Friday, September 22, 2017

I'm Sorry. (You're Sorry What?) I'm Sorry, Mrs. Pinocchio.

Jenny wrote a poem
and it sucked hard.
I helped her with it,
until one of us died.

Jenny's mom
was a bitch about it, and got mad.
I said, have you read this?
I dare you.

Beautiful, so beautiful, she said.
Cash me outside, you know it blows.
Open the window,
your nose'll grow.
for Flash 55 at my BFF's.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

How I Know

Mrs. Capgras isn't Mrs. Capgras.
Whoever she really is, she's very clever, right down to 
parading around the neigborhood with the young Capgras children.
I confronted her.
"You can't fool me," I said, 
and the nerve of her,
the brass, 
she wouldn't drop the pretense.
Pretty soon the children were crying and she and I were 
clutching and kicking
biting and screaming
right there at the entrance to the park. 

The police were called, of course.
Idiot neighbors,
credulous biddies,
believed her that she was Mrs. Capgras.
Off she went, pretending upset,
gushing crocodile tears as she herded those kids back up the street.
She--whoever she was--kept looking back over her shoulder 
with her flushed, 
fake Mrs. Capgras face. 
She even fooled the police, who scoffed at me
as if I were insisting that the earth is flat,
when all I did was to state the obvious fact--
Mrs Capgras isn't Mrs. Capgras.

My nerves are so frayed,
so jangled,
it really is a trial to be put through all of this,
fresh on the heels of Mr. Fregoli's machinations yesterday.
He conspired--yes he did--with every jane and johnny in the development
to leave me a nervous wreck,
and a laughingstock.
Everyone I met yesterday was wearing a Mr. Fregoli face,
talking Mr. Fregoli talk,
and plotting evil against me.
I wasn't fooled for a moment, but what a position it put me in! 
"Poor Samantha, she's gone quite crackers."

And now you.
You're in league with them, don't bother to deny it.
You Capgras, you Fregoli, you second-rate duplicate!
You changed, right after you bashed my head in
with the wooden bread keeper that used to sit on your counter.
I had said some things.
I had been angry, and hurt, and I said some unfortunate things.
I said them, and you cold cocked me
and began recruiting your doubles.
You, my girl, can be cold and dark and distant,
and fracture something of mine every blue moon,
but this is not you, 
whether anyone wants to hear the truth or not.
This is not you--
my heart would know.

for Fireblossom Friday "The Distorted Lens."

Process notes: Capgras delusion is a condition in which the sufferer believes that people around them are false dulpicates of who they seem to be. Fregoli delusion is a state in which the person believes that everyone they see is one particular person in disguise. Both can be the result of a head injury. Finally, domestic violence between female couples is an under-reported crime, and not uncommon.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


"The scientists say
It will all wash away
But we don't believe any more
Cause we've got our recruits
And our green mohair suits
So please show your I.D. At the door."--"Sin City" by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons

Power only lasts a minute,
like lion piss on the trunk of a tree
keen on the next rain.

Girl, you're somebody's Venus,
but not everyone's;
while you give some fool your smile and make another one wait hope and suffer,
here I am, up from a trap-door Hell, denying you mine. 

Zebra have nightmares of being chased,
when they dare sleep at all.
All are destroyers to the ant, even a bumbling child.

See the sun, the same one that burns
the cat, the commander, 
the egg shell CEO and that cunt on the corner,
rising above them all.

Feel your own roar shaking the earth itself.
Dig it, but remember,
the legions with their whips and cages and clocks
have a circus to make you the foil of
in a Rome you've not imagined--more real than this desert you terrify today.

for the mini-challenge at Real Toads: "Juice."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ice Cream Walk

You never know how it's going to go.
Early evening, book aside, tv on,
dog asleep and smiling,

I went all zen over the ice cream tub.
Too much for one time, but 
not enough left for later.
It's like someone in your bed asleep-- a familiar sweetness
that disappoints unannounced.

