Interview with a Poet — Thinking About Poetry Series
Happy Friday, everyone! I was asked by Zay Pareltheon to participate in Scrittura’s “Thinking About Poetry” series, and my response was published here. Thank you for inviting me to participate, Zay. I enjoyed writing it far more than I imagined!
I’ve never eaten a blueberry. I confess I didn’t follow my grandma’s golden rule; don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. They look vile and undignified; like grapes that didn’t quite grape correctly. But my grandbaby is housing those things like they’re nature’s candy, leaving blue and violet streaks everywhere; a little Rembrandt. Every so often, she offers me one with compelling questions of “Uhn? Uhn?” hanging beneath our sun-streaked skylit afternoon. I politely sing, “No thank you!” which always gets a giggle from her before she crams nature’s mess artlessly into her tiny face. She’s more blueberry than toddler now. Maybe I should try one next time she offers.
sea of blue and green bird chatter and child’s laughter we breathe together ***
“Though your eyes are kind, I’m afraid,” she confessed, lying nude before me.
“Me too,” I said through angelic gaze, “but I see something in you that I can’t explain.” I gorged myself upon her kiss. “Deep within you; I must have it,” I continued urgently in the fading light, embracing her shoulders gently, sliding towards her neck, enclosing her throat with the yip of her last gasp, her fingernails, sunk into my clenching forearms before dropping lifelessly, dangling from her naked corpse.
My ecstasy was interrupted by her now-disembodied laughter. “Foolish mortal,” she hissed, “now you are mine forever,” as my body slowly dissolved. “Of all my new candidates, you surrendered yourself completely. Now you will never know pleasure without death; never the sensual without senescence. This is the barrenness of harvest or pestilence reserved for only my favorite Incubi.”
“Welcome to Lurlina’s Intimates. My name is Lurlina,” sang Lurlina musically over the soft sound of Muzak being piped in overhead. The store was so empty that every note, every windbreak to breathe between the notes could be clearly heard.
“Can I help you find something- oh! I remember you!” she added, beaming, with a wink. “Vic, isn’t it? Couldn’t stay away from me, could ya?”
Vic smiled. “Actually, I’m here to find a gift for the wifey,” he said.
Lurlina pouted, biting her lip. “Oh boo. I though you came back for me.”
Vic blushed, grinning warmly. “Well you are quite pretty, but…”
“It’s ok honey,” said Lurlina, gently touching his forearm. “I’m old enough to be your mom, so I can get away with it.”
“Yeah?” said Vic with raised eyebrows. “I’m 26, and you don’t look much older than that!” His gaze lasted a half-measure longer than what was needed, and as he became aware of himself scanning her vitality – as if the lie could be seen in the nooks of her hips and the crannies of her cleavage – he forced his eyes toward a rack of unremarkable halter tops.
“Aww… bless your sweet, nearsighted heart,” purred Lurlina. “You’re getting all the discounts when I ring you up.”
Vic laughed, looking around the empty store nervously. Taking a deep breath, he returned Lurlina’s fixated gaze. “Don’t worry,” he said. “My momma raised me right. I know better than to ask-”
“My age?” said Lurlina, cutting him off with an electric smile. “Yeah, you shouldn’t ask me that.” They both laughed as Vic shrugged and then relaxed his shoulders. “OK, so, let’s just say that I’m old enough to be your… older sister.”
“Whatever you say, big sis!” replied Vic with a smirk.
Lurlina lightly slapped at his shoulder. “Oh, don’t mind me, honey,” she said. “I’m just a harmless flirt.” Her eyes lingered on Vic’s chest and arms a few full measures before snapping back to his face. “So, uhm… What can I help you find, sweetie?”
Vic drew a breath as if remembering that oxygen is essential. “Oh! Uhm, I’m looking for some comfy loungewear for the wifey.”
“I might have just the thing over here,” said Lurlina, sauntering over to several racks of lavender lacy tops with matching soft, billowing pants, pulling a top off the rack with a cheeky flourish. “I find this to be the perfect balance between comfort and,” she leaned forward, making a comma with her left index finger, singing teasingly, “‘here kitty, kitty, kitty!’ You know what this is!” she said, straightening with a laugh.
“That looks…” Vic said, with eyes that were definitely not staring at her cleavage on purpose, as the top displayed by Lurlina was within the same eye-frame as her cleavage – so technically speaking, those caramel breasts just happened to be bouncing there – the lavender top, and not the caramel breasts looked, “really good.”
