Am I Straight?

Am I? No. Are you? Maybe. 

A poem for your survival, regardless:

BARKING
by Jim Harrison
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

 
And links:
 
TRUMP DUMP
These 80 programs would lose Federal funding under Trump’s proposed budget
Trump is officially under investigation by the FBI for his ties with Russia
Donald Trump is the symptom, not the problem

(UN)SEXY
Livin and Lovin in NYC’s election debrief
The invention of heterosexuality
Youtube is now restricting LGBTQ+ videos, WTF
Chuck Tingle is the greatest author of our generation

Image credit

Pro-tip: email subscribers click headline for great GIF

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Between Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night
BY RODDY LUMSDEN

Just then, encountering my ruddy face
in the grand piano’s cold black craquelure,
it conjured the jack-o’-lantern moon
dipping up over the roofs of the Tenderloin.

Only when I have done with the myths—
the inner spill that triggers us to flame,
breasts so sensitive a moment’s touch
will call down fever; the dark sea-lane

between limbic squall and the heart’s harbour—
will I picture you, just beyond innocence,
lying stripped by a thrown-wide window,
letting the cool breeze covet your ardour.

EYEBROW RAISERS
The ugliest house in America
That time DON RICKLES was a featured character in Superman comic books
Kid needs permission slip to read Fahrenheit 451
A brief history of Appalachian snake handlers
Butt plugs used to be marketed as miracle cure for headaches and acne

HOLIDAY SPIRIT
The history of candy corn
The best of NASA’s pumpkin carving competition
Spooky skull door, Fort Worth, TX, 1946
The original Jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips and WERE TERRIFYING
17 real life ghost stories that will freak you the fuck out
The Bell Witch Cave
Samhain: Traditions and Rituals for the New Year
What is a ghoul?

Image credit
Pro-tip: email subscribers, click title for THE CUTEST LITTLE KITTY CAT LION

far memory

The LJ Algorithm was one of the casualties of Hurricane Matthew. We’ll be back in full next week. Until then, read well. —LJ

far memory
by Lucille Clifton

                   a poem in seven parts

1
convent

my knees recall the pockets
worn into the stone floor,
my hands, tracing against
the wall their original name, remember
the cold brush of brick, and the smell
of the brick powdery and wet
and the light finding its way in
through the high bars.

and also the sisters singing
at matins, their sweet music
the voice of the universe at peace
and the candles their light the light
at the beginning of creation
and the wonderful simplicity of prayer
smooth along the wooden beads
and certainly attended.

2
someone inside me remembers Continue reading

Words When There Are No Words

No links today. The world is heavy and Audre Lorde is speaking to us through time. —LJ

 

Afterimages

BY AUDRE LORDE

    I
However the image enters
its force remains within
my eyes
rockstrewn caves where dragonfish evolve
wild for life, relentless and acquisitive
learning to survive
where there is no food
my eyes are always hungry
and remembering
however the image enters
its force remains.
A white woman stands bereft and empty
a black boy hacked into a murderous lesson
recalled in me forever
like a lurch of earth on the edge of sleep
etched into my visions
food for dragonfish that learn
to live upon whatever they must eat
fused images beneath my pain.
 
    II
The Pearl River floods through the streets of Jackson
A Mississippi summer televised.
Trapped houses kneel like sinners in the rain
a white woman climbs from her roof to a passing boat
her fingers tarry for a moment on the chimney
now awash
tearless and no longer young, she holds
a tattered baby’s blanket in her arms.
In a flickering afterimage of the nightmare rain
a microphone
thrust up against her flat bewildered words
          “we jest come from the bank yestiddy
                   borrowing money to pay the income tax
                   now everything’s gone. I never knew
                   it could be so hard.”
Despair weighs down her voice like Pearl River mud
caked around the edges
her pale eyes scanning the camera for help or explanation
unanswered
she shifts her search across the watered street, dry-eyed
                   “hard, but not this hard.”
Two tow-headed children hurl themselves against her
hanging upon her coat like mirrors
until a man with ham-like hands pulls her aside
snarling “She ain’t got nothing more to say!”
and that lie hangs in his mouth
like a shred of rotting meat.
 
    III
I inherited Jackson, Mississippi.
For my majority it gave me Emmett Till
his 15 years puffed out like bruises
on plump boy-cheeks
his only Mississippi summer
whistling a 21 gun salute to Dixie
as a white girl passed him in the street
and he was baptized my son forever
in the midnight waters of the Pearl.
 
