Archive for November 2012

Somewhere Under the Sidewalk (Subway NYC) – Flash Friday 55

November 30, 2012


Somewhere Under the Sidewalk (Subway NYC)

He was silvered–not in the usual sense–hair only bit not greyed –

Oh–and two beige bands (leg) between shimmer pants, chrome socks –

and the eyes, focusing from foil-creased sockets, whites yellowed–irritated
train’s twist toppled

his pole-wedged bike, though,
as oilcan funnel hat
unhandlebarred—we other riders ahhed, understanding, tin.


Here’s a flash 55 for the G-Man – true story of Tin Man sighted on train yesterday.  It took a while to figure out who he was, then felt rude to take pic in confined train car, but after holding the door for him and his bike, and well, falling behind him, I felt a little more justified in trying to get a shot.

Have a nice weekend.  And if you get a chance, 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, 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. 

IN(n)ATE – Erasure Poem

November 29, 2012



A child is the father
executed, the registrar
of the form, deed recorded, putative
added chapter, filed
genetic marker
and notoriously obligating
support, and, in
a (b)(r)(ief) absence,
kind letters.

(From New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law, Section 4-12.)


Here’s my attempt at an “erasure poem” for the dVerse Poets Pub prompt by Anna Montgomery.  This one, kind of quick, is based upon a section of the New York legal code. My sense is that this is not a copyright violation (though perhaps not the best poetry.)


November 28, 2012


Insatiable fences line souls,
sheepdog rails
split to nip.
I tell him, stolidly,
to leave me alone, a soliloquy that means
don’t leave me.
But it’s either a lifetime or nothing–
we can’t seem to share five minutes
in-between, hearts
skipping beats in broken record
plaints; he
feints, pretending not
to understand; fence posts yap
at our heels.


I am linking my poem above to the wonderful prompt by Kerry O’Connor of With Real Toads about Ingrid Jonker, South African (Afrikaans) poet (1933-1965) and writing about relationships.  I’d never heard of Ingrid Jonker before – she’s wonderful.  I urge you to check out Kerry’s post and the other poets participating. 

To any wondering about my nanowrimo!  I have worked on it, but in notebooks, by hand, and life (not blogging exactly) is giving me exceedingly little time this November, especially not for transcribing.  I do hope to keep working on it.

Note if a subscriber – I’ve edited this slightly since posting. k. 


November 27, 2012



He holds his fingers, swaddled
in plastic, then linen, with the slight bend
of a benediction, sprinkling –  like so, like so-
what seems to be

After a rub
of my dark-nubbed toes, he dips
pawed fingers
into a cannister of black as thin
and deep as spiders’ bellies, fresh
widows’ skirts, sin
in tunneled night.  He is

short, born where height
adds insult
to climb, and since I’ve been perched
upon an upholstered throne, he stands
at my feet, stroking now
my blushing-if-they-could
shoe ribs.

His caress penetrates
the leather which serves as medium,
conductor–how we manage
in this unjust city–and, as he kneads,
paints, buffs, lightly lightly
whips, I think–not about what you
are thinking of right now – but of the feet
of statues,
patina-draped icons
in cathedral dim, whose feet have been supplicated
into stumps of tongue by those
seeking blessing–though here, everything’s
who blackens my uppermost sole, blesses
me, making my worn

It is something of which we do not speak.


I am posting the above rather odd re-write of an old poem for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night hosted by the wonderfully intellectually curious Claudia Schoenfeld. It’s about the very few times I’ve had my shoes shined (professionally) in New York City.  I always find it a very affecting experience, and one–and I’m not a foot fetishist (that I know of) – that I find strangely intimate and spiritually satisfying.  The shoe shine people have always been just incredibly kind.  It’s a hard job so if you do get your shoes shined – it’s worth giving about 100% tip.

I have edited this twice since first posting.  Taking out and putting back the last line!  Any thoughts?! 

