Archive for August 2012

Dogged – Friday Flash 55 – Pearl! -17

August 31, 2012


My dog turned 17 yesterday.
by frolicking
down the hall until
she ran into a wall.
(She and I are much alike in that.)

Then, re-gathering paws, balance
dignity, and slightly, but
definitely, altering course,
she frolicked (more gently) on.

(Something, I say, rubbing
my own head’s
old sore spot,
I could learn from.)


Pearl says that she didn’t really run into that wall–that she was just investigating it with her forehead.  (She’s quite blind now unfortunately, but amazingly, though usually carefully, intrepid.)  This is an older video of her, at about 15.   17 is older.

The above post is (believe it or not) 55 words!  So go tell it to the G-Man

Have a great weekend !

Ground Zero Sight (In new “Freedom Tower”) – Tritina

August 30, 2012


Ground Zero Sight (In new “Freedom Tower”)

I walked where gaps in late rush hour led,
threading my way through shoulders crowding,
till random retinal rod looked up, saw

moon–not in sky, but in new tower’s glass–saw-
ing from rectangle to round as crowding
panels re-cut and perspective, led

by my tilt of head and careful crowding
steps, re-shaped; and, for once, the site did not saw
my chest in two– hewn norm since that morning of lead —

but led to wonder, crowding out (for moonrise moment) what–I saw.
Agh!  the last line was originally intended to run over into the next – but the runover would not be indented so settled for dash.  Also, original version of this post used “that” instead of “what” which I think was a bit more confusing than the “what.” 

The above is a “tritina”, a form of mini-sestina, that repeats in intersecting order the last words of the line. I am posting it for the dVerse Poets Pub “Form For All” challenge hosted today by the wonderful craftsman Samuel Peralta (a/k/a Semaphore).

The photo taken last night on my iPhone shows the new Freedom Tower being built at Ground Zero to replace the old World Trade Center. I was startled to see the reflection of the moon in the lower left hand corner – it’s that small round speck there. It shifted, of course, as I moved, especially given the right-angled glass panels.

The photo below is the view from the other side.

Check out dVerse, Sam’s article on Tritinas and my books! Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

“Place of Peace That Passed Understanding” in 25 words!

August 29, 2012


Place of Peace That Passed Understanding

The portion of mother’s lap
corresponding to that stretch
upon the Buddha (then
unknown to me) where he rests
his open hand, her
cool fingers.


I am posting the above for a Real Toads poetic “Words Matter” challenge by the  wonderful Mama Zen to write about an image that recurs in my work in 25 words or less. I may have cheated a bit with the long title.   The images I started out with: Buddha hands and the idea of a child resting her head on her mother’s lap, images that both are in a few of my poems.  Here’s one specifically about Buddha Hands.   

“Poet’s Room” (Of One’s Own)

August 27, 2012


Poet’s Room

There’s a certain slant of light
in the room where the women
come and go
talking of Michelangelo.

The walls, I’m pretty sure,
are of clay and wattles made
(though the wattles
don’t show much from this angle), and

in the icebox,
there are plums
(which you are probably saving
for breakfast.)

It houses such stuff
as dreams are made of (along with the plums), and
about as much reality
as humankind can bear.

it is somewhere
i have never traveled, despite
repeated tries, but i make myself believe,
as I walk out one evening,
I will find it==

perhaps not until the dews
grow quivering
and chill–
perhaps not until winter itself
is icumen’ in–I don’t care–
as long as there’s still
a certain slant of light,
to write by.


The above is my “found” homage of sorts to Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Shakespeare,  more Eliot, e.e. cummings, W.H. Auden, more Dickinson, and Ezra Pound.  In other words, I’ve stolen a bunch of really terrific lines from all these great poets!  (In exchange for my everlasting love.)

The poem responds to  the pictorial prompt posted by Tess Kincaid of  Magpie Tales, the Andrew Wyeth painting, slightly modified above, “Big Room.”  (I’m not sure the room in my mind actually looks too much like this one.)

I am also linking the poem to dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night. 

Check out Magpie Tales and dVerse for wonderful poetry and while you are at it, check out my books!   Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.  Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

“Did I Mention The Olives?” (Bougain-veal-ia) – Shadorma

August 27, 2012

“Bougainvillean Dreams” by Jaime Clark

Did I Mention The Olives?

He ordered,
beneath pink courtyard
vines, the Mounds
of Venus
two scoops mozzarelle on veal–
cheeks deep pink then too.


