Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Scribbling #191: Game

George Rodrigue: The Millenium

gamely, she squandered

five of the ten

ways she has

of fueling the masses

with her

five and dime

monkey see, monkey do-

ness. Politesse

her other game,

we were quickly

onto her gamey

smell, the touch

of patchouli that touches

the wild fauna

in even

the least of us,

wishing us down

its ferret ways,


the gaming commissioners


in our black hearts,


with configurations skyclad,


Rodrigue's vestal dogs

memorizing the way home,

the way to palatial


the way to soothe

this fevered brow.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

For the Duchess

Squired Her Ladyship and two young Lords (that would be His Lordship Mr. Baby and friend Lord Sebastiano) to the Texas Renaissance Festival yesterday, a marathon trip it was: I am still unable to comprehend how a 250 mile trip (one-way) takes 6 hours: that would be about 40 mph and, last I checked, that weren't no Model T we wuz drivin'.

Okay, yes, there were distractions and detours: after dislodging Lord S from his hilltop castle home, there was a quick run into the ubiquitous grocer and, yes, the obligatory road fuel at the equally ubiquitous green awnings, but to our credit, once out on the long crawl of I-10, we did not give in to the temptation of Buc-ee's, the Death Star-sized truck stop slash Xanadu to many of my traveling middle school urchins at the Instituto. I felt a bit of the traitorous apostate in not paying homage to what has become lore, right up there with the endless speechifying in The Iliad that attends even the (ten pages later) death of a man with a spear lodged in his throat. I promised myself that I would pay my respects on the return trip, but sadly, in trying to up my mph to, say, 47, I passed on the Death Star twice in the same day.

And yes, the Brenham Airport (that's right, Duchess, airport) Diner did waylay us for a delightful home-cooked meal, ushered and stewarded and served by a bevy of bobby-soxers right out of "Happy Days." Ashley was our waitroness, equipped with the sturdy musculature (this was remarked upon by our Ladyship, not by your squire, to said Ashley) of a gymnastics slash cheerleading coach. We of course poured some gilder into the resident juke box and, as with all ancient juke boxes, were entertained by a throbbing bass line and not much else. At meal's end, we were out to the tarmac for some Cessna shots, by which time Lord Sebastiano had teamed with the inner child of Her Ladyship to pronounce yet another detour to the now regionally infamous Emperor of Ice Cream. In addition to his role as co-conspirator with the young avatar of Her Ladyship, Lord S was also our traveling statistician: he thumbs-upped the diner's food to the tune of 10 out of a possible 5. Them's was some fine onion rangs.

To our blissful amusement, on our way to the Emperor's Palace, we passed by a CVS pharmacy, grandly proclaiming a sale on the frozen lactose of two equally well-known Vermont purveyors who, in deference to the Emperor, shall remain nameless. Likely, those CVS-ers are just the kind of people who would blithely drive by the aforementioned Buc-ee's, sans even the slurpy guilt of Your Squire.

As we pulled up to the towering Emerald City (albeit in trim Federalist brick), Lord Mr. Baby opined that it looked like "the Government of Ice Cream," at which point I told the assembled of Mr. Stevens' poem to the Emperor. We went into the palatial digs, where I ordered, as is my wont, one scoop of butter pecan and one of pralines and cream. Doubtless, at least one of you five readers out there are wondering, as did my masters, what "the hell" (no, the Lords did not themselves use that particular word, but this is my telling) difference there was between the two flavors. I refrained then, as I will now, from making that distinction, as it is not a line of demarcation that needs delineating to the truly obsessed lactoidesseurs. We were all amused when, moments later, while lounging at our table, we heard yet another infidel wonder aloud at the serving counter as to the difference between those same two heavenly flavors.

Her Ladyship, a more restrained and refined eater than her traveling companions, dined on one scoop of frozen strawberry yogurt. Sniffed Lord Mr. Baby: "That is the broccoli of ice cream, 'Mom.'" I'm afraid the lad was right; I sampled the paltry doings myself. Lord S proclaimed his flavors 47 out of a possible 23.

