Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There are Black Butterflies

Tell Me

The black butterfly
left me your letter, many
paragraphs richly
encrypted, a code
of your distant devising.

It opened, popping
like seed pods often
split apart in shiny grins
with green teeth showing.
That left the black print
to shower down around me
in drifting dry piles.

Truly, tell me now.
Tell me what to do for you
to touch your red heart.

‎July ‎29, ‎2014 7:43 PM

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Back Story - A Magpie Tale

Provided by Tess for this week's Magpie Tale

The Back Story

Aliens discussed
the planet with the Pharoah
and determined how
to get us buzzing
with rumors about ETs
by building big stone
buildings and all that.
Then they giggled on their way
to the next system
down the galactic
spiral arm with rubes like us
and did it again.

‎July ‎27, ‎2014 2:03 PM

A typical BEM from the fifties (bug eyed monster)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Split Stream

How can this ever all fit the bowl?

The guy in the glass
has gone on strike, posted notes
updating the pace,
pending the damp shame I feel
as my stream splits through
my leaking courage
and I have to mop the floor
again and again.

September 19, 2010 1:27 PM

Getting old is not for sissies.
They make devices to simplify a variety of situations
but you can't take this stuff everywhere.
Oh c'mon. You gotta laugh about this shit.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Stayed Too Long

The Maw Of My Heart

You told me to go,
saying that a visitor
staying overlong
stinks like old fish. I
feel out of sorts and monstrous
now that it's revealed
how little I thought
of you and yours in the maw
of my own heart's need.

September 19, 2010 12:55 PM

The Storm

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The House Finches

House Finch Eggs

Because House Finches use human habitations as nesting grounds, they are nearly tamed birds and their nests are often easy of access. This image is not mine but the story in my poem is something that happened to me.

I have been struggling to get my blogging feet back under me and some other things I am used to doing as well. Getting old is not for sissies.

On April 19, 2014 Irene posted on Orange Is A Fruit

a nest of finches

I’m fussing over a nest
of house finches. Over
the rambling roses, edged
in grasses and straws.
You asked me to hurry, get
dressed while I fluctuated.

So I dressed this verse
in a hurry, throwing on a
mint camisole over shorts.
You wore your welder’s cap,
fluffy curls peeking brown.
A small finch arrowed out.

A male and female House Finch.
The male has the color, of course, 
as is commonly the way with birds.

I replied in the comments:

The House Finches

The Jasmine bloomed thick
that year, full of white flowers
and that big perfume
and there, just above
eye line was the house finch nest,
angled out of sight
but I could hear them.

They wove it so carefully,
and there were three eggs,
I think three. I stayed
away from them all the while,
through the small hatching
and then all the flights
to feed the three tiny chicks
and they grew and grew
until one day that nest
tilted and spilled all three out
to the waiting cat
Hell Boy or perhaps
the stray who came from further
up our springtime street.

There was nothing left
but the nest all vertical
and old eggshell shards.

‎April ‎18, ‎2014 10:31 PM

House Finch Breeding Bird Survey Map
Image Credit: US Geological Survey

Friday, July 18, 2014

Standing Beside Myself

What is left behind,
a scrap of our past, twenty
years reduced to this,
splashes from the glass
that falls to the ground between
my splayed feet planted
below your window -
and you but a dangling twist
of cloth above me.

I must go, I guess.

It does me no good holding
court outside your house.

September 19, 2010 12:41 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jack The Ripper - Three Word Wednesday

Wiki says:
Jack the Ripper is the best-known name given to a never identified serial killer who was active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter written by someone claiming to be the murderer that was widely disseminated in the media.

The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story. Within the crime case files as well as journalistic accounts the killer was known as "the Whitechapel Murderer" as well as "Leather Apron".

Three Word Wednesday offers these words for use in a posting:
Fraught; Honorable; Nocturnal

I've Seen Better Times

My old Scottish blood,
fraught with the Whitechapel scent
far from the calm seas
of honorable
nights well lived has me slinking
down cobbled alleys
with the feral cats.
They, like me, are nocturnal
at need and like me
they feed on moist bits.
The one sharp thing I still keep
is my stainless knife.