Vic shifted his weight, adjusting his shirt and his pants, with a slight fidget or two.
“So how big are we talkin’?” asked Lurlina softly.
Vic’s smile vanished, and his brow furrowed, knitting together. “I’m sorry… what?” he asked, tilting his head slightly.
Lurlina blushed, laughing nervously. “I’m sad to say it, but I didn’t get a good look at your wife the last time you both came in. Do you know what size she is?”
“I’m sorry,” Vic repeated, closing his eyes, shaking his head as if that’s ever helped to reboot a brain. “what about my wife?”
“Your wife,” Lurlina said slowly through giggles. “How big is she? Is she about my size?” Lurlina pressed the top to her chest, posing to demonstrate as Vic swallowed. “A little bigger? Smaller?”
Vic, finally composed, stared at her as if solving this algebraic problem would win himself a lifetime’s supply of vodka and weed. “She’s about the same size,” was his final answer. “Shit. I should know this, shouldn’t I?
“Probably!” laughed Lurlina. “It’s OK, hun. I’ll include a gift receipt.” Lurlina reassured him with a touch of his forearm. “You can always come back to exchange it. Even if you lose the receipt,” she added with a teasing tone and a slow-jazz grin, “if you come back, I’ll remember you! I’ll always remember you.”
“Is that a perk of being the owner?” laughed Vic, now following her lead to the check-out counter, taking full-measure of her hip-sway.
“I’m not the owner yet,” said Lurlina, between scans and beeps, ringing up unearned discounts. “My mom’s the owner. She’ll be retiring soon though.”
Vic gave her a puzzled look. “Is her name Lurlina too?”
“Her name is Fritzi,” Lurlina said plainly. “I think she used my name because someone trademarked her name or something.” Lurlina grinned and her eyes narrowed. “But I really think she used my name because it sounds more enticing.”
Vic stroked his fuzzy chin. “Hmmm… Both names are unique,” he said, pausing with a crooked grin, “but I like yours more.”
“Now who’s the flirt!” exclaimed Lurlina with a light tap on Vic’s chest. “It’s ok with me, honey. Flirting will get you all the discounts up in here!” Their eyes and glazed grins synched over several bars of the piped-in jazzy sax Muzak. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell.”
“But won’t you husband mind?” Vic asked, briefly breaking their eye-contact.
“Husband?!?” Lurlina laughed, ringing up his total. “Real smooth, young fella.”
“What you mean?” Vic pulled back, shrugging his shoulders while fumbling in his wallet for his debit card. “You got me curious, is all.”
“Oh, I got you curious, huh?” Lurlina stifled another laugh while queuing-up the keypad for Vic to enter his PIN.
“I’m just sayin’,” said Vic, shaking his head and gesturing for emphasis, “you gotta have a lucky-ass-hell man waiting for you at home, right?”
Lurlina stopped laughing and her smile faded. “Oh, that ship sailed two U.S. Presidents ago, honey. He long gone.”
“Oh,” said Vic, turning his gaze to the floor as Lurlina seemed to look right through him, towards something only she could see, her eyes fading, becoming dull and unfocused, her lips pursed pensively. Their financial transaction was completed within the momentarily awkward silence.
“I messed up a real good gumbo we had back then,” she admitted, shaking her head.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Vic offered somberly.
Lurlina pressed her face into smiling again. “Oh, don’t be, child! Lessons learned. We build and grow and move on. Hell, his own mama even forgave me! She and I still have dinner together sometimes!”
Vic laughed nervously. “That’s… pretty cool and nice and…”
He winced, continuing with, “…and totally not weird at all, right?”
Lurlina laughed a genuine, bubbly laugh. “Boy, you silly! Too bad you’re off the market! But it’s just as well. When you’re sure you’re vibin’ with the right one, make sure you pay attention! Don’t wait for something better or pass it by because you don’t wanna be tied down!” She shook her head, smacking her lips disapprovingly.
“Cause when that person’s gone, when you let them leave the store, sometimes they don’t come back, ya know?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Vic said, nodding thoughtfully. “But sometimes someone else comes along when you least expect it…”
Lurlina broke their eye-contact after a few more musical measures. “Yeah, but I’m not lookin’ for any of that these days,” she said with a finger-wag. “My kids are not quite your age, but they’re off to college, and I’m just out here having as much fun as I can while I can, ya know?”
