October 2, 2008

    Hey! It's a Free Sky!

I stepped out the back door of the Rotunda and saw a glorious sky with clouds playing soccer and the sun playing hide 'n' seek. I pulled out my small camera and pointed it at the sky. One click later, and a security guard told me to put the camera away, photography is not allowed on the property. "I'm taking pictures of the sky! The sky's not on the property." "I'm telling you, stop taking pictures. I don't care where you go, but you can't take pictures here." In defiance, I turned on the movie mode, held the camera to my chest and slowly strolled to my truck, tilting the lens up and around. Then I sat in the car for 5 minutes photographing the sky, as reflected in the dark windows of the SUV next to me.
    I should have said, "OK, I'll sit here and draw the sky." I wonder if that could be considered a first amendment right?

September 13, 2008

Barkinglips.com:                   "This domain is under construction."

    My lips twitched, pursed, twisted. I licked them. Then I looked up my domain name (for which there is no website yet):
http://www.barkinglips.com/ and I found what looks like a website for my "parked page" -- set up by directNIC! They provided the giant lips, and hyperlinks to many search pages for Lip, Chapped Lips, Hot Lips, Lip Injections, Face, Lasting, Plumping, Emu Oil, Augmentation, My Lips, Full Lips, Pink Lips, Big Lips, Bigger Lips, Wet Lips, Dry Lips but, alas nothing about dog lips or barking dogs, or wisdom from the mouths of dogs!!! I've just requested permission to put my own picture (of a dog) on the page, so this may be gone soon, but omigod! it's better than anything the dadaists could have dreamed of! "Lasting Lips" has some particularly cool conceptual links.
    I believe it might be worth it to just buy a dot com address for $15 a year just to be able to enjoy a directNIC parked page for the nonce.

September 7, 2008

    The Old Appliance Club

    Did she know when to quit? She called her stove a piano; she put frozen peas in the biscuit jar; she felt as frazzled as widow's net caught in an eggbeater. She looked up her name with Google, and omigod, there she was, the perfect definition of her unsaved self: The Old Appliance! And now there was a club about her! The club flew about her, whacking her ears, rounding off her shoulders, until she was just an old appliance, too wide for the back door, too warm for ice cream, too noisy for the keen of hearing.

August 21, 2008

    MAPS & BIRDS: Getting Home

    Like a throbbing bead waiting in a velvet box, or a tumor crowding honest flesh out of the way, or a perfect speckled egg in a tight moss nest, the magnet readied itself in her brain, just exactly where – through bone and forehead wrinkles – her third eye would be.
    She knew already that she had the third eye, because something as slight as a stray hair from her bangs, pointed for a nanosecond at that part of her forehead, brought an intense feeling of centering. With her eyes closed, in the dark, someone could experimentally point a pencil closer and closer to that third eye spot, never touching the fine hairs, and she would know that it was there.
    She amused herself sometimes, lying in bed – what else was there to do? – by bringing her forefinger slowly toward her forehead until she could feel the prickle, the feeling that the reptile in her head had woken up. Ah! there it was. This time, would the snake strike at her finger? Could she, that way, travel back 40,000 years to sing in a cave?

  On Not To See a Bird. The noodles boil to paste, blacken, catch fire. She comes home and throws the pot into the snow, a hissing startled crow. Upstairs, she finds him asleep, eyes clenched to the plumes of acrid smoke. She slides beside him, has dreams—acres of corn-stalk, winter rag—pinioned by the wing of his arm.

  Oh, no, she was on to something. She’d spent seven decades trying to find the direction, the point on the map where she should fly.
  Like a bird with a magnet in its brain, like a homing pigeon, she had burst from her cage on a roof and flown in circles for years.
  Home kept changing; where was home?
Is a roost always in the same place? Why did a male chicken get to be the roost-er? Why not the hen? Would she have to become a rooster, in order to find her real home, the home inside her brain?
  Could she excite the reptilian magnet, the heavy like-a-ball-of-mercury orb of her third eye, so that it would point to due happiness?

