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Please purchase PROSTITUTE OF STATE (Kindle & Paperback) at Amazon.com.

I don't give two hoots about being wealthy.  It doesn't much matter to me if anyone remembers my name.  It is, however, extremely important to me that PROSTITUTE OF STATE (Kindle and paperback - Amazon.com) get as far out there as possible because of certain "true" aspects of it and that lifelong cost to a person hugely important to me.

 

He was my compass, barometer, thermometer......my  north, south, east, and west, and when he died, he left a significant part of me lost and forever broken.

 

He comes back to me in red shirt, tattered jeans, with alcohol-scented skin.  He watches me with encyclopedia eyes and the after-season warp of a jack-o-lantern smile, his hand as big as a briefcase pressed down on the table with fingers moving as if he is counting something.
 
I am outside, I sit for a while, then walk in a discreet wind that is careful not to lift my skirt ...as I, as usual,  work on throw-away pages.
 
There is something sad about him, as if he is bound by the blood of old wounds, but also something happy. All of it is wrapped up in magnificent attention to the world, and to me, as if I am about to do something important.
 
He is very alive in 'Prostitute of State' ....is gone now......but some days feels like he is only a phone call away.

.

 

Simple guideline for a good life: 
               Be kind. 
                    Be fair. 
                        Be original.

 I treasure people, words and thoughts and images -- the products of the ethereal world, and proudly, like my father before me, proclaim ownership of this hobo heart.

Kate Kinnear - Author of 'Prostitute of State

Everybody's Got a Story!

Front Cover

Now available in Kindle ($.99) and paperback ($14.99) at Amazon.com

Described as a "great read regardless of genre preference."  


'Prostitute of State' - novel - (Cold War Espionage / Prodigal Return)


Received 18 reviews and a 5-Star rating in pre-publication analysis, and was described as  "a great read regardless of genre preference, full of well-defined characters, intriguing locations, realistic and witty dialogue, and the full range of emotions."


Back Cover

Sunrise... Another Chance

The sun rises.

Earth salutes from rock face,

 ravine, pastoral jurisdiction,

tall trees and silver water.

All existence,

all organic and inorganic matter

stands on a threshold of deliberate art and opportunity.

Each component, in becoming itself is more becoming with all others.

Thank you for the realization, the sun, another chance to get things right.  

   Kate

About me........

Talk-talk-talk may be part of womanhood.

I ,too, could communicate in billfold photographs.

I could loop penmanship in love letters designed to loosen buttons of fidelity.

I could, but won't, use fertilizer-lies to improve my personal scenery.

If you look for me, me, the real me, you will find me on the seesaw,

Buck naked (meaning honest),

With dark chocolate, and an occasional fantasy of tattoes, spurs, or vampire teeth.

Some Tiny Tales:

REMEMBERING TOMMY

How intense the hatred when I knocked over his bicycle because he popped the head from my doll!  How painful the apologies we exchanged because our mothers were good friends!  He kicked me, I punched him through the "Sorries."

How surprising when a boy in the 8th grade called me fat and I cried because I thought only my sister knew it. For compensation,Tommy gave me a chip from the name-caller's tooth.  Tommy's father made him work to pay the dental bill, but Tommy never held it against me.

How confusing the affection on an iron rail bridge when I was fifteen, and sulking, and he told me about a girl with dimples on her behind. I laughed as at a joke because I didn't want to believe it if it put space between us, and our fingers touched over the rail.

The day I married I looked for Tommy even though he didn't believe in pageantry, and at that time, I did. I was so afraid I thought to call the whole thing off. But Tommy came, late, sat in back, in his old suit. Smiling. It was a lovely day. "Visit when you're in the neighborhood," we told him. I guess he never was.

Often still, I think of him and wonder where he is. Even from there he touches me,  "Why didn't you marry me?" he asked when last we spoke.  "Why didn't you ask?" And we laughed as our fingers touched over the fence

BROKEN HOME


 
Alice stares.
 
The street has narrowed by the reach of trees. The chain swing is rusty.  In its frame she sees the house in the maple shade.
 
The rooms sag on a chalk-shard base, sort of like her brother's teeth fought out of place in the yard of toad-thick stone.The vine is weedy on the leprous paint and the crusty path of a termite line. She tears through leaves for a memory when she was eight or nine, and she peeks inside.
 
The stripes have faded from the kitchen wall where cupboards are metal and few.  No one is there now.  No mother intent on the white of potatoes.  No father tightening screws.  They are spots on the map now, and different.
 
Gone, too, is the brother she hardly knew and the sister who bathed with her when they struck fire from each other like matches in the chubby years- a couple of squawking hens.
 
Since then, her sister moved off with her casseroles while Alice stayed back with her pens and carries nostalgia like a big purse.  Awkward, it strikes her again, this time harder than usual, so that as she stands in the mottled shade near where iris used to volunteer blooms, and she pokes eyes like a child's finger into the ramshackle, beautiful rooms, her throat catches on yet another sad good bye.

