you?
It's not really going to take you anywhere.
You could do--
Pardon? You did? That's wonderful. How much of a raise was it?
Well, excuse me. I'll never ask anything again.
Any men in your life?
Yes, but I thought that might have changed.
Oh yes, her.
But why were you so upset? It was only another woman. 
I just worry about you.
If you'd lose a little weight, and dress a little more--
Well, I'm sorry you heard it like that.
You've always been too sensitive. 
Your brother isn't that way at all!
Always do what?
Don't be that way. I'm trying to help you.
Why take everything I say as criticism?
Don't raise your voice, please. 
I never said that.
I don't remember saying that.
I just want you to be happy.
Well I'm sorry if you misunderstood what I was saying.
You know how you confuse things sometimes, just like your father.
Well, your friends don't say these things to you because they don't love you like I do.
Have you thought any more about becoming a Lutheran?
I only thought--
Well, when we went to church with your brother and Debbie, you said--
I thought you did express an interest. 
He'd be glad to talk to you about--
All right! I just wish you had something solid in your life, that's all.
I worry.
What have you been up to?
An award, how nice. Is there any payment for that, or...
Oh, I see. 
Well, that's a nice hobby I suppose. Nothing I would ever think to do, of course.
Yes. Yes, but...
I just think that if you spent that time in a more--
Well, because I'm your mother. I care about you. I worry.
At your door? Right now? It's rather late.
All right, I'll call you tomorrow then. 
You won't?
How about Wednesday? Any room in your schedule then? Ha ha.
Well, they'll wait, won't they?
You're just like your father, always running off someplace but never getting anywhere.
All right, yes, better go see who's at the door, my goodness.
Be careful.
Love you.

for Out Of Standard at Real Toads.

Image: The Broken Mirror Effect by croissance at deviant art.

Blogger won't let me add a video, so here is a link to Leon Russell's "Magic Mirror." 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


There are a million pretty girls
climbing in the windows,
filling up billboards and tv screens like pretty kudzu.

There are a million other girls
marking and piercing, trying anything
to make themselves different from all the rest. 

Be pretty like THAT girl.
Be thin like that one.
Fit in, fold spindle and mutilate, and most of all keep smiling.

But,...what if you are never meant to fit in?
What if you are marked out by God, or life, or nature?
What if, Jehanne,
what if, Janis,
what if, Miss Brains, Miss Butch, Miss Misfit Toy,
you believe?
you belt it out?
you don't let them shame you or shrink you or stop you? 

What if you accepted that you were touched by God? 
Damn, you'd be different.
And, damn, wouldn't that be fine?

I have become fascinated with Brazilian model Mariana Mendes.

She was born with a birth mark, melanocytic nevus, on her face. 

At age six, her mother paid for laser treatment, but it didn't have much effect. Mariana says she's glad it didn't, and doesn't want any more treatment.

She's a model, an internet sensation, and fucking gorgeous. 

Rock on, Mariana! 

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Come over.
For dinner.
Here's a box and a bowl.
Something wrong with Rice Chex?

What I want,
what I'm in a fever for,
is that book.
Dja bring it?

Here I am,
ever the lady,
climbing you like a fire ladder.
Not kissing you--
I want the book.

Got it!
Go, now. 

for Flash 55 at Toads.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: "Business Cat : Money, Power, Treats"

Business Cat: Money, Power, TreatsBusiness Cat: Money, Power, Treats by Tom Fonder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Business Cat is a tycoon, captain of industry, cat, and cartoon. He's all about the bottom line until something trips him up, like an empty box to sit inside of, or a can of tuna served at a leading restaurant.

Whether he's playing with print-outs or sending employees to sensitivity training for looking at cat memes, Business Cat is hilarious. He runs toward the elevator someone is holding open for him, then sits down and won't get in. His house has a cat habitat on the roof. His Secret Santa gift to an employee is a demised critter wrapped in cheery holiday paper.

