Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ostinato Cappricio

Ekphrastic poem (ekphrasis is imaginative reflection on a work of art, in this case dance):

legato
same face twice
yet each
supremely one
oh pizzicato
my heart slows
their fingers toes
mark air & linger
so glissando
fluid bodies
could be liquid
atoms magically
diffused
their torsos glow
the now of flow
 
*   *   *
ostinato (repeated phrase/rhythm),
cappricio (lively, free, short),
legato
(smooth),
pizzicato
(pluck strings),
glissando
(slide),
flow
(term invented by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, meaning complete immersion in the present moment, doing something you love, especially something creative).
 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Food for Thought

Any aliens we speak to will probably think of us like we think of bacteria. Stephen Hawking
Why send happy signals into space?
The ones who hear perhaps are
avaricious, merciless.

Do we wish for Mother?
Not the earthly breast
that more or less sufficed --
beyond that, something
deeply loving, safety
to its full extent, the warmth,
the knowing, being known?

How foolishly we seek the stars,
eyes clouded by our deep desire,
how blindly wrong, assuming
as we do, a cosmic turn
toward something good.

Oh, look around -- though flowers
may come closest to an easy life,
some sun and rain, a little soil,
and voila, blooming for a day.
But animals? Catastrophe.
A weak design, the urgent search
for sustenance most hours --

Food!
Where's food?
Where's food?

The fallacy of seeking
comfort outside earth:
no reason to assume
these other beings grew
from different means --

Here, let me feed 
you, feed...

Will we be food?

Friday, April 30, 2021

Constellation

National Poetry Month Day 30, the form is Virelai, a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music.* The prompt: "Include in a title the word 'contradiction,' 'constellation,' or 'cranberry'-- and write a poem that includes 'bamboozled,' 'bloodlust,' or 'bibliography.'"
 
Constellation
 
Aquarius, my
designated sky
beacon,
suggests I am shy
yet destined to cry
“Freedom,”
look chiefs in the eye.
But I see that drive’s
demon.
 
Though I do bemoan
downplays of women,
don’t try
efforts to reason:
when bloodlust’s sweetened,
invite
our link to deepen
until they’re weakened
allies.
 
 
*Nine lines per stanza, lines 1,2,4,5,7,8 have 5 syllables and rhyme with each other, lines 3,6, 9 have two syllables and rhyme with each other; the end rhyme for short lines continues to the following stanza; the final stanza’s short-line end rhyme is the same as the long-line end rhyme in opening stanza.
 
Lots of "near-rhymes" and this took several hours, but I loved learning this form and have greatly benefited from this month of poetry. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Cloud Nine

National Poetry Month Day 28, Tyburn: A six-line poem consisting of 2, 2, 2, 2, 9, 9 syllables. The first four lines rhyme and are all descriptive words. The last two lines rhyme and incorporate the first, second, third, and fourth lines as the 5th through 8th syllables.
 
Divine
recline,
supine
cloud nine.
I’ve enjoyed a divine recline drift,
a completely supine, cloud nine shift.
 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Fast Path

National Poetry Month Day 27: The form is Shadorma, a Spanish 6-line syllabic poetry form of 3/5/3/3/7/5 syllable lines respectively.

A squirrel
heads to tree from grass
scrambling up
the fast path
along our patio screen,
delighting the cats.
 
 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Acrophobia

National Poetry Month Day 26, the form is a Tricube (3 stanzas, 3 lines each, 3 syllables each line--rhyming is not required):

Twice this week
my fears have
run amok.
 
Which is worse:
 
Fear of heights
at the sight
(though awestruck).
 
 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Chakras

National Poetry Month Day 25. I used an Irish poetry form yesterday, so decided to go with Welsh today-- Awdl Gywydd (owdl gow-widd), syllabic quatrains, 7 syllable lines, rhyming a-b-c-b, end of line 3 cross-rhyming with 3rd 4th, or 5th syllable in line 4.

At root I am centered, safe,
inspired sacral joy is next,
solar plexus’ purpose prays
“I am love” heart’s sacred text.
 
My throat speaks always with truth,
third eye goes beyond straight sight,
crown chakra hums I am One
as if more than sun gives light.
 
