Thursday, May 31, 2012

Face In The Storm

Into the clouds

Face in the Storm

The lantern trees shone,
upturned goblets
of chartreuse shimmering
brimmed over with the pursuing
stormlight loping behind them,
closing fast.

Unremitting as a child witched wild, trolls
of thunder chewed rocks, slouched under
the great cloud bridges sending
sweeping white slash after slash
of electric clapperclaw flash skydown to
consummate their mountain splitting noise.

Then the wind fell upon the world
more ravenous than any March bear, hungry as
the spirit of war, and tore
the lace veil from the branches.
In the dismay of their naked disarray I saw
the face I most long to forget

laughing from too wet lips
light of my sorrow its liquid eye
so with a sigh I rose and closed
the curtains on the rain.
But all night long
I felt the stare.

May 2012

Image: Into the Clouds, by LLudo on flick'r
Photo taken June 13, 2008, Norman, Oklahoma
Shared under a Creative Commons License 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Strange Serum of Professor Foutre au Cul

The Strange Serum of Professor Foutre au Cul

It was late, approaching midnight, when Professor Foutre au Cul made his final decision.  The wind through the open shutters wavered the gaslight in its isenglass globe, casting blood dark shadows over the scattered pieces of dirty laboratory equipment, making them seem like instruments of torture, as indeed, in the professor’s case, they were. But, mon dieu! he had no time for that now, not when he was so close.

At last he felt his serum was perfected, the serum that would transform the laboring underclass into willing slaves, obviating the need for expending capitol on wages, or those clumsy robots the dwarves were always bragging about, and which always rusted into oblivion before the warranty expired. Professor au Cul had a bit of a poetic streak, and thought of his potion as "The Foutre au Cul Ultimate Obedience and Indifference Induction Elixir."

He had as yet to come up with a marketing slogan. “Watch Them Drink and Obey!”  perhaps. Or “Save a Fortune on Scullions and Automatons! Make Your Wife, Regardless Of How Formerly Intractable, the Perfect Domestic Slave!” or, alternatively,  “Transform Your Drunken Sot of A Husband Into A Responsible Wage Earner!” 

The possibilities were endless.

No matter that the earlier concoctions were a mixed success at best, causing the loss of several typists. He’d been forced to terminate them when they removed their bustles and began a bacchanal procession through the lab, completely indifferent to both social mores and the terms of their employment but alas! no more obedient than ever. While not wholly averse to the former manifestation, it was not the reaction he was looking for.

But at last, after the introduction of tincture of mercury, the reduction of the grain alcohol component and a ticklish adjustment of 27 different herbs and spices, the serum had reached the stage where human experimentation was vital. He was the only one left, and he owed it to Science to finalize his amazing gift to mankind by making himself the last trail subject. He had no fear. He knew his process was flawless.

He upended the delicate crystal vial, and rapidly drank off six ounces of vile, murky grey fluid. It was only after enduring hours of agonizing bellyache and acquiring a raspberry rash over 86% of his body, including parts best not thought of, that the professor realized he had no way of telling whether the serum had actually worked, as he was already totally obedient to his own every whim, and complete indifference to everything else was a natural trait.

Back to the drawing board. Perhaps this time, something in a little blue pill?

May 2012

Posted for    real toads
Kerry's Wednesday Challenge: Steampunk

A bit of a departure for me; normally I find writing prose to be like pulling teeth, but in this case, the thing refused to be a poem, (I linked an older one of those if preferred) so there you go. Apologies for the length--it didn't want to be short, either. 

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Image: Goya Attended by Doctor Arrieta, by Francisco Goya 1820
Public Domain, via

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Old Pier

old pier

The Old Pier

Once absence meant nothing;
everything leaving came back.
Now things unwanted are
into the wake to sink.

The bollard is fixed in place
in a silted harbor
rusted, paint chipped, frayed rope
collar long since snapped, still

something sailed here once on a whisper,
moored snug then lightly spit
a last smooth pebble on the cairn
where hope drowned coming to port.

The knot was cut in haste
the wind drove all before it seaward
leaving a stone, a bollard
fit for the cast of a mooring line

that's soon slipped loose,
stowed safe aboard by the departing,
gone long before the pier collapses
into the gull darkened sea.


