vagrant observations

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West Coast Notebook Re-Entry Poem

if only all days
were the ways
in which
the rainbow propagates
into jumbo mouse ears.
wrought iron fences shaped to
hold the childhood in.
what sort of wicked porn
turned this into
a busty lustful waterfall moment
a wife-beater
wet w/ sweat moment
the are you joking me
about the avocados moment.
only in the absurd
does absolute purity
dine on skin flick

the center of the country pretends these margins do not exist
while they’re ogling all over it
while they’re licking the sweat right off!
it’s an interesting slice of pie


heyyMichele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

midnight prayer

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the truth is

you’re all a bunch of horrible animals

i come home tonight after many drinks
with friends of like mind
and still i am not consoled
and still i want to google
and use
“how to make a molotav cocktail”

maybe fear the people like me
with some semblance of how to use the language
to effect
but good luck to anyone counting on thaT–
i’m not.

if you haven’t a two for one special,
fuck off.

they will speak of admiration
and the oh so cute with your revolution
but listen here girlie
there is a better way…

thank you, i am quite practiced
at the grin that gets me through

of all the things i fake upon the universe
this is the worst

i will keep telling my children–yes,
you can. demand it.
i will keep telling the poets, yes–
the world needs you.
the world fucking needs you!
and secretly hate that i am lying.
secretly hate that there is nothing
literaly not a thing you can do about it
but rock on with your bad self.
PLEASE
PLEASE
PLEASE
rock on with your bad self.
FUCK! if absolution is what you seek,
let me pull out my big white power of knowing what it means
to be an American–the only true
and native son
of an empire set on eating its young.
once again, GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE.

Instant Pussy: looks strange but tastes just fine

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Polite was taught to me at a very young age as keep your fucking mouth shut–anything beyond please and thanks, lid on it. I remember quite vividly the struggle this produced in even asking for basic things. Like, “May I use the restroom?” or “Can I have something to drink?” I would sit there, the words stuck and anxiety growing. In my head I would be saying, ok dummy on the count of 10, say it out loud.

Time moves painfully slow when you’re having this sort of mental fuckery–might as well call it torture. The helplessness of being a child in an adult world, amplified. When we are babies, we do not have the recognition that soon we will have the ability to communicate our needs clearly with words. Once you know… and yet that ability has been taken away from you for whatever reason, it is torture.

I’m not crying about it anymore, externally or internally. It is at the crux of what made me a writer. The power of words–what you say and how you say it, that stuff goes deep down into the bones. I consider it a severe abuse of this power– twisting words with an agenda to manipulate, to control, to subvert. Today I am grateful that embracing my own voice on the page, evermore, helps me to say it out loud.

if somehow we didn’t

have wings that clip
to the black surface
of our waking lives
we might soar
instead of
stutter
at the light
ahead
we might
take that road
into night
unknown
with less trepidation
than ever before

they say
she is not afraid
like it’s a bad thing
when they are really bold
they say
she is fearless
in a tone unkind

and quite noticeably
envious

“if somehow we didn’t” was previously published in Instant Pussy #69 — available here http://www.lulu.com/shop/misti-rainwater-lites/instant-pussy-69/paperback/product-22525443.html Contributors include Ben John Smith, Jay Passer, Rusty Barnes, J.D. Nelson among others…


heyyMichele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

it’s one thing…

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i want to love Meredosia–it’s my hometown.

It’s one thing to come home to visit and find the town decimated as if a war or the apocalypse happened while you were gone. Were the residents sleeping? Are they okay? Is there anyone left? ..recalling though, oh yes–it’s just the ramp coming through, access to the new bridge.

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The new bridge, necessary, crossing the Illinois River. but there? They took out the village park, the Veterans’ Memorial, the grocery store folded… everyone goes to Dollar General on the edge of town now for in between the absolutely necessary out-of-town shopping. There is no chicken salad special or $5 crackers anymore. DG won’t run a tab for you and your family. The old Lutheran Church behind the park where my folks were married, gone some years ago and now the rest.. along with other resident’s homes on Main Street, gone.

How much can you relocate? Can you relocate the heart of a community? I’d really like to know because I’m trying to find it.

This time I come home to see not just more destruction but a sick, irreverent blow at the very roots of this village. There are so many things you may be looking for in a modern life that you will not find here. We can still assure you a few things. There will be more churches than bars but we’ll keep it a stiff competition. I believe we will always be able to boast people dug into their eccentricities, perhaps without neat labels maybe, but still–there is a certain freedom in all the peoples knowing your dirt for generations going back. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Family, history–and there is where my list both stops and gets complicated.

