Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fire Mage

The Fire Mage
(The flame, the dirt, the wind, the rain)

I can no longer
hold to how right it is, not
in the face of you.
I took my axe, cut
you right out of the dusty
woodland of summer's
drying tangled maw.

Passion would have turned to flame.

I chopped you free as
I burned it all down
to renew the dead who called
to me in spirit.

October 9, 2010 3:49 PM

Typically we frown on people who set fires. In this day and age, the numbers of people happy to burn it down are far too heavy for the forests of the planet. In other times people would act as part of nature. There are places on the planet today where people practice slash and burn agriculture. There is a cycle they follow when they do it correctly and the result is a renewal of the forest. The forest is stronger for it. Again, these people act as agents for the biosphere, gaining for themselves but also giving to the forest in doing so.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breaking Free - Wordle 183

Wordle 183 by Brenda Warren for this week's Sunday Whirl Click on the link, and then click on Mr. Lincky to find the others.

Breaking Free

The witchdoctor said
I'm crazy, not a martyr.
She called my soul out,
saying it should shine
bright white with stranger laughter
making your steel crack,
your childhood shake all
apart - its shadow turn gray -
your diamond dim
and change to drab sand.
I'm not shackled, prisoner
to your freaky whim
any longer, sport.
Just toddle off. Find your seer.
Tell him your secret.

‎October ‎19, ‎2014 1:02 PM

Zombie Mother - A Magpie Tale

Image offered by Tess for this Sunday's Magpie Tale. Click on the link to get access to more delightful work by this week's contributors. Not to say this work here is delightful. Sorry. There's a bad seed in me.

Zombie Mother

We had to add more
rocks as you keep digging out.
If you don't settle
down we will dig you
up and transport you further
up the alps and plant
you under really big
boulders. Even the old oak
we found won't keep you
peaceful and quiet.

Mother, you gave us pain in
real life and now
you claim unfinished
business. We say, so what?
You say, this is what!
It's just so tiresome
and embarassing.

tell us of chasing
you back out the door
with all your bad smells and groans
and ugly faces.
You can't even haunt
right - no better than how you
used to wash dishes.

‎October ‎19, ‎2014 11:46 AM

Saturday, October 18, 2014



Feel the elixir
ooze on your tongue, down your throat.
Try to hold it there
by your strength of will
alone and don't think sad, mad
or other dark thoughts.
This magic will not
work then, will not grow your wings
for you and your air
will be like cement
slurry and damn it - I can't
get these thoughts to stay
on their own right lines.

(At least this ended rightly
slowing to full stop.)

‎April ‎28, ‎2014 10:33 PM

Written after reading Irene's poem eagle flies free and first posted as a comment there.

This poem appears as well as the second in the poetry pair on pages 73 and 74 in the Red Wolf Journal poetry collection Duet which can be downloaded from New Poetry Collections

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cyanide Leaves

This is not my house nor my street. It is just illustrative of the common usage of cherry laurel.

I introduce you to the toxic hazard of the chemical hydrogen cyanide, derived from the leaves of cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). I have had this plant in my yard or near to it the whole time I have been in Oregon and have never considered it dangerous. Hmmm. It is easy to prune if you keep on it but it can grow to tree height if you let it. You can prune it to the ground and bare stumps with impunity. It will grow back. I pruned this stuff for years without a second thought. I have never been caught in a closed container with a bunch of crushed leaves however.

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

Prunus laurocerasus, cherry laurel

Prunus laurocerasus, cherry laurel

The leaves and fruit pips contain cyanolipids that are capable of releasing cyanide and benzaldehyde. The latter has the characteristic almond smell associated with cyanide.

1.5% cyanogenic glycosides are present in the leaves. During maceration, i.e. chewing, this becomes glucose, hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid), and benzaldehyde. Cyanide starves the central nervous system of oxygen and, thus, causes death.

The Prunus laurocerasus has enough of the poison in the leaves to be used by entymologists as a way of killing insect specimens without physical damage. They seal the live insects in a vessel containing the crushed leaves.

Confusing the two laurels and using the leaves of this plant as bay in cooking has resulted in poisoning. If this occurs prompt treatment is essential.

If I paid that kind
of attention, saw into
you as if my eyes
were new chain saw loud
and sharp as axes can be
when cared for like you
cared for me, if I
was willing to work that hard
then I could keep you.

I can hew your wood
and gather your cyanide
leaves into great piles.
I believe like that
but it might be true I can't
even if I try.

October 7, 2010 12:27 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Evening

Two hours before the time of the poem.

