Odd Ball

blue moon

This moon
this changing mood
am I waxing
am I waning
am I full?

These empty ovaries
twin moons
white nodules in the sea
of me
fireless
stony and silent.

My mood slithers from orbit
like a cracked egg
sliding
down my thigh
I’m moving
toward uselessness.

My mother
assures me,
the time beyond this time
eclipses
this night’s passage
these moonless days.

Last night
a shine penetrated
my sleep
and when I drew aside the curtain
to curse my neighbour
it was the moon!
Cold
and glaring
a full spot light of insomnia
burning through
my stony odd balls.

© Sandy Day 2013

Getting in Shape for Free – Sustaining my 1st Fitness Injury

1319306_36218004
photo credit Nick Albufairas

This walking thing is not child’s play. After downloading a pedometer to my cell phone I proceeded to pound the pavement, the lumpy, ice and snow covered payment. I walked to the library, I walked to work, I walked to a couple of evening meetings, I took the stairs, I went for an afternoon walk with a pal and her dogs. My friends, I walked!

I was proud of myself for clocking almost 7,000 steps rather effortlessly on Wednesday despite it being one of the coldest days of the winter. It was a 300% improvement over my previous feet up on the ottoman routine.

On Friday night, I dreamed I was receiving a foot massage – a deeply tender foot massage. On Saturday morning when I slipped my foot into my boot, I felt a pain that jolted the dream into my awareness. I walked gingerly all day feeling as if I had a fallen arch. Ever had one of those?

Last night when I got home, I began to give the old tootsies a massage and lo and behold, there protruded an angry purple bulge on the sole of my foot. Of course, I instantly diagnosed a combination embolism/plantar fasciitis, which would most likely require amputation. That’s if it didn’t reach my brain and kill me by morning.

Today I hobbled in to the walk-in clinic. The professionally trained physician’s diagnosis: hematoma. Now before you go Googling I’ll tell you his diagnosis resulted in a referral to a plastic surgeon. That’s if the hematoma doesn’t resolve itself in a couple of days, which the kind doctor seemed confident it would.

He asked me if I’d been doing any unusual activity and I realized, yes! I’ve been walking! To further impress him with my fitness prowess I told him about the pedometer. He rather promptly sent me on my way.

I looked up hematoma when I got home. It’s sort of a bulgy bruise. And that’s exactly what it feels like. I’m hanging up my walking boots for a couple of days. And when the hematoma heals I’ll be experimenting with the next part of Getting in Shape for Free: Fitness Videos from the Public Library.

Stay tuned. And walk safely!

Blooms

Pink rose in full bloom.
I am weighted down
by the beauty of the full-blown bush.

Once upon a time
I grew a rose
but snipped its buds
in their rolled and soft perfection.

I prefer the unbloomed rose
before it opens
and begins
to drop its petals.

These bushes sag,
burdened by their aging beauty
it is too much!
And too plentiful for me to look upon too long.

I wonder
of the mistress of this house,
with shiny parked Mercedes,
she is
secure enough and loved enough
she needs not
risk the thorns
shears in hand
and sweaty cotton gloves
to offer her own
unfurled heart
a clutch of roses?

And then
there are the peonies.

It sinks in today, I’ve been dumped!
I fought this sad truth for so long; made excuses for my own and his bad behaviour; dismissed the obvious as unhealthy doubt. Ha! Today I laugh. I’ve been dumped!
Yesterday I felt unloved. I envied everyone alive because I thought you were more loved than me. The one I hung my hopes on, and whose specific love I need, is gone.
I am not asking for pity. He left me; he had his reasons, and none of them was me. What is pathetic is I persisted for so long. But believe it or not, this is an improvement. I once clung to hope about an ex-boyfriend for over ten years, right through marrying Mark.
I have no time to waste. I am almost a half-century old. I have much to give and I am open to everything. I am the rose bush in full bloom, almost obscene in my aging beauty, Ha!

From Poems from the Chatterbox

Q-Tips

Because
the insides of my ears are wet
I put down my chore
and heed the Q-Tips’ call.

I must
swab out my canals
while the wax is soft,
and dry them
so the wind no longer
tingles through
cooling them.
Listen.

Some people, I’ve heard,
see their livingroom askew
and rush to dust and straighten,
vacuum and pick up.

The only whistle I hear
is soft-headed
from hundreds of perfect white soldiers
lying pom to pom
head to toe
like cotton drones
waiting to fly
into my glistening
ears.