No longer can we offer a park, a fish market or grocery, the bandstand is next they say. There was a town doctor once but that was over long ago. Still, we have the funeral parlor where each one of us, I dare say, has likely sat still to mourn loved ones and ruminate on our own mortality. We will always have that, so long as there’s anyone left to care…

as well our little cemetery. Oakland Cemetery on the south edge of town.

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I have to wonder though, thus the piss and vinegar of this visit as Mom takes me over to the cemetery to see Papa’s (my grandfather) trees, all marked up for removal and yet still brilliant despite the spray paint.

those two lovelies together off in the distance

those two lovelies together off in the distance

See, the committee of town board members responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery has seen fit to crudely mark not just trees for removal on these personal burial plots but also to remove or damage, without warning or consideration, other markers and memorials throughout the cemetery. There is no rhyme or reason that I can note. The trees are not all dead and/or dangerous, the memorials and markers not all old and decrepit, certainly not unsightly and who gets to judge that anyway.

My understanding is that through an ordinance passed by the village, new trees and shrubs are not to be planted. I’m not even going to argue that one. It’s for another day. Thing is, these trees were planted a long long time ago, quite before the ordinance. I can’t speak for the rest of the trees marked up, but those on my grandparent’s plot were planted by my grandfather when his wife passed in 1975. I was less than a year old. These trees have grown with me. I recall first my grandfather and later my mother taking great care of those plots, the trees, tending potted flowers, placing grave blankets of pine needles at Christmastime…

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As I’m walking the cemetery, I recall a poem I wrote some years ago. I spent a great deal of time standing on the border of the cemetery looking out while at the babysitter’s.

How do they care for their dead? Important to ponder don’t you think?

Flowers, Mostly Plastic

in the back yard
I had a big mound of sand
two times, maybe three, my height
supposing to play in
sometimes I even did

building castles, forts and things
more often than not, I sat on the edge of the yard
where there was a plot of concrete
planned once for a basketball court, I think
there I would sit
on the cool cement among the abandoned,
rusting metal toy cars
and watch

I was watching the wind blow
and the shadow fall
I was watching every tiny distracting sense
of the moment
as it passed
in the graveyard next door

I watched the people come, though not often
I watched the flowers, mostly plastic
I watched them fall and tumble
I watched them scoot, almost play
one day here, another there
among the gravestones
I watched the seasons change
the leaves on the trees to the ground
and the man working
I would hide then, behind the shed
watching in secret

how do they care for their dead?
(I did not think of that then)
—-

Maybe part of the problem is contracting out the upkeep of the cemetery to the lowest bidder each year who could care less other than a paycheck. Get the job done and quick—less trees and markers, less things to mow around. Hell, maybe we should just pave it! Get rid of the gravestones while you’re at it… very unsightly.

No. I don’t know what is wrong with the board members, most especially our long-as-I-can-remember neighbor (leading the charge) who has in his lifetime enjoyed more meals at my family’s table than I care to think about right now. Why? Why is this even happening, I keep asking myself. I am really struggling here to understand.

I’m actually a bit of a connoisseur of cemeteries, weird as I am and I’m here to tell you, you are taking out the best parts and you are doing it in the worst possible way.

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Zero respect for the dead or their remaining family. It takes a lot to offend me. Words rarely do it. The dirty is in the deed and I am surely offended as such.

Resolution, I don’t know. Even if the fight no longer continues, a great rift remains.

Perhaps what is needed is a caretaker. If there is money for a contract, why not that money for a regular, seasonal position. Much like the one remembered in my poem. I have dug around a little to find out for certain who the man was but to no avail. My best guess is that it was Andy McDannald. It would have been late 70s/early 80s that I am recalling. Though I don’t remember words being spoken between us, I’m certain there probably were a few but nothing at length, mostly just me noticing someone taking great care over there of the graves and the grounds. Even though at that age I did not realize how important that was or why I would think it important to take note of in a poem later, I know seeing that felt right and good and comforting. How a person goes about a thing can make all the difference in the world. Approach with honor and reverence. If you cannot, do not approach at all.

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Finally, I will leave you with one more poem, written several years ago as I sat at Diamond Grove Cemetery (beautiful for all it’s old trees, stone angels and benches..), mourning a love lost and out of respect, love and remembering my Papa, his ways and his life.

papa3

Far left Violet & Harold “Spud” Bennett

Cemetery Poem (for my love)

i’m sitting here at the
cemetery
talking to myself
i think i’ll probably
be here awhile
be doing this
wondering all along
if it will be enough

this is where i go
when none of it makes sense
just so you know

where it is quiet
my mind quiets
there is some sort of peace
in the finality

i think of papa
his letters
sent home while
out on the river
or out to sea
for months
and months on end
starting the letter, stopping
and beginning again
if only a sentence or two
in between the work
that keeps him away

how he called her
my love
and still she
drank just a little too much
a little too often

all this i learn from old letters
see in yellowed photographs

how she stared off-center
with a sadness around
the eyes
only laughing in the photo
when he’s seated next to her
and all those years
since she died
he lived on, puttering
through life

i wonder if he
pretended she was there
for the rest of it
for the baseball games
over the radio
the mornings in the garden
the looking out over
everything
wondering…
what does it matter
anyway

today on duncan avenue
in diamond grove cemetery
it does not matter
i talk to myself
i will lie down
in the earth by myself
search for you
in the next life
and hope
it will be easier


