Tag Archives: poetry

The rose trellis

It takes time to rebuild what one tempest brings down.  (Tempest in literal hours or metaphor as months or years, pick your perspective.)  First, you’ve got to cut back the wreckage of roses, years’ worth of beautiful growth, heirlooms and hybrids, all tangled and thorny and a veritable reminder of what you’ve left lying dormant too long, then let it lie until the blooms have died back and you’ve filled all the vases all over the house with the beauty that still (still) is there, no matter the mess of it all.

And then, when it’s all been cut back, runners and canes gone to ground and all of the pruned bits are bundled and bagged and then (inspiration!) why don’t you have stackable trashcans for this (the old dog has tricks in her yet, because you may be a bitch but that term doesn’t mean anything here in the yard) it’s all set aside and you’ve even remembered the date for yard waste pickup (it feels good to be organized, like a real adult, yes it does) you’ve got to pull down the wreck of the wood you put up with some kind of “help” decades ago.  Now, power and hand tools and pry bars and sledgehammers at hand, your shoulders and arms ache in different ways than they did when the trellis went up the first time, when much shouting and swearing about levels and measures and the “right” way occurred, when really, roses don’t care as long as there’s some kind of solid support. Eight-five degrees versus ninety won’t kill a wild thing as long as the inches and feet all add up and the ends meet, more or less.  (Now your eyes sting with sweat and sawdust and your arms shake with effort, but you shoulder the support beams yourself as you pry them away where the masonry anchors are rusted fast to the wall, and that rip-crack feels good, in a way, saying something final the tempest did not.  Destruction can be good for the soul.)

And then it’s time to rebuild.  There’s the handheld masonry bit, your grandpa’s whom you never knew except through his tools and this house with its ancient wiring that holds, that and the set of your father’s chin, just like his dad’s in the photographs on top of the silent piano.  The chink of old iron against stone is satisfaction itself, the reverberation through your body from the bit/hammer/swing of your arm placing new anchors (ones that you bought without interference from dudes who may well have wanted to help, but you’ve got Storey’s Wisdom and the internet, too, not to mention a basement full of a dead master contractor’s bits, bolts and bobs and why not put history to your own use, this time?).  There’s a feel not just of power but of placement, creation, in the whir-grind-hot burr of the old (as old as you) Skil power drill, extended from the garage thanks to the trench you dug through the yard two years ago and the line you had laid out from the house (sometimes it’s okay to accept you have your limits) as the special concrete bits dig in and bite, take anchor and pull you forward as you push, cast your anchors in stone and then set your planks, two by four by eight hardwood cut to fit the wonky dimensions of mortar and stone.

Vertical struts go on first, drilled and anchored and screwed as the sun crosses the sky and hits your neck and shoulders around the crabapple tree (and today you don’t look up for Icarus, no, today you’re not flying too close or falling, not trying and failing, glorious in momentary success, today you’re just a gardener, because catching a fish feeds you one day, but fixing your garden feeds you for months in more than just the physical way), and then once they’re done, the horizontal slatwork, easy, compared, but un-anchored and needing more verticals to hold the whole rigging in place.  It’s a sailboat of sorts, though it’s a ship that sails with the seasons and sun, and not with the wind– at least, you hope not for a while, not like the last blow that brought the last bout of hard work cracking down.

And then last but not least, the oil stain, rubbed on by hand as the ladder teeters a bit underfoot– but it’s not far to the ground, and you’re not wearing wax wings, nor will you be hurt by more than some thorns (would that thorns were all that could hurt us), because you’ve been careful in your construction to pick up the nails, screws and bolts as you go, to be tidy and not leave too much scrap because as you’ve worked, the roses have already budded green, inches and feet gained back from the retraining you gave them at the start of this all.   There’s a moment of silence for the dragonfly who flew too close and was wing-splattered with stain.  He is still, stiff by the time you see him, resting on top of a thatch of Lillian Gibson’s regrowth, a fingernail’s worth of driftwood-colored weatherproofing forever stilling his flight.  It’s an unworthy thought, to think that some flies must die so that things bigger than them can live, but still, there’s something else, if not worthy, than worthwhile of acceptance:  even when you’re rebuilding a rose trellis with as much care as you can, you can’t look everywhere all the time, and there are bound to be splits in the wood, spots that you’ve missed, and tempests that you cannot predict, somewhere, off, outside the yard.

Too, it’s a comfort to know (grounding, it is) that just you, Storey’s Wisdom, a well-planned trip to Lowe’s, and the contents of your dad’s and grandfather’s basement built you something your roses, crabapples, and other things to be fruitful and counted-upon in the future, built this all by yourself, give or take five degrees.  You’ve taken a measure, and somehow, it fits.

