Friday, January 2, 2009

More Poetry


In the eons of your eyes
cities rise and fall like stars

Your patched sleeve trails
broken meteors

Beyond the sun
your black rook ship
rocks in a dream of
galactic November

Your name means
"from a town long buried
on the other sideof time"

When the Earth grew old
I wove my dress of cinder and ice
then, dancing below no gods
I wished only for you

(previously published in Dreams and Nightmares)



When did I turn back
to get a better glimpse ofcharming princes
When did I notice the little
winged girls in the trees

When did I suddenly see
how fast I'd been moving
year to year
on a planet full of mysteries
I'd missed?



There is only one autumn
It is the wind
and forever
ruffling the stars

(also published in Dreams and Nightmares)



Autumn is a town
on its own star
fallen from
the coldest



The white lands have faded
I have dreamed the dream
of disappearing

Someone's pounding at the door
to myself
a stranger crying "Let me in"
while I hide in that numinous fortress
of stars and leaves I have created
all my life

My house glows
A madwoman sleeps here
No one knows what day of the year
it is
where the wind blows hot and cold
to my command
and the windows fog in confusion

Someone's coming to take me away
Someone's listening for my heartbeat
so they can find me
clustered in Scorpio
or the Little Bear
folded in gold dust
and end-of-summer reeds

Some minor god is breaking me
telling me I cannot inhabit
my own world
never leaving me

Wendy Rathbone

Sunset reflecting
like spilled cider
on the windows



I stand
in the grove of December
in the garden of the end of the year
and watch you climb down
from your half-moon perch

The journey spins
in sorrow and serendipity
toward winter horizons
toward the scent of firs
and the blue door of the north

You are
the shape of my sleep
my right eye
my electric pulse
moon-man autumn-elf
bound for ice and stars
black sky native of the
infinities of my mind

I wear your cloak
your void hair
but hear only dour wind
tugging at my sleeves

December's longing
on black snow nights
pulls at the heart's hesitation

This is what made you
jump down from the moon



A visitor at the door
speaks of dreaming and doubles
Rain alters the world

What February doesn't arrive
in a liquid river
of shimmering alien journeys?
I sit and chat with friends
knowing that half my mind
has run off again
living lives I can't remember

I grasp at visions
thinking they will make me whole

The heat of stars
brings a brief emotion
of something like love
But shadows shiver my soul
as if it was always
made of that familiar dark energy

I am warm only when
I am human
When I am Other
I am so much morewaking
from a long
dead sleep



In waves of night
the sea swims with planets
and schools of moons
Finned rockets slide through the murk

Impossible void-maids
comb their nebulae hair



jars filled with night air
line the vampyre's hearth

Wendy Rathbone

Shadow - First published Dec. 27, 2005 in Live Journal

sometimes the air moves blue
around you
the blue of serene reality
of violets

you please the stars in your
tossing prisms of time aside

your cape of wind
your fear of flame

your thought of love:
something like drowning
like a good book
or the scent of first snow
in a faraway
autumn galaxy

Take It Like A Man - First published Nov. 8, 2005 in Live Journal

We finally saw "North Country." I liked it a lot. It made me remember being picked on by one bully when I took drafting instead of cooking class at age 12 and was the only girl in the class. The bully constantly taunted me, teased me with sexual innuendos spoken close to my ear, and tried to touch me all the time. He finally managed one day to pinch my chest, hard, and that was the last straw; I chased him screaming through the classroom with a t-square raised over my head trying to beat him with it. Well, he did not ever pinch me again. I have a memory of him falling and me standing over him with the t-shaped implement raised over his head, screaming, "Bill Harry, if you ever touch me again I'll kill you!" That day a substitute teacher ran the class. He did nothing. He acted as if he never saw the event. But what is strange thinking back on it, in 1972 or any year what kid gets away with chasing another through the aisles of an otherwise quiet classroom threatening to kill them? What kind of teacher, substitute or not, pretends not to hear or see it? A deaf one? A blind one? And afterwards I, in full sight of every boy (and teacher,) walked back to my seat with tears streaming down my face, the skin on my chest where it was pinched aching, my body shaking so bad I could barely stay seated. The only person who ever stood up for me or tried to comfort me with kind words was a gawky boy named Kenny Leake. Out of about 30 kids, he was the only one.

