Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Glass Girl

When I was younger, and stupider even than now,
I loved a glass girl.

The curve of her was the best curve,
and she never changed--could not change.

My friends said,
she was easy to talk to--
her mouth open all the time;
but they also said
she's somehow hard
somehow cold
and they were right.

I am a water girl,
as impermanent as a womb, a flood, or sweat on skin.
She told me, "I am empty; it all comes from you.
I refract your light, then send it back."

I am a water girl, 
she was a glass girl;
I could not maintain unless she held me,
and so she was, as I knew she was, exactly what I needed
when I was younger, and stupider even than now.

I miss her,
even knowing how hard, how cold.
She told me, "Fuck what anybody says or thinks. We are what we are."
Her black hair hung down and there we were
meeting on a borderline--
The deep. The stars.
_____

I offer this for the audio; the video portion has nothing to do with anything.

 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: "Seasons In Hell"

Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and "The Worst Baseball Team in History" - The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers by Mike Shropshire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The first third or so of this book is really funny. I mean, tears rolling down my face funny. Shropshire's wry descriptions of the utterly inept 1973 Texas Rangers baseball team is really good reading for anyone who likes baseball and loves schadenfreude. But, as with a lot of books that are funny at the start, this one doesn't maintain it.

I had several problems with this book. For one, the title itself is misleading. Yes, it puts "the worst team in baseball history" in quotes, but only the '73 team was bad. The '74 team was actually pretty good, and the '75 team was mediocre. In addition, well over half of the book is devoted to the '73 season; like the humor, it's as if Shropshire himself ran out of gas. There is a strange preoccupation with spring training, with as much space devoted to that as to the regular season. The big preoccupation here, though, is Shropshire's obsession with drinking. Like most drunks, he places tremendous emphasis and importance on what was being consumed, in what quantities, by whom, and where. Again like most drunks, he makes the erroneous assumption that other people are as fascinated with this stuff as he is. I found it really tiresome by the latter portion of the book.

There are some interesting portraits of such figures as Herzog, Martin, schoolboy wunderkind David Clyde, and such lesser lights as "The Strange Ranger" Willie Davis and "Beeg Boy" Rico Carty, so slow running to first base that "you could time him with a sundial." Shropshire fudges some of his facts--he repeatedly misspells Brewer manager and former Braves star Del Crandall's name--and screws up the timeline of some events.

It was fun to hear how some of these baseball icons talk when it's off the cuff, and having lived in Texas and been a (temporary) Rangers fan myself, I liked hearing stories about this team in particular. In the end, though, the endless frat party that Shropshire describes gets old, and like a drunk who was fun when the evening began, it ultimately becomes a little pathetic. Three stars for being howlingly funny for a while, but not really recommended.



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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Woman In A Coffee Bar

I don't look like much, but when I open my mouth, 
they send the bomb squad and a priest.

Standing there at the counter, that dress makes me both jealous and repentant
of the things I want to declare at the border of your beauty.
Does the world seem blurry,
silent-movie sped,
to you, too?
Or are you as contained as a coconut,
as cool,
as necessary and as removed

from earthbound spirits?
You'd like me, if only you'd release your carnality into my custody.
I'm nervous, but that's all the time.
I'm the girl with a locust under each eyelid;
all I have to do is look,
and everything reduces to simple appetite.

Don't condemn me, I'll pay whatever back tax you demand.
Just come over here. Soon. Admire me, too.
Tell me I'm the ladybug you've been looking for
despite the fire department,
child protective services,
and, especially, the aftermath predicted for my bedding
by the tarot card I keep in my bag to notify
handsome firefighters and lady doctors of my special conditions.

Someone sent me their heart by telegram once.
It was too slow, and they had
to use dynamite and a blowtorch to get into the crypt I was renting at the time.
I came back to life anyway, though,
just now,
when I saw you standing at the counter.

I said to myself, there's the drug I've been kept off of--
the stuff cats and deep water divers know about,
made from equal parts next year's pandemic,
mother's milk and
the smell of pussy on the pillow, one's fingers (nails trimmed short) and
a book of favorite Catholic hymns
that we'll use to prop the door

so the breeze can come in, as you should as soon as you possibly can.
_______ 

From the following word list. I did not use all of them.

carrot
soon
seducer
deepwater
condemn
blowtorch
locust
urban
coconut
fluctuation
flesh
blurry
aftermath
ladybug
decadence
crypt
 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: "Eddie Mathews & The National Pastime"

Eddie Mathews And The National PastimeEddie Mathews And The National Pastime by Eddie Mathews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Eddie Mathews was a favorite player of my childhood, probably my second favorite after Norm Cash. Having read co-author Bob Bruege's excellent history of the Milwaukee Braves, I expected this to be mostly written by him. Honestly, I pretty much expected The Joe Shlobotnik Story. it wasn't like that at all. The great majority of the book is told in Mathews' own voice and it reads like spending an evening listening to an old friend. Bruege merely adds a page or two at the end of each chapter (except the final one) to add the things that the modest Mr. Mathews left out.

