Saturday, February 27, 2010

For Bronte Lynne W. Kartsonakis

Labored breathing in the middle of the night, but morning finds you still here, still drinking all the special-milk I can pour for you. Nineteen years in the knowing. We were both young girls then, our first apartment, Salt Lake City, you: a handful of cat, protecting your brother by puffing up to the size of a large breakfast muffin and hissing with a mouth no wider than a fingernail, but for all you were worth. Your worth: nothing I can measure with your breaths-heavy, and countable but not, and value, but never enough. From Utah to Alabama to two cities in Ohio, I raise today to you and with luck, tomorrow, too.

Dawn terror of songbirds, night-visioned devil,
if there is a heaven for animals, it follows that there be a hell.
And so, at last, I’ll know where to look for you.
There, at least, you’ll appear with wings—
though they’ll be gristly and bloodied in your grinning mouth.
There the nose leather of Cerberus shall bleed into eternity.
Furred city of the meanest fleas, if there was ever some cheetah
under your tabby hide, it died long before you did.
Time had your gold eyes cotton and haze,
farmers kicked and shot at you,
and packs of leash-less dogs put you at bay,
but I will wake in the dark morning one time more,
and tell the mockingbirds, though I do not believe it true,
that Wallace, my own, wakes in the Egypt of some albacore heaven.

Eliot Khalil Wilson
Buy his new book: This Island of Dogs
at AWP 2010 or from Amazon in April.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wonderful weekend

perfection, actually.

The week has flown by. The snow-day probably helped it along. Tonight, I write, work on the apartment, anticipate my Friday night and feel happy. Rare thing it is to feel so satisfied with so much.

Whitman today in the lit. class and for fun, I had everyone read a passage of Song of Myself. I almost teared up thinking how old Walt would have loved to hear the various voices, the genders, races, accents, inflections of the multitudes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Insomnia as Transfiguration
Because the night is a scattering of sounds—blunt
branches hurtling to the ground, a nest stir, a sigh
from someone beside me. Because I am awake
and know that I am not on fire. I am fine. It’s August.

The scar on my neck, clarity—two curtains sewn.
A little door locked from the inside.

Nothing wants anything tonight. There are only stars
and the usual animals. Only the fallen apple’s wine-red crush.

Rabbits hurtle through the dark. Little missiles.
Little fur blossoms hiding from owls. Nothing wants
to be in this galaxy anymore. Everything wants the afterlife.

Dear afterlife, my body is lopped off. My hands
are in the carport. My legs, in the river. My head, of course,
in the tree awaiting sunrise. It dreams it is the owl,
a dark-winged habit. Then, a rabbit’s dash
to the apple, shining like nebulae. Then the owl
scissoring the air. The heart pumps its box of inks.

The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs. Blame the ear for its attention. Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it. There is only instinct, that living “yes.”

On Reminding SF that I Am Still Here

I also like sunlight. I am a person who has to rush out of my home every morning into the sunlight to make sure the world is still here.

Harrowing drive back from The Road Trip, but the road, the trip, the West Bank Inn overlooking the snowed-over lake, the makeshift Valentine's dinner of smoked oysters, sardines, braided mozzarella, water crackers and angel food cake mmmwaah.
The fact that it is never a good idea to put bubble-bath in a jacuzzi and always too tempting not to. Sam & Ethels with cakes that look so homemade, a girl contemplates a day when she really will indulge. And raisin pie! Good music, laughter and more laughter. A magical turn-off to a set of graves and a whole glittering sea of whiteness. What heart-shaped, snow-colored days.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thanks Michelle for all things Michelle and this Billy Collin's poem, too


You are the bread and the knife,

The crystal goblet and the wine...

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine.

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the house of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,

but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,

the evening paper blowing down an alley

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman's tea cup.

But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife.

You will always be the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lovin' that Lesley Jenike

If you haven't bought her book, you should. If you have, you will go straight to heaven, classier for the reading.