May 2012

Posted for    OpenLinkNight   at  dVerse Poets Pub

Shared under a Creative Commons License

Monday, May 28, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~May

As usual I've procrastinated insufferably on this feature, waiting till the absolute last day of the month to change out the Off the Shelf selection. Again I'm falling back on a poem I've lived with for the last few decades, one from Octavio Paz, called Beyond Love. I couldn't tell you how many times I've read this one in a dark midnight.  

You'll find it here, in the Off the Shelf archives for July.

And here is a biography of the man, in my opinion one of the great Spanish language poets of our time.

So without further ado, here's last month's selection for a final read before it enters the archives, an even older favorite of mine by John Donne, 
 A Valediction; Forbidding Mourning:

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move,
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant,
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun. 

~ by John Donne

Image: Carlysle Wall(The Lovers), 1853,  by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Amnesia Anesthesia JuJu

© Daryl Edelstein

Amnesia Anesthesia JuJu

Since you showed me
so truthfully there's no forever
in the flesh, I see, I see.
Since I cannot be real, let me be
let me be a haunt. 
Let me be the night's illusion
of everything you want
and cannot feel.

Let, let your restless bed
be troubled by the unquiet breath,
let, let your feckless life
be troubled by the lightless death
I wear, the tattered gravedust gown
that pulls me deeper down, to drown
dance unwound in a turquoise vortex;
sucked up, quick-chewed, spat out gone.

But like an invisible fool
before a blind audience
softly snoring,
I expect the truth will be
not even Papa Legba 
can haunt an amnesiac’s memory.

May 2012

posted for    real toads 

Sunday Photo Challenge:Daryl Edelstein

Process notes: "In Haitian Vodou, Papa Legba is the intermediary between the loa [spirit world]and humanity. He stands at a spiritual crossroads and gives (or denies) permission to speak with the spirits..." ~wikipedia

Image: Mosaic art by Isaiah Zagar, as photographed by Daryl Edlestein
Used with permission

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Too Long At The Fair

Too Long at the Fair
A Cautionary Tale 
with a  Happy Ending

You put me on your midway
you dressed me in a sack,
you gave me beads you’d won at bottle toss
then promptly took them back.

The cotton candy kisses
didn’t last  outside the tent
but the marks you brought to see me,
they never seemed to end.

You made me tell their fortunes
all miserably the same,
charged a dollar for admission
and a quarter for each claim.

They chewed their grease like cattle
as they pointed at my face
where your words scrawled as graffiti
had taken reason’s place.

I left your crooked shell game
where you always hid the bean
and ran off with the carny hick
from the Tilt-a-Whirl machine.

Now we’ve seven strapping farmboys
in our fields under the skies
and each night I get a corn dog
that would win the Fair’s First Prize.

May 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Claudia is hosting a fairgrounds rollar coaster ride over at the pub today. Come join us--the gates stay open at 3:00 PM EST through midnight Sunday.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Image: Salome, by Alphonse Mucha, 1897
Public Domain, via

Friday, May 25, 2012


Behind Door Number Three


O fate always opens a door they say
for every hinge or hand it blasts away;
O no, for every door that leaks cracked light
I say, another slams instead,and right
into the shattering face of a schlepp
who is never quite quick enough to step
back before cartilage snaps and blood gouts
coppery down his unexpecting throat.
The stinging smart of each hardwood denial
opens only doors for tears to fall in file,
a damburst that's impossible to plug
with any amount of reason’s tarry mud.

So much more sensible to sit and say
I didn't want to go there anyway.

Door knocker I , Carcassonne

May 2012

Posted for   Fireblossom Friday   at  real toads
Challenge: Stress

Header Image: Behind Door Number Three, by anyjazz65, on flick'r
Footer Image: Door knocker I, Carcasonne, by Stepheye on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Feliz Cinco de Mayo


I woke up in the thunder, remembering when the shitstorm broke over my dog killing your new woman’s kitten, or so she said though no one was home at the time and it was her word against the dog’s, as her wheedling rat whine proclaimed her own Weimaraner’s yellow snake-eyed innocence. Our dog now my dog hung her head like a dead flower. Rain hit the windows hard and she made you buy a very expensive parrot who relentlessly paced clack KLACK clack skitter his claws like lunatic castanets rattling on the hardwood floor when I came with the baby for those few nervous visits because we were adults, 
and cocking his sly slit eye at me, shat on the bookcase but I didn’t mind keeping the dog because I loved her more than you and I knew which bitch was the killer.

