Headless (a kind of, sort of, romantic Halloween poem)

jakc shaving

Headless

He stood in front of me

his neck a stump

without a head.

In his hand was a note

on expensive stationary

scrawled in rough cursive.

It said

I need

a HEAD.

To his delight

I took a gourd,

a pumpkin really,

and with a knife

carved a face

with eyes fierce

with pride

and a mouth

that smiled

not with joy

but with spite.

I put the pumpkin on his neck

then lit the candle within

and told him

“Go find another. I’m tired of loving a man who is always losing his head over nothing.”

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: A Trio of Escapes – Fiction, Travel, Poetry

Under Currents

By Nora Roberts

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I’m currently reading Under Currents.

I’ve been reading books by Nora Roberts for years. I’ve loved her stand alone books. I’ve loved the trilogies. The books in the J.D. Robb In Death Series are my absolute favorites.

This one is different. Below is the official description but that doesn’t describe this book completely. I had a difficult time reading the first few chapters. The descriptions of violence and brutal child abuse were graphic and disturbing. Sure, I read a lot of horror but this was beyond that. I’m not saying don’t read it. Stories of abuse need to be told. Stories of surviving need to be told. Stories of overcoming such horrors need to be told.

Do I like the book? So far so good. I’m still reading. That’s a beautiful thing.

Official Description: For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

 

Riding The Iron Rooster
By Train Through China

By Paul Theroux

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Written in 1988, this book was recommended to me by my dad. I couldn’t put it down. Riding The Iron Rooster took me on a live long love of books about travels, but this one always stands out.

Official Description: Paul Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China’s border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton to the dry hills of Tibet, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.

Riley Love-Lyrics

by James Witcomb Riley

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Years ago, so many I can hardly remember, I picked up a small red volume of poetry at a book store. This one always stuck with me.

Her Beautiful Hands

O your hands–they are strangely fair!
Fair–for the jewels that sparkle there,–
Fair–for the witchery of the spell
That ivory keys alone can tell;
But when their delicate touches rest
Here in my own do I love them best,
As I clasp with eager acquisitive spans
My glorious treasure of beautiful hands!

Marvelous–wonderful–beautiful hands!
They can coax roses to bloom in the strands
Of your brown tresses; and ribbons will twine.
Under mysterious touches of thine,
Into such knots as entangle the soul,
And fetter the heart under such a control
As only the strength of my love understands–
My passionate love for your beautiful hands.

As I remember the first fair touch
Of those beautiful hands that I love so much,
I seem to thrill as I then was thrilled,
Kissing the glove that I found unfilled–
When I met your gaze, and the queenly bow,
As you said to me, laughingly, “Keep it now!”
And dazed and alone in a dream I stand
Kissing this ghost of your beautiful hand.

When first I loved, in the long ago,
And held your hand as I told you so–
Pressed and caressed it and gave it a kiss,
And said “I could die for a hand like this!”
Little I dreamed love’s fulness yet
Had to ripen when eyes were wet,
And prayers were vain in their wild demands
For one warm touch of your beautiful hands.

Beautiful Hands! O Beautiful Hands!
Could you reach out of the alien lands
Where you are lingering, and give me, to-night,
Only a touch–were it ever so light–
My heart were soothed, and my weary brain
Would lull itself into rest again;
For there is no solace the world commands
Like the caress of your beautiful hands.

This is a charming volume of poetry that is near and dear to me. Today some might consider this book might be considered overly sentimental or by some sappy. Screw em. I like it. You can like it too. You can like anything you want.

Inscribed on the inside:

To the Elect of Love, – Or Side-By-Side
In Raptest Ecstasy, Or Surrendered Wide
By was That ear No Message To Or Fro
Between The Loved And Lost Of Long Ago.

My version was published in 1905. The book originally came out in 1883.

You can get copies of this online (free digital) or find it in used bookstores. There are also new paperback versions.

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summerreading

Happy Reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Summer Reading: Beauty, Brutality, Reflection, Love, Verse, and Humor

This morning I pulled four books off of my self. Four books by two authors.

This morning, and most mornings, I can tell a story, but I am not a master of words. Both of these authors put together words in a way that is pure art. The word “wonder” comes to mind. I am in awe.

These are books to savor. They include poetry, short stories, and a gentle calling.

Jon Obermeyer

I met Jon Obermeyer at a reading in Fair Oaks, California last summer. I was taken by his words. Like I said before it is all about the words. Jon is also just a great guy; smart, friendly, great sense of humor.

I’ve featured two of his books today. He has many.