Sexopause

Sandy Day at the beach

Have you ever had a phase in your life when, in spite of being open to a sexual relationship, your romantic universe just doesn’t collide with the universe of Mr. A&A (Attractive and Available)? I call this, Sexopause. It can last a few weeks, a few months or, as in my current case, a few years.

Sexopause can seem tiresome. Our world abounds in not-so-subtle pressure to couple up. Books, blogs, movies, advertisements, songs, all urge you, entice you, advise you, to find a screwing partner, pronto! Life can feel frustrating when, despite your best efforts, you find yourself single on Valentine’s Day. This is all perception – there’s no need for Sexopause to be tedious or exasperating. This year I celebrate Sexopause by sharing with you some of its many benefits.

1. Hairy legs in winter. No one is going to see or rub up against your legs, armpits or crotch during winter, so unless you love doing it, why shave? I rather enjoy turning into a cave woman for a few celibate months.

2. The only dirty socks and clothes lying around are your own. Ditto flatus, toothpaste dribbles, and curly hairs in the tub.

3. The remote control is where you left it. And guess who decides when the TV set goes on, when it goes off, not to mention what shows get watched or flicked through? I revel in no more televised MLB evenings, no more Hockey Nights in Canada.

4. Dick Flick Hiatus. During Sexopause, when you head out to the movie theatre it’s to settle back and lose yourself in a romantic comedy, or a drama starring some brilliant female actress or gorgeous, hunky man. One of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen during my Sexopause is Toy Story 3. I know I would’ve missed it on the big screen had I been coupled up at the time of its release. Will you notice the absence of car chases and explosions, the “action” plots and scantily clad female love interests/male fantasies? I think not.

5. Serenity, composure, and calm. These are your states of mind when you settle into Sexopause. Conversely, when I’m in a romantic relationship my attachment mechanism (which is anxious, thanks Mom, thanks Dad) is triggered. Unless I’m feeling secure, I’m in a state of perpetual low-grade anxiety – trying to play it cool when he doesn’t call or return messages; trying to ignore his wandering eyes and new Facebook friends. On a bad day my attachment mechanism fears losing him and I have been accused of paranoid suspicion. Hmm. Serenity or fits of jealous vulnerability – which do I choose today?

6. In Sexopause, the only possibility for you to contract a STD or STI is via a toilet seat. And that aint gonna happen, sister, so case (and toilet seat) closed.

7. Self-care. As Alvy Singer put it, “Hey, don’t knock masturbation! It’s sex with someone I love.” Women’s health experts recommend sex a couple of times a week. I interpret this as a prescription for orgasms. And believe me, during Sexopause, you can be as healthy as you like.

8. Dressing for you. No one casts aspersion on your old yoga pants or the comfy torn tee you choose to sleep in. No one eyes your rear end when you pull on your somewhat snug but favourite jeans. No one says, when you wear your new sweater for the first time, “Where’d you get that?” You wear what you want, when you want.

9. No one pressures you to have sex (and I mean no one!). As much as sex can be rollicking good fun, you gotta admit, at times it’s messy, sweaty, smelly, and a bit too action-packed. Seduction is wonderful, but plain old sex when you’re too tired and lazy, well it’s one chore I’m rather glad is not on my to-do list today.

10. A reading room on your bed. On the half which used to be reserved for a snoring, 98.6°F human being, you can keep an assortment of books and reading material. Before you decide to darken your room for a night of undisturbed sleep (okay, that may be an exaggeration if, like me, you have cats or the bladder of a middle-aged woman) you can lie in bed and read as long as you like. I often pause, gaze around my bedroom and smile. I’m happy, I’m content, and like everything else in life, this too shall pass.

photo credit Roxanne McLeod

Silence


The long cold silent winter
stretches out like a thin blanket
on a loveless bed.
I trust
life is breathing –
a barely beating heart
in hidden leaves and sunken acorns
frigid bulbs.
The silence menaces me.
No birds
no dogs
no screen doors slamming.
No ribald teenage calls
at two in the morning
from the bus stop across the way.
No songs
ringing out on six strings
sung with laughter
and too much red wine.

The sun colours the sky as it rises.
The bleakness blushes
and I am reminded
this too shall pass.
The patience taught by winter
cold but not frozen
nor forgotten.

From Poems from the Chatterbox

Fruit Flies

I watch the winged
drown in the cider
trap

feel
a tinge
sorry

for their floating bodies
no longer flitting
annoying gnats
helicoptering the tomatoes
the pears
the compost bucket.

