Archive for October 2012

8 Mississippi!

October 24, 2012

“Eight Mississippi” From 1 MISSISSIPPI by Karin Gustafson

A day dealing with decisions has left me with little oomph for a new poem or political post, so I turn to…. MARKETING!

Above is a picture from my counting book 1 Mississippi.  If you like counting, elephants and rather watery watercolors, it may just be up your alley (or it might work for a small child you know.)

Or, if you feel like you already know how to count will enough, you may prefer Nose Dive, a very fun young adult book that features NYC, high school, Broadway musicals, phone sex (don’t worry!), and a generational discomfiture with Barbara Streisand.  (By Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Jonathan Segal.)

From NOSE DIVE – by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Jonathan Segal

Or GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco.)  Poetry, primarily formal poetry (sonnets, villanelles, pantoums.) 

All the books are published by BackStroke Books (my own imprint.) 

Thanks for your indulgence and support. 

Oddly Enough Why My Mom Is a Lifelong Democrat (Hay Knife, Fear Itself)

October 23, 2012

Oddly Enough Why My Mom Is a Lifelong Democrat (Hay Knife, Fear Itself)

When my mom was young, she fell,
wearing bunged-up shoes,
upon a hay-knife.

A hay knife
is what it sounds like–triangulated
blade in the bales, blood
gobbed, swept them shocked
to doctor’s, neighbor’s car so fast

she did not see until at last
among the wired instruments
that her own mother, in panting flash,
had pulled a dress inside-
out
over her work clothes, the seams
dissected veins, the backward buttons clotted
knots in flapped
gaps–she

was horrified.

For she knew that town
was down
on the poor, those (like them)
who lived
in rattled houses with
chapped
barns.

And what
would the doctor
think, and how–
burning in the full turn of
embarrassment–would her parents even
pay? all cheeks reddened
in the muttering scritch stitch–but prised
from her furied mind an image
of FDR, patrician whose voice made bearable
the endless jags
of static and threat, whose overseeing eye–
bright to her as some great bird’s–would not,
she was somehow certain,
look down heedlessly
on a poor girl
with bleeding
bottom.

It was not
until the doctor spoke of luck
and the just-missing
of major organs that she noticed, above
the reversed collar twisted
like found
tourniquet, her mother’s
pallor, the seamed
hands running
up and down her layered arms
like creatures newly conscious of
a cage; not till then that she began to realize
how deep
the wound was.

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So sorry the above is so long, but hopefully reads fast.  I am posting for MagPie Tales (in response to the picture above from the U.S. dollar posted by Tess Kincaid) and dVerse Poets Open LInk Night.  It is a true story – my mother survived the cut! (On her you know what!)  The Great Depression a terrible time for those like her family whose savings were lost in a foreclosed bank, that somehow still kept all its mortgages operational.   A nod here to Joy Anne Jones, Hedgewitch, who brought up FDR democrats the other day and got my mind running on this piece.  And of course a nod to my amazing mom who, at nearly 90, reads the New York Times every single day.

Autumn Grids (Adventures with iPhone And You Know What)

October 22, 2012

I was on a train this a.m. with an iPhone, which is the devil’s plaything–meaning a very handy tool for wasting time. On this trip, I played with the question of whether to “sharpen” a photo or otherwise alter.  I find this type of decision difficult, especially when working on the tiny screen.  Sometimes I can hardly tell the altered picture from the original.  Can you?   Hmmm….

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“The Petite Mort” – Jueju

October 21, 2012

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The Petite Mort

Some Renaissance poets called coming
“dying”; climax a seeming summing
of all life’s varied rites.
But, for women, whose plights

of troth and womb were
coupled (their harvest so unsure),
the metaphor tolled a bell–
fate’s arrival in passion’s swell.

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Agh.  The above is my offering for Kerry O’Connor’s cool challenge on With Real Toads to write an English version of a Chinese form called Jueju involving quatrains and 5 word lines.  (Kerry is very industrious with these things.)  The poem is also supposed often to be suggestive of erotic love.  I’m not sure mine qualifiesbut it is certainly true that John Donne and Shakespeare (among others) used dying  as a sexual metaphor.  The French also sometimes call orgasm, “la petite mort.” 

Check out With Real Toads, and if you have a moment, my books!!!!! Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, orNose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

“Sans Eyes”

October 20, 2012

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Sans Eyes

Time
sands eyes, blunts
retinae, but as distinctions dim
(I tell myself), a unique
camouflage
is limned; so I notice (in my peer)
how the tufts of white-tailed deer
mock
milkweed, puffed pendula
over thickets of fall-browned
fur; my blur
is almost proud of this newfound likeness
till I mistake upon the ground more pods (soaked)
for a chewed hoofed foreleg,
and now, on the slippery
of this steep hill,
as the translucence of evening thickens, I stop,
transfixed
by the loom of each branched stick, barred
by the barbed unravel
of somewhere fence, all
nearly swallowed whole
like poison
disguised in draught, razor blades
spiking a sweet, till just the second
before we meet,
some shadow
shapes sharpness.

