tough guys

"When you start to live outside yourself, it’s all dangerous."
The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway



the consolation of philosophy

My philosophy walks around inked
with all the tattoos I ever decided against:
delicate vine at her nape, biceps twined

with lapis patterns and fiery-scaled dragons,
lucky coins scattered across her belly, the sign
of Pisces at her hip. My philosophy curses

like a sailor, too, and doesn’t mind
bringing strangers home—I stumble from my room
at midnight, blinking, to find her pressed

against the kitchen counter, someone’s hands
in her hair, his mouth against hers—
not that my philosophy is easy.

Some mornings she chain-smokes.
“Do as I say,” she says,
“not as I do.” And some mornings

she sits around in her robe reading Boethius,
laughing. She says the problem
with philosophies today is they have no flair

for the dramatic, no sense of style.
She says philosophies today don’t know
their business. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking up

some new tattoos. “Does it hurt?” I ask.
“Not at all,” she answers, smiling, stroking
the unmarked flesh of my wrist. “Pain

is your prerogative”—as a black bracelet
of barbed wire seeps into her,
and a serpent spirals up her calf.

~ by Karin Gottshall
The Gettysburg Review, Autumn 2010




updated blessings !!

Okay guys!!  
My magical wizard, Soubriquet, has done me the greatest favor by stitching this video back together.  I knew he could achieve what I in my 'living under a rock' status could not.
For all who had trouble viewing, this should do it.
Thank you my wizard ....
and thank you friends!



counting my blessings ...

This is actually one video created on my youngest son's iPhone 5 by his best friend Luke.   The file was too large to email to me, and we couldn't get the USB / sync to work with my MacBook Pro .... so, my Lucas broke the video down into 3 parts and emailed it to me.

 Mom, ever so enterprising, fired up her never used before iMovie App and stitched it all together.  Yeah !!  she thought.  Until blogger told her that it could not read her iMovie format ...... Sorry guys.  I'm technologically disabled.  So ... here's my Lucas, my youngest mulette, doing his favorite thing in the world: Longboarding, in three separate short videos.

I'm amazed.  It's set to music.  It's edited.  It has special effects.  And these boys are only 12 YEARS OLD !!  And considering what they COULD be doing with their time together, away from parental units ... well, let's say this mama mule is happily counting her blessings.  And stocking up on hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment and bandages ... this kid has an amazing pain threshold!



straight up or neat

for Cosmo who likes his poetry neat


A clementine
Of inclement climate
Grows tart.

A crocus
Too stoic to open,

Like an oyster
That cloisters a spoil of pearls,

The heart that’s had
Stays shut.
~ by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Source: Poetry (December 2009).


sunday's prayer

4:13 am

The shift of sleepwalks and suicides.
The occasion of owls and a demi-lune fog.
Even God has nodded off

And won't be taking prayers til ten.
Ad interim, you put them on.   
As if your wants could keep you warm.

As if. You say your shibboleths.
You thumb your beads. You scry the glass.
Night creeps to its precipice

And the broken rim of reason breaks
Again. An obsidian sky betrays you.
Every serrate shadow flays you.

Soon enough, the crow will caw.
The cock will crow. The door will close.
(He isn't coming back, you know.)

And so wee, wet hours of grief relent.   
In thirty years you might forget
Precisely how tonight's pain felt.

And in whose black house you dwelt.

~ by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Source: Poetry (June 2008).



red red red

Red Red Red

Sent from the breakfast room on a Sphinx' errand, I became
not childlike, as charged,

but windowseat nestling, small bird roosted in red moreen.

Outside the glass, sea of slick grass and storm-stripped shrubbery,
the lowering November light like a chilblain;

inside, Bewick hatched in my lap. I was feathered and sistered
among the pale fjord-birds, at home

on islands of rock in the midst of shocked ocean, the battery of waves—

the sea teaching the ghostly birds nothing
but how to be more like themselves: each storm-beat bird still bird.

Enter cousin John, gorged, dinge-skinned Caligula
looking for something to smash that would satisfy by staying so

and finding my feather-light frame like a constant cough,
my white face a bull’s-eye midst the scarlet curtains.

These were my choices: to be hit and break,
or to be hit. 

What does the pugilist teach the battered punching bag,
the archer or rifleman the target’s straw-stuffed shadow?