The above is a very silly version of Shadorma – a six line form with a set syllabic pattern – written for Kerry O’Connor’s With Real Toads challenge involving the use of Shadormas and wonderful “macro” photographs by Jaime Clark.   Check out Kerry’s article for info on Shadormas, and more beautiful pics!             .

PS – as a longterm vegetarian, hate to make a joke involving veal- in other words – maybe stick to the olives and mozzarelle! And Pasta and Fagioli!  


“Playing it Again, Sam, Playing it One More Time”

August 26, 2012

Modified, but from “Casablanca” with the incomparable Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

Playing it Again, Sam, Playing it One More Time

Yes, we’ll always have Paris–
the mattress that,
with corners tucked up walls, just
fit the room;
the warped door that we could
only open lying down–perfect, in
other words, but where

not-love was in the air, and I wished
each morning, after we wedged in
the croissants, that I had ordered
cafe au lait, trying
to come up with
something, anything, to change, to
focus in on

other than the actual worm in our
rosebud: that frankly,
my dear, you didn’t
give a damn, while
I loved you, you were my only reason
to stay alive, if that’s what I was.

Yes, the silhouette of
your profile,
noble as Brad’s (pitted against the window-
framed gargoyles) would bend towards
mine occasionally
to kiss me, kiss me
as if it were the last time (which
you were already sure it was).

I guess you figured that, while teaching me
to quit you, what I needed
was kissing badly–French tea
never terribly good–though a little less
looking at you, kid–you not
at me–might also
have helped–



I am posting the above (belatedly) for the writing blog With Real Toads, for Fireblossom Friday’s prompt to write a love poem worthy of a romantic movie (“Lights, Camera, Love”).  I didn’t quite have it in me to come up with that kind of love poem this weekend, but I could think of lots of bits of romantic movies I love (sprinkled above.)  

“Night Storm Bath- Florida Coast” (Also Borg de Nobel)

August 25, 2012

“Two Parts of the Road as a Whole” by Borg de Nobel

Night Storm Bath – Florida Coast

Thunder so low (rumble)
overhead and again
that I begin to seriously question
a stress-outing bath,
here at my mother’s,
where we didn’t fight all day
at the last good night
murmured words, including ‘ruined’
and ‘life,’ mis-erupting (rumble)
and mis-(rumble) interpreted, and not
resolved (ever),
but done for this night

Only now my brain quirks picturing
predator lightning finding
this tub;
bathwater conducting
a yellow zig-zag around my form astride
limp shower curtain.

The sensible part of me thinks
about the Atlantic Ocean,
two blocks away, a watery elephant
to the flea
of this small tub;
the sensible part of me
understanding Copernicus, i.e. that the earth itself
is not a center
of all that much.

Only the flea,
in this case, is also
me (sort of), so that even
as I turn on the faucet determinedly,
leaves the plug ajar
till the hot is nearly gone, and
all that lingers
is a tepid inch that barely accommodates
a moment’s irritated scoop.

shivering, I
towel safe
dry, wishing terribly now
for either excitement
or redemption,
though I do not expect,
at this point in my life, anything
totally welcome (rumble)
to come in a flash.


The above draft poem–I call almost anything fresh off the press a draft until I feel really certain of it – was written for a dVerse Poets Pub Poetics Prompt hosted by Claudia Schoenfeld that features the wonderful Dutch painter Borg de Nobel.  Many of Borg’s lovely paintings may be found at her website   I don’t think the above poem does much justice to Borg’s painting (and especially not to the great elephant) but inspiration works in odd ways; i.e. you write what you write!  

I am also linking this poem to the Open Link Day of the wonderful poetry blog, With Real Toads

So check out dVerse, Borg, and if you have time left over (!) my books:  Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.  Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!  (Come on!) 

A Misunderstanding At the Voting Booth? Oh, wait, is this a Gun Show? Hmmm… Friday Flash 55

August 24, 2012


No Driver’s License?  Can’t let you step into that booth.

Sure, you’re registered, but no Drivee, no Votee.   See, where it says–right on that–err…

Vision impairment?

Wait – you came in here to buy firearms?

Geez, sorry, ma-am, right this way; no, this way.  And just, huh, watch where you’re pointing that thing.


The above is exactly (minus title) 55 words so do tell it to the wonderful G-Man

I must note an inaccuracy in my 55 – most of the new voter I.D. laws do not require a driver’s license, but they do require that a voter have a government-issued photo I.D. (They will not accept a student I.D. or other non=government photo I.D.s, or a non-photo government I.D. such as a social security card or a birth certificate.)  No one, even those promoting the laws, appears to have documented a significant instance of voter fraud, in the sense of ineligible persons voting.  (The places, it seems to me, where questions of fraud have been raised have been in the counting and certifying as in Florida 2000.) 