Thursday Evening

The screen glows a soft
light not white or blue but off
gray flickers, chases
my thoughts out the door
so I sit vacant waiting
for someone to say
the next meaningful
thing about this or that sale
or needful product.
I scratch at my nose.
I sneak a peek at your eyes
half open, aslant
as you rest your head
on the courdoroy couch back
despite the dust puffs
whenever someone
moves. My feet still ache after
walking home with you.

‎October ‎16, ‎2014 4:10 PM

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enough For Now - Three Word Wednesday

Somewhere near here something smells...

I wrote this poem to use the words Gifted; Intense; Rot. Thom offered these words as a writing prompt for his Three Word Wednesday site. Go here

Enough For Now

She said I'm gifted.
She said I come from good stock.
She said the world would
Love me and welcome
My accomplishments and pay
In praise and in pelf.

It's intense and strange
how rot may smell of roses.

I think of the things
have happened all down
the years to put me
on the verge like this, balanced
for now in obscure
light and falling leaves.
It rained today. I stayed in.
Come here and kiss me.

‎October ‎15, ‎2014 4:11 PM

Monday, October 13, 2014

Getting Away

This poem follows another poem I found to use as a prompt. It is not descriptive of that poem nor is it of my life. This poem is descriptive of how my imagination can go weird. It is, in short, a fiction through and through. I have no lumps nor bird traps.

The last time I crawled under barbed wire was in basic training. At that time they advised us that the machine gun fire overhead as we crawled along was live fire and that we should not stand up. I didn't know if they were lying but I sure know I kept my body flat. Live fire sounds different from in front of it. That was fifty years ago this last summer.

It was only a few weeks later I caught a severe meningitis and nearly died. I was not yet nineteen. I spent the month of August in the military hospital at Fort Ord, California.

Getting Away

You are the stone lump
beneath my bones, my dry skin
cracking in the cold.
I hold your bird trap.
The empty shiny talon
of it glints moonlight
while I hunker down
like a chipped wash pan that's dropped
on hard clattering
ground. The thin gravel
bites my unshod feet, dribbles
past my frayed collar
as I grate forward
under the low hung barbed wire
that cuts at my soul.

‎October ‎13, ‎2014 3:18 PM

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't Ask Me - A Sunday Whirl Wordle

Written utilizing all fourteen words in Brenda's Wordle 182, this week's Sunday Whirl. When you get there, tap the Mr. Linky connecting link to find the list of this week's contributors.

Don't Ask Me 
What This Means

Don't tease the chickens.
I mean come back to the trains
but find some other
rube for your gimmick.
Girl, if you must use torture
at least add lotion
and for sure liquor.

You were in some uniform,
flesh colored, gritty
and smelling of brains
fried in oil, can you believe.
You said lust drives us
all. I guess that's right.

(Hey! How do I know what brains
fried in oil smells like?)

Girl, ride your machine.
I'll sure hear it when you come.
It's hypnotizing
rumble puts the starch
in my battle happy flag.
It must be true love.

‎October ‎12, ‎2014 12:33 PM

Wordle 182

The Photoshoot - A Magpie Tale

Self Portrait by Vivien Maier chosen by Tess for this week's Magpie Tales writing prompt.

Sometimes it is just hell to be hooked up to an art photographer.

The Photoshoot

Yes... she means to be
just this confounding, Mister
Man - just this bent light
strange and mirror bright
and you can go ponder dreams
of clear quadratic
nature, sing grand high
hymns to joy some other time.
She's got the bathroom
for the duration,
Bucko. The gas station's three
blocks, then to the left.

‎October ‎12, ‎2014 11:17 AM

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Library Of Alexandria

Wiki says (edited):

The Royal Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.

The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls, and though it is unknown how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, their combined value was incalculable.

Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, an attack by Aurelian in the AD 270s, and the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in AD 391.

It is now impossible to determine the collection's size in any era with any certainty. Papyrus scrolls constituted the collection, and although codices were used after 300 BC, the Alexandrian Library is never documented as having switched to parchment codices, perhaps because of its strong links to the papyrus trade. (The Library of Alexandria in fact had an indirect cause in the creation of writing parchment — due to the library's critical need for papyrus, little was exported and thus an alternate source of copy material became essential.)

Julius Caesar Burns
The Library Of Alexandria

They did burn it all.
I didn't want to believe
a friend would screw me
like that but I know
it's true and my ninety odes
too, on sixteen scrolls.