‎July ‎16, ‎2014 7:29 PM

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

After Losing Her Babies

The electron lept
off the wire onto her beak
and moist pinkish tongue
there to dance a jig
and flash into holy light
all white and blinding.
Raven held on tight
death defying claws and beak
while the particle
storm swamped her bird brain
and ate her whole raven life
leaving bones behind -
and feathers, always
there are black raven feathers
to mark a last day.

July 8, 2014 4:12 PM

Monday, July 7, 2014

Urban Life

Urban Life

The city takes us
as we are, but then changes
us beyond recall.
We say all fucked up
and we mean it - in secret
we care so much for
the truth of these things.
We would rather be found out
than give an inch, pray
for rain than lower
ourselves to touch their slime.
Still, we hope to win.

September 18, 2010 10:06 AM

Recently, I went into surgery on my eye for the third time. I hope I am nearing the end of my ordeal. Each surgery is in the 5-8k range. Medicare and supplemental insurance covers all but a couple hundred each. I am told all is well. I see much worse but I think that what has happened is the cataract has shifted somehow. The cataract has been developing as expected as a consequence of the three vitrectomies I have undergone. Cataracts are an inevitable consequence of losing the original vitreal jelly. I lost that fluid because the subretinal hemhorrage I suffered some time ago broke past the retina and bled into the fluid, ruining its clarity completely.

This operation was the easiest of the three but it has kicked my ass the hardest. I don't know why except to say I am aging and doing so fairly rapidly so I can't say from last year how I will be this year. Or in another way I might suggest that this third surgery has my body drawing a line and warning me not to open up a hole in the white of my eye again. That is what they have done in my vitrectomies. The doctor opened a hole, removed the fluid and the oil droplets left behind intentionally and then in the vacant space he had clear sight on the retina and what happened since he last looked. He said all is as good as it can be.

I have damage that can't be fixed but I also had other things that could be fixed. He trimmed away scar tissue last time and reattached the retina again. It had come loose again due to scarring. This time he saw that the retina had held in place where he put it. The time before it had not.

Next in a couple months I will have a cataract removal and lens replacement. I will soon enough have a bionic eye. Gotta love the city. It changes you. That's not all bad, perhaps. But right now I am not doing that well. I had some sight in that eye which is gone to be replaced with vague blotches of light and dark. And I do not feel well, spending lots of time in bed. I have been to the doctor and made sure that nothing obvious is wrong. I apply lots of eye drops, three different kinds as directed.

Saturday night my eye started hurting in a new way (considerring this is the same operation for the third time) and that's why I went to the doctor on Sunday. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


The North Star in a three hour time lapse.


I am stage managed
in my intention, willing
to change direction,
to stand on the "x"
at your cue, as you bring up
the lights, drop the scrim.

Soon I shall sweep clean
the stage of all the others,
stand alone as if
I am the North Star.

September 18, 2010 6:44 AM

Arrogance is a thorn in my side. I struggle. Not as much as I did in my younger days, but still. It is really hard to be humble. I work hard to continue to learn and I hone my various skills. If you ask me why I will be irritated and ultimately refuse to talk to you. Unless I am lonely or something. I try not to be like that though and try not to show it even if I am. Lonely or something. Heaven forbid you ever award me with any real power over others. It's not that I have any concept what I might do. It's that I also work hard to avoid anything like real responsibility as well.

Of course I fail in my program of action and I have responsibilities just like anyone else might and also I am burdened with knowing I am not good at avoiding things either. Just like all the other stuff I am not good at. Shit.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Daily Bread/Eschatology

On April 18, 2014 Irene posted

daily bread

My son did sit me down,
went through the holy
scripture. It all made
sense. I get it but my
heart doesn’t buy into it.
Faith is licking marble.

Jesus appeared to me
a white bearded man in
slippers, seemed more
a hippie confounding us
with spongy miracle bread
dipped in LSD fantasy.

