29 December 2009

Dance the Last Dance

Cash it in.
Kick the bucket.
Cross over.
Meet your maker.
Rest in peace.
Join the choir invisible.
Give up the ghost.
Check out.
Bite the bullet.
Buy the farm.
Succumb.
Shuffle off your mortal coil.

Push up daisies
takes the cake.

When I go, wrap me in a quilt of love.
Bury me deep in the body of our Mother.

Pick a spot and do it quick
to keep the undertaker’s fluids
from preserving my mortal form.

Plant a sturdy evergreen
and let my body feed the worms
and roots that force their way through
the energy of me as it dissipates
into daisies, trees, and dreams in dirt,
filling the bellies of bugs.

Return me to the Earth.

24 December 2009

procrastinating piles

A pile of unread books
devours space on chair side tables
and spawns more volumes on the floor
between Len’s chair and mine.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
joins force with Benioff’s City of Thieves
to taunt time watching TV while
Blackwater’s thick bulk beckons from the bottom.

Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide warns the other tomes
of egregious instructional strategies
employed in American schools
that kill readers before they begin.

On Killing, The Psychological Cost
of Learning to Kill in War and Society
finds the warning paranoid and ironic.
It falls into deep incessant laughter
envisioning Readicide on a soapbox.

Poetic tomes bring play and ambiguity to the stacks.
The ghosts in Sharon Olds’ The Dead and the Living
track ML Smoker’s spirits in Another Attempt at Rescue.

I imagine Sherman Alexie spending his time
in these heaps teaching Roethke’s Papa
The Business of Fancydancing, when
out of nowhere Billy Collins chases a mouse
into the growing mountains of books
and knocks one open onto my lap:

The Now Habit, A Strategic Program
for Overcoming Procrastination
and Enjoying Guilt-free Play.

23 December 2009

Floppy

Use the blanket
to cover him
before cold
takes him down
to the ground.

Give the bell on his collar one final ring.

Spill his stories
as you drum down the earth
to mimic his now still heart.

~~Note~~
The prompt was to use the words blanket, ring, and drum in a piece. Give it a try!

22 December 2009

India

I.

Young woman me, fashioned
herself a hippy, flowers bloomed
 from the tops of many intricate braids,
above bare-footed skirts that swept
the Earth when I passed.

The downtown Import Depot
drew me in to its incense laden air
where I rifled through stacks of
tapestries to find the perfect hanging
for my first dwellings’ walls.
There it was: a rooster red and black
in the midst of a repeating paisley print
-the tapestry that drove me to India.

After watching it breathe for years
on walls that defined my life,
I wanted to visit an ancient
place where people understand
that all things are
infused with life.
I believed that spirit
dwelled in everything:
Trees, books, houses, words,
and in the air that made looks
between people
possible.


II.

Five years of double time and scrimping
paid for a 23 hour flight to Mumbai.
My travel bible, India by Lonely Planet Press
illuminated lodgings, customs, restaurants,
temples and travel routes.
It promoted packing one or two outfits
and stuffing the rest of your backpack
full of toilet paper before leaving your homeland.
Toilet paper in India is scarce
and expensive.
I appreciated the beauty
of buying trippy clothes
to fill up the space created
as I wiped my way through India,
a country teeming with life.

Trains entered a central station
in Mumbai through a railbed
parents lowered their children into
to defecate.

Rats scurried
from possibility
to possibility
along tracks
tunneled by
low cement walls.

I needed to pee. Badly.
I entered a public toilet
under the girl icon.
A mountain of shit
with an apex
higher than I was comfortable squatting over,
grew from each porcelain bowl on the floor.
A quick scan showed no number 10 cans
usually utilized to flush the waste down the bowl.
I hiked my skirt to pee in the corner.
While hunkering down,
a dark skinned Indian woman
in a dirty sari came in.
She surveyed the room,
then smiled at me,
one front tooth missing.
She squatted
in the opposite corner
of the room.

I finished and offered her toilet paper.
She laughed, swinging her hand toward the door.


III.

I took the train from Mumbai south to Mysore.
On the upper bunk of the berth,
across from me,
a man with wild dark hair
escaping from a skull cap,
wrote frantically
for more than four hours
into a spiral notebook.
He stopped only when I asked
where he was from,
he looked up and said “Spain.”
then continued at his task.

The train made a tea and pee stop
at a depot in a small village
with more cows than people.
Pink and yellow blossoms
stood out against the coarse white chests
of mooing beasts.
A man with a monkey on his shoulder
vended tea from a tray.
The tea was sweet
leaving a ¼-inch of sugar
swelled in the bottom of the cup.
The monkey danced
for change or bananas.
Another man sold stuffed armadillos
from a loose fitting bag
slung from his shoulder.

Six more hours until my stop in Mysore.
The couple across from me ate
a curried concoction of lentils, beans and rice
from paper cones pulled from their bags.
Above them, the writer
began to eat
page after page
of his own words,
one at a time.

Several pages preceded
long swigs from a quart-sized canteen.
Let the water wash the words, I thought,
and caught his eyes,
calm dark orbs that dared me to speak.
His intensity frightened me so
I broke away and talked to the couple
about train travel,
and the amount of sugar in tea.
The woman’s head
bobbed loose on her shoulders
while she lilted stories
of their daughter in Bangalore.
Every now and then
she stopped,
and looked up at the writer,
relentless in his feast.


IV.

At a dry goods store
in Mysore
with western saloon style doors,
I purchased a carton of tea.
Inside the box, a small
cello-wrapped toothbrush
lay buried in the leaf.

I laughed aloud
and the clerk looked puzzled.
“Sugar,” I said
then turned to go.

Every atom
in my body
shifted
when I stepped out
and the Spaniard stepped in
through swinging shop doors.

Outside, I stilled
and listened to the wooden doors sing
beating time to inertia.

I looked behind me
to see the word eater
do the same.

His eyes burned holes in mine.

“The doors,” he said, “Did you hear them sing?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you to the poets from Writer's Island who sotp to leave words on this piece.  Click the link for more takes on the prompt.

21 December 2009

alignment

On a still day
under all that is
you can hear
the universe hum.
Its voice
vibrates being
into alignment.

Through songs
that honor
oneness
self becomes sound.

17 December 2009

Star Bandits

A lantern casts shadows of itself
as gentle winds choreograph
a dance of light and dark
on the walls of the tent camper.
Two crows caw from one tree to another,
when I step out to look at the stars.

Under the dotted canopy of nighttime,
I bite a chunk from a cold baked potato
left over from that evening’s meal.
Looking up to connect the dots,
one of the crows blindsides me.
It grabs onto my potato and soars off,
its querulous partner chasing it away
from the scene of the crime.

Seconds later,
a constellation of crows
talons sunk into a single potato
reveals itself in the night sky.

15 December 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, A Reprisal

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
I can’t believe they pilfered thee
from forests full of stars at night
to parking lots lit up so bright

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
how lovely are thy branches
though only green, a few weeks more
‘til people toss you out their door

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
a symbol of our gluttony!
With piles of presents placed just so
and branches flocked to look like snow.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
we kill you for our gaiety.

pine

Applaud the pine
that stands so tall
circle after circle
ringing out its life.

13 December 2009

Just the Way You Were

The package arrived dusty, with a postmark from China. Larry did not open the package for several days. It stared at him from its perch atop a pile of books on the desk. Every time he went into the kitchen, it mocked him from the open doorway of his home office. The Internet instructions said not to open it until a blue moon lit the night sky. Two more days.

Larry carried on as normal at the office, trying to avoid Glenda’s fervored glances. She looked at him with yearning eyes behind black studded cat-eye spectacles. Being near her caused beads of sweat to pepper Larry’s head, and tied his tongue in knots.

The night of the blue moon, Larry followed the instructions from the Chinese vendor to a T. He opened the package outside under an evergreen tree, and removed a small glass bottle. The liquid in the vial glowed blue as he centered it in the face of the moon and repeated three times the three rhyming lines he constructed for the occasion:

      Blue moon renewal
      share now the jewel
      to keep me from feeling the fool

Larry finished the ritual and headed to bed. He fell asleep doubting the veracity of the Chinese vendor’s claims, but when he woke, Larry put his hands on his head. He screamed out and ran to the bathroom mirror. The blue liquid he had rubbed into his scalp had worked indeed! Larry had a full head of luscious curly brown locks.