 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

My Tired Heart

National Poetry Month Day 24: Rannaigheacht Ghairid (ron-a'yach cha'r-rid) is an Irish syllabic form with four-line stanzas, three syllables in the first line, seven syllables in each of the next three lines, rhyming aaba, the fourth line's third syllable a cross-rhyme with the end of line three. The poem ends with the same syllable, word, or line as the beginning.

My tired heart
to its wild surprise found art:
brush strokes became its strong beat,
a rare, sweet, true Cupid’s dart.
 
From the start
my felt losses were cut short:
because color is its play
no more gray besets my heart.
 
 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Will She Kick the Bucket Before the Month Ends?

National Poetry Month Day 23 prompt: “Write a poem made of ten metaphors.” The form is a Ballad (hum “Barbara Allen”):

I’m just a ghost of my old self,
a coffee pot not perking,
a worn-out car that won’t crank up,
my poet’s voice ain’t working.
 
I’ve popped my clogs, soon counting worms,
that dang old reaper’s smirking,
I’m close to sleeping with the fish,
my poet’s voice ain’t working.
 
I’ll take a dirt nap soon I fear,
the carriage ride is lurking,
I’m just about to head on west,
my poet’s voice ain’t working.
 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

100 Thousands of an Inch

National Poetry Month Day 22 prompt: "Write a poem that's only 5 lines long about something small." The form is an English Quintain (5 lines, any meter, rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-b):

I have in my possession, though space is short,
a stage where angels might boogie down,
a metaphor for needless points (debate as sport),
when used as insult it's a common noun;
for such a tiny spot atop a pin, nuance abounds.

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Interlopers

National Poetry Month, Day 21 prompt: "A literary figure shows up and gives you something." (Amy Lowell came to me with her poem "Aliens," its image of being worn down by talk that means nothing.) Form: Mirror Poem:

Aliens, by Amy Lowell

The chatter of little people
Breaks on my purpose
Like the water-drops which slowly sear the rocks to powder.
And while I laugh
My spirit crumbles at their teasing touch.

Interlopers, by Mary Bast

The babble of small-minded folk
drains my creativity,
small cuts that become deep wounds;
and though my mouth smiles,
my soul faints at their vexing nudge.
 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Black Wings

National Poetry Month Day 20: Erasure poem (source: Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze, pp. 71 and 87):

Black wings
saw blood,
a long drawn-out thing,
suffered,
got very tired.

Black wings,
for God's sake,
a little heavy,
can stand anything but men,
after they've tried real things
and flopped at them,
say to themselves,
"What can I be that will
make everyone look at me?"


 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Fate

National Poetry Month, Day 19, Haiku:

ducklings, still naive
are not intimidated
by their fate, the hawk


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Marathon as Metaphor

National Poetry Month Day 18: Today I decided to write about what's been most on my mind for three days past the actual half-way mark--how to keep my spirits up so writing a poem a day for 30 days, using a variety of forms, continues to be an energizing challenge. The form below is a combination of Decastich (10-line poem) and Tritina (repetition of first three lines' end words in remaining end words, and all three in the last line, in order, as indicated):

It's true of all marathons' nature
that our faith dims when only half-way,
our minds and our souls fully stretched to a goal
whether treasure of mind or a physical goal,
there is always a wall in our nature
where our limits are tested half-way:
where vision can falter, cast doubts when half-way,
and if learning a form makes us question the goal--
then the only relief is to trust talent's nature,
watch nature soar past when half-way to our goal. 


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Dirge

National Poetry Month, Day 17: Cinquain, a form of 5 lines (syllable count by line = 2,4,6,8,2) invented by American poet Adelaide Crapsey (no joke!), who was inspired by Japanese haiku and tanka.

Philip
reflects our lot
though sailor, prince and duke
who always was a would-be now
has been.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Knuckle Down for a Trip

National Poetry Month Day 16: We're all familiar with limericks, which often have a ribald flavor, but the flavor I've been thinking of comes from a divine Italian dish made with pastry and potatoes.

My favorite Italian’s Bocelli,
his singing does things to my belly.
I also love gnocci,
my tastes are not low-key,
but Italy’s too far for my deli.
 
