Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Poem for Jewel Kilcher's Birthday

Happy birthday to songwriter, poet, and singer Jewel Kilcher! 

The text of her "Poem Song," which can be found on JewelWiki:

"I like to call you my wild horse 
And feed you silver sage 
I'd like to paint my poems with 
desert tongued clay across her back 
And ride you savagely as the sweet and southern wind 
Through green and wild Kentucky

"I'd like to make you my secret song 
Blaze and dark and red in the orchards 
And I would steal away to watch the way 
Your silver belly bends and bows beneath me

"I'd make you my wings in the foothills of Montana 
My lover in the oceans of the world 
I'd make you... of children 
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home 
I'd make you my hungry valley 
And sow your golden fields and wheats my own

"If I were a painter 
I would paint you with this note 
Silver traces on your skin 
And if I were a writer 
I would write these words on your back 
In desert tongue clay, deep in (your wind?)

"I'd make you my secret song 
Blazing in the orchard 
And I would steal away 
To watch the way your silver belly 
Bends and bows beneath me

"I'd make you my wings in the foothills of Montana 
Make you my lover in the oceans of the world 
I'd make you my calico children 
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home 
I'd be your hungry valley 
And I'd sow your golden fields of wheat my own"

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dream / Job / Dream Job

This is a writing exercise I call Dream / Job / Dream Job; feel free to steal it. What I've done is take a snippet from Erin's Dream Diary, then a line from the "Other Work Experience" section of my resume, then combine the two into an imaginary "dream job."

Dream: What am I? A poet, some would tell you. A monster, others would say. They call me “monster” because they have never known one like me. What they call badness I merely call enjoying the full range of pleasures bestowed on me by my Creatrix.

I traveled with a man-servant I was in the habit of calling The Boy, because he had been in my service since, when he was eleven, his aristocrat mother turned him out of the house, deciding he should make his own way in the world. That was nearly a decade ago, and he was certainly a man now, with a beard and a physique any Classical sculptor would have killed to reproduce in stone. Not that I thought of The Boy like that…until the occurrence at Lillian’s.

Job: Document Preparer, Information Records Associates, 1998

Dream Job: I’m the professional assistant to a charming, quirky best-selling author with a reputation (mostly unjustified) for being slightly...dangerous.


Dream: Suffice it to say, under a scenario in which a weird biohazard reduced the human population to about 300 individuals, including myself and the de facto leader of the survivors, my husband Tit Elingtin. Hubby was busy, what with the effort to ensure the survival of the human race and all, so I developed an attachment to a fellow survivor.

Job: Night Receptionist, Memorial Hospital, 1999

Dream Job: As the night receptionist at the hospital, I’m in charge of letting the on-call doctors know when something unusual is happening. My close attention to detail and quick actions alert the hospital to the very beginning of a zombie virus outbreak, helping them head off the zombie apocalypse in its very earliest stages.


Dream: On his home planet, he was also a witch. He showed me a book of the Craft from his home world that told him which roots to dig up and give me for morning sickness. Fortunately, they also grew on Earth, but he could only dig them up by the light of the full moon, and he had to chew them up for me. (This is oddly sweet - the father having to chew up the roots that will benefit his child in utero.)

Job: Hostess/ Bartender, East Bank Emporium Restaurant, 1999-2001

Dream Job: I’m the hostess and an occasional bartender at a bar run by witches. When it’s my shift behind the bar, I mix up cocktails with magical ingredients to create spells to help the customers with their minor troubles, from heartache to problems finding a job.


Dream: a) I found a bullhorn, with which I intended to lead the neighborhood in a sing-along of the B-52s song "Love Shack," and

b) I ate some Legos.

Job: Mental Health Technician, Madison Center for Children 2001-2005 and 2008-January 2010

Dream Job: I work with children aged 7 to 12 in an outpatient setting with the goal of helping them meet specific behavior targets. We emphasize group participation in fun, hands-on activities and lots of positive reinforcement and verbal praise. At snack time, we eat healthy snacks cut into fun Lego shapes.

Find this book on Goodreads:

Dream: We found an unguarded stash of snacks bound for the cafeteria and snagged a bag of Cheetos. Then we sat on the gym steps, eating our ill-gotten gains, and I joked that I was sexually aroused by Cheetos.

Job: Remodeling Contractor, Self-Employed, 2005-October 2010

Dream Job: My husband and I are a remodeling team, but the houses we remodel are like gingerbread houses, except rather than gingerbread they’re Cheetos.

My other writing exercise, which you can read over at Archive of Our Own (AO3), has been tweaking the Professor Bhaer chapters of Little Women - using Louisa May Alcott's original text - so that rather than a Friedrich, Professor Bhaer is a Frederica. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

An Adrienne Rich's Day Celebration

     I celebrated Adrienne Rich's Day by eating breakfast at my local poet house. A poet house, you’ll find, is like a pancake house, but with better coffee.

     Adrienne Rich's Day (May 16) is a made-up holiday. It doesn’t exist, although Rich was born on the 16th of May. But that doesn’t stop me from celebrating Adrienne Rich's Day to the fullest. I’d already written out my Poets’ Day cards, trimmed the Poets’ Day tree and opened each one of my Poets’ Day gifts. All that was left to do was brunch at the Poet House.

     There I heard Lewis Carroll as he ordered the seafood omelet with extra oysters.

     "We cannot do with more than four," his server responded. "To give a hand to each."

     Carroll frowned, and when his omelet came, he complained that the lobster was baked too brown. "I must sugar my hair," he said in frustration. He had the server take away the omelet and bring the soup of the evening, beautiful soup, instead.

     George Gordon, Lord Byron said that he wasn’t hungry, but I caught him staring at Emily Dickinson’s waffles. Dickinson led the poets in saying grace in the name of the butterfly, and of the birds, and of the breeze, amen. She washed down her waffles with the sherry which the guest leaves.

     Allen Ginsberg let me have a bite of his kosher Zen New Jersey nowhere, howling as he sipped his hot matzo ball soup. Meanwhile, Lawrence Ferlinghetti ate a good deal of spaghetti.

     Along came Adrienne Rich, who ordered strong black coffee. It came nestled sensuously between the waitress’s breasts.

     Langston Hughes had the raisin toast in the sun, but said that it was dried up. Edgar Allan Poe had the toast as well. His came with cognac and three red roses. When asked if he wanted a side of bacon with that, Poe said, "Nevermore." When the check came, Poe was nowhere to be found.

     Oscar Wilde went wild when served his Oscar Meyer wiener. Robert Frost stopped by to watch the powdered sugar fall on my french toast, but he couldn’t stay. "I have promises to keep," he said. "And miles to go before I sleep."

     William Shakespeare ordered the turkey dinner, and made much ado about stuffing. But all was as he liked it in the end. He washed down his meal with a winter’s ale.

     It was impossible to tell what Robert Pinsky wanted for an entree, so we put him in charge of ordering dessert. He chose Basho, banana pudding. It was the perfect ending to the perfect Adrienne Rich's Day celebration.

***Author's Note: An earlier version of this poetic fantasy appeared in Wild Violet literary magazine. ***

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Tribute in Pictures to My Best Feline Friend James

With a very heavy heart I must announce that I've lost my 12-year-old cat companion, James. He was a charming, adorable animal with no bad habits other than biting my shins if I wasn't paying enough attention to him while I was sitting on the toilet. The animal hospital did the best they could to save him, but he had internal illnesses that, taken together, were too much for him to overcome.

Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.