One of the best things about this book is that it gave me a real sense of what it was like to be a ball player in the 50s and 60s. He starts with being a minor leaguer and goes all the way through his post-playing days as a manager and scout. I really loved the early chapters about his days playing for the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, and the middle section about his experiences during the heyday of the Milwaukee major league club. And, of course, as a Tiger fan, I loved reading about his final season and a half, playing for the Detroit team.

Eddie Mathews is plainspoken, down to earth, and a good story teller--but without crossing certain lines a la "Ball Four" and other expose-type baseball books. Parts of the book struck me as quite sad. The whole book fairly swims in alcohol, and after 3 marriages and a succession of jobs after his playing days ended, I felt like such a great player and decent guy ended up kind of on the down side, a little bit. I would have wished happier times for the slugger I cheered for at Tiger Stadium when I was 12 and 13 and loved baseball in a way that only kids can. Highly recommended for anyone with any interest at all in the subject matter.



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Saturday, August 20, 2016

4th Century Social Media


Flavius Julius Valens Augustus checks his Facebook page
and discovers that he has been trolled again by the Visigoths.
They make memes insulting him.
They go into hysterics criticizing his hair and nose.

He types in his status: "Stop doing this II me. What do you do it IV?"
He adds a sad emoji.
"Why all the hVIII?"

But the Visigoths keep trolling him.
They send a new meme showing a sausage with a face wearing lederhosen.
It says, "Bite me." He unfriends them, but one day they will prevail. 
______

Mini-challenge: "not what we came to see"

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Train

The train that I took out of London seven years ago
appeared in my dream last night.
It had dinner plate wheels and hung on a chain that hoisted it up to a mailbox
where letters spread their wings to dry.

The train that I took out of London seven years ago 
only moves in one direction: away, and yet there it was,
undeparted, filling like a lung.
I have sung everything into the parish poor box--

those things I loved most, first to go.
I have sung until I am mute, and as unsentimental as an oxygen tank.
The priest cut off his ears and put them in my pocket
like coins. I told him his wish is dust, and he turned into Jericho's wall.

The train that I took out of London seven years ago
took off its clothes and reported my movements from memory.
The tracks only go in one direction: away, and yet there I was;
I woke up in love, a stone in flight, a letter with no address,

a dove that left its light down a well, yet sings in the dark when I'm gone. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bee On My Tongue

There is a blush on my cheeks,
the devil in my eye,
and an angel on my shoulder.

I am a red leaf on a white breeze.
I am the woman who can be counted on
not to do what you have told her.

Still, hold me.
Fuck me if you want.
I'll be waiting for the moment when I speak of my desire. 

As a girl, I went to school
and church as I was bidden.
I learned a lot on empty pews in the dark long after choir.

Now--
hold me. Wrap me up and say I'm home.
I'll press my lips so silent-grateful to your ear.

On my tongue, a hidden bee;
queen of sweetness, queen of sting--
feel my fingers in your hair. Hear and shiver. Show no fear.
_____

for Magaly's mini-challenge at Real Toads. Obviously, I wrote about bee #3.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rosebush

In Rosebush, Tammy left her face on the tavern wall, as per tradition.
It still speaks voiceless poems, but there's been damage to both ears.
In Ishpeming, Lilah screwed the city council one by one, all sexes.
This altered the zoning requirements for her perfect ass. Expiry: five years.

Mount Pleasant hasn't got a hill higher than a cardboard box,
and the gurus all drop their donations at the casino in hopes of a big score.
Behind the development, I showed Kim the streamy trails,
but a cross-breeze talked me into folding and spindling the trees into two-by-fours.

