Thursday, April 17, 2014



flick...flick...flicker the light

pianissimo...adagio...ripple the darkness

You stand at the door
of the elegant ballroom, head covered,
thin gown. You peek in.
Your face says you know
you're not just the maid who empties it,
you are
the champerpot.

flick...flick...flicker the light

tap... tap... the drum

You are young in the long line of soldiers
your face shiny and new,
your mustache as convincing as
a  chalk mark on your lip.
You will bleed at the first
and die at the second shot;
it's all in the eyes of the woman
seeing you off.

flick... flick... flick...
flicker the light

In the garden of money and sighs
contrived as pom pom dahlias,
your mouth is a larkspur, open and
bending with life, your love is the seed that blows
in the wind and behind the wind
you hide the coming rain,
the storms that break trees.

flick... flick...
                                            flicker the light

At the society dog show packed
with blue ribbon poodles, tiaras and
dandelion tails, you are the bright-eyed,
the little laughing ferret
slinky and soft, let out of her cage by
an innocent, petted and dropped at the bite,
dead in a spaniel's mouth.

flick... flick... flicker
out the light

in darkness.

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Kerry's Challenge: Silent Movies
Kerry O'Conner (Skylover, Skywriting) asks us to transform the non-verbal world of silent film into the very verbal one of poetry. As always, the word 'challenge' is completely appropriate. 

Process Notes: This poem just sort of happened, after seeing a video clip at Shay's Word Garden that she chose to accompany her own excellent poem, a montage of silent film stars who died young. I was taken with the face of Olive Thomas, who died in 1920 at 25 after accidentally or otherwise drinking her husband Jack Pickford's syphilis medication, mercury bichloride. Her rags to riches, party girl story is tragic in every sense, and prototypical of Hollywood. Her ghost is said to haunt the New Amsterdam Theater, where she began her career as one of the famous Ziegfeld Girls.

Photos: Olive Thomas, Jack Pickford, public domain
via google image search.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



As the long night passes over
tugging everything apart
with its rough spatulate fingers,
slapping back dreams
as if they were fits: hysterics
not visions;

chewing with windy teeth
at the logs on the hearth,
crackling their bark like bacon
shooting embers out like bullets
into the dark bitter smoke,

how I long to take
my wakefulness outdoors
into the flowing black air
that cleans without teasing,
that polishes stars to a dazzle
even fogged-over eyes can see.

Instead the murk and clouds
break the blood moon, 
white frost covers the lookout
and the enemy creeps in.

~April 2014

Image: Lunar Eclipse,  by Lloyd  Overcash via science@NASA

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fox And The Moon

The Fox And The Moon
A dream ballad 

The four-headed moon, the nine-tailed fox
came by last night and they didn't knock.
In at the doormouth, down through the flue;
what they had to tell me I can't tell you.

The fox was sleek as an August mare
that rolls off her back and outruns the bear,
but the blood on his lips ran Malbec red
and he ate the thing a mare's not fed.

Then the moon shook the wand with her shrunken heads
in the place where she had me four times trapped
with her eyes sewn shut, all her tongues cut out--
so I don't know why I still heard her laugh.

The four-headed moon, the nine-tailed fox
came to my house with the broken locks.
There was no running then, nowhere to wake;
there was only the wish that I wished too late.

~April 2014

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Challenge: The Ballad Form
Kay Davies(An Unfitttie's Guide To Adventurous Travel) asks us to write a poem of at least two four-line stanzas in the ballad form. I am pretty sure this falls into the 'literary ballad' category, if it falls into *any* category, that is. The rhyme scheme is rather arbitrary, and includes traditional AABB, a stanza with only one rhyme, and chained rhyme, in no particular plan.

Process Notes:  I've written about the nine-tailed fox  before, in this terza rima. He or she is generally a demonic sort of shape-shifter-being in several Asian mythologies. The fox, or kitsune, in Japanese myth can kind of go either way, but when it is bad, it is very bad. The four-headed moon I made up, though I did hear something about a tetrad of lunar total eclipses this year, a rather unusual celestial line-up which we can go centuries without seeing. In fact, I just came in from looking at what some are calling the first 'blood moon.'

