Thursday, March 22, 2018

Itinerant Wizards

May I Share the Hero's Journey With You?

The wizard came to tea last week; he's older now and impatient.
If you don't answer the door...well, what's wrong with tea?
We keep ours in a pitcher in the fridge, never warm it up this time of year.
Don't fuss with it--just pour it in a glass (Ice? No ice?) and there it is.
Drink it while we talk but don't make it precious.
Of course, I'm always interested in hearing about "adventures."
I'm not adventurous, personally. I'm the left-over-receipt-for-a-forgotten-tchotchke sort,
Not the kept-in-the-back-pocket-for-emergencies kind.
Well, yes, I've heard of the hero narrative...
But our heroes are more--political. They march and protest or battle online--
Online? Real enough.
Outside, you mean? Like, down the block?
Oh, and on to the wider world. The city? Across the state, maybe?
I mean, you could. Get lots of online followers, probably.
Enough of them and your quest would be funded...underwritten by ads.
But few actual doors would open. And people here own guns, not swords.
You'd probably be confused with LARPers. Or worse.
They'd be critiquing your costume. Sending surveillance footage
Of the "creeper with the cape" to the news.
Yes...I mean--but good and evil? Distilled into one person or another?
As in the War to End All Wars?! That's on TV all the time.
Black and white burr of gunfire and commentary.
Would you like to see it? 
Sorry. Of course you have.
No, it's nice to get to talk to someone. It's lonely here.
Not many people around during the day. And I don't mind a sales pitch with my tea.
I can't see that I need a quest right now. There's the dogs to feed and protests to like,
Memes to deplore...and I get so angry about all that stuff.
But who am I to get angry? This is a nice house, good neighborhood.
You have to bank your fury right down into contentment.
I know. Useful to one side or to the other. There's no middle ground with you questers.
Don't argue library shelves with me. They're not altars, just...shelves.
Please don't turn into one of those jackasses who sell magazines---
Sweet until you're refused.
Then they're all pissed that their cheap-assed pitch (which we've all heard a million times)
Doesn't inspire me to rip out my wallet and start ordering magazines
That are ALSO trying to sell me something.
I'm not grabbing my tennis shoes at the first mention of good versus evil.
If I can't afford to replace my tires why would I buy Total War Fantasia?
I do have more tea. All those deep breaths before closed doors
Would make me thirsty, too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

d...d...d...Decade LXX: Saturday Night Disaster

There's a click and you can smell something warming the wires,
plastic wood, and metal; someone tells you to back up
Before She thumps to a stop, blonde hair uncurling in a gust of wind.
A voice fuzzes over her walkie-talkie:
Dis...aster at the...ant
She clicks it, calls into it,
sits down in the sand and clay against tread ziggurats--
you feel grit under your palms, too, as you lean into the same sound.
Her sneaker hits the hard base of a solidified tread, stops.
A chill falls from your spine, pooling around your shorts,
as if the tile was a pond. Despite the summer vibrating behind you,
beneath that yellow light, thumping against the glass. Behind you.
You're the one in the glass-light to it.
She's wearing a coat.
The a/c makes you shiver.
The tile reflects kitchen light, shadows swapping cards.
Everything hums--it's not a digital decade.
It's a disaster decade.
70 miles an hour, 70 yards from safety.
She begins yelling into the walkie.
No one responds. Cards slither in the kitchen.
The house's skeleton pops, creaks.
You remember pink fluff behind the sheetrock.
These walls are parka-thin.

Monday, February 19, 2018



He makes me miss her, miss bike rides and gossip,
With a single word in a brief review of a poet I've never read
Or never remembered reading.
He makes me lonely writing about English poets
Whose observances release the person walking alone
Among those he serves.
He makes me restless as the clouds blow away,
Sunlight like a church service just calling the backyard
From some seasonal sin.
He makes me remember a footfall field
Upon which we waited to graduate over the crushed dirt
Of victory and defeat.
He makes me vanish; he makes me stab upward
Like the lawn outside a sanctuary, which knows
A single sermon,
A single hymn.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Libraries, People. Are. Essential.

Last Wednesday I was at my local writer's group, in the 3D printer area of a nearby junior college. (Can I still use that term? Two-year college?) I'd been early, so I wandered the shelves, cursing my footwear that flapped loudly in the mostly silent spaces. Student faces would sometimes gopher above a study carrel as I walked by. It was better than the jingle bells over the holidays, barely. I'm not used to institutional libraries and their determined quiet.

When I finally made it into the shelves, there was no particular plan. Just be on time for the meeting but not too early--several people use the same room in which we meet. So I poked around and found a short stack of books--one on the first fashion house (Worth), one on corn as a bedrock staple for the development of the US, one a collection of incidental pieces of a writer I'd never heard off but whose dedication page caught my eye, and one a collection of poetry from Texas poet laureates from 1932-1966. This book turned out to be so random/rare that it's not listed on Goodreads. It was compiled by Margaret Royalty Edwards and published in San Antonio. $4.95 when it was published in 1966.