But I do wonder why life made up its mind without thinking always to be that way rip wrapping gifts, all the candy in a hard concrete shell no bat is going to break, all my good dogs crying where someone else kicked them and some poor kitten dying for a drama queen and acrimony and accusation exploding like favors from a minor imp’s piñata every time standing under it blindfolded asked to explain what I don’t know a damn thing about. All to get what rots my teeth chewing up a punchline of sticky blame in the whole lame artificially sweetened standup act and leaving after leaving in the night without a word, as I wake up and its raining hard on another empty morning to peel back off a stack of bloodstained morning killers wagging tails belly up staring snakeblink yellow eyes, ad infinitum.

May 2012

Posted for   Meeting the Bar   at dVerse Poets Pub 
Victoria's prompt: Stream of Consciousness

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Down On The Coast

Calm Day

Down on the Coast

Three ragged rocks in the bay of the heart
smoothed and seamed by the tailoring spray
now pressed flat as the long wave fades
the water stills, the tide splays
with all its faery flotsam 
pulled to a deeper decay.

Eleven pouting lemons in a cobalt blue bowl,
secret and sullen as xanthic mollusks
bitter suns curdling morning to fractions
piercing the tongue with sour satisfaction,
as if to say I told you so
but you just had to keep adding sugar.

In the dim gaslight of a half-sincere dream
the medium saw the house burn down, beam
by beam, red walls glow to nothing, saw drawn
in charcoal ectoplasm all the  burnt debris
daguerreotypes of you, of me
wet framed in blackened ash, ruined before time for tea.

Tonight I dream your absinthe aftertaste
gulping loss, coughing up your waste
choking on the acrid gnosis
with each indifferent clumsy phasing
in and out, never whole in either placing
as you make and unmake the myth of a masked man's face.

Three rocks in the bay of the heart;
name them as you please or will
smoothed and seamed calm; still
mirrors glinting days that in the dark
will founder any sailor lost at sea
who seeks to come to anchor in that lee.

May 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at Dverse Poets Pub

Image: I've once again borrowed the work of my friend Petteri Sulonen, whose images often inspire. Thanks, Petteri, as always for the use of this shot:

Monday, May 21, 2012




Antidote to evil is the peace in sleep
that comes when all hope of it is gone.

That resolution of night into light,
the bawdy eye of a grackle
in its ungainly dull body 

Surrender to destruction
makes impermanence eternal.
Life many formed and changeful
mounts a fluid resistance,
saying the yes now that will later be no.

You like a burning under the moon,
freezing the sun,
a bonfire burned down
to banked coals of life,
translucent in the fitful frost of death.

Servant tool or instrument of neither,
only the twinned image of a dual contradiction.

September 1988,  
Revised  2010~2012

posted for   real toads
Had another repost up, but after seeing the Gemini theme at real toads, decided to go with this one in honor of all my Gemini cohorts there. 

Image: (c)  Dean Bertoncelj 
 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unspecial Delivery


Unspecial Delivery

night it
arrived, a
perfect package    
though so many are damaged in transit.

The carrier ignored the sharp return
to sender scrawled
on the

deep black
two stars fall
express, and still she sees only junk mail.

April~May 2012

Karin Gustafson hosts this weekend, and she's asked us to pick a profession and write a poem using the verbs associated with it--or using an occupation as a springboard. I have sort of mixed up the whole prompt with a Cuisinart, using the terms of a postal worker's lot at random.

and for    real toads

Kerry's Mini Form Challenge: Tetractys
Quoting Kerry: "Tetractys, a syllable counting form invented by Ray Stebbing, consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count." This is a triple one.

Photo: starstruck, by kiera faye, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Tattered Bard

Benjamin West - The Bard - Google Art Project

 The Tattered Bard

Tattered, sorely tattered the old bard lay
his velvet voice spilled out in disarray,
his ivory hands once smooth upon the string
now knobbed as sticks, his throat too dry to sing.

A thousand dead men’s tales his faun’s eyes tell,
his heart a cracking cup for a bottomless well.
His love’s a sighing flame fed by hollow grass
lighting a nightwatch breath, then spent and passed.