I rationalize that
their last moments were
at least
debauched
for flies.

Then I reflect on
the soldiers
drowning in mud
swatted from this planet
wilfully
so I might eat this fruit
in freedom.

California Cold

I flee outdoors
to the sun.
Cold
in California
where the altitude
or latitude
or some other damn thing
like oceanic air
renders caffeine neutral
in my blood.

Chilled
and drunk on words
from my host’s stack of books
unread
or read
in our parallel universae
a year ago
or ten.

He laughs at me
‘cause I am cold
and reminds me
again
You’re from Canada!
as though I could forget.

And I marvel at this
October morning glory
silken
and blooming
a violet trumpet
in the Hallowe’en sun.

A golden copper bug lands
on my fingers and
suddenly
I am warming
to this country.

Air Show


Just wanted to say,
on this fine dull morning,
how yesterday
you sat at a picnic table
grinning at me
from a face
I’d never seen.
And you reached out
and into me
and expelled an obsession
taxiing there for take off.

My ears are open
not full of sand
or pain.
Open to hear the wind
and the rumbling thunder
of a stealth bomber.
I look up
and see a gull gliding
and a kite flying.
And all that sound,
all that noise,
is in my head.

Your kindness flies
like sand over my feet
like music and swaying hips
like laughter on my lips.
And I hear you
and feel you.
The comfort as big as the sky,
as opaque
as this overcast day.

 

 

From Poems from the Chatterbox

Right and Left

Pooh Bear by E.H.Shepard“Pooh looked at his two paws. He knew that one of them was right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was right, then the other one was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.

“‘Well,’ he said slowly-”

from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A.Milne

from Poems from the Chatterbox

Salt & Pepper

We match
like a set.
A slight difference
the hand detects
as it reaches for
a dash
of seasoning.
But matching –
meant to stand next –
lonely if the other breaks
bereft, and pairless.

The Collector finds us,
dusty and alone,
at separate Church bazaars
and cries, Eureka!
Sets us together
at His feast.

And I am shaken
this sweat
these tears
crystallizing.
These years of searching
ending
in my match
my sombrero
my windmill
my ceramic heart
stops breaking.

 

Memories of a Sister

A Spaniard in the Works
I sold it
not worth much now
on eBay
Sorry
Would you have kept it?

You bought
at the United Cigar Store
a yellow lion coin bank
honeysuckle incense cones
and a tiny carved box
with a hidden panel

I remember your hamster
skinny
in his glass fish bowl
and smelly wood shavings

I remember the banjo
I broke
into a stringless
drum

I remember the scarf
you knitted
on number one needles
so long
it unfurled across the basement floor

I remember the smell of vinyl wallpaper
in your forbidden bedroom
paisley and teal

That’s all

I was your sister
Do you
remember me?

Linked to the Open Link Night at dVerse on July 26, 2011

I declared “I don’t think the universe intended for me to be a retailer.” It was a glib comment. And when I thought about it, possibly untrue. I’ve had the itch to sell stuff since I was a child.
When I was seven or eight I dragged the piano stool out of the house onto the lawn and set up shop. One of the first items sold was my eldest sister’s first edition copy of John Lennon’s A Spaniard in the Works. Boy, was she cross. In my defense, it was the 60s, and no one knew all things Beatle would become collector’s items.
For inventory, a few years later, I made stuff. I created crayon pictures. I don’t know where I learned my technique but I would draw a picture and cover the entire paper in waxy colour. Then I would outline each colour with black. My mom had to buy me whole boxes of black crayons from the art supply store. I wish I had some of those pictures now, particularly one series which was a depiction of the four seasons. Honestly, none of these pictures remain in the family archives because they were hot sellers!
I also scavenged leather scraps from stores on Yonge Street and sewed them into wallets and purses. Rounding out the inventory was a collection of painted beach stones, sometimes “lucky stones” which had holes right through them and could be sold on a leather string.
My first jobs were in stores, a bakery, and a head shop. After university, where I studied English literature and dreamed of becoming a poet like my professors, bp nichol and Michael Ondaatje, I took up retailing. I bought the head shop and turned it into a popular home decor and gift store. It was exciting and I had a tremendous amount to learn about running a business. Buying items for the store fed a shopping and selling addiction beyond compare. It was fun and satisfying, and I rarely thought about poetry. Sometimes I pondered the meaning of my life and decided it was noble to provide aesthetic beauty to my customers’ lives.
When my business failed after 18 years I went to work at the University of Toronto Bookstore as a marketing and merchandising manager. Friends and family thought it was an ideal job for me: I like stores, and I like books! But I didn’t like the job. The universe, however gave me the opportunity to learn about book retailing, and peripherally about publishing. As I scanned publishers catalogues, wrote book reviews, and fingered newly minted volumes of poetry a whiff of a desire rose in my mind. Write, Sandy, it whispered.
So now, a couple of years after leaving the University, I am holding a copy of my own book of poetry. My desire to “sell” Chatterbox is not the same impetus I have to sell dog halters (which I do as a part-time job). It is a desire to share my story. To share my writing. To connect with a readership. It is a different desire than my entrepreneurial streak. And I think the universe meant me to be a writer.