There's someone else,
or you're someone else from who they thought.
The door closes, the tv blathers on,
the dog goes or stays, the book marker is lost.
Better have all the caramel cookie dough now.

So I couldn't sleep, after.
After what? 
After any of it.
It made my stomach hurt, so I put the dog on his leash
and took a turn around the neighborhood in the dark.
He was hot on the trail of something--
I know the feeling.

The further we went, the less sure I felt.
It seemed like a good idea at the time--how often have I said that?
Passing the light manufacturing strip
with its trailer offices and loading docks,
an acorn fell on a tin roof like an angry word.
The street lights were impassive.
I walked faster--no objection from the dog.

Here we are, I said, home in sight.
Crossing the tot park, my dog searched for nightcats,
I watched for pervs or stoned teenagers
on the swings,
in the shadows. 
Three houses up, lights on inside--
We're waiting for us, in there,
our other selves who go shhh shhh shhh
like I've heard that mothers do, when things go wrong in the night.

for Sanaa's "Of Muse & Me" at Real Toads.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ever The Lady--A Shameful Confession

It is difficult, being ever the lady,
as I strive to be.

If my dog jerks the leash while I am
-very daintily--
raiding the local book kiosk,
it requires enormous restraint to say,
"My goodness!" and stay on my feet as if I'd taken years of ballet.

~the shame!~
I've never read Jane Austen.

for Friday 55 at Verse Escape.

Image at top: Naomi Watts 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Have A Chair

Have a chair.
Have a seat.
No, not that one!
Over there,
out in the street.

Let's talk.
Let's chat.
Yes, right here, why not?
In the cross walk.
You down with that?

Never mind the traffic never mind the cursing drivers, never mind your
clueless mansplaining poor fucker of a husband, never mind any of that for now.

Let's diss.
Let's discuss.
You'll feel better, trust me.
Start with this:
Start with us. 

Have another coffee, my treat.
Have a good sharp stick in the eye.
Have at it, girly-Q--
Say it neat.
You know why?

Because, darling,
bitch of the century,
yesterday's news,

I need the chair for somebody else. 

for Quickly. "Chair."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Remember Me To Julian

Remember me to Julian McNickelbaker,
the high-wire equestrian from Trash Dump, Wisconsin.
If you're ever in Trash Dump,
having landed via sea plane with a load of 

Supplies in the middle of a hundred-year flood,
make sure to look for Julian.
Check his trailer at the mobile home park.
(Ask Judy, at the rental office, which one is Julian's.)
Scout out Super Burger and Sunview Lanes,
where I once beat him at bowling 154-132.

Stand for a moment inside the post office,
and check the photograph I gave you against those on the wall. 
And, of course, go out to the horse boarder,
and look there--look around--look up!
If you brought an apple, toss it as high as you can.

Julian McNickelbaker was the foremost high-wire equestrian
in the southern Wisconsin division for seven years running.
You should have seen the "wires" we used,
which were actually a weave of tungsten, New England hemp, and local sod.
You could have walked an African elephant out there,
with bowling balls in a bag on his back. 

I said--while balancing on one foot, 50 feet in the air, on horseback,
in front of a crowd of almost two thousand--
"I love you, Julian McNickelbaker," and I did, at that moment.
But later, he was angry, disappointed, 
and I wanted a drink rather badly but was 10 years sober,
and too proud to have to face anybody after.

I left that night, on a Greyhound bus,headed to Racine.
I didn't see a horse again for days, just cows,
and I stayed right on the ground like skittish schoolgirl. 
For years after, I suffered from vertigo and impetigo,
slept with no one and read about ten thousand trash novels.
But Racine boasts many splendors.

