Friday, October 30, 2015


…I have a new story up this morning at Intrinsic Magazine:

…Right now the lake is boiling, or at least it looks that way.  It’s raining so the hardest I’ve ever seen rain fall, and it’s pretty.  There were some sheaths of fog lodged between the evergreens on the other side of the lake but now the rain has broken those up and they look like dragons moving in slow motion, as if secretly trying to escape from the tree limbs.

…I started a story (or maybe novel) about an idea I’ve had for a while.  It’s just a vague idea right now having to do with an Elvis impersonator.  I don’t have much more than that.
Here’s the start:

                                                     My Life with Elvis Presley

            Elvis is drunk again, wobbling and leaning on the upstairs banister for support with an invisible microphone in his hand, warbling Hunk-a-hunk-a-burning love like a walrus in pain.
            He’s fat Elvis, with his prosthetic stomach bulging over a wooden rail, a trail of belly hair applied to make it seem real, believable.  He wears a white one-piece jump suit, bejeweled with all kinds of silver studs and white leather fringe, a massive trucker belt buckle.  His shirt collars are pointed and as long as the pizza slices they serve at Shakey’s.
            “Dad,” I say, “what are you doing?  You don’t have a show tonight.” 
My dad has worked as an Elvis impersonator for ten years now.  It’s his obsession and he’s pretty good at it when he’s not drunk, which isn’t very often, since, like me, he’s still trying to cope with my mother’s affair that’s left us without her.
            He wipes away a sling of white jaw drool, accidentally lifting a mutton chop side burn off his face.  The faux hair floats in the air like a patch of black lawn before landing an inch from my feet. 
“Practicing,” he says with a drawl and lopsided sneer, in full Elvis mode, if not also sloppily.
            Even from such a low height, there would be some kind of carnage if he fell.  Dad’s the parent around here, but the truth is I’m the one who takes care of us.
            When I start toward the steps, he sticks out his arm and palm like a school bus stop sign—“Hold on, Lisa Marie.  Hold on right there, darlin’.  I can make my own way.”
            Lisa Marie is my real name, but McBride is my last.  Probably his whole life my dad was dying to have a girl so he could bestow her with the same name as Elvis’s baby girl.
            I watch him sway in place, in an unsteady orbit up there on the landing, hoping he doesn’t topple or spew.
            “I’m good, kid.”
            His footfalls down the stairs make the house shudder.  In reality he only weighs one hundred fifty-five pounds, with the prosthetic gut, maybe one fifty-seven.
            Before Mom ran away with Mr. Eglington, Dad was a fairly healthy one ninety-five.  Before Mom ran off things were still quirky, but they were good.  Before Mom ran off I thought my parents were happily married, so I guess that says a great deal about my powers of observation or my understanding of what love is.
            I do quick math: one ninety-five subtracted by one fifty-five equals forty, divided by nineteen (months) equals, what?  How many pounds lost per month?  Hell, I don’t know.  I really suck at math.
            “You’re so skinny.”
            “I am absolutely nothing of the kind,” he says, slurring hard, trying to focus on me as he comes down.  “You, on the other hand, are nothing but a sparrow.”
            I know what that really means, where it came from.  When she was still around, Mom used to call me Birdy.  When I was a little girl I once found a wounded robin in the back yard.  It was hobbling on one leg and going zeee-up! Zeee-up! Zeee-up!  I brought it into the house, got online and figured out how to nurse it back to health.  After I let it free outside, I was Birdy to Mom from then on.

            I watch him gauge the last step, as if it’s a plate of squirmy snakes, his eyes equally squirmy.  He misses it entirely, and falls forward in a heave, but I catch him by the shoulders.  After all, he’s light—one hundred and fifty-five (or one hundred fifty-seven pounds).
            His fake belly ends up in my hands, my palms.  It feels moist, gluey, like an egg fried over easy.
            But he doesn’t fall down or hurt himself.  That’s good.
            “Dad,” I say.  “Dad.  Dad.  Dad.”
            “Oh, honey bee,” he says, leaning over me his hot breath smelling of alcohol.
            “Are you going to throw up?”
            He burps but positions his hand so the worst of the odor misses me.
            “I don’t think so, no.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Hurricane Javier