Gnocci’s name comes from nocca, or knuckles,
when you eat it, you’ll loosen your buckles.
Barcelona’s a place
where you will stuff your face,
and can do so without raising chuckles.
 
In Milan there is also great gnocci,
not found in Japan's Nagasaki:
Sukiyaki’s their dish,
you can have it with fish.
Go to Greece if you hanker souvlaki.
 
 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Slovenly

I was impressed yesterday by poems from two different members of my NaPoMo group, one the Awdl Gywwwyd form, the other a Lanterne. I carefully studied the first but it felt beyond me, so today am using the Lanterne, counted in syllables per line: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1. 

My prompt for National Poetry Month Day 15 is a combination of two, one to write a poem about my feet, the other to write a poem that includes the word "love" hidden in another word. Not an elegant work, but I'm learning a lot, and the poem is true--though I'm actually kind of a shoe freak, I've preferred being barefoot since I was a child:

         I
  might seem
    slovenly,
my feet always
       bare.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cento for a Rainy Day

National Poetry Month Day 14 prompt: Think of a nice thing someone said to you recently. Write a poem about a rainy day, ending with what that person said. The form is a cento ... actually, a quarter-cento, one line each from 25 poems in Barbara Kingsolver's "How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons"):

Years from now, when some passion brings new order
I will feel the cold's every angle, the want of rain.
This day in my thoughts,
the view from here reaches backward:
begin if you can at the beginning--
think of rain: the gathering sheer fall,
shallow and deep, stormy but stippled,
and this air, too much like breath--
crawls like a green bottlefly through the ear canals,
impossibly long green squashes--
is promising the drunk liquid bliss of dusk,
dancing, madly fragrant. Who knew
the mindless tasks a body learns when it must,
living mostly just the one life now,
knees to elbows, fists to the earth.
Nothing is what it was
where life had nailed us down to nothing;
the remainder looks impossible,
commands me to empty out everything--
what I will spend these hours becoming,
willing this suddenly scrambled next into something
up here, now that I know the secret:
"An amazing thing to be able to express wisdom
and experience in such a fun and clever way."

I'm going to be quiet now.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Ode to My Stained-Glass Poppy Hanging

National Poetry Month Day 13 prompt: Look around the house at familiar items, and write a poem to one of them. The form is an Ode.

Oh, precious bits
of shiny glass and lead,
you brought quick tears
when I first saw you
bending sun in my direction:
prismed shades of red & green
reflecting life ahead--
as if you knew we'd be
together thirty years & more,
your octagon illuminating
poppies' promise: many highs,
though sometimes, too,
bereavement--I, a veteran
of desperate wars fought silently
on well-known soils of motherhood,
divorces, failures, and too many
friends and lovers lost.
The artist who brought you to life
unknowingly created the one jewel
I've treasured over any other
traveling with me to start
a new life, adding radiance
to brighten shades of gray,
inviting me to look outside & in
with contemplation, asking always
that I see the light.

 



Monday, April 12, 2021

Get Past It

National Poetry Month Day 12 prompt: Turn on the radio to any station, write a poem about the first thing you hear (which was, "You want to get past it"). The form is Fibonacci or "the Fib"--the number of syllables in each line is the sum of syllables in the previous two lines: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

You
want
to get
past your pain--
this is life-saving,
and it's also liberating.

 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Hex

National Poetry Month Day 11 prompt: Write a poem that begins with the last thing you can remember someone saying to you yesterday. The form is Nonet--a 9-line poem with 9 syllables in the first line, 8 syllables in the second line, 7 syllables in the third line, continuing to count down to one syllable in the final (ninth) line.

I never had to put the pins in;
that did not seem necessary
of this imagined hexing
in our year of anguish.
He knew what he'd done,
tortured himself
till the day
he died,
nailed.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Blue-Blooded Burmese

National Poetry Month Day 10 prompt: Write a poem using your favorite letter of the alphabet. The form is a Tautogram (Greek "tauto" means "the same" and "gramma" means "letter"):

Blue-Blooded Burmese

Baby Beau, bighearted bozo,
bonkers, buffoonish brother,
buoyant, bringing bouncing
bodacious blessings by billions,
blossoms best by being badass:
bada bing bada boom, big boy!

