April 23, 2012

    USEFUL PERSON OF THE REALM


   
She looked at her watch to see time move. Soon it would be time to defend her status as a UP – Useful Person of the Realm. She looked in the mirror and smoothed her gray hair. THAT would count against her. Old gray mare.
    The five Realm Masters sat at a long polished table, the dim sun from the windows caught no dust motes, made no shine on the clean floor. Work of time and other Useful Persons – the dulling and the polishing.
    “What have you to say for yourself?” the Master in the Middle asked her.
    “Ipickupbrokenglassintheriver,andnailsintheroad.” She had practiced saying it in the mirror. But she said it too fast.
    “Don’t speak so fast, you waste our time by having to repeat yourself. Don’t speak slowly either,” said the Master on the far right.
    “I pick up broken glass in the river, and nails in the road, your honor.
    “What are you paid for that?”
    “A week-old poppyseed bun, every other day, your honor.”
    “Hah!” said the Master on the left. “I don’t know as I’d think that was worth it, just to be alive.”
    She smiled at him. “Oh, some of the glass is very pretty!”
    “And I suppose you’d say that the nails might cause injury.”
    “Yes,” she said eagerly. Might this Master be sympathetic?
    “Except for the fact, Person, that no-one has tires and no-one has bare feet, except for Useful – and UNuseful – Persons. Expendable, and I rather like making bread pudding with the stale buns. Add eggs, milk, raisins and sugar.”
    She caught the drool that started down the side of her mouth. Eggs, milk, raisins. Sugar!
    She waited.
    The Masters huddled toward the center. They appeared to be conferring, but she could hear them saying “Raspberry raspberry raspberry,” just like crowds on the stage. Finally the Master in the Middle spoke.
    “Carry on, then, but try to find something more useful before your next hearing.”
    “Thank you, Masters of the Realm.” She backed away, careful not to scuff the floor. Maybe she should crawl out, with her knees under her skirts polishing the wood as she went. Maybe she should catch that wasp that had somehow found its way into the Hall of the Realm, and would sting someone. She thought it might be worth another bun, today perhaps. She reached out and caught the wasp. She felt it vibrating, preparing to stab her hand.
    “What is that you are trying to take away from the Great Hall?” asked one of the Masters.
    “A wasp, your honor, a wasp that might have stung one of you.”
    “That wasp, you silly Useless Person, is my particular favorite wasp of all the wasps in the realm. I have trained it to fly about and look fanciful.”
    The Master stood up behind the table. He was just barely taller than the table itself. He shouted at her, “Let the Wasp of the Realm go free!”
    She opened her swelling hand. The Wasp of the Realm, drunk on her useful blood, spread his wings and flew away. She was able to bow and get out of the door and get back out to the street before collapsing. She could see a nail just inches from her face; if only she could just reach out and get it.

October 24, 2011

Memorium to Brown Dogs






Everywhere
Brown dogs
  Mix. Mix, match
Brown to brown --
Hair and hair, generations of bones and dust,
All the dogs in the world
Mix, match, mix
Until they are all brown.

What love they bring.
And what love we have for them.
Rejoice for every happy dog,
  Smile.
Mourn for every unloved dog,
  Cry.
And please, God, bless their souls.

All those dogs, brown,
Black, white, tan, gray, blonde, red,
Speckled, dappled, brindled, spotted
Dressed up with white chins and feet,
  Shoulders strewn with ruffs of black,
  Withers stroked with fingers of platinum,
  Tails fringed and tipped in white,
  Eyebrows fooling with spots of brown;
Eyes of gray, blue, brown, amber, gold, and black,
  fogged cataract eyes,
  car-struck sockets sewn shut over beauty.
Flesh, blood, bone and sinew, nerve and instinct.
Match, mix. Mix our
Memories of our brown dogs.
God bless their souls.

August 19, 2011

Auburn Blood


  I keep sleeping on my blood-stained pillowcase. Even the pillow inside I have not tossed away – even that I have kept because the blood is from the worst injury I have had in years (knock on something), and it was to my head. I have slept on the historical pillowcase for 47 nights.
  Just before I turn the light off I look again at the stains and smears, drops, and suggestive smudges on the pale green pillowcase. Secretly, I am glad that the pillowcase my head rested on that first night is pale green.
  I looked this morning at the pillowcase. The place on my head still hurts a little and there is a bump, but the last bit of blood leaked out over three weeks ago from where the scab had clung, even as tiny hairs tried to grow through it.
  This morning it is time again to dye my hair. It was due about the time I fell on the asphalt.
    Miss Linda, I gotcha, I’m not gonna
    leave, Miss Linda,”
said a stranger named Sonny,
    who held my hand until the ambulance came.
    I could hear my friend behind me say to 911
    "There is so much blood,
    there’s blood all over.”
    Sonny said, “Don’t worry, Miss Linda,
    I ain’t goin’ nowhere, I gotcha.”
  As the gurney rose into the air, I looked at the asphalt. There’s blood all over, so much blood.
  My head was cauterized and glued after hair was cut off. Now it is healed and the glue has come out and the scabs have come off, and my hair was cut last week. I'll dye it redbrown -- one auburn or another – whatever is on sale.
  With the color mixed I squirt it on my hair. At first it is deep purply red, like blood from your liver or some other dark innard which hides blood. It drips on my face, my neck, one drip rolls down my chest and stops at a nipple. With plastic gloves, I hold a hand mirror, and see a niagara of purply red pouring down my neck.
  I wipe that off, and even as I do the color begins to turn auburn. Auburn more and more like blood.
  Now I am redheaded again, and I will be more careful. Tonight I will sleep once more on the bloodstained pillowcase; a little dye might rub off.

