Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Sonnet

New Year's Sonnet

Will New Year come to my garden with his sharp secateurs
to deadhead with zest all my brightest elflock flowers,
unfinished blooms of crimson damask, fleurs
du mal et bonheur alike, the columned hours
clipped carelessly, tossed in a loathesome braided trug
of blades, a compost forgotten in the dryrot heat?
Or bring a plague of wasps to buzz in my mug
so each sip is a sting to a thirst so long incomplete?

But I dream that he comes, his arms overladen with days
his pale star eyes sailing lucent in a white-sickled sky;
with a quirk and puff of dawn’s breath, her seducing ways
to raise the blood wine in the flute, a kiss without goodbyes

a song on the moon, a sigh you can’t conceal
that opens the flower, feeds and makes it real.

December 2011

Optional mellowness  to start out the new year:
donovan--sunny goodge street

Posted for    Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Mark Kerstetter is hosting Endings and Beginnings on this final day of 2011, and invites reflection and speculation on the changing of the year. Come join us, and Happiest of New Years to all reading.

Disclaimer: I'm horrible with sonnets, and though I've tried very hard here to make iambic pentameter work in this, it's a hard voice for me, and I may have improperly scanned or forced it, because I never hear it properly--apologies to all purists of the form.

Header image: Ridiculous Bird, by ~Neural Disarray on deviantArt
Shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 Non-Commercial License 


Friday, December 30, 2011



In out out in without disruption
warding the shell's inevitable corruption

in billowing sighs where the Master sits
the apprentice is peeking with eyes like slits

blind to a logic of infinite drops
in out out in till the raindance stops

each moment alone in a trance of calm
a butterfly netted in the silent palm

in now where his fingers play
out now already flying away

December 2011

Some nursery rhyme styled couplets for 
Gay Cannon's FormForAll prompt at dVerse Poet's Pub 

Thursday, December 29, 2011



A lesson in stars,
night's orderly arithmetic
chalked on darkness,
shines on the tired skin
that covers me
once blank, babysoft 
then work calloused
life enscribed
roughened with  sun
now sueded soft again
erased blank as night sky
where nothing's written except
the chalkmarked numbers
of old dreams
the blue moon is  

December 2011

An equation in 55 integers for Professor G-Man, to close out the last semester of 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Dominance of Grey

The Dominance of Grey
 A villanelle

The grey veil she wore ate up all the years.
It licked at her grimaces, nibbled her smile.
It didn't pull off, only washed off with tears.

At night she’d spit into its fine woven fears,
proudly wear it next day to hide naked denial
that just like the veil ate the flesh off the years.

The veil grew a voice and it talked in her mirrors.
It held her more closely than husband or child.
It didn’t pull off and she needed more tears.

What once would dissolve it now reversed the sheer
wisps to dark masking stiffened with bile;
the grey veil she wore grew fat on the years

as she aged, a blown eggshell, flat eyes, lips and ears,
her features erased like an asphalted mile.
It didn’t pull off and she had no more tears.

No  salt left to wash her old face back with tears.
No mind left to fight for her long-eaten smile.
The grey veil she wore  ate up all the years
It didn’t pull off, only drank all the tears.

December 2011

Thanks to Karin Gustafson at ManicDDaily for getting my villanelle juices flowing. Also dedicated to every Mommie Dearest.Grey will eat you, you know.

Rán's Road

English channel at night

"...With fearful might the sea surged
Methinks our stems the clouds cut,-
Rán's road to the moon soared upward..."
~The Prose Edda

Rán's Road

Back home
from nowhere
on the sundown road again
out beyond the ending
after the wildest wave,
a light floods
sunfallen scarlet in seastream.

Feeling stops, mind in
memory’s mooring
no longer finds netted
maritime eyes of pearl
rippling sundrops
chained shells of silver
to barnacle the heart.

Still, far inland
a spring wells
dripping from the split rock
a dribble, compared to that
vast redstained road flowing
from white Rán's mouth, yet
quenching, sweet not salt;
time stops the oarsmen,
the twin bladed hands
are still in the dark.

