A FAMILIAR ROUTINE?

Cats are an effective deterrent for all kinds of evil spirits:
demons, spooks, hobgoblins, ghouls, phantasms, specters,
wraiths, hellions, banshees, revenants, even those dreaded
Fahrvergremlins.  They haint afraid of no ghosts!

WATCH CAT 
(sevenling)

In corners
In the pantry
On the basement stairs

She hisses
She hackles
She claws the empty air

Performing her daily exorcize

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SPOTLIGHT ON BODILY FUNCTIONS

A call of nature occurred as I was driving on the small state highway between my folks’ house and the interstate. It’s mostly farm country, but you pass through one or two towns large enough to have a gas station.  Back then, the bathrooms were locked up and you had to go inside to get the key.  And everything closed at 10 pm; if it was later than that, you were out of luck.  That was my situation, one growing ever more dire.  Fearing the untimely appearance of a state trooper,
I turned off on a smaller road to take a quick whiz.  It was pitch dark
and I figured if I was careful, no one would be the wiser:

STOPPING TO PEE
ON A MOONLESS NIGHT

Whose fields these are I do not know
It doesn’t really matter though
My bladder has begun to twitch;
without relief, it might explode

On a county road as dark as pitch,
I brake just inches from the ditch
Hop out and feel my way around
then slide my jeans below my hips

Against the chrome, I hunker down
A sizzling jet-stream hits the ground
and thunders on non-stop until…
Is that a snake? That hissing sound?

Astonished by my speed and skill,
I launch myself right off the grille
and activate a motion light
whose million watts upon me spill

As jeans and bum I re-unite,
I wonder if some farmer might
have seen the moon that moonless night
have seen the moon that moonless night

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SIMPLY (IR)RESISTIBLE

The Mister is planning a tail-end-of-the-season RV trip and keeps trying to persuade me to come along.  I almost get swept up in the romance of it, almost.  I know the minute I let my guard down, the RV gods will sock it to me.  One minute, we’ll be rolling along fine, the next, the brakes will overheat, a tire will blow out, or we’ll miss one effing sign and end up on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Or we’ll hit a pothole and fail to notice that a bicycle bounced off the rack and has been dragging behind us, burning rubber and throwing sparks, for the past five miles. Once we’re settled in the RV camp, the dog will piddle in our bed, the coin-op washing machine will steal my quarters, and the unique mini-lights that were supposed to make our RV easy to find after dark will turn out to be so popular they’re on half the campers in our section.

The following are parodies of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe and The Nymph’s Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh:

THE PASSIONATE RV-ER TO HIS LOVE

Come away with me, my love,
asphalt below, blue skies above
We’ll roll along in our RV,
off-the-grid and schedule-free

We’ll snub the boring Interstate
and motor where adventure waits
Roads less traveled, scenic paths,
fate our compass, fortune our map

We’ll eat at local Mom and Pops
like breakfast dives and donut shops,
have a second or third coffee
and ask the waitress what to see

Claims to fame, local landmarks
Waterfalls, amusement parks
Town museums, covered bridges
Winding trails up mountain ridges

Evenings, we’ll enjoy sunsets
from lounge chairs on the upper deck
and share a bottle of Chardonnay
as waxing night meets waning day

Then go inside and watch TV
or pull the shades and make whoopee
in the flickering light of a 12V bulb
Come away with me, my love

HER TRAVEL-WEARY REPLY

If traveling in our RV
was comfortable and trouble-free
and as idyllic as you describe
I’d hit the road with you, my love

Clear blue skies are unsurpassed
but sometimes storms are forecast
We’ll have, without a reservation,
no power, water, or dumping station

Country roads are picturesque
but oft confound the GPS
And a breakdown out in Boonie-Ville
is sure to dampen my goodwill

Over time, I’ve grown immune
to the lure of booths at greasy spoons
The trailer door is just so wide;
our asses might get stuck outside

Hauling lounge chairs to the deck
and down again is a pain in the neck
And sunsets pale, however stellar,
in a haze of OFF! and Citronella

If gypsy life possessed the charm
and easiness of Home Sweet Home
my hermit self might then be moved
to hit the road with you, my love

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Below are links to my RV series from 2016:
RV-ING FOR BEGINNERS
INTERMEDIATE RV-ING
ADVANCED RV-ING

WHEN TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT

A friend of mine recently arranged a reunion for her family.  She is in her 50’s and has not seen some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins since childhood.  My own story is similar.  I went to college, got married, and moved away.  Funerals were the only time we got together, one aunt remarked.  So she took it upon herself to plan a reunion, a cook-out at the state park.  Now, before you read what happened and get all judgy, I’d like to make two statements in my own defense:  At the time, I was slightly nearsighted (20/30, or maybe 20/40) and I was not wearing my glasses.  Also, the pavilion where ‘my people’ were located wasn’t one of the ones readily visible from the parking lot.  So, here goes:

THE BEAN SALAD PEOPLE

We hadn’t gotten together in years
unless funerals count,
so we made plans for a family reunion
at the state park.