Bella, beguiling bystanders,
brainy, becomingly brilliant,
beatific, beckoning beauty,
beloved bedtime buddy,
bedazzling, bebop bambino,
budding ballerina--bellisima!




Friday, April 9, 2021

Recipe

2021 National Poetry Month Day 9 prompt: Write a poem in the style of a recipe about a family secret--yours or someone else's. The form is Acrostic (first letter in each line spells out a word or message):

In line with the family recipe, tie your apron for marriage.

Have no ingredients of your own, except a roast for his career.
Allow a few years for those conditions to simmer,
Turning over your disappointment into fancy meals and
Equal amounts of pain/pleasure folded into taekwando.

Then agree to cook together with your best friends:
Organic ingredients only for those delicious dishes!

Core emotions will begin to rise as kneaded, so
Oven poach the takeaways from that experience,
Open every lid of all things stirred so far,
Kick ass, take off, and look for a new recipe.

 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Sloth

National Poetry Month Day 8 prompt: Write a 7-line poem about one of the 7 sins, 7 words each line, no word more than 7 letters--the Septastich form.

Enneagram Nine

Sloth is known to shadow my persona,
torpor toward what my own heart desires.
The storm that hides beneath my surface
presses tight against the bounds of rules
induced by culture, family, fortune, and biology:
"Be nice," "Say yes," "Retreat," "Don't push."
My path to recall Self: jump free.

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Knots

National Poetry Month Day 7 prompt: Write a poem in two sections about two different things; have the title link the sections in a surprising way. (This poem was influenced by reading Children Under Fire.) The form is Triolet.

Knots

My children, when still playful tots
responded to my entrained love,
my fears for them tied me in knots,
my children, when still playful tots.
Our luck: we didn't live in Watts,
have guns instead of baseball gloves.
My children, when still playful tots
responded to my entrained love.

Some children have a fearful lot
afraid to look below, above,
their stomachs often tied in knots.
Some children have a fearful lot,
their days disrupted by gunshots,
at best an unforgiving shove.
Some children have a fearful lot,
afraid to look below, above.

 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

"Eeuuww"

Time to get out your "eeuuww" voice. National Poetry Month, Day 6 prompt: Write a poem about a weird fact you know. I chose the Senryu form ("Human Haiku" vs. typical Haiku about nature). I know, 5-7-5 is no longer de rigueur in haiku--it just turned out that way:

antibiotics
can cause oral yeast change &
black hairy tongue

 

Monday, April 5, 2021

forms

Having felt freed from classic forms upon discovering free verse, my poetry group's challenge for National Poetry Month to write in a variety of forms is turning me inside out with frustration. For Day 5, I've used the Diamante poetry form to express my vexation:

                 forms
     stultifying, aggravating
surrender, comply, acquiesce
 chess, church, poetry, family
    diminish, restrict, curtail
     demanding, expanding
               structure

 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Undone

National Poetry Month, Day 4, the form is Italian Octave, slightly modified (didn't follow abbaabba rhyme--instead rhymed all line endings):

Our shame is spun, "The Warmth of Other Suns"
says sun is fun for whites, Blacks run from guns
in Florida where one's undone and runs
if Black and shunned by almost everyone,
the state's past history: can't vote, called dumb,
and run so hard, and murdered one by one.
Though spun as fun, this state, votes won by sons
of KKK, is run by Huns. Not fun.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

To Len: a Lento

2021 National Poetry Month, Day 3 (Prompt: Write a poem that's a love letter to an old flame; to make sure it's not too sappy, use one of these words: dung beetle, politician, nuclear, exoskeleton.) The form is a Lento, two quatrains (4-line stanzas), first words in each quatrain rhyme (or in this case, near-rhyme), end words in 2nd and 4th lines rhyme (abcb):

To Len: a Lento

Could I ever forget our stolen weekends:
good morning omelets--artichoke hearts, feta--
would start the day's work on my dissertation,
nude interludes summing ecstasy's data.

Love and psychology gripped us for seven years
of mutual philosophy and passion's desires,
tough pleas from his nuclear family rising
above needs my own yearning required.