The Wind Blows Through It

(Written 10/21/17--  Kate)

 

It was settled.  Jo-Jo Fiber pulled the drain plug from the wishing well. She was officially through with men, their hairy hands and selfishness, the way they heaped her palms with need, poured red silk tongues into her throat.  Her private parts were hereto reduced to corporeal function.  The only agitated thing in her life would be the washer.  Her kiss would be a politician's, a maiden aunt's, and but for cats or goldfish.

 

She would suck chicken bones and chew the gristle, wear sweats stained with all the colors of her menu, pull hair back from mongrel ears, concede an enormous ass, let her navel deepen in a wall of blubber, and reveal all the knobs, ruts and pleats of her anatomy to a funhouse, bedroom mirror. And laugh about it! She would let hair grow where it would, fingernails split, polish peel until hands looked like exploded firecrackers.

 

She would be perfectly happy in this house as snug as a plaster cast.  She might be a scary bitch, but not a scary bitch in breakdown.  She would live here with the Devil, if the Devil was chocolate.  She would slouch in the stinky chair beside the dirty window.  She was done with the harsh, hospital operating-room light of relationships, the rain-soaked nights of redundancy, not measuring up.

THAT'S RIGHT, she was done with it all.

THAT IS, until the calendar turned over, a ball rolled in for another game of toss and fetch as somebody new, with promise, stood at the door like a punch in the gut.

-----

 

    

Tavern Will and Testament (Found on the Barroom Floor )

(Written 10/21/17 -- Kate)

 

Don't wrap me up in newsprint,

A dead fish stuck on stale events.

Don't burn me up and blow my ash into the eyes of daisies.

Lift a glass and give a toast,

Say I was screwed up, if you must,

But allow I was intelligent.

(You've got to give me something.)

Then, for Science sake,

Let gloved hands

crack my treasure chest,

raise dark lungs, fatty heart,

enlarged and orange liver.

Let them unwind the wandering Jew

of meat-packed intestines.

It's OK to chuckle at the penis

I was always glad to share,

Now at rest against my knee

like the eyepiece of a jeweler.

(Oh, all right, my thigh.)

Let there be a young lass in the cutting room,

plump-cheeked. (I speak of backside.)

Let her be a wide-eyed receptacle of learning,

But let her feel her dinner twitch and rise.

Let her shove through heavy doors,

Drop spaghetti splatter in the hall

Before she reaches the toilet where she vomits explosively on a wad of tissue hung over a stranger's clay.

Let her whine like a child separated from a parent by the strange products of a shopping center as she twists my death

into something flushable, tangible.

Let my passing, for at least one woman (Even if a stranger)

And one moment, Be personal.

 

 

 

,

Saida Bloom and the Bad Child

(Written 10/22/17 -- Kate)

It was a running leopard afternoon, patches of sun, wind, shadow. Toadstools poked up, bold as stone.  Saida Bloom stood in her garden, arms extended, flipping the stubby fingers of her horse-hoof hands. There were kids all around her, you know the ones - those with parents who worked long hours and had to sleep, and, of course, those who had plenty of time but didn't care.  I think Saida was telling them a story.

Tom Ducat watched them from the edge of the pear orchard. Tom was a mean little miscreant, all of ten years old, who was stabled, I say stabled because there was little more involved than 'place' provided by a grandmother, old and tired from raising her own big brood in a house so small a roach could barely turn around.  Tom gave the old girl fits!

Windows broke all over town when Tom was mad. When cops came, his befuddled grandmother struggled with the near and far of bifocals, trying to see, trying to understand. Perhaps from sympathy for her tiny, bird-cage life, they usually let Tom off. 

And off Tom went, as from a burning house, the fire gaining on him, deeper into a world of shadows and rocks, most likely toward prison bars or early death.

Yet, frequently he stopped here where hornets hollowed the fallen pears, and he watched, strained to hear her words, intent on the fluttering fingers of hugging hands.

He smoked, but all in all, was still until night hit him like dirt cast from a grave digger's shovel and he thought of something, somewhere else, that he could break or steal, then run.

Maybe one day Saida or one of the children would see him.  Maybe one day he'd step out of the tree line so someone could.  Maybe big, floppy hands would find his face, and eyes would touch eyes, and everything would be different. 

Maybe...

 

 

THE  OLD UKRAINIAN WOMAN

She stands at her wood stove
in haze of memory,
the old Ukrainian woman.
Big legs lump under the crooked hang of blue cotton.
She pushes back grass straight hair and pounds the bread dough down. Her arms are bigger. 
And she creams chicken feet,
a speckled pot full of little,
and I love them,
and order them at cafes,
and they laugh,
but the old Ukrainian woman
wants nothing,
wastes nothing,
and draws her drinks from the well,
and wrings her hands
that all aren't pleased.
She died old at sixty-four,
and they came to settle her goods, Antiques worth a fortune,
but not approaching the gold
of a woman I see at a wood stove
in haze of memory,
my grandmother,
the old Ukrainian woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonnie on the Bright Side

(Written 10/22/17 -- Kate)

 

Sam Waters was a big man, athletic, but in poor health, perhaps a sinking ship. He lived, if you can call living with the dread of cancer reappearing living, in motel rooms between slamming doors and a catalog of trysts.