Wingspan

by Jon Obermeyer

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The official description: The 70 new poems in “Wingspan” reflects poet Jon Obermeyer’s wide ranging interests and geographic wanderings. A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Jon has lived most of his adult life in North Carolina (with a short detour to west Florida). In this third collection of poetry, Jon explores his West Coast roots and his East Coast habitats, the delights of parenting, creative work and exploring the natural wold, and musings about turning 60. In a confident, original voice Jon reminds us what is important and what keeps us going, riding the thermals. “What defines Jon Obermeyer’s poetry is a trust of plain speech and sure-footed humility; a willingness to let circumstance wash over, but not wash away.” Terry L. Kennedy, author of New River Breakdown “Jon Obermeyer was a student of the brilliant Robert Watson and one thing he learned from Watson was to find his own voice…diction, lyricism, and meaning uniting to let us see what he sees, hear what he hears, feel what he feels.” Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems (LSU Press) “Jon Obermeyer is one of those poets who goes right for the gut. His words are bright, penetrating, clean as a bone. In this collection, he talks about tectonic plates, English invaders, and red-eye gravy in a spiritual way….He listens. He listens closely. That’s his secret. I’ve never met anyone with a better ear to the ground. He’s not trying to solve anything.” John Miller, from the Foreword

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Centripetal Force and Other Stories

by Jon Obermeyer

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Official Description: David Sedaris wrote, “A good short story should take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” Sixteen stories are included in Jon Obermeyer’s second collection of short fiction. Both cautionary and comic, these post-2008 financial meltdown tales feature characters who are caught off guard, in their personal lives and in financial status. A divorced man finds witnessing the aftermath of a horrific highway accident strangely purifying. A retired auto inspection mechanic finds himself kicked out of an art crawl open house, and it triggers flashback to an incident on a high school football field. A homeowner and father worries that the ex-con handyman fixing his termite-damaged subflooring might also be a suspect in a local murder. Two couples, one wealthy, the other struggling financially, vacation together in Italy, as one marriage disintegrates and the other relationship is strangely affirmed. A woman is forced to choose a way to assuage the hurt of an absent boyfriend over a holiday weekend, possibly reuniting with a former finance. An unemployed poet decides to open a retail store devoted solely to one book, his 400-page opus about the working man. The author in his preface writes: “For two years in the early part of this century, I wrote the annual circus program for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I ventured each December to Ringling “Winter Quarters” at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, and spent three weeks interviewing the performers and watching the new acts in rehearsal. “To make the circus interesting for the 12-year-old boys who were the target audience for the book, we planned a series of graphics alongside the text. These visual, small nuggets based on the science behind the circus, comprised what my editor John Miller called our “Dorling-Kindersley” approach. “That’s when I first learned the difference between Centripetal Force (center seeking) and Centrifugal Force (center fleeing). The Ringling equestrian act, circa 2002, worked on the defying the principle of Centrifugal Force, keeping the horses contained the small ring as they spun around it at fast speed. This act was known as “Little and Big,” because horses and small dogs were involved. “So, what keeps us from flying off the surface of our spinning planet into Deep Space? It’s gravity mostly, but I might argue there’s a bit of centripetal force at work, a subtler form of grounding. What keeps us from flying off the proverbial handle? What distinguishes that line between sane and in-sane? “Fiction, like poetry, keeps us from becoming scatterlings. It’s my job as a kind of Ringmaster, the professional artist, to salvage these little events that might have big import when laid out in a narrative arc; Little and Big. I’m going to take the tiny things that have happened to me, or something I’ve heard about from others or in a public forum, and whip them into an enjoyable froth, with some dialogue and description.”

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Ra Avis

You are loved. You are frightfully wondrous. Those are the words you will read or hear when the name Ra Avis comes up.

I’ve known Ra through blogging since 2012. I came across her words and her beautiful heart. Since then I’ve met other wonderful bloggers through her. I’ve also shared her work and message.

Ra is a dinosaur with a dinosaur heart. She is also a woman with a great capacity for life, joy, resilience, humor, words, and all things good.

Rarasaur.com

Snack Nasty

Prison Poetry by Ra Avis

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This book is both brutal and beautiful. Verse.

From the back of the book: The stories told here don’t always fall sinn-side up. They are the scrambled and fried edges of prison life. They are the illusion of dignity, the inconsistency of justice, and the fluidity (and fluids of the human condition. These are the true stories from my 438 days of incarceration.

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Dinosaur-Hearted

by Ra Avis

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This is a book that will inspire you and make you smile. Trivia: I have my own dinosaur heart necklace that I wear when I give docent tours at the art museum.

Official description: This book is a gentle call to happiness in a time of healing, and a reminder that — wherever you are, whoever you are– you are loved.

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I’ll see you next Monday for more reading suggestions. Since school has started in most locations, and September is here, I will be changing the name to Juliette’s Reading or something along those lines.

Happy Reading. And feel free to share your own reading suggestions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

summerreading

 

Words: Fair Oaks

 

Curing olives with my dad

The glug of the garden hose

In the tub of green fruit

Golden fall leaves surround us

And the smell of

New roses and

Fresh mowed grass

We’ll crank the ice cream

Then take one

Last swim

Before the time fades

Away with nothing

Left but love.

 

~ Marla Todd

 

The Eagle Cried

I’m honored to share a poem from my friend, Northern California writer Richard Turton.

