Archive for September 2016

Tunnel Vision

September 30, 2016

Tunnel Vision

It came over her like a stench; it came over her like the underside of an overdriven car.

It came over as if she were a tunnel and it were sky and what she opened to was it and what she closed off was it and what it was was madness.

Faces turned to cheek and talking to teeth and she noticed as she had never noticed that K’s were incisors and S’s that absence on the gum you want to run your tongue over.

There was a turkey made of china–this was not a geographical joke but rather shellacked with wings and inside the turkey folded a flim-flam of napkins that flapped at her whenever she tried to take the S’s out of her mouth, and her aunt took a napkin out of the turkey’s quiver and dabbed her eyes and her mother stared over a blur that was nose and really it was quite a bit better to let the tunnel roof just curve–

And she made a tent inside a flashlight and in its dome she saw a red that translated as translucence and she thought that if she could ever eat light it would be that red. It would not, she knew, taste like jello, which was substantially darker and more lapidated.

And if you say our father all night through the who art in heaven will carry you too,

and if you pull up the blankets, you will not see the cheeks and if you turn on your side right, the teeth will go back in their mouths–

This could not be blamed upon any kind of string theory, but only on a balloon, but only on a bubble, something that grew tight in her, which was not at all like a bubble gum bubble, more like those made of soap that tunnel light even as they burst–



This is very much of a draft piece for Kerry’s prompt on Real Toads relating to shipwreck.  Not sure this quite fits the prompt; it’s not autobiographical.

Lining the Seams

September 29, 2016


Lining the Seams

Music lined the seams of him, though they frayed increasingly. Scales no longer enough, he had to move right out into Debussy.  Even if the fingering was off, the waterfall of it seemed to darn the breaking cross-threads.

How does a waterfall darn? Hard to say, only that what hurt him fell away.

Take Mozart. Life with Mozart could not feel unfair.  Let it end, he thought, as but a poppy in potters’ field–the poppy would be  incandescent, its centering eye as velvet as a doe’s.

He bought a small harmonica that he could whip out when waiting for the train.

He could not in truth well play the harmonica, and he could hardly play it at all on the subway platform.  The collection of coins was not his intent, and, with his limp, he hated to draw attention to himself.  But, soon, all it took to bring relief was a couple of blows; even a note would serve as the bridge to a sonata, hunker a composer about his back.  (In the subway, it was usually Beethoven– Beethoven a natural hunkerer, and, perhaps, he thought, less bothered by the noise.)

Then life changed, as it does, or rather his apartment building changed–new neighbors.  They had stout poles–broomsticks, he guessed.  They banged upon their ceilings, his floors; they banged upon their floors, his ceilings–they were friends of each other, or had become friends; each couple as glossy as glass, each stare a swish shutting of glass door.

The disturbances should have been minor. (Certainly, he had been stared at often enough in his life.)

But his spine shuddered at the broomstick bangs; his legs.

Of course, he told himself, it was his nerves.

City ordinances, he told himself, allowed you to play music at reasonable volumes until 10 pm.

Soon, even at 7:00, he could only run his fingers silently over the keys.

He contented himself with the harmonica; he paced the closet; it was more of a two-step.

They did not, it turned out, like two-steps.

He played the harmonica then into his pillow. Its small square air holes may have checkered the fabric with a blue print of its own, but he was too close to really see it.



A bit of a story for Real Toads Open Link Night hosted by the wonderful Kerry O’ Connor.  

GOP Spelling Bee (Old Guard vs. New)

September 25, 2016


GOP Spelling Bee (Old Guard vs. New)

Hey, I’m Dan Quayle, and I’m peeved!
All I didn’t know was how to spell “potato,”
while this old wheeze wouldn’t even try,
just morphed the word
into “fry.”

And they don’t even give him any heat!
When they said, ‘but the word was
“potato,”’ he said, “some people
heard it as ‘fry’–

“And besides,” he asided,
“a lot of people like fries–”

Okay, but the word
was potato!

So, now, let’s pretend
this isn’t the rendering
of a spelling bee word
but of being and the world–
he still would spell it,


A very belated offering for Rommy’s prompt on Real Toads to write of a famous “sidekick.”  In this case, Dan Quayle, who was George W. Bush’s Vice President, got into trouble at one point by mis-correcting school children’s misspelling of potato.  (He added an e to the end.)  Drawing, such as it is, is mine–all rights reserved. 