Entering the office on Monday, Larry walked right up to Glenda with a bouquet of daisies and said, “How about you and me head to Meadows after work for a couple of cocktails.” He felt darn good, he said it, he did it, he had hair. Glenda looked up from behind her glasses and said, “Oh my God, where is your beautiful bald head, and what happened to you?” She mocked him, “How about you and me head to Meadows after work for a couple of cocktails,” she continued, “How about you get away from my desk, Mr. Suave, Mr. Debonair, Mr. I liked you fine just the way you were!” At that she shuddered and went back to her computer screen her fingers furiously entering data. Larry stood there, stunned.

12 December 2009

The Dream Train

People seldom see him
few know that he exists
the funny little ticket taker
who propels us through the mist.

Wispy gray hair halos
his scalp above blue eyes
that wordlessly greet dreamers
as they rumble through the skies.

His smiles contain answers
to all things that we wonder
but nobody remembers him
once sleep has pulled them under.

06 December 2009

John Trudell

John Trudell, Santee Sioux, Vietnam Vet, Poet, Songwriter, Powerful Word Giver. His voice tells stories on my iPod. His reality feeds me ideas that quicken my heart. His courage frightens me. His voice rumbles--I glimpse how little I know. Words once spoken take on lives of their own. When the twisting drowning truth he utters pulls me under, I kick hard for the surface and up to me. There is something unsettling in a force for change. When it is so long in coming I marvel at its possible might borne of patience forced by years of domination, and I fear the Unleashing yet silently encourage its coming.

05 December 2009

petal

As far back as her memory took her she woke up every morning with a petal in her mouth. She never told a living soul about it. Each morning, she took the petal out, and turned it round her eyes taking in the soft curving shades of yellow deepening toward its outer ruffled edge. Each morning, she placed it on her tongue and washed it down whole with a tepid cup of rosehip tea placed on a bedside table, saucer and all, by her grandmother when she brewed her own.

Every time a blue moon filled the night sky, her grandfather’s ghost visited. He told her everything he knew about anything she asked. Without fail. And he always told the truth. Unfortunately, he did not understand the petal, but was certain it was a mark to signify something special that would occur in her life. He always said, “It is a talisman, you will see.”

Sometimes she doubted her grandfather’s words. She wondered if everyone woke up with a petal in their mouth, and not one person ever talked about it. Why, there could be hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who woke up with a petal on their tongue. She let that thought simmer for several seasons and closely observed other people. She watched her mom wake up, she watched her grandmother wake up, she watched her dog wake up, she watched her friends wake up. Unless they secretly swallowed the petals, not one person woke with one on their tongue. She grew convinced that she was not at all like most people. She believed her grandfather. She pondered the petal’s significance.

Enter the young man. She met him at the Harvest Fair. When he said his name, she drew in breath, through no power of her own. It was as if the instant took hold of her and created the gasp. She knew he would be her first. He thought she might be his only. They explored tenderness through the Ferris Wheel’s magic circle, rising and falling and kissing and touching until the world disappeared.

It was almost the end of November. The crisp air held enough moisture to blur the stars. She met him in the cornfields behind the livestock barns at the fairgrounds. She stomped a flat area and spread out the love quilt her grandmother constructed of her grandfather’s clothes. Her grandfather might show up tonight. She listened to her young man stumble through the stalks and felt the blue moon rise. He did not perceive her until he fell upon the open quilt. She fell upon him with hunger, and then sleep took her far away.

She looked up. The morning sky was pale. Her young man appeared and held her eyes with his own. “Every night since I was a child I have had the same dream.," he began, "In the dream, my grandmother tells me I will wake to find a yellow petal in the mouth of my one true love. I did not have the dream last night.” He held the petal in his hand, and turned it around between their eyes. Then he placed it in his mouth, and swallowed it with a cup of tea from the thermos he brought. Rosehip tea.

04 December 2009

Beverly

Beverly protruded,
she interrupted,
she complained.
Everyone blessed the day
she disappeared
unexplained.

oneword #32 cranes

cranes

Frogs fall from the sky,
alligator tears pelting a stormy sea.

Fading sunlight breaks through
and seagulls feast
on the floating amphibious forms.
They screech until dusk,
fighting for the fattest frogs.

Later a full moon rises
to illuminate the silhouette
of whooping cranes
circling a requiem
over the hemorrhaged bay.

03 December 2009

A*D*H*Bee

Mr. Jones was the reader at the spelling bee. He said, "Your word is chili," when I stood center stage. Lifting my mouth to the microphone, I enunciated each letter clearly, “Chili . . .C – H – I – L – I . . . chili.” I smiled, proud to have remembered that there was only one “L” in chili. “That is incorrect,” Mr. Jones intoned, “C – H – I – L – L – Y, is what we were looking for, as in the air temperature was chilly or cool.”

My disappointment in failing was overshadowed by impulsivity’s shame for instantly propelling me with conviction into spelling the wrong word. The wrong word! Because I did not ask for usage, I blew the spelling bee on a word that could be spelled simply. “Think before you speak,” sounds good in theory, but in the pre-ritalin days of my fifth grade world answers did not sit. As quickly as they were thought, they were blurted into being.

01 December 2009

oneword # 31 fold

Fold

There is a fold
between this world
and
the other world
that exists
in reciprocity
with this world.

It is evidence,
this fold,
of the other world
or
of this one.
It's convoluted form
falls in on itself
and forgets its function,
opening openings
between this and that.

Quick glimpses
offer deja vus and distractions
that throw us off balance
and teeter existence
until equilibrium
refurls the fold.

30 November 2009

oneword #30 transparent

transparent

Every time it rains
I want to be
a child again.
I want to believe
that I can dodge
the starting drops
and not get wet.

I open my arms
to the sky
and soak it in.
Twirling,
I conjure
the days
before experience
made magic
transparent.

29 November 2009

oneword #29 cello

cello

Many years ago,
Freeman Butts canvassed nudes
in his loft above Bozeman’s Main Street.
Forty years of practice heralded
this outlining of bold young
women in minutes
for gallery shows,
for commissions,
for sale.
Forty years
of legs, arms, heads and torsos
necks going this way, tilting just so.

He called Kate’s back a cello
while painting her yogic form
in bold cyan strokes.
Her brown hair curled
beneath a bowler
and a smile slowly spread
between her cheeks.

Freeman’s wife Daisy
brewed cranberry tea
and served cookies
halfway through
each sitting.

That day,
her eyes twinkled
as she revealed
Freeman’s expertise
with the cello,
giving surface
to the depth
of their love.

28 November 2009

oneword #28 slipper

slipper

The storyteller fabricates
a fairy godmother
to make dreams come true.
Readers believe in magic
as Cinderella is swept to the ball.

Everything runs smooth as silk
until the clock strikes midnight
and our princess loses a crystal pump
in a rush to catch the coach before it
reverts to its squashy self.

Suddenly the story turns peculiar
when the Prince tempts foot after foot
across the kingdom into this glass slipper.

It is tricky to believe in a Prince who
hopes to recognize his one true love
not through her magic pulsing presence
but by perfect fit of foot to shoe.

What is a girl to do?

27 November 2009

oneword #27 pumpkins

pumpkins

Pumpkins are coaches
and poor girls wed princes.
Mermaids grow legs
and mice clean the dishes.

Fairytale females
need fixes and wishes
to take them away from
a life that is princeless.

Fairytale males
use powerful kisses
to wake feeble girls
and make them their Mrs.

26 November 2009

oneword #26 thanksgiving

Thanksgiving
the past is part of the present
the future is part of the present
~John Trudell

It was during the week of my 48th Thanksgiving
that I read about English colonists
digging up a basket of Wampanoag corn
and taking it home with them.

My education brought
brown construction paper headbands
sporting colorful feathers.
Black buckled hats topped
the heads of the conquerors.

Consider this:
Pilgrims seek religious freedom.
English colonists impose rule upon a people.
Aggressors or persecuted seekers of freedom?

Guilt incites indignance.
It’s not our fault, it happened over a century ago.

English colonists intentionally began a process of elimination.
Its insidious residue poisons and persists.
Kill the Indian, Save the Child!
Turn them into the shadows of white kids
copies of the ethnic rich.

It lives in you. It lives in me.
Listen for it. Be aware.
The past is part of the present.
The present is part of the future.

Colonists, dirty corn thieves, pilgrims, you, me.

Us.

Them.

25 November 2009

oneword #25 banjo

banjo

Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

Rojo learns a new song
as Maria combs her hair.
She hears a twang of sorrow
from a bird inside a lair.

