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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 2,675

About Me

More things I say at <a href=\"http://vixenstrangelymakesuncommonsense.blogspot.com\"> Strangely Blogged</a>.

Journal Archives

I did a sketch for my mother-in-law that she won't ever see

I guess the backstory is that my husband's parents were old when they had him--his dad already had grandchildren, and his mom was nearly forty. His memory of his parents was always of them as older people, and they always had memories of a time that seemed remote to him. His father was older-almost 100 years old when he passed, and I drew him a donkey drawing a cart to a fence showing a road to a farm--a very pastoral southern Italian sketch. He got to see the picture while he lived, and was buried with it. I knew he liked it.

My mother in law is just a bit younger--81. She never got to see the picture that I drew for her today--a weeping Madonna on the rocks, under a fig tree in April just beginning to sprout leaves and early fruit. I think she would have understood why I chose to sketch that scene, and how I wished I could have spoken with her more (she spoke Italian and a little English-- we had love for her son more in common than a language--he husband spoke English even less). She will be buried with this picture she never saw, a gift I give as awkwardly as I ever gave her anything, as much from my heart as from my hand. I loved her as mother and a friend and respected her as the woman who made my husband the sensitive man he is even though we shared so few words.

Which seems absurd after all this time--why didn't the two of you overcome the gulf of language? But, we didn't need to. She loved her sons, as did I. And her other daughter-in-law, and her grandsons. All I ever needed to do was be there, and love and be loved.

And I am wrecked with the anticipation of her passing, and preparing myself to support my spouse. And I don't even know yet the shape of our grief, or understand the size of the hole her loss will leave in our lives. My husband called her twice a day, once, and has sat by her overnight often in a hospice vigil these past several weeks.

She won't know, perhaps, the enormity of her passing. We are just beginning to know.

April (Llewd sing goddamn!) is Poetry Month!

Here's a little column from Garrison Keillor to get you thinking:

If you were very ambitious, you could take off from Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 29, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” and rewrite that. The first eight lines are about how dreary and hopeless you feel, the last six about how you feel exalted by her love. Simple. Keep the rhymes — “eyes, cries, state, fate, hope, scope, possessed, the great Midwest” — and replace the rest.

Write the poem in black ink on a sheet of white paper — poems should never be sent by e-mail and never never never text a poem — hand it to her and as she reads it, put one hand on her shoulder so that you’re right there when she turns with tears in her eyes to embrace you and forgive you for every way you’ve messed up her life. This is the power of poetry. Poets get the girl.

Football heroes get concussions or need hip replacements. My classmates who played football are walking with canes and moaning when they sit down and they find it hard to figure out the 10 percent tip at lunch. We poets go sashaying along, perpetually 17, lost in wonder at the ordinary, astonished by streetlights, in awe at lawn ornaments, bedazzled by baristas releasing steam into milk for the lattes.

This is what you learn during Poetry Month. You may lose the vote, fall into debt, suffer illness and remorse, feel lost in the crowd, and yet there is in language, everyday language, a source of such sweet delight that when you turn it to a good purpose, two gentle arms may reach around your neck, just as is happening to me right now, and a familiar voice speaks the words I long to hear and my heart is going like mad and yes, I say, yes I will Yes.

Well, some of all that isn't entirely so. I have emailed poems myself and sometimes got the girl--and sometimes the guy--although some guys never quite get girls that write poetry, and I have never quite understood why (I married a man who appreciates poetry and Whee! The difference to me!) I'm also not perpetually 17, but was born at about 45 and am forever finding newer layers to scrape down in palimpsest of our cultural archaeology, while adapting my discoveries to the Nova Terre we currently enjoy. But poetry, not philosophy or religion, is my refuge, as rock and roll is the religion and the law of Ozzy Osbourne. And poetry, like rock and roll, will never die.

All that being unnecessarily said, for this Poetry month I am dedicating myself to writing more poetry as, by my count, I have shamefully tapered off from my twenties when I was writing it on the reg. (Not all of it was especially good--of course.) I'd like to see a little renaissance here on DU. Talk about the Mean Tangerine who juiceless plays at leading with his truthless ways. Adopt women's rights, or animals, or racial justice. Find your itch--scratch it onto paper or digitalize it. Make art and weaponize it. Graffito it on TP to make people uncomfortable wiping their asses. Stick it under windshield wipers. Tuck love notes under coffee cups of people you know, or don't. Don't be creepy--but let words be your words and be the words that are you.

