Friday, July 25, 2014

Fireflies and Hex, both by Cecilia Woloch

by Cecilia Woloch

And these are my vices:
impatience, bad temper, wine,
the more than occasional cigarette,
an almost unquenchable thirst to be kissed,
a hunger that isn't hunger
but something like fear, a staunching of dread
and a taste for bitter gossip
of those who've wronged me—for bitterness—
and flirting with strangers and saying sweetheart
to children whose names I don't even know
and driving too fast and not being Buddhist
enough to let insects live in my house
or those cute little toy-like mice
whose soft grey bodies in sticky traps
I carry, lifeless, out to the trash
and that I sometimes prefer the company of a book
to a human being, and humming
and living inside my head
and how as a girl I trailed a slow-hipped aunt
at twilight across the lawn
and learned to catch fireflies in my hands,
to smear their sticky, still-pulsing flickering
onto my fingers and earlobes like jewels.

'Fireflies' by Cecilia Woloch, from "Carpathia".


By Cecilia Woloch

I shut that black wing from my heart. That bad bad bird.
I slam the light. Wrong love, it flaps, wrong love.
I slit the curtains of my eyes. If one more death makes room for one more death, I’ve died enough.
I’ve died in rooms that bird screeched through, the blood-tipped feathers in my hands. The years of longing in its craw. The little claws like dangling hooks that ruined my nakedness for good.
Wrong love, it flaps, wrong love. I wave my arms to make it go.
As if the sky could take it back.
As if my heart, that box of shadows, could be locked against itself.


Because I wanted to, that's why. 
*   *   *   *   *
"Who can tell the dancer from the dance?" ~William Butler Yeats


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Can Die Happy - I've Seen Nick Cave Perform His Magic

"Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds led a furious rock ritual at the Mahalia Jackson Theater" - By Alison Fensterstock, The New Orleans Times-Picayune

If you saw someone wearing a full-length black gown – or perhaps a three-piece black suit and tie – walking by Armstrong Park in the heavy July heat Monday night, odds were good they were on the way to see Nick Cave, the rock n’roll witch god, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.

Cave’s career spans more than 30 years; the Bad Seeds formed in 1983, out of the ashes of the noise-rock outfit the Birthday Party. He’s known for his passionate intensity, whipping up furious bluster and bedlam under dark-hearted poetry that twists the blade with surgical precision.

The latest Bad Seeds album, last year’s “Push The Sky Away,” was a quieter storm, moody and subtle. Monday’s concert sampled from across the band’s catalog and was more fervent by far than the recent record, but demonstrated how much he’s trained and focused his intensity. It’s now as tailored as his slim black suit, and as dark and sharp.

From the heavy menace of the opening “We Real Cool,” Cave stalked the stage at its very lip, working the crowd like an evangelist. He gave himself over to them with an abandon that was almost frightening, urging more contact.

“I know you paid a lot of money for those seats, that doesn’t mean you have to sit in them,” he said. “The more you crash down front, the better it gets. Put your f-ing camera down – pay attention.”

He crouched and scampered like a witch doctor around a fire, and flung his arms wide, inviting dozens of hands to palm his unprotected body. (“My hands smell like Nick Cave,” a friend with front-row seats reported after the show.”)

During “Red Right Hand,” he lounged into the front row like a cabaret singer. A nasty, spitting “Stagger Lee” worked like an evil spell, rousing the audience to shout and cheer for the murder ballad’s villain.

The shamanistic display was so antic that it drew eyes away from the six men in the band, who played in half-shadow behind him (except for multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, deservedly spotlit as he sawed ferociously at his fiddle, climbing on a chair and flinging two bows high into the rafters of the theater. An extra bow slung across his shoulders poked out at an odd angle, like the bone of a broken wing.)

It would have been a mistake not to watch them: The current Bad Seeds lineup is made up of longtime Cave collaborators, including Ellis, drummer Jim Sclavunos (a Bad Seed since the mid-‘90s, who also plays in Cave project Grinderman) Martyn Casey (since the late ‘80s) and keyboard/percussionist Barry Adamson (an original Bad Seed, who left the band in the mid-'80s, and returned for the making of “Push The Sky Away.”)

When Cave briefly retreated from the front and sat at an upright piano in the middle of them, during the quiet, aching and tender “God Is In The House” and “People Ain’t No Good,” the easy interplay between the band mates was evident – as it was on an encore garage rave-up of “Deanna,” which released the wild tension of the set on an exultant note.

It was a night of conjuration and control, in the hands of a potent and masterful performer. Excavating the hoodoo darkness of Americana has been the Australian Cave’s stock in trade for decades. (Witness, as we did Monday night, the shattering, incantatory “Tupelo,” which weaves an ominous origin myth out of Elvis’ deep-in-the-Delta birth and his dead twin.) Where better than New Orleans – right next to Congo Square, in fact, where musical ghosts still whisper – to bring those tales to life onstage?"


