Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Category: Poetry

The Vulture In Me

I suppose you’re interested to hear about Austin, what I’m doing, perhaps what lizards and birds I’ve met so far, but no. This is a poem from last year that no one wants to publish. Take it or leave it.

The Vulture In Me

I bought the old Toyota with borrowed money
that I never paid back. Made in 1985,
the year I graduated from high school,
which was even then long past, enough to
show the world that I wasn’t going to
make much of the college education I’d been given.
I felt at home behind that wheel,
Hair flying under the sunroof, hand on the
gear-shift. Crooked seat made even
with a red pillow. Oil leak dripping at every mile.

I’ve never bought a new car, never been worthy
of such extravagance of fossil fuel, knew I’d never
make good the debt to future generations.
I only buy what no one else wants,
finish it off and send it to its grave
after extracting the last bit of use.

These buildings should have been gutted,
but we didn’t. We lived with vintage modernity
and learned plumbing. And clothes, too.
These thrift store shoes have wear left in them.
This chipped plate will serve.
Always a latecomer, mostly by choice,
and I am conscientious about proper disposal.
Recycle, upcycle, repurpose, rehome,
break down and find someone who wants the parts.

Perhaps it is the vulture in me,
scavenger of the discarded, packrat, sin eater,
never the hunter who sees what he wants,
shoots straight, and
takes the best.

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Flight of Unknown Birds

Flight of Unknown BirdsI’m very pleased to announce that my new book of poetry, Flight of Unknown Birds, is available on Amazon. Some of the poems in it you’ve seen here at Veronica’s Garden, some have never been shared publicly, and some that had been published here have been revised.

I am very appreciative of you readers here at the blog, especially those who have commented. Dialog and critique are essential for developing writing skills, and several of you are named in the acknowledgements in the book. Much gratitude to you.

It’s currently only electronic, but if you prefer a print book, watch for a print run early in 2019.

This was one of my goals for the year, and it was more difficult than I expected, but I did it! What did you achieve this year?

Soon, very soon now . . .

Flight of Unknown BirdsAfter I completed NaPoWriMo, I had enough material for a chapbook, and I decided not to waste any time on it. I printed up some of my best in order to shuffle them around and decide on the order, but I misplaced the file a few days later. Eventually I gave up on finding it, so I started over. Made some revisions and additions and removed some because I didn’t think they were thematically consistent, so it’s a better book for my having lost it (which still rankles, anyway).

Some months later I was ready to take it to the bookstore that has a printing system, only to find out that their machine won’t be in working order until sometime after the new year. So I had the choice, wait some more, or epublish now. I decided not to wait, but still publish in print as soon as I can.

There were technical delays, and now the year is in its final days, like an old cat who’s moved into the bathroom to die. Nobody will get my book for Christmas. But the good news is, it’s been submitted! So maybe your friend who’s getting a reader for Christmas will download it the day after, or during those in-between days before the New Year.

So Merry Christmas, Wondrous Solstice, Joyous whatever holiday you like! I am not a total deadbeat, I have produced something for the world, which I think has some value. It can be yours very soon.

Keeping You Posted

Regular readers (all three of you) may have noticed I haven’t been adding posts much for a few months. There are a few reasons for that. After my NaPoWriMo sprint in April, the way I write changed. I write a lot more junk now, and revise a lot more, so the final result is that I have more poems coming out, but I’m not always sure when they’re done, and I don’t feel as much urgency to share them with the world.

At the same time, I decided to start submitting poems to magazines regularly, and publishers don’t like poems that have previously been published elsewhere (they don’t know it’s just for the three of you), so I have been holding back the better poems, and removing a few from the blog.

Most importantly, I am in the final stages of self-publishing a chapbook of poems. I’ve made revisions to some of the ones posted here at Veronica’s Garden, and some haven’t been posted at all. So if you have read poetry here, the book will have some material that’s new to you.

For now, the book will be only in electronic format. I still hope to publish in print early in  this coming year, through Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, but there have been technical delays and I don’t want to wait any longer. But you just might be able to get an ebook in time to gift it to your friends who do their reading on screens.

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading Veronica’s Garden.

The Fabric Disintegrates

Do you ever have a moment
when suddenly you wonder
if all these things you do
are really far less than
you thought. Not that you thought
you were competent,
but maybe you could be of use,
could play some chords that would help
people sing together,
could write a poem
that might help someone feel.
But what if even that is delusion?
The accompaniment detracts from the song.
The poem is a slag heap of broken words.
It’s possible that
those who don’t believe in you are right,
and you are blind and misguided.
But some people like what I do,
you think, they told me.
What if, those times,
the kind gesture revealed
not who you are, but who they are?
It would be kinder in return
not to put them in that position.
Just focus on behaving appropriately,
presenting yourself well:
already more challenge,
after all, than you can expect
to master. We knew that.
You’d thought you could put together
a unique outfit that actually works,
from these thrift-store finds,
dollar store clearance items,
the antique silk scarf
inherited from your mother,
its colors still brilliant
even as the fabric disintegrates.
What you took for creativity
was only poverty. No one
is inspired by your clumsy pretensions.
You should spend a little more money
and try to blend in. Speak less.
Try harder. Show respect
for their standards. People like that.
It helps them know where they belong.