Maria feels the pain he plays.
She slowly lifts the latch,
then opens doors and windows
setting free her catch.

Rojo looks her in the eye,
his pupils shrink and grow.
He says hello, I love you
and then he says Freak Show.

She closes up the windows
and she closes up the doors.
She loves Rojo, he makes her glow,
he snores her papa’s snores.

Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

oneword #24 needle

needle

Roost inside your quilt of love
hide deep within its folds
the quilt will start to fill you up
and resurrect your soul.

Needle me a quilt of love
to wrap around my breast,
craft it from the articles
inside my cedar chest.

Jackets from my childhood,
the dress you used to wear,
when Joseph was a soldier
and you taught me about prayer.

Clothing that we wore through
days we never thought we’d see,
days of fire and brimstone,
days depleted of all glee,

days we loved each other,
days we walked the trails,
deep into the forest
where the deer and fox prevailed.

Use some of the hair I saved
from Joseph’s long black braid
stitch it in the batting
of the quilt you never made.

Take pieces of the red dress
the undertaker used
to lay you in your casket
your rouged cheeks looking bruised.

Thread them in the center
of a radiating sun
to wrap me up in silence
when another day is done.

This is what you told me,
this is what you said
about the power of a quilt of love
and now you lie there, dead.

Roost inside your quilt of love
hide deep within its folds
the quilt will start to fill you up
and resurrect your soul.

23 November 2009

oneword #23 stripes

stripes

Rows of bugs
rise in rainbow stripes
splicing the draw up
highway 87
with yellow red arcs
the wipers spread.

22 November 2009

oneword #22 windmill

windmill

The body’s windmill
is a soul turbine
swirling a cadenza
of zephyrs and tornadoes
that spin out from
solar plexus centered blades.
Leitmotifs,
they rotate
life's resonance.

21 November 2009

oneword # 21 overflowing

Overflowing
               for m. l. smoker

The Poet moves
through the room
wearing a glove of numbers
devastating to her people.

Again and again
her hands hit the mic
clipped to her neckline
bumping words
as she weaves a trail
of misery and injustice.

Some words cannot be spoken.

Her tears cover us
with American Indian suicide statistics
for children in our state.
Eighteen, last year.
Totals arrived at
in rooms behind doors,
take shape in faces
forgotten, not seen.
Lives swept under rugs.

Visages swim
through the room,
diving into the saltwater sea of guilt
held at bay with centuries
of deliberate diseducation
designed to drown voices,
designed to make dead.

The Poet glimmers
beneath numbers,
opening channels
for hope to flow.

20 November 2009

oneword #20 handle

handle

Banish that bulging love handle!
Debag those eyes!
Wish it! See it! Be it!

Fashion a physical facade.

A beauty drug—
an empty aesthetic
that sculpts on demand.
The canvas approaches genius.

Reflections’ impressions weld mirrored eyes,
transforming imperfections.

Go ahead,
focus on frivolity.
Supplant self with appearance.

19 November 2009

oneword #19 eternal

eternal

practice optimism
to salve adversity
disseminate it
through your pores

positive thoughts
plague the pessimist
illuminating darkness
reverberating deep in bones
unleashing the eternal

17 November 2009

oneword #18 lane

lane

lane becomes leap
when rocks crop up
sending lovers over the edge
relinquishing the other
in hopes to cruise the lane again
with a brand new lover

15 November 2009

oneword # 16 sugar

Sugar

sugar and spice
and a throw of the dice
circumstance comes with a price

fate and chance
a push-and-pull dance
actions transform happenstance

14 November 2009

oneword # 15 chicken

chicken

Cheryl’s constant attack on the others
made wringing her neck easy.
That left sweet Sheila, Gita,
funny little Francis, and Mabel.
Yadi did not have the heart for more slaughter.

Gita’s eyes held reproach,
Francis ran circles round his feet,
Sheila shuddered on the passenger seat.
Screeching, Mabel charged Yadi.
She was the next to go.
Grabbing her by the neck
with both hands, Yadi
stepped out of the bus
and wrung it.
Two down, three to go.

Five years earlier Randy, Jim and Pryor
converted Phil’s old VW bus
into a coop for the chickens
each roommate purchased
and named for his mother.
Since that day, Randy and Yadi
turned cooking eggs into art.
Every day the men devoured eggs.
Strata, soufflés, quiche, and frittatas
scrambled, over easy, and baked.

When the city condemned their house,
they chose to make a meal of their momma hens.

Randy, Jim, and Phil held the three remaining girls.
Yadi and Pryor sang a whacked out version
of the Ozark Mountain Darevdevil’s Chicken Train
while three necks twisted then
simultaneously snapped.
The men settled in to plucking the birds
and telling tales
about these five feathered friends.

Too much wine with dinner
led to turn-taking
with sledge hammers
to bash the bus in.
Randy squawked
a fine imitation of Francis,
flapping his arms
and dancing circles
through their yard.
Yadi chanted and started a fire in the pit.
The five of them sat
facing flame, feeding it,
filling it with wood and stories,
watching one another
drum the earth
until dawn
colored the edges
of the sky.

Two days later,
right before dusk,
the fire department
burned their house
to the ground.

From across the street,
the men watched it disappear.
Yadi said,
“If I was God,
I would be fire.
Fire keeps people humble.
Fire leaves only ash.
Fire annihilates with no remorse.”

Then his voice broke.
Yadi grabbed his head in both hands and said,
“I cannot tell my mother I ate Gita for dinner.”

13 November 2009

oneword #14 kraal

This is a piece that I wrote last November. I'd love to know what you think of it, so I thought I'd send it for a ride on the Monday Poetry Train.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For this oneword, I let my trusty purple dictionary fall open to a page, and blindly placed my finger upon an entry.

kraal

Seven elephant calves
came together in Mboro’s kraal.
Rivers ran from eyes
through day’s dust
on rough gray skin.

Men who smelt of salt and shit
pulled and pushed them miles
with talk of a traveling circus
running along the beaches of the Indian Ocean
away from their vanishing parade of female Elders.

Who would teach them to be elephants?

The young ones’ trunks
snaked each other’s hides
ears flapping to the wind-garbled
trumpet of the Matriarch
as she gathered a battalion of Cows to rescue
the children of their murdered cousins.

The Ladies encircled the grass hut
in which every man was sleeping off
a wild night’s whiskey—dead to the world

The Madams moved in.
They stomped the men
until their carcasses combined
with soil, and thatching grass,
becoming one flattened mass.

The oldest Cows freed the seven young elephants
pulling boards from the walls of the kraal.

Stopping miles from men,
the Crons' trunks caress
every inch of the seven rescued ones
liberated this night the wind
carried stories through the sky.

12 November 2009

oneword # 13 virtual

Virtual

This blog’s fish are not actual fish.
Virtual fish don’t need food

yet some of you find yourselves
furiously clicking the waters
of the feed the fish app
where virtual fish
rise to the surface in virtual ripples
as they virtually devour
the little black specks
your clicking creates on the screen.

What is it that makes you keep clicking?
Virtual gratification?

11 November 2009

oneword #12 cone

Cone

disown Simone
lone roan Cone

bone tone alone, drone
bemoan

atone
postpone lone
telephone zone
groan, Cone, moan
condone cologne

Simone shone
throne Simone

10 November 2009

oneword #11 gallop

gallop

ecto my hyster
take my womb from me
its wander is a gallop
and its bleeding is too free

09 November 2009

oneword #10 headband

Headband

Jenny ran her hand through her hair.
She was late, again.
Rummaging through the bathroom drawer,
she found a leather-tooled headband
and ran out the door.

Driving across town, she considered and reconsidered
her decision to love Jason until the end of time.

She parked at the group home, turned off the car
and felt the headache launch.
It intensified on her way into work.
Marnie Zent noticed her first.
“You!” she said, flinging a claw-like fist in the air.
Marnie got up real close, and peered into Jenny’s eyes.
She backed away, then thrust her arm out again. “You!”

With her head in her hands, Jenny said,
“Something’s wrong. My head feels like it going to explode!”

It was determined that Jenny should not drive.
Jason arrived 15 minutes later,
“You”, Marnie Zent said, flinging her fist toward Jason.

Jenny collapsed into Jason’s arms,
lamenting the excruciating ache.
She worried about the future,
and if she would even live to see it.