Landscape changed, but not much, usually 24-hour traffic of goods the well folks still thought were important.

In a "might be" dying man, importance shifts.  A man who might be dying stares down the ugly face of night, nettled by sleeplessness, loud breath and a rapid heart. He learns to look beyond payroll, his wardrobe or his looks to find worth, to validate his existance.

Sam looked out the window.  A woman was coming, Bonnie, a hard worker, young still, but shopworn.  She would smell of soap and coffee. Her Italian hands would speak first until she settled down and English poured.  She was not his first wife, not his second, not even his third. She was not his wife at all.  Bonnie was his friend.

Every once in a while he called her.  He had called her a couple hours ago.  She was on her way on a hundred miles of gravel road, driving fast. She would run up on him, flailing, yelling, and squeeze him till his senses blurred, then settle down and touch him all over, all night, with a soft coverlet of optimistic words.

 

Canker

(Written 10/30/17 -- Kate)

 

Creighton Packard maneuvers his Ford pickup through the mud of the Dorsett Drive-In Theater.  He dodges speaker poles, fallen fence panels, refreshment building rubble, and the screen that lay face down, as ashamed as lies, on the playground.  Empty swings sway over what long-gone children scuffed in dirt.

"Can we stop and play?" asks four-year old Amy who bounces happily with the ruts.

"Not now," Creighton says, "I'm looking for Mommy."

"Mommy is home, making cookies, " Amy says and claps her hands. "I get to put the frost on."

"That's how she tells it." Creighton's nose twitches. "See how good Daddy can drive with the lights out." He drives on a cow path, then stops against heavy brush about two hundred yards from a cabin where two lovey-dovey cars are parked.

Creighton reaches into the glove compartment.  He takes something shiny from a leather pouch.

What is it, Amy wonders.  A knife ? A gun? A flashlight?

"Wait here, Amy.  I have to go and cut a canker out."

Amy cranes to watch Daddy get sucked into the dark ground. She watches green play and white play on heaven, then lies down.

A branch spreads over the truck like a big hand.   The blooms are popcorn.  The sound is crunchy.  The smell is Mommy's perfume. Amy is not scared.

Amy trusts Daddy, trusts Mommy.  She sucks her thumb and waits.  Her eyes roll this way and that as she wonders about the cookies she will frost, and wonders what a canker is, and just how long it takes to cut one out.

 



LIVING WITH A MEAN DRUNK

Daisy sat at the corner of the room, in shadow-- as in a pool of sorrow.  It was right where Jeff used to put the dog, before the dog had enough of it, and died. 

Near Daisy were the splinters of a Tiffany lamp, a busted chair, and kick-and-punch holes in the wall. Daisy waited to be next.

The bibulous Jeff ranted, raved, then sideswiped her with Bible reference.  Here and there, he drew conclusions on subjects not even spoken, and he grabbed her blouse into his fist and pushed himself into her blue orbs with his too-dark-to-show-an-iris eyes.  Today he had a handgun that he treated like a toy, then pointed at her head.  With his twisted mouth, he made the sound of it clicking.

Daisy dropped eyes onto the small, sharp, colorful pieces of her lamp, and life. So weary she was of his illness! So tired of suppressing fear and rage.  But today-- a limit reached!

Her eyes slowly drifted to the door still open from when he staggered out to pee.  The driveway was just beyond that, and beyond that, the street.

The car was filled with gas, her suitcase in the trunk, just as she had kept it now, for months. 

She was as quiet as she could be, and smaller, smaller until she disappeared to him, and almost even to herself, and then she slipped by him into a space large enough, loose enough for her departure.

 

 

JUST ANOTHER ALL-NIGHT DINER

I'm big Jake.  I own this place.  It's one of those all-night interstate diners. You know the kind, a routine welcome through a neon vein, a market of comings and goings. Mine's five miles north of Omaha.

Lots of folks end up here.  Some are on the way to somewhere. Others are on the way back. Some just got no other place to go, no place important anyway. That's tough in the Holiday Season.

Most nights, I sit here doing the books and not paying much attention.  But tonight there's a guy in a Viet Nam Vet cap sitting at the end of the counter.  He's staring at the big black buttons on Lill's waitress uniform as if they're bullet holes, and his knuckles whiten on the simple movement of drinking coffee.  It' s not like I haven't seen it before. Pretty common from the "Go kill!" then "Damn you for killing!" bunch.

Four stools down there's a young girl, 16, if that, bedraggled, kind of pretty, but with ancient eyes.  Somebody hurt her pretty bad.  My guess-- parents, but I come biased from a bad-choice brood.