Here's the link where I got the story, with some awesome photos from the concert:


Well, Ray and I were wearing black, but it was happenstance, unless you believe in synchronicity.   I got a steal of a deal from and we stayed at the beautiful & magnificent Maison Dupuy Hotel on Toulouse Street, just four blocks from the theater.  Thank God for valet parking AND that sweet lady in my radio, OnStar.  It was our first trip using it and we love it.  No maps! We walked back to the hotel after the show, it was that close.

I was going to write about my experience (so inadequate a word!) watching, experiencing Nick Cave perform, but this chick, Alison Fensterstock, of the New Orleans Time Picayune stole the words right out of my mouth.  She IS a poet in a journalist's clothing.  I've seen lots of concerts, but I've never seen a man give himself to the audience the way Nick Cave did.  It was almost sexual...seriously...a once in a lifetime, totally visceral, primal experience.  If you ever get a chance to see this band perform in concert (Warren Ellis is also a showman to behold), then do it.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, not your average band.  Buy their music and definitely read Nick's books & poetry. 

Nick's got a film coming out soon:  "20,000 Days on Earth".  I highly recommend it and his books.  Nick is a poet/author/songwriter/singer...and yes, a shaman & witch doctor, too---a total Renaissance man.  Here's the link to check out the trailer:

Amazing story.  Nick's been compared to Faulkner and I agree.
"Put Cormac McCarthy, Franz Kafka, and Benny Hill together in a Brighton seaside guesthouse, and they might just come up with Bunny Munro. As it stands, though, this novel emerges emphatically as the work of one of the great cross-genre storytellers of our age; a compulsive read possessing all of Nick Cave’s trademark horror and humanity, often thinly disguised in a galloping, playful romp.” —Irvine Welsh

His early poetry. 
His newest album, "Push the Sky Away".   Beautiful music.
PS:  My gorgeous state has five of THE happiest cities in the USA. I'm only sad they left out New Orleans.  I've never met nicer, more friendly people than I did in "The Big Easy" this week.  But that's for another post.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Graveside Seats by Marion - A M'am Poem

Graveside Seats
By Marion

M'am set us up like
three scrawny ragdolls
(1-2-3 on the front row,
graveside), on maroon,
velveteen-covered folding chairs
from the local mortuary at
pap's funeral.  I were 5,
my sisters, 6 and 8.  We ought
not'a been there, much
less two feet from thet
yawning mouth of death
a'top of what balanced my
sweet pap in a fancy,
polished box with handles.

At the funeral house
we had to climb little steps
'specially put there for us
by the box he was in
to look into pap's dead,
waxy face.
He weren't really there; I could tell.
I ain't never seen my pap
out'a the house without one'a his
swanky fedora hats on his bald head
and somebody'd
forgot his hat.

It were the last day we ever wore
our pink, lacy, crinolined Easter
dresses with our shimmering, patent leather
mary janes & lace-trimmed socks.
Ever after we was mostly barefoot
and muddy...raggedy-poor.
M'am said
pap's mean first family
got all his money
and those fancy houses we'd lived in.

M'am got a job slingin' booze and
drinkin' her share of it, too, and we lived
with her sweet sister on a farm
and mostly raised our-own-selves.

I were fearless all my young life
till the day I seen my pap lowered
into thet dark hole right in front
of my horrified, little-girl eyes.

Fear jumped right out'a thet
deep, black, gaping hole and
glommed onto my tiny, child-soul

and it sits there still.



"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody." ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1945


Friday, July 11, 2014

Time by Louise Erdrich

A Hawk and A Squirrel Playing Hide & Seek in a New York City Park.
Photo from, named one of the essential New York City neighborhood blogs.

By Louise Erdrich

My breasts are soft.
My hair is dull.
I am growing into the body
of the old woman who will bear me
toward my death,
my death which will do me no harm.
Every day the calico cat returns from the fields
with a mouse in her jaws.
After every bite of the tender lawn, the ground squirrel
jerks and flinches,
but no hawk drops out of the sky.
The fat creature continues to eat, nervously
stuffing itself with pleasure.

I watch him as I drink from a bottle of grassy wine.

Why do I long
to be devoured and to forget
in life rather than in death?
What is the difference?


Warning:  Prolixity ahead along with some stream-of-consciousness rants.  I've been reading an entire stack of Alice Munro books for weeks now.  I've only just discovered her (although I had read a few of her stories in the distant past in "The New Yorker") and I'm obsessively reading everything she's written.  I'm a thousand percent smitten.  Yet another Canadian author I love to love.