One of us is eating the other
While the gulls have lost their way
There are monsoons all around
Lifting cars off the roads
Shuttling cities to and fro
Tossing drug lords into trees
In the distance a baby wails
Along with the sour-coated wind
As the poorest of us float
Or swim
Or drown
Down a water gully without end
We heard it was coming
But not how hard
How fast
How sudden
Such is the news around here
A slow-motion bullet
Dragonflies will run the world
When everything finally dries out
Nothing really damaged
Nothing really changed

Stealing Baby Formula

Stealing baby formula
Is not as easy as you think
The aisles have eyes
The racks are cameras
The junk food is a caravan of spies
Stealing baby formula in a mercado
Is a ticket to a barred room
Separation anxiety
And revisiting motives
But the baby formula is there
And the baby is way over there
Where you left it
The clerk has a gun beneath the counter
The floor is slick with spilled soda
Leftover blood
And piss
The air spiced like tamales
Flood lights buzzing,
Flickering like alarms or Morse code
And still you do it
Stuff and run
Fast as a frightened gecko
Never turning back
Not sure if
The gunshots are real
Or imagined
Each twhack! a reminder that
You’re under constant attack
That you’ve at least
Made it this far

Beach Vendor

She is a hundred years old
Or sixty
A slow tortoise
Slogging down a tawny beach
With a hundred colors
Slung over her shoulders
Across her back
Tied in a jangly turban on her head
Gems and stones
Some fake some real
All them discovered and  
Threaded together
By weathered brown hands
One piece sold
Means a tortilla to eat
Two pieces a slight lunch
Three or four a miracle
Under parasols
And palm trees
The lazy lucky rich ones
Shoo her away
Time and time again
While the tortoise goes on
Her babies
And their babies
And their babies’ babies
Starving at home
Mewling for milk
Gasping for air
The sounds out of their mouth
Sheer as a frail scarf
A hiss
Almost as if they’re repeating
The same word over and over--
Silver, please?

Well Played

The boy is my son’s age
A sixth the size of him
But dark as bark
A skeleton really
Yet smiling
With the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen
“Senor, magic trick for Pesos?” he asks
I hand him two US dollars
Tell him to get on with it already
But nothing happens
“What the hell was that?” I ask
He trots across the sloped beach sand
Still grinning wide
Giving me two thumbs up
Back in the hotel room
I realize he’s filched my wallet somehow
And I wish he was here
To watch me smile back

Monday, October 26, 2015


…Hey Monday, what have you got going on tonight?
 …The thing about fall is you can feel it in your toes, especially if you go barefoot.  And the shroud of darkness that closes around each day so early.  And the messy cedar shavings all over the driveway and road.  Other than that, I’m fine with fall.
 …I’ve been getting a lot of poetry rejections of late.  I wonder if I suck at poetry.  I wonder if I’m not even a poet at all.
I’ll keep writing poems, but you tell me:


The needle’s loaded and
I am looking for a new vein,
one that hasn’t collapsed
or wormed away.
The room downstairs is where I hide,
in a corner as shadows stripe my chest
with air the width of rice paper.

I am filling my gun with minutes
and layers of leftover skin,
linking one moment to the next
with regret and remorse
while butterflies go roller skating outside the house
and two stray fawns do the tango on the lawn.
No one believes me anymore
and that’s okay.
No one believes in me anymore
and that’s why I’m jogging in place
shielding myself from the hot foot of the sun
that wants to tamp me out
as if I’m a well-spent cigarette.

I am slipping through the seams
of a new house
abandoned by former lovers.
Down the hall
in the last room on the left
on the duvet
there is a note which says
Welcome Home.


I keep dreaming of Sylvia
and in the morning on my pillow case
the word
Ariel is stamped on the cloth
inside a braid of bumble bees that someone has sketched.
Can you tell another living soul of such things,
that a strong voice from the past has grabbed your heart
and throat?
No one understands,
not my wife or daughter mother neighbor.
Even the chairs are mute
as the oven stares me in the eye.


I am a half-formed boy/man
waiting for the sun to bloom inside me
while a V of geese fly by,
honking miserably and energetically overhead,
skimming the belly of gray-white clouds.
My older, fully-formed brother
skips stones across dark water,
him as sullen as a dead tree.
In the trailer near the campsite the war drags on
and I imagine the word Marriage written in barbwire,
the tips of metal tinted crimson.
Without thinking I strip and dive into the lake.
I can’t see the other side
but I aim for it anyway.