Then there's Lill, pretty old, but not too old for games. That woman's great for business, and an asset to the world.  She's throwing smiles between the two customers, and holding out shiny globes to each, saying, "Ah, come on, help me."

 Within minutes, the three stand together, a big smile here, a vague one there, and only fleeting eye contact from the other, with hands coming nearly close enough to touch as they hang ornaments on a nearly dead tree and wait for Christmas.


 

POWERFUL ENVIRONMENT

 

Hawk Danning was as big as a grizzly, but known to be a reasonable man. His wife Tootsie was a sweet-scented Magnolia, but not the loyal type. She was married to the ocean, to the wind, and once again was gone. 

Hawk sat in a public place, the New Day Coffee Shop, and in this safe venue filled with friends, he geared up the cough, the hack of hate he used to steel himself against some desired form of mass destruction.

Many felt his mood, and though when he laughed, they joined him, when he growled, they stepped aside. His anger was a grinding thing like a chainsaw rutting on a knot until it lost its edge and full exertion. 

After a while, the routine twenty-minute smoker, he was still angry, but able to take it out on simple things, so friends began to close in around him after he squashed his empty Marlboro pack, threw it, and cursed that "damned sign" that read, NO SMOKING.

 


 
 
THE CRAZY OLD LADY IN A LAWN CHAIR


Jodi was walking her mish-mash dog up Williams Street when Ruth Crockett beckoned her into her yard.

Pony-tailed, free-spirited Jodi obliged.

“"Oak has generosity and pluck,”"the old woman said. "“It scrimps, saves in ragged cups, and shoves life through chiropractic dirt.”"

"“Ok",” Jodi said.

"“It stands up to experimental Spring, the big push and sometimes Summer blunder, and counts years in rings, while man counts in cash from hands that covet furniture.”"

Jodi replied, “"I guess." ” She rolled her eyes.

"“Oak swells above and below the earth, perhaps hides more than it shows. Like everything else.”"

Jodi smiled, pet her dog, and tugged the leash to leave.

The old lady touched her arm. “"On its journey, oak gives standing room to birds. It shields, shelters, nestles. It grows as it was meant to grow, whether in ballroom Spring attire, or stark black Winter suit. It participates, is provisional. It cheers, amuses the air with piano-fingers. There can never be too much music, enough laughter.”"

Jodi laughed musically.

"“And it grows as it was told to grow. It gains strength from the boast and criticism of environment, makes mistakes, and sometimes comes apart. Like everything else.”"

"“Hmmm.”"

"“It does the best it can with what is given. And lives a dirt-bound, and dirt bound life, creating shade, raising scaffolding for nature'’s workers, and in some events is cut, and falls. Like everything else. And becomes chairs, a table, possibly a bureau.”"

"“My mom has one of those.”"

"“What is whole, is later ruins. All time is short in retrospect, but what was, lives in memory from what became of it. Everything still teaches.”"

"“Were you a teacher?”"

She smiled, a face full of rings, like the oak. “"A teacher and a student. Just like everybody else.”"

"“Gotta go now,” "Jodi said, eager to escape, and not realizing as her dog tugged her away that she as learning something, something useful, if it, indeed, soaked in, but at the moment, she was more concerned with oblivion and distraction than processing a certain truth. Perhaps she'’d mull it later, maybe even years later, and take a path, pretty much like everybody else.

 

 

NOT MUCH OF A STORY

Clayton Strum was a man who didn't say much.  He was just a guy who sat alone at the end of the bar, drank too much and minded his own business.  An occasional smile emerged and folks leaned in to hear what he might say, and prodded him.   You know how pesky some folks can be.  Try as they did though, they couldn 't get a rise out of him.  

One day in July, Clayton didn't come to the bar, and three days later, the meter reader found him dead.

Despite what some said, still say,  Clayton Strum didn't kill himself, at least not intentionally. Accident, that's what I call it. 

Maybe his life didn't make much difference on the big scale of things. Maybe it did.  Whose does and who's to say?  According to most though, all Clayton Strum left was an empty bar stool, and a bloated corpse---  and just not much of a story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nursing Home Romeo

(Written 11/1/17 -- Kate)

 

Fred Kautch is just another old man in a nursing home where staff passes out pills, sponge baths, soup.

On bad days, he lays there like a lump.  On good ones, he gives the pretty young nurses Whoop-tee-do eyes and the straight-edge doctor a look that says, Back up or I'll shoot.

Today starts  bad, and nearly the whole family come to visit.  They hang around Fred like slaughter-house pork. The men want to crank his bed. The red-nailed women pat.

Why not! Fred is up to his wrinkly neck in wampum!  Everybody wants a rightful share!

Fred peers through sloppy slits. He draws a staggered breath and holds it . The pack leans in to take his final words, and then his wallet.

He lets the closest kiss him.

He throws the sheet back to invite her in beside him. His exposed, age-tendered privates start to squirm.

She shrieks, and every mouth drops open.  Arms and legs gather into fumbling action for mass exit.

Cars screech from the parking lot-- to return another day when Fred once again is almost dead.

Fred 's face bunches around a yellow, sweetcorn grin. He used to be a tailor, and still likes to pull the strings.

Fred looks at the clock, raises eyebrows.  Second shift is just beginning.   He cackles like a fool and buzzes for Selma, the sizzling Latino nurse.

 

 


ATTENTION PLEASE
 
Every tick of the clock talks to Edna.  Blue veins scribble through her pale face full of history.  She makes flimsy eye contact with a dab of macaroni and cheese drying in the abyss of a white bowl on a gray tray better suited to carry surgical instruments.
 
Somebody drops something in the hall, and she imagines it is two young boys playing marbles in the kitchen. She smiles weakly within a thin shroud of silver hair, but then the apparition fades,changes to the chirping of aides routinely bothered by the nuisance of her and all the others at the nursing home, but amused by one another.
 
Edna pushes the button for attention. Someone will pop in pretty soon to take her to the bathroom. and while waiting will thumb through her Cosmopolitan magazine and will ask her again, "Edna, why do you keep getting this magazine?"
 
 And Edna will reply, "Because I am alone enough already."  
 
The aide will look confused, shrug, pull up Edna's adult diaper, and leave as soon as she positions the old woman back in bed, many times taking the magazine along to peruse in the nurses' lounge.
 


(Written 11/2/17 -- Kate)
BREAKABLE
 
It is a breakable moment - Lana'’s.

She sits with a man of ego and his five grown daughters at the Country Café. The girls are electric with memories of their deceased mother, teary and cheery by turn through salad and entrée, a well-seasoned mix of cuisine and commentary.

Second wife Lana is silent.

The man, Dick Dentword, who often turns off the heat or air conditioning at home, depending on the season, and always the television and the lights when he leaves the room with only Lana in it, also invigorates conversation with recollection of his dead wife and childhood sweetheart.

Lana sits with blank expression, much like she has done for seven years. She looks at her finger glittering with stone. It suggests Dick likes what she does in the kitchen, maybe even what she does in bed though that is hard to tell, what with him seeming somewhat separated from the experience, his eyes usually averted to the photograph of his dead wife on the dresser.

The diamond strikes like a lighthouse. Lana feels lost, alone.

The others rattle silverware and chirp.

Lana looks through the window. It is an unusually hot summer. Dogs bite, sidewalks crack all over town. She tries to force herself to remember that Dick is, all in all, a decent man as she blindly cuts meat like she cuts reality, into bite-sized pieces. Something easy to get down.

But the window won'’t leave her alone. It lures her toward the park across the street where she tangles in the trees -- calligraphic branches, leafy filler, the poetry in motion and artistic fluff of birds.

The others at the table laugh.

"“Excuse me,”" Lana says to anyone who might care or notice, and she rises. She smiles, swings curved hips that always seemed to draw Dick’'s attention. She gave this thing a good shot, didn’'t she? she thinks. This is not the smartest thing she ever did. But not the dumbest either. And so she does it.

With fortitude of step, a sigh, and only the money in her pocket, Lana leaves her husband and his brood ....between bloody, bacon wrapped beef and a decadent dessert.

 

AND NOW,  A CHANGE OF PACE!

 


A LITTLE RELIGION WOULDN’T HURT

Where sunrise ravels timberline into a metal sky

and puffs across the mouthpiece of horizon,

black woods ooze from darkness.

Feathered woodwinds perk and rustle sheet music.

Incisive voices in three octaves of announcement

set center stage for sun.

Water finds seeds or seeds find water, soil and sunshine,

however partnership begins to build an all-faiths chapel.

Something honest shakes a seed sack.

Something holy splashes water from a pan.

Woods from one seed unshackled, spinning,

bursting with good intention,

Then more;

From one cone, then two that hit the ground with inner promise,

a home, and woods begin.

Here lie the rudiments of life---

Opportunity for broadleaf, needle leaf, evergreen,

hardwood and soft,

For mosses, shrubs, herbs, and wildflowers.

Ground bids some come, and others go,

insects, birds, mice, turtles, snakes,

the raccoon, deer and man,

To where water places hope within the saplings,

Saplings hope with wood to make a stand,

And each new seed sets a new example

and falls, rises, drifts, falls rolling as it learns

to believe the dream of peace

And trust an aching heart to land.

Far Leaves on the Family Tree


 
Far Leaves on the Family Tree - 2004 winner of the Abbie M. Copps Poetry Competition Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan, Garfield Lake Review

 

FAR LEAVES ON THE FAMILY TREE

Toward a house beady-eyed near where ground stoops

to gather water,

where frogs are barely frogs nay-saying at the fringe

and bees spread scathing rumors through the weed cups,

We come through heat, through dust, throughout summer,

from all fringes of the family

the year 3rd Cousin Hilly and Crazy Walter die.

They depart in slow motion,

muscle by muscle, thought by thought, bit by dusty bit.

He goes first. She practices diligently to follow.

I make fun of death by making light of it--- I play.