Maybe she should stay with Jason,
Maybe this was a sign.
She settled into the passenger seat of his BMW
and procured the comb from her visor.

The moment that Jenny
took off her headband
to run the comb through her hair,
the searing pain ceased.

After some time passed,
Jenny and Jason split the sheets.
Jenny won the coveted title of Miss Gay Missoula,
and later married a long hair
with small holes tattooed on his jugular vein.
They moved to Las Vegas
where she currently teaches third grade.

08 November 2009

oneword #9 incense

incense

In one section of Mysore, India, sandalwood intoxicates.
Orange brown carved statues are sold in shops
and on blanket covered sidewalks
laden with incense and trinkets—
by street vendors with betel worn teeth
treasures and relics of Indians’ lives.

The shops hold a dazzling display of carvings
along with soap, oil, perfume, and lotions
incensed to lure travelers deep into the store.
A man puts his hands together in greeting,
bows, and says, “Change money?”
He ushers us into a hanging maze of carpets
and offers a rate far surpassing
the current exchange
from dollar to rupee
obtainable in government banks.

My heart beats wild
in this room behind rug walls
sandalwood seeping into my pores.
Money changes hands
and I leave the shop
after purchasing
a serene sandalwood Buddha.

Filthy feet carry the child
of a street vendor to my side.
A monkey wearing a dress
dirtier than hers
hangs on her shoulder.

She wants to see my purchase,
and share with me the wares
spread out on her piece of ground
Nodding a figure eight,
she inspects the sandalwood Buddha
then laughs when she hands it back to me
and I close my eyes to inhale deeply
with Buddha pressed against my nose.

Her monkey screeches
as I pull bananas from my bag.
He jumps from her shoulder to the ground
and eyes me suspiciously as he peels.

oneword #8 towel

Towel

With smiles in his eyes,
he handed me
the smallest towel in the bunch
for our day at Wake ‘em Up Bay.

Grandpa and I practiced our snapping the night before….

Kneeling on the end of the dock,
I dipped one corner
into the waters of Vermillion
then pretended to dab at my face
like Grandma did whenever the day was hot.

Kent and Kevin ran by me jeering
Girl are made of greasy grimy gopher guts!
Their momentum carried them out over the bay
creating simultaneous water walls
that spread into droplets as they fell.

Then I dove into Wake ‘em Up,
a fish peering down
at the bottom blowing by.
I surfaced looking up at the sky—
no clouds today.

Grandpa polished a spot on the wagon
with the corner of his towel,
catching my eye.
With a wink he waved me in.

My towel soaked up
every drop of water on my body
then I twirled it on top of my head.

The boys soon tired of swimming
and joined us on the shore
they repeated themselves
with a disgusted glance at my headdress
What are you, the Queen of Sheba?

The boys dried themselves off,
and Grandpa started snapping.
The boys came at me,
like Grandpa said they would.
My right hand grabbed
the dry corner of the towel
from my head.

A whip in my hand
it twisted flinging out
until the end
almost straightened in the air,
then I snapped it back
and cracked it in Kevin’s armpit.
Contact.
Yeowch!

Grandpa engaged Kevin
and my weapon searched for Kent.
Contact again.

They both came at me,
when Grandpa pulled himself up tall
between us and began—
The Queen of Sheba claimed
the heart of King Solomon,
the wisest man in all lands!
His thick hands
drew hills and plains
in the air.

The Queen remains nameless in history,
she is referenced in literature
only through Sheba,
the land that she ruled.

Grandpa turned to me,
Queen Lila!
He picked up his towel
and twirled it between us
in the air as he bowed.
permit me to be a servant unto you.

I picked up the stick
we planted for this moment
and put it on one of Grandpa’s shoulders.

I knight you . . . Sir Solomon,
the wisest of my knights.

I raised the stick high,
and brought it to rest
on Grandpa’s other shoulder.

He rose, turned toward the boys,
and lifted a fist in the air.
Leave her be, or answer to me,
Sir Solomon, humble servant and
protector of Lila,
the Queen of Wake ‘em Up Bay.

07 November 2009

Drums into Dawn

I thought that I had made it through a September blue moon without mishap, or mayhem, when at 3 a. m. I woke to pounding at my apartment door. The peephole exposed my neighbor Jimmi, wild-eyed and jumpy. I turned the knob, and she pushed through the open door coughing, exuding the essence of smoke. “You’ve gotta,” Jimmi coughed, “my room…” I pushed through the door past her and saw the problem. She had tried to stuff her burning mattress out the window onto the tarred roof of the Bon Ton building next door. It was stuck. Half in, half out. Her room was filling with smoke. We shut the door and went back to my place.

The windows in my apartment looked out at a four-foot wide canyon between our building, the Lovelace, and the Bon Ton. Jimmi and I closed down the Haufbrau more than once together and walked home to retire to that roof and talk under Montana stars. To make it accessible from my place, we angled a seven-foot plank, about 12 inches wide, from my window to the roof. The first time and every time she used it, Jimmi walked across quickly, with a dance in her step, while I always crossed on my knees, hands gripping both sides of the plank, eyes on the blackness below. Jimmi waited until I was safely across to berate my fear of walking upright. “What are you, a cat?” she’d laugh, and we’d settle into talk, KGLT pouring out of Jimmi’s windows into the night.

Jimmi wanted to cross from my place and try pulling the mattress out. She was tanked. I insisted on walking the plank. Jimmi pushed, and I pulled until the mattress let loose onto the roof. We drug it away from her window. Jimmi’s apartment was a single room, mine had a kitchen with a sink. We carried pitcher after pitcher after pitcher of water from my sink through her room, to the roof drenching the mattress before the smelly smoldering ceased. Then we set up fans to blow the smell from Jimmi’s room. We drug the mattress to the ledge on the building's backside and balanced it there. We looked up and down the alley. Nothing. We got the mattress in position to drop it, looked long at each other thinking our own private thoughts, then let it loose. The mattress landed with a splashing thump in the alley below. It was when we were sitting in our lawn chairs later, that Danny Choriki was on KGLT, laughing about some story he’d heard about the mayhem of blue moons and I remembered. Here it was, my very own mayhem, a blue moon story waiting to be told. Jimmi and I laughed and rolled Drums into dawn.

06 November 2009

oneword #7 oven

Oven

Pizza in the oven
the remote is on the fritz
surfing through the channels
shouldn’t be as hard as this.

05 November 2009

oneword #6 frog

Frog

The frog,
that hedonistic
eater of flies
sits in wait
for its prey.

One after another,
its meals fly by,
catching the tongue train
into the gaping
cave of death.

04 November 2009

oneword #5 shield

Shield

Shield me.
Take me under.
Keep everything at bay.
Pour me another tall one.
Eradicate my day.

03 November 2009

oneword #4 identity

identity

identity
is wrapped
in things

who we are
becomes
what we have
masking truth
with possession

02 November 2009

oneword # 3 amber

amber

This poem is
a mosquito stuck in amber
a word denied
a phrase returned
an object of
translucent
desire.

01 November 2009

oneword #2 click

*Click*

Something clicked
when he told me
that I reminded him of his mother—
the way her hips would sparkle
in the glistening wet
as water from the pool
slid down her side.

His eyes disappeared
beneath quivering lids
as he outlined her curves
in the air
with his hands.

*Click*

    ~~~

Your Aunt Jo's camera
captured
the very moment
I knew
that your father
was most definitely
not
the boy for me.

31 October 2009

The Unfinished Marker

Deep on Chameleon Street
beneath a canopy of trees
children free dandelion seeds
in a fierce stampede of feet.
The little parachutes mirror dust
that bedecks the air.

Steel songs ring from
a chisel’s slippery slope and
collide with the liquid trill
of two wood thrush volleying
a back and forth dance
of voice blending into din.

White flecks fling as a steel point
uncovers an angel hidden in stone.
Up, from alabaster flesh it rises.
One eye surveys the tapestry it joins
to commemorate the soldiers
who pain our nation's soul.

Its wings linger inside calcite
waiting to be chiseled into being.

oneword #1 arrow

oneword.com offers an opportunity for immediate web publication of short written work.  Each day the website provides a word.  The instruction is to write for one minute, put a name to your post, and submit.  After submission, your post, and all others appear. 

Last night Len and I watched Woody Allen's Match Point with the classicly beautiful Scarlett Johansson.  In the movie, Allen creatively re-invents Dostoeyevski's Crime and Punishment.  The viewing of the film, and perhaps the macabre nature of Halloween may have inspired my response to today's word:  Arrow. 