Tree Storms

The way the trees bend down
tells me they have something important to say,
flapping their arms madly in the wind,
not a bird or squirrel in sight,
just these hysterical tress.
They have seen so much—
births and beauty,
destruction and death.
The shortest of them whispers my name like a snake
with a bad case of cottonmouth.
He says, “Stand on your tiptoes if you have to, Boy.”
He asks, “Are you afraid?”
One of them landed on my father once, years ago,
somewhere around here,
when I was just an infant.
“What’s in your hands?” another tree asks,
but I’m not here for small talk.
I spritz gasoline on the bed of pine needles,
take a lighter from my pocket,
shout Dad’s name and release
the jagged flame.

The Yellow Sparrow

The yellow sparrow
tells me:
There are no more tragedies to write.
All of the love songs have already been taken.
Every hero is someone else’s enemy.
Time dances like the wind is on fire.
Put on a flak jacket
and make something of yourself

Friday, October 23, 2015


…Got a haircut this morning.  Everyone there was decked out in Hawks jerseys.  Went to Starbucks.  Same thing with the baristas and customers.  Drove home.  Hawk flags on every eighth car.  My little town loves them some Seahawks.  Or maybe there's nothing else to love.  Either way, it made me a bit happy.
 …Random fact:
Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy said in a 1861 speech that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”
I think this is why people don’t like seeing the Confederate flag and why I wish people around my down wouldn’t go around with it on their trucks and boats.
Good grief.
 …Here is the hit list from Facebook friends last week:
 Pity for the miserable old woman who: Whispered loudly to her husband *pregnant girls like [me]* should not be drinking coffee.****When did I get pregnant?!? I missed the memo
 Thanks neighbors happy Friday! Let me know how being a little bitch is working out for you!

I went to a sad wedding the other day.  Even the cake was in tiers.

Always remember: The less people have to think, the more likes your post will get.
Madness is kind of fun
I want someone to make me a crown of tampons to wear on my head for the rest of tour. With red glitter all over it.

 lost on a $1 scratch ticket, tossed it at the trash, missed, called it a piece of shit, felt bad for everyone involved.
 Facebook for writers is the new Paris of the 1920s. I mean, we all HANG OUT! We just happen to be a bit invisible.
 Sometimes i just wanna punch something

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


...I wrote these today:

 Life Support

But first
There is the end
The tugging and nudging
The push and pull
Of past voices
Trying to remind you of
What you once were
The miles you’ve traveled
A billion breaths taken
An atlas etched into your face
As if by a hasty sculptor
Listen to me if you can
In the end we begin again
Two souls entwined
Though loosely
Like sheer scarves
Dancing with the wind

The Clouds Spell Surrender

The way this works
Is you disavow me
Destroy my charms and confidence
Whether by blowtorch or machete
The trees tell me you’ve tested negative
The water wants to warn me about your friends
There is only so much plasma in a human body
I leave mine on the bedroom floor
In the driveway
The woods
On a jagged stretch of road
Leading straight to Birmingham
Along the way the sun
Nudges my knees like a needy dog
The clouds spell surrender
But I do not

 August Noon

Our souls at night
Remind us
Of half-formed girls
How they tittered birdlike
Under sweeping willow tree limbs
That August Noon
With their Fruit-of-the-Loom’s
Bleached white as painted fences
Looking back now
Feels like an arm is reaching up
Through my throat
No mercy spared
No mercy asked for
Stretching and groping
Trying to reclaim something from the past
That was taken from someone else

Full Moon

The sun is adamant that I’m wrong
The moon is an accuser
Which is why
I’ve drawn the blinds and have
Unplugged every cord and wire
My wife arrives after nine
Late like yesterday
And the day before
She reeks of Polo cologne
Frog legs and garlic
Gives me a swift kiss
Asks have I noticed that the moon
Is full and blue-white
Like our bed sheets


There are no rivers here
Only deep pockets of caked mud
Walrus tusks
And bird’s eyes
Pecked out by other famished birds
This is how it goes
Seventh year
Seventh death by seventh death
Happy Anniversary, Baby
We made it

Monday, October 19, 2015


…This is about Joanna.  I just love her to death ( I mean, come on: “you were knocking me down with the palm (palm!) of your eye?).
You likely won’t her as much, if at all.
My best friend said she sounded like a cat being tortured.
Anyway, here are the lyrics to the song tagged below:

Peach Plum Pear

We speak in the store
I'm a sensitive bore
and you're markedly more
and I'm oozing surprise

But it's late in the day
and you're well on your way
what was golden went gray
and I'm suddenly shy

And all the gathering floozies
afford to be choosy
and all sneezing darkly
in the dimming divide

I have read the right books
to interpret your looks
you were knocking me down
with the palm of your eye

This is unlike the story
it was written to be
you were riding its back
when it used to ride me

We were galloping manic
to the mouth of the source
we were swallowing panic
in the face of its force

and I am blue
I am blue and unwell,
make me bolt like a horse.

Now it's done.
Watch it go.
You've changed some.
Water running from the snow.

Am I so dear?
Do I run rare?
And you've changed some:
peach, plum, pear.

Her phrasings and explanations are great in this article:

…Getting the new album, for sure.





                                                              Baby, Baby, Baby

We are desperate, or I am.  Yes, it’s me.  I go to lengths.  I take my husband’s hollow silences and try to fill them with code but he snickers or re-fingers the remote.
I get masseuse lessons.  When I come home I say, “Do you want your neck worked on, you look stiff,” but he only whinnies at me.
I find hair in the sink.  Blonde.  Long.  He reminds me he is a custodian.  He sweeps the whole mall, even Cutter’s Salon.
            I buy plastic sheets and a vat of baby oil as one magazine recommends.  I dress in stilettoes and two pieces of string.  I lock the door and insert the key in a private place he’ll have to reach.  So, we slip and slide.  My eyes burn from splashes of oil.  One of us sweats a small lake.  When we are through, he showers, then slinks off to watch Sports Center.  In the morning I say, “You didn’t come back, why not?” and he tells me he thought I’d be sleeping.
            I say, “I’m going on a trip.”
He says, “Fine by me.  How long?”
            I say, “A while.”
            I land in the tropics.  It’s like a Malaysian fat farm but better.  I get liposuction.  I apply lip plumper.  I wax what’s never been waxed.  I get a cut and dye job, going red.  I bleach my teeth.  Buy a Pucci-print dress and Channel bag.  I get piercings below the neck.
            When I come home, my husband is all nerves, a jumping bowl of spaghetti.  His eyes jerk like pinballs.  When I ask if I should get the oil, grab the plastic sheet, he chuckles, tells me we don’t need it.  He keeps humming, “Baby, baby, baby.”
            I can’t get enough air.  He’s gained weight while I’ve been gone.  He smells like ammonia and has a forest of black nose hair I never noticed.  When we kiss I can feel canker sores in his mouth.
            He asks, “Round two?”  Then after that, “Ready for a hat trick?”
            He wants me.  All the time.  I tell him I need a break.  He says, no.  I complain, threaten to go back to the old me.  He says there’s no going back, calls me Baby, Baby, Baby.
            When he comes home from work the next night I can hear him panting.  He opens the bedroom door with a flourish.  “What the?”
            I’ve shaved my head.  I don’t have any makeup on.  I’m wearing my flannel pj’s with the poodles on them.  I’m eating my second tub of Ben and Jerry’s that’s given me a awful case of flatulence. 
            When he steps closer, I burp up a little cloud of Chunky Monkey.
Now it’s years later.  We’ve eaten dinner and dessert.  We’re sitting in a booth by the window.  My husband runs a toothpick through the gulley between his teeth.  He reads a magazine about tattoos and motorcycles.  I stare past my reflection in the glass at a young couple wrestling in the front seat.  I wonder if he calls her Baby.
            Inside the diner, there’s Muzak playing: “Here Comes the Sun.”  Oh, and there’s you and your girlfriend.  You look nice together, like a twin sweater set, yet you both look away.  Good thing I’ve still got my hearing. 
Your girlfriend whispers, “Can you believe it?  They haven’t even said one word the whole time.”
            You rip a hunk of meat from a gray slab of chicken, and let it wobble against your wrist.
            “I hope we never get like that when we get old.”
            “Here,” you say, flapping the greasy meat, “take a bite.”
            “That’s so gross.”
            “Come on.”  And then you do it, call her, Baby.  And she does it, too.  She eats the meat right off your fingers, says, “Sugar, you know I’d do anything for you.”