Dog Days of Wisdom


The dog days of wisdom speak with barking voices
  and small growls of jealous appetite.
They lick my mother-hand -- or bite;
  They whir like needledragonflies, hovering clouds
Over hot dogs restless in the moving shade,
  Bothering those driven by heat to
  worry at beggars' lice or imaginary fleas or
  The broken stick from next door's tree --
  Dropping it, pausing, and chewing the end again.
All will settle down when cooler days
  point toward Autumn.

October 19, 2010

How To Pronounce a Word & Have It Increase Your Vocabulary by a Fewness

      Mr. James Fuchs, aka "The Magnificent Wreck" (because of putting shot, or shot putting, even when injured), died this month. The obituary writer for the NY Times wrote that "Mr. Fuchs (pronounced Fewsh) [was] the No. 1 shot-putter in the world in both the 1949 and 1950 seasons, during which he set four world records for the standard 16-pound shot, the last of which was 58 feet 10-3/4 inches.
      "Pronounced Fewsh" -- like foosh? like the first syllable of fuchsia? And how many words are there that begin with few? Eight if you count various forms of the same word, but I won't.
  FEWMETS - the feces of a hunted animal, by which the hunter identifies it. "I been lookin' fer my durn cat ever'whar, chasin' it from fewmet to fewmet, from hairball to hairball; cain't find it nowhar." (NOTE: a fewmet is like a scat, but you have to wonder why you would yell "Scat!" at a cat unless you wanted more fewmets.
  FEWNESS - the quality of being small in number. Pl. fewnesses. "My feet are not fewnesses, nor are my thighs; my lashes are fewnesses, but not my big eyes."
  FEWTER - (n) a support or holder for a spear, attached to a saddle or breastplate; (v) to set your spear into the fewter (see Fewtered, Fewtering). "Yerp, Sire*, I was riding along topspeed trying to fewter my spear in my fewter. Damnest thing it just fell off, and I been lookin' fer that durn fewter ever'whar but I cain't find it nowhar'. Sorry, Sire." (NOTE: * this is the origin of "yessiree, Bob" if yer Sire was named Bob. Sometimes it was "Yessiree, Nigel," or "Yessiree, Cholmondeley" (pronounced Chumley.) For my next lesson, I will investigate words that begin with Chol.
  FEWTRILS -- trifles, things of little value, "There might be a fewtril or two in my handkerchief drawer."

I would like to suggest a fu (pronounced few) more words :
    FEWmament (a small firmament),
    FEWsomely (used with small praise),
    FEWment (payment in pennies and nickels),
    fulFEWment (an unsatisfactory return on investment),
    FEWneral (an interment with hardly any mourners.

November 13, 2009

          I Believe the Crows


    I sit here every afternoon to watch the sun go down and the moon come up, near to each other -- both low above the horizon.
    I do not ask the obvious question: How could that be? The sun and the moon, so near connected? I do not say, That can't be, it's impossible! because I know an infinity of late afternoons where I have sat and watched this same scene -- as if it were a painting! -- and I believe the crows.
    I believe the crows. Their mothers and fathers, and their mothers and fathers, on back in time before there were paintings, have seen the same thing I do now, and have eaten the seeds of wheat, and have talked about it all as they do now.
    Look! Admire! Plenty! Caw! Caw!
 
 
 
This painting by Vincent Van Gogh was completed shortly before he committed suicide.

          My Own Castle



    Although the sky is indigo, like the textiles from de Nimes, and although my horse is watered and well fed, I am not sure I want to pause here to stare at the darkened towers of that castle on the steep smooth mountain (made of stiff coagulated custard), nor do I want to hallooo to its loneliness. I dare not stop to gaze and wonder:
    Why is there a black cloud over that castle, with its many empty windows
and crenelations like filed teeth?
    I dare not take the time to look back at my own castle -- to admire the way it smiles at me in its good humor and waves its flag.
    Why does my own castle have a light and down-soft cloud above it? Are there two gods of the air blowing? One, his foul black breath, so thick it sinks rather than floats, and the other, laughing as she blows, so her sweet airy breath rises like the good smell of baking bread.
    Are there two gods?
  I dare not slow down again because now I see the wooden fences that try to keep the dark castle-men safe from land or sea invasion, and I see they have but five warriors left. And are they warriors? or are they widows, left behind?
    No-one waits to hear me, but what I have to say is "I am your neighbor. I'm just passing by."