consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

I would love to, OR, how we might behold.

III
a guitar pick and a romp for the black cat
3 bands later it was still moving and
I could feel the calm start to seep in
We can rest here

(and the drummer’s mouth is open because he’s pounding, the guitar player broke his third string, the microphone is just receiving screams because after so many songs what is there to do but scream)

I can’t hear anything
and planets surge forward
in this two-horse town of trees
and all those barren bodies look in frenzy for the tonight in the ones next to them, across from them, upstairs from them, down the bar…
but the pounding is still ferocious
and how can they ignore
oh the best
part
when all the drinks bought make the guys on stage a little reckless and
shit gets louder, even
and each word is a prayer said over
sinewy arms, ringed fingers, nicotine lips…

And that fateful moment
“Thank you, Goodnight”
the white light blast our eyes
making women wish waterproof was for real
making stagger a zip code
making cabs chariots
making the cold night a question mark for the leftover
the lonely
the lascivious

the cold slaps me
and on nights like last night
I start running fast into the black
into the cold
splitting it in two
with The Queen is Dead across my chest
just to feel the blood pound into my face

I know it’ll come again because
the Pour house is there, the Lincoln there
and so many to see
and so many nights to
welcome
this breakneck, lovely cold splitting Midnight.

(when we replace the thought of us with birds, and release us into clouds that eat us whole, spitting out the seeds)
There’s a novelty to breathing
Held fast tight fat pockets grasping inside hand reaching
Angelwhere.
I wished you would hold me
Just for seconds of course
I can’t stay the course
I gotta bang-bang all over my psyche and talk future like
Wanting for ambition to take hold
Waiting for the wings to melt
I gotta slam into dem bones I see
In my dreams, vain, glorious
Wanting for a darker knight, a darker fight
A false fevering fleshed out soldier
Wanting more of that light, six shooters bright
But it just gets colder
Those sheets just get colder,
that sunbeam where you were gets colder.
That hotel room, that coffee those moments
Like smoke, get colder
A double A
double offering, the sky,  sucked us right in.
Changeling children and
Madly doting lovers reminded me that I could laugh.
For extra comfort I held my own hand.
And the blue up high had a circling bird
Tethered to Jehovah and the angels it flew circle wise into darker
Tree ridden areas for rest.
And I got a letter from Jehovah today.
Those chain letters that
piece together all of the unknowns

II
Whether I be chicken, deviant, cartoon mug or frost
I am shrouded in hair, black
guarded by feet, convex
healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same summer and wisher
I can’t help but think that those rocks in
Virginia’s pockets each had a weight of their own
One, four pounds, one twenty
Each girded in express melancholy

I
Feel ten degrees warmer thinking of you
Gentility in approach
Fingers on the underside of my chin
Hands grasping lower back for fear of slipping
Perspiration lining the runway of spine and hip
Each freckle accounted for
Triple Decker sunshine candy girl has five feet
Of surging words for apathetic ears
I miss that room where boys dance on heads,
girls shake words from a stone
Jesus freaks with crayons pattern stigmatic guitar rifts
And Queen of nightlife moves through the room like some silver
Beauty ghost with eyes that stop trains
And hands that can hold a child with no fear
So yeah, I’ll spout them, three and with heart
I’ve run out of what calms the race, so we’ll see if
Grass will grow on faster ground
On hands made of war, and breath composed of brown eyes, wandering
Consumption just doesn’t work, but I keep it up despite
Monster premonitions and tighter belts

Angel come, come and fit fever on your wing
Angel run your hand through my eyes and pull out the softer girl
With hair of silk
thighs of green

thoughts of pounding hooves.

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Dreaming big, and dainty, winsome, poet-honey.

Sometimes its the sound of it. The way it drags across skin, sand and other deterrents
Sometimes its the perfect way it slides into spots, unaware
Sometimes its the way it shoves down into the horizon, plowing day into inky black
Sometimes its the way it slows me as a walk out Midtown door in morning time

Last night I dreamt of someone next to me
In t-shirt sheets whispering instructions
On how to get to Mexico. It wasn’t so very far.
Completely unlit we only shared territory and exhalation
Wilting blue covering head neck chin and so forth
We vaulted the window with unseen pinions,
Alighted in some desert place.
I could see who it was then.

