Monday, September 28, 2015

The Fickle Selkie

The Fickle Selkie

You came in on the wave
you left on,
dripping sleek and strong 
your secrets wearied in the foam.
You opened wide
your kelp drift eyes 
so I could see 
the sea you plowed so long
 without a harvest
richer than sing-song.

We waltzed the wrecks
on dead men's bones,
and of 
the everything we found
we carried
nothing home.
I should have known
you'd leave as quick
as sea fret wrack
without a sound.
You are

nothing to me now---
your joys or griefs,
your warmth that fades
in the windy days
of a landsman's chill,
nothing at all of sea or land
less than the
 fine dust that seeps a sand
between lid and eye
to stab each blink,
an almost-nothing soon gone
in the rub of tears.

You are
nothing to me now
nothing at all--
no scrimshaw kiss
no oceanic salt-lick--
only a bit of bric-
a-brac decor,
the mounted skull
beside the door
of some strayed herbivore
who met its end in heat and thirst,
bleached and white and empty-eyed,
ant-cleaned of all the tasty worst.
Outside the walls

I cannot hear
the wave that crashes on
 your name
circling spray 
in wraithlike wreaths
around my lambent chimney tor, 

the smoke of cedars
 upward taking blind
into nothing
the burn of the soft wet skin
you left behind.

~September, 2015 

"Selkies ...are mythological creatures found in Scottish, Irish, [Icelandic] and Faroese folklore... Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land."

Image: N├Ącken (The Water Sprite), 1882 by Ernst Josephson, public domain via wikimedia commons

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Fortress

The Fortress
a sonnet

Love is unassailable; we only quit
one tall battlement of her defense
to reach another. We make a face to fit
our hands' shelter, to withdraw hungry when
it weeps upon our fingers. Every lantern's candle
inside her hidden chapel burns forever;
tho flames become obscure and smoke the mantle
tho some must flicker in the dirty weather.

Love is insurmountable; more clever
than the casks which hold her wine and water,
more lasting far than they, more put together,
living well with harmony or slaughter.
Yet when we find at last we can't define her,
with war and treachery we undermine her.

~September 2015

posted for     real toads

inspired by the poetry on somewhere I have never traveled, especially Love is, by Shanel Ranjith: 

"...When he told me he loved me forever
And infinity was our melodious endeavor..."

Image: The Battle, 1947, by Remedios Varo, fair use via

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Watching the blue darkness,
mer-thing in a tidepool of dreams,
the sparkling shrill moon is a huckster
passing the hat, glued  with
the glitter of carnival lights,
spotlighting the main attraction
down a littered midway of stars.
Slithering through the tents on my scales
I'd be the rube from downstate, more
freakish than any of the acts
in my silver tail and cotton candy mind, 
snaking painfully over the gravel
from stall to stall still
looking for you,
not sure just what you do these days:
barker blindfolding the crowd with words,
sad-eyed urchin picking their pockets,
carny lopsidedly leering, milking the bottle toss
or the bored skull-sleeved punk
at the sticky-railed tilt-a-whirl
who'll take my dollar
one more time.
Better to stay where I was born
in the dance-dream of turquoise foam,
going home with a breaching dawn,
where sky pours the world
plain, clear water
for the jug of living.

~April 2013 

re-posted for    real toads

Images: Carnival at Acireale, by Jeanne boleyn, public domain via wikimedia commons
The Little Mermaid Dissolves into Foam, by Edmond Dulac, fair use via

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fairytale Eyes

Fairytale Eyes

A lie in the light has
a harsh color. It
takes more from you
than the whispered fictions
darkness speaks.

Her doll button eyes so black
and slick as bullets,
dead as Tut without the glitter tomb
dead alive as the man
peeled off the cross sent
spinning into limbo,
are looking at a hundred
pink and purple moons.

Black on black and black again;
a pungent sponge of shadow
fills the killing jar, 
whose thin glass is so
unexpectedly unbreakable
unbearable until it tells itself
the once upon a time
the shimmering glamored lie.

The moon does not
at her moment of fulfillment
dress in lace and belled skirts.
She's not some cinder-urchin
after midnight, so don't say she is--
you with your cracked mirror
and blue iris of ice.
The moon is no drudge
pushed wretched in the ashes
befriended by anthropomorphic mice,
some missing slipper profaned
by Brobdingnagian feet.


Doll button eyes
were turquoise once, 
before she was locked
so firmly in this box
(or before she opened in 
this unaccountable
exploding burlesque.)
Now they're a noisy void,

Kleig lights on a stage
for mincing dreams, productions
of pranking Punchinellos, pageants
of Catherine-wheel princesses
lit by slender flames of wicked
wick'd stepmothers
dancing spots and talking dots,
who grant favors to their own,
sly torments to the rest with
circle-faced smirks
of mime-white and red.

The moon is no sleeping beauty,
more the witch whose mirror
always tells the most
obvious unwelcome truth,
or perhaps it's the apple itself
swollen with the viridian
juice of malice, so round
so beautiful so dead, 
floating its centuplicated replicas
all so wavering bloody pink, 
so saturated purple
that just one lovely bite
can drown the world.

Black on black pours out still
the lie of colors drop by splash
to the last: the changeling's
handsome prince, dashingly
backlit in psychedelic flash, 
the recapture-when-released technique
of the King of Beasts, the Beast Himself
come to lap the tears of weeping Beauty,
a savior wearing gold and green 
and Bluebeard's face,
the key to the sealed room
teasing in his pocket.

~September 2015

posted for    real toads

Process Note: I have chosen to write about Charles Bonnet Syndrome, also called 'visual release hallucinations,' a neurological condition of the blind which produces vivid, often formulaic hallucinations, discussed by Oliver Sacks in his book, Hallucinations.

Images: The Fire Wheel, 1893, by James MacNeil Whistler, public domain, manipulated.
Bluebeard, 1862, by Gustave Dore,  engraving, public domain

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One-Eyed Dream

One-Eyed Dream

There's an old woman dreaming
with one eye wide 
as the cricket sings
like a living summer
trapped between walls
with a tiny hammer,
a dark-air swimmer
a two-note composer
a tiring dancer
and laugher at riddles
runed on a lathing
chewed through the middle. 

The old woman dreams
with one eye latched
the eidolon hand
that comes out of the past
or the black-sleeved future
laid soft on her cheek
adamant on an arm 
weakening now 
as the day dwindles down
to a matchlight lost
in the swirling-in dusk;
both eyes fall shut because they must.

 ~September 2015

posted for     real toads

Images: Seated Old Woman, 1920, by M.C. Escher, fair use via
Old Woman Asleep, 1873. by Vincent Van Gogh, public domain