Alone becomes
a mooncell, it’s centromere
suspended, each joining
separating identical
chromotids, a whole
from division’s drilled duality
a sensate totality
light made from shadow.

the soul returns
from her long journey
impossible not to know her
under the silver hair
the shabby close
the smile unchanged

December 2011

"...The stormy breast rain-driven,
The wave with red stain running,
Out of white Rán's mouth..."

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Note: In Norse Mythology, Rán was a sea goddess.She was the wife of Ægir, a sea giant and god of the ocean, known also for hosting elaborate parties for the gods ~per wikipedia

Image: English Channel at Night by Aaron Phelps on flick'r


Saturday, December 24, 2011

In Clara's House

In Clara’s House

In your house
Christmas was always kept
my grandfather getting the tree
from the VA lot, cheap and scrawny,
you and I making it fit to be seen
before the sisters and the cousins came
to eat.

In your house
a discard was an ornament
something broken could be fixed
and used again
something ugly could be cleaned
and put in a place of pride

In your house
African violets ruled in fertile hosts,
as big as geraniums, green guards with mauve caps
or cobalt, protecting every table, every window,
grown from microleaves I watched you cut and
place on soil like rows of crops from the farm 
you couldn’t have.

In your house
you set the table
carved and heavy, massive made,
covered with lace where all the family came 
for groaning meals, where on off days
a child could hide between the legs
and be a lion.

In your house
a child with one mother lost
could have another found, 
in tales and talk, in times
smelling of coffee cardamom
and soap, mother hands brushing princess hair,
braiding it into dragontails.

In your house,
Christmas was always kept.
The tree star watched while we sang
and the casual blows and formal fear,
the hidden anger and secret prisons
of that other house
were nothing for awhile.
December 2010

Clara & Ragnar with african violet, 195?

This poem was originally posted last year at the inimitable One Stop Poetry, reposted for dVerse Poets Pub 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays in all shapes and forms to my friends, fellow poets and all reading this.

Header Photo of Clara Mathilda Carlson taken by Robert Studio, Chicago, Ill, 195?

Glass of Stars

Meteor shower

Glass of Stars

Whirl in whirl in
in the dance of stars;
Spin the table or
let the table spin you,
say the warding words
better, write them faster
deeper, in something bitter
and sweet as the old Widow's
fizz, her finger dipped
in larceny, lime and sugar,
a yeasty effervescence flourished
like a lacy bubbled flag of air and stars,
the press of love in the heavy glass
a vintage stood on its head
in the riddling rack, troubled
and twisted day by day, until
the acidulated dregs 
of its primitive self drop
like galled stones
rolled away when that last
bit of sweetness comes
that floats the vessel
finally full.

As  I dip my finger
to write your name on my heart
an empathy of shooting stars rattles down
filling my glass in the cold night.

December 2011

The riddling rack is an invention for the proper fermentation and mass production of champagne, credited to the formidable Widow Cliquot and her cellar master in the 19th century, per wikipedia: "...Composed much like a wooden desk with circular holes, the rack allowed a bottle of wine to be stuck sur point or upside down. Every day a cellar assistant would gently shake and twist (remuage) the bottle to encourage wine solids to settle to the bottom. When this was completed. the cork was carefully removed, the sediments ejected, and a small replacement dose of sweetened wine added."

Header Image: Meteor Shower, by Nilo Merino Recalde on flick'r
Footer Image: Label, Veuve Cliquot Champagne
via google image search 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Yule Goat

Yule Goat

In December’s dark descent
across crackled breaking sky ice
slivered with dagger snow,
bells ring in whitened night, sharp
hooves stamp on the cloudcloth
shaking pearldust stripes on
viridian spruces, candelabra arms
turquoise and white pinwheels
circling their wands
of bitter bark raven haunted.

The god of thunders 
pulls the sun's shadow
flickering hammer tucked
in his brace of clouds,
drives his twin goats
toward the time when day
and night are strait, equals at last
as Odin's wild hunt 
passes damned, mad,
howling overhead

The Snarler and the Grinder
fleet of foot, heedless of fate
run on; tonight's feast, tomorrow’s
feat, killed for meat this starveling
night, raised at dawn.
Spread the skins and 
let each bone 
fall with care so
those here reborn 
race again on the solar wind.