I don’t like to be
mollycoddled. That’s
a cat walking on a tin
roof, my daily bread,
leavened in moonlight.
I’m just a cat shadow.

and I replied in her Comments section:


I caught you licking
stone as if you could change things
that way. What came next,
the wings and plucked strings
while golden eyes flashed brilliant
in the descending
armies of the Lord
and I said, "Oh shit" to that

(you know that terse phrase
is the most common
of last words men say)

time as it ran out.

‎April ‎18, ‎2014 7:19 PM

See Orange Is A Fruit

Sunday, June 29, 2014

At Least I'm Asking You - A Magpie Tale

Meredith Frampton, English artist, "A Game of Patience", 1937. Painter of highly finished portraits and still life, sometimes with a slightly Surrealist flavour, Meredith departed for parts unknown in 1984.

Go here for Tess' blog: Magpie Tales:Mag 226

At Least I'm Asking You

It took just one look
to send me over the edge.

Now I don't know to
shuffle or somehow
stack the damn deck and make sure
you stick here with me.

It's integrity
that's got me flying into
windows and leaving
feather prints behind.
So I ask you now, dearest.
May I eat your fruit?

Maybe the small one.

‎June ‎29, ‎2014 3:33 PM

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hairy Story

Irene wrote this on Orange Is A Fruit

a period piece

I am perhaps, something
the cat dragged out of
the attic. A candlestand
in need of a shine.
Silvo or brasso.
An Aladdin’s lamp.

You’re as ramshackle.
Can’t decide what you are
except for all this pinball
energy, amidst dead timber.
Start up the woodfire,
we’re headed to the highlands.

To which I replied:

Hairy Story

I was the towhead
at five and curly brown mop
at fifteen, went straight
at twenty six years,
also moved to Oregon.

The curls, they came back
and I had to dry
out at thirty eight for her.

It's all been my hair.

I know why guys shave
it all off and use that fleece
to shine a chrome dome.
But me, I've gone long
and it's getting in my food.

Hey! My color's good.

‎April ‎18, ‎2014 1:41 PM

Rest in peace, old friend of my soul.
My heart still aches.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Sinking Soul

Om Mani Om

You have called it forth,
the sea of my love weaving
with tendrils of foam
the final fey form
of my sinking soul singing
out its loss of you,
a bottomless tone
like a Tibetan chanting
an endless slow drone.

September 18, 2010 12:46 AM

Friday, June 20, 2014

Absent but not that far away.

Sorry. A complexity of issues, distressing and distracting, mostly health related but not serious, have kept me away from this desk this week.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Probably Too Late

This is a bag of Apollo 11 trash left behind

This is a map of Apollo 11's landing site and its immediate area. The hatched area marked "Toss Zone" is where you can find the trash left behind during Apollo 11's stay on the moon. Keep in mind that to insure return from a Lunar landing that all unecessary weight is shed. While it is considerably smaller than that of Earth, the Moon's gravity well is deep enough to be a concern. It is not exactly smart to pack the weight of the trash back home.

Here is one list of objects that have accumulated on the moon. It is mostly complete, I imagine. Apollo 11's contribution is included. Not everything on the list is trash. Most is:

• more than 70 spacecraft, including rovers, modules, and crashed orbiters
• 5 American flags
• 2 golf balls
• 12 pairs of boots
• TV cameras
• film magazines
• 96 bags of urine, feces, and vomit
• numerous Hasselbad cameras and accessories
• several improvised javelins
• various hammers, tongs, rakes, and shovels
• backpacks
• insulating blankets
• utility towels
• used wet wipes
• personal hygiene kits
• empty packages of space food
• a photograph of Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke's family
• a feather from Baggin, the Air Force Academy's mascot falcon, used to conduct Apollo 15's famous "hammer-feather drop" experiment
• a small aluminum sculpture, a tribute to the American and Soviet "fallen astronauts" who died in the space race -- left by the crew of Apollo 15
• a patch from the never-launched Apollo 1 mission, which ended prematurely when flames engulfed the command module during a 1967 training exercise, killing three U.S. astronauts
• a small silicon disk bearing goodwill messages from 73 world leaders, and left on the moon by the crew of Apollo 11
• a silver pin, left by Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean
• a medal honoring Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin
• a cast golden olive branch left by the crew of Apollo 11

On Orange Is A Fruit, Irene wrote:
which phantom were you?
by Irene

I hadn’t yet known grief.
That will be six years later
whose long cawing vibrated
after my dad’s leave-taking.
The tenor opened a veil,
a trapping I never asked for.

