Formerly Badass Horrible Poetry

This isn't just a poetry blog. Let's be honest, a lot of what I post is poetry but there are more often than not also postings about short stories. I do try to keep this blog separate from my others and post strictly creative work here. Some of it will be better than others, and much of it is in first or second draft stage when posted. These are raw works, and there will be spelling and grammar troubles at times because I use this blog to gauge what works and what doesn't. I use it as a place to get feedback. That's the reason it is "horrible". Because it's not finished-- And why should it be? We all want feedback but most of us are too afraid to put ourselves out there.

Welcome to my word.

Friday, February 27, 2015

These Wild Woods - Vignettes

These Wild Woods
                  “That’s the house I want to live in.” My sister pointed out of the car window, half rolled down, at the wide Victorian house just off the town green. It was July and America Drapes hung from each ledge of the balcony. The wood seemed almost wet and the entire home looked sticky with a thick coat of yellow paint, except for the edging, which was a rusty color. Our mother laughed and the pudge under her chin jiggled. She pointed out the greying cinderblock sprouting from the back of the home like an industrial wart. Old Tolland County Jail and Museum. My sister said she wondered what was inside. I told her when we were old enough to drive we would go and take a tour and examine the Sherriff’s office and follow the manager into a cell to be locked behind the irons, and we could get sticky with cobwebs and bring screw top flashlights to communicate with dead prisoners. I don’t think anyone ever died there. The closest I’ve come to walking in, past the ten cent Ye-Olde-Candy-Shoppe on the corner, was the time I worked crew for the Summer Community Theater and had to spray paint Cinderella’s giant shoes in the parking lot. If you look in the gravel you can see chunks of slate that sparkle.

                  “You could go to that casting call in the paper – the old high school is going to be in a movie!” Mom turned onto Old Cat-hole Road. I always wondered why no teenagers had stolen the sign – Old Cat-hole sounded like what you’d call the vagina of your grandmother, maybe, or one of those women who drove forty miles to the capital to eat dinner at a Long Island style country club. Like a catfish trying to be a cougar. I turned to mom and explained that you had to have a student ID, and you had to check in at the school, and my only connection to the public school system was being the private school chick in the chorus who volunteered to do everyone’s makeup for Who-ville. The bend of Old Cat-hole rounded the old high school building with it’s 70s attire – brickness and flats. The whole thing was drab and dull but apparently Wes Anderson found it inspired something extra spooky. That’s what he said, anyway. It was probably just cheap. Across the highway and hiding behind some trees lay the new high school riding free in a clearing. The hills bulged around the tiny campus and it was suffocated by trees. My mom dropped me off around the circle. I followed Shelby and Kat into the impressive glass building. Sunlight streamed through the line of skylights into the cafeteria: a mise-en-scene that could hardly be rivaled by the drab get-up of the high school down the hill. Shelby told me the next summer they only ended up getting two days off for bomb threats and that the movie Wes filmed had been a crapper.

                  It took me 8 years to realize that a trailhead began across from my house. When dad walked me up it, his wingtips were immaculate and he had to unclench his tie to keep it from snagging on low hanging branches and the late-blooming mountain laurels. We took a wrong turn and ended up nestled in skunk-weed. Neither of us was out of breath, but Fred was, so we tried waiting for him. His four stubby legs hit the dirt harder and his white belly dragged across the ground, making it appear, by our tracks, as if two people were marching through the mud being tailed by a very large slug. If you have never seen a corgi attempt to hoist himself over a fallen log, I highly suggest it, though you may need to prepare yourself for the constant stops and starts as he sniffs his snout across the ground, expecting chicken tenders or hallucinogenic frogs or what ever it is small dogs are into these days. At the top of the ridgeline we found a pile of boulders pretending to be a hill. “The knob,” a helpful trailhead told us. It did not look anything like a penis – but it reminded me of one. Crevices littered it where bears and bobcats could hide. A week later, after dad scraped the stains from his wingtips, I guided Matt up the rocky slope at dusk where we carved our names into a tree. I cut too deep and the letters look like monster teeth. Matt carved his too lightly and you can’t even read them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Remember the Ishkabibbles