Arrow

I shot an arrow in her heart
to make her love me.

Red spread through the broad
blue and white stripes
of her t shirt
and I thought of the Flag.

She will never love me now.
God Bless America

Bled out in an empty lot--
she's dead.

10 October 2009

a dark flower falling

Her feet, wet from wading,
leave a trail of black blossoms
as she runs.
Curls cascade from her shoulders
and catch the sun,
mimicking the fecund petals
that furl at her feet.

Skipping in curlicues,
she creates a genius floral motif of paths,
curious crop circles
flirted out from her feet.
At the center point of design
she seems to stop in time.
With sighs in her eyes,
she stares up at the sky.

Passersby pick up petals
that wither in their hands.
A whispering child
tugs on his mother’s coat,
There’s the lady whose husband
got dropped in the lake!
Mommy, Look!
The woman yanks him forward
to hasten their escape. 
The boy rubs dead flower flesh
from his fingers, and turns to look back.
The lady lingers.

             ***

The moment her husband surfaced,
dark flowers began flowing forth from her feet.

Dark flowers fall
when she walks
on the land
that binds his sky
to this earth.

Dark flowers fall
when she runs
out into the lake
that swallowed him whole.

Dark flowers fall
each time she dances
to erase the look on his face,
the instant
his glider collapsed—
-right before his spiraling descent
through the shell
of the bay.

Watching from above,
she saw
his crumpled
fetal form
dissipate
spinning
as it sunk
a dark flower
falling
beneath the glider’s
colorful carnage.

Prejudice



I created this video in response to an assignment in Mr. Davey's 8th grade English class. 

17 September 2009

angel grace

like a psychedelic memory
a raw electric experiment
a junk dream
her life approaches grace
as if it were the vivid silhouette
of a dazzling half-drunk angel
she can’t quite catch
an absurd shimmering miasma
lost in inner space

13 September 2009

Silenced Whispers

I.

Riding westward rails,
government sharpshooters
slaughter fields of collapsing bison,
an undulating agony
that quietly sinks
into putrid piles
abuzz with flies.

They are opening a path to the future!
Building a brave new world.

Westward Ho!
Westward Ho!

Little regard falls to the lives this land-lust fouled.

Indigenous people
dance a sustaining give-and-take
with the earth.

Balance.

US policy fractionates land, and disregards people.
This is what my history books never told me.

II.

Today.
A stand of bouldered cliffs
whispers near the Dearborn River
when the air is cold enough
to lift its voice up
from the depths of its creviced nests.

It murmurs of murders
and beasts riding beasts
iron across rock
shooting and falling
sighing a message of massacres
when the freeze frees the stories it speaks.

The Dearborn’s solid surface
reflects clouds rolling past.
Crows call out from fence posts,
as the cliffs mark history’s march
toward tomorrows through this day.

A shot rings out,
and a rock chuck falls
from the face of the cliffs
silencing the whispers.

Modern sharpshooters hoot and howl
as they run toward the rock chuck’s carcass.
One of them lifts it high above his wool-capped head
spitting tobacco and cursing commendations
in his common tongue.

begetting now

I.

George Washington Carver said
“Anything will give up its secrets
if you love it enough.”

Receptive awareness
measures experience.

Mindtalk screams.

Judgements here--
Judgements there-
Passing judgements everywhere!

II.

Tighten, clench.
Listen to your voices tie you in knots.

Loosen, relax.
Attend to the physical aspect of breath.

All-helpful quiet fills.

Receptive awareness
measures experience.

now begets now begets now begets now

May all beings be happy. May all beings be blessed.

“Anything will give up its secrets
if you love it enough.”

06 September 2009

Villanelle against Divisiveness

Divisive agendas inhibit discussion.
Psssst! Spread the idea: public schools are “government” schools.
Uncover the world, teach children to cut a critical path through public discourse.

Free-thinkers belittle evangelists sermonize.
Right-winged agenda undermines the radical Left.
Divisive agendas inhibit discussion.

Obama encourages the setting of educational goals.
Schools provide places for students to “opt out” of presidential addresses.
Uncover the world, teach children to cut a critical path through public discourse.

Threats of governmental abdication of parental control over children
mask fears that children, when allowed to think critically, draw conclusions of their own.
Divisive agendas inhibit discussion.

Children become policy makers, teachers, lawyers, and priests.
Plotting a course in any arena requires an in-depth analysis of the big picture.
Uncover the world, teach children to cut a critical path through public discourse.

Agree or disagree, but let the children listen to their nation’s president
Teach them to consider the message he sends with discernment.
Divisive agendas inhibit discussion.
Uncover the world, teach children to cut a critical path through public discourse.

30 August 2009

Sunday Morning

I am sinking into my soft spotted chair on Sunday.
I wonder if Harpo the canary hears
the birdsong bursting from the fir out front.
I hear shrill whistles banter back and forth.
Harpo’s head tilts this way and that. He sings.
I see Hopper and Piggy lying side-by-side,
tail to snout siestas.
I want warm banana bread with butter,
and strong coffee rich with cream.
I am Scandinavian.

I pretend to be a Finnish princess.
I feel beautiful and strong.
I touch the ribbon
that ties off my long thick braid and
I worry that my father, the king,
will not permit his daughter to chop wood.
I cry under the weight of his words.
I am as capable as any boy is,
and I have more strength than many.