Publishing in Chalk

Sandy Day reads from a book.My children attended a tiny public alternative school in Toronto. Each year all families were encouraged to attend the graduation of the grade 6 class. This whole-school event was a tradition.

I appreciated the inclusive nature of our school’s pedagogy so I went and sat in the hot gymnasium to witness the graduation of eight children I did not know.

As the children read their speeches (which rivaled any Academy Award ceremony) I noticed an absence. What was it?

I recalled my own grade six year, eleven or twelve years old. What would I have said to my school?

Poetry! Poetry was missing! None of the children wrote poems to sum up their school experience, or to convey their gratitude. I was surprised.

The following September I approached Wayne, the school’s beloved Grades 4, 5, and 6 teacher. I asked him about poetry and offered to run a workshop in his class. He readily agreed and I began what became for me a delightful annual endeavour.

For six or eight weeks I would go into the class and guide these enthusiastic and imaginative kids to use words to paint sound pictures – poetry. Borrowing heavily from Kenneth Koch, a poet I read during my university years, I created a workshop which produced the desired result – confidence in the students’ ability to write.

The most extraordinary part of each class was when a student “finished” a poem, and I asked if they’d like to write it on the blackboard for all to see. At first there was some reluctance but once the thrill of publication coursed through the classroom there was an energy that defied even the dismissal bell.

Children jostled for their spot in the queue. There was only so much blackboard! They transcribed from their notebooks to the board their poem. I prompted them at this level to check spelling and punctuation and line break. I urged them to realize that any glitch could sink a whole poem.

Once the poem was thoroughly proof-read I called the class to attention. The poet became solemn and self-conscious. As the rest of the class read along silently with the blackboard version, the poet read his or her poem aloud. You could’ve heard a paper airplane land.

Always applause. Good, bad, or ugly, the children always applauded the courage and effort of their classmate. Then there were questions and comments. The poet squirmed in the limelight, then rushed to their seat when the fleeting moment of fame had passed.

And the next poet was ready, vibrating with excitement, “Can I read mine next, Sandy? Can I? Can I?”

Publication: the world stops whirling for a moment, and reads.

Chattering

Born with this big bundle
bursting
and chattering
scattering love like dropped petals
from wildflowers
carelessly and carefully.

Look
what I picked
for you, mommy! From my
hot and sweaty hand
she takes them, but
later I find them
withered
on the sand.

But still
I am alive with love.
Its pulsing
sensate
radiance.
Never sure
it’s wanted
wasted
welcome.

She tells me
my love’s too big
to sit on her lap
without
breaking her knees
her arms won’t reach ‘round it.

My love in me is
flowing.
You squeeze my shoulder
and I turn
to see your eyes
so dark
so glowing
your smile
knowing.

I love you
and it settles
smoulders like a smoky fume.
I love you
and it flares
my kindling
charred
and crackling
consumed in moments.

I love you
and I’m lost in it.
Inside me
outside me
flowing like a lifeline.

Hang on.
I pull you out
from drowning.
I warm you up
and set you breathing.

I love you in
I love you out
teeth chattering.

First published June 3, 2011 Dr Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure.