O bright black eye
split with too much knowledge
devil’s mask, canting voice
of the abyss, god's bearer, hunger's enemy
come bless us this Yule with your
yellow stare, ignite yourself
against the hag’s winter storm,
flute your flames through a straw ribcage.
Watch us make the old dance new again
under the reckless stars.

December 2011

In Norse myth, Thor was not only provided with his mountain-shattering hammer Mjölnir, his magical, strength doubling belt Megingjörð, but a chariot in which he traveled through the sky pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir (Old Norse "teeth-barer, snarler") and Tanngnjóstr (Old Norse "teeth grinder") spoken of in the Prose Edda, who could be slain for food at Thor's discretion then resurrected with the power of Mjölnir and returned to the traces.~ from wikipedia: 'The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbols and traditions. Originally denoting the goat that was slaughtered during the Germanic pagan festival of Yule, "Yule Goat" now typically refers to a goat-figure made of straw. It is also associated with the custom of wassailing, sometimes referred to as "going Yule Goat" in Scandinavia.' As always, I've taken a few liberties with the letter of the myths.You can read more about the folklore of the Yule Goat here  and the Wild Hunt here.

Happy Wassailing to All!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Terpsichore's Lovesong

Jean-Marc Nattier, Terpsichore (1739)

Terpsichore's Lovesong

Lay your head
upon my breast
 let mending fingers roam,
yesterdays, regrets long fled
on the dancing journey home

Kiss me here
before we part
never to meet again,
freed from life as freed from fear
broken before we could bend.

Still the heart
is sent for song,
voice on the skyblue wind;
still I feel we’ll never part
unless it's to meet again.

December 2011

This is a companion piece to Thalia's Nocturne 

Image; Terpsichore, by Jean Marc Nattier, 1739 Oil on canvas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In the Wilderness

John William Waterhouse - Magic Circle

 In The Wilderness

My last night in the wilderness
I wrote your name
the name that can’t be spoken
in deep blue ink on black paper
block letters in knots and swirls
lewd bulges and constrictions
a child’s idea of a  rune of power
half drawn heiroglyph of some
ibis headed god with a
truthful feather, balanced
weightless where stars were
first conceived to ornament
the arching body of night.

Beside it I drew encircled
a kindled heart in luminous blood
heavy as iron for you my love
the raw red beating thing
to shock you into breathing
the slap across your infant cheek
I painted in silver star water
the tilting scales, the sword cross-hilted,
driven through. Above I put Dian’s crescent
webbed in cloudy lies
pink as the dawn’s toes
walking in her silken slippers all 
around us in night's shrinking pit.

Then I kissed and laid it low, whisper soft 
where the dying fire sighed
fed the smolder with curled needles
of rosemary, corpse tallow of dead hope
and bits of bone. By its sulphur light
the ghostsmoke steamed straight up
in the tomb still air, grey and rank
till the east wind blew you away.
Perhaps when your next priestess
arrives, she’ll make a rune ink from this
char and sleet and tattoo you
a poem you’ll like better
on her wavering skin

but it will never be half as true
as what I wrote by witchlight for you.

December 2011

Posted for   Open Link Night  at dVerse Poets Pub

Header Image: Magic Circle, by John William Waterhouse, 1886, oil on canvas
John William Waterhouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Undelivered Letter To the Moon

Undelivered Letter to The Moon
from a shooting star

Dominitrix and nocturix
how you punish the night with flicks
of your white whip and rhythm sticks,
handcuff us to black and perform your rape
make us jump from the void in ecstatic mix
of  surrender and escape.

This is in response to Kerry's      Mini Challenge at real toads     today, where she discusses both the Burns Stanza, and the  poetry of Rhina P. Espaillat entitled "Undelivered Mail". I've tried to combine the two here, though perhaps not as purely as I could have, but this is what came. Below is the free verse fragment that I worked into the stanza, just for fun. 