Nobody under the picnic pavilions
looked familiar to me,
but we had been away a long time
and people change.

I spotted my mom tending the grill,
her backside anyway—
wispy brown hair, polyester shorts
that came to her knees.

I grabbed the bean salad I’d made
and on the way over,
my husband and I were intercepted
by a fat, jolly lady.

She took the bean salad from me.
“This looks delicious!”
she gushed, setting it on the table.
She pulled us into a hug.

I couldn’t place her… a great-aunt?
One I’d never met?
She said to load up our plates and
make ourselves at home.

I walked toward the grill instead
to say hello to mom,
but it wasn’t mom, just some lady
shooing flies with her spatula.

I knew the answer to my question
before I even asked it.
“Is this the Nieset family reunion?”
She shook her head.

Hubby’s bemused glare said it all:
Jesus H. Christ, Joan,
you don’t even know your own family?
WHAT?  THE?  HELL?

I went back to get the bean salad.
A few scoops were missing.
“Leaving so soon?  You just got here!”
The jolly lady again.

“I goofed,” I said, my cheeks burning.
“Wrong pavilion.”
“Couldn’t you at least stay for a photo?”
She was persistent.

Dumbfounded, we agreed, and they
gathered around us,
everyone smiling and saying “cheese”
as the camera flashed.

After she’s gone, Jolly Lady’s children
will peruse her albums,
wondering who we are and how the heck
we ended up in their photo.

They’ll check the scrawled notation
on the reverse side and
where our names should be, it will say
The Bean Salad People.

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QUATERNALLY YOURS

Hooray!  A new form!  A QUATERN has sixteen lines, divided into four quatrains.  Each line has eight syllables; there are no rhyme or iambic requirements.  The poem’s first line is a refrain.  In the second stanza, the refrain drops down to the second line.  In the third stanza, it drops down to the third line.  In the fourth stanza, it serves as the final line.

Anyone who writes poetry has family, friends, and coworkers who are eager to alert her to potential subjects.  They will point at a blooming dahlia, a birthday boy blowing out his candles, a striking sunset, even a multi-car pile-up on the highway and exclaim, “There’s a poem for you!” as if artistic inspirations were somehow transferable.  I used to pick up the ball and run with it…  I would drag my pen across the page, spend a couple hours thoroughly frustrating myself, and wonder why such a fantastic idea was going nowhere.  Here’s the reason:  if you can’t see the poem, you can’t write it.  And looking is not the same as seeing.

THERE’S A POEM FOR YOU

Someone says, “There’s a poem for you”
while pointing at a butterfly,
writing in cursive in the sky,
verse in need of a translator.

My ego snaps at the bait when
someone says, “There’s a poem for you,”
keen to decipher the insights
in those ephemeral contrails.

But the monarch’s secrets belong
to the seer alone.  So when
someone says, “There’s a poem for you,”
avert your eye, stay your pencil.

You well know the glittering voice
of his muse will turn to pyrite
in your ear so pay no mind when
someone says, “There’s a poem for you.”

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LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT

I’ve always taken a “comfort first” attitude toward clothing.  I supposed I would outgrow my disdain for pantyhose and other constricting items as I moved into adulthood, but just the opposite has happened.  I will contend that bras have their place, but they’re the first garment to be shed when I bust (pun intended!) through the front door.  My maiden voyage on the “SS Foundation” occurred some years ago.  I attended a work function wearing a “body shaper” under my dress.  Like magic, it sculpted the area between my boobs and my knees into an hourglass.
I couldn’t breathe, but that turned out to be the least of my problems.  During the 15-minute intermission, every woman in attendance made
a beeline for the restroom – a veritable throng of ladies clamoring for two measly stalls.  Wrestling oneself in and out of a body shaper takes however long it takes, even if a full-blown mutiny is in progress on the other side of the stall door.  That day, I decided foundations have their place, too.  Like the trash can.  Or the donation bin at Goodwill.  (You’d be surprised what they will accept, as my friend Murisopsis discovered.)  Without further ado, two lingerie parodies:  Bras à la Emily Dickinson and Foundations à la Dorothy Parker:


BRAS

Bras are the things with tethers
stitched to sturdy cups
that work together eighteen hours
to hold our hooters up

Lending them support and form,
defying gravity,
feats they managed for themselves
when we were in our teens

Still, they feel like prison walls
around our lady shapes,
who, yoked in airless Spandex yearn
for evening’s sweet escape

 

FOUNDATIONS

Shapers pinch you;
Corsets can pop;
Girdles cinch you
but make muffin-top.
Comfort waists aren’t;
Spandex snaps;
Fuck undergarments;
I’d rather look fat.