  Cartogram. The green cut to tan—textures of a grocery bag—the rivers bluer, counties wider. They opened out, out there, thoughts losing the yellow gridwork of cities, marked with the spare periods of desert towns. You are here? she wrote, across the legend, waiting 5, 10, 100 miles for an answer.

  Again she thought about all she had learned about birds during her life. Forget the stuff that didn’t pertain, that didn’t really interest her. Here were the things that she found compelling:
  1. The blue feathers of a bird, be it blue jay or kingfisher, get their color from the sky. No bird is really blue. Blue is the presence of scattered light and what? imagination? desire?
  2. Pigeons, albatrosses, and hummingbirds have a small magnetic center in their brains which helps them keep track of magnetic north and its opposite, south, and its outstretched wings -- east and west. It is possible, speculated one scientist, that humans have this magnet too.
  3. Chickadees can live 12 or more years. Each year, the part of their brain that records where they stored seeds and berries, in little pocks and crevices, dies and regrows, empty of information. How could a chickadee, without accounting practices or Microsoft, keep track of seeds buried in 2006 and since eaten or hidden in 2008 and still there to be eaten?
  4. A crow can be quite shy, and will wait in a tree, politely, for the sparrow to leave the feeder. But rare is the sparrow who attends the feeder by himself.
  5. If a bird flew overhead and shat its stream of liquid excrement on your head, this will be called good luck.
  6. A tree full of turkey vultures is a tree streaked with white splatterings, gallons of it. It is also a noisy tree as they settle in at deep dusk – the sound of leathery wings beating like the wings of Da Vinci’s helicopter to lower their heavy bodies onto the roosting limbs. The slightest noise can make half of them fly up out of the tree, and it is like hearing a motorcycle gang strip off their leathers for a fight.
  7. You can kill a baby bird by feeding it too many worms. Its belly will swell, and burst, and the baby will die a horrible death that you don’t know how to halt or hasten.
  8. A trumpet vine thrilling with orange trumpets will not guarantee hummingbirds or angels.

What does this tell us about humans?

  Whippoorwill. She stood in the wind at the edge of the lot, pigweed blooming and rattling cups. She angled her arms in semaphore, to spell out hello or love or cannot see. He let the afternoon open his face, red breath, wet tongue.

  No, no, I may not be a bird, but I know where I’ll roost tonight, and I know over which trees the sun rises and beyond which highway the sun sets.
  And that’s that.
  This was a ‘blind’ collaboration between Linda Franklin and Joseph Young. We settled on two thematic words—birds, maps—and we wrote our pieces, understanding that Linda would read her title and first paragraph [roman typeface], be interrupted by Joe [italic] from the back of the room, then alternate between them until Joe was standing next to Linda at the podium. It was read at the 8/16/08 fiction 510readings at Minas Gallery, Baltimore, and worked better than either of us could have imagined. For more by Joseph Young, go to www.verysmalldogs.blogspot.com
For more on Minas and the 5ive Ten readings click on links in "site seeing" to the right of the page.

August 11, 2008

Acknowledgment that the Bug Exists.

  I was walking and a bug landed near my elbow. I couldn’t ... I was walking and a bug landed near my elbow. to read the rest of this, go to my new blog that is solely for these Google-search generated writings.
To read the rest go to www.gobbledeGoogle.blogspot.com

July 22, 2008

    "She Called It Freddy"              News Stories the Way I Like 'em

Police said they found the remains ... stuffed in a jar earlier this week. Police said a worker at a pump station found the jar buried Monday.
To read the rest go to www.gobbledeGoogle.blogspot.com

July 18, 2008

President McKinley Clutched His Chest

  When the retiree got up to bowl in the fifth frame of his second game, he clutched his chest ... McKinley looked confused and rose up on his toes, clutched his chest. Took one look at the monitor, let out a terrible scream, clutched her chest and fell dead upon the floor.
To read the rest of this appropriated-phrase story, please go to www.gobbledeGoogle.blogspot.com

Googling “clutched his chest” news garnered 709 hits in 0.12 seconds. Googling “clutched her chest” news garnered 4,090 hits in 0.14 seconds Googling “grabbed her chest” news garnered 11,800 hits in 0.46 seconds Googling “grabbed his chest” news garnered 16,900 hits in 0.34 seconds

July 9, 2008

Old Men and The Frail         Operculum of Snails

Even in my youngest, ripest years, from twenty-four
  to twenty-eight,
Young men did not, as the poet Yeats suggests,
  “suddenly catch their breath”
When I was passing.

Even then, it was
Old men – old to me – men ten, twenty,
  fifty years beyond me on the Path
Who smiled and wanted to stroke my arm where
  fine golden hairs grew and looked like a
  crop of wheat ready to be mowed,
It was old men who liked to put their arms
  around my waist, and pretend to
Nuzzle in my ear,
Who invited me to dinner, so that
I could sit across from them and
Smile for French snails and wine.

Once, a fat old man who was my boss,
Invited me to dine, and I dressed carefully,
  knowing what would come after,
But not knowing that I would have to suck
Cooked snails from their hidey holes in shells.

If I had not been young, perhaps I would have
Sucked a snail into my esophagus and
Died, asphyxiated on a harmless morsel that
Crawled once along its trail of lubricating slime,
And I'd never have ended up under the fat boss
Rolling around in his bed,
  closeup seeing the sweat
  pouring from his forehead, his ugly nose,
Seeing the hairs in his nostrils, seeing his
  rubbery penis stalk my garden.

Now I attract only the oldest of old men;
  now I am
Perhaps in sight of heaven itself--
    and I have hidden the
Desire to have my body loved or caressed;
I do still like to have my shoulder touched,
  my arm stroked.
I have never eaten another snail, but
  love to see the glister of their garden trails,
Without specific aim, but generally toward
Safe damp rocks and tender shoots.

  New Drug May Save Aged Bra

Double click on the drawing and it'll be big 'n' boo'ful, and you'll be able to read the fine print. But, in case you still can't read the fine print, the news article reads:

Special to the Sun
Tests of a new wonder drug, ichtyoelastinpu, seem to indicate that it works to restore all aged bras, and elderly underpants too. So far, garterbelts have failed to respond in a statistically significant way. Socks which underwent the same rigorous testing were found to suffer accelerated aging. Dr. L. Oldedrawer, 57, of Baltimore, says that the next item entering test trials are jockstraps.
  Ichtyoelastinpu, which is made of a derivative of Queen Anne's Lace roots (daucus carrotus) seems to work by restoring the DNA of the decaying elastic strands to their youthful vigor.
  This will be good news for all who are on a limited budget. The drug is going to be offered for sale to the public, under-the-counter, with the brand name UNDUE, as soon as October of this year.

UPDATE!! Furious industry leaders, including the CEOs of Matronform and Victoria's Gossip, claim that the government has not done enough testing of UNDUE, and that it is likely to wear off on the chests and underarms (and other parts) of wearers of treated unmentionables, and cause them to regress and become youngsters. Dr. L. Oldedrawer commented that surely Matronform, Victoria's Gossip, and others would appreciate a whole new, free, generation of "youngbodies" who will require training bras, etc., all over again. No-one from Elastopocket, which is the world leader in jockstrap manufacturing, would comment on the threat of "youngbodying."

June 20, 2008

Hands Cut Off Found Floating on Ocean

I read the headline of Googlenews:
Another hand, cut off, found in the ocean...
I was interested in something else that day,
  and didn't read it carefully.
But the image stayed with me: a flotilla of
  hands like the deadly bloom of
  talented algae that glows red and
  kills everything it covers.
Hands that could no longer play piano;
Hands that could no longer caress a lover's cheek;
Hands that could not press the keyboard's magic
  letters to Google news and write blogs.