I was surprised you followed me here.
My compromise for Mexico was justified and
the scorpion dancing the jig, told me
we didn’t have far to go
You picked a far off orange tree for rest
And my palm was traced by your forefinger, unique
“-comer de mi boca, comerme mi peligro.”

It was a subtle kiss when it landed. Thirty seconds or more
We were less than an inch lip to lip.
Then the distance closed,proximity was everything
It tasted of three things:
ice, lime and sweet honey.
You whispered a small prayer, there, over my eyes
some Latin ditty meant to seduce
( Your hands rested in chastity on my sunburned knees)
(My hands, aching, did not rest, but remain good at heart).
When my lids lifted back over my eyes, of course, you were gone.
Gone to some other dream, I suppose.
Ginger, freckled, Sandman.
And again I was in some foreign place filled with wet trees
And fog like fingers, alone.
The sun was makin his descent, and I heard some creature moan for moon

Call me back. I ‘m gonna be baptized
By that rain, hold it holy, like the Grotto, in my hands
and pray for economic mercy, digging in the dirt mercy,
medicinal mercy, theatrical mercy
I’m gonna burrow my black head into those metabolic fantasy trees
I’m gonna have to be sucked
sucked into that river again
where I have to swim for light
where I have to find my feet, lashes, breasts
again.
skin brown, freckles ablaze, muscles sore, time snarled
and tree after tree after mountain after hipster after hippie after sea to shining sea after California, Oregon, Mount Saint Helen’s, Memphis, Portland, Chicago oh

Oh, oh.
I’m with you
I’m with you
I’m with you in charred remains of great lands
I’m with you in bunk beds
campfires, estranged houses
under those crazy stars with the bugs that light in symphony for us
splash me in that rain, get me wet up to my hazel eyes in it
drown me in what is right in front of me,
teach me angel ways
Cataclysmic lovers, poets, carnal midnight madmen
I love you
(And god’s fingers are here
lipsticked in drag-queen red,
howling a sticky ballad
every celestial vein)
(And those crazy Thracians!
Philomel in her hut,
having those things done that he did
and then  all becoming those crazy birds)

Maybe we can do that
become those birds– when we get the nights back,
When the explosions stop.

Just so you know,
the house in our dream was made of glass,
each several window blown sugar,
each strand of sugar spider webs,
each web the finest dew line,
each dew line the stuff of dreams
I have the smell of it by my bedside,
It produced tributary tears in the getting of it,

To report an outage, call quickly.
And wait. Wait.
It will assemble. And things will be free of bands of paper, case, and cage.

But I knew it was you, Velour bottomed and cat cradled
vehicular comrade and cloud kissed
Street sweeper of The brave new world!
You spoke in tongues and the bribes were left unanswered
And the bush burned and tomorrow came
And I tasted hope metallic on Soft palette
It swam with so many other sweet things
The treble of your solitude suicide in my ear, your eager million dollar hands on my face, the halo of pursuit in the covers, the dim light of morning and
Beethoven only a whisper and a promise away.
This was the stuff that the cinema can’t even catch
It housed too much paint and long fire to be funnelled into in any dark room
It canvassed a field somewhere in some land sans gravity, eloquence, and
Free of heat and cold where rivers run pure plasma attacks and fish leap to the sky

And
Just
Keep
Going going was the night in the way of the bells and the grand ball
Where ladies dance and Gatsby he watches and documents from a balcony somewhere
And you and I took our time
We took it and woke up alone with possibility in our beds
hope on our porch
light, that blue light, los latidos del corazón,

the light of what you touch is what we have,
air we heave,
world we grab: mashed in dirty fingers, stuck in beards, lost in sheets
The here and the danger,the four days,the sound of a whisper
Etched here
in blues

on the palm

of my hand.

 

Even on my tallest day I still can’t reach the damn light bulb.

The lights in my kitchen in my ugly puppy of an apartment here in Memphis are slowly, one by one, going out. While I love the high ceilings in this quirky pad, I am, and will always be, 61 and three-quarters of an inch high. No amount of staring straight up will release these dead bulbs from their elusive sockets. No matter what surface in my apartment I put under me, I can’t reach. I cannot WILL them out. They will not be swayed by smart rhetoric. Even yelling has not worked. Ignoring them has no yield either. I’m just dumbfounded by the hilarious metaphor of it all screaming in caps,

“YOU NEED TO LET SOMEONE IN”.