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Michele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

if you like poems & inspiration

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please check out my friend’s blog http://acidloudacid.blogspot.com/

because sometimes you get lucky enough in life to know someone that by their mere existence spins your brainpan in just the right way

how to decide if something is triggering

the sound of a dog slurping water
is triggering
the accidental taste of grit,
triggering.
Aqua Net hairspray
& grape kool-aid
ruins me
for days.
the crisp
pronunciation
of
names that begin with
the letter C…
fuck, man.
if i had to sit in his lap again
all four years old and trembling,
blacking out in the worst parts–
this will both torture and comfort you
in years to come.
well it would not do me any worse
for the detached i have come to learn.
but i love you anyway
and all the
mundane
sights, sounds and smells
that get me on a regular basis /+
a lawnmower in the distance,
the blackened room,
the smell of fresh, boiling
water


Michele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

when we’re on point

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one of those facebook things. the tail end of anyway…
Day Five of the Five Poems/Five Day Challenge

Each day I will share one of my poems and tag someone else to share five poems in five days of their own. Shout out to Jessica Lindsley for tagging me in something pretty cool rather than something involving ice buckets or whatnot. i highly recommend seeking out her work and here’s a jumpstart, “Fourteen” published in Literary Orphans.

thinking about all the various challenges we face in the day to day of being human. how vast the varied experience. you and i may share nothing much in common except hopefully at some point in every life when faced with those challenges, the gift of knowing someone in that moment that helps carry us through. when we’re on point we celebrate these people. i bet you know a good candidate in your life right now and you should probably tell them. i don’t know..just a thought.

Alternatively, where’s the card that says ‘hey sorry, Dad, but you’ve been a real disappointment.’ and why do we get so bent out of shape when anyone expresses this? it’s too often true, isn’t it? anyway, i’m not into dwelling. i figure the people that failed to show up in my life, only left the room needed for those that did. my own personal challenges have never been greater than the love, generous support, encouragement, guidance and care of some of the people i have been blessed to know and share my life with. Papa is no longer with us but I do think of him on Father’s Day.

All the meandering to the point of he makes an appearance in today’s shared poem as do others on the line and in between. Lucky as of late with strong characters in my life..

Papa made the best pancakes. Cigar boxes, dime rolls, Cardinals radio, and blackberries will forever remind me of him. They called him “Spud” but nobody really knows why. He had a reserved seat at the bar but watched the door from across the street, refusing to go in for damn years over the wrong mug. Tugboat Captain, a legit Seabee, a writer of letters, a romantic, an ornery bastard. never re-married or even thought of it. Adopted father to my mother. good arms, a ready knee. among many other things like you won’t melt in the rain, here is where i was taught the value of kindness and principles.

“Cemetery Poem” was first published by Catfish McDaris at ppigpenn and is part of the collection Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days out now from Punk Hostage Press. thanks for reading

Cemetery Poem (for my love)

i’m sitting here at the
cemetery
talking to myself
i think i’ll probably
be here awhile
be doing this
wondering all along
if it will be enough

this is where i go
when none of it makes sense
just so you know

where it is quiet
my mind quiets
there is some sort of peace
in the finality

i think of papa
his letters
sent home while
out on the river
or out to sea
for months
and months on end
starting the letter, stopping
and beginning again
if only a sentence or two
in between the work
that keeps him away

how he called her
my love
and still she
drank just a little too much
a little too often

all this i learn from old letters
see in yellowed photographs

how she stared off-center
with a sadness around
the eyes
only laughing in the photo
when he’s seated next to her
and all those years
since she died
he lived on, puttering
through life

i wonder if he
pretended she was there
for the rest of it
for the baseball games
over the radio
the mornings in the garden
the looking out over
everything
wondering…
what does it matter
anyway

today on duncan avenue
in diamond grove cemetery
it does not matter
i talk to myself
i will lie down
in the earth by myself
search for you
in the next life
and hope
it will be easier


Michele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

farewell trade

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may 14 2015

went to the venice boardwalk– ocean, freak and mountain view.. and the beach where i left your name scrawled in the sand and properly buried under a thousand tiny goodbyes. i found the perfect seashell in trade–a brilliant purple on the inside, the smooth surface of time on the outer. that spot on the beach is fuller now, really good air too. i thought you’d like that.


Michele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.