Spines through the water

I’m reading reviews of the Godzilla film (film, like it’s art and not just a circus, projected onscreen) and thinking— boy, Anthony Lane just doesn’t get it.  Sure, snappy dialogue & good jokes would be nice, good acting too, but the point of any and every Godzilla film is Godzilla.  Period.  Exclamation point, even, dig in with the tips of one of the spines on his capable back.  If you get some token A-lists to chew scenery and one of them happens to know how to say the monster’s name with the “right” “Japanese” intonation, then, well, they’ve done their job.  Of course there’s going to be some kid in peril, some stupid sideline love story to propel the “action” along, a landmark bridge or three to threaten or wreck, a city or five that gets smashed.  You can throw all the ecological or cultural subjugation/appropriation or globalization or global warming or nuclear threat metaphors you like at the screen— heavy-handed dialogue about all the wasteful and stupid things humans do is all well & good, it’s not like it isn’t true, but the point of it all is this, at the end:

Spines, rippling through water.  Strong, scaly thighs stomping onto the shore.  A monster so big he re-defines awesome each time we see him, each time we re-do him in clay or plastic or hi-def CGI— he’s hard to grasp except in glimpses— lashes of tail, swipes of his stubby yet capable arms, that instantly recognizable (and always surprisingly higher-pitched than we thought it would be) roar that he has, as he throws his head back and says, in his way— move it, I’ve got this, this is bigger than anything that you can handle, and I’ve emerged, yet again, from the depths of your oceanic subconscious to defeat all the monsters— the Mothras, King Kongs, the aliens from outer space— that your small monkey brains can only shoot guns at, or nuke, when we all ought to have learned from the last dozen films that the nuclear option is not the end of the story, it’s just a waste.   When Godzilla roars, it’s just the buildup, and while he might go down, he always gets up— in the end, he rips off Mothra’s head and screams lightning down her throat, crisping her into insect BBQ that always has us roaring hooray, even as Godzilla himself thows his head back again to let loose that primal yell of “I did it, all by myself.”  Sure, the humans might have lit a nest of eggs on fire, maybe, but who’s to say Godzilla wouldn’t have gone back and done it himself once the real fight was through?  The point of Godzilla is this— the monster, rising once again from the dust and the wreckage, surveys the bodies of the more monstrous monsters strewn about, then snorts to himself in private amusement as the monkeys on shore cheer and he slides, once again, into the ocean, cool and home.  Godzilla, the king of the monsters who saves us from ourselves when we don’t know what to do.  Godzilla, Prince Charming, swims off to his underwater castle again, spines cutting through blue-green until it’s time to submerge, and we, a whole race of Princesses, wave from the shore, not certain when he’ll return.  We know one thing for sure; poets will tell tales of the deadly lash of his tail and the blast of his death-ray until those spines through the water are sighted again.

What some people call home

Eating a pomegranate is a serious commitment.
Demeter and the rest of her Olympian pals
missed that memorandum,
borne nowhere by Hermes’ winged sandals,
but then again, a pyschopomp’s job
is to steer souls where they belong.

All that wailing and gnashing of teeth,
the maternal winter, the drama.
The story always tells it like this:
Poor little Persephone, she had
no idea six seeds of a rubyfruit
would condemn her to be Hell’s new bride.

The fact is, we’ll never know.
I like to imagine the part where
poor little Persephone took the sharpest
knife she could find, dug deep into the pith,
sliced off the top and then dug in her thumbs.
She cracked it wide open, that garnet temptation,
grenadine staining her arms
before she plucked out those sweet-sour teeth,
flicked the bitter seed-cushions off her fingers,
and rolled the soft-hard fruit in her mouth
before biting down, the agrodolce
so different from the gentle-hay tickle of summer,
the mealy-mouthedness of pommes.

Plus, Hades wasn’t that bad of a guy,
even if his place was a little bit shady.
He kept his hands to himself,
not like most of her uncles/ fathers/ incestuous clan,
and he never appeared as anything but what he was,
kind of grim, kind of sad, the real deal.

Pomegranate’s a wintertime fruit,
at least in some climes.
Imagine the things a lady will do,
just to get away from what some people
call home.

Double rainbow

Two double rainbows, four days.
Rain and sun, cloud and clear.
It’s all an illusion, but really, it’s not.
As if one rainbow wasn’t enough,
that its echo should bow,
clear, over the top.
Illusion?  It’s there.  It’s beheld.
It isn’t unreal.
Elusive, yes, because water dries
as the sun warms the air,
and the fading of a rainbow
is nothing if it’s not proof–
it’s hard for such different things
to occupy the same space.
Different, yes.  Impossible, no.
Four rainbows (well, one stacked
on top of the other, two days apart,
because I’m the one counting,)
is certainly proof.
Elusive can mean ephemeral, rare.
Sometimes, though, in the case
of two double rainbows in only four days,
it means something else.
Frequent.  Lovely.  Rubberneck-worthy.
Occupying the same space as
everyone else who goggles and says–
ooh.  Double rainbow.
That feeling may fade–
but it will come back, right as rain,
sure as the sun rises and sets.


Getting Lucky, a publishing signal boost

Support the arts! Feminism! Poetry! Awesome indie presses!

This is a shameless plug for an awesome indie press— they’re trying to raise money to put out a chapbook of poetry by a good friend of mine, and I’d really appreciate it if you took a look.

This is the fundraising link.

And this is the awesome video excerpt of one of the poems, because any book that subverts fashion magazines and notions of feminine beauty and puts it in sonnets (dear GOD, the formalism, I am horrid about discipline when it comes to sticking to forms, but I am a sucker for sonnets) is completely, totally, just— yeah.  It’s my jam.