That spring unleashed all
the phantoms. Mainly it was
sleep deprivation. By the time I
recovered, I was transfigured by
the eschatology of leave-takings.
I stayed in the grove with my baby.

To which I replied

It's Probably Too Late

I don't know which one.
Some phantom took me over
the gap between us,
me with my cold flame,
you with feathers and white cake.

I turned thirty so
long ago. No hope
for a return flight. I've not
the grit for take off.

I would hope I could
reach the moon despite
there's no air there and colder
than a marble bum.
Oh I'm lousy at
housekeeping so I would leave
all my trash behind.
They won't let me go.

‎April ‎16, ‎2014 8:33 PM

See Irene's Orange Is A Fruit

Friday, June 13, 2014


View of Dhaka, Bangladesh. There have been huge changes since the late sixties when I knew the city.

This poem is a fiction. Bangladesh is not, though when I was there it was East Pakistan. At the partition of India in 1947, the British cut off a substantial amount of territory in the west and East Bengal in the east to attempt a peaceful resolution of the older Hindu cultures (there are several) and the Muslim overlay that is more recent. Of course by European and American standards, both the Hindu and Muslim groups are old.

Thus in Bangladesh and Pakistan Islam holds sway while in India Hinduism is dominant. A quick check shows any movement to reunite the countries is not practical at this time.

When I was in East Pakistan, there was a significant uprising in my last year there. It was only a short time before my departure that Ayub Khan handed his leadership over to the military and it's leader Yaya Khan. That was in 1969. A couple years after my return to the states, the unrest in the east culminated in the seige and surrender of Dhaka in December, 1971. That's when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan.

India and Pakistan hover on the edge of war, and their conflict over Kashmir is overt. There are areas in the Hindu Kush on either side of the contested border where travel is totally restricted. Part of the bad blood between India and Pakistan stems from India's participation in separating East from West Pakistan, which was definitely in India's interest.

Currently Bangladesh is over 89% Muslim and only 8% Hindu.

The most beautiful Hindu woman I have ever known was the daughter of the Indian High Commisioner to East Pakistan. She claimed to be fluent in five European languages and six Indian languages. She said she would think about things in the languages best suited for that sort of thought. She was drop dead gorgeous and brilliant. Unfortunately, she was also absolutely batshit crazy or at least it seemed so.


Most of all, mostly
it was the smell that took me
back to monsoon streets,
to open sewers
beside the ox carts, rickshaws,
baby taxis - we called
them that though they had
another name in Bangla,
of that I am sure.

It was the fat smell
and in it right there between
the incense and stink,
right there, that's the way
you looked at me, and kohl rimmed
your amazing eyes.

September 17, 2010 4:20 PM

View of Sonargaon, Bangladesh, an older city, probably basically unchanged even though the country has undergone so much.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Here are the three words for this week:
Crisis; Gripe; Stall.


It's probably not
a crisis of the first rank
or even tenth place.
Some would say I have
no room to gripe about things
at this point. I might
agree except - wait -
I'm better at sniveling
than anything else
and why should I stop
what I do well for Chrissakes??
So, stall! That's the thing.

June 11, 2014 2:24 PM
Written for Three Word Wednesday

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Giving Them Air

The Lords Of Shadow

Giving Them Air

That's why I switched cars
and bought my new wagon.
I really got sore.
The noise from my trunk
became unbearable when
my impatience rose
among the shadows
I kept there. Now I let them
roam free in the back.