Será – (From Nanowrimo, maybe) Doll/Dreamcatcher

November 26, 2012

Doll by Emma Whitlock, photo by Margaret Bednar


“You know, like ‘que será será,’” he said, when she asked.

“Remember,” he went on,“when Doris Day, she sing it in that beautiful dress, yoohoo.”  Then, wiping beige (foundation) from his own tan fingers,  he turned over a hand-mirror on the countertop.  The back showed a picture of her–Doris Day, decolletée in a red satin as deep as his lipstick.

It was the style he too had adopted, Clare realized, with bleached puffed bangs,  elasticized sleeves he pulled below the pudge of sallow shoulder-

“You know her?”

In fact she’d seen Doris Day lots–afternoon old movies, TV nights late–Doris Day with the smile like milk, Doris Day with the voice like picnic tables, Doris Day with the little doll legs like Keds.

“She so cool, so fresh,” he laughed from his side of the blusher, “She don’t even have to try.  Like you, mamita” he looked at her in the big mirror now, the one in front of them, brushing one honeyed fingernail gently down her cheek.  “Ay que linda.”

She flinched, not used to being touched. And also, because, her cheeks were absolutely not, no way, horrible-to-even-contemplate, like Doris Day’s–

“Not the cheeks, no, mamita–” he laughed, understanding–

“No, no.  Her cheeks,” he looked at his picture, “they are rotund- eh – like the most beautiful bottom in the world.  No, this,” he stared back at Clare in the big mirror, gesturing towards her mouth as if it were something he presented, something on display.  “Those lips , see,” tracing the bottom curve, “that pout they love so much, mami.”  Her lips felt the warm whorl of his fingers; her nose. the fragrance of talc.

”They constantly want me to bite them,” she said suddenly.   “You know, to make them puffier or something.”

“No, no, Mamita, no biting.  Just a little sheen, here.”  And now his soft frame blocked the mirror, his index finger icy with goo.

“A little tinto.”  A baby finger this time, as he bent so closely to her that she could see the individual pores of his black eyebrows beneath the bleached bangs, the curled lashes around his even blacker eyes.

After a space of brush and fingertips, he stood back and she saw what she knew must be herself, only it was now sculpted, cheekboned, svelte.

“Looking good, mami.  Looking so good.  Grrr.”

She wanted to laugh too, but sucked it in like the cheek-hollows, pivoted her face back and forth while he, humming, unpinned the plastic cloak.

Será.   “Looking good,” he always said when she came in for a shoot, even when she knew she didn’t.  Even when he added “ooh but tired, mami,” one finger gentle below her eyes.   “What you doing so tired?  A little girl like you, eh?”

Then, he was gone.  For some time.  And she noticed, sure, but she didn’t actually do that many shoots, and nobody talked to anybody around those places, and so so she didn’t think too much about it, until he was back, only so different this time, round cheeks worn to bone, tan dulled grey.

She could not somehow ask why.  He did not say/ Only “hey you,” and “looking good,” and, after he started with the make-up, “look here, mommy,” holding up one hand for her to turn towards, until just once, when her tooth caught lipstick and he reached our his bare forefinger to wipe it off, to reach right into her mouth–

And then he stopped sharply, sighed, looked her straight in the mirror’s eye, and like a sunken magician who’d lost both handkerchief and dove, extended a small box of kleenex.   “Here, mami, you wipe it, eh?  Okay?”


This is sort of a draft excerpt from Nanowrimo novel I’ve been working on (in a terribly desultory fashion) – sorry, it’s so long.  I am posting it with one of the wonderful doll pictures posted by Margaret Bednar on With Real Toads.  The particular doll was made by Emma Whitlock.  Thank you Emma!  Thank you Margaret!  

I should note (as I wrote to Brian Miller), this is just a little sketch from the manuscript that I thought fit the doll.  It is not central to the story truly.  (Sorry!)  The book, if I ever get it together, is called Outsider Art. 