Remember the Ishkabibbles

I learned math in a castle, and spelling too. We had turrets, and stonework, and a large pond at the base of the drive, which led to a roaring brook. Cars passed over the furious falls after waiting ten minutes at a time for the stoplight to blare green. On days when the water only trickled between the cracks of ice, or early September dried the river beds, some of us would sneak down the hill to where the secret stairs started, behind a lamppost just before the car bridge to search for the ishkabibbles. Ragged, uneven stones twisted downwards and we would walk along the bank, collected frogspawn and salamanders, our eyes wandering for one of the colorful and spiky underbellies left behind from last year’s hunt.
Renbrook sat atop Avon Mountain like a throne to a whole separate kingdom in the sky. The Tudor braces clung to the outside of the building like vines, and the glass was cut into diamonds and glued together with black pitch. Sometimes the grade-schoolers flitted, pixelated, around with stroboscopic fury, down on the lower field deep in battle – capture the flag, a soccer match, or once a year, Civil War Day, when the campus transformed into an anachronistic array of pitched tents and children eating hardtack, and watching carefully hewn surgical tools cut off each other’s limbs. They divided us Yankees up and no one was sure how to feign team pride for the confederacy. Special treatment heralded the percussionists in band; they were given titles to control the marching paces when we squared off on the white lined football field. We heard the dean speak. We heard Lincoln. I don’t think any of us quite bought it.
I flew to the nurse’s office, in my fifth year, like ants to a dropped lollipop. The walk through the renovated buildings opened up into the mysterious and dark lair where the nurse worked. Tapestries flank the walls. The ceiling, though unpainted, has patterned woodwork woven through it. One time I watched as a girl of seven vomited on the antique paneling of the drawing room. Despite the heat beading on my forehead, I opened a crack hidden in the wall and closed myself into the narrow stairwell behind it.
There were three ways into the attic that I know of. One, an official door under key at all times. The second, the wall panel by the nurses office. The third through the high window in the three year olds building. No one tried to climb in. It was there to peer into, some witchlike looking glass. A special task force of children sent ourselves to keep watch, should the haunted lady ever make an appearance. We all claimed to see her, of course. I can remember the curve of her wrist as it rose gracefully to retrieve a pin from her hair. The lace on her dress wavered incandescently in soft sunlight.  But she does not exist, of course.
As the fresh woodchips of the playground lost their color, the spirits of the linoleum lined classrooms diffused into the sloping mountain. They trickled between the plaster and flowed high to the upper fields where they pooled on the edges of the tree line.
The woods were no secret to us and we dove into them regularly. Between trees poked wires and finished wood. The trees kept the winds at bay. The fields, adjacent, could be fragmented by whistling patches. Sometimes the wind blew so far that we could lean into it and never fall down. We lost many soccer balls to the thistles. The ropes and wires were hung in trees, and the only thing preventing the ishkabbibles from climbing them was that the rungs began eight feet up. The ropes course was required for a year, but only the adventurous claimed it as a sport. Each day was a different feat, and the greatest of all was the pamper plank.
A scrap of wood was nailed to a tree; the small platform, atop a thirty-foot roost, swayed at the peak of the mountain, and every breeze lurched the branches. There was always a harness, always a rope, but the placement of the latch, attached above and between the platform and the trapeze, eight feet out, pulled and tugged at the hips. Safety beckoned you over the edge. The eight feet to the metal bar seemed farther than the thirty feet below, than the extra ten foot dip to the field, than the view across the smaller trees to the castle-school, than the sprawling arms of Hartford below. When you jump you do not reach for the bar. You spread your arms like a tenement and fly for the tallest tower, crapping yourself with hope that you won’t crumble on the landing. 

©2015 Lex Vex

Monday, February 23, 2015

The House in Stone Tree Hollow - With Illustrations!

The House in Stone Tree Hollow

“There’s no need for that.”
            It was the first and last thing Mr. Puddlefell said, smacking the squirt-bottle out of Eleanor’s hand.
            “But what if there are ghosts?” To Eleanor, this was a singularly reasonable question but Mr. Puddlefell scoffed and turned towards the door. The car rumbled through the high mountains of  north Victrain, and after many pit stops for Mr. Puddlefell to fill up his travel mug with N-er-G Zingerz, the car screeched to a stop at the edge of the forest. Eleanor looked at her brother and clutched her suitcase tighter to her chest. Sebastian, her brother, had been sleeping, and awoke because the inertia, meaning an extremely short stop that left the edge of his seatbelt digging into Sebastian’s neck, threw him forward. Sebastian wiped a dribble of drool from his chin and tried using the front of his shirt to clean more drool off of the stitchery in his suitcase. As he rubbed it, one thread broke and their last name, Gaunt, lost the cross on the t. They were now the Gaunl’s.
            Mr. Puddlefell spoke for the first time since he had snatched Eleanor’s solution of Ghost-be-Gone and chucked it out of the third story hotel room and onto the head of a startled and now dead pigeon.
            “You will have to walk from here. It is just up the road and through the field. You cannot miss it.” The doors on either side of the children sprung open, and they heard the thump of Eleanor’s bag hit the ground after being ejected from the trunk. Eleanor hopped out of the car and rushed towards her bag and where Pawper, her stuffed dog had fallen. She cradled Pawper’s one button eye, picked up her bag and ran back towards the car. Sebastian stood just outside it, listening at the driver’s window.
Eleanor arrived just in time to hear Mr. Puddlefell give a curt,
                                                                                                            “Good day.” Before he hit the gas and zoomed back through the trees in reverse. Eleanor turned to Sebastian.
            “What did Mr. Puddlefell say?” Eleanor said.
            “’You cannot get rid of ghosts. Kindly learn to cope, and don’t call me.’ He is quite the lamprey, isn’t he?”
By this, Sebastian, of course, meant that Mr. Puddlefell was a self absorbed, man out for himself, not an actual lamprey, which is a jawless vampire fish with a spiraling sucker mouth filled with hundreds of teeth.
            “He’s only here to place us with Granny Gertrude.”
            “We aren’t at Granny Gertrude’s yet are we?” Sebastian said, hoisting his suitcase over his shoulder and trudging out through the trees.