They were there on loan
and I heard the main scholars
in residence would check
my style and my facts
quite often but the head man
wouldn't let the scrolls
leave the stacks because
I said not to. Now ashes,
just fucking ashes
and I don't know how
to recreate them.

Jules said
he was sorry. Right.

‎October ‎11, ‎2014 2:23 PM

I studied astrology, a serious student for a number of years and in truth I finished my degree in part by proving I had studied astrology with a disciplined eye toward advanced psychology and philosophically as a metaphysical system.  I am aware of the tradition that asserts the Library was a repository of serious work in the esoteric vein, a collection of the "wisdom of the ancients".  That is possible but it is also certain that the Christian burning of the Library was accusatory -- that the contents of the Library were decried as foul pagan work influenced by evil and demonic forces.  This can mean that the Library of Alexandria was falsely branded.  If you could find works on the study of Astrology and Alchemy and Magic in the library, you could also find by preponderance a great number of scrolls of poetry and science and mathematics and philosophy.  As for history, very few people ever wrote anything like history in those days.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Have Stolen You

Let the mind be star,
you said, and let your heart be
lithe no matter what
your body might do.
No matter how I try to
form this up I grow
fur and snout and snort
into the easterly wind.
My velvet ears flare
and tremble. All four
legs push claw into the mulch.
Then I grip your soul
in mine and dash off,
headed toward my thieve's den
in the limestone rocks.

‎April ‎28, ‎2014 10:47 PM

Poem first appeared as a comment on Irene Toh's Orange Is A Fruit

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Veteran - A Red Wolf Poem

The front entrance of The Carnegie Center, once again the Oregon City Library. For a few years it was an art center and I actually performed poetry readings and once some music in the center with a local blues performer, Ellen Whyte, and a great pianist named Rich Turnoy. I was on Congas that day. They tried to move the library but money issues and politics scrambled the plans.

This poem is somewhat a story and somewhat a recall of the place I call home. Oregon City is the end of the Oregon Trail and Oregon essentially grew from here, but Stumptown down the river at it's confluence with the Columbia took over and is now Portland, the primary city in Oregon while Salem a bit south politicked its way to Oregon's State Capital. Corvallis and Eugene both snagged the main universities.

Now Oregon City is a midsized Portland commuter town, and a county seat for Clackamas County. It used to be a pretty big mill town for the local paper mill but that mill was landlocked and couldn't expand. It struggled and changed ownership several times trying to survive but just couldn't make the shifts that were required to survive. The mill made newsprint and in it's heyday was known as Publisher's Paper. Once in the sixties it was featured along with a house on Washington Street in an episode of a TV show called "Route 66" you can find on YouTube. I have no idea why they came here because the real Route 66 is nowhere near Oregon. But from time to time film crews do come to town.

I worked on contract to the engineering department of that mill for a number of months two times in the course of my career. Now it's a ghost mill.

The poem was written in response to suggestions given by Irene for Wordle #28 on Red Wolf Poems

The Veteran

It's not that I loved
that mournful sister nor her
when they burst, stranger
lights all mudstreaked in the front
of the Carnegie
Library uptown
of the drunken swifts on Main.

In late October
in nineteen hundred
and froze to death some Eastern
messengers dropped flags
on our dumbstruck foes.

But now in two thousand and
fourteen I wonder
what it was all for,
the dreams and mud spilled across
the honor of all
the old boys who held
the borderline and adorned
the darkness with stars.

‎October 9, ‎2014 4:07 PM

Wordle 28

I should say I was listening to "When I Go" by Dave Carter on a loop while I wrote The Veteran.

"Mournful sister" is his and so are some other phrases. The drunken swifts refer to chimney swifts who use the stacks in downtown to roost in their season. We stand on the bluff above the town and watch them circle and descend to roost in the late evening's light.

Red Wolf

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Name Calling-Three Word Wednesday

Name Calling

I will have to smack
your face - call me arrogant
again, you crude crust
on a festering
sore of some nameless disease.
And I can't believe
she goes for you, smiles
for you, caresses you like
you were some supple
and sleek carnivore
instead of the carrion
eater you still are.

‎October ‎8, ‎2014 5:03 PM

For Three Word Wednesday
Words for this week:

Arrogant; Crude; Supple.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Not In Kansas Any More

Rope Tornado,
image from NOAA

Not In Kansas Any More

Tornadoes should try
harder than they do to make
friends instead of jokes
with weird outcomes like
pieces of straw jammed point first
through telephone poles,
the poles themselves knocked
flat on some prairie hilltop
and some house - nothing
wrong but for landing
upside down and tilted left.

I should wave goodbye.