Did they ever make it to the Festival, you are perhaps - and understandably - wondering, and yes, they did, after yet another final time warp into the East Texas pines. Disembarking from their Korean carriage, they heard the wonderful drums in the distance and the roar of the arena crowds and soon they too were through the gates of the city and into the magic that is, well, the magic that is. Lovely ladies and handsome gentlemen abounding, merchants with their wares, dragons on their best behavior, and, this year, wonderful Ents, declaiming in their deep well-sprung throoming voices. Your Squire set himself down at one point in a green sky chair, a hammocky configuration, and would have been content to wile all of the rest of his afternoon floating in that one delicious spot. As the pounding of surf and the wailing of wind seaside is sure to blow all manner of hoohaw out of the human spirit, so do the gentle lights and blithe spirits of that piney fest soothe the fevered brows of all who enter and partake.

The parking lot devas were with us, as we made a quick and merry escape when the time came to leave Lothlorien. Back to the Emperor's town we made our way once again, stopping for repast at the Ant Street Inn. Under a beautiful and huge Tiffany glass chandelier, we dined heartily. Lord S sat with a looming Lady Liberty standing right behind him in the corner. Once back from a visit to the "facilities," I pronounced it in need of a Parental Guidance designation, as its elegant walls were bedecked with a bevy of paintings of completely skyclad beauties. Lord S forswore any need of its services, denying us a statistic that may have broken his tidy mental calculator. I can imagine that many of the Emperor's sons have spent a good many hours lost in contemplation of the splendor of those walls.

As I am back here at this digital contraption, it is quite evident that we did indeed make it back from our travels into and through time. It is a quiet and lazy Saturday morning; His Lordship Mr. Baby is behind me, off in his own little digital world, and Her Ladyship is resting from her travels still. Lord Sebastiano is no doubt regaling his own family up on the hilltop, with tales of swordsmanship, kettle corn, mead, and all the merriment that is a day lost in time and space.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

one word dervish: needle

kreskin painted himself
a blue shade
occipital blue
the hue you knew
when last you dated
Val. Now your printer,
her fonts have reduced
you to fawning over
the everpresent
green of you and she
when whirling in blessed
feet was the dream
inside your stylish
dickey. Come home
to the feast
you want to say, but
saying belies
the desire
still lurking


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday Scribblings #190: Beauty


The fog rolled in about three in the afternoon, bright blue sky morning turning to midnight black. Where she’d found the fog is anyone’s guess—her own pockets, upstairs, downstairs cabinets, her need was on the clock, circus of visiting family, circus of boys will be boys, testosterone cowboys, testosterone jockeys, and the gathering coo of mothers and aunts, hymns to family and reconciliations and forgettings, the biggest forgetting the absence she stumbled in, room to room, voracious lean panther foraging for the meat of self-destruction.

We’d picked her up in the fairy tale morning of Morristown, in golden autumn shade, the grey hag I’d imagined after all these years still the winsome lass, under a tangle of unkempt reunion hair, blossom fur you’d almost want to call it, a nest she carried, a place to lie down, carrion comfort. Standing there in front of the bank, no business of hers, looming fantasies of commerce in the abandoned fairy hall of her brain. Across the street to the old trust building, dignified aunt in her starchy columns now tamed by the ubiquitous green awnings at her feet. Chapel Hill, Ashland, Waitsfield, Bethlehem, anywhere, I thought, where youth lolls in splendor and dreams dream long into the fairy night. N turned in the tiny village street and we were off through the trees back to grandma’s house.

The others off to the childhood playgrounds, I sat at the table with S and split a bottle of pomegranate cider in tiny port glasses, playing the games of backgammon diplomacy, the tiny tits for tat that make, in the roll of dice and the click of tiles (and later, the shuffle of cards), for shadowy regard and weary détente. The morgue had not yet set in, though A was already rummaging. I poured her a glass of the cider as she walked through with her poverty of gleanings in a plastic bag. The smell of cigarette smoke poured off the woman who’d once gently argued the merits of soy in my coffee, heresy at the time to a man just two years from the magic of Fat City waiters pouring elixir from steamed copper lanterns of righteous brew.