A ladder would do the trick, or possibly scaling the stove to fridge and then a 3 foot reach… but seriously? If you know me, you know that both of these ideas are just nucking futs.

I’m easing in. Last night I welcomed new friends by means of games, fire, and loud music. Today I receive friends by reading at the Spartan City Poet’s May Day. Tonight I participate in some small way as an actor in a rehearsal. Tomorrow, more immersion, more opening, more tooling around exploring this city with new eyes that are reminding some of my new Memphian pals why they stayed here, and why it’s beautiful.

Mid forties are super weird. You kind of can’t make up excuses for your behavior anymore, lest you just fall into the category of the non-evolving. It’s exciting to REALLY love people in a deeply grounded way. It’s trailblazing to speak with a whiff of authority about your experience, particularly when you’ve made the maverick move of waiting to dive in with folks until you can see past the fog of craftily and attractively packed baggage you have accumulated over said forty plus years.

“So when you are sitting with a new tribe in a tiny lounge off of Madison,  the music is good, and the laughter is the whitest of noise, you can believe that none of this, not one part of it can be done alone, Carmen, so shut up and listen to me. Let someone come over and change the damn bulbs. Everyone is taller than you anyway.” – The Universe

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Μου λείπεις

There is an art to missing people, I believe. It is quiet, it is active, and it is slow. The layering effect of it is staggering; the amount of energy a human has to love, and the expansive room humans have to invite more and more people into that space of nostalgia. Just when we believe we can’t do it again, we fall in love with people, we dote on moments, we make heroic even the most tempestuous of friendships in their absence. We expand and romanticize the briefest of possible flirtations. Each time we engage in hatred or discrimination we fight our most basic desire: to be home. To find resonance. To dwell in the familiar, whether it be tangible or no.

Two toddlers on a swing-set in a park don’t give a shit about Donald Trump. Or a hijab. Or a prayer. Or whiter teeth. Or even what they are named. They want to together feel that sensation in their bellies when they are suspended by the swing, inexplicably in the air, caught  by physics in a moment of shared ecstasy. That’s as real as it gets. Distilled. While all of these other things come into play later, this one moment is the fodder for remembrance.

So, I’ve been remembering. And doting. And breathing through it: the painful birth process of change. It’s baffling, swollen, pulsing, and pushing, and it’s going to happen whether I like it or not.

I’m happy to say, my life has been full of swing-sets.

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Secondary leaves, Or mid-life growth spurts

It’s been a solid three weeks since my little life began here in the deep south. In that time, I have figured out the GOOD grocery store, the BAD date sites, the BEAUTIFUL garden walks, the WILDLY FRUITFUL yard-sale neighborhoods, and the inevitable MIRROR UP TO NATURE that is alone time. All of this, of course, yields incredibly useful information, albeit sometimes with great discomfort.

There has not been great success personally in raising things from seed in my life. I am a scavenger of disposed-of plants behind grocery stores, and while those forgotten plants usually live in the world of dry, old, or ugly– I try to revitalize them and bring back some of the good old days of green living. But from seed? There was a pitiful tomato plant once. It yielded one lone tomato, about an inch in diameter.

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It was a momentous occasion. My friend Caitlin and I divided it in two and ate it with panache, as we did many beautiful meals in that dearest old stinky house we occupied in Pittsfield Massachusetts, so many moons ago.

But, due to Memphis dirt, divinity, dedication, decidedly good counsel, and delicious Tennessee light, we have secondary leaves.

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There does seem to be life here. In so many forms. The relish of fellowship, the love of music, the surge of urban art, the evolution of plants, neighborhoods and organizations, the REBIRTH of itself, the phoenix-like qualities of those who are marginalized –the sheer TENACITY of this resilient city is infectious on so many levels.

On this precipitous Friday, we look into that mirror, and rest with the ghosts who are becoming most transparent.

We wish them well, and they fade into thin air, like smoke.

“All things are engaged in writing their history…Not a foot steps into the snow, or along the ground, but prints in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. The ground is all memoranda and signatures; and every object covered over with hints. In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and the narrative is the print of the seal.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The running list of what I love about Memphis

Memphis is like no other place I’ve ever been. I won’t and can’t explain the feeling, as it would be diminished with language. It is lush, delicious. The days of alone time are very trying , but the moments of shared experience are unique and spirit-full. If there is a Holy Ghost, I swear he lives in Memphis.