Vic’s brow furrowed skeptically. “You don’t look like you have kids old enough for college,” he said.
“I already rang up your discount, Mr. Smooth,” Lurlina said with a smirk and faux-exasperated eyeroll. “What more can I possibly give you?”
Vic reached across the counter, resting his hand on Lurlina’s forearm. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I get the impression that you might have more to offer…”
Both took in a shallow breath when they remembered to breathe.
“…in here,” Vic finally finished his thought.
“I… I don’t know,” Lurlina stammered, tensing up, pulling away slightly, but not completely. “Maybe I… uhm… I dunno, baby, maybe I already showed you too much?”
Vic gently squeezed her forearm. “Perhaps something I haven’t seen yet, then,” he said.
Lurlina swallowed hard, biting her lip, her carefree smile yielding to an earnest urgency. “You sure this is what you want, Victor?” she asked carefully, in a husky, almost chilled low growl. “Cause I don’t do half-measures, boy.”
Victor nodded. “I think we both already know the answer to that,” he said with a blunted, lustful authority, his smile also fading to a soft, somewhat faux neutrality.
Lurlina placed her off-hand on top of the one Vic used to hold her in place, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “Well then…” The door-chime signaled another customer’s entrance into the store, compelling the two to quickly disengage, standing across from each other stiffly.
“You should come back tomorrow evening after we restock, just before closing,” said Lurlina through a practiced professional smile. “We’ll have a new line of more risqué designs that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I’ll be alone, but it’s usually dead here. You’d have me all to yourself, ya know?”
“I’d like that very much,” smiled Vic “Tomorrow it is, then.”
Vic gathered his purchased items and left the store.
I decided to try this prompt after reading Violet Lentz’s intriguing contribution to this prompt, Mrs. Oswald.
I sketched-out the dialogue in about 25-30 minutes, but afterwards, I kept coming back to shape and frame it, a nip here, a tuck there, until two hours later I had… well… whatever the hell this little thing turned out to be. I feel like there’s a bigger story here. Perhaps I’ll chase it someday.
Currently displayed on Tygpress.com. You guys did it!
Well damn! You guys actually did it! I’m impressed. I was going to take my ball and go home, but you folks with your outrage went at this entity with your cease-and-desist and your pitchforks, and they didn’t want any of that smoke!
I know most of you were just as pissed-off as I was, and I’m grateful that you acted on your own senses of justice instead of turtleing like I planed. I am the undeserved benefactor of your righteous actions, and I thank you all. This little guy is grateful that you collection of little guys didn’t take this lying down.
I honestly hope that this the last time I find myself writing about blog harvesting, but I suspect it won’t be. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes, but for now, let’s get back to our scheduled programming.
I’ve learned a lot these past few days. I learned far more about DCMA than I ever wanted to. I also learned that I have wonderful online friends who are incredibly supportive. Well, I knew that last part, but it’s nice being reminded every now and then, like when talk me out of taking a flying lead and nuking my blog from orbit.
Thank you for the support and much needed perspective, trE, msjadeli, petrujviljoen, iidorun, and Dewin Nefol. Again, I’m not going to fight this because I didn’t get into poetry and creative writing to quibble over someone unethically stealing site traffic. I imagine I’d feel differently if there was evidence of someone actually passing my work off as their own.
I was always leaning towards shuttering my blog, and once it’s time to renew my domain in February, I just may bow out then rather than paying the fee. I’ve got a few months to mull it over. But I won’t let a content thief influence my choices.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, pulling away.
“Just holding you,” I murmured drowsily, gently pulling her close.
“This is inappropriate,” she protested, squinting. “And what’s with that light?”
“This is only gratitude,” I replied. “Nothing more.”
“Gratitude?” she scoffed. “I don’t even know you.”
“I know,” I said. “And I don’t know you, but thanks to you, I know a thousand words for the color blue, and so I dreamt I was the moon creeping into your window, spooning you, comforting you with borrowed glow of yesterday and tomorrow, coiling your secrets into the crux of my crescent, never to see daylight again.”
“Oh,” she said. “You doing this for all of us?”
“Yes,” I said. “Now shh!”
And after a pregnant silence, she said, “You know we’re all gone now, right?”