The combination of cool, collected CEO and goofball kitty is the funniest thing I've seen in ages. (Not as funny if BC horks up a hairball on your keyboard, but that's life in corporate America.) Absolutely recommended.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sand & Water

"Solid stone is just sand and water, baby; sand and water, and a million years gone by." --Beth Nielsen Chapman

They say that if you love a Selkie,
she will leave with the tide, and not return for seven years.
Lovers of Selkies walk the beach collecting shells
and other empty things, here...and here...and here.

They say that if you love a Selkie,
to keep her, you burn the seal-coat she's shed.
Then you'll have a Selkie wife
silently crying in your bed. 

Here I've been, since who knows when,
Drawing pictures in the dust on the sill while you slept.
Don't say you believe, in me, in us
anymore; what's been burned can't still be kept.

Down through the town, past the fields, to the water
with my seal-coat stitched from paper and leather,
I slip back home, on my back I'm carried
by the change in the waves, in your heart, and the weather.

for Margaret's Artistic Impressions at Real Toads.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review : "All's Fair In Love And Cupcakes"

All's Fair in Love and CupcakesAll's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh, for Christ's sake. Kat works at a cupcake bakery in Bayou Bend, Louisiana, and yearns to breathe free, or make more interesting cupcakes at least. Her long-time bestie is Lucas, the local high school football coach. There's just this one thing...they've each gone sweet on the other, but are scared to come clean for fear of blowing up the friendship and ending up with nothing. Okay. I get that, at least to begin with. In fact, this novel is as sweet and easy as a cupcake at the start. Even the cover art is appealing. What could go wrong?

The two of them like to watch a Food Network reality show called Cupcake Combat. Sounds familiar, yeah? (Just go with it.) Lucas gets the brainstorm to secretly send in an application for Kat to be on the show, and wouldn't ya know, she's accepted. I'll tell you what she's won, or *will* win if she defeats these other six baking teams: she wins a year's internship at a prestigious New York bakery. But she needs an assistant, so coach dons an apron and off they go to L.A.

So far so good, right? The first flashing neon sign I encountered, saying "Turn back!" appeared around page 125 or so, when a couple of clumsily inserted religious references got wedged in. By about the third one, I investigated the small print on the back cover, and sure enough: FICTION/CHRISTIAN/ROMANCE. From that point on, in an evident effort to be able to market this turkey to a niche audience, the narrative keeps hitting these defects in the track as it chugs along. ("Should I get strawberry, or chocolate? WWJD?")

But still, the religious stuff wasn't any heavier than vanilla icing, and was only a mild annoyance, mostly because it didn't flow. What turned this book into a torture device worthy of Torquemada was the way these two grown people danced around each other for 300 pages. Want to read about 50 pages of Lucas wringing his hands like an old woman, worrying whether he should tell Kat how he feels? Want to watch him jump-back-jack as if she were electrified, every time they might actually touch? Want to slog through 150 pages of Kat's insecurities and misinterpretations and general whiney baby nonsense? ("He gave me a million dollars, a ring, and his autographed Knute Rockne football....he's obviously trying to get rid of me! Boo hoooooo....")

Really, this woman--who I actually liked at first--must be brain damaged or have been recently poleaxed with a railroad tie or something, because the reader and everybody else in the western world will figure out that coach digs her long before she ever does. And as for coach, he dithers around and analyzes more than a lesbian or a 12 year old boy. I am no fan of vulgarity, but I began to long for Burgess Meredith's character from Grumpy Old Men to show up and tell Lucas, "Ya mount the woman, son!" Seriously, this football coach must have had a horse riding accident in his youth or been hit in the grapes with a bowling ball at some point, because he just will NOT make a move, and is actually horrified when a buddy asks if he slept with Kat. "NO!" he responds, as if he'd been accused of selling crack to kittens. There's Christianity, my dears, and then there's idiocy. One is reminded of the Newsboys lyric "Do you really want a love that waits its turn?" Because that's what Lucas does, for 300 pages, agonizing like a palsied jellyfish the whole while.