Where the trees broke an ocean of prickly patchy grass extended for miles in every direction. A ring of dark coniferous trees, as in trees that look like Christmas trees without the garlands, bulbs or lights but just as sticky with sap and pine needles, circled the plain, rising higher and higher with the surrounding mountains. In the very center, almost too far away to see, was an off-white speck. It was so small that with his full arm extended, the speck was not even the size of Sebastian’s pinky nail.
            “That must be it.” Eleanor said. “We had better start moving – they sun is starting to set.”
            The children walked for two hours. As they approached the white speck grew bigger, then grew a circular tower, then a large oval window in the center, then some spiraling railings on every level of the building until the house was right in front of them and enormous. Nearby a gravestone crumbled under the branches of a leafy oak tree – the only tree for miles inside the circle of the plain.
            “I miss mom.” Sebastian said, his wide eyes darting from dark window to dank door way and back.  Eleanor started marching towards the front porch, where a lonely swing whistled with each creak of the wind. Sebastian fell in step behind her. As they walked, exposed in the open field, Sebastian felt as if something or someone was tapping him on the shoulder – but when he looked—there was nothing behind him except a small red maple leaf on the ground.
            The porch complained when they stepped on it, creaking and cracking under their weight. Eleanor stepped on a rotted board, which crumbled, beneath her foot.
            “Granny Gertrude must have very thin bones to walk around out here without falling through the wood.” Eleanor said, pulling her sock back through the hole. She took the great knocker in her hand and clanged it against the door four times. Out of the corner of his eye Sebastian saw something shimmer by the porch swing. The door wafted open, even though the air was stale and unmoving in the valley. Eleanor stepped inside. It smelled of water pipes and tea.
“Is it any safer in there?” Sebastian asked. He had felt the tap on his shoulder again.
“Um. Well. Yes, the floor seems to be secure.”
“But?” said Sebastian.
“But…” said Eleanor.
“What?” said Sebastian.
“Just come in and take a look.” Said Eleanor.
Sebastian peered into the dark sphere of the entrance hall. Two staircases circled upward, meeting in the middle. Doors jutted out at random parts of the staircase, sometimes taking up a few steps with their hearth. Oil paintings and photography and uncomfortable modern art adorned the walls. Eyes, so many eyes, peered out from each frame. Too many eyes in fact, as the chandelier, a dark and dismal thing, seemed made up of many eyelet beads. It took Sebastian a full minute to notice where is sister stood, backed away from the nearest staircase and staring at the see through girl standing on them.
Their shoes scuffed the wood beneath their feet as they stumbled back, frosting the floor with desert dust. The girl waved and she smiled so big that her teeth tumbled out of her mouth and onto the floor. She waved off the teeth and smiled smaller. They reappeared in her mouth.
“Eleanor?” asked Sebastian with a trembling voice. “I think this girl may need a dentist.”
But Eleanor was not watching as the girl tossed her intestines around her neck like a stylish scarf.
“Dear Brother,” Eleanor said, watching three paws, watching six claws, extend from behind the front hall doorframe. “There are red eyes watching us. What do you think they may want?”
It was only when Sebastian turned to look at the instant coffee pot, and saw the great red eyes watching him back from the sludgy dregs that he finally lost his cool.
“Eleanor, remember how I said I needed the restroom?”
“I do, Sebastian,” Eleanor said, as two dark circles floated towards her.
“If we do not run, this instant, I will not need the restroom any longer.”
“Shall we?” asked Eleanor.
“We shall.” Said Sebastian.
As the walls loomed higher and the shadows crept closer, the twins turned in opposite directions shouting, “RUN!”
Eleanor slid beneath a banister and Sebastian busted up the stairs. From the halls and closets claws burst forth, sometimes attached to a hand with three fingers, or eleven or sometimes not even hands at all but hooves. Under a sign, which had not been dusted in a while, ran Sebastian. To his dismay he found no maze of corridors to lead him away from the ghouls he had seen, only a long and uneven stairwell – it twisted and turned and felt longer than possible. Finally, after dodging mice and more eyes, he saw the warm hearth of the tower room fire. When he reached the inside he slammed the door shut behind him. He knew little of where he was and less of where his sister could be. But, there was a handsome footstool huddled in front of the fire and Sebastian went to sit on it and catch his breath. Little did he see of the finger shadows three. The flames against the wall revealed what Sebastian’s vision could not yield: there crouched a man (or so called man, for what else could we call him) with willow lean fingers and nails like sharp moldy cheese stroking the child’s head fondly.
Eleanor was still downstairs, though trapped farther than she’d thought. Because she had taken off her shoes, as all well-behaved children must, when she dove out of sight to the strange girl’s delight, her slippery socks moved quickly. She slid like a baseball player straight into the kitchen. The stovetop sputtered and growled and glowed red. Flames licked the edges of the burner but Eleanor slid right past. On the wall she spied a little dark box and just before she crawled inside she grabbed a tub of salt that had sat upon the counter. She had little time to spare for she had become well aware that a thumping and thudding was following her. Something greater than a ghost girl approached.
“The dumbwaiter!” She cried.
Eleanor climbed inside and felt the little box sway on its rope. What Eleanor had not noticed when she had first climbed in was the two dark circles and the tiny cute grin hovering right over her shoulder – but as she slipped the lid down to hide herself she heard a crash strike the cover of the dumbwaiter. Eleanor waited a minute, clutching her tub of salt as the door shook, banged, rattled and clattered.
Then a full minute of complete silence.
A small beam of light sprayed from a hole in the box, and, curious, Eleanor, and the unseen guest on her shoulder, peered through the tiny pinprick.
The iris was huge and the pupil engulfing on the bloodshot eyeball just on the other side of the hole.  The purple ring was tinged with scarlet and a hefty, angry eyebrow glared at Eleanor. Pulling the tab on the salt, Eleanor dabbed just a pinch on her hand. She held her hand to her lips and lightly blew – and the sand flew – and smacked the great big eye straight in the pupil. As the crashing noises cascaded outside, Eleanor said, “I need a better place to hide.”
Out of the corner of her sight she saw a little ghost nodding and chirping in awe. Eleanor looked to the hatch, still rocking and shaking, and looked back to the ghost with her tight little smile. Eleanor gulped and ignored it and tugged on the rope. The dumbwaiter rose like an elevator into the ceiling.