It's not far to go.
You will soon cross the state line
and this is no joke.

‎October ‎7, ‎2014 5:14 PM

Monday, October 6, 2014

It Won't Come Clear

Every girl loves
a coward - that's what she said.
We hid in the brush
behind the far edge
of the garden you keep so
tenderly and well.
She promised me
sweet moments and far more - but
she said that to me
and now I wonder
if she means to call me names
from here to the end.

‎October ‎6, ‎2014 3:08 PM

Sunday, October 5, 2014

It's A Long Walk

Photo by Tom Chambers, provided as a writing prompt by Tess for Magpie Tales: Mag 240

It's A Long Walk
Back To The House

Broken poem, no
sense to the signs or the fence,
the rusted barb wire
strips still connected
to the posts -

and far away
you've hung your last name
and all those pewter

I'm to think vital
thoughts and make a speech
in two days while you
hang yourself, hooked up
like sheets in the prairie wind
and fading, warble.

‎October ‎5, ‎2014 1:15 PM

I utilized all twelve words provided in Wordle 181 in Brenda Warren's Sunday Whirl

Saturday, October 4, 2014


I'm not listening
not anymore. The bad words,
the insanities,
the hidden motives,
all that from your smiling lips
as you take me down,
assuring me, oh
rest easy, easy does it,
take it just like that,
that is what you say
as I walk straight on into
that God rotted wall.

October 7, 2010 7:27 PM

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Second Attempt

The Death God Necros by Skinner, b. 1978

Skinner is a self-taught artist living in Oakland, California who has meticulously crafted a balance of extraordinary mural work, bizarre and antagonistic installations while maintaining a prolific commercial career. Influenced by 80’s pop culture, human struggle, myths and violence, dungeons and dragons and the heavy metal gods, Skinner’s mind is one of psycho social mayhem fueled by a calculated chaos. His work has been shown all over the world in various museums, universities and galleries. He has been an ambassador of the alternative arts movement in countries ranging from Russia, Cuba, Japan, Europe and all across the United States. Don't be surprised if you see one of his murals on a small side street in Scotland or some tiny village in Russia. Skinner has and continues to bring his own very specific weird art to anywhere in the world that can handle it. Skinner’s work has been celebrated in various publications including Blisss, Juxtapoz, Hi Fructose and Beautiful/Decay as well as numerous European publications. In the fall of 2012 Skinner launched his own art and apparel company called Critical Hit. Realizing that his art is better kept in the hands of people who appreciate it on a day to day basis, he applied his strange visions and humor to an affordable media where fans of his work can find giclee and silkscreen prints, his hardback book Every Man Is My Enemy, t-shirts featuring his one of a kind designs, custom toys and figures, patches, buttons, zines and more! Pay him a visit and see the chaos in action! http://shopcriticalhit.com/

My Second Attempt

I tried to rise up
and ended with a reject
and so here I am
confessing my shallow
heart – I have scrabbled my way
out of the hardpan
but need to dig dirt
out from under my broken
talons, shake the shit
off me and burnish
my gold leaf wings as I try
not to tear them up.

I wanted to call
God down from on high, something
like that, but all God
did was point at me
and titter gaseously
through my damp exhaust.

‎April ‎26, ‎2014 8:18 AM

Written in response to a poem called You Speak Heart and posted on Orange Is A Fruit, Irene Toh's blog.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Water Flower

I feel damp and warm
but I know it's temporal
in nature. I'll be
colder than this soon.

But still. I will be damp still.

It's the way of things.
It's the way of us -
a flower in bloom, ever
unfolding color.

October 7, 2010 4:55 AM

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dry As Dust - Three Word Wednesday

For Three Word Wednesday Thom supplied the following:
Barren; Intense; Worry.

Dry As Dust

My barren old brain
thinks dessicated dread thoughts
that would be intense
if not so dried out.

I hem and then I haw out
the side of my head
which is good because
the worry beads plonk down
and hit the wool rug
with the muted thumps
which prove they are no longer
in the splinter bag
I keep just for you.

‎October ‎1, ‎2014 10:53 AM

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Hunt

The Hunt

The fierce heart of birds
of prey take me into you,
into thoughts of snow
searching for your scent.

But now fall...

The eagle calls
your name after mine
and the aspens quake
beneath the force of that sound
in the hills while small
things dive into holes
and I am forced to open,
expose my secrets
to the clear fine air.

Someday I might be ready
for loving someone.
Someday I might get
my heart back, open my chest,
put it in its place.

