Sunday, October 30, 2011

She's got the Block

Oh, Tess. Why, with your beautiful writing, must you mock us so?  --- this writer, regarding this Magpie Tale

Ernest Hemingway: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Templeton:  But how, master, how?

Hemingway:  Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.

Templeton:  But today this typewriter mocks me! One sentence you say? Alright...

Much like the garbage disposal, my words are clogged.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Coming Up Roses

Conflation: Melding two unrelated topics. See also: dverse poetry.

Born with two brown thumbs
I water. Don't water. Shade. Don't shade. Rinse and Repeat.
Leaves crumple with an audible scream. Wither and Die.
Abandoned on the window ledge
This indelible reminder
that i can't make them grow
I bury them in the backyard.

Born with two left feet
I flirt. Halt. Ignore. Seduce. Rinse and Repeat.
Men crumple with an inaudible scream. Wither and Die.
Abandoned in a dinner booth
This indelible reminder
that i can't make them grow
I bury them in the backyard.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dear Artemis

This week's prompt at Gooseberry Gardens was "Nature, Forests, Rivers, and Mountains". My response is at the bottom.  First, a little background info:

             Artemis is the goddess of hunting, wild animals and forests. She is also considered the protectress of young children, women, animals, and the weak--as well as the goddess of transitions and sudden death. Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo who is often associated with Moon and silver since it was believed that she wore silver costumes and had a silver chariot and came out in moonlit nights. The name "Artemis" is derived from the Greek word "artemes" which means healthy and energetic and who also serves as the source of strength and vitality for other people.
                 •The last wish or demand that she had was to give her all the mountains on Earth so that she could live on any one of them. She was the first woman to place her opinions openly and to claim equality with men, especially her brother and father. The character of Artemis represents an indifferent woman of free spirits who defies all the norms of female archetype of being submissive, humble and restrained. She is carefree and denies being a victim of all these norms and prejudices. She establishes her freedom and equality from a very early age.

By Poushali Ganguly

Dear Artemis

I still haven't forgiven your precious mountains
or the sleet and snow
or you

I still haven't forgiven that vengeful tarot card
or the empty chairs
or God

I still haven't forgiven that spot of highway
or the maniacal elements
or myself

So, Artemis, take your beloved woodland and cover
  vulnerable creatures with your wings
upon forest floor

While I, Mortal, journey through decaying foliage
hunting for arrows
you left behind

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Operation Gloria

The following story is a Magpie Tale and submitted at dverse
          Gloria never saw herself as a revolutionary.  And she sure as hell never saw the protesters migrating in and out downtown over the past few weeks as revolutionaries, either.  She was just an angry old lady on a mission. 
         It was a Tuesday morning. A Tuesday morning strung at the end of a parade of countless Tuesday mornings.  Tuesdays meant rice pilaf and beef stew, toenails clipped, and the weekly Wii bowling tournament in the rec room.  She would miss beating Dolores and Synthia today, but it was alright because this Tuesday she had bigger fish to fry.  She could let one of the them win this week.  Hell, maybe even a newbie would win and take home the traditional grand prize of pocket-sized hand sanitizer.  Gloria had won so many pocket-sized hand sanitizers over the years that she began sending them to her grandchildren and giving them away to the help.  (One of the great things about being old was that she could get away with giving people horrible gifts, and people would just smile and gush as if she had given them the queen's jewels!)  Personally, Gloria was skeptical of any washing that didn't involve good old running water. 

        Owosso Valley Retirement Community boasted a "suburban oasis for one's golden years".  Gloria knew that this meant they dished out an extra penny to advertise with color brochures and installed fake lamposts in the entryway.  Another service Owosso Valley Retirement Community provided was a free shuttle service downtown every hour on the hour.  It was almost ten, and Gloria needed to hustle.  She couldn't remember the last time she hustled for anything, and her heart skipped a beat of anticipation.  It was a strange feeling, this urgency.  Most people would assume that as one approached the end of their life, he or she would feel more urgency in getting things done, but Gloria found the opposite to be true.  A lifetime had taught her that activities only marked time; that each second would come and go whether she was in church or the dentist's chair.
         She took a drag of a Winston-Salem and stubbed it out hurridly.  Bosco, her diminuitive poodle mix, jumped out of her lap and waddled to his doggie bed.  Gloria put on her coat and picked Bosco up, looking directly into his eyes. 
         "It might be a while before you see mama, BoBo," she whispered, "but this is bigger than the both of us.  I know you understand." Gloria set him down gently and shook a final finger at him.  "Don't try to manipulate those new housekeepers into giving you extra baloney," she stated, "you're already getting fat as it is."  And with that, she strapped the C4 around her waist and she was out of the door.
            Hugo drove the Owosso Valley Retirement Community van carefully.  He didn't want to get another ticket and God forbid one of these oldtimers crack an elbow or break a hip while in his care.  He allowed Gloria to ride in the front seat of the minivan because he had a good feeling about her.  She didn't seem like one of these quacks that would file complaints when they had nothing better to do.  The buildings passed by as they drove in silence, casting shadows in a million different places.  It was one of those days where the shadows play tricks on the glass, and everything is elongating or shrinking.  Hugo popped a Tylenol.