Back in the attic Sebastian’s brain was becoming fuzzy so he wandered the halls with a confused lope. As he walked, with two shadows behind, he was surprised that no ghosts did he find though the buzzing of “Screekshadow” filled his brain. He did not see the blue boy hiding in the tub, nor the ghoul and her wife nervously peaking from under the bed or even the kitchen cook cowering in the closet  (he was very much dead from a flying knife when his pot-roast blew up in the stove). But he heard them all whistle “Screekshadow” under their breath. It was only then, when he looked in the mirror, that he saw, with dread, what had made the dead fear him. It wasn’t that Sebastian was so brave now or tall, but really the shadow next to his own at the end of the hall. From where the light played on that wall on this night, the figure could be seen with his teeth bared and touching the nape of Sebastian’s neck. It was with this trickle of fear that Sebastian felt a prick and a breath on his ear. And so Sebastian fled down a distant hall not knowing if he could escape this shadow at all.
Down the stairs he flew and on each different landing he saw yetis and goblins and monsters all standing – they stared at him and dove for windows as the shadow behind him followed close on his toes. Even when he fell in the underground lake a tentacle plucked him out safe and placed him haphazardly back on the shelf before diving down deep to barricade itself from the Screekshadow.
On the second floor the little ghosties ran, but from a different tyrant. With the smiling ghosty wagging its tail behind her, Eleanor was scaring off spooks left and right. In the second floor kitchen she’d found a spoon, a block, and a rubber band and with some finagling created a salt shooter. She was done getting scared and thought, “Better prepare” so she created a slick weapons belt. In one hand the shooter, in the other her pup Pawper, and on her hip loop a dust devil. This time when she looked down the hall at the great furry claws and the tongues and the teeth she was ready to meet them.
“Sebastian look out, Grannie we’re here—here’s to hoping this wont take all year.” Eleanor sang, weapons locked and loaded. She charged and the monster’s screamed in fear.
Even in the basement Sebastian could hear the screams of the spooks. And, not knowing where to go or how to hide from the Screekshadow, he walked swiftly away from the screaming sounds where his sister was mowing monsters down- right into the shadowy claws of the beast. Sebastian had no way of knowing where he was going because he had not known where he’d been. There were stairs that he took, and a hall to a nook and somehow back to the room in the tower. The Screekshadow’s room. Sebastian knew it was there. It was not that he no longer cared; he just knew that he could run no more. At least not till he knew which door was safe from the spindly fingers of the monster. So he calmly sat on the ataman fat when suddenly he heard shuffling coming from a closed closet door. The footsteps were muffled and mild and kind and instantly he knew where to find dear grannie who’d been lost all by herself.
What he did not see, which is as clear to you as to me, was the claws beak and jaws of the Screekshadow phasing off of the wall. Sebastian was very frightened of this lamprey. And this time he did mean a bloodsucking fiend with thousands of teeth baring down upon him that very instant.
It starting to crawl 
to where Seb sat.
 teeth bared.
Seb, unprepared.
He looked up.
The purple eye stared.
It smiled.
 “Go back to hell!” Eleanor bellowed from the doorway, snapping the band and letting her salt contraption fly. Little it did and the Screekshadow smiled to her then turned back to its meal. As he got closer and closer Sebastian smelled breath get grosser and grosser. But Eleanor snapped – she couldn’t lose Seb, and she hurled her toy Pawper at the Screekshadow instead. Bright eyes in shock, the Screekshadow went flying away – well his head, anyway, and its body melted into the floor. A puddle of goo, and an angry head that had flew made a mess on the timber wood floor.
            All around the room the monsters appeared, with their talons and organs dragging across the floor, with their too many eyes or not enough teeth they approached Eleanor and her brother till the two children were surrounded in the center of the room. Poor Eleanor lifted her salt thrower with the last ounce of salt and grasped Sebastian’s hand. They stood together, prepared to die, and all those red eyes closed in on them. Eleanor passed Sebastian the dust devil. She squeezed his hand, he squeezed it back. One of them said I love you and the other said it back. They scrunched their eyes shut together.
            Then suddenly the ghouls began to make noises – some of them loud or sounding like farts, or that tinkled like bells or rang like gongs. Some made noises only describable with things: one sounded like a flip flop on the first warm day of spring – another like a perfectly toasted bagel. One even sounded like seeing your best friend on accident halfway around the world.
            “They’re cheering…” Sebastian said, stunned. One by one the ghouls came to give Eleanor a hug – they shook her hand and patted her back and then turned to Sebastian to meet him too – till a door opened and an older voice declared, “Move it! I’m coming through!”
            And so granny appeared, the Screekshadows head under her arm. She looked proud and dazzled, unfazed and unharmed. “Thank you children,” She said, “For saving me. Now put down those weapons – these ghosts are family.”
            “But Grannie, look at them!” Eleanor cried. “We should fight them off – they’ve got claws and sharp teeth. Their red eyes are menacing, their fur thick and course, and many are dead – DEAD Grannie—they must be out for our brains.”
            “But Grannie, we should run!” Sebastian cried. “Get out while we can and while we’re alive. It’s not safe in here – there are monsters and beasts. We should go now – outside – where it’s safer to hide.”
            “Are there not bears in the woods?” Grannie said. “They could hurt you just as well. Now come here and listen good.” She turned to Eleanor and stared at her hard. “Protecting yourself is healthy and fair, but you look like a fool, throwing salt at things that have done you no harm. The Screekshadow deserves the bodiless life that he gets” The Screekshadow rolled its eyes. “But believe me you’ll know when it’s the right time to fight. That was right now, but not all tonight.”
            “And you,” Grannie turned on the boy. “Running around with no place to go. Running won’t save you, it just lets your ignorance show. Like with the fighting you’ll know when to run, but ignoring problems will only double them later.”
            Both Sebastian and Eleanor looked sheepish and nodded. Eleanor apologized to the crowd and Sebastian followed. A little girl came from their midst – It was the girl from the stairs who’d lost all of her teeth. She hugged them both and gave Sebastian a kiss on the cheek. The children felt less scared, less doomed, more aware. A squid in the crowd shouted, “Guys, the feast is prepared!”
            As everyone began filing out through vents and through stairs, the children turned to Grannie.
            “Grannie, how did you know that these ghosts wouldn’t turn us to hamburgers, eat our guts or put our brains in a stew?”
            “Well,” Grannie said, “I’ve been a live longer than you.” The children smiled and turned to leave. “Well that,” Grannie said, “And…“

