Archive for January 2013

“Oath” – Ghazal

January 31, 2013



I will quit you for sure, tomorrow.
(It’s the day you’re with her–tomorrow.)

I will bind up lips, breasts; hold onto
my breath, with no kind of tremor, tomorrow.

My scuffed bag will be packed, sag on my back
with the stuff dreams make heavier, tomorrow.

I won’t let noon pass by, shadows longing
to tie, knot me to another tomorrow.

You’ll sneak into night house, not much of
a mouse, so sure of my cat’s purr, tomorrow;

slip into our bed whose palely smoothed head
won’t burn with tears’ fever, tomorrow.

I swear it, I say, as I did yesterday,
that all caring is over, tomorrow.

The above is a rather odd “Ghazal Sonnet,” posted for dVerse Poets Pub “Form For All,” hosted by Samuel Peralta.  Sam explains Ghazals very well–so check out his article.  The form has a repeated word, and a rhyming sequence, but I’ve added a  whole bunch of non-required rhymes because the meter just felt wrong to me.   

Oh yes–and you are supposed to put your name somewhere in the last line.  My name, for those who don’t know it, is Karin.  Caring? 

All I can say is that I do not think I lived in Persia in another life. 


January 30, 2013



Ian cried tears on to the hard shell of a dead crab
and knew in his heart he was finally a man–

So, she imagined him to feel at least, remembering
her own crustaceous wake-up, when a clam
she had singled out from the litter of bushel basket–
a clam that had smelled perfectly fine once far
from the ranked fillet of cod, had become
her pet clam, her very own dear, whose
smooth ridges she had brushed
(in breaks from the fridge)
against her cheek,
but who, in a betrayal
of pencil tray, school desk afternoon, had unnotched
into something as wet and pink and
vulvular as a disobedient
slave’s shocked

She had learned then
of the uses of shells and coldness, of the price
of using itself–the wages
of show and tell, reflected
glory–and if these lessons didn’t turn her
into a woman–she was six–they
did teach her what most women
know –  that you must safeguard that
you love–that pride goeth
before a fall–teachings that now pierced her
like the sunset pincers
she would pluck, if she could,
from her son’s puckered fingers–
for he was not yet ready
to be a man, and she, who thought she knew
so much, had not shielded him, but instead, callowly, had shown him
a quick-rotting taste of life trials, a tale
of pried consequences, a drowned cup
of salt and sand.


Agh!  Another draftish sort of poem for Isadore Gruye’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem that uses a line singled out as “promising” by publishing afficionado “Hamilton Cork”.  (I don’t watch enough TV to know for sure, but I think he is a made-up kind of guy!)   The italics line above is one of “Hamilton’s” lines.    Check out Izy’s great prompt and the other poets at Real Toads.


Now That I’ve Got Your Attention—

January 30, 2013

This post has nothing to do with the interplay (if any) between push-up bras and guns.

I just need to get something off my chest (which, believe me, does not look like that.)

If you, like me, favor stronger gun safety laws — universal background checks, limited magazines, control of certain types of armor-piercing ammunition (the kind of ammunition whose sale is opposed by virtually all police groups)–then, please, please, please, call your congressperson and senators and make your voice heard.

Nothing will happen on this issue unless non-NRA voices speak out.

Here’s a link that will help you find your representative:

Here’s another one for your senator:

(P.S. – to those of you who are against gun legislation – hey, call too, if you want.  I think your view is already amply represented, but I am urging civil dialogue between everyone here.  Getting your vote counted.)

For Some, Nothing Flows…(with elephants)

January 28, 2013


For some, nothing flows on these dank frozen days but elephants.


January 27, 2013



a guard in the blossomed darkness, as she rubbed off pink,
he turned from the gloom of what walled lay ahead, to peer
into her glow, watch her mouth the words, “no chances,”
between the wipe-away of lipstick, spit in their last
handkerchief, as if erasing the tracery of smile
could secure safe passage.

He wished it were so, and tried to count up luck
in corridors slipped through, but the garden’s indifferent growth
rooted him, despairing, into place, made him wonder,
as rose rubbed grey, whether they should not close
their eyes for this next leg, masking the whites
against thickening night, begging blind faith
to lift them above
stacked stone, flashed fire, blackest
boot-tip.  Instead, he pressed only his own
lips closed, clasping
her hand.


Here’s a very draftish poem that I wrote in response to Susan’s prompt on With Real Toads to write something that began with a last line of an earlier poem.  My earlier poem “Pink” is a sestina, that ends with this poem’s first line.  

