Monday, April 29, 2013

their big day

"Hey Sylvester, get a load of table number three - The Nocturnal Retirement Party".
"They keep shoveling it away like that, Mr. Murchison, they'll have no room for jello".
"Buncha weasels. There's always room for jello. And imagine how they'll smell when they're finished".
"If they ever. All they have to do is make eye contact with Daryll, show their teeth, he starts shaking and loads up the plates with more".
"I thought the caller making the reservation sounded awful strange on the phone, Sylvester. Hissing. A lot of hissing". Mr. Murchison shuddered. "Does Daryll look pale green to you"?
"How do you think they'll cover the check"?
"Oh, Dear Lord, I never thought of that"!

illustration by Helen Ward

Friday, April 26, 2013

haiku tidal wave

Celestial hearts
Moon sways desirous tides
Two spirits orbit

Five steps North,
seven bread crumbs West,
then five swift paces Southwest
leads you to 'recuerda mi corazon,'
exclusive home of
Haiku My Heart
photo: from Bing search.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Burning umber smoke rose beyond the far shallow hill and the scent found its way through the hairline cracks of Elsa's drafty cottage boudoir. She imagined a solitary burning tire or some late winter moist leaves doused with kerosene sprinkles set ablaze after repeated frustrated match strikes. Whichever, she was glad to see Orion hurtling overhead from the southern sky in all its starlit purple glory. 'There's something none of us can control', Elsa thought peering skyward, 'kind of like trying to make someone love me'. She felt no warmth thinking of that word: Love. Her senses were deadened reading and re-reading the passage on page 177, unable to feel the pain of the beloved main character abandoned in a blizzard. Elsa opened the bedroom window, hoisted a pale bare foot over the ledge and onto the snow but felt nothing. No pain, no cold, imagining the distant fire swallowing her as she slept in the naked cold. The unobstructed frigid Maine country scent seeped in and immediately saturated her eyes and skin. Tears formed on her cheeks, not from the outdoor intruder, and Elsa wiped the melancholy away with the back of her hands like a little girl, then turned the pages of the book wondering, 'how if I'm unable to feel human, how can I teach my classroom the secret of life'.

The phone rang. Frozen pipes were found burst in the schoolhouse, "school canceled tomorrow, Miss Kincaid", shouted the hard of hearing principal, Mr. Tobias. "Oh, that's too bad", she had to repeat amongst the fading "what's that?". Around midnight, awakened by a barking dog somewhere close, she pulled a quilted robe on and went into the kitchen to make some hot tea. She stubbed her right big toe on a chair and began to cry, so happy to feel the throbbing pain, obstinately deciding before the first cup cooled to quit teaching and write a novel. Her heavy eyelids won out over the barking dog at the round kitchen table, and she dreamed of following an injured silver wolf in the snow to an isolated cabin with a majestic writing table, lit with a metallic lamp sparking streaks of pink clouds reaching the edge of the world.

Monhegan's Schoolteacher 2004
--by Jamie Wyeth

Monday, April 15, 2013

hats off

The first to arrive left his hat on. She poured his tea, three-quarters cup, leaving it sit on the table for him to fetch. They talked weather, not much rain, grey neutral skies. Her eyelids were weighty in ten minutes, white crystal sleep forming in the corners of her blue eyes in broad daylight. Ah, the second gentleman, you ask?

Nervous. But that signifies lack of over-confidence perhaps, she grasped for straws. At the door there were short unconscious tosses of his plaid beret, hand-to-hand, much like a dexterous plate spinning carnival juggler. One cup of tea, and he drank it pacing in the parlor, spilling a little, managing to swallow some, forgetting his rehearsed lines. But give him a break: her cleavage was moist and sparkling. She was in full mirth arrest as he faded away, beret on backwards, glad he wasn't a knife thrower. For he might've taken out the third man.

The third was a crier, she wagered. A wrinkled vagabond hat from repeated crushing in two calloused hands, she surmised, possibly from standing on the sidewalk watching the veteran's parade, using the cloth cap sporting two brass sweat drain holes to wipe tears of tribute. She thought maybe he even bowed while removing the hat, all in one graceful motion. This gentleman, tall enough for her to be tucked under his chin, took the tray out of her hands, poured two cups with an assured steadiness, not blinded by her low-cut presentation. Once, she caught him looking, punctuated by a sharp intake of breath, a slight blushing smile.
He sat closer than the others, talked about his beloved mother, sipping in synchronized time as she raised the cup to her hopeful lips. Inquiring about the framed silkscreen portrait of her mother above the mantel in a flattering style that pleased, he observed she did not blink or look at the floor while revealing quiet endearments and confessions. At the door she touched his arm, her lips parted with no words spoken. He was out of sight around the fence and beyond the shadowed hedges before he remembered the hat.