But the above is not the worst of it. At the time I did not realize, as I do now as an adult, that the teacher was as much to blame as the bully. When I first started the class, he told me that because I was a girl I would have to do extra good work, better than the boys, to receive an A (and I did receive an A.) He seemed to think I was wasting my time because there was no future in drafting for girls. Mr. Rickert. Boy, he was an asshole, possibly even more than the bully boy who picked on me because he let it go on. I think he was surprised that I did probably some of the best work he'd seen by any of his students. I remember he would look at my work and try to find fault and finally admit he could not and he'd give me an A and just tell me to round my eights better. I remember feeling weird when boys would go up with their work and he would only give it a cursory exam before grading it. He gave A's to boys whose work was even shoddy. With mine he pored over it practically with a magnifying glass. Also, he knew about the bullying and pretended he did not see it. The substitute was mystified and did not know the history of the class, but Mr. Rickert knew. To stand by and let someone be bullied, to actually witness it as a teacher and do nothing is, I think, the bigger crime.

I am lucky in my life that I have managed to have jobs or be around people who mostly were not gender prejudice. Movies like North Country remind me that it is not like that everywhere. Things get better with every decade, but it's still tough for women on the workforce depending on the job. I remember how horribly the first girl to attend Westpoint was treated. I remember the Anita Hill hearings. People say "take it like a man." But if you are a man or a woman being harassed daily, what are you supposed to do? What does "take it like a man" even mean to a man, let alone a woman? I wonder, do people even think about what they say, what their words even mean to each other? Some of the men in "North Country" had an idea that they were right about something, about women taking men's jobs, or some dumb reasoning like that. So that made it ok to treat the female workers badly. But did they ever think about their reasons, really? They did not have real reasons for anything they did, and they did not think. It's amazing to me to realize that people can decide they don't like someone else because of a quirk, a look, a gender or whatever, and then feel justified in picking on them. You might expect it from a third graders, but not an adult. I think we all try to say we are civlized, that we humans are better than beasts, but we are not so far from the beast inside if we can allow ourselves to treat others badly just because they are different or simply not to our liking.

Halloween Past - Previously published Nov. 8, 2005 on Live Journal

Wind like
moon's breath
cold as black bottom seas
leaf-witches on twig brooms
a storm of tiny white wings:
Halloween snow

I meant to write this before now, but a bad cold has kept my energy low. So, though a week late, here is the Halloween entry I intended to write.

I love Halloween. I have great memories of a school carnival AND trick or treating, and being so excited I couldn't even eat my dinner. Our street was filled with groups of kids going up and down to each house. This last Halloween night my mom said she got a total of 5 kids in one group only. All the kids on my old street have grown up and moved away. It's all older folks living there now, I guess. I also think people are paranoid. It is media hype, of course. The razor in the apple is an urban legend. No one can track down who it ever happened to or IF it ever really happened. Poison in candy: the most known instances are parents poisoning their own kids. One guy who poisoned and killed his son (and tried but failed with his daughter) was sentenced to death...on Halloween. He was executed (I think it was in New York state but don't quote me on that) a few years ago on Halloween. Two years ago when Halloween fell on the exact date of the Renaissance Faire in Escondido (a Sat.) my significant other Della and I went to the mall down the road for dinner and the mall was filled to the brim with hundreds of trick or treaters. It was a cold night and the indoor mall allowed kids freedom. The stores had barrels of candy and the kids just went from store to store. It's a two story mall so there was lots of candy to be had. I guess that's a pretty good idea for trick or treating if you don't want to go into dark neighborhoods.