The List:

IMG_20170507_082813190Midtown Laundry

You might say, “What the hell?”.

This place gives ample conversation, entertainment, the occasional prayer, and the inevitable communal belly laugh, and at 7 on a Sunday morning, I always see the same folks.

My favorite, my friend, 74, who lives on Spring, who always reminds me that if God lets her live another month she will be 75. She always touches me, invokes a short prayer, and gives me the updates on her health, her neighborhood gossip, and praises my moth tattoo. I’m pretty sure she is a deity of some sort.

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Overton Park.

Dogs, picnicking lovers, families laughing, lush forests, art, and a formidable playground.

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Magnolias.

They’re from the Jurassic period.

Literally dinosaur flowers.

They smell of fear, lust, surprise, gentility, and fire to me. Also, my friend Marquis is on that list- he’s one of my favorite things too. This was his first magnolia.

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This little Hippo.

Her name is Winnie and she is a baby. She is at the Memphis Zoo. Her Mom’s name is Binti. Hippos are descended from whales, and can grow up to 7000 pounds. They can run up to 19 miles an hour on land, and can open their massive jaw a whopping 180 degrees and muster enough force in them (along with incredibly sharp teeth) to crush an alligator. Their name means ‘Horse of the River’. They cannot swim or float, but can trot on the river bed like a horse, and when they need to resurface (about every 8-9 minutes) they push themselves off of the bed. They are the deadliest animal in Africa. Number one. Superlative. It doesn’t get deadlier, unless you’re a mosquito, an elephant or a black mambo. I love hippos. Can’t explain it.

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Memphis Rain.

I love it. I missed it. Thunder is a lullaby. Also, Ella is the best, and I wish they were here a lot. And their partner Mark.

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Caritas Village.

The Mission: ‘To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.’ It’s a miracle of a place. Smack dab in the middle of Binghampton. I met 4 of the warmest humans in Memphis in that place, and I can’t wait to return.

Burke'sbooks

Burke’s Books.

There is no better spot to sit, read, and think. It has survived depressions, prohibition, two world wars, a civil war, the turns of two centuries, hipsters, hippies, hip-cats, the Beats, surf rock, the British Invasion, baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and 27 presidents of the United States of America. There is really no telling if any of us will survive the current leadership, so I’m not including his reign in this endorsement for a rock-solid staple of Memphian destinations.

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Company d

Company d of Memphis, Tennessee, is a nationally recognized dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters. I was able to spend some time there, talk about possibilities, and meet some of the dancers. They were stunning. I hope to spend a lot of time here.

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My falling-apart-leaky-noisy apartment.

I feel safe in this ugly puppy of a building, which is no small feat in this town which lives up to its dangerous reputation on a daily basis. I’ve never laid eyes on my landlord, I had to work for two hours with a knife and a hammer to pry open one window, I’ve had two shelves come crashing down in my kitchen, and there are so many haphazardly laid layers of paint on everything in the apartment that I’m sure each room has lost a square inch. I live below two 22-year-old newlyweds who are very energetic, emphatic walkers, and late-night vacuum-ers, and although there is a washer and dryer in the basement, I feel like I’m in a final scene out of the Blair Witch Project when I descend those stairs, so I seek other laundry facilities (see Midtown Laundry). Vito loves the wide open space, and I have had a number of opportunities to have folks over already. My Basil and Cilantro are growing. I am sleeping (Maybe too much sleeping). I love my job and the people who I work with each day. I BELIEVE in my leaders. I TRUST them.

 

I don’t have those pals that I can be quiet with yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve only developed two or three crushes. I’ve only scanned the animal shelter offerings twice. I’m slowly extracting melancholy and injecting in some hope.

 

Baby steps, people.

A poem by Alex S.

The hardest part,
  of course,
Wasn’t the end.
It was the post mortem.

The disappointment
of an honest embrace denied
For the best of reasons.

The most delicate of life’s indignities:
To look one in the face and know
They don’t have what you want
And they don’t want what you have.

The finality of the staircase decent.