 

Friday, April 2, 2021

A Witch Is Under My Bed

2021 National Poetry Month, Day 2. (Prompt: Write a poem about a superheroine coming to your house and confronting you about something. Somewhere in the poem, state your superpower.) The form is a pantoum:

A witch is under my bed
she hasn't told me her name
I know she's into my head
to clean out all of my shame.

She hasn't told me her name
says now it's time for a crisis
to clean out all of my shame
I'm thinking probably Isis.

Says now it's time for a crisis
my days on earth are imploding
I'm thinking probably Isis
her message clearly foreboding

my days on earth are imploding
no time to waste casting blame
her message clearly foreboding
let go of all of your games

No time to waste casting blame
I'll practice love with each sigh
let of of all of my games
until the day that I die

I'll practice love with each sigh
I know she's into my head
until the day that I die
a witch is under my bed 


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Being Born

2021 National Poetry Month, Day 1. (Prompt: grab the closest book, go to page 29, choose 10 words that catch your eye; use 7 of them in a poem; have 4 of them appear at the end of lines.) Words selected from "IX. Swimming in the Bay of Naples" poem in Barbara Kingsolver's "How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)"--shipwreck, bluster, lank, cloying, dark, childhood, civilized, secret, family, featherbed. The form is free verse:

Heels pushing against it,
the ominous slide from calm dark.
Oh, there I was:
skin, bones & baby breath,
yanked from gestation's featherbed
to the shipwreck of childhood,
those civilized rules
that float a Southern family.

 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Time Warp


Time Warp: "A hypothetical eccentricity of time moving back and forth between eras." Past and future, present in the poet's life. 
 
Dinnertime as a child ("When we sat to eat I looked at Daddy first, sniffed the air, alert").
 
A marriage's Mayday distress call ("Earthquake. Sudden trembling, accumulated energy, quick release along the faults"). 
 
Questions of aging in Feuilleton ("Do I sit and wait until I'm rickety, particular about my cereal, my Scotch?").

Here's a sample: 
Languages I Never Learned to Speak
When I was small I lived
near woods, but never learned
the plants or birds
or trees: how smooth
and double-toothed
the alder by the stream,
the juicy hemlock’s tiny cones,
the mystery of seeds.
And acorns, while familiar,
held no hint for me
of red oaks’ slender
catkins in the spring.
I knew the owls, of course,
and hummingbirds, but missed
the warblers, the wrens.
I couldn’t name the spicebush,
whose soft yellow leaves
would tantalize my dreams,
and blackberries that stained
my fingers’ loops and whorls
could teach me only
e’s and y’s and o’s.


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Eeek Love


My passion for the skewed, the avant-garde, the idiosyncratic – poets, writers, artists, visionaries, whistle blowers, and everyday goddesses – stems from a childhood juggling the act of “good little girl.”Behind the pigtails I was a voyeur of the sensational.This collection of poems is a side show of performers from the circus of my imagination, the nice girl unmasked.

Here's a sample from the book: 
Tinker Toys
I will be a happy infant
by the time we die,
enraptured,
gurgling with bright joy,
unmuzzled, unfettered,
pleasured in our play.

I am your trampoline, your top.
When you come out with me
the rings we circle make us
dizzy with delight -
your cunning lips,
our loose games
lighten me with innocence.

You wheedler, you tempter,
my heart frolics, mesmerized,
aroused perversely so that
I, a gibbering idiot,
am on the leash of your eyes
and you must walk me, slobbering,
pat me on the head,
explaining me to strangers.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Haiku: Deep Dive

Andros Island, furious fates
awaiting depth, disclosure:
barracuda's long, sharp teeth

Friday, November 1, 2019

Monday Morning


              I
"Blue Heron," by Mary Bast
Coziness of dishabille, early
tea and honey in rainless dawn,
and blue reserve of heron
on canvas burn through
pure indifference of sacrifice--
I dream lavishly against the bleak
invasion of insistent contretemps.
As sedation hushes pain,
sweet honey and blue-gray wings
quiet the winding toward Dresden,
stilled for my awakened arms
to hold dominion of the day.

