Other notable works by Sheila Black and Kyle Hemmings.
Elizabeth P. Glixman-
“Straight To The Moon Alice”
One of these days Pow! Right in the kisser! One of these days Alice, straight to the Moon!
Ralph Cramden (Jackie Gleason)
She is a hard ass with her man
She edits his thoughts one by one
Telling him they are
Over stocked armies converging
In a copycat Cecil B. De Mille Hollywood extravaganza
Where nothing will be successful
She says they remind her of seaweed floats
On empty sun tan lotion tubes
Bobbing in the chaotic sea
Day and night day and night useless cacophony
Hitting the shore
His outer Ralph Cramden stays silent.
She becomes Ralph
When he goes with her to the dentist
To get her teeth capped
She grinds her teeth
His silent Ralph watches her Ralph
Pop her off his inner Neanderthal
Says quietly whispers inside
Pop her off
He would like to pop her
He was taught not to hit women
He wants to Send her
straight to the moon.
His fist would send her into outer space
Among space debris
When she was gone
He would watch football
Look at the moon
See her face
All puzzled and quiet
from out of print chapbook Cowboy Writes a Letter and Other Love Poems (Pudding House)
Rabbi Simon sits in a wooden box in the basement
His human mother died of cancer.
He was to be euthanized
The vet said, “Not on your fat human ass, husband.
This is not ancient Egypt.”
Rabbi Simon lives in the square room
In the rectangle box with the humidifier
In his rescuers basement next to Max,
who is twelve years old and abandoned.
Wizened and gray templed Rabbi Simon
looks like Uncle Herbie
Walking against the wind for exercise,
Joe the pharmacist waved when Herbie plodded by.
Rabbi Simon knows Aramaic. He
once floated on the Dead Sea
in a dream and he knows about terrorist,
They slapped him with newspapers
And belched at breakfast,
“Get that F-ing cat out of here, Mildred.”
Rabbi Simon longs for a home
Any home upstairs in a house
On a bed with a rose quilt.
Then he will put on his prayer shawl,
chew words embedded in the esoteric grass codes,
Sing praises to his person and the Lord,
who gave people hearts.
From out of print chapbook A White Girl Lynching ( Pudding House Press)
He puked green today.
The rug is wet
Who would keep him around?
The soiled rug.
The rug is wet
It was rose blue cream
Oriental and proud bamboo–
A clean scheme
Who would keep him around?
Spit on his paws
Though handsome clever
He watches me clean.
It was rose blue cream
What’s the cost of perfection?
Empty sad rug.
Though handsome, clever
Will she keep me he thinks?
Watches me clean
and dreams cat dreams.
He puked green today
Ripe grass delicious.
Will she keep me? he thinks.
And dreams cat dreams.
From out of print chapbook A White Girl Lynching ( Pudding House Press)
I am holding one pear in my hand
My ill neighbor handed me two pears as appreciation
for bringing mail to her each day
It is winter
She cannot walk to the mailbox
I hold one green pear like it is an envelope
that slide in the mailbox
when no one saw the magic of roundness
Abundance become empty.
I read each discoloration on the one pear
Then the next
They are addresses to awakening
My neighbor recites Buddhist chants each day
The sounds slide through the door
carried by the smell of incense
I hear the chants in the colors of the pear
I hear the prayers in the soft knock on my door
I see them in the open hands of my neighbor
I hold abundance in my my hands for you
Take them she says
I fall into heart fullness like they are
letters from a lover
who once brought me
We wait for National Grid
stand rigid upright like pianos.
No one makes music.
We look for light to fill the blankness
a scrunch a sliver of light against
the black trees and colorless sky.
Each of us has a story of darkness
about governments and plots
of rolling blackouts
that could come to our neighborhood
if the electric company
turns off the grid.
One neighbor says we will need to remember
how to make fire
how to illumine the night sky
with sticks and friction.
We can live without living rooms
looking like Times Square or Las Vegas
or Christmas trees on steroids says another.
But we will miss our shadows.
We look at the door.
The no exit sign is gone.
Remember the dinosaurs and dark forests
my neighbor says.
We imagine a beast looking at us
from the dark woods across the street.
Remember she says
when there were no lights to read
a daily search for wood to make fire
no switches to create light
when there was only dreams death
and darkness when the sun went down.
My Husband’s Teeth Are All Crowned
My husband the dentist and I
met at the free dental clinic downtown.
He loved my poor bite and eroded bicuspids.
In the pre –nuptial I agreed to not eat candy-
To cosmetic surgery
To get that whiter brighter Rembrandt smile.