            “I’m a Ghosty, too.”

The children did not weep or run or blast their grandma with salt. They took her in, accepted it, and walked calmly down the stairs to the dining room where they ate the best five course meal they had ever had.

The End

©2014 Lex Vex

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dances Can be Rosy - Unfinished compillation of work

Dances Can be Rosy                                                                        an unfinished compillation of stories, poems and journal entries from Fictional 1662

First of May, 1662

            I could never have imagined that this could happen. Mine own friends and I are witnessing trials, brought on by ourselves, because we made merry in the woods. I fear we took too long to realize our error and the beast we brought forth that night.
            I have long lived in a manner befitting a maid in the colonies. I attend church each mass. I dress plainly in natural tones, nor do I embellish my aprons with flowers from the pasture, as some of the other girls do. I shroud my hair, which is pulled neatly up, into a simple bonnet. But, forgive me, I wandered into the woods of Windsor that day. It started with a small fire over which we were to cook our meal. We settled not far from a planters patch below several leafy trees and a couple tall pines. I remember Cassandra say, in passing, that she felt eyes watching her, but Emma dismissed it, and so we all took our hair down and slipped off our stockings. From the planting patch we dug out a few carrots and clipped some raspberries from a nearby bush, and combined it all together to create a fine stew, with the meat we had brought with us. Emma said it reminded her of a witches brew and I remember, at the time, we laughed. We felt so far, away in the woods, eating our harvest stew. Cassandra hummed a tune and, ever lively, Emma began pounding her fists in the soil. It trembled like a heart beat and soon we found ourselves shedding our over dresses to move faster around the flames. I know we went in a group, but I cannot remember who else was there – only Emma’s laughter and Cassandra’s voice as it rang through the hollow. We felt not like witches, but like birds, trilling around in the free-floating air. But how am I to know how a witch feels? Mayhap that is how witches come to be aloft on the wind, where dances can be rosy.
            I did not think to conjure a spirit… nor had I dreamt I ever could. But I know that as we girls wove amongst each other there came another. T’was inhuman and foul in stench. It’s head seemed carved of the trees and the earth and horns crowned his brow. His body was that of a mans. Lean and milky, as if it had hardly seen sunlight. He wore tattered cloth about his middle but because we had long been intoxicated on the movement we pulled on them like harpies. I restrained myself from his wildness, but some of the girls did not. I shudder to think who and feel trepidation that the part of my memory that knows is blank. I know that when I ran, trailing my petticoats behind me like a banner, many girls remained with this unhandsome creature. I fear they pleased this devil, and I am bonded among them.
            I fear most especially. The trials I have seen set in the past are gruesome. Perhaps they force me into the water, to test my ability to witchcraft? Long before I sailed upon the shores of New England I hath learned to wade in lagoons and stretch my arms and legs around me, in the deep islands of the West Indies. If floating be a witches crime then I know of a whole slew of island that must be burned at the stake. If I tell the truth, that I am no witch, they will test me, and if they test me by water I can either drown or float my way to death. What shall I do little book? It was not I that summoned the demon, though I was there. I will have to wait to see if the other girls say anything.

To whisper to Emma
Of old ways
Whence come I
Maw said not to mention
So I did hide our collection
Druidic poems
Are to be memorized
Then burned from
The scraps of paper.
Never preserved.
Memory seared and branded
Calligraphy in hearts
Never mentioned
I saw when did maw
Prevent the spread of infection
When a lass and her mother
Asleep did mine rinse
And she plucked
At the skin puckering a girl’s leg
At the browning edges
And when both awoke
The cut-saw was harried away.
From that furrowed home we were driven
They cared not that the girl
Was alive. We druids will
Always be witches
And so must hide.
But Emma, I thought
I could trust…
Now she is the one
Setting a spell
Now we’ve all been drawn in
To a Christian hell
She knows she saw
And I know she did
The lad in the mask
And the disguise that had
Hidden his face
Broken in contact to a burnt away gaze.
By the water trough
I saw him quite clearly
And heard their voices draw close
She told him to meet
Out that same day
And told him something
I ought never to name.
We arrived at the grove
And picked herbs
Mint leaves and clove
And when evening sat
On the thick of our backs
Emma shot out a laugh
She urged us strip down
And dig into a feast
And when we were whirling she summoned
This beast. He affected me greatly
This Sun king boy
With his sinewy arms
And brown ale eyes drawn.
I have not the pit of sin in my gut
For I have ne’er believed sin can pass
But I fear of the common folk
This fear of the wild
Their obsession with sinners and dream-folks and vile
They scare me bad
Not for the demons
Not the fires, nor hell
But that they think I control
Such flowering minds.
I heard Emma’s version
And saw how she dreaded to face me today.
I saw her finger flexed out to reach me.
But I’m quick and will tell lies to sustain me
Admit fault
Plead plainly
And repent for good
That they preach.
Then mother and I
In moonlight shall steal
Far away and start up
Again, by the new year.
Here’s to hoping I see dawn’s breath tonight
If not, please stars
Avenge me, my plight.