Tiring, at last, of Petrifying Springs Park,
I made my way to Wind Point Lighthouse.
It has a light bulb inside a Fresnel lens, placed there by angels
or the Parks Department or some other soul weary of shadows.
The keeper, who does not operate the light (it's automated),
and is there mostly to foil graffiti artists,

Approached me and confiscated my can of spray paint.
She could see that I was having a "moment."
"Do you want to go bowling?" she asked me. 
Gosh, it had been a long time.
"Yes. I'd like that," I said. I stopped staring at my shoes then,
tilted my head back and gawped, 
all the way up the spiral stairs to the top of the light.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Nickel & Rose

I would go to Mass, if I could be alone there
to love the dim light, the flowers,
and place a nickel in the plate, when the nickel is all I have.

We hang on our crosses,
hang around after death,
hang our hopes on a rose stem that bends and vanishes.

Here is a rose.
Here is a coin.
Here I am, tiny in this vast space.

I would go to Mass, if you would come with me.
If you would whisper to me that's it's all true,
and does not die--
the dogs I've had, 
the women I've loved,
and the men, too.

"Peace be with you."
"And also with you."
I think,
peace is overrated;
give me a dream about a nun's kiss
and a sacred heart that stays, like a nickel in a rose bower.

139 words (so sue me) for Magaly's "Dearest Book, I Wrote You A Poem."

The book I wrote for is Robert Girardi's novel "Madeleine's Ghost."

Image at top: Maud Feely, 1910.

Friday, September 8, 2017


All that morning, peacocks.
Later that afternoon,
the first yellow leaves, and tea from a tin.
On my bed, peacocks.
On my lawn, the same.
Inside these lines, peacocks. Inside my skin, the hen.

Late in the evening, peacocks.
On towards dawn, 
my book, my dog, and solitude.
Inside my skin, the hen.

A flash 55 for my BFF Hedgewitch, and for Mr. Kick-Ass himself, Galen.


Monday, September 4, 2017

All Afternoon

All afternoon in my flower garden--
wolves, imps, children, heavy equipment.
I wore gloves.
I had a trowel and a shotgun. 
A bushel basket.
Tarot cards.

All afternoon, clouds traversed the sky,
reminding me of childhood days in Singapore.
Here are things which can change in an instant:
a steady heart beat,
the four walls around you.

All afternoon I'd had the urge
to shove my gloved hand down the throat of the earth
to draw out the devil's vocabulary.
Don't be stupid--
you know, the one that badgers speak,
the one that drowns anyone listening--

All afternoon I slaved like a grave digger,
my straw hat gone, 
incubi dancing on the handle of my shovel.
I got a letter from the city, saying
cease and desist.
I got a letter from the Diocese,
saying I'd been excommunicated, along with the postman.
I got a letter from you
and it didn't say a god damned thing.

All afternoon I wondered why I opened it,
why I ever cared,
and whether I could use my 'do rag to flag the bombers
and sic them on your stupid paper house
with you in it.
I would like to stand on the rubble afterward, a martinet with round spectacles,
a cup of tea, 
and not a crumb of love left, 
but oh, one hell of a sense of righteous fury.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


"Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease" --The Beatles

Here is your ideal lover,
restless beside you in bed,
skin alive with a traveling infestation.
Reach out.
Go ahead.
Embrace the one who writhes as he sleeps.

Here is your constant one,
with words as sweet as rot
leaking from cracked teeth that teem with larvae.
Kiss him.
Suck his infected tongue with your lips
Because he cannot harm you.

Here is your adored one's treasured heart
housing sickening vermin.
Never mind the pitch and yaw
Of whatever fills his discolored chest.
He can explain all that, like so many times before;
Bring in a team to identify exactly what he is.

Touch him.
Kiss him.
Sit beside him and listen to him break wetly apart,
and, out of kindness, try not to vomit too obviously.
He is not what you thought he was.
He is legion,
and it is himself he devours, not you. 

