Friday, September 21, 2012

Peonies and Trailer Palaces

The Short-Lived Peony
—Photo by Roger Langton, Louisville, Colorado

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

in the curled-up city
the great apartment hives
in Kingsbridge and Inwood and back again
across the tricks and trickles of Spuyten Duyvil
its devilish pour into the Hudson
behind windows that mirror the river

roll up the rugs
put a record on the Victrola and wind it up
dance across the hardwood and parquet
from the foyer through the French doors
into the living room

pale yellow and lavender flowers slide along the ruffles
on her shoulder and down the slim length
her shimmering body
the long summer gown for long summer parties
the highballs, the cocktails
what’ll you have? Scotch and soda?

and for winter parties
her blue velvet gown
color of the evening sky 
just at dark

Peg at the baby grand
sings Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar
later, the dark rumble of the Apassionata
women’s laughter

overnight stay?
bed the child on two pushed-together stuffed chairs
when that window comes around again, Peg,
will you please open it?           


—Patricia Hickerson

war ends, oh say can you see
oh say, which war shall we sing about?

but say, there’s a ghost singing on Liberty Street
she’s smug and smart and 17
she wears a yellow autumn dress
she’s walking down Liberty Street
on a clear and sunny day
singing the unknown song of streets
only an old map can now sing you

song of Liberty Street

she still walks to her September job
sings all the way
from the Cortlandt Street ferry it rocks
on the Hudson chained to its dock
down the ghost of New York streets
to the old stone building at 1-3-6
sits red and squat and 4 stories high
on Liberty Street sing 1-3-6 Liberty Street
she types on a September day

song of Liberty street
1-3-6 torn down
made way for Twin Towers now smoke and rubble
the ghost still there she walks down Liberty Street
types all day sings her September song
in her yellow autumn dress
all fall down, say
another war begins, oh say               



murmuring couples lie around us in the dark
nowhere else to go
except to the grassy midnight lawns of Central Park
our fever is enhanced
hearing the echo of embrace
on the green grass of Central Park
while the rest of the City towers above
concrete steeples in the near distance
office-lit windows peer down
Central Park West and South
the north end ancient with brownstone
a cathedral forever building
and we are quiet in our cocoon
with others beside us
quiet and murmuring glide
let it flow
one couple unaware of the other
except to hear the endless soft murmuring
like fleshy insects invading the grass
spill seed and sperm in a quiet way
not to bother anyone
nowhere else to go—
the midnight silent lawns of Central Park                       

—Patricia Hickerson

Hicksville Trailer Palace, Joshua Tree
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Patricia Hickerson

Grandma sings to her parrot
song of the Lorelei
ich weis nicht was soll es bedeuten
das ich so traurich bin

but she is far from sad
even in her dark back quarters
red velvet and black mahogany
brownstone on 8th near Fifth
Grandma has little Elsie
they dance to the squawk of Polly-O

at the front of the house out of sight
Willie, Fred and Harry get beatings from Papa
they forgot their violin practice

now du! yells Papa from the audience
it’s Elsie’s turn to blow her horn
at the school pageant
at home with a cold she blows her nose so hard
she falls to the floor Papa is disgusted
Mama says what’s wrong with my little girl?
next door brownstone Papa and Mama
run their saloon Mama in black silk
high on her counting stool

at Grandma’s
Elsie kicks up her heels
she’s dancing around Polly-O 
singing with Polly-O
the parrot turns and twists and squawks
in time with Elsie
in parrot green and yellow
the fat beak its other claw
eyes beady as Grandma’s buttoned-down chairs
Hi dee ho! and a hey diddle-diddle
dances with Grandma
Elsie as frisky as Polly-O!   


(on seeing The Third Man for the third time)
—Patricia Hickerson
play me your zither, Anton
run down the cobblestone streets, Orson,
you’re the third man
they’re after you

more than three men in my life
none of them lived in Vienna
or played the zither
or escaped through the sewer
or got shot at the edge of a manhole cover

I had this one and that one
a man with a basketball
a man with a Reichian box
man with a Racing Form
man with a bottle
man with a toy train
they played me but
none of them played the zither
there were others…

play it again, Anton
your zither makes sense
your caress of the keys
with your broad adoring fingers
make love to your instrument
your music is mine
your zither, Anton, love it once more        


—Patricia Hickerson

you were my man, Jack
you made me forget the twisted years
the years of ball and chain
the years with nothing left to lose
like Janis Joplin
she smiled on me
gave me the liberated years
singing me and bobby mcgee
nothing left to lose
thank you, Janis
wiped away the grasping years
women not knowing which way to turn
the years of unyielding lust
for a man gone south

then Jack
you made lust a loving thing, Jack
a happy thing
you were my man, Jack
but you had to leave
ruined alcoholic heart
you hung on as long as you could
to make us happy
we swung on the moon
our bed in the stars
under a death cloud
you the man                   


Thanks to Patzee for the poems today, and to Roger Langton and Cynthia Linville for the photos. We have a new album from Cynthia on Medusa's Facebook page, photos from her recent trip to the desert land of Joshua Tree. Check it out! Cynthia will be reading at Verse on the Vine in Folsom with her Poetica Erotica pals on October 10.

Medusa is proud to announce that Sacramento News & Review writer and poet Kel Munger has chosen the Kitchen Best Local Poetry Blog in the recent Writers' Picks for Best of Sacramento (see and scroll down a bit). She has some mighty nice things to say about us—and I do mean US, since the quality she talks about comes from your poetry, photos, announcements and other poet-phernalia that you send me on a daily basis. Thanks, kids!


Today's LittleNip:

—Patricia Hickerson

green as a plucked parrot feather
no, green as a glistening jungle leaf
rain-splashed after the storm
no, green as a jealous cat
her green shoes
spike heels click on the flamenco floor
no, drag the tango street
shine in her lover’s eyes
green as new grass
green as sunset streak
green as spring trees
green as ripening fruit
her shoes shimmer in the dark
the crème de menthe of shoes             



Dinosaur in Cabazon, California
—Photo by Cynthia Linville