FYI:  The July full moon tonight is a supermoon.  It's had me up every night this week, shimmering & conversing about night flowers, night moths and the night sky.  (From Wikipedia:  "A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.)

I've adored Louise Erdrich since I read her book "Love Medicine" in the 1990's.  My friend, Angie Comer, who also introduced me to Tom Robbins, (bless her heart x's 100!!!) told me about Louise Erdrich and I became intrigued with her stories.  I've since read every book she's written.  I especially love her poetry, of course.  "Original Fire" is a poetic masterpiece with every poem an enlightening, burning ember.  I highly recommend all of her novels and her poetry.  (You may notice she co-wrote a few books with Michael Dorris, who was her husband for many years.  Michael Dorris wrote a book that I love, "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" which I highly recommend.  They had a soul-searing divorce involving serious child abuse allegations and Dorris later hanging himself...such a horrid tragedy...).

I find it utterly cool that she owns a book store in the city where she lives, 'Birchbark Books' in Minneapolis, MN, USA.  Here's her site:  If I'm ever that far north, I'll be sure to stop in.  I love Independent Book Stores.

(Another author I love, Ann Patchett, owns her own bookstore in Nashville, TN, USA:  'Parnassus Books'.  I've been there and it's an amazing place.  She has a good poetry section, too. Stop by if you're ever in Nashville.) 

Ms. Erdrich and I share the same birth year and were born a little over a month apart.  I was born under the full moon in the sign of Moonchild.  I didn't stand a chance to NOT be a typical Cancerian.  I'm a by-the-astrological-chart kinda girl.  It was only a few years ago that I looked up the phase of the moon at my birth.  I wasn't really surprised that it was full that day. 

I've decorated a new journal, named it "Indigo" and it's almost ready to be scribbled in starting on my birthday.  I make a new one every year.  It's unbelievable how much stuff you forget just from one year to the next...or in my case, one day to the next.  MENopause does that to a woman's brain.  I also cull out bits and pieces of poems and sometimes put an entire poem or two or three together from my journal-hunts at the end of every year.  Here's a photo of "Indigo", my new journal:

I began with a lime green "Smash Journal" and transformed it with paint, glue, stickers, cut-outs from magazines, fake jewels, papers and the 'Net.

Well, TGIF, and read some poetry this weekend, y'all.  I hear it's gonna be a cool one up north...Summer Polar Vortex indeed!!  Think of us down here with the weather in the 90's and mosquitoes chewing up our pretty ankles. 

This fabulous book, "Indigo" by Graham Joyce is a super read and quite unique (and the reason I became obsessed with the color Indigo).  Indigo is a color the human eye cannot truly see, a slice of the spectrum imbued with the promise of invisibility...and thus begins an intriguing, page-turner of a book.  Who wouldn't love to be invisible for a day or two?  This book inspired me to name my journal "Indigo".


PS:  Listed below are  Louise Erdrich's writings, from Wikipedia.



  • Love Medicine (1984)
  • The Beet Queen (1986)
  • Tracks (1988)
  • The Crown of Columbus [coauthored with Michael Dorris] (1991)
  • The Bingo Palace (1994)
  • Tales of Burning Love (1997)
  • The Antelope Wife (1998)
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001)
  • The Master Butchers Singing Club (2003)
  • Four Souls (2004)
  • The Painted Drum (2005)
  • The Plague of Doves (Harper, 2008)
  • Shadow Tag (Harper, 2010)
  • The Round House (2012)

Story collections:

  • The Red Convertible: Collected and New Stories 1978-2008 (2009)

Children's literature:


  • Jacklight (1984)
  • Baptism of Desire (1989)
  • Original Fire: Selected and New Poems (2003)


  • Route Two [coauthored with Michael Dorris] (1990)
  • The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birthyear (1995)
  • Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country (2003)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Your Other Name by Tara Sophia Mohr

Your Other Name
By Tara Sophia Mohr

If your life doesn’t often make you feel
like a cauldron of swirling light –

If you are not often enough a woman standing
above a mysterious fire,
lifting her head to the sky –

You are doing too much, and listening too little.

Read poems. Walk in the woods. Make slow art.
Tie a rope around your heart, be led by it off the plank,
happy prisoner.

You are no animal. You are galaxy with skin.
Home to blue and yellow lightshots,
making speed-of-light curves and racecar turns,
bouncing in ricochet -

Don’t slow down the light and turn it into matter
with feeble preoccupations.

Don’t forget your true name:
Presiding one. Home for the gleaming.
Strong cauldron for the feast of light.

Strong cauldron for the feast of light:
I am speaking to you.
I beg you not to forget.

From:  "Teaching With Heart:  Poetry That Speaks to the Courage to Teach", page 75


"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama


"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."  ~Dalai Lama


Truly, this book is not just for teachers...a beautiful, inspiring anthology of amazing poems.