Who would keep cutting off hands?
I googled "hands cut off" float news but
  already it was too late to catch that
  sickening image. News doesn't last.
But I learned --
  if that's the right word, learned --
That there is a band called Cut Off Hands,
  and they must be popular and
Bands can be called anything at all, and are,
Much to our dismay. The Dog Liver Bleedouts;
The Flea Infested Ivy Boys;
The Carpal Tunnel Rats;
The Crazed Carcinogens.
You wait! They'll be bands sooner or later.

So Little Do I Know of Plants

So little do I know of plants – but that
Peonies crawl with ants
  making excursions across the tight buds to
  Pantry? Dinner? Perfume counter?
And ferns, though trampled on and crushed
  to the corm,
  brown and rotted,
  always come back the next year.
Chicory seems impossible, even with abuse
  copying that of car tires, exhaust fumes,
  gravel, dirt with no thing living
  in it but germs. It just won’t grow.
Trumpet vines can overpower even wild honeysuckle,
  and grow on the woodlike twisted stems.
Acorns that fall on the ground in large numbers are
  treacherous to walk on --
  like walking on marbles.
Some leaves stay green on one half and
  yellow or red on the
  other half before they fall off.
A weed can be tugged out easier if
  you give it a fast quick little pull,
  then wait for a few seconds – as if to fool it –
  before yanking it out whole.
  This almost always works!
Sycamore bark falls off
  not every year, but in great batches, like
  scabs being flung off new skin, every few years.
A leaf can become so waterlogged on the
  creek’s surface that it will sink,
  and blink yellow or green at you
  from under water.

May 12, 2008

Who Are We?

Who are we but everything else?
  Nothing's new no matter when.
What is else but us somewhere?
  We've been everywhere a while.
What are footprints in the dirt?
  Mud reshapes itself forever.
Why is dust to be despised?
  Life lives in dust, regenerate.
Are our photos life made dead?
Are our dreams another life?

March 7, 2008

Pack It In the Sweet Case

“She’s ninety-two; I think she’s ready to pack it in,” he said.
I murmured, “Ohhh, ohhh, mmmm, I’m sorry.”
  Of course,
I thought of me.

I sure am not ready to pack it in.
(Of course, I’m not ninety-two, either.)
There is still too much to pack—
I could fold for the next ten years;
I could sort for twenty;
I could discard for forty after that.
Or, if I discarded all at once,
There would be nothing left to pack, so
I would have to start over.

So I am not ready to pack it in.
Into what?
  A coffin?
  A grave?
  A crematory?
  An urn?
  A jar?
  The skull of others? living on in flashing
    synapses to fade finally into

I cannot count on tales
Told by descendents (or cabbages and kings)
  around holiday tables.
I have no offspring.

I cannot count on the lasting fondness of
Young friends, because they will soon
Start their own chain of descendents,
Hung from their genitals like jewelry unpawned.

I cannot count on librarians to recommend my books   so that
Readers can absorb me, suck me up from a blurb.

So, no, I am not ready to pack it in.