From a Beech tree climb
I spied I spied
The girls a falling
To rumble between the trees
They whirled around
As I peered down
Hair tumbled to ground
To the floor of the woods

Back to floor forest still
I spied I spied
And the bonfire roared
And beckoned me toward
Where girls met
And to where fingers twined
Petty coats shorn and their hair
Flowing absent of bind

The dark one, Cassandra
I spied I spied
Her eyes making blue fire
Each iris a pyre
I stumbled approach
And I held myself back
Till I noticed the mud
Fingering my bootstrap

The gooey grit mess
I spied I spied
And I handled a glob
And I coated my face
And with such a disguise
My direction was laced
As a finishing touch I did adorn
Berry blood war paint and pinecones for horns

Till I trudged through trees
They spied They spied
And they unbuttoned my figure
As I theirs with our eyes
There was nary a demon
Combed through the woods
On that Beltane day
Only me- and manhood
At the bond fire play
The girls took my hands
And they coddled my feet
And embers whipped toes
Till all twirls were complete
I played the king
But none knew it was me
Libations we drank
For once we felt free.

“Monsters and witchcraft”
I lied, I lied
But I’ll burn at the stake
If they knew of my kind
Safe to stay shut, not nobler I fear
Tell the judge I’ve no notion
Of dancing or iris aflame
And for whoever burns
I may dance with their graves.


I have thought of a game
A game?
Yes a game
How do you play?
The game?
Play the game…
One of us will be bad
So the others are good?
We’ll need someone tall
With a mask
And a hood.
When we are done the bells will ring blindly
Are more people involved?
Yes, but you must stand beside me.
There’s a witch broken loose
I have seen her myself
We must lure her out
For the village’s health
How will it begin?
As all does in fire.
We’ll smoke the evil one out
and each win our greatest desire.
But how can we win against such a foe?
You go in, and you snatch it
Or lure them in
With a candle half lit
I’m scared
Don’t be, its not real no one gets hurt
Except for the sacrifice
Or what would the dreams
Even be worth?

