What if the Little Drummer Boy grew up
to be Big Drummer Man, a butcher perhaps,
with skins aplenty to manhandle across the tops
of barrels and pots and one precious little cup
that someone drank some special wine out of,
(Jesus maybe, yes, that’s who it was),
so that all along the Via Dolorosa,
every single, sorrowful step, there rose a
tattoo (the skin kind is the second definition,
thank you very much), a pummeled out
percussion code, spelling with every beat
not “inadequacy,” but “indignation,
causing Mary to nod to the beat and from
up high the grown-up baby smiled at him?
I know the little drummer boy did his thing in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, but hear me out–any kid who plays a drum for a baby isn’t going to just GO AWAY, especially not after mother and child both encouraged him. I figure he stuck around and made a nuisance of himself, kept in touch, essentially stalked the holy family, drumming the whole time, and I picture them feeling about him the way I feel about the song–partly charmed, partly annoyed.
Not happy yet with the title. I considered these:
OK WHAT WISE GUY PUT A CROWN OF THORNS IN THE MANGER
WE CAN’T HELP SEEING A CROWN OF THORNS IN THE MANGER
ON THE HEAD OF THE BABY IN THE MANGER LIES A CROWN OF THORNS
HEY DRUMMER BOY I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE
CHRISTMAS IS SALT, EASTER IS PEPPER
Attention, please–both from and to the very best
of audiences any company could ever hope
to play to, so we hear–that cellophane
you’re crinkling deci-bells itself far, far beyond
your little ears–and also, when the music starts,
post-intermission but before the actors
reappear, that’s not your cue to talk
a little louder–no, it means shut up.
What’s more–I could go on. I won’t. It’s just–
we’re so lucky that it feels routine.
Each night they crank up the volcano, test
the atom bomb, make love from paper, walk
a cobweb tightrope, grow trees from lowly beans….
We’re privy to it all, all summer, face to face.
There is more than routine magic in this place.
American Players Theatre on a moony night.
This is the last weekend for up-the-hill shows at American Players Theatre and for most of the shows in the Touchstone Theater. A Doll’s House, Part 2 begins later this month and runs through the middle of November–I’m super excited to see it.
It was a fantastic season and I’m so happy it’s not quite done.
The first bit of that very nonce-y sonnet up there–that’s me being crabby. I’m more and more comfortable being crabby. And then the sestet–that’s me being appreciative. Which I’m also more and more comfortable being.
So lucky to live down the road from this routinely magical spot.
Posted in American Players Theatre, Authenticity, Bloem or Pog, Hot Take Poem, On Wisconsin, Poetry, Poetry journal, Spring Green, Uncategorized
Tagged American Players Theatre, poetry, sonnet
Like when there’s a good-looking man on a tractor
driving on the shoulder and he’s bouncing
because it’s an old tractor, a Farmall, the best kind—
before I got up to him, he was in silhouette, all black
because the sun behind us was orange and pink, a peach,
the whole sky was a peach, the sun a bright red frisbee,
on probably the last truly muggy day of the year,
the last day of September, before the cold in October—
I’m telling you it was hot and he was hot and I was hot.
Everything was on fire—that’s what it was like.
What? What was like that? Everything.
We were running anxiously, ridiculously late in the dream
I had right before I woke up this morning. At first
I was driving and realized I was taking the scenic route—
I go that way a lot when I’m asleep—
and then I was on my bike and completely lost track
of where the sidewalk was and all the sudden
I was inside a hospital. I couldn’t find my way back
at first and by the time I did, it was noon….
In real life, this morning, we started right at 8:00
to a flurry of people looking for cameras and toys,
of which, of which, of which we have a great,
vast really, trove; along with other…joys (?)
just waiting to be yours, all priced to sell,
and so much more we’ll be bringing out as well.
There’s so much more to bring out, but it’s just as well
the sale ends tomorrow. Even though
we have enough to hold a goddam sale
every weekend from now until…who knows?
I’m fond of saying we are just one half
a matchbook collection away from being an episode
of Hoarders. This sale has pulled us safely back
from the brink. A house can only hold so much.
A house is like a liver. Everything
goes through and if you have too much of everything,
production slows. Deposits accumulate.
“Fatty liver.” A disease I have. A name I hate.
With virtuous living, it can be reversed.
What happens to an abused liver? Does it burst?
What happens to an abused liver? Does it burst?
The sheath around it a shoe that pinches.
My liver gets uncomfortable. It hurts.
My ability to overindulge is diminished.
All those years of “Yes, I’ll have another,”
of thinking, saying, “too much is just enough.”
My body’s damaged. My house is still too full of stuff.
Less and less is the way I’ll recover.
“Well, no, I won’t take $10 for that. $15.
No lower. I’d rather give it to St. Vinny’s for free.”
“I’m sorry, no, we didn’t end up bringing out
any CDs or DVDs. Yes, those are all the tools we’ve got.”
We did the best we could. It wasn’t great.
As always, we were running anxiously, ridiculously late.
Posted in Authenticity, Bloem or Pog, Drinking, Healthy Health, On Wisconsin, Poetry, Poetry journal, Spring Green, Uncategorized
Tagged fatty liver disease, garage sale, Hoarders, poetry, rummage sale, sonnets, yard sale
There once was a trope so wrongheaded, I’ve never forgotten
how fetid: “a woman’s period,” (the very young man said)
“the falling ash at the end of a lit cigar.”
The women in the class (of course it was a class)
said together like a chorus, “no,
no, no, it’s nothing like that, not at all.”
And now we’re grown up and now we’re grown old
and where is he now, that redhead?
In the bar where the mermaids wait tables, an old man
leaves a tip on a napkin: “You would be so much prettier
if you smiled more.” He looks less at her face than her ass
and at home he writes poems about “how her titties are
shooting out her shirt like two cannon balls.”
No one needs to read it to think “not at all.”
Just killing time before a movie–there was a Twitter exchange about dirty old man poems & I was inspired. (The title relates to the Twitter exchange.)
The braille of my hives reads “nettles,” which
I’ve tackled just in time this spring, instead
of waiting until they’re taller than my head.
I should cook them up but won’t. There is so much
I am not doing with this gift of time
that was stolen just today from a woman younger
than me with children younger than mine. Also, her
good words reached farther and did more work than mine.
In this specific grief so far, what have I learned?
The God we prayed to didn’t grant our prayers.
Some plants protect themselves–beware. Beware–
female stinging nettles produce more stinging hairs.
I see pain and possibility everywhere.
“O death where is thy sting?” Right fucking here.
Rachel Held Evans, a writer I admired and learned from so much, has died. She was one of my favorite thinkers on Twitter and I appreciated her blog posts and books. I never met her. I never said “I think you’re great,” not even in a tweet. So there’s this sadness, in proportion to how much she occupied my brain and engaged my heart, and there are so many others hurting so much more.
What else can I say except–read her if you haven’t already. And we all need to understand what she said in her last blog post:
“It strikes me today that the liturgy of Ash Wednesday teaches something that nearly everyone can agree on. Whether you are part of a church or not, whether you believe today or your doubt, whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called ‘none’ (whose faith experiences far transcend the limits of that label) you know this truth deep in your bones: ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.’
Death is a part of life.
My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
darkness and light and pain and pleasure
(At some point, I will be more in the mood to celebrate her life. Right now, I am grieved and angry, and I feel confident she would support my feeling of my feelings.)
Posted in Authenticity, Bloem or Pog, Folks I Loves, God Stuff, Hot Take Poem, Poetry, Poetry journal, Searching
Tagged grief, poetry, Rachel Held Evans, sonnet, stinging nettles
Half-vast is way too close to half-assed,
both in how it sounds and how I do it,
aim for one and miss. Too slow. Too fast,
the one I want goes hurtling past.
Like ice melting and turning itself into fluid.
Half-assed is way too close to half-vast,
which is a measurement so imprecise
it’s no surprise I so consistently lose what
I aim for. Consistently miss. I’m slow. How fast
and clever and organized do I need to be?
I can’t begin to explain or even intuit
how perpetually close half-vast is to half-assed.
I still very much want my teachers to be pleased.
I want, I want. All my grinding duties
aim for safety and miss, too slow or maybe too fast
for anyone I want to impress to be impressed.
I had elaborate plans. They are somewhat ruined.
Half-vast is way too close to half-assed.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so depressed.