In sickness and in health
I agreed that all that would
Be sweet in my life would be him.
He slid the ring on my finger
That was clean of the recent M& Ms
I had eaten in the church’s ladies room.
Today it is the week before Easter
I ate six ears of six hollow chocolate bunnies
I hid in the basement
Near the freezer
And his wall of books on orthodontics.
I can hear him say
“There is nothing I love more than straight white teeth.”
My husband is a racist.
I am an addict on chocolate heroin
There is nothing I can do about defacing the bunnies.
I am not Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs.
In my defense
I was addicted since birth
My mother’s milk was sweet.
My husband’s teeth are all crowned.
He is on the city’s campaign
To put fluoride in the city water.
And ban candy bars machines in elementary schools.
If he knew about the bunnies would that be the end?
Would he be Silda Spitzer at my public confession speech
looking at me with ominous eyes?
from out of print Pudding House chapbook
Elizabeth P. Glixman is a poet, writer and artist. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks A White Girl Lynching, 2008; Cowboy Writes a Letter & Other Love Poems, 2010; both published by Pudding House Publications and The Wonder of It All, 2011 published by Propaganda Press http://altcurrent.com/pp/pp_item.html#the_wonder_of_it_all. Her latest chapbook I Am the Flame was published by Finishing Line Press. I Am the Flame can be found on Amazon.com.
Travels with Eliza
She wants to know if the other universes have a
consciousness, “like maybe we are like cells in a
giant, giant body. The body has no idea
what we are thinking.” She wants a pomegranate-
blueberry-lemon smoothie from Sonic. “It is
healthier because it has fruit,” she says. She says,
“My thighs are sooo huge.” At Fort Stockton, she chants
“Windmill, windmill, oil well, oil well,” drawing
hearts on the sleeve of her notebook, then with her
finger on the dust that has crept across the car
windows. Roadtrip—destination “Land of Enchantment.”
“It doesn’t look any different than where we
came from,” she says. “Where are we going? Cells
just travel round and round, you know this?”
She turns up the music on her iPhone. The band
is called “Five Seconds of Summer.” If she had
a wish, she announces she would be surfing with
them instead of road-tripping with us. “What is
healthier,” she wonders aloud. “Cheese fries or
tater tots?” “Tater tots,” we all say at the same time.
In ten minutes we will exit the highway, drive thirty
miles to a bald flat-topped mountain. We will get in
a short line and view the telescope which scientists
claim can peer so far into space it is the same as looking
at the beginning of time. What will we see? The dust
on the lens, a muzzy cluster of star? She will tell us
outer space smells like barbeque because the stars
keep burning up, because the stars keep burning.
She will squint up through the glass. Run her finger
across the star map. Outline her lips in Burt Bee’s
Berry Bliss. “Whose cell am I?” she will ask. “Universe,
Universe, it is I, Eliza, calling.”
Calenture at the Y
The woman shouting at her small
daughter now only
rumor—two fins and a paddle.
Under, where their forms are
only blue shapes—smoke, puppets,
where the slightest motion
assumes the tension of longing.
Here the nineteenth century
sailor, the “Westward ho,” in his sails
and such streams and Saharas,
the dry grasses so like the wet waves—
and the name for the pathology of
wishing it home:
A lonely person
chanting the names of
every tree she knows:
Chestnut, hawthorn, boxwood,
poplar, sycamore, sycamore.
You are waiting for the difference to be made
manifest, our manifest destiny, a ritual by
which to mourn rust, industrial cleanser, the fake
strawberry flavor in coffee or creamer,
the hazelnuts and caramels distilled in fine glass
pipettes, the chickens raised in plastic cubes
that cover the fields and acres of salt-blasted land.
The remnant silence. I will fight no more
forever above the Wallowa-Whitman and the
felled firs that would take six men to section.
Thin glaze of cerulean over aqua, the spring freezes,
the snowmelts, whippoorwill, canyon wren—
so many notes pitched to descant.
And no fur like the dangerous,
the glass deer in a windowsill in the sun and
that they might turn abruptly to light.
And I want you to know
that I mourn in increments
aware of our decay like the radium from pitch-blende,
the pain of distillation
like the mouths of the drowning,
the gild of mustard at the edge of the slow fields.
And the white horse gelding left alone
to rack his bare chest against the barbed wire fence.
And to parse light as in the sap-running ponderosas
when you cut to wick
and burn fingers, the ends of hair.
Above the meadow where the coyote run and their howls
along the train tracks and the train whistling
like the rattle of teeth in a mouth,
and the neon light pictures we construct as if species-map
above the old cinemas— Pine Cone, Rialto.