©2015 Lex Vex

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

And What Big Teeth They Had

And What Big Teeth They Had

In the midst of a far off woods a small wolf with very large paws bounded down the path away from the home where his mother lay sleeping in bed. Sunlight dappled the floor of the woods and the little wolf snapped his baby teeth at the streams of light as if they were a tasty pigeon or squirrel.
            In the middle of sleep, the young wolf had awoken very suddenly, his throat parched, and he had stumbled outside into the sunlight to drink water from the stream. Water dribbled from the young wolf’s chin as he looked up and saw, just a stone’s throw away, a girl in a bright red cape and hood. ‘My, what big round eyes,’ the little wolf thought. She blinked up at him. The little wolf felt something well up inside of his chest – at first he thought he may need to run behind a tree for he had had too much to drink too quickly, and then he thought he may be hungry, but instead of drooling over the thought of food his mouth had gone completely dry again. Then, for reasons he did not understand, he turned to the little girl, with her deep brown eyes and untamed brown hair and barked at her: “You must come home to meet my Mother.”
            That’s it! The little wolf thought. He wanted to bring this girl, with her cute red hood, home to eat a marvelous dinner – of rabbits and berries and birch bark – with his mother. Then they could sit in the back of the den, playing games with the night crawlers and she could rub him behind the ears. The little wolf shivered at the thought of being pet and it took him a second to notice the whoosh of red as the cape whipped swiftly around. The little girl was walking away!
            The little wolf bounded down the path after her. “You’re going the wrong way!” said the wolf. The little girl ignored him and sped up. Desperate, the little wolf reached out with his teeth. The girl pulled the cape closer and the little wolf’s jaws snapped shut on air. He fell flat on his tummy. The little girl turned around, and with the basket in her right arm, she bashed the little wolf on the head and ran away. Dazed and confused, the little wolf lay on his back, with the little girl and her pretty brown eyes looking down on him.
            “My mother taught me not to be tricked by wolves. If I was her, I would have cut your heart out and cooked it by now. But I’ll give you this chance. Never try to trick me again, you little beast!”
            The little wolf’s heart sang – it felt as if the little girl was cutting his heart out with her harsh words but at the same time, he wanted to know more about this girl, who was unafraid of his kind. He let out a tiny howl.
            “Please little girl, come home with me, come to my home in the fat oak tree – I wish for you to dine with me!” he begged.
            The little girl raised her nose in the air and turned around and the wolf watched her fade through the trees.
            The next day, when the sun shone high and the little wolf’s mother was again asleep, the little wolf tootled through the trees. His paws dragged across the ground and his face was down.
            “What’s wrong little pup?” said a voice from above. The voice came from a bird planted on the highest branch of pine tree. The little wolf squinted. He recognized the sparrow – the wolf wondered if he had eaten one of the bird’s siblings recently.
            “Come on you charming little fellow, what has got you so glum?”
            “I saw a girl with a pretty red cape – she looked pleasant and soft but when I asked for her to accompany me to dinner with mom in our fat oak tree she hit me with a basket and said no. I just want to get to know her.” said the little wolf.
            “Did you growl at her?” the sparrow asked.
            “Perhaps a little…” the wolf said, scuffing his paws on the piled up leaves.
            The bird clapped his wing to his face and sighed. “It’s a girl, you stupid wolf. Girls will only respond if you compliment them.”
            “Aha!” said the little wolf. “That’s what I didn’t do.”
            “Try it, why not.” Said the sparrow. “That’s how I got my last four ex wives.”
The little wolf bounded to the path to sit and wait for the girl so he could compliment her on her lovely red cape. He waited all day and at half past noon, he saw the little girl skipping towards him. A wind blew from behind the girl, and the scent of lilacs and bacon wafted towards the wolf. ‘My, little girl, what delectable perfume you wear!’ thought the little wolf. When she neared the tree in the bend where the little wolf hid he sprang from a bush. He recited:
            “You are so lovely, little girl – you have the thighs of a fresh chicken, and smell of a chortle house – your wild hair billows in the breeze like thistles – oh won’t you please come home with me? I’ll prepare you a dinner in my fat oak tree!” Just as the little wolf was about to compliment her big beautiful eyes, the little girl took a spatula from her basket and held it up, menacingly.
            “Is that all I am to you, wolf? A bag of bones wrapped in bacon? Take your empty compliments and shove them back in your mouth. There is more to me than meat on a stick.” The little wolf backed away and let the little girl pass. The scent of lilacs lingered for a long time after. The wolf trudged home. On his way back, a turtle poked her head out from the shell she was renting.
            “Tsk, tsk.” The turtle said. She was old and wrinkled but she smiled patiently at the little wolf. “All those words and not a single present? How are you to woo the girl without presents?”
            “Of course!” the little wolf howled in delight. How could he not have realized. He went in search of gifts to shower on the little girl. It took him late into the daylight to set it all up, but by the next morning, exhausted and dragging his feet, it was finished.
            This time when the little girl wandered through the woods she would stop near the fork in the road to his house where the little wolf would hide. All night long he had caught mice, killed them and used their bodies to create a large heart. He had been very careful to cut them evenly so that the little girl might not be frightened and so that there was very little blood.
            When the morning came, the wolf hid behind his boulder, and waited for the scent of bacon and lilacs to wander down the path. As he waited a snake slithered by. The snake looked from the dead mice to the little wolf and shook her long neck.
            “Child, what are you doing?”
            “I set out a present for the little girl – I wish to invite her to dinner, and complimenting her did nothing so I wanted to give her a gift.” The snake shifted uncomfortably.
            “Child, Don’t you know anything? Little girls are scared of blood and mice – you must cover that up, quickly! I can smell her coming!” The little wolf, his nose twitching with the fresh scent of iron and pheasant, scrambled out of the woods to the fork. He kicked the dead mice down the slope and tried to cover them with the fallen maple leaves. On the edge of his vision he could see the little girl walking towards him and so he hid behind a flower patch. When the little girl reached the fork in the road she stopped. The wolf stretched his neck. To his horror, there, at the foot of the path, sat a small mouse, split cleanly down the middle. He had missed one! But the little girl did not run. Instead she kneeled down to the ground and took plastic gloves from her pocket. She seemed to be talking to herself. The little wolf perked up his ears.
            “-And the ventral aspect of the thyroid shows swelling… hmm… that, in combination with this old puncture wound of the duodenum may have caused death through sepsis – I wonder…”
            ‘My, Little girl! What a fantastic knowledge of mouse anatomy, biology and history you have! And her voice tinkled when she wasn’t yelling too!’ Thought the little wolf. The little wolf looked for someone to tell him what to do. Gone was the bird in the canopy above. Gone was the tortoise, interfering with the youth. Gone was the snake, slithering to meet her family. The little wolf was on his own again. He stepped from the flowers. He thought about walking up to her but he stood far away. He didn’t notice that some of the mouse’s blood had fallen on the little girl’s sneaker, nor that a few leaves stuck out oddly in her flyaway hair.
            “Excuse me-“
            “You again!” said the little girl. She turned sharply and brandished a knife at him.
            “I just wanted to ask you what you were saying – What is a thyroid?” said the wolf.
            “Why do you want to know?” asked the little girl.
            “You just sounded so smart and I was told you would run away from the dead mouse.”
            “Run away?” said the girl. Leaves drifted among the trees and new patches of sun opened into the woods. “Why would I run away from a dead mouse?  When I can learn so much from it? Why run when I could learn?”
            “Then why do you run away from me?” said the wolf. He thought about lifting a paw and padding closer to the girl but did not. He stood where he was.
            “My mother said wolves are dark and bad because when she was young and wore this hood, one tried to eat her and grandma for good.” The young wolf nodded.
            “That is why you ran when I asked you to come for dinner!” She thought I would eat her! The little wolf’s ears flattened. “I was told not to approach humans – a human killed my great grandfather. But you were so pretty and I wanted to meet you –“
            “But I don’t want to just be pretty- “ said the little girl, blinking her big eyes.
            “And then I was told you would talk to me if I showered you with gifts and then I was told not to frighten you!” The little girl shook her head and put down her basket.
            “And now?” The little girl asked.
            “You seem interesting to talk to. I wish to know you better.”
The little girl smiled but it faded like melting frost. The sun faded behind clouds. “You cannot take me, not back with you, to your house in the fat oak tree.” The little girl wrung her hands together. Slowly she walked across the crunching pine needles of the woods to the wolf. She lay a soft hand on the wolf’s head and patted his head awkwardly.
            “If you cannot come home with me, through the woods to my fat oak tree… what If I were to go with you? To your dinner feast and maybe dessert too?” The little wolf held his breath, gazing into the big round eyes of the little girl. The little girl nodded and took the little wolf’s paw in her hand. They walked down the path towards the little girl’s cottage on the edge of the woods. The little girl told the young wolf to wait outside and jumped up the steps and through the door. The little wolf sat in front of the house and listened to the power lines swaying above. The sun shone weakly through the clouds. The little girl popped her head out of the door and beckoned the little wolf to come inside.
            The wolf only realized he was nervous when he stepped through the door and a thousand eyes stared at him from everywhere. They were the heads of animals, stuffed and mounted on the wall. Bison and beavers and woodchucks and hogs: froggies and eels and squirrels stuck in bogs. There were duckbills and deer heads and fawns and their stags – And there, above the mantle place was fixed a great cougar. Nowhere, the pup realized, was there a wolf-skin. The little wolf gulped. At a sturdy round table there sat the wolf’s little girl, her broad hairy father, her mother dressed in a coat of animal tails, and four steaks, medium rare. The smell was too enticing and the young wolf approached, crossing over the skin of a fox as he did.
            “This is my friend, the wolf.” The little girl said, hanging her coat on the radiator next to her chair.
            “A pleasure.” Said the mother. Her eyes were daggers, digging into him. The girl’s father merely grunted.
            “Bon’apetite!” The little girl cried, and the family and the wolf tucked into their steaks with vicious appetite. The wolf chewed his food nervously and wiped his lips carefully. When they had all finished a silence sat over the table and the eyes on the walls started at the little wolf. After a few minutes searching for something to say, the wolf got up and bowed that he should be on his way.
            “Wait just a moment.” The girl’s mother said. “You must not leave now. We have only just met.” The women stood up. She was holding a knife. Before his eyes the wolf saw pass his entire life. He had never eaten enough shrews! He was too young to die! The woman approached, with the knife pointed down. She held it firmly in her hand. The wolf backed into the wall. He looked at the little girl – her smile was pink and her big eyes excited and laughing. The woman came towards him with the knife and it shot passed the wolf’s face like a cobra. The wolf closed his eyes.
            “Here, little wolf, a treat for the road –“
The wolf opened his eyes. To his surprise he found a piece of cake, concocted of venison meat and cream cheese frosting on a plate and a white paper doggy bag. “I have packed one for your mother as well!” said the woman. The wolf breathed a sigh, and sat down where he was on the rope welcome-mat. He ate the entire slice of venison cake in one bite.
“Please,” the woman said, “do come again – our daughter likes you so much and you have little to fear- in fact I have a proposal to put in your ear.” The woman sat down backwards in a hand-carved chair. “You wish to spend time with our dear little girl? How about this. We are hunters, and you are a hunter. We would like you to come with us on a hunt some time. You can keep what you catch and anything else you might find.” The little wolf nodded, he was delighted no doubt. The little girl ran to him and hugged him full out.
            “Your mother is welcome to join us and live here!” The little girl laughed. “She can sit by the fire, and we can feed you extra scraps. We can all go hunting and you’ll fall asleep on our laps!” The wolf agreed heartily and licked the girl on the face. She didn’t taste yummy, only a bit like stale bread. But the wolf was happy to be employed and not dead.
            So this is the story of how dogs came to be. A wolf followed a girl, and they made each other happy. The little wolf brought his mother and they lived just inside. They guarded the doors, and they caught creatures that ran – and balls that were thrown and they played on the land.  And the wolf grew older with the girl at his side getting kisses and petted and venison scraps on the side. They hunted and played and ate well ever more. And what big teeth they had. And what big teeth they had. 