Writing my Grandmother to Life

Portrait of Sandy's ancestorI’ve written little while immersed in the world of self-publishing. Even my journal has gaping, week-long lapses between short terse entries. As Poems from the Chatterbox reveals, I write to relieve pain, often. My writing, as my editor pointed out to me, is scriptotherapy.
So, in periods between emotional tooth extraction or fog-blind confusion, I rarely write. After all, happy songs are insipid, are they not? (See: Paul McCartney)
The Advice says, however, upon self-publication, my fans and readers will clamour for more. (They will? Fabulous!) And, the Advice says I better have something in the works, or I will lose self-pub momentum.
It does seem silly to say, sorry, I’ve nothing else for you. You’ll have to wait until the next bastard comes along and rips up my life; or until I begin excavation of another of my character defects, examining the shards and fragments of its sordid origin.
I wasn’t awake nights worrying about the Advice, and I don’t know why, but one morning in the bathtub (where I do my best meditation) an instruction came to me. Write poems about your grandmother, it said. Really? Granny? She’s rather boring, isn’t she?
As I turned the idea over in my mind ideas for poems broke off like sparks from a rusty blade against a grind stone.
And so, days later, I pick up my pen, and using a book she purchased in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1972 for inspiration, I begin the poems. I really know very little about Granny, but my imagination does. I am writing my grandmother to life in me.

Undertow

photo of watery fishThe tide is turning
and in the draw
the green frothy murk
of the undertow.
I see the flotsam of his needs
scattered,
the sad rotting angels swirling,
the helpmeet dying,
the precious words decaying –
what am I saying?!

It’s pulling –
the setting sun
and dragging love
backwards down.
I’m finding
my warped and silty dreams
not drowned.

This mess
this murkiness
dark becomes clear
I know but I fight, there’s nothing
for me here.

I call the lifeguard
down her ladder climbs
her red and white
help
a clap on my heart
a blow to my head.

The desire
and fervour
washed away far.
The sinking dreams
the dithering star.
And I’m not blaming –
there’s no moon now.
And the water
swirls round
in the undertow.

Originally published in Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure April 2011

The Difference

From the library
I took two books
one of God poems
one of love.
And read them side by side
each day
and could not see the difference.

O’ that you would kiss me
with the kisses of your mouth!
prays the solemn Sol.

Surely God is not some gentle reaper
but a rapacious rapper
come knocking in the night – Yo
Muthafucka
this a booty call!

I find God in delight –
it’s not like He sleeps nights!

Love is tailing me down the street
a bitch in heat
a dog unleashed.
Or is that God’s purring and growling I heed?
I don’t care
he’s catching me!

Poems do not belong in books.
They read from groins
and every romance tongue.
I am certain
God is drunk and singing
in His creating
both of one.

(First published by Sea Giraffe Magazine March 2, 2011)

butterflies are free!

I’m going on my first ever trip to Florida. I’ve seen pictures of the blue sky, the ocean, the palm trees and the enormous beach front hotels. It looks like the Florida of my imagination. I’m going there to vacation, to lie on the beach, to spend time with my friends, and to relax.

Relax? As a writer struggling to emerge from my 50 year old cocoon the notion of relaxation is as foreign to me as interest payments on my bank balance. I don’t want to relax! I want to be writing and creating and letting the world know I’m here and I believe I have something to say!

I’m not taking a computer. My desktop probably wouldn’t fit in my luggage. What’s a writer to do?

I write long-hand so all I need is a pen and paper, right? But what if I have no ideas? No inspiration? Last night the four short stories, which keep each other company in a dark file on my hard drive, called to me. Print us! Work on us!

So, voila! My Florida work is ready to go. I’m excited now to find some shade under a palm tree, to scratch and scribble and perhaps return with something that delights me. A week to write? Paradise.

speaking Michelangeloly

I haven’t written many new poems lately; I’m in between inspirations. But I have been revising. I realized today that revision is my favourite part of writing. In fact, before I send a poem out to a potential publisher, I read it over and usually change something. Poems never seem to be finished.

Revision is when I banish extraneous words and move punctuation around. It is also when I replace words I threw in as a place holders. Removed from the urgency of the original inspiration I have time to chisel around the idea I wished to express in hopes that a more accurate word emerges from the stone – speaking Michelangeloly.

The most thumbed, dog-eared book in my possession is my Roget’s Thesaurus; I’ve owned it since my teen years. I love finding a word’s exact right substitute. In my opinion, Microsoft Word’s right click synonym is the best feature since drink holders in cars.

It’s rare I scrap a poem. If I think it is worthy of transcription to the computer (I write in longhand) then it usually withstands my revision process. But if it’s deemed too sappy or personal I have a little file called Really Bad Poems; there are about five or six in there.

I have scores of poems, a plethora, a multitude. I could plaster the Sistine Chapel in my poetry – I promise, I won’t. I’m just saying, if you need to read a poem – I’ve got one. Wait, let me just tweak it one more time, then you can read it.