I’ll pin you down like a butterfly— and I know, I’ve seen that this is a land of men and monsters. I bake bread on Saturdays, not out of any sense of feminine domesticity, wife to the madman, maid on the stairs— but passing the time more like while weeding the gardens, those overgrown with bull thistle and thorn apples, that rise up and flourish in my mind.
Rag-doll semantics count them one, two, three it’s a better play in technicolor so you’ll need a tulip in your lapel, a dozen blueberry muffins and a mourning bouquet— oh I hate the sad endings, how I hate the sad endings… crave sugar cubes in my tea, the merry breakfast after a lonely midnight! cries his heart with tears and fissures—
The kestrel fights off songbirds before eating them, so that’s struggle, I guess—that’s divine, habit-forming intervention, with invitations from the queen herself, I dressed in plum and my sister wore red scarlet, our nod to varying shades of blood, as we are descended from middle-class farmers and proper French ladies— unfit for much more than stage and effect.
Batten down the hatches and the shutters— flutter on the camera with a misty, maudlin landscape backdrop of oh spacious skies and amber waves, drip, drip, dripping down and running (huffing and puffing) off a watercolor spout to wash the sunshine on the palette out.
Just try to get sunshine in a box, tricky bastard just won’t fit— neither I, having seen something of the other side, find the days of the week (the uneven hours and minutes they contain) hang off my upturned wrists like gaudy, drugstore jewelry.
They saddle you with misery before you take your first step— Disney films are the great deception, epiphanies are for the novel hero, literary giants can squash you flat, make you suffer over things that never happened and he’s always at your doorstep smoking cigarettes (the cure for cancer is inevitably death) but just step over him and carry on, as you were, don’t mind us, don’t worry your pretty head! I’ll make him sweep the ashes.
Gliding high in the white rafters with the winged creatures, dragons and griffons, osprey and purple finches, my mother said, come down now, before you drift far beyond the outer atmosphere and lift the rings from Saturn’s fingers as if you deserved them— and you know you’ll pawn them when you return to solid ground, reducing the mystique of a millenia to a single consumer transaction.
Come two at a time and death climbs in three by three, right through the kitchen window crushing sun-ripe tomatoes into a sticky paste, and breaking a jar of dead wildflowers (shrinking violets) that, let’s be honest, should have been thrown out anyway.
I like my love stories nearly tragic— hold the saccharine but pour on the melodramatic. Rip open those wounds and salt them fresh— a clean cut is best. Hollow pain and testaments unfinished. Survival, they say, favors the fittest. Witness this, Laurentia, and mourn your missed chance tenderly. Rage in stride, Cassandra— and claim an afterlife reckoning.
Honeybees buzz and hum through the lavender fields, making mischief from nothing while I dig deep for roots and other gnarled, twisted things, a maid of spades and garden trowels, looking for magic I know haunts the bottom of these weed beds, where my forefathers buried their tricks after fleeing the old country (dying of clutter and cholera) for less tainted landscapes.
Double down on black- eyed Susan’s heart is up for grabs. She’s grim as a grave but desperate for diversion, and fortune favors the brave— so make a play and trust the queen of clubs (neo-20s nightclub, baby!) for once.
Oh, feels like fate, summer spirits
(crush out those juniper berries)
descend on me like a bolt of silk
to strangle me, all my water lilies & lace dredging up
the riverbed and pulling in with mud and leather-like muck
those shiny expressions of repressed love
that I’d forgotten all about
and those enchanted hours that I collected
with an old, old friend
(that means you, with all your pretty words, sir)
who I haven’t seen in god-knows-how-long.
And who I’ve missed since—
well, I can’t remember when.
I’m on the precipice of some great (self) discovery. It’s predictable— the ending, I mean. Second-rate novel contrivings of fact, like stone walls with ivy, whiskey with cigarettes, chickens with wheelbarrows— all that (pseudo) jazz. But I’ve got too much on my plate and not enough in my bank accounts— it’s an old story but (again) not a very pleasant one. . .
Roots and twine and brandy, wine and whiskey sour, sweet and salty sailors, tinkers, tailors wearing out and swearing in morning, noon and night begins as soon as all the lights go outer space, grab inner peace, don’t run, don’t shout, don’t stand in line with men who will forget you, neglect to wash their sins away, or pray their hopes and beg to care abstractly ask for why and who— when better questions end with where.
Spanish moss hangs limply on live oaks that lean heavily as the hot, sticky of a Mississippi morning starts early. Fan off the little black flies and drink up some sun-bathed lemonade— this summer’s here to stay.
You know, they clutter up the atmosphere with ribbons and candy wrappers, or spare satellites anyway, blinking out like homemade stars that could turn on us in a hurry. But hey, that’s manifest destiny, baby! And despite what they say, despite the pretty garnish on top (whip cream hiding some mud pies, maybe) can’t pull those tricks on me.
Open and say I was awestruck by his insensitivity to light, drew a lipstick red rainbow that sexed up the sky. Cerulean blues had me sad for a while white salt and pink blush make a marvelous mess, left stains on my dress— ink splatter, wax melted, in a dizzy disaster, a flood of feelings unreflected.
Even your face is plagiarized, the mixing of two, four, eight can’t keep up, don’t sweat it, the variations endless but contrived and codependent— I’m not saying it’s more or less, run with mundane or let’s be dramatic, I’m just saying it’s utterly, un-uniquely genetic.
Graveside vigil by my own two eyes staked a silver cross on a copper fitting said to hell with murk and gloomy understatements wrestled demons then brewed them tea to waste away a witching hour and keep us sharp for morning.
Crooked little town so bent, so twisted, lying on a spiral staircase sprawled out and smoking white puffs curling up like clammy, cold fingers grasping at divine things like death and dance class but catching mostly coffee beans and newspaper ads.
It’s a hollow, hollow feeling and we’re all so very young even though time would not stand still— leaving you behind, as errant ashes to the wind and crumpled trash underfoot, time seized my hand like a tyrannical father, dragging me off and forcing me onward, festering the wound, still unhealed and just plain hurting.
Cross & thorns and a merry old soul is he. We all grew up in near blasphemy— no more magic, no further mercy only loud mutterings on much sectarian madness, fade out like a ghosting of flesh, a ghastly atrophy.
Best of luck, best of fucking luck—as they say in the Old Country. Now don’t let those fancy, porcelain figurines fool you— manners at the manor house have fallen on hard times, safe and sound pried open with a crowbar and pride cracked open on impact spilling tacks and bits of glass your father’s father saw this coming punch out, punch in punch them all in the face no sinful mutterings among docile creatures huddled in the gutters, beneath the city streets.
Youth as a bending bow to the corners of space & time, that is north, south, east and go west, young man, before age stabs you through (god, how I once loved you) fortune favoring brave, brave souls who take hailstorms in stride and time by the throat.
Two paths I walked a dangerous gait to come up to this place a fence, a city park, another gate and crumbs in a basket being picked over by a blackbird, red wings, crowing something awful, and now these paths bleed together at times, one too much unlike the other.
Lost in the malaise of too many days without sleep, the buzzing bazaar of a thousand voices the whole of a busy marketplace clamoring to make deals with me until at last, I shake off the pesky, persistent beggars, lose them in the twisted alley and board a train to the less cluttered corners of my aching, ailing brain— the white stone cottage, the quiet porch where you’re waiting, steady man that you are to sit with me a while in good, sweet silence, I lean on your arm— too tired for tears, too grateful for words.