P.S. since posting I inserted “mami” in place of “mommy.”  It’s pronounced like mommy (when I hear it) and I wanted to keep that sound, but it’s usually used by an adult to a child as a term of endearment.  k. 



Guilty (Pleasure)

November 23, 2012

Guilty (Pleasure)

It started, I think, with my Lutheran baptism,
which damply paired pleasure with cataclysm
(though it’s not really part of the catechism),
guilt then clung to fun like reverse jism–
(something that gunks up motility
rather than serve its mobility)–
So, the label of sin deemed original
stuck to sweetness that wasn’t subliminal,
aping price tags enfuzzed on a peach,
or tar strips that bake on a beach,
and pleasure was coded with bars
safe only if you’d got to Mars–
Like the sword swallower learning to tilt
the throat that was drowning the hilt–
just so, I learned to down guilt,
as if my gullet had been built
for it.


A reading of the poem (if you are interested): 

I am posting the above draft poem very belatedly for Izzy Gruye’s Out of Standard prompt for With Real Toads about “guilty pleasures.” Coming from a Lutheran Scandinavian upbringing I’m afraid those two words are pretty much synonymous. I am also linking to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics prompt on “preparation,” hosted by the very prepared Mary Kling.  Self-denial of a sorts a key part of my training for life. 

(When Calm) Thanksgiving – Flash 55

November 23, 2012


(When Calm) Thanksgiving

I give thanks (when I think)
for having been loved
wholly, and for
(at least, at times) loving
wholly, a miracle
(holey holey holey) for
this moon-pocked
soul, a miracle
(wholly wholly wholly) for
this earthen-worn
heart, a miracle
(holy holy holy) that makes
even the most porous clay
stay flesh.


55 words for the G-man and for dVerse Poets Pub (being thankful) hosted by Samuel Peralta, a/k/a Semaphore.  Belated thanks to the dVerse community and the G-Man and the blogosphere and beyond!

Thanksgiving – Vegetarian/Carnivorous/Gratitudinous!

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving – you can’t please everyone.

Or maybe you can.

Happy Thanksgiving.

These are old paintings, but they always feel right to me at Thanksgiving, sharing the festive meal, as I seem to, with vegetarians, vegans, the highly-carnivorous, the gluten-free, winedrinkers, tee-totalers, sweet-tooths, salt fanatics – but all (and I’m pretty sure I’m describing many here) extremely thankful.

I count myself among the thankful today. (How did I get so lucky as to be alive right here right now!  And with daughters, by the way, who do the cooking!)

I want to send thanks to all of you especially for the incredibly kind company you give me on the lonely journey of trying to write.  Pearl and the elephants send thanks too.

Pearl Wants to Help Me Jump-Start

November 21, 2012

Pearl Gets Thoughtful About Nanowrimo.

Pearl is eager for me to me to move more quickly on my Nanowrimo project. I really do have to be careful of her advice though.  She has an extremely poor understanding of U.S. copyright laws.

Doing What It Takes (Pearl Just Doesn’t “Get” Plagiarism)

(Thankfully, she has no copy of Shades of Grey.)

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) Off the Computer – Writing by hand…errr… (Pearl!)

November 20, 2012

It can be hard to write in a notebook, once you’ve gotten used to a computer.

But it really can be done if you put your mind to it,

and sink in your teeth.


I am reposting these pictures from a prior Nanowrimo when my dog Pearl was a bit younger and a lot more helpful.  

I am, in fact, writing my novel by paw (errr… hand.)   At the moment, however, I can hardly imagine transcribing it – first, because my vision is pretty bad, and secondly because the story is so slow!   Oddly, I know where it is supposed to go, but it does not want to go there very rapidly.  I worry this is also fall-out from writing poetry – poems- mine anyway – tend to get involved with the moment, memory, reflection – not so much with, you know, chase scenes.

And then there’s Pearl’s refusal to help out!  At seventeen and a half, she’s not very involved in chase scenes either.  Agh.