For Skyflower Friday. Monsters.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review : "Sad Riddance"

Sad Riddance: The Milwaukee Braves' 1965 season amid a sport and a world in turmoilSad Riddance: The Milwaukee Braves' 1965 season amid a sport and a world in turmoil by Chuck Hildebrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me say first that, if you are not a baseball fan with an interest in either the era or this particular team, this is probably not for you. BUT, if you are, then you'll enjoy "Sad Riddance." From the outset of the 20th century through 1952, baseball's major leagues enjoyed a 50-year period of amazing stability. However, between 1953 and 1971, no fewer than nine franchise shifts (with the Athletics relocating twice, first from Philadelphia to Kansas City, and then from there to Oakland, California) took place.

The first of these was the incredible story of the floundering Boston Braves' move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a second-division team (the year before, in Boston) were welcomed as conquering heroes, and attendance records were smashed across the board as the Braves became a winner and then a champion. In the early 1960's however, while the team always won more games than they lost, they were not the powerhouse they had been at their height, and most of the old familiar names had departed, replaced by a parade of forgettable imports. Attendance fell, and the team was sold to a group out of Chicago, headed by Bill Bartholomay. Bartholomay spent two years assuring the city of Milwaukee that he intended to keep the team there, then went back on all of it by applying to the league to move the Braves to Atlanta, Georgia for the 1965 season.

Not so fast, though. Court action prevented the team from breaking its lease on Milwaukee County Stadium, and so the Braves headed into unprecedented territory, becoming the first and only team to ever have to play a lame duck season in a city while knowing they were leaving at the end of it. This book chronicles both the action on the field and the machinations in the court rooms, as well as giving a real feel for the city of Milwaukee itself.

The team still had eventual all-time home run king Henry Aaron and fan favorite Eddie Mathews, the only player to appear for all three incarnations of the Braves--in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta--as well as such players as Joe Torre, Phil Niekro and Rico Carty. Set against the backdrop of the National League's marvelous pennant race that year, the empty seats and broken hearts in Milwaukee are a stark counterpoint to a pennant race the team stayed in until as late as the end of August.

There are plenty of villains here: in addition to Bartholomay, there is reviled manager Bobby Bragan, who didn't seem to know when to shut his mouth and not say things to disparage the city of Milwaukee or his players, and do-nothing baseball commissioner Ford Frick.

While this book is rather long, and contains perhaps a little *too much* detail, I do recommend it to anyone who loved the Milwaukee Braves, or who wants to know how a city can lose a beloved professional sports franchise.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


There is a diner where the waitress lets down her hair,
despite Health Department directives,
or fevered men with their angry wives.

Each table has a miniature juke box
with songs on a flip wheel, 25 cents a number.
"Mister Sandman." "Brandy." "Spirit In The Sky."

You can order eggs, but the cook is loathe to break them.
He says he is haunted by the birds,
silent and accusing about their unlived lives.

At night, after closing, the cook and waitress go home together,
and take menus with them to remind themselves that everything has cost.
In her dreams, the waitress has an operatic voice, and can fly. 

There is a clock in the diner, advertising a particular soft drink.
At exactly noon, the waitress stuffs napkins into a dispenser
until it is full to bursting. She hates a mess, that's why.

Come to the diner. Take the bus, avoid the downtown rush.
Bring a good appetite and order pancakes
warm and brown as the waitress's eyes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Strange House

I lived for years in a strange house
where the sun only rose when it would
and sporadically.

The fields around this strange house
were stunted, though I crouched and sang
Billie Holiday for the yellow shoots.

In the night--which lasted days at a time--
I wrote letters and mailed them at the foot of an oak.
In the Fall, I could not tell them from the leaves and acorns.

Winter came; then Spring. Fall followed,
then Winter, and Winter again.
I had a million scarves. Hundreds of boots. A candle. Half a ring.

Why did I stay? It seems so foolish now.
I made biscuits and pies just to fill the strange house,
if only with aromas. The sun rose less frequently.

Finally, a letter came. 
"Please leave now," it read.
And I did.

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."