31 10 2013


I’ll describe the house to you first.

You’ll like that, won’t you?

Think of a place where the plants are free to grow wild.  Where the climate gives them all the rain they need—these plants are plants of the woods and they do just fine in the cloudy climes of upstate New York or the Northwestern United States.  The plants grow wild around this oddly shaped brick house. The mortar is dirty and crumbles.

I lived there once.

There are broken pavings leading up to the wood stairs.When you step up, the wood creaks; that is what it was meant to do.  A grand old wooden front door, so old and neglected it seems fragile, with a handle and keyhole.

You can peer in through the keyhole

(peer in down my throat)

you can see the flicker of lights.

It isn’t good enough that you should want to live here.  My boy fled very quickly.

Being a fixer isn’t always a workable solution. (It isn’t good enough you want to take me by the hand)

Someone was locked in the attic for a long time, hiding there.  Someone was a little black cat.

Someone was the echo of someone else

This place smelled of fear and being trapped.  A small space, step only on the beams and you might keep from breaking through the roof.  You can see where they live in the insulation.  You can.  But these holes are so deep and black it is impossible to reach far enough in.

But I digress.  Should I describe some action.  Something that happened there?

Would you like that?  Is that how it is done? Is that how I can open the door, without leaping hither and yon into disjointed spaces.

They all connect.  The spaces, I mean.  At least I think they do, although sometimes, when I was in the house, I’d be by the attic, cleaning up the refuse from the creatures hiding and then, without knowing I’d done it, I’d be outside by the back door, trying to fit myself under the overhang to keep from the rain.

Bonnie is a fine name.  She was pretty too, if that makes you feel better.  Bonnie lived in the house with two friends.  They divided the rooms so each had her own.  Bonnie lived on the uppermost floor, with her own bathroom and a second little room.

The blood under the wrist, a faint pulse in the paw.

It was on that floor that the door to the attic was.  Bonnie loved her little black cat, Chiquita.  This little black cat learned something about the attic because she fit inside.

She fit like a cat, perfectly tucked.

And then she was gone.  To fit inside means you cannot be seen from any other angle.

(I’ve never fit inside)

The little black cat vanished.  Holed up–whole up, so to speak.

Brick by brick, like in that old Poe story.

Although she wasn’t really, it was just my imagination.  It was just the smell of old rotten cat food and the broken trap.  It was the fact that my boy had run and I’d tried to make the house something that I could inhabit.  Look down my throat, the ghosts parade to and fro.  You’d like the house, wouldn’t you.  And what about the truth?

All I asked for was a little intercession.

Is this true?  The cat exists in the interstices between me and you.  The cat intercedes in the interstices–she holds the dark at bay.  This particular cat held it at bay because she had an attachment to the girl, to Bonnie.

(But not to me)

And here is the question:  If the cat intercedes for Bonnie, and I intercede for you, who, if anyone, intercedes for the cat?

Who intercedes for me?


7 09 2013

I’m posting at The Quail Diaries right now.

Head on over:



Tangle [the academic]

26 04 2013


In the thicket—the coyotes have not cut a trail
I’m tangled in manzanita, lemonade berry, sumac,
the fragrant arms of black sage, the nefarious wings of poison oak.

She called me out of fear about her missing cats–coyotes
but she’d never know it.
She’d lost her voice and found it again.

We cannot provide you revenge or even protection but we will give you this
little silver little clover keep me in your pocket you are deep in the woods now
these  twisted thickets of chaparral woods, immense trees
for the smallest of creatures

Broken glass and suppurating wounds–
her stick cut me right through and now the streaking is climbing my leg
too bad.  I’d wash it with water but all I have is mirage.

We’ll eat you up and spit you out
and eat you again

I went so far as to openly despise her
my mistake
she held all the cards
and even then
launched herself across the table.