However, I find the dark neighborhood atmosphere is a MUST or you lose the whole flavor. My memory of Halloween, GOOD memories, are all wrapped up with the shadows and the dim lights in the house windows and the jack o'lanterns glowing. You can't get that affect in a well-lighted indoor mall. While stores decorate, it just isn't the same as being with a group of kids and venturing down a lonely road or front path to some house with glowing eyes in the window panes. And the cold wind blowing through your thin costume. And the stars twinkling overhead. And distant unseen kids yelling, dogs barking. And thinking that anything could be hiding behind that next shadowy bend. I love it. And if kids live in dangerous gang-filled neighborhoods, then like the farm kids my friend Taerie grew up with, they should be driven to safe neighborhoods and enjoy. In fact, that in itself it a great adventure. Taerie told me that when she was little and lived in the country, she and her siblings and friends used to have the neighborhoods picked out and mapped weeks in advance, anticipating the glories of real trick-or-treating.

In my mind, it seems a shame that extremist fear keeps kids from enjoying that old-fashioned thrill. I am all for keeping kids safe, and I understand a parent's worry. But kids can be chaperoned and still feel that wind, that darkness, that sense of adventure and unknown. To keep that from children by raising them in homogenized, pasteurized, well-lit disinfected environments stunts their spirit, their creative soul-spark. If you do not instill mystery, the excitement of the unknown, and wonder in a child, you quite possibly ensure the stunted growth of an unhappy robot. Kids need to explore, souls need to grow. Halloween is one opportunity for lighting that spark, from which, sometimes, entire constellations are born.

Cabin In The Woods - Originally published Oct. 18, 2005 in Live Journal

I have this story in my head. The main character is an older, eccentric woman who lives a peaceful, unstressed life in a small cabin (gingerbread? candycane fence?) in a wooded area that appears secluded but is not too far off the track...meaning Wal-Mart is within a reasonable distance for all necessities. The woman is perfectly happy growing her grey hair long, wearing her best clothes to water the garden, and sleeping all day and writing all night. The little woods get some snow in winter. In fall the scarlet, orange and yellow leaves flood the ground. Here Christmas is always around the bend. The air is fresh. The stars are blinding.

Of course the woman is me. I have found in my 40s that I have started to get really territorial and more "earthy." I enjoy puttering. I actually LIKE doing the dishes and gazing out the window at the huge back part of our property as I do so. I like lots of colors in my home, purples, blues, greens, and lots of coziness (so there are pillows and throws everywhere.) When I was in my 20s, I used to think the bridge of the Starship Enterprise would make the perfect, beautiful, stark living room. I loved the simplicity, the futuristic sterility and clean line, the big wall-sized tv, and the cool blinking lights of technology. Now, 20 years later, I couldn't be more opposite from that young woman who published Star Trek fanzines, and who wrote stories and poetry about robots, vampires, time-travel and ghosts. That woman was content with a corner for her papers and books, didn't mind moving every four years and did not care what color her bedroom was painted. What has changed? Well, nothing. And everything. I'm still me. But I have a need for more solitude, and I have an urge to create more of a nest and make it my territory. Maybe I didn't feel that 20 years ago because my business then kept me at home, and I read and wrote a lot, which required me to be alone a lot. Now my retail business takes me away from home much of the year, and keeps my life in a kind chaos, both at home and away from home, about nine months out of the year. I long for that quietude to return again. And combined with that, there is the urge to make the nest cozy, and stamp it with my eccentric tastes.

I realize I am fortunate to have been able to run and live off my own businesses much of my life, with a few hard times thrown in to make it interesting. I have not been forced to punch too many time clocks past the age of 25, or answer to weird bosses whose demands make little or no sense and whose own job descriptions are mysterious but powerful and therefore intimidating. But still, what is this longing for more solitude, and where is this cabin? I often think the cabin is where I currently live. It is up to me to make it like my fantasy story. And my current chaotic business has supplied some funds for fixing it up, so that's a benefit from all the hard work, and the lack of solitude during that work. It is an ongoing process and I have to remember that is the fun part. If I already had the cabin and the solitude, I might ask, after awhile, now what? I have to remember life is about the journey, not the destination. If we get too focused on the end result, we miss it all entirely.