               II
Why give my bounty to the dying?
What is grace that floats only
in bleak predicaments and dreams?
I will find in morning's clear light,
in Darjeeling leaves and feathered flight,
in all of Earth's alluring treasures
cherished intimations of eternity,
my animate divine now bringing
rhapsody to rain, intensity to hue,
lament to melancholy, unrestrained
acquaintance with both joy and pain,
dimensions of my soul's design.

Mary Bast, Unmuzzled, Unfettered.
(Mirror poem of Parts I and II, Wallace Stevens, "Sunday Morning." 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Spooked


Somber leaves hiss in the night wind,
dark mounds conspiring.

Gaping spaces in tooth-torn trees
become mouths in silent screams.

Distant light falters, obscured
by clawed hands of weaving limbs.

With fierce-nugget eyes cats
slink by, brush my skin--

it shudders the length of fear,
hairs probing the air for omens.

One foot marks the porch edge--
inches to safety or the last walk.

Terror lies taut, eyeless, inward.
Beast knows where the knives keep.

Mary Bast, Time Warp


 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Unmuzzled, Unfettered (a Cento)

Honey, you will lose your beauty,
going to be an old wrinkly lady
while we wait for the worst--
you're dead, nothing can hurt you.

Forever, women immolating themselves,
the prospect full as an old etching,
these tracks I've left
songs of love beneath disguise --
gum-snapping hard-girl dialogue.

I wanted to walk without clothing,
prepare for next year's famine with wine.
Like a pig in a trenchcoat I grew,
and not in the paths of high morality,
throwing myself forward with violence,
people passing without turning their heads.

It was sweet and lonesome:
the solitude of celibacy.

Now to stand still, to be here
not made of stone,
the days nouns: touch them,
hysterical birds rushing up the scale --
I will try those wings myself,
farther, a bit farther each time,
distance an absolute value
that keeps the world afloat.


Sources in order of lines, including title:

Mary Bast, "Tinker Toys"
Maggie Anderson, "Ontological"
Alicia Suskin Ostriker, "Wrinkly Lady Dancer"
Maxine Kumin, "New Hampshire, February 7, 2003"
Louise Gluck, "A Myth of Devotion"
Kate Barnes, "To a Skylark"
Sylvia Plath, "A Winter Ship"
Marge Piercy, "Tracks"
Kate Light, "Reading Someone Else's Love Poems"
Barbara Hamby, "Ode to American English"
Irene McKinney "Atavistic"
Linda Pastan, "The Cossacks"
Anne Sexton: "Rowing"
Emily Bronte, "Stanzas"
Jane Kenyon, "Depression in Winter"
Jane Hirshfield, "This Was Once a Love Poem"
Jill Bialosky, "Fathers in the Snow, 2"
Paula Sergi, "Vocations Club"
May Sarton, "Now I Become Myself"
Rebecca McClanahan, "In The Face Of"
Naomi Shihab Nye, "Daily"
Elizabeth Bishop, "Florida"
Muriel Rukeyser, "Waiting for Icarus"
Julia Kasdorf, "Flying Lesson"
Jessica Goodfellow Ueno, "1. Road Trip, A Pilgrim's Guide to Chaos in the Heartland"
Maurya Simon, "The Fishermen at Guasti Park"

This poem also appears in my collection Unmuzzled, Unfettered                                                                                                           

Thursday, January 31, 2019

As Close As I Can Come

Stuck in a land of metaphor
word constellations constantly
changing what the earth
will not take back:
one barbed heart against another,
against the stone inside.

All those loose threads
patched, repatched,
impossible to match
at the seams.

Inevitably, answers about what to do
wait to detonate at each misstep,
forming me to myself, slack-jawed
with cravings for the cocoon
of games only two can play:

to turn on a single axis
until, bodies still undulating,
the dark snatches us away.


A found poem by Mary Bast, revived from
Janice Moore Fuller's collection, Sex Education

Before the Gulls Take Me Out

I have lost my map,
numb as the moon,
half wondering if April
will bring me to life.

To keep from going mad
I'll be a knife waiting,
a wolf at a live heart,
voice like a boulder,

before earth opens,
a wound,
Death looking on
with a casual eye.


A found poem by Mary Bast, revived from
Anne Sexton's collection, The Awful Rowing Toward God


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Propagation

My camellia grower brother is certain I will change my vote if I listen
with him to Limbaugh's broadcast bombast. Curious, I lend my left ear.