Dad, a Harvard man, had a raccoon coat
and a pennant in a suitcase at the back of the closet at home.
Me, I spend all my time kissing T's face at the tavern
but nobody's yet used to two girls like that and they bet, quite correct,

that I leave
stoned and blown
older, odder,
and alone.
_________

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: "Bang Ditto"

Bang DittoBang Ditto by Amber Tamblyn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


A friend introduced me to Amber Tamblyn's poetry and I was struck by the little bit that I read and so I bought this book. I wish could say that I liked it as much as I expected to. Tamblyn--daughter of actor Russ Tamblyn and an actress in her own right--truly does have a talent with words. Nothing tired or ordinary ever makes its way into her poetry. Someone who can craft lines like "a vegan blacking out in a glass of milk", "My friends lie to me like a government" and (to a watermelon seed) "I hope you fall in love with a beautiful watering can" has something going on.

However, two things bother me about Bang Ditto. One is, she doesn't seem to have something to say that is worthy of the writing skills she has. The other is that she seems to suffer from the unearned world-weariness common to 20-somethings and especially 20-something writer types. (I know whereof I speak--I was one of them!) Her language and her imagination are plenty enough to grab a reader's attention; she doesn't need the constant mildly vulgar asides and accent on the down side. I'm not suggesting she become some kind of Pollyanna, but we've all had a hangover, Amber. It isn't really very edgy to write about it.

Because she is an actress, there are some interesting pieces having to do with Hollywood, especially the hallucinogenic "The Black Tie Warren." One day, Amber Tamblyn may blow us all away with what she can write, but that time is not yet. She already has the tools, and is worlds better than such celeb "poets" as Richard Thomas, Suzanne Somers and even Jewel, but the substance isn't quite there yet. Watch this space. Until then, don't expect more than she can yet deliver.



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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bukowski

His hero was there
at that party
being an ass.

I was there,
being an ass myself.

"What do you remember?" someone wanted to know,
when the poet
met the poet.

I said I remember him bumping the kitchen table
lumbering to the john.
Somebody mopped up the spilled drinks with an old shirt.

His hero was there.
He wasn't, but he defended his man crush like a defense attorney,
listing the titles and Apocrypha.

How wrong do I have to be
about my own memory
before he mercifully shuts the fuck up?

His hero was there
at that party
being an ass.

I was there,
and now I'm here
biting my tongue so as not to join him.
_______

for Stevens, there at every disaster.
 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nuns

The nuns kept birds
and, by necessity,
kept it from the diocese. 

The nuns kept chaste,
but kept birds against the loneliness
because symbolic husbands never come home.

I live in the nuns' quarters,
now renovated with appliances and art on the walls,
but still silent at sundown.

I know what a calling is,
and for that I am as quaint as a rare sparrow.
Is there even such a thing?

Mornings, I think about you,
but I keep it to myself; only my body knows the lie
I tell, by my silence, my hymn unsung.

My love, you are a birdkeeper.
You've sent me a picture, and your face is the air;
before I can think, my arms open,

knowing more by instinct than any censure can deny.
_______

for Real Toads birds challenge
 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Review: "Nickel A Pack"

Nickel a PackNickel a Pack by Jim Worsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I grew up in the 1960s in a conservative white neighborhood as this author did, and I, too, was bitten by the baseball bug. Part of that was collecting the bubble gum cards, which used to be--as the title says--a nickel a pack, for five cards and a stick of gum. From the title, one would expect this book to be more about the cards than it is, especially the Topps cards that were pretty much the only cards in that era. But the book gives them short shrift, with few images of them, but a lot about the rare "exhibit" cards, and images of those, and Fleers, which weren't common in the 60s.

That said, "Nickel A Pack" is a wonderful memoir about a certain kind of childhood, touched by the magic of baseball in a bygone era. To read this book is to be transported to a time when getting cards you didn't have, or receiving a player's autograph, or seeing them play in person was a magical thing, something beloved at the time and in memory. I still have the autographs I collected around 1970, and so does Jim Worsley.

He talks about spending an afternoon going to the beach with Tony Conigliaro (!), finding a baseball card machine hidden in a dusty corner of an arcade and discovering that it is full of rare cards for a penny a piece, driving his first car to the Big A with Brooks Robinson in the back seat (he had missed the team bus) and meeting a woman whose son had died and who wants Jim to have the son's card collection.

There is more, too. Worsley talks about steroids and sabermetrics, the changes that have taken something away from the game he loves. He talks, also, about traveling to Cooperstown, New York, to see the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. This book is a love story, about childhood, about heroes who seemed larger than life, about a lifelong fascination with a beautiful sport. If you like baseball and grew up in the 60s, this is for you.



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A few survivors from my once-extensive collection. (For the record, I liked Barbies, too!)