Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hark, what light...

Sunbeam, I

I daily pour my heart out
Like water in the bird bath,
Sustenance for each of you.

I serve up cracked corn,
Simple seeds of wisdom,
Nutty, crunchy knowledge.

My spilled blood nurtures,
Fertile seed beds flourish,
Sprouts rise, buds bloom.

Some birds take flight, soar;
A tidy garden grows, thrives,
But my light wanes, steadily.

You shine, my young friends,
My spirit flows through you,
But my soul is growing dim.

If a wick, I, me would trim,
Shed the excess, diminish,
Lose light, gain longevity.

But I am not a wick—
Enjoy my light, bask,
It will not last for long.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A 10-speed Magpie

Living on the Edge

Gi’me that there old ten-speed—
Don’t need 15, and 7 ain’t enough.
Gi’me one o' them springy seats, too—
Don’t want t' wreck the plumbin'.

Got smooth shifters, does she?
And brakes that work, si’vu play—
I ain’t no dang Lance Armstrong,
And this sure as hell ain’t France.

Gonna need knobby dirt tires—
Them thin racers is too wimpy
For these here rough roads—
And one of them water bottles.

Reckon I’ll take that air pump,
And one of them cable locks—
Don’t pay t' take no chances,
What with th' zombies and all.

Huh? Oh, nuthin’…just mutterin’...
Yeah, I’ll take one o' them hats, too.
Put it all on this here Visa card—
I’ll pay it off next month, I reckon…

Me? Yeah, I'm used t' th' desert—
Been livin' on th' edge for years...
Where to? Don't know just yet—
Gotta get outa this phone booth.

This is a Magpie Tale. To read more or to participate, click here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sea Island Magpie

Fanny's Nightmare

Not again! She awoke, soaked,
The same damned, damning vision:
Dusky men writhing around her,
She, oblivious, lustful even, smiling.
Wailing wafted upward to deaf ears...
From beneath, unseen women,
African women...wives, mothers
Sisters, daughters cried to no avail...
Whatever the white men wanted,
They took...and took...and took.

The glamorous Fanny Kemble,
Floating adrift on an African sea...
The stuff of deeply troubling dreams.
She well knew what lay beneath
The little shell-topped mounds
In plots on Butler and St. Simons:
Slavery eats children like candy.
Sickened but still stout of heart,
She would flee "Negroland" for good,
Determined to stop the screaming...

Fanny Kemble, a famous English actress, left the stage in the 1830s to become Mrs. Pierce Butler. A few years later, Butler, an American, inherited two plantation islands on the Georgia coast, Butler and St. Simons, along with the hundreds of slaves who lived and worked there. The plantations were managed by white overseers, including a father-son combo that reputedly fathered many "mulatto" children. Pierce made regular visits to the islands, and, reluctantly, he took Fanny down to see the source of the family's wealth, a place she came to call "Negroland." She soon left the Sea Islands and, eventually, left Butler. Fanny, a talented and avid writer, kept a journal in which she described in detail the horrific reality of slave life on a plantation. For more about Fanny Kemble and Pierce Butler, see this PBS resource:

This is a Magpie Tale. To read more or to participate, click here!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I am a child of waters

Note: I am putting the following poem up for your enjoyment, with the understanding that I may take it down again should I decide to submit it for a contest or publication. As a dear friend who read an earlier draft noted, this poem is SO me...

Child of Waters

What magnetic moonlit tidal tug
Is it that pulls me off beam,
Sends me downstream, reeling,
Ever descending, rushing through
Rock-strewn, sand-barred creeks
Into gushing, swelling rivers...
Floating, fallen-timber rudderless,
Swept headlong to deeper waters?

Perhaps an accident of birth--
My winter-born sister Alaska
Speaks of liquid crystal, flowing:
Iron-brittle, creeping glaciers,
Gold-flecked beds, melt-floods,
Plowing, charging, galloping...
Fulminant meeting engagements
In resilient sounds and shallow seas.

Summer-born Hawaii whispers
Of fearsome typhoon and tidal wave,
Lead-white snow-capped peaks
And rain-drenched emerald slopes,
Vertigo-high waterfalls plunging,
Teeming pools and rivulets receiving...
Volcanoes and black sand beaches
Stranded by Everest-deep ocean.

I, too, am marked by waters,
Born a Scorpio, for good and ill,
Familiar with glittering frosty mornings,
Drifting snow, cumulonimbus towers,
Ear-splitting, rain-gorged supercells...
I have seen swirling, green-sky terror
And sat insomniac through hurricanes,
Two dark, one white, and grinned.

I am drawn, polarized, once again
To deep water, to saline amniotic fluid
From whence I came, a storm unnamed,
Tropical depression, seeking solace
And renewal of my formidable core
Until my own lion's roar resounds,
Drowning out the screaming, searing,
Sticky cacophony that hounds me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Russian Magpie

Cold Warrior

The Moskva in winter...
Iron water painted by snow.
She and I, bundled, tangled,
Nursing our warming tryst...
Gushing...all that the Moskva
In winter is not...fluid...
Lusty nights, scant daylight
By which to come up for air.

No cares we had that season
Hidden in the teeming city...
Not pretty, but the trains
Always ran on time, afraid
To do otherwise...people died
For such oversight, did they not?
In our little kvartira, the sting
Of secret police was forgotten.

Come spring, she begged
To stroll in Novodevichy,
To gaze upon monuments
Mute, some new, many old,
All cold stone, stark reminders
Of the fate awaiting us:
Ruby cheeks fade to gray,
Hands, hearts, all wither.

Too soon the fateful day came
As I knew it must...duty called.
A coded note, blind dropped
A single line, a chilling phrase...
My glaciated heart crumbled.
Russians don't do happy endings,
She once told me...prophetic...
She barely felt the needle's prick.

This is a Magpie Tale. To read more or to participate, click here!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


In January, The Bug and I attended a history conference in Chicago, which gave us the opportunity to visit the magnificent Art Institute of Chicago! One could spend days in that massive complex, studying the exquisite examples of art on display. Items range from antiquity to post-modern, but having been long-time fans of impressionism, that's the exhibit on which we concentrated our efforts. I almost wept before Van Gogh's self-portrait, and I spent many minutes studying the various Monets. I came home with a re-invigorated love of painting, and since that time I have spent many hours browsing the interwebz, looking at paintings, reading about the artists, models, etc. And so in time I came to Manet, examples of whose work I had seen in Chicago, and his prize student, Eva Gonzales. And so I came to this:

Morning Awakening 1876, by Eva Gonzales
I instantly fell in love with the painting, knew I must possess it (a reasonable facsimile, of course). So I began searching for a good print online. I found one, inverted from this, but, yeah, the same gorgeousness and available in giclee printing:
Alack, there were bumps in the road. The company ( I was glad to be doing business locally) packaged and shipped my order, except when I opened it, this is what I found:
Um...epic fail? Yes. So I called the company and was told they would immediately reprocess my order and ship the proper print. For my troubles, I could keep the other one or donate it to charity. Fair enough. All's well that ends well...this arrived via express shipping this morning:

So why did I become obsessed with this painting? Perhaps this will help you understand:
 My darling Dana Bug!
...sigh... her natural habitat...heh.

And for your listening pleasure, I give you Kern and Hammerstein, "All the Things You Are":