My brother doesn't realize the women who are clones of right-wing
populism missed the sweep of what Limbaugh calls the feminazis.

In such a woman's corner, mobs of dust balls gather on the same
high pile of slogans* now echoing in my brother's mind.

One of thirteen percent, Republicans who follow Rush devotedly,
my brother does not see amidst the satire how he falls into

the anti-intellectual trap, the self-professed failings of a high-school
educated lowbrow. My brother is mesmerized, quite certain

he is quoting a reality, that liberals want to rob the rich to feed
the lowest of the lowly: homeless, shiftless, druggies, drunks.

"And when the money's gone, then what?" My brother carries such
certainty into his camellia groves, so why not believe he will

graft Rush onto me, create a new variety of Mary, maybe named Mush,
a brainless, mindless bloom that nods quietly with every rush of hot air?

~     ~     ~

*The word "slogans" in the third stanza is specific to my study of fascism. Trump uses slogans the same way fascists in general have used them, all versions of we/they thinking and not analyzed by followers (to analyze them is to reveal sexism, racism, anti-Semitism).

For example, this quote from The Atlantic, "The Power of the Small Lie" -- "...'Keep America Great' demonstrating how he uses minor untruths to confuse the public and destabilize facts."

See also  Jason Stanley's "How Fascism Works"--"Fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group... smashing truth and replacing it with power;"

"Wilhelm Reich's "The Mass Psychology of Fascism"--"we have to understand why millions of people have been, and continue to be, drawn to Right-wing movements;"

Jean-Paul Sartre's "Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate" -- [afraid of their own consciousness... cowards who do not want to admit their cowardice, murderers who repress and censure their tendency to murder... who dare to kill only in effigy or protected by the anonymity of the mob...] Re: women, Reich describes the way fascism lauds the authoritarian family where the woman's place is at home, as a mother. He also writes, "a woman who is conscious of her sexuality would never willingly heed the reactionary slogans, which have her enslavement in mind."



Saturday, October 6, 2018

Union

It was his gaze that held me fast
on the sea's edge in Scotland
when the sun crashed.
"American?" he asked, sidling.
He wished me harm.

I'd backed toward just this,
his cable-sweatered arm,
his Scottish brogue, his eyes.
He stroked my vanity
and wished me harm.

We walked, how foolishly for me,
away from all the drowning fires,
the families laughing, in the cooling
hush. Then premonition--
belly first, bile rising.

I taste it as I kill him with this
memory, won't have it be:
my young wrists held back,
his pushing, breaking,
coldly remonstrating, Quiet!

Now I kick, gouge,
hear myself not beg, not
bound in dark union,
have it not true I did not
kill him. A belated dirge.

(An earlier version of this poem is in my collection, Time Warp, 2015; an essay about the rape appears in one of my other blogs.)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Your Soul to Keep

In youth I wished you'd taught me
how to use my brains, to not rely on men,
to fight or at least cheer for women's rights.
There were such mothers in your time.

You wanted only what you knew as home,
my father's arms surrounding you,
and everything I railed against in later life
you simply said "That's what men do."

But in the final weeks before your fatal fall
you turned against your Lord Himself:
"How dare He deign to forgive me, assuming
trespasses He'll reckon at the end?"

"Let's pray instead the one beginning Now I lay me
down to sleep" you'd weep, specific memory gone,
so tired of life's persistence but refusing to be weak,
withstanding loss of sight and hearing, deep fatigue.

You threw off sheets and clothing in the hospital,
delirium of drugs revealing finally the little child,
worn naked by one hundred years plus four
and shouting "Get me out of here!"

I couldn't. So I held your hand, wept tears of laughter
when you said "Then I won't play with you." My friend,
more like a sister than a mother, and at last my baby girl,
a year has passed, and now I lay you down.



Sunday, April 1, 2018

A-B-Cliché

A dark and stormy night,
bad to the bone, you're
caught red-handed in a cliché?
Draw the line
(enough to piss off the Pope),
fan the flames,
go for broke,
hold your own.

