Stopping by Clothes with a White Fur Gifting

LuAnne Holder’s parody of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods…,” a piece after my own heart, has officially made my day! 🐈

Wind Rush

Star on Black2

Which cat did this, oh my who knows
This leaving fur upon my clothes
She did it while I was away
On my black dress she took repose

My cats are not ones to delay
To seek out nap spots black or grey
And leave white fur just to remind
Me that their love will never stray

So any clothes left out they’ll find
The dark ones are the grandest kind
To rest white bellies for contrast
This deed they think they’ve been assigned

If I don’t want to be aghast
I’ll hang my clothes and do it fast
This I’ve figured out at last
This I’ve figured out at last

I have always loved the poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, particularly its interesting rhyme scheme. Inspired by SLHARPERPOETRY’s clever rewrite of Lewis Carroll’s Jaberwokey as Trumplewokey, I decided to do a rewrite…

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Lupercalia

Howl2

Lupercalia

We probe into the distant    wintry
rest of white oaks & umbrella pines

moonlit with longing to thrill
in the feral     hesitant glints

that crack the black tourmaline cold
our eyes pursuing their penumbrae

until the brink of blindness    reaching
for our bloodline of lost

infidel selves     still bound
to the night’s crystalline tenors

As our illicit     newborn brothers were
abandoned to the Tiber     & delivered

keening for milk     to their mongrel lives
we     too     were borne by a savage river

to a mother    waiting on the Palatine shore

Capitoline Wolf

“Lupercalia” appears in my chapbook, This Being Done, which will be available for pre-sale purchase at Finishing Line Press, starting next week! Stay tuned for more announcements, including the order link on the Finishing Line Press website as soon as it goes live!

Two Valentine’s Day Poems

keep-calm-and-make-it-so

For Mike

1. First Date with The Next Generation

In the Engineering Research Building
the wall in his cubicle proudly donned
a life-sized poster of Jean-Luc Picard 

I hid the double-take (or, tried to); he later massaged
the crick in my neck, a liberty allowed by a Liberal Artist
donning naught above the waist but her bare pride…

Marriage of the proverbial hemispheres ensued.

 

2. Somehow, Swept Off My Feet

Though one task at hand must be completed, before you attempt
(or become conscious of) the next, and I blaspheme those tinselly,
emblematic bits of solder accumulating beneath our feet,

then breathe long sighs of relief when you finally sweep them
into sparkly heaps and throw them away; I realize, too, that neither
the privilege of living with an Engineer in his natural habitat, nor

my Work in Progress status, are honors bestowed frivolously.

 

Once, again, I’ve stepped into the Wayback Machine to retrieve these relics from the valley of yester-yore upon which the fuzzy fog of middle age has since permanently settled. Here’s to those things of beauty in our lives that never change!

Wishing all you poets and engineers, alike, out there a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope Springs Eternal & So Does Willie Nelson

first-buds-forming

Another death hoax? Gee, how original…
You folks ain’t fickle—guess I’ll give ya points
fer grit if not fer gumption. I’ve rolled joints
my friends, far stiffer than my tricky ankle,
imbibed red wine that’s older than yer gran’;
this here bandana holds more DNA
than most small countries on a holiday,
so keep your Internet! Just leave the bedpan
close, gas up the bus, & brace for twenty
more long years—well, give or take a decade.
The road’s a callin’, songs are in my head,
& my ol’ guitar plays as good as any;
there’s plenty weed to smoke & hair to braid:
So’s far as I can tell, I’m still not dead.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Hope Springs Eternal…” came to defile the earth as a result of being generously sponsored by Robert Okaji — whose behest it was for me to write a “Sonnet Ending with Three Words from a Willie Nelson Song,” which included the words, “wine, weed, and guitar,” and was preferably “Petrarchan” — during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge.

I post it today in protest of having to endure one more minute of Trumplewocky & Co. without being sufficiently anesthetized.

Trumplewocky

trumplewocky1

‘Twas feckish, and the irkly grobes
Did fark and fistle in the slade;
All dingly were the rectiprobes
And the dampnuts updrade.

“Beware the Trumplewock, my friend!
The bigly mouth, those puny mitts!
Beware the Tweet bird, and off-fend
The cronious Perkletits!”

She packed her poisal voice and went:
Fat chance the vapid imp she’d spare—
So quivered he ‘neath his Cheeto tree,
And feebly cried, “Unfair!”

And, as the greelish light grew pale,
The Trumplewock, with wits of wood,
Came grabbling through the femly vale
Because he thought he could!

Eins, zwei! Eins, zwei! And quick as pie
The poisal voice sliced fierce and true:
“Go flay yourself, you mawkish elf,
And burn the residue!”

The Trumplewock would rue the day
He left his diddlepot of lack.
The frankish words would haunt him ‘til
He went galumphing back.

‘Twas feckish, and the irkly grobes
Did fark and fistle in the slade;
All dingly were the rectiprobes
And the dampnuts updrade.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Trumplewocky” first appeared on this blog in February 2017. It was inspired by the monstrous farce (still!!!) inhabiting the White House, and Lewis Carroll’s timeless masterpiece, JABBERWOCKY.