And what was that world of black-and-white and
October rain/firehill/dead lupine/transoms/green heron—
lists and lists of what won’t be recovered.
Imagine you were to write your own Bible
or invent your own angels. You might come
here where you’d have to dig six hundred feet
to hit water. You might imagine you could
make a farm like the ones you grew up in—
apple orchards, waves of grain. You might
decide later the coldness of the sky deceived you.
You might blame the angels’ voices or the
sign of the wand or the sword or the stalks of flower
held out to you, a window broken by light
that said it was possible to love anyone, the lions
and the lambs lay down, etc. And kids are so
cute wherever they are from. What the women
could have told you if you listened—to raise
up anyone in this world is a task of blood-flay
and fury. Even though I don’t have a hard time
picturing what drove you here, forgiving you
is not easy. Why didn’t you just remain a dentist
with a painted sign, bloodying mouths and doling
out opium? Why not confess that being holy is
beyond the purview of most men? Here is no
kind of memorial, only a remnant of an adobe
wall, a place where the well was, a cracked bell
on the ground, and in the museum across
town, beside your name, a typed listing of
the eighty-some names of the children of
your heaven, who fell back to earth. I see
them in the high yellow grass that bends in
our Sonoran wind. Most died before thirty. Simple
sentences define them: Found froze by railway,
jumped out window, died of fever in brothel.
Billy the Kid killed twenty-one men before
he was nineteen. In the house of his
mother, a sister made a doll called Miss Kitty.
Miss Kitty was a gaiety girl in black lace
and calico skirts. Her pet a stone cat
with a tiny bird perched on it and “Everyone
knows cats kill birds because they love
them,” his sister said. Later he would think
perhaps he loved the men he killed as
he loved the gun he named Kate, caressing
her long barrel, smooth-hipped and slick
as the Silver City girls who could dance on tables
and send a blue smoke into any room.
His sisters—they scattered like corn. He
forgot them. He spied a doll in the window
of a saloon he shot up once not far from
Mesilla, the windows so clotted with dust
they resembled gilded mirrors. This doll—
no cat nor girl, just a blank head.
“Little Stone,” he called it, two slits of eyes as
if had been made by a person who barely
remembered what it was to memorize
the precise shape of any human face. He
never learned what became of the homestead.
The soil too thin and/or acidic to grow
corn or cotton, to graze even the thinnest-
chested cattle. “You ride the long horse over
the arsenic- white trail,” Billy explained,
when he got good and tired, in his pockets
river stones with tracks of birds on them.
We buy cherry juice from the half-desiccated
orchard up the road and come here to this
egg-white wash under an egg-yolk sun to watch
the thin waters silver across the badlands.
This is the season of the birds—they fly down from
the Great Salt Lake, gather here by the thousands.
Somewhere a train is stitching its track along
the hills of bitterbrush. Somewhere someone
is picking chiles for a daily wage of under
$50 dollars a day. We keep our motel room dark,
divide the space into factions. Here the spot where
happiness-the-garter-snake. Here the spinal tap
of we-should-never-have-done-this. Here the
shin-splint of dinner-out-with-the-kids. At the
bosque, we pass binoculars back and forth, watch
the cranes lift and disappear. We can’t see
a single large bird or wild mammal anymore
without a rush of guilt, like visitors at a zoo.
We are looking up at the haze on the sky; we are
looking into the dangerous sun, and any unveiling
we can imagine will be terrible. But who knew
that cranes tuck in their necks, flying shy as
new brides, and then—all of sudden—stretch
out like hands splaying their fingers wide like that
moment in Freeze Tag when you are caught
unawares, arms, legs akimbo? We watch them
skid to landing, water flying like a game
of summer. Such big birds they appear almost
human as they cool their stick legs in the slim
lick of water, bending their long necks as if
looking for a ring they lost.
Sheila Black’s books include House of Bone, Love/Iraq (both CW Press) and Wen Kroy (Dream Horse Press-forthcoming in May 2012). She co-edited with Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press), named a 2012 Notable Book for Adults by the American Library Association (ALA). In 2012, she received a Witter Bynner Fellowship, for which she was selected by Philip Levine. She was recently a featured poet at the 2014 Split This Rock poetry festival. She lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs Gemini Ink, a literary arts center.