Spring, 1935
by Kuzma Petrov-Vodin

Friday, April 12, 2013

the old game haiku

Baseball diamond towns
High arcing flights, green-scuffed knees
Boy's numbered heroes

Haiku Homeruns at
recuerda mi corazon,
exclusive home of
Haiku My Heart

photo from random BING search

Monday, April 8, 2013

the pastel heart

"I said I'm leaving you".
"You mustn't", The Painter replied, both palms set as though bracing for the weight of the world to be tossed his way. He never got used to it every time she quit. And she resigned during every near-masterpiece, floating out of a reclining satin sheet, then out onto the street.
"This is final", the girl murmured, reaching for her peignoir, as the artist looked sorrowfully at her unabashedly revealing one-third spun profile. She looked over her left shoulder at him, wrinkles in her forehead. He was not aroused, the blood drained from his head, and losing the center of gravity, he caught himself on a butterfly table, steadying the trembling kerosene lamp by the delicate glass.
"You don't love me", she complained, her voice small and dry, a line repeated over and over in days gone by. She brushed past his outstretched hand reaching for the lovely wide hips and whisked out the door with a slam. His reaction was the same as always - Suicidal, with a desire to swallow a can of turpentine. He cursed, because he worked in limp pastels.
"Damn! Chalk"! He grabbed a fistful and fell into a cushioned chair.

The second floor studio, a hollow room, clockless save for the sun's rays keeping accurate time spotlighting ground powder splotches peppered into the wooden floor by years of nervous pacing, was dark and quiet, except for the echoing door slam pounding in his head. He sat crooked and motionless for an hour until he heard a soft plush thud by one of the open bay windows. He pulled himself up, took up the lamp, and saw it was a small motionless bird with a broken wing. Cradling the fragile companion in a shaky palm he stretched out the window and lowered it into a yellow nest forged in the dry clay gutter stopped up with last years leaves.

In the street below a gas lamp lighter gentleman reached skyward with his flame, tapping the iron stem of glowing light in time as he soloed Verdi's Aria, Ernani. Men and women came out of heavy darkened doors, drawn by the sweet tenor, a strong solo shimmering to the countryside. Before two more lamps were lit the abandoned artist was moved to tears. The lamplighter trailed off-key when he found a crowd had gathered and applauded appreciatively.

The Painter missed the girl desperately and fell into nightmarish sleep late on a moonless night upon the cold pastel floor. The girl came to him on the arm of a suitor. She was laughing like a horse, mocking him, rubbing her brick red satin dress on a blank canvas, exposing under the blankness the one thousandth version of three apples, a pear, and a cracked bowl, all in a ray of dusty light. She forced him to trade the fruited painting on the street corner for a colorless brittle crayon. He was startled awake with palms sweating. Wiping cobwebs from the corner of his eyes he saw a large man kicking a dog and the street lamps dying out one by one. There was no singing. Instead, he heard....

A soft knock at the door. He imagined it could be that little bird with the broken wing. He stood still, quickly swiveling his head like a bird searching for crumbs to offer. The splintered door opened slowly but there was no one in the frame. When he looked out into the hall the girl was scurrying away, her long dress sounding like water from a sputtering fountain.
"You. We have much to do", he called to her in a gentle questioning tone. She hesitated at the stairs with her right hand on the rail, came back swiftly, passing by him close under his chin, head down, avoiding his eyes. He thought she smelled more and more wonderful as he peeled away her garments unaccompanied.

Woman With a Towel (1898)
Edgar Degas

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

last letter

Dear Doll Face --

You're not really going to cut your Audrey Mane are you? I know she looked rapturous with a pixie cut, and Seberg was never lovelier, but let yours get tangled around your ankles, ok? You can always tuck it under that floppy lake hat. I'll even keep my hand on top on breezy days.
Thanks for your scented and lipsticked letter. (Glad you left out any deathly lock of hair).It gets lonely here. It's so quiet without your Italian exclamation points and mischievous laugh. And I miss your lucid eyes. And your morning frost melting body. With or without a skirt. The only sound beyond this typewriter is the egg popping in the skillet. I took in that stray cat you love. I named him Whiskey. He doesn't come when I call. I'd rather have a dog. They make better astronauts. One brave and daring pup is orbiting the earth still. Whiskey has no interest whatsoever in chasing these annoying baby armadillo rats that've overtaken the kitchen. They move so slow and seem to have no wants, and sometimes they just stare up or over at me, pushing me head first over the cliff of self-consciousness. I throw them as hard as I can, hissing, and they appear again next sunrise. And all the carrots come up missing.
Oh. Oh no. Ah hell. Speaking of dogs - the Great and Powerful has just bent a twister on a dog leg off a par 4 hole and it's heading my way. You may be getting this letter air mail. And with it the Underwood. Grabbing all Whiskey, cellar bound.
I love you.

-- Philip

art: Between Heaven and Hell (1989)
by Jacek Yerka
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