grandmother hubbard was a merry old soul
picked at her teeth with a telephone pole
had a gray cat and the cat spoke greek
caught its breakfast from a gelatin creek.

grandmother hubbard had twenty-three kids
sold each off for the highest bids
wore soft boots made of lamb and tar
rolled old spoons and called it a car.

grandmother hubbard never baked or boiled
had a parrot in a cage that she kept well-oiled
had no cupboard and had no dog
slept at night in a mushroom log. 
_______

for dverse "grandmothers"
if it's for-company manners
she's all over it
uses the good bone china
to pass you her shit

keeps her kids in her handbag
behind her compact
see how the poor broken bastards
prettily refract

smiles snowing, so nice.
she cries, and it's ice. 
______

a quadrille for dverse, key word "ice."
he wore a lead smock while kissing her.
his passion revved her rentgens.

you're like rolling the rides at pripyat.
it's a cascade of chain reactions.

let's spend our half-lives together, dear.
we'll contaminate several nations.
_______

for denise's six sentence stories

Roofers

Posted: 01/11/2023 in house of change
roofers
across the street
beating sense
into that house's head.

it's a steep pitch--
they dig in like batters
swinging and connecting--
changing what the sky sees.
my friend uses a walker,
drops things,
is getting worse.

i watch my hands, typing this--
ever faithful, as "me" as my next thought,
obedient and loyal as a hound.

what if
(as i think of my friend)
i were standing in a field
miles from anywhere
and the dog turned around with a strange face
sending shivers down my spine?

what if my mouth went dry,
my next command dying in my throat?
what then?

Plaything

Posted: 01/04/2023 in house of fools, house of love
Words
make
fine playthings
though some have
sharp edges

words 
aren't something to
just leave lying around
it's possible
to fall
in love with the
pleasing fragrance of them

still,
baby can get cut bad
bleed beneath the mobile
that's
always
in and out of her head

but
I was left alone
with words
and was lonely, 
so
now it's 
too late
they're mine.
Her hair was made of Parisian birds,
black ones fresh from the girders 
of the Eiffel, born in the fruit trees below.
Being beside her made me feel slow
like a rock in a river,
glistening and constant in the rushing water.

I loved coffee, she loved her awful tea
brewed in basements by admirers
from rainwater and autumn leaves.
God was in her pied a terre and in the spires
of cathedrals across from her balcony,
themselves stones of a sort
perpetual in stillness beneath infinity.

I miss, sometimes, the Parisian birds
and hallucinate them on odd evenings
when the hyacinth air
teases with the memories and feelings
one gets while walking by the canal.
I glitter, these nights, and in the end constancy won out,
while beauty became faded, tempered, banal.

___________

written for Sunday Muse #228 for the image of Sofia Federova, which I can't figure out how to show here. 
Here is the house with the windows made of ether
where the woman in the attic is a fine discerning creature
to bring you books and bells 
and birds who speak in cinquains
and pave the way to hell
with her well-intentioned mind games

To chain her or to be her is a problem every dawn brings
when you find her on the staircase howling out the aubades she sings
to grind you and to gift you
her peculiar diseases
and then to cure with potion
that disturbs as much as eases

These are your days in the house of dust and hemlock
where the fedoras and the bonnets are designed to send a strong shock
that snaps your concentration
when you try to understand her
while day by day her means of play
grow grislier and grander.
______


"Dig my grave with a bloody spade/ make damn sure that the digger gets paid." --Dave Van Ronk

Make a platter from my bones and place it upright 
on a stand 
in a hutch,
that I might shine in captivity like a noble urge.
Take the space where I wasn't and the absence that I'll be
and fill a lamp globe 
expanding
with my spirit aflame.

Can I count on you to do these things?

My sweetness, the bloom and nectar of my orchard self
is fed by the soot and smear of my failures
like counterweights,
engines of animation brief as the folding of a fan.
Set me like bone china,
an after-image,
clean
silent
glinting like a peineta in the hair of summer's widow.

Under my skin
between my breasts,
the lemon, in its nest of oleanders.

On the edges of my dreams
beyond the gray flags of melancholy,
dahlias, in colorful profusion.

In my hair
where folded telegrams posture in warning,
rooster feathers fall in crescents.

In my voice
the seductive softness of candle wax,
and the sharpness of cane leaves.

In my past
the anvil and the broken wheel.
In my mornings, dogs across the sunlit bed.

In my hope chest
accordion-legged spiders, gypsy crickets
and carnations to heal my eyes with kindness, like silent nuns.