I do not know the old Veteran who lost one arm in war,

and misplaced the arm’s steel replacement after,

and gave up bathing.

Nor do I know what War is.

I do not know the woman with a bureau full of photographs

and bloomers that could shade a ball field.

When she had no one left to feed,

she threw raw chicken to stray cats.

Pale wings and thighs rotted in a velocity of flies,

near clover.

I do not think or miss to know them.

Playing is important.

I do not want to sit in a lawyer’'s office where curtains flutter

over butterflies stopped in glass,

Nor clatter blackened cookware in search of rumored treasure,

Or See-No, Hear-No, Speak-No in a room of disputed rights

to power tools and lock-jawed loppers,

or wedding rings screwed from parsnip fingers.

I want to run beneath the sun where poles and wire run out of intuition.

I want to shoot my power skyward at the end of the rutted road,

And spiral through the field

Like magic dust, And dance with life,

On and on, and Ever on,

I’m eight, invincible, just learning how to cuss. I am just beginning


Winter (Oh, No! Not Another Nature Poem!) 2001 Honorable mention of Abbie M.Copps Poetry Competition, Olivet College, Olivet Michigan, Garfield Lake Review
 

WINTER, OH, NO! NOT ANOTHER NATURE POEM!)

Winter is an argument of nature,

foul words to wash from Earth’s mouth

with the scented soap of Spring, of Summer.

Harshness is the way of this frozen,

white-clad, cold-inebriated prospect,

This winter,

This winter that bars passage,

this bad brew that strikes one man out of reach

with others and enables enemies to distance.

Winter causes friends to carve their way into connection,

And stray cats, uncertain, misunderstanding winter,

to crouch, wind-tucked where trees are puffed sleeved

and white,

where icy scaffolding still stands against a peeling

background,

To hiss, strike suspicion at any hand that offers cheese,

To run, and lick here and there a frozen bowl,

Or bite a stiff mouse tossed from the board of a house trap,

devour it quickly and puke red stains on snow.

Bundled up, I cut across the cornfield.

I’ve had it with this awful winter, and scooping.

In rotten-barrel blackness, a bitch dog bawls into the shattered slats

of stalks that sparkle anorectic altitude.

The moon is briefly visible in a pile of clouds like dusty hats.

Where dry blades are razor sharp and crackle, slash,

Where torn sheaths pop fists and weathered knuckles,

I stumble on the crack-brain fringe. I fall.

I scrutinize my misstep. I listen to the snap of frost or footfalls.

The moon winks, tips this hat and that.

Wings flap of nothing visible ahead.

I see in the beam of God’'s or some other hunter’s flashlight,

something maternal,

something paternal,

something fraternal,

something of good sense

That breaks back and forth in search of something else,

But finds me crouched as if caught on nature’s toilet.

Winter is legitimate satire.

Knowing this, I laugh

Sarah Sharpstick and the......


(A story for the wee ones because our children are precious to us)

10/26/17 - by Kate

SARAH SHARPSTICK AND THE TRA-LA-LA BIRD

 

Girls and boys between the age of three and eleven who live in the town of BEDTIME IS A QUARTER PAST SEVEN, and all the stray dogs, pet ferrets, gerbils and rats, and the find-their-own-way at the dumpster black cats, and all the ladies in lace-lacey, bloom-bloomy, fruit-fruity hats, cross the street when Sarah Sharpstick steps onto the sidewalk.

Sarah lives in a house with vines on black brick on the corner of STAY AWAY STREET and I HAVE A BIG STICK. There are bars on the windows and heavy steel doors. Black curtains hold back the sunshine. There is no wax on the floors. The doormat reads, UNWELCOME, and reads furthermore, BAD THINGS COULD HAPPEN IF YOU KNOCK ON MY DOOR.

It started two years ago (Or was it three?) when Sarah was stung by a nasty old, mean-bottomed bee. It made her so angry she saw red, she saw green. She saw stripes, she saw squiggles with stars in between. She just couldn’t get past the OUCH, THAT HURTS, AWFUL sting of the bee. And she got a bad case of dandruff, and scabs on her knees.

Sarah picked up all her frillies and fluffies and flocks. She picked up a calendar and old shoes that felt good on her walks. She stuffed it all into greasy brown bags and a big yellow box, and she froze it in her freezer under ten pounds of hocks.

Today, nobody approaches Sarah’s house. Nobody knocks.

From the street, the paperboy throws papers, the bullies throw rocks.

The grocer leaves potatoes like dirty old socks.

The postman flips empty envelopes or sometimes a box into the mailbox that looks like an alligator.

Sarah wakes every morning promptly at six. She brushes her hair, if she thinks about it. It crackles. It squiggles, it curls up and snaps. It looks like bacon draped on her head that slides down her back.

Sarah puts on a black coat and a pointed back hat that she bought at the Witches-Are-You Shopping Shack in Toledo, and Sarah starts her day.