To the Moon

Dominatrix and nocturix
how you punish the night
make it curl its toes and scream
handcuff the stars to a flat black table
delighting most
to make them writhe and jump
out of the sky in an ecstasy
of surrender and escape.

December 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lead Balloon

Lead Balloon

Zeppelin among
red balloons
in a whip cream sky,

buffoon baboon among
soft-eyed lemurs

graffiti’d wall above

puddled jellyfish
on the white beach

she knows

no one looks at
her face
she knows

fat girls
have to put out
she knows

all she has
is between her legs
or in her purse 

she knows 

it doesn’t matter

in the ten minute funhouse
mirror of their eyes
she can see

bent, elongated, fuzzy

what she could have been
if she were real.

December 2011

Posted for    Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Brian's hosting a prompt this weekend featuring the graphic art of  Tera Zajack
Come join us.

Image provided by Tera Zajack
Used with permission

Friday, December 16, 2011

Long Distance Blue Moon

Long Distance Blue Moon

If  I could call--
and feel you answer--
even if only
when the moon is blue
or in total eclipse
or when Jupiter aligns
with certain unlikely
sections of
the Crab Nebula,
that would be

but the air's
too thin there
for sound
to carry,

So enough will just
have to be
imagining it.

December 2011

Image: Blue Moon, by~ghosttigereyes on deviantArt

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For My Son

December 15th was my son's 38th birthday. He's working through many trails in his life right now, and there seems to be very little I can do, but if you are reading this son, know I love you and think about you every day, and that I know you have what no one else can give you to win your battles. Someday things that seem impossible now will all be alright, one way or the other, so whatever's going down, try to laugh to keep from crying. This last year's  poem (slightly revised) isn't much of a birthday present, but I hope you can read between the lines.

For My Son

When he was a baby
he knew the language of birds
in his carrier under the trees.
looking up with blurry eyes,
waving fat hands
And speaking.

When he was a child
he wrote poetry
drew us the shine
of surreal suns;
he laughed 
into hollow tubes,
dressed in paper armor,
coughed and cried
and trusted
without speaking.

But somehow he wandered
into the tangled forest of his life
love a treacherous chase
full of hunters,
wary of pursuit,
under the falling arrows,
the ones I fired into the air
that hit and made him bleed,
the ones I never fired,
running far and fast
away where I
can’t follow.

In that forest
may he be safe
from hunting at last
from me, from himself.
May the light of his laughter
burn bright.
May he still be
speaking to birds
and finally
hear them answer.

October 2010

Comments are disabled on this post but there's some music. Thanks for reading.

All photos  protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Villanelle

December Villanelle

December the snowy white hope firepit
black-iced December, the cold-burning brand
December when ghosts all come back to sit

in stores, streets and houses lit bright or unlit
all along the sharp sleetslipping strand
December the ashen white hope firepit.

December the voice too cold to commit
yelling its annual endless demand.
December when ghosts all come back to sit

beside us around us. They flurry and hit;       
what they wield has no need for a flesh and blood hand.
December’s ghostnested white hope firepit.

Holes leak in dreams drilled by memory’s hard bit
as pine drips red drops in a bucket of sand.
December when ghosts all come back to sit.

Pull off the holly and break up each bit.   
Build a new fire that flares on command
in December’s dead dreary white hope firepit
and burn all the chairs where the ghosts come to sit.

December 2010
revised 2011

This is a repost of a villanelle I wrote last December, slightly tweaked. 

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Monday, December 12, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive~December

Yes, the month is almost half gone, and incredibly, 2011 almost completely over, and I suddenly realized I had not as yet had any Wallace Stevens up this year. Blasphemy! So I am going to make amends for that by having two of his shortest poems, one I think very accessible and the other, not so much, but both illumined in a prismatic fashion by his own particular radiant intellect and vision. They are from his first published work, Harmonium (1923.) The first, Disillusionment at Ten O'Clock is in his most whimsical voice, the second, The Snow Man, more elemental, and very appropriate to the season, which anyone who comes here much has by now figured out I hate.