            Gloria's plan had come to her in the middle of shopping last week downtown.  She saw a bunch of people holding "Occupy" signs and she wasn't sure what was going on because the last time she had heard the term "occupy" being used it was in regards to the Nazi assholes.  She had been picking up some of Bosco's medicene at the vet next to the Bank of U.S. and chuckled at the demonstration.  Gloria had lived through the Depression and a hundred wars it seemed like.  She knew a protest when she saw one, and this was not a protest.  Some of them were even distributing bottled water and lawn chairs.  Imagine that!  There were no lawn chairs during the civil rights movement.  Gloria remembers the blisters she grew from marching when she was a young spitfire and was full of idealism.  Watson's restaurant had not allowed Negros to use their washstands and made them use a hose in the back.  Dolores, herself, and countless others had marched in front of their store for three days in the August heat before Mr. Watson broke and allowed his sinks to be used by anyone.  Thank God pocket-sized hand sanitizers weren't invented before integration!  We might still have a segregated nation! 

          Hugo pulled the van in front of the Bank of U.S. and opened the door for Gloria.  "Be back in an hour, okay?" he asked.
         "Certainly," Gloria winked.  "You know I like to chat with the girls at the vet and sit in the sun for a bit.  It's a lovely day, isnt it?"
          Hugo walked around the van without looking back.  There were so many protesters parked downtown that he had pulled in illegally to let the old broad out. 
          "Be careful, Ms. Clarke," he yelled out the open window.  "People can go overboard with these demonstrations and I don't want you to get hurt.  Crowds are unpredicatible. They're not allowed to block the bank entrance, though, so they have to stay on the other side of the street.  Stay on this side of the street and I'll see you in an hour," and with that, Hugo was gone.

           Gloria felt like a child again, right down to her arthritic kneecaps.  She felt the bomb pressing against her belly and the familiar thrill of smuggling gave her energy.  Yes, it was time.  She was going to relive the old days one more time.  The old days, when protesting something made a difference--not just a statement.  The old days, when comfort was a luxury and the issues were life and death.  The old days, when Milt was by her side and they were going to change the world.
          She smiled in the direction of the throng of people and crossed Main Street, where she allowed a man in a business suit to open the bank's front door for her. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Status Update

        I'm sorry I've been neglecting you, readers.  It's not that I haven't been writing---it's just I haven't been posting them.  Call it writer's anxiety.  Call it laziness.  Call it seasonal depression.  Call it whatever...but I will try to be better about getting things from paper to the cyberworld.  I do a lot of writing during my graduate class.  My professor is one of those guys that painstakingly reads his own power point presentations, thus I retreat into my writing and far far away from his voice.
        Upon visiting some of you in cyberland, I see that the same for you holds true: everything has changed and nothing has changed.  Your words inspire me and help me feel connected to the world at large.  Please keep posting, commenting, arguing, and playing with words.  I shall do the same.
        It's almost an anniversary of a friend's death one year ago in a car crash.  This has prompted a flood of memories and disbelief at the passage of time.  I've been trying to write about her, but my words aren't coming together cooperatively.  They are defiant and inept and I'm forced to find someone else's words to express how I feel.  So until I can finish something original, I'll share some of my favorite poems that explain the feeling that I can't seem to explain right now. (For what else is there for the living to do, but go on???)
        The first poem is one I shared last night with my friends at a little memorial gathering we had for her.  I love the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska's poetry; i totally get her.  And right now i'm feeling the uneasiness of seemingly random events in life and death.  About nine years ago I was witness to a fatal crash, one in which the driver of the semi truck admitted that he had a split-second decision between hitting me head on and a construction worker in a crane.  He chose the other person and they died.  It was midnight and we were the only ones on the road.  I had chosen to take a different route home from work that night.  This is for all of those who have asked, "what if I were two minutes late?" or "what if I was two minutes early?"  and the powerlessness that comes with that hamster wheel thought process.   It's for those of us who wished we could trade places.  Who still marvel that it wasn't us.

"Any Case"  
Wislawa Symborska (b.1923)

It could of happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Closer. Farther away.
It happened, but not to you.

You survived because you were first.
You survived because you were last.
Because alone. Because the others.
Because on the left. Because on the right.
Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
Because a shadow fell.

Luckily there was a forest.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A frame, a turn, an inch, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the water.

Thanks to, thus, in spite of, and yet.
What would have happened if a hand, a leg,
a step, a hair away?

So you are here? Straight from that moment still suspended?
The net's mesh was tight, but you? through the mesh?
I can't stop wondering at it, cant' be silent enough.
How quickly your heart is beating in me.

       The next one is by my girl Emily Dickenson.  She's always one to insert a bit of whimsy into these serious subjects.  And we all know she didn't title her work because she didn't intend it to be published.  But I'm glad it was.

       Death is a Dialogue between
        The Spirit and the Dust.
       "Dissolve" says Death--The Spirit "Sir
        I have another Trust" --

       Death doubts it -- Argues from the Ground--
        The Spirit turns away
        Just laying off for evidence
        An Overcoat of Clay.