Tuesday, July 12, 2016

GENERAL CURSE AGAINST ONE WHO HAS TRIED TO HARM YOU, a poem with commentary

It seems that what's needed in the fight for justice against your
enemies is a handy basic curse that doesn't require any exotic
additions like rare deathly mushrooms in a boiling pot,
frog's eyelid, bird of paradise plume, unicorn poop, and the like.
Just say this poem good and loud when you feel like it. If
convenient, stand in the dark and under the moon. Maybe you
could face the direction of your enemy's tainted dwelling, if you
know it. Repeat the poem as needed. It will cure what ails you.

Oh: if you happen to be a more spiritual type who has ambitions
to forgive, go right ahead. But keep in mind this tried and true
Italian proverb:
"Forgive. But remember the bastard's name."

GENERAL CURSE

Fish will eat you
and your yellow coyote eyes
bubble to oyster jelly,
your rank vermicelli hair
bolt straight up in terror
on your death, death, deathbed
(sinner don't wait
until it's too late)

and still no one will forgive you,
you may have as many eyes
as hairs on your head
and fail to track the spell:
what went around will come around,
its foot will make no sound.
No use to hide in seams
where even a mole could not go.
Darkness doesn't fall, it rises,
milk you put to your lips
boils red in your belly overnight.
Back and front you'll suffer
in an ape suit of hives,
you're a silver skeleton walking,
your marrow and bone shine.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why I Didn't Take The Cathoholic Writing Course

It was around 2000. A friend told me that ambitious writers were always enriching their grapevine of contacts with the lush manure of workshops, readings, schmoozing in coffee shops, writing fawning reviews and above all, joining a writing class. I'd never taken one.

"It's time to stop picking daisies. You need formal credentials," Friend told me sternly. She recommended someone that we'll call Maxwell. She said he was a good creative writing teacher who could give me gobs of great advice.

As a prerequisite before signing up for Maxwell's course, I gave him a short story that I'd labored over. It was about a very troubled kid who'd been a child soldier in his home country. In America, he's often beaten by a priest in his parochial school. At the end of the story the tormented boy vandalizes a church.

My story had already been published, and well-published. But I hoped to improve it.

Maxwell had a pitying but implacable look when he handed back the story. He looked like a hanging judge about to stretch your neck with a really big haul on the rope, but more in sorrow than in anger. I should have paid attention to his expression. After all, it was right in front of my face. But instead I waited like a goofy puppy, eager to be praised. Maxwell said (and I remember the exact words):

"As a practicing Catholic, I find the portrayal of the priest in your story deeply offensive." He folded his lips tightly together and frowned. This was the full extent of his critique.

To say I was surprised doesn't go far enough. I was astounded. Maybe the English word Gobsmacked is best, because it means both flabbergasted and speechless. I couldn't have been more shocked if he'd suddenly taped peacock feathers to his butt and started dancing the Texas two-step. I said nothing. But what I thought was this: "Writing a good story is hard enough without Pope John Paul and legions of the freakier saints peering over my shoulder."

The friend who'd recommended him threw up her hands: "That isn't like Maxwell at all! He's a real sensible guy normally. I bet that Cathoholic wife of his dictated what he should say."

I'd never heard the word Cathoholic, and was intrigued. Friend explained that it doesn't necessarily mean someone who drinks too much. The person doesn't even have to be a Catholic, "although they usually are," Friend claimed. It means an obsessive member of any religion. A Cathoholic is hopped up on arrogance, snakebitten out of her gourd with delicious delusions about her glorious spirituality. She thinks of herself as God's sensational darling, while those in other religions are his stunted stepchildren. Needless to say this has nothing actually to do with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the saints or (God forbid) God. And a true member of this tribe thinks that Jesus was having a wimpy, pinko, Bernie Sanders kind of moment when he suggested things like Help one another, and Love your neighbor as yourself.

Soon after this incident, the international scandal broke about abusive priests being protected by bishops in the Catholic church for decades, if not centuries. I wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell had heard the news. Did it affect their worship schedule at all? Also, did they recollect the events in my story? Probably they did not.