We cannot provide you protection.  We see her
but we do not care; or if we do, she’s converted
she’s seen the light
or rather, been moved onward
because we are ignorant, or deluded
or just do not care.
You are a visitor and conversion is impossible.
You’ll never see the light and we have no patience for you.
Take your card, this piece of paper.
Take our keys but watch your step.  The floor has never been even
and you are one foot caught in a crevasse

Away, come away.
I’ve cut my line–
burnt my bridge.  You mirage,
you image of the fresh water I needed
I’m done.
I’m sucking lemonade berries.
Their throat pinch tells me I’m real
The image of what I thought you were has disappeared
just as your committees are wont to do
and all I see now is rot.  And I know it is good because now I am through
I’m into the thicket.
and over you.

Mist and a thankyou sweet wren

23 01 2013


The mist is not yellow but it is a white enveloping mist.  A purity in the reflection of all colors and I drive into it.  I drive into it on Thursday and on Tuesday, cresting the top of the point at which the 520 starts to merge with the I-5.  The birds on the water and the mist somehow I would like to be swallowed.  Somehow the mist is a door and the cars that enter it are elsewhere—a place that is the mist itself and the water and the double crested cormorants on their bouys, the pied billed grebes.

Heart’s/work is normal, harsh and sweet

On my run I saw a Bewick’s wren.

I followed the wren three miles or more/Three miles or more three miles or more

I’ve written before about wrens and the annual hunt

I have a little box under me arm/A penny or tuppence would do it no harm

I’ve been a bit down.  I felt like that little wren opened me back up.  I had to search for it, I heard it and saw it fly over to the brush and then, by dint of a perseverance that perplexed my dog, I saw it.

a penny to bury the wren

The mist was not a door, over the crest and down the curve were the cars going south and, on the other side, the cars going north.

The door was the wren.

My heart…a mess in my fingers

In the rain in the snow the rain the snow


Quotes are from  Jean Valentine, the song of the Wrenboys and Julie Carr.


Pánico, Primero

14 01 2013

ImageI was afraid.  I was fear.  I am nervous, anxious.  I am disquiet.

 Are they dragging away the sky?

I was panic.  I am sometimes panic.

So many lists that keep growing, and are saddening


And what exactly ties panic to grief?  I don’t know only that they tied. 

How can you wait for grace, how could you know that it was coming

I never used to have panic attacks but I have them now.  They started in November.  I can tell you the date but then you’d know too much. 

I am hungry for my own heart

One upon a time the sky turned yellow and everything grey closed in on me and all I could do was shake.  But no one seemed to notice although the crowds were there and I was in the town square with the bonfire raging behind me.

One never does solve what it is about watching fires, really

This wasn’t how it happened but it is yellow and a suffocating yellowish grey.  The polluted orange sky. 

there’s only trauma and help or harm in it the black sap rotten knot

I was in stocks but I could not see anyone, I was blindfolded but she whispered to me what was happening.  She whispered to me all my sins and transgressions.  The sheriff and the judge stood near.  I felt them but they were silent.  The sky was yellow and my eyes were filled with grey.  I breathed but could not, and my ears were filled with a roar. 

evil is how we love

No you cannot run.  No you cannot crawl under a table, a couch, a low cabinet.  No you may not hit, nor pinch, nor bite, nor throw stones. 

this burdened pear tree we love

Or rather, I may do none of these things, she’ll do them all and throw all manner of horrible refuse.  In these stocks I have to feel it, smell it, even taste it but my hands are trapped my legs are bound. 

we are the people,

those people shuffling across the lawn

And anyway

a metal provides a hell river

It was not that but it was.  I’m here, there are no stocks but there are the stocks of the mind and I cannot run nor fight.  I’ll shake and my heart will race and I will cry in the yellow and the grey and I will want to sleep because there is nothing left but I will not be able to.  And the morning will come.

  after the trip to hell

keep moving

Quotes are by Jean Valentine, Aaron McCollough, David Markson

Scales, and rods and such

24 11 2012

ἀπέπεσαν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν

I have been in a fog.  Deeper than the tule fogs of the San Joaquin Valley.  Obscurity more profound that the blindness that drives the 100 or 200 car pileups on the highways.  Me the old lady.  Me in the house in the woods, me sleeping in my old used up gurney.  I keep forgetting