I understand that stories are born
in moments and events remembered, yet
I will always say
some stories write themselves.
At night I dream of
thousands of soldiers
controlling us all.
I try to wrap my mind
around a world beyond my living room,
safe here in the United States.
I hope life always brings banana bread,
and strong coffee rich with cream.
I am one of many humans living stories on the Earth,
in my spotted chair on Sunday, the canary on its perch.


~~~~~~~
*Authors Note* The "I am" poem I posted prior to this, was written following specific parameters. For this piece, the first two words of each line had to be those first two words, but there were no other specifications. After I wrote it I moved the line breaks to suit myself...so some of the first two words are "embedded."

I am poem

I am Brenda
I wonder what tomorrow holds
I hear students’ futures ringing through the halls
I see them living full and rich
I want their lives to shine so fine
I am dedicated and hopeful

I pretend to brush off rudeness, but
I feel squashed---a bug underfoot
I touch my childhood self, and remember
I worry that I’ll never measure up
I cry when students cry
I am compassionate and vulnerable

I understand the importance of action
I say “Practice kindness.”
I dream a world of words.
I try my darndest to get students to care about books.
I hope for Moodle Magic and more days like today.
I am Warren.

(This was written as an example for students.)

18 August 2009

Port of Call

From the Lockport Caves
in western New York
through Cleveland and Lodi
on down to Pandora,
Grandma Jill’s Land Yacht sails
through deciduous glens.
Leafy vines swaddle
the driftwood flesh
of skeletal trees-
sentries amidst willows that weep,
and ancient alders.
A Dixie Chicks CD follows
80s soul, and DJ diva—Delilah
as we float on an ocean of sound
down US Interstate 71 South.

Dusk falls.
The Land Yacht sails smooth
onto Route 30 west,
The Lincoln Highway.
We turn down the AC,
and scan radio stations
searching for something
to sink into.
W-Y-N-T radio
out of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
The WhY NoT oldies hit parade
plays songs we remember
from 30 years hence
testifying to the trek of time

Come on baby
(Don’t fear the reaper)
Baby take my hand
(Don’t fear the reaper)
We’ll be able to fly
(Don’t fear the reaper)

Baby I’m your man

We belt out the La, la, la, la la
of Blue Oyster Cult’s classic hit
and dissolve into laughter,
because we are the oldies.

Narrowing the gap
between reaper and self,
we soar down a smooth black stream
from Lockport to Pandora
where Grandma Jill’s driveway
shines like a beacon unto us all.

The Land Yacht’s port of call.

26 July 2009

Max the Monkey

People emerge Monday mornings
to pursue paradigms
of synergistic systems
office and technology
compete and eat
multitasking corporate identity
vision, position, mission
maximizing moments
winning bread
for that competitive
little monkey
that rides their back
and eggs them on
begging them
to neglect everything
in pursuit of it all.

Dear Reader

A little over a month ago, a fellow participant in the Yellowstone Writing Project inspired me to start a blog. The Yellowstone Writing Project brought 18 educators together to write, to engage in writing workshops, and to discuss the nightmare and the glory that come with implementing writing instruction in the classroom. YWP filled me up. When I head back to my building this fall, I will promote student and teacher writing. Think-- How can you teach writing if you do not write yourself? Would you choose a flight instructor who never flies airplanes? Prior to YWP, I shared my writing with a dozen or so individuals (and one class of nine students). During YWP, I read words that sprung from my soul to 17 other adults. My fear was palpable. I read four pieces. My head throbbed through each reading, making me certain I would wake up in a hospital room after stroking out. Can you say drama queen? I made it through the reading and did not die. Imagine that (I wonder how many students in America’s classrooms endure fear responses when put on the spot?). In writing groups of four at YWP, we shared and revised our work weekly. The process of working through my pieces during YWP illuminated the importance of sharing my writing with others. Other peoples’ ideas found openings for me to explore when working revisions. Implementing their suggestions strengthened my work. This blog provides a platform for a continued sharing of my work. While you, dear reader, remain mostly anonymous—I appreciate your eyes. Beyond the Bozone inspires me to write. It forces practice. Practice presents a chance to dance back and forth with words on pages. Practice breeds a deeper understanding of the structure of language. Practice generates exceptional writing. The value of feedback revealed itself to me on a personal level at YWP. If you are so inclined, feel free to comment on some of the pieces posted here, Beyond the Bozone.

Walk in peace,

Brenda

24 July 2009

Soldiers and Cicadas: A Sestina

Good intentions pave roads to hell.
Tactical maneuvers force soldiers
to stifle--to suppress the enemy’s voice.
Sucking sap through tree roots
cicadas that spent seventeen years under ground,
emerge and transform--sprouting wings.

High in the branches of ironwood trees, villagers wish for wings
to lift them from the gaping mouth of hell.
After seventeen years waiting under ground
a million cicadas pulse out yearning, over soldiers
screaming to be heard, tripping over ironwood roots--
cicadas, explosions, and wishes--one screaming voice.

His mother’s storyteller voice
drew parallels between the cicada’s sprouting wings
and the wings yet to come from Aoul’s violent roots
germinated after the last cicada hell-
when his mother rose and fell against a soldier’s
hips grinding hers into the ground.

Every night Aoul sleeps on the ground.
Every night he hears his mother’s voice
crying out against the soldiers
crying out for angel’s wings.
She’s seen all she wants of hell.
She receives no nourishment from roots.

Save his mother, Aoul knows no roots.
Although, through men on the ground
his father’s hell
shares its voice.
Aoul stands to raise his wings
He stands against and for the soldiers.

His father, his mother, cicadas, and soldiers--
ashes to ashes to ashes to roots
bullets, grenades, and wings
he steps from the branch and flies to the ground
giving his voice
to hell.

Soldiers kick the boy’s lifeless body across the ground
into the ironwood roots that sustain the mating voice
of the cicadas, whose wings fan the gates of hell.

20 July 2009

Moon Walker

lunar landing trips deep mystery

Metaphor had its way,
long before the moon signed
the second moored
on Manhattan’s West Side.
To set foot on that night,
a big white platter
hung
over 46th Street demons
which seem to suffer
through future melancholy
to fascinate him.

Dark glasses.
Uncertain.

40th Anniversary of Fame

She took her moonward memories
of more missions.

---penny-bright---

His mother’s maiden flew the ships beyond.

In the Barn

Tim, the hired man locks the sheep into a blue metal basket, one at a time, as I feed them to him single file, through a long curved wood chute in the barn. A big stick I found in the field last week encourages their journey through. Once locked in, Tim gives a carnie flip to the blue basket. The sheep’s eyes spin wide searching circles of fear while Joseph shoots them in the backside with a big blue syringe. I look at Joseph’s blue eyes, and wonder if he makes certain that everything around him is blue, or if it is a matter of simple mistakes or coincidence.

“Dadblast it!” Joseph curses, “Those Pretty Feathers got themselves a brand new truck last week.”
Tim concurs. “Damn nice ‘un.”
“I heard in town that they traded it with Wilson Family Ford for ongoing butcher services.” I offer.
“Bullshit they traded it.” Joseph counters, “I’d more likely believe they paid for it with the money they save up not paying taxes on that butcher business. Lance Wilson won’t do business with Indians.”
“Wouldn’t be too sure about that,” I retort, “Wilson’s wife Wanda is friends with Josie Pretty Feathers.”
Tim chimes in, “I heard it ain’t no butcher business, at all, but a cover for card games they got goin’ on in the freezer. My wife read a book by some Indian woman, talked about playin’ cards in freezers.” He punctuates his remark with a loud laugh.
“Either way," I say, "Wanda and Josie took that new truck out cruising last Friday night. I saw them down by the Gap.”

Outside, the lambs bellow for their momma’s teats, and the ewes inside feel some relief—that is until they get closer to the basket. Fear spreads to the first three or four ewes in line. Eight to ten ewes back from the basket, I station myself on the bottom rung of the chute, my own personal soapbox. “Do you know,” I flourish the stick above my captive audience stretching know into an almost two-syllable word, “That the Pretty Feathers are the only people who make potato sausage (present company excluded) in a five county radius?” Pausing for effect, I raise my voice slightly, “Do you know, that the Pretty Feathers are required by law to pay both state and federal taxes?” I stop to catch my breath, look up and notice that Joseph has stopped working and is staring right at me.
“Now what do you think you know Miss FancyPants?”
Stepping off the fence and onto the soft barn floor, I turn and face Joseph straight on, “Will you listen?”

He will sit on every word I say, just to think of a way to turn it into a question about Wanda Wilson and Josie Pretty Feathers. Joseph is a good listener; he remembers things no one should. His wheels are spinning.

“Come on Joseph,” Tim pleas, “Tell 'er you’ll listen. I wanna hear this one!”
“Go ahead, I’ll listen, but let’s keep these ewes moving through, I don’t want to spend another day in here with you two.” The metal squeaks as Tim turns a ewe on her side.
I start slow, striving to sound mysterious, “Let me start by saying, it isn’t what I think I know, it’s what I’ve been studying, it’s what I am coming to know.”
Joseph rolls his eyes, and Tim laughs.

“First of all, the Pretty Feathers land is not on the reservation. They are required to pay taxes. Not only federal property taxes, but state property taxes, as well. Because they live and work off-reservation, they pay the same state and federal taxes that we do, even income taxes. They are also responsible for business taxes, too. They run their business in Harlo, not on the rez. Most of their customers are folks like you and me.”
Tim posits, “…and every Indian in Harlo, and every Indian in the Gap.”

Joseph holds the syringe up in the air and squints one eye, “Is it legal for them to do a trade business? Do they have to report that for taxes?” For emphasis, he inoculates the ewe right as he says the word that.
“I don’t know, Joseph. Now if they lived and worked on a reservation---that would change things up a bit.”
Tim asks “How so?”
“Squire vs. Capoeman is a Supreme Court case. It holds that legally, Indians must pay the same federal income taxes as everybody else, unless Congress expressly grants them immunity through a treaty or other statute. So unless it is written in law explicitly, that Native Americans are exempt for any reason, they pay federal income taxes.”

“What about on the rez?” Tim asks.
“Because reservations were set up with the idea that Indian tribes are sovereign nations, the courts have upheld that state taxes don’t apply to Indians who work and live on the reservation. Unlike states, recognized Indian tribes have a government-to-government relationship with the US Government. Concerning federal taxes, a few exemptions were upheld by the Squire vs. Capoeman decision. For instance, Indians earning an income from the land they were “given” through the General Allotment Act do not pay federal taxes on that income. The court interpreted that GAA “conferred” that immunity from taxation. So, if Joseph were a Native American and these sheep,” I push one along, “were on the reservation, this business would be immune from taxes on the income it brings.”

Joseph blurts, “That there is a crock of shit!”

“Simmer down, Joseph. Let me tell you why I think it works this way,” I say. “Vine DeLoria, a Standing Rock Sioux, finds fault with the implication from “Squire vs. Capoeman forward…that the (tax) exemption occurs because Indians are incompetent. That we won’t tax them until they are our economic, social, and intellectual equals.” DeLoria calls that a “hazardous thing to hang your hat on.” It is a system that grew out of racist, paternalistic ideas of white guys like you.” I smile big at him, knowing he hates the whole blame the white male for every malady that arises in history attitude. “The General Allotment Act, or the Dawes Act, sought to civilize the Indians. The land they were allotted was supposed to be some magic carpet ride into the white man’s view of success. American Indians did not want isolated pieces of land to farm—their culture is communal in nature. Not to mention, the language in the act is ridiculous. It talks down to Indian peoples. There are all kinds of assumptions regarding their inferiority written into the document.”

“Okay, okay enough pontificatin’!” Tim continues, “So because we wanted to civilize ‘em, we gotta give ‘em a tax break?”
“I think it’s more about the language in the treaties, and statutes. It’s more about semantics----or what those words mean. Picture a bunch of people sitting around arguing over what the words mean.”
“Like church,” Joseph says, “everybody’s got their own ideas about the Bible.”
“Yeah, it’s like interpreting the Bible, and look at all the havoc that’s reaped! The GAA was supposed to empower Indian peoples to meet with success as individuals. Taxing them on income earned from the land impedes their progress. At least that’s how Squire vs. Capoeman interpreted it.”

“So what if I as a white person had my business on the reservation, would they get to tax me?” Joseph asks, read for another go at it. (I’m still waiting for him to bring up Wanda and Josie.)
“My mind is full of learning, Joseph; let me think on this for a minute.” We keep moving sheep, most run out of the barn with bleats of protest. Back in the corral, they nuzzle their lambs wildly. Pacing the floor of the barn, I formulate my response and with incomplete certitude posit, “I think you still pay the same taxes that you do, and I don’t believe the tribe can tax you, too.”

“What, the tribes tax me, too? I don’t have a brand new truck from Wilson Family Ford!”

“Whoa, hold on, Joseph, I said they can’t tax you. The state and the feds will take care of that---and what does any of this have to do with a truck?”

As the last ewe entered the basket Tim said, “Truck, schmuck…Joseph never did get over Wanda Wilson.”

“What the hell she doin’ with an Indian chick on a Friday night, anyway?” Joseph let the last sheep loose, and it ran out the door without looking back.

14 July 2009

Magnetic Poetry

Perfume bleeds
from the woman's sacred growl.
Her translucent desire throbs,
lingering in eternity's sky.

13 July 2009

Dandelion Power!

Okay, so I'm updating my personal profile with a fabulous answer to a bizarre-O question. Must be at most 400 characters pops up, and I can't post my answer. I still want you to know, dear reader, my answer to blogger's random personal profile question.

So here is the question, my answer follows.

Your superpower is that you smell like dandelions whenever someone lies. How will you maintain your secret identity?

Did someone say dandelions?
OMG, you must be kidding me!
I LOVE dandelions.
Just the other day, I made this dandelion chain.
The one right here. It looks like a halo on my head, don't you think?
GAWD! I love dandelions. They make me really happy.
I can't stand how cool dandelions are.

When I was little, some lady
at the Cub Scout Jamboree
told me that you could tell how much you liked butter
just by holding a dandelion under your chin.
Tell you what, I was mesmerized.
It depended on the amount of yellow
that dandelion reflected under your chin.
I love butter, especially on steamed green beans.
The lady said my chin was the yellowest yellow she'd ever seen.
I sure don't like the way dandelions taste, though.
My aunt Delilah made me some o' that dandelion tea one time.
EW! Nasty!
But I do like dandelions,
we got this affinity thing going on.

I just don't think you should eat them.

12 July 2009

John Goodman's Head


Disclaimer: In no way does the author wish harm to John Goodman. This piece was written in response to a photograph from David Lynch's "A Dark Night of the Soul" exhibit. National Public Radio led me to the picture. Several musicians created a "uniquely collaborative album" -"Dark Night of the Soul." Lynch conjured the images in his photographs while listening to the album. I conjured John Goodman's head from the second of the pictures in the NPR piece.

Now the head in Lynch's photograph is not John Goodman's head, but it reminded me of John Goodman. That, the children, and Aunt Ruth in her apron, got me pondering the power of apple pie. A story beckoned.

And so, without further ado, I give you:

John Goodman’s Head

The children looked so small standing beside John Goodman’s head. Aunt Ruth put the head on the dinner table because she didn’t know what else to do with it. Just the day before, so the story goes, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth. He heard tales told about her apple pie.

Now Aunt Ruth’s apple pie is no ordinary apple pie. Nuh-uh! Aunt Ruth’s apple pie, when eaten under the right conditions makes wishes come true. About now you are probably wondering just what those conditions are. So I’m gonna tell you.

But before I do, you need to know what a blue moon is. Do you know what a blue moon is? Just in case you don't---a blue moon is the second full moon that graces the night sky in a single calendar month.

In our case, Aunt Ruth’s apple pie makes your wishes come true if you eat it under a blue moon in October.

Unfortunately for him, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth the night before this October’s blue moon. He told her that he wanted that apple pie. He told her that he wanted that apple pie more than he’d ever wanted anything in his entire life.

Now Aunt Ruth isn’t one to judge people. If someone wants her apple pie she makes it for them. People come to her sometimes by the dozens, sometimes none come at all. There's power in her pies. John Goodman was Aunt Ruth’s first celebrity. Maybe she shoulda smelt trouble. But he was her only request for apple pie this year, and Aunt Ruth loved baking on blue moons. She’d been doing it as far back as she could remember. Blue moons in October don't come that often--that’s why we say stuff like this only happens once in a blue moon. (Now ain’t that the truth!)

Anyway. the entire time Aunt Ruth made that pie, she wondered what John Goodman would wish for. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Aunt Ruth manifest all the yearning she could and put it right in that pie. She wanted to supercharge John Goodman’s wish. If he wanted to fly, she wanted him to fly! (that wish had only been manifest once before, it ended badly for the wisher) If he “Wanted to be a Millionaire” she manifest doubling it. Whatever it was that John Goodman wished for, went into that pie. Aunt Ruth isn’t sure how it works, she only knows THAT it works. Oh Aunt Ruth was feeling smug all right. She knew she’d whipped up one of her most powerful blue moon apple pies ever. She could feel its strength as she worked..

John Goodman arrived at Aunt Ruth’s house as the blue moon rose. She seated him at the old Ma Bell spool table under the oak tree out back and handed him a bib. “Nothing like moonlight and apple pie, I always say.” Aunt Ruth said.

“Bony Aphrodite, that’s what I always say,” John Goodman said as he raised his fork. Aunt Ruth laughed. “Wait,” she said. “The wish. After I go inside the house, stand up and say your wish out loud, wiggle your hips side to side three times, and no it don’t matter what direction you start,(ya wouldn’t believe the number of times I get that question) Say your wish out loud, Swing them hips a yours three times, just like this. Clap once, then sit down and eat. Eat every last bite. No ala mode, no cheddar cheese, nada.”
“Cheddar cheese, EW.” John Goodman wrinkled his nose.
“I know, right?” Aunt Ruth said with a laugh. “Well as you say, Bony Aphrodite.” Aunt Ruth turned and walked back toward the house, thinking about John Goodman’s wish.
Before she closed the door she heard John Goodman say, “Bony Aphrodite, indeed.”

About twenty minutes passed, and Aunt Ruth heard nothing. Then a gawd awful wailing started up outside. Followed by a “Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit.”

Aunt Ruth hurried outside. John Goodman had grown a good four feet. She thought he was a big man before, but now he was friggin huge! His head was as tall as the trees.

“This is not what I meant.” John Goodman said. “Life is one BIG fucking joke.” He threw his hands up in the air, knocked a branch down, then grabbed his forearm. “Ouch, Fuck!” He rubbed his arm. “Fuck!”