The Colonel’s Younger Lover
Among other things, all her lovers are stale, imitations
of imitations. They hold umbrellas over Paris & have no
sense of blue fifth jazz. When it rains, it doesn’t necessarily
pour a healthy broth. All wars are on hold. At the window,
she is cabbage-patch sad and confides in toy dogs. Memory
is a polka of exhausted I-told-you-so’s. In the distance, there
are insipid pinwheels that upon squinting turn out to be the
neighbors. She turns. The maroon dress, one-piece and
bought at a bargain, falls to the floor. Today, she gets naked
for no one. The windows stay neutral like Switzerland. She’s
a demure alp of fog, a slip of misplaced vanity. At the knock
on the door, everything will be alphabet clear, reassembled
with the old stitches. The corners of the room recede in
their erogenous red dust. Sure.
Last Night I Dreamt of Virginia Woolf Walking across the Thames
Your first and only lesbian lover is a chemistry student named
Esther. You meet at a frat party where the cheese is free and the girls
sputter their theories of love while pressing chilled wine glasses
against their cheeks. At least one girl, named Penny, rumored to
spread a mysterious social disease, gets up to puke. They find her
body, years later, half-naked, in the backseat of the professor’s station
wagon. He teaches myths of the Mid-East. But tonight, you find
yourself lying next to Esther over your mother’s hand-knit blanket,
laced with pictures of. . . little horses? Palominos? Your head buzzing
from the wine, you freely admit you never did it with a woman
before. “Isn’t it strange,” says Esther,” how my name almost rhymes
with aether. You know, Aristotle’s fifth element.” Her voice is somehow
desert-dry, falling in shafts, as if excavating old truths. Even
when she comes up for air. From now on, whenever you make love
to a boy, you feel heavy, about to gush white lies, cultivating the
energy required to hold them. When Esther calls, you cry for no reason
or for a whole chain-link of non-sequiters. The room spins
whenever you are alone in the fundamental element called night.
Greta Garbo Loved Sea Monkeys
I pull her in from the low tide again
and turn her on the side where she is still speechless,
but is able to scrawl with her better dry-ink hand–
Never trust a submarine with a crew of only two.
I remember that line from one of her silent films
where she and a married lover were catching squid off Greece,
just to throw them back. I hold her to my chest,
the way I always wanted to snag a low cloud
and impress my man-ray nipples into it. I glance sideways–
the horizon is flamingo pink and the moon is too high.
She tells me to please throw her back into the sea.
Perhaps she has always felt eel-elusive and would never be loved if caught.
She says that like her, all her ex-lovers had flat heavy feet.
They could only pace the ocean floor, exchanging bubbles for baited breaths.
As a child you clung to walls, stumpy fingers turning
to claw-and-ball or cautious paw. Running your hands
over walnut wood, its veneer and lacquer, you traced the
curves of scallop shells, scrolls in Braille, Ping dynasty servant
girls serving tea. What you didn’t know, your father,
master and commander of sash windows and gingerbread
calamities, filled in the blanks. Then, one day, you couldn’t
hear your mother scream from her version of darkness.
But you had a cat’s sixth sense of events on the horizon.
Your father placed your fingertips over his cracked lips,
explained it like this: Your mother was a faraway star, per –
haps, the sun. The sun fell into the sea.
All the things you said to him in the dark turned into a tall stranger
who had no concept of light. When you turned beautiful, your
sight partially restored, he followed you everywhere, groping
like a fugitive. You turned and asked him, Are you my
father, the one I had before the house burned down, the one
I cried over for years?
He turned and fell on his weaker knee. You helped
him up, noting the terribly scarred one eye, the splat
black. From that point on, you became his walking cane,
as he walked in reverse. Until you became his last words.
The mother once told Alicia that love starts out as a happy puppy but ends up as lice and some serious ticks. She died from so many bruises under the skin, three clots that ruined her night vision. What she did leave Alicia were the small but resilient lives of elderberries, Nodding onions, Japanese Knotweed. In the garden, on Alicia’s ceiling–always the same footprint. She had dreams of her mother raiding the nests of wild honey bees. Throughout the years, a gaggle of lovers ruined her stews, left her skin itching. Her ears rang with their tasteless jokes. When love came, it was in the form of a man mysterious as a medieval monk. She made him Pumpkin Kugel and she blanched sweet corn. He gave her a fistful of Stinging Nettle to quell the inflammation left by previous suitors. If only love could be as healthy as ghee, he told her. He cleaned her house of feathers. She asked him to stay forever, but he revealed that he was dying of a twisted heart. She buried him out back in a domed straw skep, the very one he built. She left him with a sealed jar of honey and her invisible fingerprints.
Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He holds an MFA from National University, CA, and has helped in editing such zines as Grey Sparrow Journal. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Matchbook, Aperus Quaterly, and elsewhere. He loves cats, dogs, and garage bands of the 60s.