λεπίδες  ἀνέβλεψέν

I keep forgetting that place .I keep forgetting I’ve been in this fog because I want to be here.    Me as me, me as bad guy.  I’m a bad person.  I’ve been in error, I’ve not done enough–it has not been sufficient.  I am not good enough.  I have outreached myself.  I am not capable.  Shifted footing and the stones in the little house in the wood are stippled with blood from my busted knee and my scraped knuckle.

immediately there fell from his eyes

Once the scales fell, once I saw a gurney for sale.  How charming it would be to sleep on that gurney.  How charming

as it had been scales

How very, truly, horrifying.

I have almost forgotten the taste of fear

Once upon a time–that old fairy tale, there was a forest made of the metal bars of a child’s hospital bed, there was a witch with a mask and an ogre with a stethoscope and there was, as always, copious amounts of blood in my nose and mouth, choking me and making it hard to breathe.

I have supped full with horror

Then I grew up.  Then I was this–was the child then become the bad person.  What that space, that lack means bad–bad guy.  Old lady in the woods, on her squeaky stained gurney.  The scales have fallen and I am afraid.   This is difficult for me to write about.  It is  embarrassing.  Perhaps you will use it against me.  Perhaps you have.  This is why I’m writing it.  So I’m no longer afraid.

look’d toward Birnam, and anon

I am so tired

methought,/The wood began to move.

Liar and slave


who are you?

I am the bad guy

a moving grove

I will be a bad guy I will own all I do with a clumsy precision and a cold hearted focus.

That after Horror–that ’twas us–

Kaiser Soze and Lady Macbeth and also Lucifer, of course.  I cannot seem to don their armor though.  And maybe, at least in Lady Macbeth and Lucifer’s cases, it’s no real armor.  They end up fallen again or dead  that candle.  I was that woman in the woods.  I was the old lady with the candle wax burning my fingers.  The smell and the taste, I remembered the fall once–I look up and the light came down and pierced through me.  That was Lucifer in his fall–that was the sunlight in Seattle.  That was the water and the stone.  It was and will be and is.

The Cordiality of Death–/Who drills his Welcome in–

I want an iron will and a strength.  I want to call it to me and to embrace my errors–I want to hold that iron inside my heart.  I want to know who I am and what I have to offer.  I’m human, I am all error,  but I have an open heart.  I am on fire and I am a mess–I believe we can all go into that space just a bit farther and I will take you there, farther than neatness or cleanliness allows.  In this way I am  human and a teacher.  It is not perfect, perhaps it is not sufficient.  But it isn’t without my heart.

I don t even have death to fear/midday though/scares me   there s a

haunted and people

A stone and the sea–the wax on my arm and my heart.  An old lady because the crone.  Because old is frightening old is afraid or perhaps just light, translucent skin.  Some things are more valuable than breath.  I’ll light them on fire.  Welcome you to my cottage.  Welcome grey stone and snowtipped peaks.  Welcome lake and river.  Welcome cold.

became/a fugitive and a vagabond on earth

Welcome vagabond.  Welcome in.  Come into this space of my errors and my mistakes.  Welcome in–see that corner, that is where I’ve misled you and that corner, that is where I was inaccurate and there was the place that I didn’t do enough where I took the time back to myself because

Such heartache/dancing heartache

because I needed to so I could come back and be there.  Though the door is now closed.  We learn these things–we old ladies in the woods, with our bloody noses and our tangled up hair, sticks and ribbons, coffee and pain.  Aches and sorrows.  You know these things.  Trick or treat, hold my hand, I’ll lead you to the pit or I’ll forget you along the way.  I’m the bad guy.  I’m a bad person.  I’m bad.

I am the one who puffs horror

Quotes are from Acts 9:18, Erin Mouré, Jesse Pinkman, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Antonin Artaud, Julie Carr

Flagler, A Ghost Story

3 11 2012

The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,

otter marks, plastic, heavy potpourri, pie, potatoes, salmons, taste of wind, cold wind, wet, walk behind building warm, hospital, beams and plaster, operating theater, narrow stairs, in that space, in that room, attic, what smell?

