The Child Actor Who Played Mikey

The folklore is that I ate Pop Rocks,
the exploding candies, and I drank a soda
and my stomach blew up, just like
what people think will happen to birds
if you throw rice at a wedding.
But here I am, still John Gilchrist,
still alive, still enjoying Life
cereal from time to time, though
I have to pay for it at the store
just like anybody else. People
recognize me sometimes—
that’s why I carry a little flask
of Pepsi and a pouch of Pop Rocks.
I like to wake people up. I like
knowing that I still can.

Death of Little Mikey



My lemon tree. The pool.
Avocado-colored everything.

Black wrought iron, bar stools
at my kitchen counter. This is
California, where I followed
my parents, had a husband
and three children, and now

a divorce. I wear my hair big.

I pretend to be younger than
I am. Leslie knows the truth,
but I don’t see him often, or

his wife and children. I can’t

help it that I was always
Mother’s favorite. She calls
me Phyll, comes over a few

times each week. She knows
my children well. Leslie could
have had all of this, too. He
chose to stay in Ohio when
our parents moved. That’s
right—he chose! And now

I see him bristle when
Mother brags about my

children, treats his like

the visitors they are. Well,

we all make our choices in

life. I chose a lemon tree, am

happy to have everything

that came along with it.




For NaPoWriMo, Day 20. Sorry it doesn’t look as Ryu-tastic as usual. One of Ryu’s quirks is that if you copy and paste, it doesn’t autocorrect the font for you. Sometimes I can manage to type directly in the WordPress window, and sometimes I can’t. WordPress users … Have you encountered this with your theme, too, and if so — any workarounds? Thanks!


Incomplete, Unauthorized Episode Guide to The Love Boat

Captain Stubing awakes on the deck of a cruise ship.
How did he get here? What has he become?

Guest star Charo eats some bad salmon, is forced
into close quarters with Doc Bricker. ¡Ay, dios mio!

Hour-long closeup of Isaac, staring into
the middle distance while wiping a martini glass.

Vicki wonders what life is all about.
Ah, well. Time to hit the disco.

Certain promises are made
by guest star Betty White.

Julie, having no other activity ideas, directs
the passengers—including guest star Charo—
in a production of No Exit on the Lido Deck.

Some ugly lady and some ugly dude almost break up,
but then they look up at the stars together and decide
that’s a whole lot of empty space up there.

Gopher. We haven’t seen much of him yet.
He’s been living deep in the ship’s hold,
lining his nest with cast-off cocktail dresses.

Chlamydia sweeps through the Pacific Princess.
No one is spared. (You knew this was coming.)

Guest star Art Carney, clearly confused, keeps
delivering lines to some imaginary waitress character
named Alice. The regular cast rolls with it.

What is this all about? Nobody knows anymore.

The ship runs aground, and this bunch
must somehow form a family.
Various things are made from coconuts.

I suppose you could call it that.
A version of love, sure.

Two people die while dismantling the Princess,
overcome, at last, by her toxic gases.



If it’s Tuesday p.m., check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. Today’s PAD Challenge prompt: Love poem/anti-love poem. (I think this is the latter.)




Easy Come, Easy Go

Any way the wind blows, there’s
a devil put aside for me, and Mama
says nothing really matters. I ache

like a thunderbolt; watch it shiver in
my eye. It’s frightening when anyone
can see me. I sometimes wish I’d been

thrown away, left in the lightning under
sympathetic skies. But now I’ve gone, baby.
Oh, baby, I didn’t mean to make you cry.



Was feeling kind of epic and saw a reference to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” on my Facebook wall. Done. Speaking of done, I know what band I’m going to close this month-long music series with (tomorrow — wow). Now I just need to choose the song.



You say it is peaceful there,
together on the beach,
in the open air, the blue skies.

You say we should tell our friends
goodbye, go where there is
sun in wintertime. You say this is

our destiny. If you love me enough,
how could I disagree? If I love you
enough, will you stop hustling?

Then I will make no protest; we
will make our plans, and this
is what we’re gonna do.



After “Go West,” by The Village People, because I have gone west on business.


Open Doors

Son, I am the eagle
that has come
to take you home.

Son, the wind is
blowing; your heart
is machinery going


Son, climb the hill
again; you can trust
imagination. Time

stands still, son;
grab anything
that takes you




After Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” I love this song, but there’s another reason I chose it for today. This morning, I met with a friend who is from China. She has been reading my poems, and we had a very nice conversation about a few of them. She mentioned the BOOM BOOM BOOM in this one. It occurred to me that I knew another song where a heart goes BOOM BOOM BOOM. Betty, if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoy it! 🙂


Jeremiah, the King of the World

Joy to you and me,
boys and girls.
Joy to you and me,
and rainbows.

Joy and sweet love.
And wine.

In the deep blue sea,
there are no cars,
but we get around
mighty fine,

the bullfrogs,
the boys and girls,
the wine—

and me.



Probably obvious, but this one’s based on “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. If it’s Tuesday, 3 p.m. Eastern or later, check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. And if you’re feeling the joy, please feel free to leave me a song request in the comments!


Just Beneath the Acrylic Wall Art

There’s another wall waiting to begin
if only we can escape the gravitational pull
of this owl’s orange eyes, threaded with
yellow yarn, a big, dark, wooden bead
in the center of each, like a knuckle
in a fist. This is not what I came

here for, to sit on this houndstooth couch
with you, trying to explain what I mean
about walls beyond walls, some world
other than this one where we are
men and women, machines built for
coping, not for understanding

each other, not in any real way, except
through the flesh. You are wondering
about my flesh even now; I can feel it in
your eyes, your male eyes, and we will
never reach that other world, not
together, not this way. You have

your hot toddy, and I have mine; you are
not my ride home, the shoes under my bed.
We are nothing but two people sitting under
an acrylic owl, trying to ignore some things,
pay attention to others, and—for the next
ten minutes, twenty—not confuse the two.



For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge Day 4 (prompt: Write a poem in which the title is “Just Beneath ___).



Let Memory Be a Paneled Room, for Open Link Night

Let Memory Be a Paneled Room

Let us now be gracious
and thank our humble homes.
From shag carpet we arose;
the ugly couch was always
more comfortable before
it was reupholstered,
made more acceptable
to our changing eyes. Let us
now love Linoleum, warm
underfoot, forgiving of stains,
those accidents of carelessness
and time. How the years passed.
Let memory be a paneled room
with heavy curtains. Let it keep
every word we ever spoke.



For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.