September 17, 2010 10:22 AM

Monday, June 9, 2014

Juggling Crows

On April 14 Irene wrote:

Ode To Moss

Green and burgeoning, I leaned
toward the lichens and moss
against the cascade of leaves.
Crow nowhere in sight. My belly
full of butterflies. Ripples
clutching like a newborn.

When my boy was still sucking
a pacifier, I was writing
a paper and preggers and did
not imagine the pleasure it
would give, juggling like this;
all growth, stoney moss.

Not yet done with crows, I replied:

Juggling Crows

I watched you juggle
twelve crows at one time, then add
a glass of water
balanced on your chin.

(And you were pregnant that spring
with your second child.)

I thought how way cool
you are to so well train crows.
They hold still for you.

They eyed you but stayed
sleek on the up and the down
and you caught them each
without spilling a drop.
You started doing a jig
and the lead crow squawked.
Lovey, what a hoot!

‎April ‎15, ‎2014 1:37 PM

See Irene's blog Orange Is A Fruit

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Tape recorder by TEAC offered by Tess Kincaid, a writing prompt for Magpie Tales

Wordle 164 from Brenda Warren's Sunday Whirl
As ever click on Mr. Linky stuff to get to the list of contributors.


Stomping on my existence,
no plain language here,
muffled by background -
my mind's not right, will sizzle
with paranoia.
Read the damn numbers
and get the times straight, between
seven and ten o'clock.
Right there, on that mark,
that's the place it starts, with one
big fat clear hello
from you, the single
sound, so much vocal power,
the rest no matter
how often I go
back over this antique tape
I can't get things clear,
I guess not ever.

‎June 8, ‎2014 1:36 PM

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Who Knows What's What

Image of the Mouse telling her story to Alice and many others

Have you ever heard someone regale a friend with a story of the long ago past and wonder, since you were there, what on earth that person doing the talking is talking about? It happened to me frequently with a certain family member who remembered things very differently than I did. On the other hand there were certain times where I know I was not all that clear, so I deferred to this family member's memory. What was irritating though, certain favorite stories about me were shared far and wide, and I am sure what happened for real was not like that. Grrr.

Who Knows What's What

When you tell of us
in those long ago places
and times, you tell it
so different that
I have to wonder what's up.
Either you have it
wrong or I twisted
things my own way. I don't know.
You or me, sister.

September 17, 2010 2:06 PM

Friday, June 6, 2014

All Tuned Up

All Tuned Up

The wires in my head
fizzle and pop hot sometimes
when I am intent,
thinking my way through
the dilemmas left near me
by fate's fickle threads
now that you have tuned
my heart up, surely twisting
all my stainless knobs.

September 17, 2010 8:59 AM

Where I was at four years ago, don't remember what my dilemma was then but now it is an elephant panicking in the back yard. All my knobs are twisted all right. Life is grand if you don't flinch.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Accusations - For Red Wolf Poems

Circe as painted by George Romney

For a really thorough treatment of Circe go to this website. You remember her. She caused Odysseus a good deal of trouble. She was his pleasure too. He took her to bed. As I remember, she was reluctant to let him go.

Wordle #19


Foregrounding can't be
real no matter how bricked
up you make it, or
curve it, it's not docked
on the waterways, murky
or not. It's a pouf
of a word.

Might be
art though. I searched all through
the brush and found some
technical usage
or other edifice, yes fice
(I would have thought face-
not doing so well, doll)...
So it is a word after
all - not to wallow
in the used spirals
of the seldom, the sparkling
truth in their venom.

surface like an otter does,
like a painter paints
then dies a wanton
slave to ropes which coil his head.

(I'm dissecting this
as we go, you know.)

My boat won't kill green patches
on your vision
even were you Circe,
that grand witch I love. She'll float
my heart forever.

I'll strip this palette
bare - not roil on and on, on
as if my soda
keeps its fizz all night.
Remember what Tricky Dick
Nixon said and said:
I am not a crook!
Well, neither am I, Sweetie.
Neither then am I.

June 4, 2014 10:21 PM
Written for Red Wolf Poems, We Wordle #19

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Television - Three Word Wednesday

TV Guide cover from an April 11-17, 1959.