And what am I to do?
Stuck, as night falls,
but use hands
to look ahead, and screw up
what gaze I have
as if sand could be molded
into something
that would actually outlast
this tide.

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I am posting this draft poem for dVerse Poets Pub “Poetics” prompt hosted by Mary Kling.  The wonderful prompt is the “All the world’s a stage,” monologue by Jaques in Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT, where he speaks of the stages of life, and ends “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,” sans meaning “without.”   I am also linking this post to With Real Toads Open Link Monday.

Here’s an attempted reading:

Check out the prompt, the great poets at dVerse, 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, orNose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

Election 2012 – Call Me Trivial – Certain Things Swirl in the Brain (Flash 55)

October 19, 2012

Election 2012 – Call Me Trivial – Certain Things Swirl in the Brain

Dog on a fast car roof (hosed
through cage
at rest stop) does not speak
to me
of empathy,
nor does ganging tackle (with scissors)
of slightly-foppish blonde boy.

Guiding near-blind teacher into glass
door?
Ha ha. Ha
ha.

You think
I’m not
being fair?
But it’s all
in good fun.

Ha.

Sure.

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Above my offering to the G-man – 55 words without title .  ( And, yes, I know, I’m not being fair. And I’m sorry to offend- although these stories –all told of one specific candidate – do tend to stick in my brain.  But, sure, boys will be boys.   And, the dog – well – his name was Seamus – and hey, it can be darn hard to control a dog in a car on a long trip driving on fast highways, and I bet there are some countries people would like to tie on roofs.)

Have a great weekend.

The Bold (and French Roast) Now

October 18, 2012

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The Bold (And French Roast) Now

My cup
runneth over.
For just when I should grab and sip,
mind
blips, fazes
against the machine, leans
into pre-occupied
scenes, grinding all its be’s
and not-
to-be’s, while the
beans stream blacklit
beams, a splash
lashing me like Ulysses
(of old) to the
mast of the bold
(and french roast)
now,
insisting against my sirens (“sleep”) that I
drink deep
until I–
oops–
do.

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I am posting the above poem for a dVerse Poets’ Pub meeting the bar challenge hosted by Victoria C. Slotto that focuses on “steampunk” (mixing up disparate things) and enjambment (basically the poetic science of run-over lines.)   (Steampunk is still a bit foreign to me, but enjambment is an endlessly interesting subject I think.)  A fascinating prompt. 

And I, by the way, am primarily a tea drinker. 

Check out all the great poets at dVerse and if you’ve got time, 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. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

“Thresher Thrashed”

October 17, 2012

Thresher Thrashed

I tried to scythe my tie to you,
but sighed inside, the tie too wide;
so drew a chainsaw, sawed that chain–
soon saw my efforts were in vain.

No axe could hew, the thresher thrashed,
last-ditch combine was all but trashed.
What could I do but chew and chew,
chew what tethered me to you.

I gnawed into the night’s chill gloom,
I gnawed until mouth turned to wound–
then in the furrowed mists of day
I saw that you had gone away.

You’d gone (it seemed) long long before,
but left me with the lead I wore,
except that side once held by you
now flapped with every single chew.

I lay me down on that same ground
like a plant whose harvest’s come and gone,
my teeth splayed kernels, frayed tie root
so very still from head to foot.

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The above is a draft poem written for a Real Toads prompt hosted by Isadora Guya about the “mechanical harvest.” Yes, it’s kind of self-pitying and pathetic! (I say pathetic because I’m always suspicious of the martyr persona in the first person!) And maybe “lead ” should be “bond” or “leash” or “tether” or “cord”? I don’t know. At least it has a combine.

 Despite the poem’s deficiencies, I want to acknowledge a debt here to Joy Ann Jones (Hedgewitch) whose wonderful poem Cottonwood uses a chain saw that I found quite inspiring.

PS – for those interested in process, this poem’s been edited a bit since first posting – the “long before” couplet originally hinging on “long ago” and something that rhymed with that.

Check out With Real Toads, and also 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. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

“Hot And Cold Do Not Always Equal Tepid”

October 16, 2012

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Hot And Cold Do Not Always Equal Tepid

She felt as cold as unsparked coal
but heat turned up consumed him whole.

The nights so long, the sheets so blank,
he kicked them off his heated shank–
his metabolism so very high
he could barely stand a cover nigh;

while shivered she in downy bed
despite the fire inside her head
that smoldered behind her mental blocks
(requiring her to wear thick socks).

And then they met; their “fingers” touched–
I won’t detail this overmuch.
Suffice to say, they realized soon
that every sun can use a moon.

Said he to her, open up that door,
I’m the furnace you’ve been looking for.

Said she to him (and nearly weeping),
I’m that cool balm that you’ve been seeking.

So, they clove to, held each to each,
making warmth whene’er in reach;
and if not exactly regulated
felt both, at least, well conjugated.

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My offering for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.  Check out the wonderful poets at dVerse and, if you have some time, 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. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

A Question Of Cropping and Lady Bugs

October 15, 2012

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