Sarah groans as she eats one scrambled egg on one cup of hash. She moans as she smears calamine lotion on one spot of rash. Her teeth gnash as she sweeps up what rolls, crawls or falls with a crash. She dumps it CLINKITY-DO-WUCKA-SPLASH into the trash bag that stands like a bad child in the corner.

By 10 o’clock, the trash bag swells and threatens to split. Inside, the green things and mean things squirm, punch hard, and kick. A yellow sucker too bitter to lick pokes a hole in the bag and sticks out its stick. Sour milk, an old newspaper and celery that looks sick run into each other. They turn inside out. They turn upside down. They turn into ick.

Sarah lifts the sack. The sack drips.

Sarah carries the sack to the door.

Padlocks and chains hang across Sarah’s front door. It takes four and a half minutes to unlock them from ceiling to floor.

Sarah steps outside. The sack drips worse than before.

Ick hit’s the sidewalk and burns up, sissity-sass. Ick falls into the grass and it smolders, hissity-hass. Sarah’s yard steams and crackles, and now and then pops. The ick gets deeper and wider. It jumps up and plops into the yards of the neighbors.

From each house, in a blur of neckties and beads, a father or mother with a briefcase and a bagel with jam and creamed cheese, hurries to work in boots that reach up to the knees.

Children whine at windows and poke out their lips when they see the toys they forgot outside, or got mad at and kicked - get pushed, picked up, or covered with ick.

The ick rides on Lilly Dent’s bicycle that was left in the ditch. The ick fills pails in the sandbox of Theodore Fitch. It jumps and grabs the tail of Anthony’s kite. It picks up Dot’s doll that has wet pants and wasn’t cared for all night.

The ick churns and bubbles and beeps. People slip and fall on the sidewalk. Cars crash in the streets. The ick grows wider and deeper, and it smells worse than feet.

The ick turns at the corner onto another street, and another street, for a long, long ways.

Across town in an empty lot where MAKE A DIFFERENCE STREET bends into WITHOUT SHOWING OFF, a small brown bird sits on the handle of an old dented pot. It drinks water from the basin.

It drinks a lot because it is very hot.

It is a plain brown bird with a simple life of scratch and peck. It has spindly little legs and a scrawny little neck. What is says, may or may not be important. It might, or might not be understood. It sings, “Tra-la, Tra-la,” for its own reason. It sing, “Tra-la, Tra-la,” like a talking piece of wood.

Other birds peck in gravel and scratch in musty leaves. Some cock their heads. Some squawk. Some perch up high to oversee. Many flutter from weed to weed to pick their favorite seeds. They flop. They hop. They sing and do just what they please.

The small, plain bird takes a moment to look beyond its needs.

It sees the ick running in the gutter.

The small, plain bird flies above the inky sputter.

On EASY STREET, ick is a trickle. Bonnie Stickle spits out a cookie her mother made from sour pickles.

On FOR GOODNESS SAKE, the ick is a lake. Jake Me-First has a birthday party, but he will not share his cake. Patty frowns at Sonny. Sonny frowns at Jake. Jake frowns at Fred-the-dachshund that frowns at the furnace grate.

At the corner of WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU EAT and GET A TISSUE BEFORE YOU BLOW YOUR NOSE, Mrs. Usually-Very-Careful washes a white lace tablecloth with her colored clothes.

In the middle of the block, Alice Nice-To-Know shoots the meter reader in the kneecaps with her garden hose.

The Little-Angel Triplets wake up fussy and they scream.

Derek Wanna-Be-a-Doctor says, “To heck with this!” He is giving up his dream.

Jared who sprained his ankle Tuesday is running in a race.

Teenager Pam Never-Had-a-Zit sits in the bathroom sink picking on her face.

The small, plain bird flies on and on above the trail of ick. “Tra-la,” it sings and flaps its wings. “Tra-la-la.” It gives its tail a flick.

The bird flies with the wind that stops the city clock. It flies from porch to porch where empty rockers rock until it comes to where the ick began on Sarah Sharpstick’s block.

Sarah stomps around her kitchen. Sarah waves her arms, she frowns. Sarah talks nasty to her fruits and nuts. She pushes vegetables around.

The small, plain bird lands on the window ledge. It doesn’t make a sound.

The small, plain bird pokes its head through the narrow window crack. It squirms and wiggles. It kicks its legs and bends its back. It pushes in a little bit, and then it pushes more until it falls through the crack and bounces WUCK-BOUNCE-WUCK like a walnut on the floor.

“What’s that?” Sarah asks as she twists her head around. “Who dares to fall into my kitchen and make that awful sound?”

The bird steps forward, steps back, and steps around. On a floor of brick its legs of sticks don’t know what is up from what is down. Its “Tra-la-la” gets twisted into a dizzy sound.

Sarah raises a swatter. She slaps a tub of lard. “A garden snake made the same mistake when it flew from the teeth of a garden rake in a neighbor’s yard. It dropped into my kitchen. It wiggled on my floor. Look around. Do you see that ole snake anymore?”