Send a strongly written poem to the editor of the paper of record. Let your congress critter know the situation is for better or for verse. Poets in Celtic mythology were wizards. They could satirize a hero with a geas that left him (mostly him) gasping and socially constrained. Satirize your enemies. Leave them entranced and amazed. Poet them. Po them. Po et them. Pother.

This is the cruelest month--maybe. So let the beautiful snowflakes of middling spring put a delightful frost on everything, and make a lay of the land under the crystals we sing. Hatch reality from our supposing. Drive up the green flow burgeoning that breaks into a new imagining. Protest in verse. Rhyme a complaint. Couplet a minute. Metaphor an eternity. Celebrate your strange brain. Full fathom five politicians' lies with the dollar signs in their eyes. Work them over with respected works of ages past. Cut and pasta' them into oblivion.


She was not appropriated,
but had left when, tired of the fights
over who deserved love, and who
deserved rights,
her surest hope was to just
take flight.

But I recall that one day
when her nose piercing meant
she could not stay
under your roof,
and those times you said
she should pray
those magnificent colors of hers

So she went to Pride
with us
and was baptized by
mustachioed nuns
and cried with us
when we remembered
sad times and walked
imposing healing angels
and tried--

to find words to explain
what to her was second nature--
where hope was needed,
why! There her banner flew! And her
arc leaned towards justice
for all of us--

but her last thought
on leaving was of you--
did you not need hope and promise, too?
Because what she knew of love
and empathy
she learned
(better than you knew)
from things she'd read

where rainbow windows
and glorious choirs
were where beauty touched
hearts--like yours,
and ours.

But there comes a time
when for safety's sake,
and sanity, she made a break,
and wrote to you
of her wife, years on,
and her children, too--

all to be disregarded by you.

Your rainbow stolen?
Your hope bereft?

No, no. Not so.

She left.

(After this nonsense from Bryan Fischer.)


The day's long past that I've expected less--
I think it's time I expected more.
It may be what my expecting is for--
And I will learn by love to strengthen it.

I am pissed by my expect-less days,
smitten by an expect-less craze,
compromising my loves and hates to fit.
"Procrustian" is what I make of it--
but you could call it cutting my heart out
to spite my place.

I want something better.
I want something made right.
I want change, and more of it, and faster,
and still, I want everyone to feel the change until--

a lot of words get unsaid
and wounds unwound. And hope that was fallen
gets refound. I want starbursts of passionate
adoration for the different and careful
listening for the silenced and the hope
that their voices find a gain,
a verb, a reverb--a DOING!
And that the inscrutable gets a good unscrewing.

I want that thing-a safer place,
a human kindness informed by grace,
A human face enchanted with the beauty
of, say a great, comfortable pair of boots,
and not, for example, a boot stepping on a human face.

I want accountability and respect!
I want personhood, selfhood, privacy, and how!
And still openness, the end to shame, the knowledge
that understanding people will somehow
understand. And not judge until they've walked
not one mile but two--

or three,

or a dozen!

I expect more! I have to, I'm broken for it--
all in, passionately hoping we find Eden again--
and if there's an angel with a sword, guarding the gate--

well, I have a teaspoon.

An angel? A sword?

Whevs. I expected MORE!

Falling Time

There the falling out of time with
nature's rhythm
disrupts: so
colder than early blossoms
deserve, or
wetter than man-made streets
we find changes
on a scale out of tempo
with our chorus,
singing the seasons too
early and too late.
The shake in the shale-bones
of bottom land
where mother's blood licked
the roots of grain
are an alarm
we ignore at our peril while
we ruffle
late-winter snow
from our hair.

Is it not cold?
What warmth warns us here?
While rivers run in the streets,
where droughts last
broke the branches of
careworn planning,
and fires suddenly know no season?

We are falling out of time,
soon to be out of time,
while shore-lands teem with
incidental floods and
unseemly days of shin-bearing warmth
are treated with smiles
not concern. A vacation from the
real--an abdication
from our stewardship.
A falling and a failing.
We deny even while
we know.

