Monday, April 30, 2012

Eve was a lovely lady (ballad)

Eve was a lovely lady
Lived in a lovely garden
Where all the trees grew tall and straight
To live there was no burden

It was a lovely garden there
All dark and sweet the soil
Oh I would walk in that garden there
But i am cursed to toil
Because of Eve

Eve had a husband Adam
They loved to play together
When they had done their gardening
So lovely was the weather:

Oh it was a lovely garden there
All green and sweet the leaves
Oh i would walk in that garden there
But i am doomed to grieve
Because of Eve

Of all that garden full of trees
Eve might enjoy the fruit so sweet
Save one tree only -- of that tree
God said, she must not eat.

So ripe and round that fruit did seem
So tempting-sweet and tart
And when the serpent sang its praise
Eve felt it stroke her heart

If i could taste that fruit, she said
And know that full round love
Would i not be like God? she said?
Would that not be enough?

Oh it was a lovely garden there
All dark and sweet its soil
Oh i would walk in that garden there
But i am cursed to toil
Because of Eve

The snake was just the messenger --
It was her heart that sinned
Oh Eve would be God to her self
And worship what was in
Or like her self

Oh it was a lovely garden there
All green and sweet the leaves
Oh i would walk in that garden there
But i am doomed to grieve
Because of Eve

So ripe and round that fruit did seem
So tempting-sweet and tart
The lady bit the fruit -- the taste
Was bitter: her own heart,
Her own dark heart.

Oh it was a lovely garden there
All green and sweet its leaves
Oh i dream of that garden there
But i am bound to grieve
Because of Eve

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The peony, perhaps --
Her hundred wanton lips
Curling or dropping,
Windblown, antvisited --

May marvel at the tulip
Who, demure,
Unfolds herself into
That sure, spare bowl --

The tulip, who, frill-unobscured
Blushes her pink, her
Firm bright red, her
Confident yellow --

Perhaps the peony --
Pouting, flirting, gives herself
More sweetly to the earth
Than her tall
Unbending sister --

Yet this is sure:
That love is no less deep
Is no less pure
That unfolds itself in days
quiet, straight, sure.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Apostrophe: Apostrophe

Why must you be so difficult to use?
Daily i wince at idiots' abuse
of you.
Don't you see
The way they stick you everywhere
You properly
ought not to be?

I want to cry!
Youre like an eyelash
in my eye:
Making plural's,
Not possessives
or contractions.
Obscene exposure,
indecent action's:
id really rather
much not see
so much of you,

I want to weep!
Put myself to sleep!
English is a dying art.
I'm not a philistine.
"Improper" grammar doesn't turn me green.
Linguistic evolution
Exists -- but being stupid
Is always wrong,


I don't know how to breathe today. Somehow
my lungs forget their instinct/memory.
Each inspiration is an act of will. Reluctant will: i don’t
know, today, how to breathe in without a press of pain.
I don’t know how to breathe. The laundry looms
in bedroom corners, stinking, faintly sour.
The bathroom sink is rimed in toothpaste, the countertop carpeted
in strands of my long hair, the shower greasy with the unscrubbed buildup of our skin.
Outside my unwashed windows might as well bristle a hedge of thorns,
so thick and silent is the coverlet of dust on every face.
I wrap myself in this detritus, I cocoon myself in stale bedsheets,
inkstainless, I let words flit into my brain, then toss them out
so many papermoths freed. 
I cocoon myself
in the stale bedsheets; I teach myself to breathe. Again,
I teach myself to breathe. Next moment,
I teach myself to breathe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anorexic, Alphabetic