©2015 Lex Vex 

Monday, February 16, 2015

37th Best in America - Poem

37th Best in America

an urban legend marched down
from the pine-mountain crest
leaning hard on his staff
and dressed in his best
robe of deep purple
pointed hat
and Tevas®
to shop for bananas, chicken nuggets
and yams at the Big Y
he nods
only children clad in jerseys
and patient clerks at the liquor store
whisper a polite hi
things are different
as he is invited into Papa T’s Family Resteraun
(the light in the ‘t’ is out again)
T tosses him a menu
the one with two coffee rings
the wizard always asks for it
even though he orders the same
chicken sandwich and pickle every day
they shoot the shit
in the linoleum box
techno humping the tiles of the kitchen
from the bottom half
of the split level strip mall
the day crowd at Electric Blue (café)
demands a more intimate show
the wizard never goes to the basement
where the girls wait
clutching their silver spear
but when he trudges
down the shared stair
to hit the head
he can see the silhouettes of their legs
splayed as if giving birth in mid-air
he can see the white tablecloths
and crystal goblets
and being a wizard he pisses martinis then heads back upstairs
a soccer mom dines with seven kids
uncomfortably forward
to avoid the gash in the booth seat
where white filling vomits.
when T is busy the wizard throws down a fiver
and splits this grease trap.
the stripper bar’s Christmas lights twinkle gently on him
and he considers
the potential in pink and brown areolas
but trudges past the broken asphalt
across the field of gravel
where the balding stretch of grass gives way
to the interstate
where snow drifts melt
and puddles create
constellations on the ground
not even the wizard daydreams
about Tolland
or patches in mud, though they are malleable
unlike clouds
the wizard slams his hand in a mudpattie
hoping it wasn’t shat by a cow
he understands the cow
trying revenge at teens,
more drunk on adrenalin than pabst blue,
they were to blame when she fell in the rocky soil
head wounds are bloody, even on cattle
and the time she and her sisters
were let loose to wander high school.
there the rumors began
of the wizard
flowing dreadlock beard
his sunglasses pink.
What is his name, again? For real?
the staff rises
high in the strip club parking lot
hailing the billboard
“there’s more to do in Tolland than cow tipping”

©2015 Lex Vex