And these are of them.

Where are the dead? smooth marrowstone cliff face, sound of helicopter like the air in southern California,

Ordinary wonder at the world’s bits of order

Every moment is ghost once it is past.  Nothing of time makes it linear

makes ordinary experience

One my children were here and once I was family


To be conscious is not to be in time

Once was a man with a broken neck

I am the remnant

of what history was on about

This is my ghost story—What I know is nothing more than breath.  What I miss is something I do not know or that I’ve contrived or that is a space.

Here is a place of disaffection

My ghost story, the remnants of what I was once, a man with a broken neck.  Contrivance, space in the air, a lick of icecream, a river otter, a bit of driftwood.

At the still point of a turning

gas like sulfur or nitrogen richness, the absence of smoke and a mist rising,

still point of a turning world

a flash of lightning when my head hits the counter, numb pinky and water in my hair, wet head, numb toes, the give under my feet,

I feel for you I feel

Sealions barking splash raise self up silhouette water wakes wind in trees like paper flapping, two bald eagles, crows playing, line of gulls.  Once were children here once was family.  Now it’s only the hanged man, his neck cocked oddly, he’s got bright eyes.

When everything is revelation

taste of cold, taste of the inside of my mouth, chocolate like a narcotic hands yellow numb, the cracked and opened tree the tree inside the tree, smooth bark and curved, shadow and rough outer like a seed or nut cracked, the engulfing, the way the moss hands like reaching down to you the way it bows

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children

moments of hemlock, the high small birds, the chickadees and kinglets, water, sound of water running and of rain, and the sound of anxiety in voices, the small birds so high up and high pitched, the sound of wren, of robin, bald eagle bald eagle bald eagle, shrew all sight, once was family

what seemed corporeal melted

the spooked mule with the dragging rope and they carried it down and there was something like a wind that passed by, smell of potpourri. Frog and deformed and living inside of this.  Texture of greens if it could possibly be captured without focus and the smooth brown.  Fire nearby

And into breath

Your deformity renders you unrecognizable.  Your broken neck renders you appalling.  Your ghosts render you horrifying.

Upon the heath

the abundance of wrens, the Bewick’s on every spare branch, the wrens calling at me calling for Saint Stephen’s and the empty rooms where someone wrote about ghosts

ere set of sun

Things were good between us once

once I was here and I was a family.  Once my children were here and once was a family there is a hole right there and why always is it scratch scratch scratching at my window because it is not but an ache and the ice cream the hiking up the windswept hill of grass the water and beach all along a dog and then

Out out damn

The ghost picked up a blade but its hands passed through. The ghost told her not to pass that way and she paid attention, his neck was at an odd angle

I am faint

Once was family once was family once was

my gashes cry

My ghost my memories pointed up the hill, away from the path.

So should he look /That seems to speak things strange

Away from tree where he’d hanged, neck crack, 93 years before.  The tree now struck by lightning, now laid down in the moss and ferns.

So should she look

This room was inhabited once.  Notice how the stairs have been worn, with black on the white and a dipping in the middle.  I can imagine I see someone’s face next to mine in the mirror.  I’m always alone I was so alone I am alone

And you

I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.

And what do I believe? it can lock itself

I’m haunted by my own ghost standing at its trees along the path, warning me off and warning me to the road, or telling me to just stay there, not to move, here be monsters, because once I cross by, once I walk the path, you’ll be there waiting

and I’ll be lost. ­­­­

*           *             *

Quotes are by William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, Susan Neiman, Aaron Mccolough

Wiggie RIP 1982?-2012

20 10 2012

Wiggie’s poem

as told to and transcribed by the boychild in 2012


Images flow through my head,

orange, red and blue,

Fire flickers, candles burn,

Nothing breaks my love


Birds and bones,

Bananas, brooms and hats

They all flicker through my head,

Like the wings of a bat.


Dogs, kittens, cats

Don’t fly like bats.

My head extinguishes them

Fire fades and I wake,

To the morning day.