Triggered

Everyone is triggered these days.
It started with that man, liar,
gaslighter, fraud. He brags of
touching women’s bodies
with those greasy little hands.
My whole body reviles at the thought.
Now his nominee, and the excuses.
He was a teen. Everyone was doing
such things. We women have heard
them all. But it really wasn’t that bad,
compared to some things that happen
to other people. She was drunk,
she should have known better.
Also, he didn’t do it.
Everyone is triggered. We are
triggered. We ride the flow of memories
rising up from the black swamp.
This time we have the tools to heal
ourselves. We heal each other. We
stand together, arms linked. We
are coming. We are an army.
We are an ocean, a tsunami
that will wash you all out to the depths
and all the debris that comes along
will threaten to choke the ocean itself.
There is no safety from the undoing,
once the trigger is tripped.
The ancient feral Goddess has been unearthed.
She will not go back into the coffin.

Rings of Saturn

Om shram shreem shroom Shanaichiraya namaha.
-Hindu chant to Saturn

The day I saw the rings of Saturn,
gas giant, Slow-Mover, earth star,
reaper, a whale in the Pacific
was carrying her dead baby
for the 16th day. That day
we gave a trunkload of stuff
to the thrift store, and bought
other stuff to take home. A woman
with lots of tattoos saved two kittens
abandoned at birth by their mother.
One died, the other lived.
The old patriarch was retrograde,
a trick of perspective making him appear
to move backwards from day to day.
I woke up and saw gray mist
clinging to the walls, and knew
it was time to smudge the house,
this day the sun and moon and earth were aligned.
The President told lots of lies, which
he did every day. My husband
wrote a sermon about Elijah killing
worshippers of Baal, which was really
about prophetic Christianity.
A doctor okayed my children to play sports.
I got high on chiropractic.
That night we took a bus to the location where
the telescopes were erected.
My daughter knew the nighthawks
circling and swerving in the deepening dusk.
It was August and the sky was hazy,
but as we stood and waited, our faces ghostly
in the moondark, more stars appeared.
And more, faint specks of dust
in the indigo sky.
An expert talked about
constellations vs. asterisms,
and about light pollution. I waited in line.
Then there he was:
746 million miles away, bright disc
wrapped round by a frisbee of light.
51 years he was my neighbor, my father,
Saturn, gas giant, slow-mover,
reaper, his weight pulling me even
here on Earth, as we orbit our star,
our source, together, and I never saw him
until this night.

Mind vs. Body

Dang, but my poetry is messy these days. It’s why I haven’t been posting much, though I’m still writing. I feel like everything needs major work before it’ll make any sense whatsoever. This one is a perfect example, but I think it’s kind of about the messiness while demonstrating it, so I’m posting right away, and you can take it or leave it.

Mind vs. Body

What does the body mean,
when it changes or moves
or doesn’t move? This
conglomeration of tissues, organs,
fluids, that somehow manages
to be one animal, presided over
by a mind which thinks itself
separate. Godammit, listen to me,
the body says. Things are changing
and we need time to adjust. You
off floating around in outer space,
pondering unimaginable enormities
while we are down here performing chemistry,
digesting molecules, identifying that which
needs to be gotten rid of, constantly breathing,
pumping, organizing, keeping house.
Give us a freakin break.
Okay, says mind, but there’s
a little thing called a checkbook.
It’s just a thing to you, but to me
it represents abstractions that,
long story short, are relevant
to stuff you care about, like food,
and a comfortable bed to sleep in.
Don’t get me started on geopolitics and
petrochemicals—
Oh for heaven’s sake, shut it.
Balance your goddam checkbook
instead of yoga, we get it.

It goes on like that all day,
mind and body struggling
to get their needs met,
both knowing they need each other,
but not sure exactly why,
or what they’re even talking about.

Congratulations

I wrote a poem about the lunar eclipse, but it’s not ready. Instead I’m sharing with you this one I wrote a while back, but since we’re all under the whip of the Shadow now, I think it works pretty well for today too.

Congratulations,
you have just reached the point
at which everything you write sucks.
These poems you’re compiling for a book:
dim words that lay on the page like a dead fish,
if the fish failed to stink or bear a moist,
slithery texture, nor had ever lived in the first place.
Sterile, then, like the hands of a surgeon,
though his scalpel has been misplaced, and the patient
has no need of evisceration. Go on,
proceed with the project. This attack of self-loathing
is an inevitable phase, which passes.
The book will be fine, but your perception
of light and depth is now compromised,
and you’ll have to go from here blind,
by feel, by memory.

Volunteering at the Fireworks Stand

Fireworks, Wamego, KS 2
Blockbuster Smoke Balls, Black Snakes,
Big Rig. Climbing Panda, Pooping Dog.
Oh Americans, we love our fireworks.
Love to make loud bangs, love
the sensory disorientation of smoke
and flashing colors. Blue. Bullet Bombs.
Feel the Blast. I feel it, America,
the blast and the bombast that we think
makes us us. We tone it down for no one.
We own it. Bandit Bombs. Blow the Bank.
Is this who we are?
The woman who gives God the credit
for the silent wild giraffe she just killed.
The grinning politician who displays
a big gun in a parade, the thousands of dogs
cowering in closets and under beds
while we celebrate.
Screamin’ Eagles. Pooping Elephant.
A Shot in the Dark.
But aren’t we also that quiet brown boy
whose grandma carries his coins
in a baggie, admonishing him to choose
his fireworks wisely, then pays the difference,
gives him the change, and donates a little
to save an old building.
Sky Spider, Alien Landing.
He thanks me as they leave.
Trifuge, Heavy Cake, One Night Stand,
Dirty Dancing In the Sky.
Oh America, your schizophrenia is mine.
Your land, your peoples, your languages,
your paranoias, your heating climate,
your religions, your fears, your lies,
your history, your crazy are all in me
for all time. God bless America.
Night Circus, Mammoth Day.
Magic Crystal, Twitter Glitter.

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