So off I go to light candles that smell of rain and pine, to fill my rooms with crescent moons and orange leaves, to put on my prettiest ankle-length skirt, my rhinestone bracelets, my silver rings, and go outside and water the trees.

Dark Heroes - First published Sept. 20, 2005 on Live Journal

Last night a thunder storm passed through the desert that kept me awake much of the night. The booms rattled the house and startled the dogs. It even woke the coyotes, whose howls sometimes eclipsed the thunder. Mostly I am afraid of fire during storms such as these, especially if the downpours are short, as it was with this storm. I am also afraid, strangely, of being struck by lightning, even though I know how unlikely that prospect is. So I concentrated on reading to distract me, though the power went out a couple times for a few seconds. I am currently reading Capt. Hook by J.V. Hart, a story about young James Matthew, and how he comes to be that future nefarious pirate. It's really well-written. And James (the future Hook) is an energetic, genius type, and while picked on and abused, has a kind of spirit that makes you realize he wants/needs no pity. Yet, he is a sympathetic character. It is turning into quite an enjoyable read. The character is truly heartening, seeing the world as a play and taking very little of it seriously. It keeps him alive and makes him a hero in the eyes of his peers, though he never thinks of himself that way.

This reminds me of an upcoming movie I am very much looking forward to. "Serenity." If you don't know anything about this topic, well, "Serenity" is the theatrical film continuation of a short-lived space opera series on Sci-fi called "Firefly." My friend Kym convinced me to watch her set of dvds (all 14 episodes) last spring. I agreed to do so because I trusted her judgment that it was actually an excellent show. (Lately I have been suspicious of anything sf oriented, or from the sci-fi channel for that matter.) Subsequent to watching it and heartily enjoying it, I found out it was actually critically acclaimed and has a huge fan-base even though it was taken off-air in the middle of its first year (for reasons no one knows.) Later, I got my own set of the dvds and have watched it again, and it is even better the second time through. Anyway, there is a point to all this babble, in that the series reminds me of Capt. Hook (the book) in a way because it is about underdogs surviving. It is about atypical heroes, space-traveling smugglers or pirates for lack of a better term, about real people surviving on the fringe or, as the creator of the series, Joss Whedon has said, and I paraphrase, people Kirk and the Enterprise would have passed right over and never even seen. While I grew up suckling at the wickedly obsessive teat of Star Trek and have no regrets for it, I really must admit I love stories that center on people who say the things and do the things I always wished my Trek heroes would do...but didn't. Like instead of negotiating with the terrorist, just friggin' shoot him. Don't leave him alive to come back and kill your best friend in a later episode of revenge is a dish best served cold. No. Take care of it now if you can. Right now. And don't pretend that the horrible situation you find yourself in has anything to do with civilized behavior or rules, or the maintenance thereof. Survival means doing what needs to be done, or you don't survive. If you are living in the underbelly of society, there are no judges, no courts, and really no law. It's not really about being civilized at all. But then again, it is a reinvention of civility based on much more immediate needs, because you can only find your real heart and your own truths through distancing yourself from the societal programs. The characters in "Serenity" and "Firefly" are almost even more alive and real as a result, and their loyalty and their hearts are very human, which is why it is so good. They are not without flaws, and not every character is "nice," but the situation reminds me of Han Solo who did the right thing in the end because he could, and because he really did have a human heart. One quote from one of the characters: "A hero is a person who gets other people killed." I LOVE that. I can't help it. And when something tweaks my thinking from its usual tilt, I can and do often enjoy the view from the other side. It's fun. It turns ordinary on its head. I like that. I remember a quote at the beginning of the original Star Wars novel by George Lucas, that actually would work for "Serenity," too. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes."