It started, of course, with mild tangents and tea-time lunacies, before flowering into the black storm that swept the dinner table with its liturgy of recognitions, a ghost who could not perch, conversing with the masks she’d placed on all those around the table. At one point the two boys, ten and seven, were the thieves of the cheap necklace she’d lost under the table with the cell phone that had slipped from her grasp.

N and I drove her back out into the night at last, first to the music shop for an incomprehensibly long round of negotiations—an alms house, really, demure pawn priest behind the counter, selling whatever tiny bit of solace he could muster. From there, her dark eye ticked off the donut shops we passed on the way to weary Walt’s weary Camden. I wonder if his ghost still walks its streets, turns, as N did, in front of Diane’s Furs, tiger behind glass, patron saint to the nomads at the Nomad Motel just down the weary block.

N pulled in behind the building, dark and abandoned but for one other silver car. Of course, the red key was not to be found, just the yellow (“to the bathroom at work”). I knelt in the dark and sifted through the avalanche of her purse, who knows what salvation still lurked there, out of sight, beyond the reach of daily probing fingers. A walked three doors down, words with the hidden figure inside the door, comes back with yet another tale from another time. We walk round the building, up the hill to the office. Bearded ferryman looms behind glass, sends us back down the hill to the housekeeper’s, the very same door she knocked on minutes before. Rita, lovely Rita, with her dim old woman’s smile of blessing comes out, takes us all by the hand, gently, as gently as she opens A’s door and steers her in, and for the moment, yet again, in the darkest of places, I know that we—and more importantly, A—are still in the presence of God, nesting even for the unnestled.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Following Suit

I liked this song structure from Anno's site yesterday, her "Weekend Update." So, following suit...

Consumed with: Feeling "unhorsed." Not even sure what I mean by that, but I used the phrase this last Wednesday with my Wednesday car pool bunch. Thrown, I suppose, but not particularly wanting to get back on the horse either. I missed Thursday, staying home to take care of Mr. Baby while he was on the mend from a stomach bug, and then Friday, I took my math class downtown on the 92 bus, while we wandered around doing "mathy" kinds of things under a gorgeous blue sky. No horses to be seen: I enjoyed just wandering around on my feet.

Hoping for: Another magical post-Thanksgiving trip over to the Renaissance Festival. Last year's day still reverberates inside of me, calling me back for more.

Listening to: Right now, the quiet thrum of this here computer in the early morning quiet, but yesterday's soundtrack was Sade's Love Deluxe CD. I walked past the family room and saw that Mr. Baby was grooving to it, too.

Enjoying: This quiet and the still dark and the fact that
Ms. Crusoe showed up at her blog after long travels with another of her darkly lush pieces.

Just finished reading: Elmore Leonard's Road Dogs. Very fun read. I was thinking yesterday that EL is a poetry mentor of mine as well: I can feel his rhythms in the lines. My mother has seen EL several times at book signings: has him sign her books,
to my Number 1 fan...

Watching: In yesterday's gorgeous weather, at the ArtPeace festival at our church, I watched Mr. Baby climb and stand in the very top branches of a thick crepe myrtle tree, the sun lighting his face as he emerged from the leaves.

Wishing for: father Tom's full and healthy mend from this past week's surgery.

To further follow Ms Anno, wishing you all wonderful weekends, wonderful skies, wonderful unhorsings.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday Scribblings #189: Oracle

[9 sublime]

Gender bending cosmonauts,
Priming at the Cool Café,
Their harems in military line,
Echoing the distillations
Of pepperings future past,
Mayan avocado shrimp dip
And McKenna on the sublime
Back nine, Florsheims pandering
To the crooked,
The eventual,
The unhorsed,
The validated parking stickers
That miss by a mile,
While the still are living
And the living are still dead.
92 rhymes with
The rest of where we go,
When the days are blue
And the galleries are blown.
Lyman Frank Baum as birdhouse,
Hosing the weathervanes,
Vainly squiring his minions through
The poppies, angular Fate
In her red tap dancers, sparkling
Recompense for the little
We know and the little
You’ll do. Stand
In the river? If need be,
Of course, but the hissings
Of summer lawns, now
That’s actuarial bliss beyond
Measure, actuarial praise beyond