You'll find them here, in the Off The Shelf January archive.

If you'd like to know more about my favorite and most admired poet, his bio at is here:                              

~*~  ~*~  ~*~  ~*~  ~*~  ~*~  ~*~

To make room for the Stevens selection, last month's fine poem by Louise Bogan is moved to the front burner for a final perusal before going to rest in the Archives. Feel free to comment on either selection here, as comments are disabled off the main page.

Song For The Last Act

Now that I have your face by heart, I look
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
Beyond, a garden, There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.

Now that I have your face by heart, I look.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read
In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence. In a double dream
I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift. The notes shift in the dark.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.

by Louise Bogan

Image: The Hibiscus Tree, by Paul Gauguin, 1892, Oil on canvas
courtesy wikimedia commons

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In My Dream

 In My Dream
in the style of Emily Dickinson

In bed of rock I laid me down
Time’s sand beneath the sheets
I fled the day through that First Watch
dark ends and want completes.

My headcage swell’d with pricking thought
sown in obsolete hour.
Sleep plowed me with her feeling hand,
Dream bloomed my dark flower:

A message of you, writ on skin,
flared up in onyx  flame:
The solitaire took a woman!
On her brown face--your name.

Dreams are ever a house in pain.
Certainty can’t win back
the vision slain, the drab of hope
is lost to bitter luck.

For there your letter waited--Lead,
envelope crackled blue.
Your words affirmed Calamity
And from the folded pages flew

Two tiny skulls that kissed and kissed,
two ivory figures twined;
where bone met bone and rib hooked rib
two skeletons aligned.

Dawn clattered in, face filmed in doubt--
meaning  I never knew.
Dream twisted the path before us--
death to me, life to you.

original work, November 1986
substantially revised 2011

Posted for  Sunday Mini Challenge   at real toads
Kerry's challenge today is to attempt the ballad form as used by one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, without parody, intentional or unintentional. I can only hope.(!) This is quite an old poem, not much of a mini at seven stanzas, but much changed and shortened now from the abab tetrameter eleven stanza original.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mending the Doll~Quilt Patterns

Mending The Doll

doll is old,
old hat, vieux jeux,
yellowed soft cloth, not
cold plastic bitchslapped 
with a painted
 She doesn’t talk, model skintight skirts, wear tiny
rhinestoned stilletos, cry, wet or
do anything really.
She just 
split open
stuffing spilt
naked doll, who
will sew you closed?
Take up your own needle.
Try to pull yourself together. 
Use a red thread; never mind how
it glares against the yielding white cloth,
that scarlet vein caught in the chrome tooth.
Pull it through where the limp twin edges of hope
and fear no longer meet; should it accidentally pierce
any pouffes of cotton where a heart should be, Doll who
makes no sound, be grateful just to keep, however raddled
  or unraveled, those few soft bits of woolly innards you have left. Ah
     what a joke. The doll gives up. Her button eyes are blind, her fat hands are empty and do more harm than good  
yet still 

something has pushed the needle, pulled the thread, sewn her up and on her head set a fine new 
purple feathered hat.

December 2011

two for one:

Quilt Patterns

After you
find all of
the sparks
that make
a blinking
dawn’s eye
cut a square of unwrinkled indigo night
to lay down behind it, tips triangulated 
with squares of dusty sun seen through
 red clouds.
Sew  it up
 with stars'
each one

that make
the lace exist,
holes through black velvet
that define what patterns are seen;
find for me next the rolling paisleys of ocean
silver blue crossed and starred, but never bottomed that
 backflow this quilt of brownpatch worked land
bound in woolly green, roots to anchor
batting of cotton moonshine,
connecting all the nodes
not just six of ten
for the easy fix.
Then please
cover me,
keep me

December 2011

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Victoria hosts again today with a prompt focused on the fabric of our lives. I made these concrete poems to simulate the piecing and stitching together that goes into all the painstaking needlework of a quilt, or a life. 
Sew up a poem and join us. Link is live till Sunday midnight.