Something I recently watched all of again, that turned everything on its head, was that old 1960s Patrick McGoohan series, "The Prisoner." McGoohan is a genius, seer, poet, prophet, etc. I still can't believe how special and strange and wondrous that show was, and how the so-called "heroes" of "The Prisoner's" reality actually became his worst enemies, which is probably the mystery of why he resigned his secret agent job in the first place. Anyway, there's a lesson in all this somewhere, like perhaps going with flow of the crowd because it's easier and you don't have to think might just turn you into a lemming. On that note, I must tilt my own head, again, and sleep.

Autumn Just Around The Bend - First published Sept. 13, 2005 in Live Journal

I look up--
autumn mixes
with Orion


Here in the California high desert north of Palm Springs, autumn is definitely playing peek-a-boo, doing a slow strip-tease of the locust and poplar trees in our front yard, crisping the often groaning wind with currents from cooler climes, and darkening the light from summer white to October gold. August heat recedes at last. I welcome the dryer, thinner September air. People often say that California has no seasons. Perhaps the winters are not as pronounced, especially closer to the coast, but there is change. The mountains do get snow, and lots of it. And the coastal areas clog up with fog and cooler overcast days. It can even sometimes rain! But I live neither on the coast or in the mountains. I live in the desert, not the low desert but the high desert where there are tons of joshua trees and other lush vegetation (not just sand,) and where the stars are so bright and so close you should be able to pluck them raw right out of the sky. It can snow here. It definitely rains. But it is the wind that is special. It has personality, depth and history. It is definitely haunted. And it haunts me. It might bother some people to be haunted, but not me. I love the feeling of the unknown. It has a definite feeling, like nostalgia, or a thought that you might be coming close to something familiar that never quite manifests. It is like the scent of a birthday cake cooking, or the memory of your father's prickly beard, or soft cool grass on your bare feet, the things that take you immediately to the child within, the source. And it is also pumpkin eyes blinking, dark wonder, the thrill of being slightly lost. Autumn brings, on the edges of its cloak, these things and more. It is the season that reminds me I really know so very very little. About anything. At all. And because of that, EVERY door opens. And I blissfully stand before all possibilities.

The Long Dark

Originally posted to Live Journal, September 10, 2005


The clouded evening whispers:
The long night is coming!
Who will light the tapers?
Who will keep me warm
in the folds of his cloak?

Wendy Rathbone

I quote one of my above poems because there is a current pyschic theme running through our country right now, in the wake of Katrina, and that theme is: who is our savior, and if that savior fails is he to blame? My poem, when I wrote it, expressed a deep, fairly generic longing I feel when I look at the night sky, hear the whistling wind, smell rain and pumpkins on Halloween Eve. The longing is almost like a psychic call to the unknown, an expression, a shrug, a whispered "I'm here." "I am." I've never really thought of it as a search for who will save my soul, or rescue me from this earthly plane. It's more of the instinctive question that bubbles up now and again: "Are we alone?" It's curiosity, the tilted-head look, the sense of wonder...and wondering. And when you do find some "one," a lover, a friend, a like soul, and you feel some comfort, some warmth, isn't it nice to be enfolded in that cloak, in that company? Any future disappointment that might come is in direct proportion to our own expectations, so to not have assumptions and expectations is perhaps the best ideal, but of course we cannot live without them.

Accomplishment comes from ideals and expectations. And this leads me back to Katrina and its survivors. Who is there for them? Who will enfold them? Who will comfort? And it always and only can ever be one response: us. It's all we have. We're all we have. No God comes down with a big hand and lifts us up. If God is hope, then hope is in us. And in the end, we have only ourselves. We are hope or destruction, dark and light, good and evil, our choice. If we disappoint ourselves, then we can learn to be better. This is a human story on a human plane. We make it or we break it. Perhaps when I look into the unknown, when I call, I am searching for myself. I am trying to find me, a better me, the best me. Because so far, in the weirdest ways, that is who has answered.