Yet in the living dark he feels the pull
and drip of words from a moon that's overfull.
A mimosa dryad comes to fetch his sigh
and he hears the roar of music that won't die.

And still from miles around the lasses come
to bring him bread and honey, or sometimes none
but only a white breast pillow to hold his head
where he can believe he’s old, but still not dead.

May 2012
For all the old poets

Posted for   real toads
Kenia's Challenge

I cheated a bit on this prompt, which was to take a line from a poet you felt you should like more as a way to get into his/her poetry; however I patterned it after a poet I actually do mostly like,  John Keats, but whom I find very stylized and florid compared to modern poets. But this little rhyme seems to play off that style to me, so I hope it qualifies. 
(Here's a link to a Keats bard poem for reference.)

Image: The Bard, by Benjamin West, 1778, oil on oak
Public domain  via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wild

Cascadia 2009

The Wild

In a tangled midnight trap
I had a dream I could not stop,
a madwoman's dream of you the impossible
coming back to me the irretrievable
coming back to me though I know 
exactly where this leads; it's
an appetite that grows the more it feeds.

I wore the pale denim skirt that falls to my feet,
skin blanked smooth as past erased. You sat
on the sofa, wild mahogany hair shadow sweet
over the upswung deer's eye flash of spark.
I walked right up your scarecrow legs
splayed straight out for miles in the dark, you
wrapped your thin player’s fingers

tight round my elbows, quaked my thighs
looked in my face as if I were
the last good thing before
the apocalypse. Your ember eyes,
your banked laugh ran me through
hot and sharp as a live wire, lit up the blue
deep hollow so long unoccupied

save for the slack jawed creature on the slab 
waiting for the dubious gift of life,
all the corpse parts sewn up cunning but drab
put back together clumsy, cold to the bone
without that lightning touch. Now stark alone,
waking, electrocuted questions still twitch
and crackle in its never-animate place;

how do I quiet that black wildness
begot by the fear that owns me
find the wildness that you've shown me
that unmakes the dark's insensate fight
makes dead hearts beat all night
worlds breathe and turn again
beyond my sight?

May 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Optional Musical Accompaniment

 As always, blogger is playing headgames. This time I can't get the video to play-if it won't play for you either, refresh the page and click the "watch on youtube" button and you'll get it on a new tab. It's worth listening to, though it has a long meandering instrumental intro to set the mood.

Header Photo: Cascadia 2009, by  Gord McKenna on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sevenling (The New Day)

impossible flag CXVI (yuuuujuuuu)

Sevenling (The New Day)

Through the white wind I fly my broken bird
head on fire, wax wings worn wide, shedding
singed feathers, ground a heaviness pulling from below

and then I wake again to the next life of this day.
Plucked naked, flame out, no wings to be seen;
a reprieve, or something harder than earth

stonier than the end?

May 2012

posted for    real toads
Open Link Monday

This poem is a sevenling. I first heard of this form through Marian (runaway sentences) when it was referenced on real toads. Here are links to one (two) of her own sevenlings posted on her blog, and also the explanation of the form, derived from a poem of Anna Ahkmatova, at The American Poetry Journal.

Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Flowers

Mother’s Day Flowers

They grow in pots
or wildly not, frosting the sides
of buildings, flung
across the roadside wastes
draping a softening cloth over 
what would otherwise be a corpse.
Unmothered, unfathered
from seed that falls from the dead
they’ll never know
the way they will their bee lovers
the kiss of the rain and stroking
of the wind, spreading under
golden light

the color of their beauty
infinite and abstract and complete.
So why are they gathered
by men who need money
killed by a cold knife
cut and tied into bunches
to make a gift of fading beauty homaging
an act they can’t conceive or
replicate, stiffly filed and vased.
Is it because they say so much,
or because they cannot
speak at all?

May 2012

Comments are disabled on this post. Thanks for reading.

Image: White and Blue Fanflower, © joy ann jones 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amor Ex Machina

Modern Rhapsody~Salvador Dali

Amor Ex Machina

I look at these rigid fingers
with their metallic sheen of
imbricated scales, once supple, articulate 
now so resistlessly futile
tapping out my obsolescence
not an antique
not an artifact
only a throwaway construct wearing out
for which parts are no longer available.