Aunt Ruth approached John Goodman. “Just exactly what did you wish for, Mr. Goodman?”

“I wanted to be “big”, real big, not just some type cast, flash in the pan, second fiddle, small-time loser nobody. Shit. I’m big now. I’m big now.” He threw his hands in the air, turned and stomped off toward the barn.

There he was, John Goodman throwing a fit in Aunt Ruth’s backyard. Aunt Ruth stifled her laughter while he was going on and on, then she remembered something horrible….. “Oh shit! Stop! Oh Mr. Goodman, stop!”

It was too late. John Goodman stormed through the 12 foot barn doors. Just two days ago, Aunt Ruth and her husband’s cousin Joe stretched a piece of razor wire from one loft to the other across the barn. They video- taped themselves throwing all kinds of things at that razor wire, from watermelons to tin cans, thinking that they’d make it onto America’s Funniest Home videos. Thinking they’d hit the big time. Thinking they stood a chance.

They hit the big time all right, just like John Goodman’s head hit the floor.

The family stood at the table stunned.

“I didn’t know what else to do with it,” Aunt Ruth said. “It just didn’t feel right leaving John Goodman’s head out there in the barn.”

08 July 2009

Herodotus's Great Birds

The great birds come
on air currents
carried in from beyond the world
the people know.

Beaks and talons laden
with rolled brown sticks,
they flock to the cliffs that rise
on the long side
of the river’s bend
packing their nests
with sweet-smelling cinnamon.

The people stockpile hunks of flesh
from dead horses, oxen and ass,
and wait for the first full moon
that follows the fledglings' flight song.

flesh of trees, fledglings see
CAWri caw! CAWricaw! Home.


On the river, opposite the nests,
the people pile all animals amassed
since the spring’s first crescent moon.

The great birds dive into the meat feet first.

Grasping greasy chunks,
they push down on the air
with their wings and rise to their nests
to deposit pieces of beast.

Rising and falling
they fill their nests
until the mud breaks away
from the gray rock wall
sending the nests
sailing to the river below.
The great birds settle
into a frenzied feast
of flesh left on shore,
as the people stretch a hand-knotted net
against cold downstream currents
to collect the floating gift the great birds bring,
coveting the moment they will sip rich wine
through its sweet rolled flesh.

04 July 2009

Great Falls Fourth


Proper parade waving improves with practice.



An oddity in Great Falls, or anywhere?
Speculation that this guy would show up in the ER later.
Flag Man to the rescue!

No worries at US bank.

03 July 2009

hands that honor & burn


hands that get lost in the picking


hands that prepare


hands that braid


blog on?

I guess the thing about blogging is that you have to, well, blog. A blog requires writing, pictures, something, or it merely sits unused, the proverbial falling tree in the forest. Does it even exist? The handy dandy neo-counter proves that you are reading this. Aha! Gotcha! Who are you…and what are you doing reading these words? Don’t you have anything better to do? Are the words worth your time? Precious seconds you can never get back are vanishing before you even notice they are here.

The Yellowstone Writing Project concluded its second week yesterday. Like-minded peers, we expose our words in spirited exploration. The writing that pours into the room bares open souls as we ride the tide of every story told. A common voice in the room claims that pieces are writing themselves. There is magic in the air. We are writers. We are teachers. We are pioneers. (This is after all the inaugural year of the Yellowstone Writing Project, and this week was the FIRST second week of the FIRST YWP….we’re talking….ever!)

And so, dear and dwindling readers….bear with me, as I explore personal landscapes and wonder what the best use of this blog spot is…

24 June 2009

Back in the Day


In 1987 I met Kate, the woman of my dreams.
We fell into each other’s other,
we held each other up.

Together we discovered the depth of red wine and despair.
Together we quit bathing to detect which essential oil best masked
or better yet enhanced the pungence of sweat.
Together, we mocked women who over checked each nuance of make up
in the mirror at the Hauf.

Then, under a full moon in October
we danced in our Chuck Taylors.

Treading over graves,
billowing scarves framed our flesh
and swept against the stone woman.
She didn’t look up once.
She became us, and we became her.

We are that woman
holding our head in our hand,
sorrow dripping from our eyes.

We are that night
spent dancing in the dark
while flashes from a camera
illuminated our flesh against stone.

We are that full moon
hanging in the sky
reflecting shining jewels of wisdom.

The next day, I wrote the first poem
that I believed in
and my life as a writer began.

23 June 2009

Cinnamon Stick

A natural scroll
pushed from the earth
woody and pungent
strong,
yet fragile

I want to see it spring forth
unmolested from the earth.

I want to sip hot cider
through its rolls of flesh.

21 June 2009

Fallen Hero

Piggy’s head snaps back,
his ears sit high on his head,
and his eyes are glued
to the ant inching toward him.

When it reaches his paw, the ant crawls up.

Rapid-fire, Piggy opens and closes his mouth
up and down his furry foreleg,
frantic to get the little bugger.

And then,
Piggy’s head snaps up.
Furiously, he swings his snout
from side to side,
his fat wet tongue flails between his teeth
until the ant flies out.

The whole time this is happening,
Hopper has his eye on the scene.
He quickly rushes over,
ears forward on his head,
his “I’m so happy something’s happening” smile
exposes sharp white teeth against wet pink gums.

Never missing a beat, Hopper’s paw
slams down on the ant,
lifts up,
slams down again,
lifts up,
then with one fatal slam, he nails the ant,
who had only wanted to cross
the long beige expanse of carpet
to get to the kitchen
and find a scrap to carry back to wherever it is
that the rest of his kind dwell
in this red brick house,

carrying on a legacy of urban ants
that began when people were
audacious enough to multiply
and build houses
where the ants once reigned supreme.

Dog toys, indeed!

Does the ant colony miss their fallen comrade?
Or do they carry on with no recognition
of the ultimate sacrifice made by one of their own
in a treacherous quest for food?

20 June 2009

Len & Hazel


Piggy

Every spring Piggy sports a black and white mohawk. A long strip of coarse hair defines the length of his back. He is an odd dog, and it suits him. People stop us on walks to talk about Piggy. One lady asked us if he was one of them ridgebacks she’d heard about. Rude or not, we all laughed. Someone drawled, “Ee’s not a Ridgeback, Ee’s a Dingo!” Then we told her his story.

Piggy came from the shelter in Helena. Len and I went to the shelter to check out a Bouvier they had listed on their website. However, when we interacted with her, she was aloof. When we walked her she wanted to get away. The paperwork the pound had on her, listed various ways she had escaped from her previous owners. We worried that our fence wasn’t high enough, and we wanted a dog to love us. We window shopped a little, until we came to Piggy’s kennel. Scrawled in huge letters on a big white poster board were two words that did us in: DEAF DOG. We have one deaf dog, we reasoned, and this one wiggled at our very nearness. We knew he would love our home.

Piggie cannot hear a thing, his vision is weak--we think that at a distance he sees only the movement of outlines and shadows, and we are fairly certain there is some retardation involved. His black and white mottled fur looks like Blue Heeler. His head shape, the texture of his hair, his tail, and his eyes show evidence of Siberian Husky. One of Piggy’s eyes is ghost blue, and the other is mostly brown with ghost blue shapes up top of the iris. Every spring he sheds his Husky hair while panting through warming temperatures. We shave him for his own comfort, and to give our cat hair rollers a rest. We give him a mohawk so we can say, “Ee’s a Dingo!” with our best (not good) Australian accent. So yeah, he’s not a Ridgeback, but a mix thrown together by fate. A mix who sports odd hairstyles and exudes enormous joy at human attention. Our Piggy.

We wanted a dog that would love us. You know the adage: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it? Piggy embodies it. He earned his name because he is a pig for attention. His previous owners called him Bo. We call him PigDog, Piggy, Pigster, Sters, and Piggy Wiggy Woo………I know, he can’t even hear us, right?

Piggy the Wonder Dog is able to jump through Hula Hoops in a single bound.

He is a happy boy with cognitive issues, and we love him dearly, yes we do.

18 June 2009

Noisy Time

Currently, a fine flock of feathered friends shares our life: Sophia the scarlet macaw, Sadie the blue and gold macaw, Sweet Pea the Senegal parrot, LB the green cheeked conure, and Harpo the yellow canary who can sing like no other.

A noisy time is when every bird in our house has something to say, and each of them hollers to be heard above the rest. Sophia wins, wings down. Most days, there are two noisy times: both 7ish. Will I miss them when I venture into the Bozone this summer? I fear not.

Sophia is a scarlet macaw. Everything we read ahead of time warned of the noisy wildness of this particular critter. HOWEVER, the summer Len and I got married we visited Sophia at Petco frequently. Trips to visit Spaghetti-O and Paris, a blue and gold macaw became family outings. I taught Sophia to belch during those visits (What was I thinking?). We bonded.

Paris sold to a couple in Helena. Sophia remained at Petco, waiting for a home. The bird handlers told us that due to a diminished market in Great Falls(and a deformed toe), Sophia was moving to another Petco. We did not want her to sit in a cage at Petco forever, and the first of many birds joined our roost.

The thing about birds is, when you have one, people get wind of it. Soon friends have friends who want to give you birds. They have allergies, they didn’t know how loud they would be, they don’t think they spend enough time with their feathered friends. Dumb ass us, we take them into our home so they can have noisy time twice a day.

Call and response is so natural in our home, its absence may send me into campus conversation with crows. Perish the thought.........