Letter from the Other Side of Halfway

Western Meadowlark

For Robert Okaji

Dear Bob: In one of my former incarnations
as a starving, family-less, twenty-something Grad
Student, well before the advent of emails & texting,
when handwritten sentiments on stationery were still
in vogue, I certainly sent my share of “Dear Bob Letters.”
The recipients thereof, on the whole a far cry from being
remotely “Bob-like,” included a number of real posers,
some of whom now strut & crow on Facebook like
the ancient, hoary roosters (read: cocks) they clearly are.
As for the others (more of them than you might imagine),
they’re all dead, several by their own hands, even—a stone-
cold statistic (the seeming synchronicity of which is tough
to ignore) I frequently grapple with, sorting through conjured,
a posteriori details & associated, surreal imagery by day, &
chasing after egotistical ghosts in my über-symbolic dreams
by night, always with the conviction that some message for me
yet lurks in the dry lakebeds & sunless recesses of the Nether,
a realm to which the tips of my toes & then some are no strangers.

The only window-treatment manning the threshold between
me & my secrets is a translucent-pink swath of chiffon,
which I’m afraid doesn’t leave much to the imagination—
so consider yourself warned, amico mio! Against the current
backdrop of imbecilic plutocrats, psychopaths on trains,
& every other persuasion under the sun, hardly to be tempered
by the incidental, decent soul, it would not take a discerning
eye long to know me better than I know myself, which is just
about the only thing I know anymore…

In my attempts to locate myself, I often look to nature—
these days, it’s among the imposing Sequoias we boast here
in the Northwest, along with the showy cottonwoods, as fertile
as they are indiscriminate, stripping off their seed-fluff every
chance they get, a prospect that doesn’t seem to bother
the scrub jays deigning to my level for a squawk now & then
before ascending to a higher branch. Whatever folks might say
about birds of a feather, well, after a number of my earnest stints
shadowing local hens— their distinct way of wearing those vibrant
petticoats tucked underneath their brown slickers, & their biting
commentary having seemed uniquely suited to the cold & rain—
I’ve yet to locate my flock, & the search has turned southeastward:
Taking a tip from the meadowlark, I veer for the high desert,
my flight path crossing the sagebrush-dotted, volcanic earth,
hoping I’ll soon look down & see you floating
in a sea of ten gallon hats, just beyond the convection
columns braced against the electric blue sky.

I don’t suppose your self-claimed exile looks anything
like I’ve imagined? It’s not with a small twinge of jealousy
that I seek consolation in your brand of solitude on the other
side of that horizon line; as exile, it would seem to me,
involves the condition of having at some point belonged
somewhere. Having spent a lifetime “standing out in my field,”
I’m not very handy at extrapolating any other kind of belonging,
& feel I ought to find out what I’ve been missing, here,
on my side of halfway.

So, I’ll be headed out past the Cascades & the swaggering
sage grouses of the eastern uplands, reaching for that horizon—
green seeping to red, “clouds feathering in” no further from us
than one step beyond our any given station—where you can be
sure I’ll always be no more than a step away from you, & ever
your honest friend, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Letter from the Other Side of Halfway” was first drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and though it has since undergone a few revisions, the sentiments it contains—and the friendship that continues to inspire them—have endured, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

 

Anatomy of a Fustercluck

Starling_Fustercluck

It’s thanks to crime scenes like this
that I sometimes dread people,
particularly the way they flock to orange pylons,
fluster in clumps like maimed birds,
and hatch out stories,
which are always either parboiled in half-truths,
or scrambled by hypocrisy. 

Take that camera-laden busy-body, for instance,
piqued there, barely disguising her hope
of spawning a murmuration—
donning her intrepidly purple polo,
she’s the self-declared ruler
of the pecking order that’s been bred into us
for the engendering of our chronicles:

Clearly, she knows how to swaddle her offspring
with ample pageantry
to ensure the stork’s swift delivery
of her inchoate prince.

Like Cronus, her Titan predecessor,
who swallowed up his own children
to thwart the prophecy of his time-driven demise,
she’s devouring a flood of raw peptides
from the sea-thick breeze
wafting right past the preoccupied deputy,
to sate her enduring appetite
for stone-cold lies.

Meanwhile, that blond-haired man
in the short shorts and flip-flops,
fixated on his faux-gold wristwatch,
has been pacing this whole time
on the cluster’s fringe,
completely cracked.

If you ask me,
he’s as guilty as the day is long.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Anatomy of a Fustercluck” won the Rattle Magazine January 2016 Ekphrastic Challenge, and appears in my forthcoming chapbook, THIS BEING DONE (Finishing Line Press, available for pre-publication order February 2018 — stay tuned for more information!!). I’ve been thinking a lot these days about crime scenes, guilt, and the fraught task of sorting out sensationalism from the horrors of reality… That’s all.

Confessional

Toilet-Paper-Art

     Today I used a piece of toilet paper
(ingenious how the squares are perforated)
           as a bookmark,

     to mark the beginning
of a story in a journal
           I pretended to mean to read soon.

      My own pretensions in the bathroom, I’d guess,
are no more elaborate than those of any other,
           but we prefer not to confess them,

     which is why confessionals nowadays tend to be
outfitted with porcelain & brass conveniences, & vanities
           of granite stacked with prayers, or leastways

     paperbacks (suggestive of prayerful reflection,
a well-regarded, liturgical means of bargaining one’s way out
           of bondage to repugnant functions),

     all to function as a colossal ruse—for truly,
we know no sleight-of-hand swipe performed (however
           adroitly the unrolled squares are wadded

     or folded), nor our most adroit illusions of luxury
contrived of bodacious poses over prodigal devices,
           can justify such unnatural exertions.

     Nature’s call is much like that of the cleric’s behind
his proverbial curtain—indeed, a loaded business
           we can’t but answer.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Who, me? Employ a fallacy of equivocation? NE-VER!