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday Scribblings #188: Interview

[Yet another excerpt from my novel Scarred Angels:]

The Kingdom was an exclusive cul de sac within the already exclusive neighborhood of Olmos Park. Olmos Park was the site of San Antonio’s royalty. Not the minor dukes and duchesses who played at Battle of Flowers coronations. No, the residents of Olmos Park didn’t have time for such nonsense. Back in the 1920’s, though, a handful of the Overlords began to feel the call for a retreat even more exclusive. Hence, the Kingdom. A private road, walled off from public intrusion, with a round the clock sentry posted at a high wrought iron gate. Charlotte Hunter was as close to the spawn of God as was possible in our fair city.

We opted for Frank’s unmarked cop car and tooled on over to the Land of Oz. I was expecting Beefeaters at the front gate, but the sentry was a nice enough guy in khakis. He’d been SAPD for about ten years before landing his current job, so he was cordial when Frank rolled down his window.

“You guys here for a party, right?” he said, and winked. I guess you could be as friendly as you wanted if you’re on the other side of a 20 foot iron gate.

“Right,” said Frank. “I’ve got a date with Mrs. Hunter and this here’s my chaperone.”

“Mrs. Hunter, eh? Quite a knockout for a woman pushing sixty. I’ll tell her you called. Who should I say - ”

“How about calling her now? My tuxedo’s wrinkling, as you can see,” said Frank.

Seeing that humor wasn’t going to get rid of us, the sentry turned surly. “Couple of shitheads like you? I don’t think so.”

“Mr. Mitchell,” said a voice over the gate intercom.

“Yes, Mrs. Hunter,” said the stricken man.

“Please allow Mr. Bollinger and his chauffeur in the front gate. Then, if you would, please call Mr. Gleason and ask that your replacement be sent over as soon as possible. You’re fired.”

Dumbstruck, Mitchell let us in the gate and directed us down a lane through an enormous jungle. We wandered for about a quarter of a mile before the road brought us to an enormous stone palace.

“Which way to Kansas, Dorothy?” said Frank.

“Beats me, Mr. Wizard,” I replied, before noticing the advance of two men in black suits to open both our doors. We were frisked efficiently and led in the front door of the mansion where a dignified old Englishman led us into a room the size of my entire apartment building.

“Mrs. Hunter will join you shortly, gentlemen. May I offer you tea in the meantime?”

“By all means, Chauncy,” I said, momentarily adrift from the purpose of my visit.

“Nigel, sir,” said the old man.


“My name, sir. Nigel.”

“Oh. Well then, by all means, Nigel. Lord González, would you, too, care for tea?”

Frank was about to answer when the voice we’d heard on the intercom sounded behind us.

“Mr. Bollinger, kindly refrain from teasing Nigel. You and Mr. González have a seat.” She may have lived in the Kingdom, but the voice was pure East Texas.

Frank, sympathetic to the fate of extended family, opened with, “Kind of hard on Mr. Mitchell don’t you think, Mrs. Hunter?”

“Oh, calm down, Mr. González, I was only having a little fun with him. Now that he knows I monitor all conversations at the gate, he’ll be on his best behavior. The nerve of him with his ‘pushing sixty.’”

“Really, Mrs. Hunter,” I said. “I was going to say - ”

“There’s no pushing about it. I am sixty.”

The woman sitting across from us had short white hair, dark brown eyes, skin that was tanned, but by no means burnt to a crisp. Very smooth skin on her face, virtually no make-up, and a few wrinkles at the corners of her eyes that she seemed perfectly content to advertise. She was dressed quite casually in a pair of green linen slacks and a white blouse. Her feet were bare. She looked nothing like her daughter, and though her manner was still arresting, it lacked Charlotte’s predatory air.

She caught me staring at her. “November 17, 1908, Mr. Bollinger. Do the math for yourself,” she said.

I stumbled through the math in my head, smiled at her, and then awkwardly shifted gears. “Mrs. Hunter - ”

“Jessica,” she said. “Jessica will do just fine.”

I lacked Agnes’ ability to keep things formal. “Jessica, then. How is it that you know me?”

“You mean with your new bruises, Mr. Bollinger, or do you mean in general?”

“In general.”

“Let’s just say I’ve seen you around. I make it my business to know people.”

“Seen me?”

“I wouldn’t scandalize yourself any more than you’ve already been, Mr. Bollinger. Let’s just leave it at that.” Her gaze was forthright and steady.

“Mrs. Hunter – Jessica – I’m afraid Frank and I came here laboring under quite a misconception. We were led to believe that you were - ”

“Morally worthless, Mr. Bollinger? Yes, yes, I’m quite familiar with John Bastrop’s opinions of me. He is a tiresome little man, most unhappy since his fall from grace.”

I was inclined, by virtue of her own opinions, to feel that we were in the same camp. “You seem to know much more than I’ve given you credit for. I presume that you have a good idea of why we’re here?”

“That, I must say, Mr. Bollinger, is a small mystery to me, and the reason I played my little joke on Mr. Mitchell. I must confess that you piqued my curiosity.”

I realized that I was about to play the trump card I’d kept from Frank and everyone else. The surprise was I had no resistance whatsoever. Why had I been unable to tell this woman’s daughter?

“Perhaps I can be discreet, Jessica. Let’s just say that I know that John Bastrop was not always tiresome to you.”

She smiled, didn’t blink an eye. Frank, on the other hand, was coughing. Nigel stepped forward with a glass of water.

“Oh, Mac save your discretion. Let me assure you, John Bastrop has always been a loathsome creature to me. But are you saying that he is the father of my daughter? Well, in that you are correct. My unwillingness to continue a relationship with him beyond her birth contributes largely to his opinions of my moral worthlessness. But, tell me, how is it you came to this precious piece of information?”

“I was told by the good father himself. Or I guess I should say I was shown.”

“Shown, Mac?”

“That’ll take some explaining. Your former lover - ”

“Oh, please, Mac. Spare me such colloquialisms.”

“Want it blunt then, Jessica? John Bastrop is screwing his own daughter. Up until now, that she was his daughter was just a hunch, something I thought I saw in the pictures.”


“Of them, well, of them...together.” How was I supposed to put it?

“Oh my.”

“You’re shocked?”

“Well, in a way, yes.” She smiled brightly. “I guess the little bastard’s finally learned to use a tripod and timer.”

My head was swooning. Frank cut in. “Mrs. Hunter, are you aware that John Bastrop and your daughter are engaged in the production of child pornography and appear to be in league with some individual connected with the Vatican itself?”

This is when Jessica Hunter’s manner got downright steely. “No, I was not,” she said.

Frank continued. “They’ve been gathering children from St. Ann and photographing them. We came across a series of magazines apparently produced by them in conjunction with their Vatican contact.”

“Might it be possible, Mr. González, for me to see one of these magazines?”

“I’m afraid not, Mrs. Hunter. They’re no longer in our hands.”

“Ah,” she said, smiling knowingly. “Captain Harry Carson still up to his scut work. Another loathsome creature.”

I was getting used to the strange atmosphere of the conversation and poked my nose back in. “We’ve been stymied every which way in trying to push this case along. We were grasping at straws when we came over here, but I just wondered if there was some way you might be of assistance.”

“I might at that, Mac,” she said. She was still smiling, but her eyes were fixed. “Tell me. Who is the Vatican contact?”

“We just know him as Byron,” said Frank.

The next smile was grim. “Little Byron Pettigrew,” she said. “I might have known.” She stood abruptly. “Thank you, gentlemen. I’ll see what I can do. Nigel, if you’d be so kind as to show these gentlemen out when they’ve had their tea.” She turned and padded softly out of the room.

“Strange bird,” said Frank as we drove through the Kingdom’s gates and past the chastened Mitchell. Given Mrs. Hunter’s surveillance of the front gate, we’d kept our comments to ourselves while wolfing down finger sandwiches in her hangar-sized parlor. It would have been nothing for her to keep an eye on us in her own house. While dropping breadcrumbs on her carpets I kept up my teasing of Nigel, half-expecting her voice to come booming out of a speaker over his head.

“No shit,” I said. We were driving by the houses of lesser royalty outside the Kingdom. “She’s got a strange set of values. Noticeably concerned about the kids in the magazines, but nothing but wisecracks about the good father humping his daughter.”

“I don’t know,” said Frank.

“What? You heard her crack about the tripod.”

“Oh, I got that. I just don’t think she was all that hot and bothered about the kids. She seemed more interested in the magazines themselves.”


“I don’t know,” said Frank, more to himself than to me. He was driving now with that abstracted look cops get when they’re thinking behind the wheel. It was not a look I relished; I’d kept us out of half a dozen accidents during our drive across the city.

Make that seven. “Frank,” I said firmly, breaking his trance. “Stop sign.” We skidded to a halt just as a furniture truck roared through the intersection. I could see why cops had partners. “You were saying?”

“I don’t know,” he repeated, glazing over again. “I was just thinking about something Sarge said to me when I first came on: ‘We haven’t the foggiest idea what’s goin’ on out there, not even vice. There’s stuff still being invented.’”

“You think maybe Jessica Hunter’s got a patent or two of her own?”

“I wouldn’t put it past her.”


Saturday, November 07, 2009


So, the resident Scorpio passed another milestone yestiddy: here in this corner of Tres Leches, tis the season of nativities: Tina in Libra, yo in Scorp, and the fiery one in December's Sag. What with all the aplomb and labor of our move, Mrs. Baby's birthday really got trampled on, so we are taking this weekend to celebrate our birthdays together. The windows and sliding doors are all open and Van is on the box hymning to Coney Island and the saints, and later we are off to San Marcos to sit under the stars and trees with Crooked Still. This poem is for the cardinal one of this seasonal birthday trine:

Time Cast

tina mama
mama yaya
forging paths
through the heart
of the matters that matter
most, elevations, foundations,
all plumbed for truth,
heart’s truth,
the wisdom of the seer
who sees through
uncovers virtue
down the darkest ladders
unearths the treasure
of castaway trine
Kalispell’s spelling
one letter, one word
at a time, through
glacial time & the very
swiftest, gazelle time,
cyd charisse time,
gwyneth time,
castaway time, and all
the times that return
in the look of Mary
through flesh cast
down and resurrected,
cast down & en-flamed.


Friday, November 06, 2009


Seniors finishing up Beowulf. We looked at tonality parallels between Beowulf and the fifth section of Eliot's The Wasteland - "What the Thunder Said." Just playing with the language, thieving and shimmying and jiving. My riff.


Shantih speaks
The river is now
Now is the desperation
Of lonely hours
The desecration of lost time
Roses blooming, not the cicadas
The living now dead
Presume nothing, presume no
Entrance into the graveyard
Where I count which mountains
Are rock and which the silence.
Sterility broods, darkened shadow
Mudcracked, singing, carious:
With little patience
I ask the last and only
Question left to ask. She
Towers and I am without
Rain. The other side
Is where the other lurks, bringing rain,
Absorbing conscience, hooding
Lamentations, murmuring. She
Says the thunder speaks—the thunder
Is nodding, under seals broken &
Fit. Fishing the arid plains, we sit
Upon the shore, cross the water’s
Edge, sing the thunder’s
Beneficent song. Arthurian tumors,
Rumors that last far
Into the day. Gaily,
With expert hand and oar,
Gaily, with controlling hand,
Praying on the painted shore.
Nightfall, the heart calms—
Dawn, the memories soar.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

one word iliad: shield

almond butter

twisted knickers

ebulliently displayed

this your neural

algebra, captured

in black and white

dove bars doving

apple butters


headlines in the milky

way of flavors

left over,

rainbowing through the

appliance giant giants.

you come via

the last chance

or you leave


the blue door.

blue cafes

warbling, blue


ever asking

for more.