“Tra-la, tra-la,” the small bird says, “Tra-la,” one time, then two “Tra-la.” It straightens feathers. It hops up on Sarah’s shoe.

Sarah shakes and shimmies. She kicks high and low. Sarah stretches up and stoops again as from room to room she goes.

The bird climbs higher and higher on her clothes.

“Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la,” the bird sings from her stocking. “Tra-la-la,” it sings, hanging from her slip. “Tra-la-la,” it sings to Sarah’s bottom. “Tra-la-la,” it sings, sideways on her hip.

It hops up on the small of Sarah’s back. It hops across the big of it. It hops up and up before it stops. The bird dives into the crinkles and crackles and twists of Sarah’s hair. It blinks and winks like a little light, and is quiet there.

When Sarah is worn out from her struggle and is calm enough to hear, the bird peeks a little from hair near where it disappeared. Softly, it says, right into Sarah’s ear, “Tra-la, Tra-la.”

And Sarah hears. She smiles.

Something swells in Sarah’s head until that something pops.

Something touches Sarah’s heart. It beats, FLIP, I’M-ALMOST-HAPPY, FLOP.

Sarah sees pink clouds and butterflies, sees puppies, cats, and cheese. She sees people who are kind to each other, saying “Thank you, Mam” and “Please.”

And isn’t that usually the way of it ? When good gets going, there’s just no stopping it.

Sarah is different. Sarah is new. Sara is changed by a small bird that has a small thing to do. Now Sarah has small things to do, too.

The bird sings, “Tra-la” up high. Sarah sings, “Tra-la,” down low. Together they sing, “Tra-la, Tra-la,” everywhere they go.

And it seems to make a difference.

The motel owners hear “Tra-la,” and they clean up all their rooms.

Messy babies hear it. They stop spitting carrots. They eat with little spoons.

The town band hears “Tra-la.” They practice and learn a different tune.

Town cooks hear it. All lunches are well-balanced and ready right at noon.

The city crew comes to Sarah’s corner. They raise and lower the boom. They change the name of Sarah’s streets to TRA-LA-OFTEN, and TRA-LA-LA-REAL SOON.

Sarah has a new doormat. It reads, PLEASE KNOCK ON MY FRONT DOOR.

The paper boy brings Sarah’s newspaper a little closer than before.

The bullies go across town. don’t even walk here anymore.

The grocer drops extra goodies into Sarah’s sack when she comes to shop.

The mailman brings Sarah bright colored envelopes and good things in each box.

Sarah still has trash, and trash will always stink. But it’s not so bad you have to pinch your nose. You don’t have to hold your breath till you can’t think.. The trash does not turn sideways, inside out or upside down. It doesn’t run together, drip, and do bad things all over town.

Since Sarah is sweeter and throws things away neater, there is no ick anymore.

I Grew up in Piddle (not the real name of a town)

Outside Piddle, the river bridge snaps the road together like a medieval shackle on the ankle of the Huck Finn town.

In Piddle, the Bank President can take Sunday drives with the kindergarten teacher.  The guy who sells Firestone tires can be Mayor. The contract lawyer with the daughter with a lazy eye coaches baseball on the weekends.  Townspeople call the barber a joker.  I call him Dad.

In Piddle, asparagus grows as fast as kids in Omaha.  In Piddle, kids grow slow. People aren't born stupid in Piddle.  They re just born plain.  Most of them know it, and they wear plaid. Everybody knows about Einstein, Aristotle, and James Cagney, but what they can really sink their teeth into is a little gossip and a good cheeseburger. 

For the most part, people in Piddle are grounded, and close to God.  Only brassy little girls playing dress-up stick out their pinkies when pretending to sip tea. Moms cook, sew, do laundry.  Many have jobs outside the home.  Most dads work, then hunt, go fishing.  They cuss some (So do some moms.), bullshit a lot, and flop what they kill on the table.

Where do I fit into this ?  Suffice it to say I married almost-the-same nice guy twice, and didn't marry the man I truly loved...

You all know that marriage is a lot of work, and I guess I was never willing to do it.  So sue me...... I was always drawn to characters, men of hide, dressed in hide, with lines of offense and defense like hogbacks on them, and eyes squinted over the blue of icebergs.  I always gravitated toward men who would gnaw off their foot to escape a trap of matrimony .... Men in cowboy hats and boots, who lose their way, fall short, fall into the dung of it, or transport goods on eighteen wheels from sea to shining sea, with bumper stickers and tattoos of all the places they have been, and I have not been.....  Or those with a big-balls walk, and ride a Harley.

My life has had missteps, wrong choices, casualties.  But I can name them and own them without tears.  Like my dad always told me:  "Nobody is better than you are, Kate.  And you are no better than anyone else.  Don't worry about the past. Don't try to cover your tracks.  Just live your life,  Go forward....."

 



REACH FOR YOUR DREAMS, but take calculated steps, and protect each platform.  Do not let your long-term desire for triumph prematurely stretch your stride to a distance from which your psyche might not survive a fall.