When my clanging gears
manage to change up and wheeze 
into a facsimile of engagement,
I make a soft slipping murmur
to you in the infinite dark
into the empty parking space,
the crackling void's blue box
beneath my fused wires.
Your name's evensong, I whisper it 

into the loop of a no longer
optimally functioning receiver
and on the flickering screen of
my headset, your face flashes on off
off on impossibly still close
though that must be an error.
There’s no answer in the
whistle and squeak night
because you do not speak

or I no longer hear. 
Yet should such a random soundbyte
force an auditory response to
somehow occur, and should 
the machine record it,
data at hand indicates
it  might be discovered that
a great many remaining parts
are still in working order.

May 2012

Posted for   Meeting the Bar   at dVerse Poets Pub
Charles Miller hosts today and his theme is Machine Dreams.

Header Image: Modern Rhapsody, 1957 by Salvador Dali
Copyright may still apply.
Footer Image: Anatomical Drawing of the Bicep Function, Leonardo da Vinci
both  via

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Collector

The Collector

I am a collector of
the poetry of death
of its fusillade barrages
of its subtle lingual dagger
of its dancing damascus blades
patterned like lost sonnets, even
the fat cannister whose prostrate poison
creeps silent over the lambstongue,
rhyming the skeletal with the skin.
Sharp by sharp
through the flint-flash labyrinth
where the iron blossoms of
synchronized sidearms pound
the percussion of the butcher's ballet,
the bomb's verse writes me a language
of ancient echo, splintery stabs
of the flung broken, the cellular scream itself
that is the breaker of worlds.

In the center where the bodies fold
every sword’s a stanza, every
barrel a ballad, each soldier a
poem crafted to parse autumn light
on shafts of wheat, to appear and fade
before the sickle’s edge,
springborn fodder for the beasts,
relentlessly gathered 
into red sheaves.

May 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Process note: "Damascus steel was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in swordmaking from about 300 BCE to 1700 CE. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water..." ~wikipedia
I have used the idiosyncratic term lambstongue to refer to lambsquarters, or pigweed, an edible weed in the goosefoot family. 
The second stanza references Oppenheimer's quote  from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." when the first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico.

Used with his kind permission. Thank you, Petteri, for the picture which inspired this poem.

Petteri blogs on all things political, social, Buddhist, photographic and horological, as well as anything else that catches his interest at his eclectic and always instructive site, Come to Think of It.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Freeze

The Freeze
"..she's stoned said the Swede
and the Mooncalf agreed.
 I'm like a viper in shock
With my eyes in the clock...
......and as my mind unweaves
I feel the freeze down in my knees.."

Where do the
wounded go when
triage is  through the madhouse?
To huddle in smokefrozen anesthesia
corners dark with a banked combustion
that smolders hotter unseen
where witch doctors dance
in feathers around  bodies
full of plague, skeletal
grotesqueries of fever shadow.

Dragon-lit campfires 
built of bone can only
be extinguished by buckets of blood, 
by the cold complete
chemical foam of annihilation.
Take that clubbing drumbeat
anodyne, opiate organ key visionquest
plectrum plucked purple haze
and mainline it; vicarious junkies
of the undying beat.

We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for the music,
for the broken who gave it to us
dead vessels walking, bright stars of loss
poets, addicts, drunks, wild
flaming madmen, incandescent blue
desolation sibyls desperate to see
something  alive behind the
corpse's eye, looking for diamonds
finding carbon's blackened
ash, poisonous and filthy

drinking the bitter cup so we didn’t have to,
my abandoned generation of cripples
settlers and compromisers
slaves and drones, cowards and loons
scarred, abused, never healed except
when made into angels 
by that insubstantial
medicine that fades
from the air
but not the heart.

May 2012
Process Notes: My title as well as the line above referencing "the bitter cup" are both drawn directly from the lyrics of Chest Fever. The surreal organ on both this and the cut below is played by Garth Hudson.

Levon Helm, drummer for The Band and  the vocalist on both these heavily drug focused songs and many others of far less depressing tone, passed away last month at the age of 71, which says something to me about the persistence of hope over despair, that one can walk away from choosing death, and that art is a better drug than any chemical for treating inner wounds..

posted for    real toads
Marian's Challenge: Dirt Farmer;Levon Helm


where Stu McPherson will be hosting a prompt on music starting at 3:00 pm EST