Strange Ways of Old Grief

September 25, 2016



Strange Ways of Old Grief

When you touch me like
full summer,
I should, like grass, glow heedless
of what’s mown,
you as full of rest
as those rusting dusks
that hillsides carry
in their arms, and I am in
your arms,

but some just part of me
rears inside
like an accuser at the back
of a wedding pew,
remembering those who lost such bliss
too soon–
what do I even know of their bliss?–those friends
I loved–

and in that would-be sweetness, I weep,
brain a jungled heap
of their mounded flowers, the waxed
moon blooms–how could you leave me, I think to them,
though I was the least
death left behind–

while you, like those dusks whose only rustling
is warmth, just hold me closer
than passing day, as closely as the hillsides hold
their indigoed grass,
we two also
turns of earth.



Here’s a draft poem of sorts for Kerry O’ Connor’s reprising “Play it Again, Sam” prompt on With Real Toads -this one influenced by the remarkable poetry of James Wright (original prompt by Grace.)  I’m calling it a draft as still revising it even as posting–the pic is mine.  All rights to both poem and pic reserved. 


Sad Tonight as Woman and (Mostly) New Yorker

September 19, 2016















Saved Maple Leaf

September 17, 2016

Saved Maple Leaf

The maple leaf found itself
in a dresser drawer.
It was not crinkled into
the plastic pin box,
which once snagged jewelry in a slice of sponge,
but now held only a small tooth
gullied by sienna.

It was not slipped
into the envelope of cut hair whose strands stuck together
as if still attached
at the roots.

It did not bind to the rippled chorus programs, flapped homework, rustle
of candy wrappers,

nor tuft in the ruffled kleenex,
wind around the purple crayon, nor nestle
in the slightly sandy scatter
of shells, each too small
to sound the sea.

No; it lucked into
a flattened smear of lotion (containing lanolin),
which (as is somehow the task allotted to sheep), shawled it
in a protective lawyer, so that its veins retained
their suppleness; its crimson its red.

Though, still, the drawer grew dead,
for reasons the leaf could not fathom,
even as it dreamed when sun warmed the wood overhead
of pancakes–
it felt a curious kinship with pancakes–until,

over time, the lanolin shedding
its fat, the leaf mourned
its pine life,
crimping painfully
as it remembered the chatter of the tooth’s
rattled box, and the touch that used to rifle
through the programs, searching
for a last piece
of that candy,
remembering too the proud “ooh”
that proclaimed the enveloped hair,
and the blue that would show there, in
the opening, some of the sky
fallen through.


Here’s a narrative poem of sorts for my own prompt on Real Toads.   The pic is mine, though the wood background not the raw pine I imagine for this dresser. 

Dear Mom (and Donald), Putin’s Not Really a Great Guy

September 17, 2016


My mom who is normally quite sensible about politics spoke quite favorably about Putin the other day, after hearing all the Trump hype, and also because she heard that he had learned German while working (for the KGB) in East Germany and thought somehow that this may have reflected a friendship with Angela Merkel.  ( Anyway, we discussed it all at length– some of which is recorded above!)  Thanks, poet friends, for putting up with these political pictograms.  

There are many beings probably stronger than Hillary Clinton

September 13, 2016



To those of you that have the faith, keep it!  (Sorry for the amateurish aspects of my pictures, the spirit is genuine enough.)  

9/11 (Villanelle)

September 11, 2016



The burning buildings woke me from a sleep
of what I thought important, nothing now.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street,

praying that my child was mine to keep,
dear god oh please dear god I whispered loud;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

Some stopped to stare, all of us to weep
as eyes replayed the towers’ brutal bow.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

North sky a startling blue, the south a heap
of man-wrought cloud; I pushed against the crowd;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

I’d never complain again, never treat
with trivial despair–or so I vowed.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

I’d change, give thanks—I saw them leap—
and begged for all the grace God would allow.
The burning buildings woke me from a sleep;
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.



This is an old poem (approximately 15 years old in fact).  Am posting in memoriam and gratitude too, for the grace that I was allowed that day.

Pic is slightly newer, also mine, al rights reserved. 


Too Heavy a Freight

September 6, 2016


Too Heavy a Freight

I tried to put our love
upon a scale,
but not wishing to be weighed,
it swam away, slipping on
slick fins, scales then only armor,
though too flimsy, oh mon amour,
to repel much ill.

Yet, how that brittle mail lightened
each swish-sway,
my sun, moon, hanging
in the balance.


55 word poem of sorts for Kerry O’ Connor’s week-end prompt on Real Toads, special bonus for poems inspired by the marvelous paintings of the Nigerian painter, sculptor and musician known as Twins Seven Seven, born Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki (3 May 1944 – 16 June 2011) in Ogidi, Kogi State, Nigeria.  This painting is “Golden Fishes in Dark Sea.”