‎April ‎25, ‎2014 1:48 PM
Modified September 29, 2014

This poem was composed in contemplation of a poem written by Irene Toh back in April of this year. As these things go, the call and response of poets to each other do not necessarily create direct statements and replies but the poems do move in some kind of tandem, however distant the connection may be.

See Orange Is A Fruit for the original version. To see more or less the whole series, go to New Poetry Collections and download Duet. It's free for the taking.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's A New Day - Magpie Tales - Sunday Whirl

Jacek Yerka calls this one Autumn In Madeira,
Chosen by Tess for today's Magpie Tale
I am calling this one Sanctuary

Also, in response to Brenda Warren's Wordle 180 - The Sunday Whirl

It's A New Day

I sticks tight nearby
my new found identity
while you polarize
the ashes fear make
and pour them on the bare lot
next door.

is required, selfless
love too.

You are no posey
day tripper looking
for joy in the flames.

At least we escaped the dread,
the dun rabbit run
and all the craters
the bombs left behind telling
us to dive, dive, dive.

‎September ‎28, ‎2014 12:50 PM

The Old Neighborhood

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Loving The Crow

Loving The Crow

I've been looking high
and low, under rocks, behind
the dusty curtains
that make me sneeze hard
trying for a hint, some clue
left behind, some taste
of your red ripe lust
for life.

I would stroke
your feathers until
the sparks would leap off your back
leaving the blue black
sheen of your bird life
for all to see spun large, large
on my pallid shape.

October 6, 2010 12:22:36 PM

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Bronze Age

Slaying The Minotaur

The Bronze Age

I see you believe
the sweet and gentle white lie
of the rope that winds
through the endless halls
with knots that mark time, mark us
as if we were once
knot and once again
will be knot but for now we
are swift and fleeting.

I would believe too
but I was told face to face
that I was to stop
such blather right now
(which was long long long ago).

Oh, I remember
the bronze minotaur
and the bloody dark red spoor,
the flood leaving me!
Me! sere on the floor
over twenty eons past
and magi after
telling time stories
to confound the western priests
for the fun of it.

‎April ‎24, ‎2014 10:28 PM

Writing in response to Irene Toh

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Perjorative - A Red Wolf Poem

Schweinehund - (pejorative) Term of offense, its use corresponding roughly to the word bastard; literally pig-dog.

My boss for the last sixteen years was a man highly educated and trained in a narrow track tailored to building things, project management and seat of the pants engineering. At one point he learned this German perjorative and its literal English counterpart, "Pig-dog". For a few years, everything and everyone was a pig-dog. As a highly capable man and skilled fighter who also was a bit of a bully, he never worried about how insulted the rest of us might be. After all he was scrupulously fair about the money and the actual work so that was that. If you wanted to you could scrap with him, but there might be your job in the balance. As far as I know, everyone figured it for "harmless" and we went on about the work.

He was highly successful in his level, by the way. People would work for him, like I did, for a long time because he kept the work steady and we were given pretty much a free hand so long as we produced. He made more than adequate money for himself and we were not ill paid for what we did either. For several years though, pig-dogs were not far away.


Bacon sizzles, dead pig
in a trance on the final
track to ivory
chompers and there's sign
of popcorn snagged and stiffened up.

The pig skin curls, no
emperor nearby,
not this time, darling, not now,
no royals anywhere.

If it was time out
I would be a touch relieved
but it's fifteen yards,
clipping called on me,
bacon is no sport at all
you sorry pig dogs.

‎September ‎25, ‎2014 3:21 PM

Red Wolf's Wordle 27:

Use these words in a creative work.

Red Wolf

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bioluminescence - Three Word Wednesday

From the film, Avatar, a bioluminescent forest.

Thom G's Three Word Wednesday is a weekly exercise that has been my pleasure for years now. It is sometimes more challenging than you might think. This week though, an adequate explosive parasite only leaves me with a couple questions... while the organism is parasitically adequate is it also explosive in any sense? ... or, is this parasite explosive enough, adequate to its task? I think I will set up on the latter idea.

Adequate; Explosive; Parasite.

Living Light

I hiked Sumatran
jungles and the mountain crags
of summer's Andes
and carried off from
somewhere a tight cyst on me.
Two worms were in it.
I bred them - found
they had some strange qualities -
a bright parasite -
and me a lucky
cobber since the pair were not
explosive like all
their progeny are.

I was an adequate rogue
but now thats all changed.


That's my new corporation.
I just have to learn
how to keep them cool
since they blow up like nitro
when they warm enough.

September 24, 2014 5:06 PM

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