This is a tribute to the victims, survivors, and families of the Kyoto Animation Studio arson/mass-murder that claimed the lives of 34 innocent and brilliant artists. I don’t have any more words to convey my grief and sorrow, but if, like me, you ache to flood the void caused by this act of hate with acts of love, contribute to the GoFundMe setup by Sentai Filmworks. Other ways to help can be found here.
Summer sunsets are the laziest, followed leisurely by dusk layering softer, dimmer pastels as if Saturday were being saturated by a steady drizzle of chocolate sundae topping, even lingering as prelude to indigo, with tree leaves reflecting slivers of light, giving them an ethereal glow, and as roosting birds sing to replace loneliness with companionship, adding their voices to the frogs in the pond beyond the vanishing horizon, I smile in gratitude of her unhurried transit.
westward moving sun
carrying her solar tides
twilight consumes me
Belle was a humbug. No such character
could ever release a loved one from
his promise with a full heart. It is
unrealistic and takes me out of the story.
Or perhaps I should not have revisited
that tale during dreary mid-January,
with all the cheer
left at a New Year’s Eve party,
where we couldn’t be bothered to pretend
to like each other anymore. A trick
time plays on us makes us mistake three weeks
for ages ago,
and a mostly-empty midnight bus ride – heading
towards total emptiness – lurches forward
into a future free of certainty and old routines.
“End of the line, boss,”
the driver reminds me.
“You good, young blood?”
“Yeah, I’m good,” I lie easily
with a smile – cause that’s my thing as
a practiced liar – skipping off
the bus into a freak wind storm.
Yes, I still skip from time to time. What,
you’ve never seen a black man on the
back-end of his twenties skip before?
It happens; get over it.
I soon stopped skipping as I began walking
North with the wind rushing me along
with the rest of the displaced litter,
placing further distance between
where we’d been, and
where ever I was going.
It began to rain that annoying Seattle spittle,
except for the random fistfuls of spite smiting me
in the face as the wind swirled and changed directions
as if it didn’t know what it wanted to be either.
I’m chilled to the bone,
knowing I deserve far worse
than this climate change.
It was only slightly too warm for snow,
but cool enough to keep me moving
through a desolate tree-lined park where
people smarter than I had long abandoned,
and the long, twisted shadows
had longer twisted memories.
“Human garbage,” mocked one of the shadows.
“You wanted her to catch you in the lie,”
sneered another. “You didn’t even have
the guts to end it like a man.”
“Shut up,” I countered. “I tried
to end it. She wouldn’t let me.”
“But now it’s different!” a third shadow joined in.
“She saw your text messages! She knows whereyou’ve been!
Where you’re going! And she still wants you back
like nothing happened! After all you let happen!”
“She knows,” I repeated,
“so we can never go back.
I made my choice.”
The darkness echoes with laughter
as the shadows talk over one another.
“What a safe and terrible answer!”
“You replaced a woman who truly loves you
with an empty vessel! An Idol of newness!”
“You’re not losing a wife;
you’re gaining a side-chick!”
“Side-chick, indeed? Ha!
You mean rebound-chick!”
“I’m sure this side-chick-rebound-upgrade is
going to work out great for you, young man!”
“I hope you are truly happy
with the path you have chosen!”
I cover my ears
and cinch-up my hoodie.
Damn know-it-all shadows.
Leaving the mocking shadows behind, I
arrive at my destination, knocking lightly
on the door, as to not disturb anyone
not expecting me who may be already
asleep. I’m just used to slinking around.
A single light comes on, and soon she
is scrutinizing my soaked face.
“I did it,” I said.
“You did it,” she repeated with a smile.
“To be honest, I didn’t think you had the guts.”
“Yeah,” I said.
She leaned into me, gently kissing my wet lips.
“Things will be different now,” she said.
“Much better than hiding. You’ll see.”
“Yeah, different,” I repeated.
But if there had been no
understanding between us,
would I have sought her out
and tried to win her now?
I knew the answer.
It’s all a big humbug.
Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 3 prompt: write a poem that meanders, full of digressions, that takes its time getting wherever it’s going. Since that almost seems exactly what I always do, I really let myself ramble here. Sorry about that. 🙂
Author’s note: It’s only day three and I’m already struggling to stay on the pace! Also, between work, homelife, and writing, I haven’t tended to my reading and comments as well as I should. I’ll try to do better, but thank you all for continuing to drop in on me.