February 22, 2008

The Master of Artemia Salina

  Useless, endless swarms and squirms of activity (or “comical tricks and stunts”) – were ordered by Horace Makely in 1970 from a comic book ad. Horace was a boy in private school, and as everyone else was engaged in useless, endless swarms and squirms of activity, he thought “Sea-Monkeys” that he could train to do tricks, that -- with a magnifying glass -- you could watch mating!, could make him popular.
  Horace had no friends. His roommate short-sheeted his bed, put cold spaghetti in his pajamas and shunned him in study hall. Horace ordered the shrimp – “Mom, Dad and their babies,” for a dollar postpaid.
  What a disappointment! Horace couldn’t see anything that looked like a shrimp, let alone the naked sexually-active “Sea-Monkeys” in the ad.
  Horace had stolen two milk glasses from the dining hall in his pockets, and he poured tap water and neutralizer into both and let them sit. The next day he added part of the package of dried dots to one glass. After classes he would rush back to the room to get the glass from his closet, peering through his magnifier at the tiny shrimplings. Finally a miracle happened and they hatched. The baby shrimp struggled, as if the water of Connecticut was so different from their spawning water that they had to learn a new way of swimming. They grew, but they didn’t do stunts and they didn’t mate. Horace had kept them a secret so far, hiding them in a shoebox under piles of laundry on his closet floor.
  After a week, when a few of the tiny monkeys had floated to the top of the water, Horace added a pinch of Coca-Cola, thinking it might be the kind of shock to the system that would revive them. It didn’t. Horace poured everything out through some toilet paper, picking out the dead ones, quickly putting the few fragile squirmers in the second prepared glass, which he hid in the closet again, and left for history class. Several things may have happened next:
1) In a raid on the boys’ closets, looking for hard cider and stocks of 27% alcohol Listerine, a proctor found the smelly glass and poured it down the toilet.
2) Horace’s roommate found the glass and added a drop of Pepsi-Cola, and the shrimp grew fat enough to eat with lo mein.
3) They really were monkeys, and they scampered out and ran away.
4) Horace became popular and captained the lacrosse team.
5) The glass turned over, soaked into a pile of Horace’s dirty clothes, which he sent home (as usual) to be laundered. When the box arrived at his parents’ in Faxfield , the smell from the dead shrimp reminded the maid of the beach. She quit and went back to Honduras and married her old sweetheart. Horace was enrolled in public school, and captained the A/V team.
7) Horace grew up. In 2008 he googled “sea monkey” and got 209,000 hits. Nostalgic, he sent off to Transcience Corporation for another kit.

February 16, 2008

Cinderella Goes to the Ball without a Prince

  Black cokeslag pearls strung on squirrel sinew, tendrils, and evaporated trainsteam, my dress stained with pawprints of mud, blood; ruddy cheeks rouged by too-cold walks -- I wear them to a ball in the rotted-red hollow tree, with white fungus shelves for deepwoods wine. No prince. A handsome stag, without choreography, bounds away from my companion Robert Browning -- part beagle, part choirboy -- who barks in a highpitched tenor, while Copernicus blurrrtrots back to the car.

February 12, 2008

Radiant Shroud

  I sit in the backyard at a reticulated iron table, eating strawberries and watching ants. Occasionally in my peripheral view there is the lunge or glide of a venturing shadow--a cat, a dog.
  I see my own humped shadow. It could be the shadow of a rock formation. A weathered mound with a bump (head), windbent scrub pines (unbrushed hair), steep slopes that will be difficult to climb (shoulders and arms), a tumbling rock (hand, dashing at a fly). Sun on my back, I am thinking so that I can write. I am the Sphinx. The ants are caravaners in the Gobi. Each grain of sand is tuned to sing. Each weed is an oasis.
  Suddenly my shadow moves. It detaches itself from my feet and rotates into a position behind me -- between me and the sun. Oh, I am so weak, so transparent. With my last strength, I turn and see my shadow pulsing on the ground, breathing with relief. I am my own shadow. When the sun is out, I will be seen fat and round as a pumpkin, and I'll be long and thin as a pole as evening comes on. When the moon is full, I will spread across the ground like a blanket, sheltering the very ants I watch in the morning.
  In a lighted room, I will be that chimera on the other side of the lamp -- the ghost companion who attends a reader in the evening, the one who stands patiently outside the pool of light, the one that disappears when the reader turns off her lamp to go to sleep.
  I will now be beautiful at all times. Just as all cats are gray at night; just as all women are beautiful in the dark. My life as a rock trying to affect the world is over--now I can do anything as a speed-of-light shroud of my own past.
  I will race clouds across the plains, pointing the way to hot buffalo. I will enthrall children who stare out of minivans at the altercar that keeps apace on signboards and jumps ditches, just by riding on top and waving. I will meld with the single shadows of glades, and deepen the shadows of each tree and vine and bird in the bush to create obscure shade.
  It has happened the way I said. I sit in my backyard eating strawberries and watching ants. I win a race with a high cloud; I cool my aged cat. A roly-poly bug's bus-shaped shadow disappears within me, then comes out the other side with a banner -- a hair that's stuck to its back.
  I go back to thinking.