Oh, eventually--like, 3 pages from the end--they actually throw all caution to the wind and actually talk to each other. (Weren't they supposed to have started as best friends? Did they not talk before? Or was their bond based on collecting American Girl dolls or something?) Oh, Kat! Oh, Lucas! Oh muh gawd, it's about time y'all. In addition, the remaining loose plot threads resolve themselves in the very manner that readers had already figured they would by page 12. Oh, and Kat's dismissive relatives do an about-face and shower her with love, because Jesus, I guess. Whee. NOT recommended.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Figure 8's On A Frozen Pond

He told me they were hiding, he and his wife and son,
when the air ripped, his eardrums ruptured and by the time he got to his feet,
his house was gone and he wasn't married anymore.

I set his broken arm, treated his gashed forehead. 
I asked him his name, but I don't think he answered.
His son is here, as are so many. Some will survive and wander off.

I was trained as a nurse in a hospital in France, with a job promise
back home in Quebec. I am multi-lingual:
I can say "You're going to die," in seven languages.

I am slight. My movements are deliberate.
I was never any help in our backyard hockey games, growing up. 
Now, I am as healthy as a chambered bullet.

I thought he was blind for a minute, but he was only in shock.
Once, I saw a lightning-struck tree next to a frozen pond where I was skating. 
I put my arms out. Ta da. I will save this guy's arm, stop his head from bleeding.

You can see the tracers. All this death, it gets into your head,
the blood forever under my bitten nails.
Things bodies were never intended to withstand come from the air,
sent by strangers, wiping heartbeats from the face of the earth.

"Would you like to see your son?" I don't add, "while there's still time."
He is ambulatory and triple-oriented. He is blown up, within himself.
We pick our way around the cots, shelves, and treatment stations.

A tv is on, powered by generator. We pass by it.
Someone is talking about the war. My patient can't hear a word.
Here is his boy. I smile at him out of old habit, gesture at a box where he can sit.

I have been here six months. These people, they shiver and cough,
hemorrhage from catastrophic wounds, ask for water, go still.
I will go back to Canada in January, empty and silent,

Healthy as a chambered round.

For Karin's "A Glance At Narrative" challenge at Real Toads.


Saturday, July 22, 2017


"Why?" she asked,
holding a headless sparrow
that the grackles had killed.

The sun was out,
but could as easily not have been.
I could have been someplace else.
She could have never been born.

Here, it is like
stepping off of the unfurled tongue of a devil.
For hell, it's cold.
People work here, collect checks like anybody else.

Once, she was spinning.
I caught her in my arms.
It could have been someone else,
but that day, the sun was out.
That day, the sparrows were thick around the backyard feeder.

At a certain age, she started locking
her bedroom door. There I'd stand, blind in the hallway,
holding laundry warm from the dryer against my arms.
Here, they let you look, their faces a question.

His eye is on the sparrow, so they say.
I was someplace else, collecting a check like anybody would.
I came rushing through the front doors,
from a window to a hallway to an elevator, one level down.

Someone caught her in their arms.
Now she's here, oh Jesus.
Oh God oh sweet Jesus, yes that's her.
My knees buckled, the floor came up. It could as easily have been someone else.

"Give her some water," someone said.
"Is her husband on his way?" 
Oh oh oh oh no no no no.

Every day of her life has run through
every day of mine. Once, she was spinning,
dancing to some song in the living room. 
She was smiling. Her arms might have been wings.

For the Real Toads mini-challenge. Write about a building. I wrote about a morgue.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


So I thought: I'm gonna agitate the gravel,
make like a banana and peel.
I musta had static in the attic;
Daddy's gonna flip when he sees what I done to the Roadmaster.

Oh geez, my leg's stuck under all that mess of metal--
I guess I'll have to leave it and come back or something. 
Not leaving my bags, though, oh hell naw.
Oomf, gawd they weigh a ton.

This sweater is cashmere, used to be yellow, now look at it.
And my head keeps boinging over to one side--
I must look like a real dope.
Mom's gonna have a cow. Whudja do to ya hair? Lookit ya clothes!