It was an interesting, difficult, exercise.  I confess that this poem, which had about a zillion very different (and possibly more sensible) iterations earlier today, was influenced by my discovery that it is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I don’t pretend that this really expresses much about the Holocaust, only that this set me thinking along slightly different tracks.  

There is a beautiful and terribly sad pictorial essay in the N.Y. Times today about what happened to a couple, the wife Jewish, staying at an Italian hotel, after the Nazis came to visit.  The story may be found here.  (Again, the poem really has nothing much to do with this story, just caught in the atmosphere.)  

I am also linking this to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. 



January 26, 2013

Junk News Speak


I try to skip the me-me-media
the talking heads of hair and tedia–
though it can be fun to watch those ‘dos
bob above their soundbite stews.

Still, the fact is there are those who will
shill and shill and shill and shill–
fake some outrage, mime some shock
though careful to keep every lock
of curl and bang and tress in place
while they fecklessly ape chase
of stories they tilt like a table
of pinballs whizzed right through the cable.

Instead I try to read and read,
or watch whole tapes, a whole news feed,
(Oh, sure I fail, sure I miss out–
there’s tons I don’t know much about.)
And maybe what I read ain’t fair,
But at least my news don’t come with hair.


Here’s a kind of silly poem for dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by the wonderful Brian Miller, on the subject of media.  I don’t read as much news as I should to be fully informed.  On the other hand, I do try to avoid TV news (don’t have a working TV), but I do get some news from clips!  And I think print media tends to be a bit more thorough and less narcissistic.  (That’s just my take though, and honestly, I don’t watch TV news so probably shouldn’t speak to it.) 

“Degrees of Separation” Friday Flash 55

January 25, 2013


Degrees of Separation

was her faithful
No Thisbe leaned more eagerly
into lover’s chink in wall than she
towards her
thermometer; its mercurial missives delivering
(‘twixt barred glass,relentless jamb) the warning of
chill, waxing of warmth, satisfaction
of indoors. She relayed
its caresses over her arms
bare or sleeved, as Weather, window-whispering,
would have them.


Pyramus and Thisbe is a tragic story told by Ovid and then (hilariously) Shakespeare (in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) about two lovers who were forbidden by their parents to meet, but who communicated through a chink in a wall. My Thisbe has no clear Pyramus, just Brrr… For more on Brrr…., check out the G=Man, Mr. Knowitall. He’ll give you a clear rundown.

And have a great weekend.

“Making Me Feel Better

January 24, 2013


Making Me Feel Better

I ask him, if I die–(if)
would he hold me
till the last moment.

I know he will, though not
why I need to hear it — I have no illness, not
yet, but he’s not
right here and tears of an instant
jam me, their heat as tight
as clothes I should have
grown out of–and I feel again
a child, home alone, sick
and out of school for the day, when, shaken
by the hollow house, I would go
outside and sit upon the curb–there, out
by the mailbox–even fevered–
so that there would be places, I thought,
where I could run;
so that I would not, I hoped,
be trapped;
imagining in the narrows of corridor
and mind, some body, padded with shadow, blocking
my every egress.

Now, I’ve had so many friends–
I won’t count them–who’ve gone already, trapped
inside bodies that would not
hold them, not here, and he says
‘oh, darling–’


I am posting the above for Anna Montgomery’s great prompt at dVerse Poets Pub “Meeting the Bar” on flow and creativity.  It’s a wonderful article on creative engagement, and how that brings a kind of energy to one’s life and work.  I was thinking here more about flow – my personal blocks and twists–and really how the mind flows too – though mine sloshes more than flows, I think – like a rather leaky bowl! 

(The picture, albeit without elephants, is original.  So, as always, all rights reserved.)

ps – kind of a draftish poem – maybe the end should refer simply to bodies “that would not hold them here, and he says, ‘oh darling–” I don’t know.   Sometimes things flow too fast. k.

“Butterfly” – excerpt

January 23, 2013


Once upon a time there was a kingdom in which the royal family was beautiful–perfectly beautiful.

Of course, there were occasional whispers that some young cousin had a hawkish nose, stringy hair, even an unfortunate birthmark. But by the time that particular royal child reached adulthood, the nose was aquiline, the locks luxurious, the skin uniform.

In ages before, the Nizamies had been better known for their strange “gifts” than their looks. The royal gifts were always thought of as magical, but they were just bits of magic–a single power– rather than a whole cupboardfull.

For some Nizamies (for that was the name of that clan), the power was but a parlor trick—an ability to spark a light or find an object–while in the case of others, it dominated the royal’s whole life, even the entire kingdom.