We teem with hand-waving denials.
No planting made by our hands yet
lies prepared in its germ
for the future our lack
of best-laid plans have made.
Where the pursers of politics boast of
the health of radiation,
and the growth of fruits made large
in the greenhouse
of our carbonate fetish,
how even do we speak
truth to dead-president-green power?
Can our artisanal megaphone
eclipse the
digitalized PA?
And despite knowing the
things we know,
would our hearers care to hear
the things we say?
And believe them with their hands and feet--
where the science
meets the paycheck,
and the ballot
meets the menu?

I can not say I know--
but catastrophe is written in frosty
feathers of ice on the peach blossoms, and
and in glyphosate and the paths of bees
and the cries of birds and
the ways of fishes in the northern seas.
And the ice shelf and the fault lines,
and the electorate
and your house and home.
You either hear nature
bloody red in denture and manicure,
or ignore.

But do that, and you've forgot
what our world was for
and all that came before,
and have signed off on
what you get from it
now at first--not so bad.

Then, evermore.

Swimming in Their Blood

In the beginning was the first blow,
and the first blow begat vengeance,
and the next blow begat vengeance,
and vengeance begat vengeance,
like a family tree of misery.

The never-ending tit for tat
wrenched babes from tit and
tattered the world.
The vision of She Who Ever Fights
wades in the blood of the fallen
and her sword arm never fails.

And with each generation the lie
of who did what to whom and how
blood answering blood
will cancel the stain,
and ever do we see an
increasingly blood-stained history.

And microscopically I see
the everfighting bacilli
invisible to the naked eye
wading in the blood of those who
ever fight, infecting them
with bloody dreams.

For my steel, a needle
I might prefer, to subtly inject
an antidote to this bloody strain
that so poisonously infects,
inoculating with common good
against whatever this is
swimming in their blood.

The Ghosts of Fallen Women

My head is always beset
with the visions of fallen women
bloody in hotel rooms,
murdered at home,
lying in ditches,
traduced and betrayed,
in Magdalene Laundries,
on coroner's gurneys,
throwing themselves downstairs,
taking pennyroyal oil
and bleeding,
dying for days.

These living women
haunt my conscience,
these girls who shrieked
their labor songs in chains,
or were jailed for dropping
their gifts like stones,
who threaded the path between
their addictions
and the health of two,

who took beatings knowing they
did not
take those beatings alone.

My mind is haunted
with the knowledge of gifted women
happy in motherhood
blessed with strength
privileged in many ways--
and they remind me also
of these so many ways
the freedom to bear
means everything.

And that the freedom to choose
one's life, and
the freedom over one's body,
and the triumph
of the once-"fallen"
is the only redemption I give a damn about.
For the sake of the dead and gone,
for the sake of the here and now,
and for the sake of those
to be.

Only choices
let my
women be free.

The Dream is Not for The Awakened

The American Dream
is leveraged to the hilt
if you must know what
became of it.
For those whose dream is
America alone--they have it
but for those told that we had such plans
luxurious, great, unbelievable?

Our borrowed education and
mortgaged homes
and credit cards to bandage over
our occasional failures of making
rent remind us that our freedom
to dream is not free
and our human capital
gives us only so much credit,
and it is so very amortized
over time.

The dream of steady work,
pensions, savings,
time to enjoy your spouse
and kids--translate to flexible schedules,
personal savings plans,
and occasional leave.
But none of this was the dream.

There was a time when you or I
settled, eventually
by our fig and vine,
and drank deep of the richness
of life and the reward
of upright and righteous living,
our future generations
planning their way
where a way was clear-cut
and paved.

We drop our generations
into gorse and thistle
and we ourselves beat
among the reeds.

The dream was sold away
by those with seller's lips
and coster's eyes to sell to
us the fruits of our own labor
at a price so dear,
we pass up material comfort
because dreams are cheap,
and success is
priced out of our market.

Why don't we dream?

Because we know.

Why don't we dream?

We have seen.

Don't sell your pitted wares
from this gilded pulpit
and forget the labor that
our wallet means--

You think a dream is our birthright--
but some would sell it gladly for
a hill of beans.