And so I checked it out. I hadn't realized that Texas had a Poet Laureate. That there were a plethora of poetry societies in various cities. That Texas had a literary culture that extended further than J. Frank Dobie/Larry McMurtry. Now? Of course. There are a thousand writers working in the state and more are finding their voice daily. But I never realized, as I was growing up, that there was something like that to aspire to/participate in. And I wouldn't have--I wouldn't have been sitting here, music as high as I can stand it, giant blog post growing ever longer, slightly in shock from all the things I didn't know. From the way that history is curling around my ankles like kittens and devils.

My local library drowned last August. The Saturday before I was sitting in our reserved writing space, staring at the walls, the next Saturday the librarians were scrambling to get what they could (the parakeets, for sure) as the waters flooded into the parking lot and then the building.

I can't stop thinking about it. The way that our current administration (Presidential/Federal) seems to think that we need guns rather than books. That history/context isn't important. That we should solve our problems with the kind of vicious, winner-erases-all-competition game theory that embraces 'creative' destruction.

Are we going to build a bigger, better library? Ensure our community has improved resources now that the creek has risen and the destruction has come?

I am frustrated. I am angry. I am grateful. I am amazed.

The good things came from books--from my temporary library. My perpetual remembrance to ignore, work around, defeat the despair that squats beside me as I write? From a book. Tolkien, actually.

Libraries. Are. ESSENTIAL.  If we have to choose our barricades in this time, this is mine.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Gates Are Closed

The gates are closed.
Moss is fruiting on the roses' toes;
Fog leaking through the fencerows.
Still, the gates are closed.
My camera must go
Where the green stain grows:
Pots and moss, close and low.
There, must I go.

Monday, January 29, 2018


That thing you use to drown your food? That condiment that grace notes the glory of fried food? My BIL's favorite restaurant condiment?

Nope, just a new blog post that trims the strands remaining in the end of January and neatly blanket stitches the edge. I am in a crafting frame of mind but don't have an immediate project to hand, so I am YouTube daydreaming through art journals and handmade beads and funny felt creatures and breaking out the sewing metaphors. Also, plotting a drive to Half Price because January's TBR? Yeah. Too chewy.

To all my former writer's group friends who suffered through my allusive and weird drafts? Your revenge is at hand. Repeat after me in your best Inigo Montoya voice:  You killed my patience, prepare to read Moonwise.

Moonwise is the epitome of my January TBR. I'd picked it up once upon a time after encountering mention of it that promised a love-it-or-loathe-it but rewarding read for those who could make it through. It sounded exactly like something I would love and the first few pages intrigued me. Who is this woman who has shown up at a friend's house? Why is she desperate? What is she hoping this visit will accomplish? Also, what a lovely, atmospheric beginning.

Then...well...things happen. Maybe. Or...other things happen. I'm not British, so those things are seriously opaque to me. Are these women who have just graduated from university? Are they middle-aged? What, exactly, is a "hallows?"

I find myself reading a page, skimming back over it and just trudging forward through another sentence, numb. It's winter in the story and there are witches. Maybe. There's definitely snow. The reading experience seems to chime with the experience of one of the characters, a variety of confusion in which you become sincerely grateful for an interlude regarding the local goats because you know what a goat is and THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.

Despite the slow going, I find myself wondering if I would have enjoyed this closer to the time I found it. Before I'd read Harry Potter, before I'd tried to write a half-dozen abandoned novels, before I'd moved so thoroughly into the Fezzbook and YouTube weeds that my reading habits atrophied. Before my TBR exploded with tons of used book stress-buys. This is to say that I think this is a book that rewards being treated like a lake to be explored rather a backyard lap pool. When you set yourself up to read it as part of a large pile of other books by the end of a given month, I guess you deserve to find that it slaps you in the face and sucks you down into a slough of text from which your preserved body will emerge in the data stream years hence with no indication of what happened except that you fell in a book and drowned, trying to treat a lake like a lap pool.

Soon...not today, perhaps tomorrow...I'm going to go questing for a copy of The Alienist or Poor Things or The Left Hand of Darkness or...manga? Maybe that would be a good shift for February's TBR stack. There will be stacks of not-new novels and a sunny afternoon to explore the shelves and, lurking in the background, a dark lake of a novel waiting for my attention.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


The following was inspired by a recent WordCrafters prompt (Carrie always picks the best prompts).

When the ship landed (without conception,
without birth), my sole touched dirt.
When the cloth became sea and blood and star and peace,
I, too, was clothed.
When the dozen became a hundred became a thousand,
I became fierce.
I became prayer.
I became war.
I became.

I am not jailed by any orator.
Interrogate me.

When you see your face, you see a star
In my constellation.

I am nothing but paint and myth.
I am nothing but a flag falling and rising.
I am nothing but a mask.

Wear me, when you claim me,
To see the shining of every face around you.
Wear me, when you claim me,
Until the torch flames in the lady's fist.