Maybe I should go knock on some square's door.
Hi, I'm dead, can I use your phone?
I gotta get somebody to come pick me up.
First ghost on the right! Oh girl, don't start actin' like a nosebleed.

So I wonder if Mom'll have me stuffed into a real churchy get-up
and have some Clyde get up there and say, yeah, she was an angel girl,
everybody loved her, life's gonna be a drag now.
Then cheesy organ music and shufflin' feet and dropped programs and stuff.

I wonder if it'll rain at the cemetery like it always does in the pictures?
My ankle biter little sis'll pitch a rose down on my coffin,
and crank crank crank down I'll go, like a big fat flower bulb.
In the spring maybe I'll pop up again, Ta da! Queen For A Day, what'd I win?

Johnny might write some retarded song about me, sit strummin'
with a tear in his eye, get a new girlfriend in about five minutes, if that.
My social life is over. At school I'll just be The Dead Car Wreck Girl.
Daddy's gonna blow his stack, Mom's gonna have kittens.
*sigh* Guess I'll start walking. Er, hopping. I really should've worn flats.

for my Fireblossom Friday challenge at Real Toads: Bang, You're Dead.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Wild Memories

Wild memories!
Scat sermons!
July under a Full Buck Moon!

Police at the PTA!
Sunday gun running!
Milkmen amok in the Monday dawn! 

Wild libraries!
Potluck Jezebels!
Crash test dummies up for mayor in the Fall.

for fragile, natural, wild with Magaly at Real Toads. 

The phony pulp novel covers are from BOOKTRYST.


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Lock

When you put the lock on my tongue,
that was some medieval dentistry;
performed before I knew
about informed consent, 
mental disorders,
and all the usual childhood stuff.

So, I became a telepath,
screwing with the antenna tv, broadcasting my thoughts,
burning the toast,
giving the garage door St. Vitus Dance,
and dispatching police and fire to our house with my brother's scanner.

Our neighbor three doors down
was the Chief of Police,
and he took me aside with the customary rubber hose.
The lock on my tongue precluded objection or outcry
and besides, I thought it was all normal
how he grunted as he swung,
and then holstered his gun in his face and blew his brains out.
I'll never tell.

You have three choices, you said,
of what to be in life:
a nurse, a secretary, or a hotel maid.
That's when I panicked and started the electric mixer with my mind.
What about hooker, homicide, hag, harridan?
What about paramour, prostitute, pill-popper, parasite?
Who knew I could make the kabob skewers fly through the air like that? 

I stood mute during my trial. 
Let your lawyer do the talking, they told me, 
just as I learned to do at your knee.
Still, I couldn't restrain my nervous habit of jangling the lock on my tongue
during dull moments
like summation and sentencing.
Such a quiet girl, said the warden.
You don't see girls like her very often anymore,
especially doing a quarter at this facility.

It's been years, now.
The other women call me Metal Mouth
and ask if the cat's got my tongue.
They don't know that I learned how to pick the lock last week--
they only know that the guards are having trouble
with the system that seals the doors,
and that the toilets flush by themselves all night
without even anyone's head being shoved into them.

Wait til I can talk, mama.
You always wanted to know what I could have been thinking of--
well, that was it.
Now I'm gonna use my words,
my hour come round at last:
Look, ma! Top of the world, 
and all that silence packed behind one long gorgeous scream. 


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Raucous Bird

I've got a million morning dreams, 
but in the way of casual cruelty,
despite trying to tuck them to me like a marked book--
they scatter and leave no sign or scent to help me look
for my lost dreams.

I've got a million folded paper notes
floated on the morning pond, bent carefully into boats--
but in the way of casual cruelty,
they love a water lily more than me
and do not return.

I've got a million songs that line my throat,
pin feather sharp, short-lived, half-grown,
but in the way of casual cruelty,
my cricket legs won't carry me to that place I've dreamt of passingly
where I'm a raucous bird. 

for Get Listed at Real Toads.