How to snap back to center after the blow. 
How to take the loosed dart like swallowing—

Launch my own kin at me: Bewick's leaves flapping like wings,
the blunt edge of the binding cruel as beak or talons,

cruel as a night closed in the Iron Maiden room, walls grisly
with velvet burnout and the house's terrorizing, spike-bled ghosts.

The next time your hands fall on me, I will bend to brute will,
the next time, I will be obedient

the next time, but not before
you see me felled, bloodied and still Jane,

the next time, know your hands fall not on me
but a whole flock of wildness, a wet-winged avian legion,

my voice like a cold wind screaming around the haunted rocks,
calling what's outside in:

come, rat, mad cat, bad animal,
come unfettered thing, come small bird to fly fly,

reveal the frail gray thing to be red-pinioned,
my blood sprayed indelibly on the page in the shape of a wing.

~ by erinn batykefer
from ".... (a) new book, which is still in the draft phase and tentatively titled "The Book of Monsters," (this book) weaves together two series of poems: one, a lyrical re-imagination of Charlotte Bronte's novel; and the other, a series of epithalamia that focus not on the traditional event of a marriage, but the moment when a person makes an irrevocable choice."
Bewick, Thomas - author and illustrator of "A History of British Birds", 1797 and 1804 respectively

he's my love machine



my valentine

~ by Tony Hoagland

After seeing the nature documentary we walk down Canyon Road
into the place of art galleries and high end clothing stores

where the mock orange is fragrant in the summer night
and the smooth adobe walls glow fleshlike in the dark.

It is just our second date, and we sit down on a bench,
holding hands, not looking at each other,

and if I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over
and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved

and if I were a peacock I'd flex my gluteal muscles to
erect and spread the quills of my cinemax tail.

If she were a female walkingstick bug she might
insert her hypodermic proboscis delicately into my neck

and inject me with a rich hormonal sedative
before attaching her egg sac to my thoracic undercarriage,

and if I were a young chimpanzee I would break off a nearby treelimb
and smash all the windows in the plaza jewelry stores.

 And if she were a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her 
tongue three times around my right thigh and

pummel me lightly against the surface of our pond
and I would know her feelings were sincere.

 Instead we sit awhile in silence, until
she remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and iguanas,

human males seem to be actually rather expressive.
And I say that female crocodiles really don't receive

enough credit for their gentleness.
Then she suggests it is time for us to go

to get some ice cream cones and eat them.



Not being one for subtlety ...



why ....

... if I listen to the whispers of my heart, I am considered a romantic
... if I listen to the whispers in my head, I am considered a schizophrenic



the good girl

You are stupid when it comes to cliffs,
always standing too close, disaster on your breath

like booze. The liquor ad’s subliminal curl of smoke,
a sword or skull warped in the glass’s warm glow—

these are aimed at you. Death is a bit bloodying
your soft mouth, a jockey lashing

your flanks to ribbons. You go for it every
time: the boys who could have been sweet if only;

the highball; the exhilarating leap, thoughtless
of landing. Your mouth opens on the glass’s

mouth in a soul kiss again and again. Are you playing
chicken? You seem to expect something from an ending

besides the end, order another spur to the ribs,
neat, just to see what it’s like, just for kicks.

What you forget, in the thrilling salt and lime of death’s bite,
is that you are good. You forget you would die.

~ by erinn batykefer
from Allegheny, Monongahela



Gillian Flynn on What little girls are made of ...

"Livia" by Frederick Sommer

"I Was Not A Nice Little Girl"

I was not a nice little girl. My favorite summertime hobby was stunning ants and feeding them to spiders. My preferred indoor diversion was a game called Mean Aunt Rosie, in which I pretended to be a witchy caregiver and my cousins tried to escape me. Our most basic prop was one of those pink, plastic toy phones most little girls owned in the ’80s. (Pretty girls love to talk on the phone!) Alas, it was always snatched from their fingers before they could call for help. (Mwahaha) In down time, I also enjoyed watching soft-core porn on scrambled cable channels. (Boob, bottom, static, static, boob!) And if one of my dolls started getting an attitude, I’d cut off her hair.