His broken body is the afterimage of my 21st year
when I walked through a northern summer
my eyes averted
from each corner’s photographies
newspapers protest posters magazines
Police Story, Confidential, True
the avid insistence of detail
pretending insight or information
the length of gash across the dead boy’s loins
his grieving mother’s lamentation
the severed lips, how many burns
his gouged out eyes
sewed shut upon the screaming covers
louder than life
all over
the veiled warning, the secret relish
of a black child’s mutilated body
fingered by street-corner eyes
bruise upon livid bruise
and wherever I looked that summer
I learned to be at home with children’s blood
with savored violence
with pictures of black broken flesh
used, crumpled, and discarded
lying amid the sidewalk refuse
like a raped woman’s face.
 
A black boy from Chicago
whistled on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi
testing what he’d been taught was a manly thing to do
his teachers
ripped his eyes out his sex his tongue
and flung him to the Pearl weighted with stone
in the name of white womanhood
they took their aroused honor
back to Jackson
and celebrated in a whorehouse
the double ritual of white manhood
confirmed.
 
    IV
    “If earth and air and water do not judge them who are
      we to refuse a crust of bread?”
 
Emmett Till rides the crest of the Pearl, whistling
24 years his ghost lay like the shade of a raped woman
and a white girl has grown older in costly honor
(what did she pay to never know its price?)
now the Pearl River speaks its muddy judgment
and I can withhold my pity and my bread.
 
            “Hard, but not this hard.”
Her face is flat with resignation and despair
with ancient and familiar sorrows
a woman surveying her crumpled future
as the white girl besmirched by Emmett’s whistle
never allowed her own tongue
without power or conclusion
unvoiced
she stands adrift in the ruins of her honor
and a man with an executioner’s face
pulls her away.
 
Within my eyes
the flickering afterimages of a nightmare rain
a woman wrings her hands
beneath the weight of agonies remembered
I wade through summer ghosts
betrayed by vision
hers and my own
becoming dragonfish to survive
the horrors we are living
with tortured lungs
adapting to breathe blood.
 
A woman measures her life’s damage
my eyes are caves, chunks of etched rock
tied to the ghost of a black boy
whistling
crying and frightened
her tow-headed children cluster
like little mirrors of despair
their father’s hands upon them
and soundlessly
a woman begins to weep.

Image Credit

Hurricane Hermine

In consideration of the impending landfall of Hurricane Hermine, a poem for the hunkering. —LJ

POETRY, February 1981

HURRICANE
by David Bottoms

1

At twilight
the leaves of palmettos screeching like cicadas,
orange limbs rustling around green oranges,
oleanders whining toward the west.
Over the edge of the field,
the pinetops breaking like white water, and the first rain
squalling in from the sea, peppering hollow on the storm awnings,
washing down the latticed door.

At the church site across the field, animation
and rapture,
lumber scraps rising out of the dirt like Baptists
at the Second Coming. Over the tractor shed
a swirl of shingles, gray wings
beating into the grove, lodging in branches
or rising into the pines across the road.

As long as the gray light holds under the clouds
we stand at the door
and watch how the wind breathes a special life
into everything not tied down.

2

And when the drenched light dies, we sit
in candlelight
and listen to the voice on the radio static,
north-northwest, twelve miles an hour,
and the repeated cautions of fallen wires, bad water,
the deceptive calm of the eye
and the wind that whirls back without warning.

What whirls now are shadows
as the candle flickers from the ledge above the cabinet
and the kitchen falls black,
the wind bombing the house with oranges, whistling
under the storm awnings rattling against the walls.

And we wonder if the roof will hold, wonder
until the shot cracks behind us
and a window shatters from a church-stud driven
through an awning, wind exploding the room in glass
shrapnel
as we fall from our chairs, in time or not,
to shield our faces from the slivers, to find a door
and close it behind us, give the kitchen up
to the storm.

3

Light gathers
behind a glass door,
and a scrub lizard crawls down the screen.
The oleanders lean back toward the ocean;
bark peeled and strewn,
the melaleuca shakes broken limbs toward the sun.

We cross the grass blown dry in the gales,
walk rows of orange trees and kick the fallen fruit,
piece together a picture of the damage,
a wrecked kitchen, a shed wall collapsed and blown away,
a few lines downed by limbs. Not so much.
Even the half-moon scabbing above my eye
is a good sign, something to be glad for. The way
the quail whistles its reprieve from the saw grass
across the road,
the ox beetle gores up through blown sand.

Image Credit

(Pro-tip: email subscribers click title for NASA’s color satellite imagery of Hurricane Hermine)