Top Image: Fox in the Reeds, cica 1930, by Ohara Koson
May be protected by copyright. Posted under fair use guidelines via
Footer: Untitled, by Zdislav Beksinski
May be protected by copyright. Posted under fair use guidelines via

Monday, April 14, 2014

Songs of the Simple Folk

This poem refers to the above song about the Jacobite Rising (and another which I will link later) which I used to play on my guitar back in the day, and may not make much sense if you have never heard it. (It may not make much sense even if you have.)
 Lyrics  are by the Scots poet Robert Burns(1794).

Songs of the Simple Folk

In the darkness before morning
in the cawing of the starling
in the woodlands cold and longing
singing 'Charlie is my darling'
to the deaf and careless girls

all carried in the songs,
their half-forgotten curls
tossed broken on the South Coast
where the lion
still rules the barranca,
where the long dying
of their fulsome,
cumbersome flying

takes place in a space
cluttered, ruined, and
dirty with  thinking,
buying, selling the heady taste
of unnatural waste
from the winepress of loss,
all lost but your face.

Cell by cell the hard memory twists and unplugs
cords dangle forlorn, post-umbilically drear.
Another day's born to the same gang of thugs
but Charlie's still my darlin, my darlin,
Charlie's still my darlin, the young chevalier.

~April 2014

The other folk song referred to is The South Coast (lyrics),  and you can hear a classic if diffuse, mostly spoken version of it below by the great, obscure and idiosyncratic  Ramblin Jack Elliot:

Here's a rather more sprightly modern version of Charlie:

I am not linking this poem anywhere as it is purely a piece of self-indulgence during this month of poetic slog. I wrote it for me, I had fun with it and if anyone else enjoys it, that is sheer gravy. ;_)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Brightbird

The Brightbird

When did my blackbird
become so bright?
When I went to sleep
he was black as night.

I dreamed that we flew
for forever and far
to a place where the Wee Folk
dance wild on a star,

where one ticking minute
gets lost in the years,
gets painted with moon dots
and turns into tears

that open like poppies
of scarlet and jade.
They dripped on my blackbird
in twenty new shades

of violet and indigo
slick as shellac,
till only his eyes
and his feet were still black

and each feather glowed
and each feather glistened;
he winked his black eye
and the sunrise listened.

When did my brightbird
become so tall?
Yet when I woke up,
he was nowhere at all.

~April 2014

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Challenge:A Child's Verse
Margaret Bednar(ArtHappens365) gives us one of the most simple-appearing and actually quite difficult challenges ever, to write a child's poem, and provides us with some children's artwork to help us along, drawn from a showing of elementary school children's art at her local arts center. I have photo-manipulated this beautiful bird just the slightest bit to bring out his magic.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wisteria sinestra

Wisteria sinestra

Under the lavender organza, the
ruffled panache of Borgia sleeves,
the sophisticated gamboge
of pistil whips,

under all the droop and pose
in bitter-beautiful clusters
of never-ripe rose-

 seeded for greensnake wine
 she slides, the glossy grey 
constrictor vine;
her hard wired climb,

her graceful smother
a two-week glory
hiding the persistent throttling line
kept close kept secret

in her pocket of leaves.
Through the ribs,
over the bones,
always the lady, she clothes

 the fists that tighten. the fingers that bind
in baby blue gloves; murder refined.

~April 2014

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Transforming Friday with Hannah
Hannah Gosselin ( Metaphors and Smiles) gave us a perfectly innocent and lovely series of images of the spring flowering vine Wisteria  for our subject material--sadly, my muse is not into the innocent and lovely stuff much, so it all ended up here, definitely having experienced some transforming.
Thank you Hannah, for a much more pleasant prompt than this poem might suggest.

Process notes; Apologies to the noble Wisteria sinensis-- she decided to show me her sinister side, and she does have one, especially here in the south--invasive, clambering into and choking out trees and shrubs, damaging houses, and carrying poisonous seeds in her laburnum-like pods. (In fact, all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.)

Image: Wisteria frutescens, by BeareroftheCup, 
and Wisteria sinensis stolons, Kew Gardens by Dénes Emőke 
public domain via wikimedia commons

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