The look on your face that you will never see.
Only feel it in all its piteous urgency.

Give me a penny for my thoughts
Cheap at the cost of the dirt it takes
To dust the box I place my
heart back into.

Quiet now.
                            Don’t wake it.
For the love of god do not.

Because to find the hope at the bottom,
like in the old song,
It gets harder and harder each time
to see the dread inventions
that pile within.

Comfortable Chairs

Somewhere in some lost where

sometime with flying rocket shot

thews laying on red ground

some dust laden limb, some family photo submerged in river mud

some permanent smile locked in some rainmaker embrace

some gentlemen strewn in some blast’s throw

some watery eye, untouched, and suddenly doused

by the fog, green, perfect, and ghastly

This is the nighttime of sweet dreams for some.

Playing, loop-wise, tired in the thump

so we apply the wound to the words

and Cassius becomes, sometimes Perdita, Pistol, and Montjoy

they all become sometimes, they do

with throat long and raw, the crooning is all, the keening is all for a day, for a night

I could see their teeth

their tired, their temper,

their Tereus– the wars

Philomela, their wives

The dreamscape, the flight of that crazy nightingale she became

Still muted by the feminine aviation

of the enmity

laid in naked laps

while ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko” played in some transistor
while visions of bed sit-ins danced like sugarplums the bombs rained

while ‘Sweet Caroline” crooned, Hamburger hill swooned sick

in love with the rhetoric of stars and stripes and wiped of all

it ever needed to be a destination for a wedding, you know.

It took and took.

The words hold this, we think. Or no.

When they don’t it’s a drink stiff and

sharp as

any tank treads in Bai-Gai mud.

It sinks them deep like horse hooves in Agincourt dirt.

Divests them of the dignity needed for an officer’s club, but keeps them from

mistakenly seeing Charlie swimming in their sheets and

strangling their sweet wives in their sleep.

We are failing at this.

We forgot, and still they lived.

They slid dow the wall without a blood trail, dis-championed by some bitch in a leotard

Calling them BABY KILLERS

while straddling and anti-aircraft gun

and smiling for the cameras.

And we forgot

They shuffle, talk, eat and respond.
The purgatory is verbose,

the hands deep in the fire

the

heart pumping under glass, the

breath marching on, so

I think

Let’s call it.

There is no poetry for the walking dead.

There is no song for it.

Only the day I think. At least it was so for him. For them.

Some words to release the valve. A clear Sunset.

Their daughter’s recital.

The Ocean.

A comfortable chair.

Snatches of sleep.

Today is all,

and all.

and all.

A close call, When it comes around.

Peter and Paul, Some Gabri-el, some Port of Call

some mercy, they will not tell you. They will not say.

Some mercy is what

to cut

somewhat

the taste of the river

in their mouths

when they wake.

Sundays, you know

 

During the seventh day dawn

I aim, crave, I fancy–

During listless smudgy Sunday mornings

For your hands to

languidly, with some olympic purpose

let the riostat run high and sling some heart fodder

(petulant, posey, tigers and frost)

on my softer shoulder,

but only a little- as Sundays you know, go more slow

 

I have no big words for the want.

It’s a warmth somewhere between the lower back and the cliff

Sleepy boy clothes

Some ray, some sun-shot, some record scratch and a bottle top promise

to hold the ribs, teeth, and thighs with certainty

on Sundays

to with patience observe

the way we become

the way we are

(for historical and scientific purposes)

as we observe the learning of

the unfurling of

the dots we connect as

hands grasp the meatier parts

books slide in shelves

and gasps become language

in the watchful aurora glare.

 

Smart Plum

triple beats

grasping stolen stillness

in quiet, I study your hand:

considerable, grand- with spacious reach

seizing language like lunch

curly, coltish, sublime and saporous,

in quiet, I study your jaw

the sideways eye that follows

the forehead forward, fallen,

quenched, and satisfied

by a subtle sonnet.

In quiet, I study your spirit.

Gordian and elaborate, made of sea water and a daughter’s nose

a balance over a tall height,

a mosaic motley of ambrosial sentiments

you, a modern Daedalus,

me, a smart Plum,

smattered with freckles, replete with

elemental fascination, soft pining

wishing for some touch,

wanting more time, or just

another day to write you a poem

another like this

a simple message

from a smart plum.

 

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