My point is not that I was an odd kid (although looking at this on paper now, I worry). Or that I was a bad kid (here’s where I tell you — for the sake of my loving parents — that I had enjoyed happy wonder years back in good old Kansas City). But these childhood rites of passage — the rough-housing, the precocious sexuality, the first bloom of power plays — really don’t make it into the oral history of most women. Men speak fondly of those strange bursts of childhood aggression, their disastrous immature sexuality. They have a vocabulary for sex and violence that women just don’t. Even as adults. I don’t recall any women talking with real pleasure about masturbating or orgasms until Sex and the City offered its clever, cutie-pie spin, presenting the phrases to us in a pre-approved package with a polka-dot bow. And we still don’t discuss our own violence. We devour the news about Susan Smith or Andrea Yates — women who drowned their children — but we demand these stories be rendered palatable. We want somber asides on postpartum depression or a story about the Man Who Made Her Do It. But there’s an ignored resonance. I think women like to read about murderous mothers and lost little girls because it’s our only mainstream outlet to even begin discussing female violence on a personal level. Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine. Some of the most disturbing, sick relationships I’ve witnessed are between long-time friends, and especially mothers and daughters. Innuendo, backspin, false encouragement, punishing withdrawal, sexual jealousy, garden-variety jealousy — watching women go to work on each other is a horrific bit of pageantry that can stretch on for years.

Libraries are filled with stories on generations of brutal men, trapped in a cycle of aggression. I wanted to write about the violence of women.

So I did. I wrote a dark, dark book. A book with a narrator who drinks too much, screws too much, and has a long history of slicing words into herself. With a mother who’s the definition of toxic, and a thirteen-year-old half-sister with a finely honed bartering system for drugs, sex, control. In a small, disturbed town, in which two little girls are murdered. It’s not a particularly flattering portrait of women, which is fine by me. Isn’t it time to acknowledge the ugly side? I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains. Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes (as if we had nothing more interesting to war over), not chilly WASP mothers (emotionally distant isn’t necessarily evil), not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either). I’m talking violent, wicked women. Scary women. Don’t tell me you don’t know some. The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side. Dark sides are important. They should be nurtured like nasty black orchids. So Sharp Objects is my creepy little bouquet.

Cont'd:   There are no good women in Sharp Objects ...

Sharp Objects is appropriately creepy, satisfyingly dark and, of course, ends with an unimaginable twist.  I also recommend her newest novel, Gone Girl which explores sociopathic relationships.   Dark Places is my least favorite, and I am having difficulty sticking with the story.  All three of Flynn's books have been optioned for movie rights.  So if you don't catch them in print - you will inevitably see them in film.


Gillian Flynn

"O beloved," she cried.


n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.

from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows 



Flo's "Howl"

My friend SL at Assorted left me a great comment on the Wildebeest poem comparing it to the song "Howl" by Florence + The Machine.  After reading "Howl's" lyrics, I think its metaphors work better than those in Wildebeest in describing a 'wild savage love.' What sayeth you ?

If you could only see the beast you've made of me
I held it in but now it seems you've set it running free
Screaming in the dark, I howl when we're apart
Drag my teeth across your chest to taste your beating heart

My fingers claw your skin, try to tear my way in
You are the moon that breaks the night for which I have to howl
My fingers claw your skin, try to tear my way in
You are the moon that breaks the night for which I have to

Howl, howl
Howl, howl

Now there's no holding back, I'm making to attack
My blood is singing with your voice, I want to pour it out
The saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallow'ed ground

Like some child possessed, the beast howls in my veins
I want to find you, tear out all of your tenderness

And howl, howl
Howl, howl

Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
Hunters, hunters, hunters
Hunters, hunters, hunters

The fabric of your flesh, pure as a wedding dress
Until I wrap myself inside your arms I cannot rest
The saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallow'ed ground

And howl

Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters

A man who's pure of heart and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright

If you could only see the beast you've made of me
I held it in but now it seems you've set it running free
The saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallow'ed ground

~ lyrics & music by Paul Richard Epworth, Florence Welch
music and video here




Love runs amok –lost in our
hearts. We all seek
the shelter
of another,
and find ourselves
wondering when the scorching heat
that fills our lonely souls
will stop to be quenched
by that one special love,
that one true love
we so desire.
I ask this as ragged thoughts
run amok like the wildebeest
across the dry heaving
savannah of my cracked soul.

that there is but one
true but cruel

Hearts were meant to be broken,
and we are all lions
in search of our wildebeest,
for love is a savage wild thing.

 ~ by Dean Martin Wilknott


happy groundhog day