It's only a matter of time,
just a hop, skip, and a jump to
knock it out of the park,
land on your feet.
Make the best of it, this is
not the end of the world.
Older and wiser, you can
put your best foot forward.

Quick as lightning
rise and shine,
seize the day,
time is of the essence. The
unvarnished truth? It's in your
vested interest to
weather the storm when
X marks the spot:

You can run but you can't hide, you
zigged when you should have zagged.




Saturday, March 31, 2018

Backdraft

(Inspired by my painting below, which was inspired by Kim Addonizio's poem Divine)

Oh no, not the dark wood again.
I thought the last time was the last time--
two marriages, two divorces, and the big one,
the heart-stopper, anyone walking by knowing
how we'd love like never before,  
cocooned for more than a year,
my son saying I was the happiest he'd ever seen.
Yet somehow it was fucked all to hell.
Then another year of searing grief,
till finally only embers of anguish
watching all of us become old or dead,
writing, painting, letting my hair blaze white.
And then, god-damn-son-of-a-bitch,
again the dark wood.
Guardian of the Abyss hovering above
like a gold flame to incinerate what's left of my life, 
showing me a burning hell with skulls of men
who counted and countless men who didn't count.
That path's a hot zone.
The two ghosts on the right? Parents. 
And that sulfurous puddle beneath them?
I've tried to melt those ghouls with every pitch
in the Therapists' Unique & Wonderful Catalog of Cures,
but so far I've only disappeared
my mother up to her knees,
my father to his you-know-what,
their arms still tight across their chests
in the universal posture of NO.
On the left, what remains
of the family tree. Kind of bare.
But there's water and blue sky
where I'm headed,
so no bail-out, here I go
with my firefighting apparatus
to control the burn,
find the opening cones,
disperse seeds, restore the trees.
And fuck yeah, I'm crazy enough
to bump back again.     


Oh hell, here's that dark wood again, by Mary Bast


Friday, March 30, 2018

Sestina: Berserk for Barack

I cannot deify The Man                        
who makes jokes,                                 
negates a deeper pain,                         
hides behind a hollow                          
laugh. He should be, friends,               
the first to weep.                                   

How can he but weep,                          
hold out for humanity?                        
Climate deniers, no friends                
of earth, deny the joke's              
on them, souls too hollow                   
to sense our planet's pain.                   

The Pres should feel such pain
he can do nothing but weep.
Instead he hides behind a halo
while radicalized young white men
advance like a fatal joke.
His Hollywood and Washington friends,

his White House correspondent friends,
rather than mirror our certain pain,
retweet satirical political jokes,
while every one of them should weep
for gays, blacks, Muslims, women
going down the alt-right rabbit hole. 

This dark ground we tread is hollow
where our Standing Rock Sioux friends,
seeking the mythic Medicine Man,
suffer rubber bullets, cold water, pain
of ignored treaties instead. So weep
for them, too, while Barackobama jokes

with Jerry Seinfeld: You have to joke
about all the stupid stuff. Is this All Hallow's
Eve, world leaders tripping out of their minds? I weep
that Tuesdays he picks from a kill list. And friends,
his admin built more nuclear everything. A painful
question: where is our Nobel humanitarian?

In the coming sweepstakes our dealer's The Joker,
a man whose choices would make Allen Ginsberg howl,*
whose global-warming-skeptic friends will rewrite psalms to render pain.

(See also "Ah hah! This is a Sestina" with Carolyn L. Wright)

________________________________________
*I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness... Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of   Moloch...  Congress of sorrows!... Moloch whose blood is running money!... Moloch the vast stone of war... Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone!...

Moloch: the ancient pagan god of child sacrifice.
________________________________________
My President was Black by Ta-Nahisi Coates: "...my last conversation with the president. I asked him how his optimism was holding up, given Trump's victory... he said his general optimism about the shape of American history remained unchanged. 'To be optimistic about the long-term trends of the United States doesn't mean that everything is going to go in a smooth, direct, straight line,' he said."
________________________________________
Why on Earth is Obama Smiling? (The Washington Post): "This has been Obama's pattern. At times when passion is called for, he's cerebral and philosophical and taking the long view--so long that it frustrates those living in the present."
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Keegan-Michael Key: A Farewell Address From Obama's Anger Translator