Avocados are off limits -- full of fat. Also
bread, bananas, butter, beef,
chocolate, candy, cookies, cake.
Dinner (I ate at my friend's!).
Eggs: eat the white part.
Fast food -- say, "I love french fries!" Steal one only. Dip it five times into ketchup.
Green beans are OK. Twenty calories is safe! Avoid
Hash browns in their evil calorific ovals, and
ice cream:  i'm lactose intolerant!
jelly. Just sugar -- it doesn't count as fruit.
King Ranch Casserole: cheese, chicken, tortillas (Carbs!).
Lasagna. (Eat a bit of beef out of the sauce. Say  "Yum!" Say "i'm stuffed!")
Macaroni. (Sometimes i dream about those noodles coddled in their creamy cheese.
Noodles of any kind are a no-no. Sauce is a pitfall.
One bite is enough. Just one -- say "Thanks!" Stir it. Say "I'm stuffed!")
Pizza = panic. Say "I already ate."
"Queasy" will work the first time, or eight.
Remember to nibble, to rearrange, to
Stir. Camouflage your plate.
Tiny is better than tasty! Don't tell the truth,
Unless you want a residential hell ...
Vomiting -- the last resort. Better than absorption.
Water. Drink lots of water. A glass every half hour. Remember:
X on flesh.Remember peace. Remember power.
You can do it -- you can win.Think thin. Thin. Think

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alliterative Verse

"The repetition of stressed, initial sounds" -- specifically, consonant sounds. An awful ass, a beastly boy, crepuscular creature! Die dreadfully!.  Alliterative effect is when the sound is unstressed, or isn't at the beginning of the words.

Early English poetry is typically alliterative rather than rhyming: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (there are several translations out there, including one by Tolkein!), etc. Fred Chappell used a similar technique in his poem "My Grandfather's House Goes Up." You can use alliteration more subtly -- enhancing certain words or phrases, rather than dictating the poem's form. The Handbook suggests scanning your poems for any alliteration to make sure you aren't overdoing it. As always, reading aloud helps you use this tool most effectively!

I don't know which came first -- my love for alliteration or my enthusiam for early english epics -- but i've enjoyed this technique as long as i can remember. The only poem from my preteen years that i haven't utterly destroyed begins,

"Alone, aloof / a lioness
Lay languidly / as her prey passed."

We watched a lot of Nature and Nova on PBS back then.

An old old poem

(i found it the other day. Evidently i had been reading the real Emily again...
Well, how do you learn, right?)

Into a House of Secrets born,
where the laboured beams all mourn
and walled-up closets whisper to
the bones beneath the floor --

Into an Edifice of Silence,
built up by years of lies,
its proud whitepainted outsides
breathing wooden sighs --

(The breathing of ancestral Ghosts,
whose secrets, still untold
Fog up the warped glass window-panes
To leave them dim and cold) --

I build my own Storey on
the secrets of the Past,
Seal all the cracks and seams,
lock the doors up fast

on my inheritance. When I rest
in my last, best bed --
And I leave this place,
the House will stand,
its keys dissolving with my voice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Conventional Girl

When i was young i liked girls in leather dogcollars
said i would dye my hair blue
wanted mermaid tattoos

i would write sadbeautiful poems
or the great american novel (all gorgeous despair)

i would wear all black
and paint my fingernails black
my eyelids black
my words black
i would talk back

i would write sadbeautiful poems
the gorgeous great american despair

i would smoke cigarettes and look bored
i would breathe in all the colours of the world

(when i was young i was a good girl)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter thoughts

Resurrection: no mere symbol, no parable
although you loved parables.

Resurrection means life, breath,
skin clogged with road dust, damp with sweat.

Family suppers sweet scented with bread
with red wine,
nose full, mouth full, belly full.

The trees are budding white, maroon, cherry-pink.
The lawns open all their violet eyes.

On every road i may meet you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It feels like summer today!

Oh brilliant green!
all the hills are breaking out
in violets and dandelions.

The trees too are holding out hands
and hands full of flowers,
white and pink

I am the night sky
blushing midnight
smiling stars and stars
and still more stars


Sweetheart, they call us, honeybunch
sugarpie. Us women,
where i'm from.
I'm as Southern as any Southern girl
but these names rankled.
Endearing, perhaps,
undeniably trivializing.

I thought:
Is what we are to them wrapped up
in such toile-patterned packages, such
sticky diminutives?

Now i am a wife.
My husband has his names for me,
not sweet, i am not at all sweet, i am not
sweet to him:
only old men who don't know me call me
(call all girls) Sugar--

Now i have been a mother.

I have been your mother. I felt
the world uncurling in my womb:

Now my baby done left me, i can't find
no sweetness any more

It's still good, this life, it tastes
like wholemeal bread
like good brown rice.
It's just

you were my sugar.

My little chilli pepper
my vinegar pickle
the drop of perfect honey on my tongue.