Years passed. Mrs. Maxwell and I live in the same area. I sometimes walk my dogs down her block.To this day, when she sees me she looks surly and, I'm sorry to say, quite unchristian. Sometimes she'll even mutter and sputter to herself, like Donald Duck in a cartoon when he's especially pissed off. This fascinates me. This majestic lady wouldn't tolerate a speck of dust on her white slacks or sparkling car, but she's perfectly comfortable with raging, squawking, farting little Donald scampering around her brain. She even thinks that God wants him there. Her behavior is odd; her motivations are mysterious; but her performance as a whole is devilishly entertaining.
















Monday, October 6, 2014

Poem for Annie's Curls

How strange these strands of silk, buckeye chestnut, mustang brown, not long enough to wrap your hand around, and each by itself insubstantial as dragonfly's flight to breast the wind, to guard against fire or ice, to add one dot to wisdom or peace or justice in the world-- yet each to its own, a coiling spring of joy. This single tendril a bolt of chromium steel with might to bind a strong father's heart for life. Written in dearest blood, his wish that his tiny Rapunzel will never know a tower, witch curse, careless climbing prince, that a loving dragon-father can keep her safe no matter how fierce the fanged shears of the world.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"MAXIMUS, I Want To Have Your Baby!"

We've all seen GLADIATOR, right? When you think about it, why wasn't Maximus Decimus Meridius simply chosen to be the baby-daddy of the whole world? He was a Spaniard living in Rome (hybrid vigor), could carry about 75 lbs. of fetish-y steel armor and leather with ease, kicked up a heck of a fuss in the Coliseum (energy, joie de vivre), had Alpha Hunk written all over him but had his soulful moments too, and even his furs looked noble. By contrast we have the Roman emperor Commodus (see picture), who warmed up by murdering his father--which was tradition among aristocrats of the time--but went hogwild after that, and wanted to marry all the close relatives he didn't assassinate. The photo above shows Commodus in one of his HAPPY moments. In my opinion he might possibly qualify, at a stretch, as Funny Uncle. But Baby-Daddy? No. A reader has asked me if Commodus and Maximus were the only two choices . Hmmm...weelll...in 180 A.D., maybe.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

THE WICKED MARQUIS LIKED HIS CUPCAKES MOLTEN

I just learned from the delightful blog PaperandSalt that the Marquis de Sade, on top of everything else, was a chocolate fiend. He once threw a chocolate party so wild that he was put in prison. I'm surprised that he had the energy. After all, it's not as though he didn't have anything else going on. A true French aristocrat, he hardly allowed solitary confinement to slow him down. The rambunctious Marquis regally demanded of his long-suffering wife (who remained free, since she hadn't been invited to the party) that she bring him a better grade of chocolate "than the infamous rubbish you sent me last time." He also schooled her in the perfect cake, saying, "It ought to have the same taste as when you bite into a bar of chocolate. I wish it to be of a chocolate so dense that it is black, like the devil's arse is blackened by smoke."


Don't you suspect that, in the Marquis's childhood, little Donatien Alphonse was never satisfied with just ONE marshmallow in his cocoa??

Friday, November 22, 2013

FIGHTING THE NAZIS IN GORGEOUS CLOTHES!

I admire the old-time movie freedom fighters, especially Ingrid Bergman, who won World War II several times without ever breaking a sweat. In fact, as these scenes from CASABLANCA and NOTORIOUS show us, she saved civilization in diamond chandelier earrings,  romantic garden hats and a ruffly bolero.

 
We know that the Nazis will totally fail at world domination when Bergman symbolically rests her exquisitely manicured hand on the globe.
 
In NOTORIOUS, her fellow warrior is Cary Grant.
No reason you can't beat the Axis Powers in silk socks!
If you're Bogey, you can be sad, fight the Nazis, drink champagne and wear black tie all at the same time.
Well, maybe Sam won't ever play it again... but these thrillingly
invincible and glamorous combatants, plunging bravely through their hair-raising world-saving adventures,
will always make my heart glad. I stand, raise a glass and cheer.