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HOLY GORGONZOLA!

I have a major weakness for cheese, one
which led to this rich, creamy parody of
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43.

HOW DO I LOVE CHEESE?

How do I love cheese? Let me count the ways
I love it grilled, American on white
Schmeared on an onion bagel, toasted light
In pecan cheeseballs served on holidays

Shingled with fresh fruit on party trays
Swirled in fondue pots by candlelight
I love it hard, aged cheddar with a bite
I love it soft, baked Brie with maple glaze

I love it cheesecaked, lemony and smooth
Blistered on a New York pizza slice
Macaronied into comfort food
Nachoed, patty-melted, batter-fried
If Death disguised himself as crab Rangoon
I’d take the bait and gladly pay the price

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TYGERS AND BOOGERS, OH MY!

I was cleaning out my Word files this week and I found a booger.  Well, not a literal one, but a poem about one I started and never finished.  It was back in the winter when my obsession with a particularly stubborn nasal stowaway apparently crisscrossed with my parody-writing phase.  With my sincerest apologies to William Blake for (again!*) desecrating his masterpiece, Tyger Tyger, I present:

BOOGER, BOOGER

Booger, Booger, hanging tight,
whistling in my nose all night
What mere mortal strategy
could challenge thy tenacity?

Beneath what distant septal shelf
dare thee to affix thyself,
clinging like a stalactite
although I blow with all my might?

In what winding turbinate
dost thou manage to evade
random gusts of high-speed breeze
generated when I sneeze?

In what cranny, high and dry
liest thou in smug safety
above the wet and wild onslaught
of saline from my Neti pot?

When the gauntlet I threw down
and probed my finger all around
How didst thou wriggle or retreat
and deftly outmaneuver it?

Booger, Booger, hanging tight,
to thee I shall concede the fight
for what mere mortal strategy
could challenge thy tenacity?

*My first parody was entitled LEGOS, LEGOS

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LOOPHOLE IN DARWIN’S THEORY

My husband calls these little guys primordial bugs because they look ancient, but how such daft, clumsy creatures could have survived for eons is a mystery to me.  They sneak into the house with the single-mindedness of a deprived dieter attacking a frozen cheesecake, but once inside, they completely lose sight of their agenda, so I’ve never been able to figure out what their end game is.  Far as I can tell, they bumble around aimlessly and crash into things, or plant themselves directly in harm’s way and wait for disaster to strike.  Their mortality rate is 100%, minus the ones I capture and deport back to the Great Outdoors.  (Unless they make it back inside, which they’re probably trying to do at this very moment…)  Survival of the Dim-witted-est?

INVASION OF THE STINK BUGS
(Ghazal)

On autumn’s cusp descend the hated stink bugs
Google calls them brown marmorated stink bugs

Keen to enter, they slink around screens and wait
for windows to be opened, motivated stink bugs

Others breach the threshold in my laundry basket
affixed to socks and towels, calculating stink bugs

and fall victim to heat-finishing; discovered in the
dryer lint screen, corpses of dessicated stink bugs

Most zoom around aimlessly, surviving headfirst
collisions… bumbling, uncoordinated stink bugs

only to perish in the toilet bowl, beneath a shoe,
at the paw of a torturous cat, ill-fated stink bugs

One daring fellow lands on my toast, legs mired in
citrus flypaper, an orange marmaladed stink bug

The lucky ones succumb to old age, lying on their
backs on the tile, pathetic, leg-waving stink bugs

What is the purpose of these pungent Kamikazes?
Explain to me, please, why God created stink bugs

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WHEN YOU’RE HOT, YOU’RE HOT…

Turn on the fan, folks,
here comes a load of:

HOT STUFF

August evenings
Black leather seats
Cremation ovens
Deep-fried treats

Electric fences
Forest fires
Global warming
Hearts’ desires

Incinerators
Jalapeños
Knock-off handbags
Live volcanoes

Morning coffee
Nuclear reactors
Ornery redheads
Pressure cookers

Quilted jackets
Radiators
Scarlet fever
The equator

Undergarments
VapoRub
Witches’ cauldrons
XXX nightclubs

Yankees south of
the Mason-Dixon
Zaftig models
Zydeco rhythms

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