Tag Archives: poetry

Questions of Real Estate

“Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?” Elizabeth Bishop

 

When I look at Real Estate in The New York Times,
I am charmed, absorbed by how small the spaces are
how much they cost, how light, how airy, how clever.
And oh!  The things the owners say sometimes:
“It’s a modest little apartment but it’s so well done,”
(Barbara Barrie said) “It has brought me joy every day.”
But the odds for joy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
are better than even, I’d guess. I really couldn’t say.
I am obsessed with other people’s homes.
I drive by houses and picture myself there.
Would I like it? Are the people inside happier
or sadder? Do they want to stay or go?
I think I could be happy anywhere.

I could be happy anywhere but here.

_______

I suppose it’s possible that last line is true, but more likely it’s the poet in me having that line occur to me and going NICE TWIST.  In any case, my house in small-town Wisco is pretty sweet sometimes:

a pic my husband took this morning

Dream Song #4 (a fat sonnet)

The trees and hills are at that awkward point
of winter, snow on the ground but nowhere else,
a bald guy with new implants too spread-out
to be attractive. I can’t wait until it all melts.
I had a dream once of climbing a hill like that.
I stubbed my toe, looked down to see bright pink
instead of white—blood mixed with snow—I think
that’s why hills look like heads to me still. What
dream book should I consult for giant head
with tender scalp and kicked-up bleeding crown?
I was part of a dream journaling experiment back then
and had a wicked crush on the therapist who led
the group. He had snake dreams. We all said
a snake means sex. He said no, not always. It doesn’t.
At 22, I was a nearly-manic mix of depressed
and horny and drank too much one time and tried to find
his house. I knew it was by a lake. If I found
his house, he didn’t answer the door. Which is good.
That night felt like a dream, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.

Shantung Time

How will we say we’re less vulnerable
Without being vulnerable? “Oh, we don’t
DO that anymore,” we’ll say, when someone shares
A little too much because all sharing
Has become oversharing, other than strategies
For getting stains out of the shantung
Pillow covers and the shantung pencil skirts
And the shantung drapes, because yes,
We are moving to a time of nubbly silk
And charmeuse and chiffon and brocade,
The 2050s, what we’re longing for,
Not there yet, but it’s coming,
A time when outside the gates there’s chaos
But inside the walls there’s harmony
And quietude and busy, humming bees,
All dearly bought and all we have to lose
To get there is our urge for authenticity.

______

Shantung skirt and jacket

“Dräktjacka” by Mölndals stadsmuseum is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Dream Song #3

Does cultural appropriation demand intent?
What if what I did was only in a dream?
I watched an eagle landing on a chicken

over and over and over again.
It was some kind of Native American thing.
Does cultural appropriation demand intent?

I decided I should weave feathers into a crown.
It looked like a massacre, but there was no harm
done by the eagle to the chicken.

We started singing, loud, “C’mon
Let me see you shake your tailfeather.”
Does cultural appropriation demand intent?

We were being assholes, absolutely stomping
around, not caring. We didn’t belong there.
Could you watch an eagle groom a chicken

and not wake up laughing like I did?
Is it my fault I summoned John Lee Hooker?
Does cultural appropriation demand intent?
I am sorry. For the singing and the laughing. And the eagle. And the chicken.

_____

I feel like my subconscious is a mess.

Dream Song #2

I almost never want to leave the street
where my dream is taking place, but things
move fast so I can’t linger. The other night
I was in Butte (I think) and everything
was Irish, St. Patrick this and Brigid that,
mint green signs and throbbing drums and drunk guys
and a sense that things were turning dangerous
and I was walking, not driving, down a very narrow street.
That’s it. That was the end. I wasn’t afraid.
A man I know who lost a tooth in Butte
(for real) has cancer. I dreamed about him last night.
A gallery show, collages of himself, most naked,
which he called “The Ravager_________.” Next to the cheese tray,
he was selling tiny brown cloverleafs he’d crocheted.

_____

img_1802

Dream Song #1

My family said I’d lost about two months
when I called to say I’d popped back up in time.
They were, in my opinion, a little too calm
about my reappearance. In their defense,
they’d gotten several calls from other mes
from other times. I hadn’t made it home
to them on any of those other times.
I set out, offering up a tiny “please.”
I can’t stop seeing my original descent,
a fall, as from a plane, no chute, convinced
I was about to die. Somehow I didn’t.
Wind held me up. Or magnets. Or just friction.
In any case, the grass I landed on
was softer than I can describe. Softer than

_____

My cat, Callie, wondering if I’m going to kick her off the back porch, out of the dirty clothes. Not yet.

I love sleeping. I love dreaming. I love my dreamscapes. I love writing sonnets. I love Berryman’s dream songs. So–let’s see how many of these I can write? And how long will it take Callie to sleep so I can take a second picture, illustrating sleep?

Big Drummer Man

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