Take the great Queen Ayodyah. She was quite ordinary in most respects.  Her gift, however, was “followability”– an uncanny knack for making people trail after her, or, as later royal historians liked to call it, “leadership”.

Ayodyah’s gift was a bit annoying at balls, when the whole dance floor formed a conga train at her heels, but it proved invaluable at war, where not only her own army fell in behind her, but the opposing army as well.

Count Hyderadi was known for fireproofing. Nothing he owned -not matches, not kindling, not even marshmallows – would burn. The gift was a great boon to the Count during the drought of 1421 when forest fires broke out over the countryside and it was found that a simple deed of the burning acres to Count Hyderadi was all it took to quench the flames. The gift proved less of a boon, however, when the Count and his men were discovered in the King’s forests one dry night with torches and lamp oil. Then all it got him was a length of knotted rope.

This story, though, takes place some years after the deaths of both Queen Ayodayah and Count Hyderadi, during an age in the Kingdom of Zindabar when the Nizamie gifts had become much less important. During this time, in fact, the old magic was sometimes viewed as awkward,  especially since it was believed that, occasionally, the strange gifts affected the royal’s appearance. It was said, for example, that the great Queen Ayodyah had had a funny notch on her spine (which looked for all the world like a small tail), and that Count Hyderadi was constantly streaming with sweat.

And in the time of this story, no royal wanted a tail or to be overly sweaty. No, what had become important to the Nizamies was beauty, perfect beauty. That was deemed magic enough.

It was into this magically beautiful royal family that the Grand Duchess Ahmimaya Theodora Christina Nizamie Tureth was born.  She wasn’t a grand duchess then.  Her mother was the grand duchess and she was just a little tiny baby with a red wrinkled face and a voice that went ‘waah’.

But soon, as she grew older, she became a lot less red, less wrinkly, and instead of saying “waah”, was actually very happy most of the time.

Unfortunately, when she was thirteen all that changed.  Her parents’ boat was caught in a storm on the Great Inland Sea.  And although her mother and Nana, working together, had managed to keep her afloat, her father, and then her mother too, were drowned.  In other words, her life had been saved, but her life also, the life she had always known,  had been swept away.

So that instead of being a very happy non-duchess who spent most of her time learning, studying and talking with her parents,  and exploring, both with and without them, the gardens and forests and sea coast around their small but  remarkably cozy castle, and, as much as possible, avoiding Nana who was constantly telling her the proper way to stand, sit, look and behave, she was a very sad grand duchess who, accompanied by that same Nana, sat in a hot dusty train, headed south.

A summons had come from the capital.  The Queen, her mother’s sister, had called Ahmi to court.

Ahmi  only knew what her Aunt looked like from seeing her face on coins.  Even then, she’d not seen it much.  For her Aunt’s beautiful face was reserved for gold coins of the highest denominations.  And Ahmi, though now a Grand Duchess, did not actually see that kind of gold very much.

She wondered sometimes as they headed south, why she had not drowned too.  Why her mother, and then Nana, had not simply let her go.  A part of her sometimes wished they had.  But when she thought of that black swirl of wave, the chilling, choking force of the water around and above her, terror filled her chest, and she knew she could never truly wish for that.


The above is sort of the preface of a fantasy novel I have written (but not published) called either “Butterfly” or “An I for an Eye.” (If you have any ideas about the title – not knowing anything about the book – please let me know.  (Also after initial posting I added a section that leads into main story.  So sorry for length.)  

I am posting this for Kerry O’Connor’s challenge on With Real Toads to create another world. The world is not described very vividly in the above excerpt, but as a preface, it seemed fairly self-contained. Plus I did the little drawing this morning of Queen Ayodayah (not actually an elephant.)

Thanks much for reading!

As always, all rights are reserved.


January 22, 2013

(Doesn’t completely suit the poem, but you get the idea. And it’s cold!!!!!)


She skidded
along the surface of time.
He dug his heels in.
Either way time flowed, bunching around
his ankles, splashing about
her curves.

Feet flexed, he leaned
into his wake, barely ahead
of inundation, while she, without
suavity of surf or ski, lurched
through her glide. They tried

to hold hands,
but it was difficult.
Even side by side,
a stretch, and when he dug in, and
she swerved, great
elasticity was needed.


Posting the above, a re-write of an older poem for dVerse Poets Open Link Night, and also for Magpie Tales (where Tess Kincaid posts a pictorial prompt.) I don’t think my poem completely fits Tess’s picture, but it did give me the idea of returning to this poem. My awkward rendition below.