 

The Eagle Cried

 

The acrid smell of cordite

Still hovered in the air.

No breeze to wash away

The scent of Satan’s hair.

 

The Medivac’s are fading now,

Their cabins filled with dead.

So many grisly pictures

Are surging through my head

 

Another hill’s been taken

The earth all charred and black

We all know what’s coming;

Tomorrow…”Give it back!”

 

The Eagle cries from barren trees

His tears, he cannot hide.

Where once a proud, young soldier stood

My Warrior Brother, died

 

The scorched ground that surrounds me;

Am I in Dante’s Hell?

This skirmish now is over

We saw them as they fell.

 

My Warrior Brother, Donny,

Died that gruesome day.

He took the bullets meant for me

With his final words did say,

 

“Tell Mom and Sis I loved them!

Please! Don’t let me down!”

I promised I would tell them

A promise I’d soon drown.

 

The Eagle cried that tragic day,

Back in Sixty-Eight.

A promise made…un-kept,

To my Warrior mate.

 

One thing that I’m sure of,

A thing that gives no rest.

The hounds of Hell still battle

Deep within my chest.

 

A bottle’d been my address

For forty years or more.

I’d take ‘most any drug,

I couldn’t find the door.

 

Somewhere there’s a record,

Of drugs and booze and tears.

When I crawled out of the bottle

I’d been buried in for years.

 

Half a decade sober.

Not a real long time.

That’s how long I’m clean tho’,

My life’s becoming mine.

 

The winds of war are blowing by;

In history books they last.

I’m in the winter of my years,

My best days…they have passed.

 

The one thing that I’ve never done

One thing I cannot face:

To visit the Memorial,

The headstone for that place.

 

My daughter said, “You have to go,

To honor those who died!”

I said I know I should…

But that I’d go…I lied

 

Then one day the phone rang;

A call I knew I’d dread.

It was Donny’s sister,

“Please help me!” Karen pled.

 

“I’ve spent these years just searching

I even hired a sleuth.

I finally found out where you live…

I need to know the truth.”

 

“The Army’s always been real vague,

And their answers never matched.

I need to know what happened;

They always seemed detached”

 

“Our Mother has passed on now,

But I still need to know;

I’d really love to meet with you,

Please…just show me how!”

 

The hounds of Hell are roused again;

Their howling has re-started.

I force their shrieks out of my mind,

My path, it has been charted

 

Quiet now, you dogs of war!

It’s time for a new quest!
It’s time for me to wrestle you,

And lay your souls to rest!

 

Then I thought the one thing,

A thought I’d never say,
Should I meet her at The Wall,

And put my hounds at bay?

 

I finally said I’d meet with her,

With a voice that was not mine.

“The Wall is where I’ll meet you.

I’ll see you there at nine.”

 

I saw flowers in her hand,

As she walked my way.

“Yellow roses were his favorite.”

Later she would say.

“Hello, my name is Karen.”

She said when we did meet

“Donny wrote me many things,

I knew that you’d be sweet!”

 

“I know this must be hard for you,

But I really need to know.

Please tell me how my brother died,

That day, so long ago.”

 

The moment had arrived.

I could hide this fact no more.

I said things I’d kept hidden,

Behind my mind’s locked door

 

She took my hand in hers,

And waited patiently.

My head bowed down as I thought

Of words I had to say.

 

I knew my words would stab her heart

But she would not look away.

She watched me as I told her

Of that ghastly day.

 

“Your Brother died in my arms,

In that nameless place.

He took the bullets meant for me

And died as we embraced!”

 

Her head dropped down, when I was done

Her chin upon her chest.

A single tear rolled down her cheek,

“Now Donny’s laid to rest.”

 

I walked with her as she made her way

To the Wall of Stone.

She laid the flowers at the base

Her silent prayer was sown.

 

At last I’ve honored those who fell,

Whose names are etched in rows.

We touched the name of Donny,

Who died so long ago.

 

And we cried…

 

The Eagle’s cry is heard again;

It lives within the Wall!

Each time a name is touched

The Eagle gives his call.

 

 

© Richard Turton

 

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Note from Juliette:

I met Rick Turton through his son who was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. Rick joined a writing group I’m an administrator for.  We all soon discovered Rick is a talented writer and a man with a sharp sense of humor.  When I first read this poem I had no idea … I ended up choked up. A few years ago I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It was such a moving experience – a difficult experience – even though the war is long over. For many it will never be over. Thank you to Rick for your words of love and honor and for allowing me to share this poem.

 

Stories We Shall Never Tell

In the dark

We ran through the streets

Slick with rain

Back alleys

Darkened windows

Broken glass

Rats

The smell of decay

And death.

Then into grand mansions

We’d fly

Cloaks off

The rustle of silk

A white tie

A flash of fang

The smell of wine

Cigars

And blood.

We were young

Carefree

With stories

We shall never

Tell

Our own

Children.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman