carving

“Advance,” said Anto.

Una took a quarter of the cash out of her bank account and splurged on Karan.

He went on his way. The whole of Ireland cried out for pity’s sake.

“There’s nothing to fear, Anto,” Jane said. “Except tears and rain.”

“It’s not like catching stoats in the moonlight.” He waved a hand in the air.

“Come with me now,” she said, beckoning a slender finger her way. The sun off a car window lit her red hair like a match to kindling. She smiled, her twinkle-gaze caught him full-on.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” He scratched the salt-and-pepper stubble on his face, considering the beckoning digit.

“I know you,” she said, with a smile. “You won’t last long.”

“You’re right. You have the advantage over me.” A clanging of bells from Christchurch loudened the street.

“Won’t it be the onslaught of two lovers if you come with me?” Una’s mouth creased into a smile.

“No doubt you’re right, a good looking girl like you. But what will I do if you don’t treat me well?”

The bells faintly rang now and sleet fell angled on the pavement as Una considered his question.
“I have only your care to consider,” she answered. “Come with me now and let’s be done with the talking.”

it was snowing

the smell of burnt popcorn. sky the color of pencil lead. the flakes fell, plump and silent. down the hill past the hospital, across the frozen water of the dodder. the car tires slushed through the collected snow at the pit of the pendulum, across from the small kiosk that sold ice cream in the springtime. sight blocked, her hand on mine, first gear to climb to the top. on the right, the hotel, lights blurred in the falling snow, the sign heavy with cake-like frosting. no further, no point, home too far away. we parked in the lot, signed the register, not a married couple: she barely out of teenage life, me heading to the first speed limit of my life. the heavy carpeted stairs, plush, red hues, some dark blue in there, too. mindful of commas. thus spake the editor-thustra.

from outside the strange light turned the room aglow. in a bed with an inordinately large mattress we undressed and slipped between washed sheets, crisp, white, dry. her small, cold feet touched mine and i withdrew from the icy contact. try again, fail again, fail better. in the glow of the streetlight, the digital alarm clock rednumbering the minutes to morning, we closed distance, two springs intertwined. spread on the crisp pillowcase, flamed hair fanned out, trace of anaïs anaïs, her a haloed sinner in the orwell lodge hotel, room number 8.

toothsday’s childe

pagination. blue post-its, inked suggestions to self. thank some, not all? the wood for the trees, the handlebars can be dangerous. minuscule dustlets falling from the white chalk, search out the unusual, resort to listening more than talking. a head without its body ceases to be a head. thus, it comes to us all to atrophy and dwindle to a lesser state of being than formerly existed. the wires are everywhere, the crossed circuits, these days are not dog days necessarily. the mummer doesn’t mouth the words, rather the facial expressions deployed to urge on the speeding horses. discarded needles, the plastic bag with the danger sign, warning, warning. somehow the winter snuck out without permission and we’re left with the leavings of that dispossessed peasant. stamps on envelopes, bound for nowhere, outwards perhaps. the expo is not the expo you imagine it to be. on the edge of the pacific there’s a cliff face leading down to water’s edge. shale, loose footing. don’t fall. your profile, the monocle, it’s familiar, yet something tells me we’ve not met before. wasn’t that you who i bumped into in the arts building coffee shop earlier today? no, that was the bent over shell of a gnarled gentleman with rheumy eyes and a swollen tongue. can’t abandon the baby, not in the dumpster. pluck it out, yes, take it by the hasp of its arse and pull it upwards towards daylight. there’s a latin mass at st. patrick’s, intersection of julia and camp streets, 9:30 of a sunday. you’d do worse than attend and listen to the old words.

blech!

irritated. new look and my links don’t all show up. now i’ve switched back to a theme that allows all my links to be visible. i’m going to use wordpress’s program to make my own damn site and get away from these restrictions. enough said. there’s plenty to be done in the meantime. twenty workshop submissions on the way into the inbox tonight. we begin workshopping them on thursday. time sure is flying along here in the swamp.

couldn’t believe the alligators at jean laffitte preserve today. the creature, basking in the shade with four or five hatched young around its body. there’s something incredibly primordial about these animals. they’re definitely dinosaurs of some form or another. plenty of snakes of different colors and sizes all about. one was on the raised platform that takes you all around the place. it simply lay there, immobile, flicking a tongue out at us, teasing us, daring us to sneak past so it could lunge at us with razored teeth. no such luck!

how is march at an end so soon? it’s as if only yesterday it was mardi gras, and now the last mfa reading is in sight, the thesis defense is looming, the winding down of activities is under way. i’ve an office to empty out, picture frames, books, desk filled with crap, the collected works of many students, gathering dust in a corner. the south american scarf jon lee gave me when i left san marcos high. GO ROYALS! those were the days, indeed. a traveling teacher, room to room and back again.

things seen and heard

a snake sidewinded across our path in city park today. earlier, mo went into the greenwood funeral home to ask a question, thinking it was the cemetery office, and came out with a man in tow. he turned out to be from ireland, close to where i was born, and stranger than fiction, he’d been home to ireland over the years and had tea with my aunt, whose brother was a priest in new orleans for over forty years. the funeral director was a former priest, a galway-man, who gave me his card “in case i have any need of his services.” wrap your head around that one.

i finished ronlyn domingue’s the mercy of thin air today. all i can say is she sets the bar high and really makes me want to write better than i do. she’s a wonderful writer, and has a marvelous touch with narrative. somehow she was able to blend the supernatural with the natural in her book, a thing i abandoned back in early september when i cut loose almost 150 pages from the manuscript and went back to basics.

birds, snakes, dogs on leash, caped crusaders on the bayou, the filament of the day passed in front of me and allowed me to relish the world for a moment. in darkness now, rua’s tags jangling from her incessant scratching at herself, allergies brought about by the coming on of summer. this time here in new orleans dwindles and acres of uncertainty stretch in front of us. a turtle sat on a branch in the lake with its progeny in front of it, perched attentively.

sootysday’s childe

1
Nurse holds your arm steady, the stitched scar raised, swollen and angry, red tinges around the sutures. Mam’s worried face is about to melt, like a Dali clock, into misery and blame. You have to be a brave soldier, she says, putting a cold hand on your knee, feeling the knobby bones beneath the flannel material of your trousers.

Silver, pointed, a-glint in the artificial lights of the clinic, the tip breaks the surface of the scar tissue. Forth from the welled area comes the bloody pus, soaked up with gauze the nurse gently wipes about the break. A cry breaks from your lips and mam’s eyes, behind cat’s eye glasses, well with salted pity for her little soldier.

Can I have the zoo animals, you ask later. You are walking along Liffey Street and Mam takes you into Hector Grey’s Emporium of Imported Goods to choose a toy for bravery. There’s hardly room in the small room to move. Tea chests “Made in China” block the aisles and cheap toy guitars hang from the ceiling.

You can have the zoo animals, Son. Mam forks over a quid to the blue-coated woman behind the register. You’re already deep in the jungles of Africa, being stalked by a lion: a lion whose razor-white teeth will tear the flesh on your forearm and accompany you in your play and dreams for night after night, as Jesus, bloody heart in hand, looks down from the bedroom wall.

2
You keep a secret kept in a small, painted box, in cotton wool. A floating secret, light as red feathers, heavy as the thump of a dead tree-limb falling on drifted snow. The death of your father. A building ululation, wells from your larynx, the Adam’s apple palpates with a steady rhythm. Look out the window at the silent white seabird. One leg supports the body’s weight, its punkish crest ruffles in the breeze. Let go of the sound—the kept vowels and consonants of grief. Watch them escape into the air, like a caged creature given an open door. The wail goes out into the world, tears through the air, fills the brimless vessel of the day.