Wardell Edwin "Ward" Bond (April 9, 1903 – November 5, 1960) was an American film actor whose rugged appearance and easygoing charm were featured in over 200 movies and the television series Wagon Train. He is best known for his roles as Bert in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Captain Clayton in The Searchers (1956).

Bond; Grumble; Painless.


Ward Bond kept me up,
with not one grumble let loose
from the heated tubes
of the black and white
teevee console set crooked
in the corner dust.

I would work it all
out during the day, me with
hat and tinplate gun.

One painless cowboy
afternoon, a Saturday
like many others
in my boyhood scheme,
I sent the next wagon train
off to Oregon.

June 4, 2014 4:18 PM

Written for Three Word Wednesday

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holding A Newborn

Irene wrote "Rethinking Myth" and posted her poem on her blog Orange Is A Fruit on April 13, 2014:

Rethinking Myth

For a while all roads led to
him, it’s like that in love,
all branches joined to
a trunk. The shining
afterthought. Deepening
into bark. Yeast underfoot.

It’s like when my son cradled
his brother, newborn;
prefigures its own myth
that became true somehow.
I don’t know what else to say,
chainsawed, beautiful grain.


This is how I responded in duet:

Holding A Newborn

So I see you hold
this poem like your son held his
bro’, newborn, fragrant.
That’s what I mean – just
like that – like moss in the mist,
such a green beyond
green, all flourescent
and deep and you are deep too
when you are like this.

April 13, 2014 2:36 PM

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Just Before Take Off

Image posted by Tess as a writing prompt
on this Sunday's Magpie Tales, Mag 222

Brenda Warren's wordle for The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 163
As ever, if you wish, click on the green Mr. Linky you find there to link to the other contributions.

Just Before Take Off

My weird fluid life
gives me countless lips I chase,
lean into their dare,
but seldom sturdy
as these seem to be, terrain
a more jovial
field than the grim line
I am used to.

Can you smell

The scent of teeth
poised for the next bite?
Lavender lips, bright
white teeth just about to crush
the yellow paving,
the time release drug
that will propel us into
a launch position?

June 1, 2014 1:52 PM

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Next To Last Line

Temperate Deciduous Forest World Distribution in green

The Next To Last Line

The shadows my words
may cast streaming quickly through
your tropical heart:
Oh, I'm temperate
and seasonal. Here spring comes
after ice and snow
and leads toward dry
heat, not monsoon, dust not mold,
nor humidity.
Spring itself rains down
on me and my short hair queen
while in the next block
a guy keeps chickens,
not me. See? Almost done now.

‎April ‎10, ‎2014 12:10 AM

Tropical Forest World Distribution in green

Note: A female cat is called a queen or a molly unless she is pedigreed in which case she is called a dam. Apparently there is no distinction between a fertile queen and a neutered one. Not so with males, who are toms if fertile and gibs if neutered according to one source. Gib is said with a hard gee.

Written in collaboration. See Irene's No Harm Done

Another note: Chickens are going away as images in my collaboration poems. Presumably, there will be one more chicken poem, with the chickens appearing in the last line.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In A Pickle

I keep turning metaphorical circles,
my left foot nailed to the floor
of our terrible consequence,
my head full of television snow
as I yearn for the sky
and real clouds above me.
Here is our paradise of false love,
here the refrigerator we bought,
here the six-pack you asked for.

September 17, 2010 7:37 AM

In remembrance of the 1990's. Life was a tad difficult most years of that decade.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I See Your Bruised Knees

I'm done chasing them.
The chicken flock has dropped off
our low limbs and pecked
all the way up past
their free range knoll, out of sight
and whole truth be told,
out of my long hair -
farm fowl brushed and combed on out.

I look for that hole
for you claim there's one
sadly your own in the tall
park grass, all while I'm
sending you scansion,
free verse, stanzas, dreams
and illumined tales, edges
and shoals in deep sea.

‎April ‎9, ‎2014 2:09 PM
Modified May 26, 2014

See Irene's blogpost "falling"

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