Lost Eyes or The Lost Art of Transcription
for Hart Crane’s mother

To coax out your spirit I left a fifth of Cutty Sark
on the highboy, paper lantern in the cherry tree,

map of indeterminable coast by the bed, borrowed
Tempest, tattersall-covered, in the bed, full-fathom

five, a crushed Mexican lily, born of paper from
our tax holiday you lined the sea with, a stop-gap,

while I sheltered upstairs on a cool wide spread,
waiting for you to die. Love-making was never easy,

but to transcribe it? Minus a mouth, your tear-jerkers
turn to gas and fly. I sink into your syntax one

antiquated line at a time, as if I understand. But I
never did. You are too much for me, even dead

Monday, February 08, 2010

Wondering if any other poetry lovers

noticed this. (Thank you wonderful Kate for drawing my attention to it. I had not seen the game and would have missed it.)

Wedding Vows

Eliot Khalil Wilson

...and I'd like to add that I will mind like a dog. I will wear whatever you like. I will go wingtip. No more white socks. A necktie stitched to my throat, turtlenecks in August. New York gray or black, only colors that dogs can see. I will know of squash, vermouth, and wedges. I will do all the grilling because I love it so. I will drive the wagon, man the bar, weed-whack compulsively. I will make money, the bed, never a to do.

I will build like an Egyptian, a two-mile pier complex, a five-story deck. I will listen like a bat, attend to the birth of sounds in the back of your throat. I will remember like and Indian elephant, recall requests made of me in a previous life. Your date of birth will be carved in the palm of my hand. I will make good. I will do right. I will sleep on the pegboard on the wall in the garage.

I'll have a tongue like a sperm whale, eyes like a harp seal, biceps like a fiddler crab. I will have gold coins, gold rings, stiff gold hair like shredded wheat. I will be golden at receptions, gold in your pocket, Paganini in your pants. Money will climb over the house like ivy. Excellent credit will be my white whale. I will always. I will everyday. I will nail the seat down. I will let you pretend I am your father.

I will be a priapic automatic teller machine, never down, never a usage fee, a stock prophet, a para-mutual seer, tractable, worshipful no matter what. I will always want to. I won't notice what you don't point out. I will entertain your friends, say how your love saved me. I will convince them. I will talk, really talk, to them. Deep meanings will be toothpicked and passed around.

I will need zero maintenance. I will be a utility or a railroad. There will be no breakdowns or disconnections. I will allow you lovers, Moroccan teenagers and Turkish men. I will adopt them. I will not cry. I will respond to grief by earning more. My sweat will smell like drug money, like white bread baking. I will be as clean as a Mormon, wholesome like Iowa. I will lead. I will be a star, a rock, like Rock Hudson.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


which meant too, snowed-in and the roadtrip something yet to look forward to for a later weekend.

What can be said here is that there was no sorrow at the plan-change. There's in fact, little sorrow, save for my uncle's death and my father's sadness at having no living brothers. For today, all that I love lives and breathes and feels close at hand. Plus, were I the girl to believe in answered prayers or that I warrant any such personal attention from something more fantastic, I would say something large about how much I had hoped for so much of what is right and right here.

It is so much harder to write about happiness without sounding like you are naive or walking a tightrope that only the crowd can see is frayed badly at one end. To the first I can say that being happy is some amount of work, in the initial laying of foundation if not in the subsequent care and feeding. To the latter charge, sure, we are all on a tightrope like that, it is called mortality. But for the first time in years, I feel like I really went after what I wanted and trusted myself that I knew what I knew. It's hard to be happy and harder to admit it. It's hard not to feel like fate would like to have a shot at that target you have now named and propped up for display. But it is harder to stay in a state of skepticism, self-sabatoge and chronic waiting for what might ensure more of happiness' opposite or indifference, at least.

Loving this song.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Such a weekend

It has been some time since there has been something I have looked forward to as much as I am looking forward to Friday afternoon when I get to be picked up from school directly and head off on a road trip, carefully-planned to include such perfect picks as a cafe called Sam & Ethel's. Then as dusk approaches, lakes, motels, the perfect meandering to find our way there. There is talk of a hike and farmland, (silos!) and the kind of days I used to seek all through my time living out west. It is no wonder that my favorite kind of soul resonates to the landscapes too, of Wyoming and "gets" the kind of diners and drives that make an afternoon flat-out holidayed. My BFF said that a street in Cincinnati smelled like vacation and this weekend is steeped in holiday.

I am so excited. Tonight, I sleep and tomorrow pack then dinner with my co-road-tripper. I cannot hurry the hours off fast enough.