What matters

What matters is the terror
that makes the indignity
pale before
the need to cry out
in self-defense
of your body,
notwithstanding the
threat to your mind
or the threat to your
but the terror of control.

That word,
the specter of unseemliness
and the collective distaste
at the messiness
of so-called undignified
or unrespectable people;
the idea there should be self-control--

it's a lie.

When others have control
of you,
they strip that dignity and
they determine what seems
and make a new story
from the silence
of your stolen voice.

That undignified self
is a self robbed of dignity.
That unrespectable self,
is a self denied respect.

That control--
that some people have when
they shoot themselves while in handcuffs.

That control--
that some people have
when they find the strength to heave themselves up
by a bed sheet.

That control--
that some people have when they remain a threat
after ten or twenty or thirty
bullets fill their bodies.

That control--
that some people have when they
can provoke getting their body slammed
with a certain look in their eyes.

That control--
when all the education and self-determination
end up in an altercation
and a trip to a weekend
incarceration--no round trip.

That control, is a control
done unto,
and is done without respect for
your life.

And that is what matters.

And that is a situation very much out of control.

"The Left" Is Actually Obsessed With Cake.

Sen. Ted Cruz has addressed LGBT rights again, and once again the best way I can describe our differences is "cake or death."

What Cruz has to say about "the left" and our weird support of gay rights is:

"Is there something about the left — and I am going to put the media in this category — that is obsessed with sex?" Cruz asked reporters at an event in Beaumont, Texas, according to the Texas Tribune.

"ISIS is executing homosexuals — you want to talk about gay rights?" Cruz continued. "This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS, the expansion of radical, theocratic, Islamic zealots that crucify Christians, that behead children and that murder homosexuals — that ought to be concerning you far more than asking six questions all on the same topic."

Cruz railed against "mandatory same-sex marriage" and criticized a reporter for asking about his views on gay marriage, according to the Texas Tribune.

Nobody on the left gives two damns about what consenting adults (key words, "consenting" and "adults" do in their private time. What we are concerned about is a public issue--how LGBT people's rights are respected in employment, in commerce, in not being harassed in schools, workplaces, or the street, and in being able to form property contracts with the partner of their choosing. It's not the sex--after all, Lawrence v. Texas used equal treatment under the law to invalidate anti-sodomy laws that discriminated specifically against LGBT people, and the accomplished attorney Cruz should be well aware of that case. The movement for equality is about rights that extend beyond the bedroom, but do not extend beyond those that straight people already enjoy.

So it happens that when Governor Pence or Governor Jindal enshrine a tradition that excludes certain people as a class by elevating the distinction of other people's religious prejudices, they are actually violating the equal treatment concept. They are saying that some classes (where that class is picked out by some but not all persons as uniquely deserving of being so singled out--and which should not exist as a class by law because we should presume equality) get to be treated differently because some other class (religious people, whose faith exemption from the law of the land is taken at face value because they have shouted the equivalent of "dibs-no homo!" is being given special treatment.

To either not understand the distinction because it is too outside of one's ideological box to grasp it, or to be able to well and truly able to grasp it in principle, but be quite cozy in not grasping it in practice, are both hallmarks of a craven mind. Yeah. I went there.

Also, and I am so glad Ted Cruz brought this up--ISIS is not the standard by which Americans should judge our conduct. Saying that any group should be content with less than full equality because elsewhere they might face death is a cop-out. We are not like ISIS here. But this does not mean that we should be satisfied with just not being ISIS. I woke up this morning, and I was not an axe-murderer. Is that my standard?

Comparing ourselves to the worst of humanity is a fairly disgraceful scale. We torture, but seldom with rape. We use mines, but not in the fields where children farm. We drone, but mostly we go after "evil-doers". But the reason Sen. Cruz seems comfortable with this comparison is because he doesn't have a problem with the discrimination itself. Only the degree--like a whore, we know what he is and are quibbling about his price.

And I, on the other hand, know what that discrimination is like, to a degree, and realize that there are Americans who aren't all that removed from ISIS on this score.

The choice is cake or death. The Left will always go with cake. This is because we are not out of our damn minds.
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