I admit also that most states also do require some form of government-issued ID for the regular purchase of a firearm.  There appears to be a pretty large “gun show loophole” to most gun laws, however, that allows for sales of guns with extremely little (or no) regulation. 

Speaking of guns, my deepest sympathies to all the victims of the shootings in my dear New York City today.  

“What She Was Into For A While”

August 23, 2012


What She Was Into For a While

Take P.G. Wodehouse.
Clare did, meeting me every morning
with ‘what ho what ho
what ho?” and, when I
was not about to be called ‘Dingo’,
shimmering into talk of
“the good old F & B” (her brother,
Kieran)  (Flesh
and Blood).

Though even Wodehouse
was better than the bands. That one
actually started
with Kieran I think,
who may already
have been using–don’t know for sure–only
that he was crazed by then, bringing his
guitar to school to practice
in the bathroom, cradling it
on the boys’ room floor, which I thought
freaky enough, but his fingers oh so fast, man, like
he’d taught himself to

Though Clare, hurt the way he seemed
to just stop caring, sniffed ‘heavy metal,’
‘not her thing,’ her profile thinning against
her laptop;  again, again
clicking on some My Space rif
(or ten) that (from my point of view) could never
long enough.

The worse was when I’d go
with her to a beer-amped
cave to actually see the stupid
band and one of the guys would
unhook himself
from the stage, buzzing
nonchalantly to
her be; ready, I could see, to take her
like a cigarette, quick and half-
smoked down, and I’d ‘hey Clare,’ even whispering
‘what ho?’ as if
a joke could break
the spin, but had to snake
my own way home, trying to shake
her out of me like my own
out of my eyes.

At least she gave up on each band guy soon enough,
not admitting that the music sucked,
but that, well, it wasn’t so great after all, and we’d sit
on her parents’ couch, Kieran gone for good
then, gone
for bad,
watching Jeeves again and again
smooth out


Ah.  So here’s a rather odd draft poem that’s actually from a sort-of verse novel, called “A Good Thing.”  I am posting it for dVerse Poets “Meeting the Bar”, hosted today by Victoria C. Slotto; the prompt to create a character. 

The references to the wonderful P.G. Wodehouse, author of Jeeves and Wooster series, which I am quite sure Clare will agree are much much better as books (though there was also a very fun series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.) 

1950’s – Halcyon? (Maybe Not in Terms of Tax Rates)

August 22, 2012

Fingers Crossed Behind Back

You know what makes me sick: certain disconnects between hypocrisy and fact; i.e. manipulation.

One thing that comes to mind is the conflict between proclaiming absolute devotion to the sanctity of life while balking at even the most minor limitation (as in a three day waiting period) upon the accumulation of massive numbers of assault weapons.

But I don’t want to talk about gun control–a subject seemingly verboten in this country – or even about women’s health issues.

No, let’s just go straight into the wonderfully entertaining subject of taxes.

Many, especially on the right, seem to view the 1950’s as a halcyon time of an expanding economy, increases in home ownership, stable families and values.   A time when men were men, women were women, and everyone, in either arrow or peter pan collar, knew their place (including in kitchen or closet.)

Actually, I have nothing particular against the 1950’s!  (A fine-enough decade to be born in.)  But guess what?

Under the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, genuine American hero and Republican, the marginal federal tax rate on regular income of over $400,000 was 91-92%.  (Gulp.)

The maximum capital gains rate was 25%.

Just for comparison’s sake, the maximum marginal federal tax rate on regular income under President Obama has been 35% (on income over $372,950 – 388,350).

The maximum capital gains rate has been 15%.

Although Obama is regularly characterized as socialist, he has never proposed a return to anything like the tax rates of the good old 1950’s.  What Obama has proposed is a return to the Clinton era tax rates (another age of economic prosperity) — but only for those earning over $250,000.  His proposals would raise the top marginal rates for those earning over $250,000  (now 33% and 35%) to 36% and 39.5%.

For many, that extra 4 per cent or so upon those earning over $250,000 feels like a death blow to liberty.  But don’t worry, even with such raises, some of the very wealthy (like Mr. Romney) will still probably be able to keep their operable rates to at least 13%.

(Please note that I do not know the best way of healing our troubled economy, or the world’s troubled economy, and I don’t particularly like paying taxes any more than I like paying for health insurance, car insurance. airplane fees, clothes that are not on sale, or a whole bunch of other things.  I just bring up these figures because I feel like the numbers, as well as our historical decades, are constantly being manipulated and mischaracterized.)