Tag Archives: metaphors and similes

Regular Poem: Angle of Repose

29 Apr

learned a new phrase today
that will inevitably
pop up in my brain in the future
and bang around for a few weeks
with a lot of self-reflection and metaphor attached to it

maybe i can nip it in the bud
and deal with it now
and mercifully forget about it
i doubt that
but it’s worth a try

angle of repose:
the steepest angle at which a certain granule can be stacked
with others of like kind before sliding

i’ve spent a lot of time driving
the kansas countryside
seeing big piles of wheat or beans or sand or rock or whatever
just out in the open
sometimes on a tarp sometimes on a burnt stretch of field
sometimes covered by a tarp sometimes just beholden to breeze and precipitation

and i have wondered about that
angle of repose
but never had the terminology for it
until a few hours ago

i guess you see it in anthills too
and molehills
any hill
any dirt will do

what is too much atmospheric pressure
what is too much weight
before collapse
and is it a collapse so much as a reconfiguration

more interesting than the angle of repose might be
the cirumference of the pile
how does the pile get into such a perfect circle
or perfect cone as it were

it’s all about angles and pi and force and gravity
i suppose
physics
which i never took in school
but i like the idea of it

i think my personality was wasted in a number of ways
both ways of my own making
and ways outside my control

i could’ve probably been a very good theoretical mathematician
or at the very least pop science writer
and i could’ve taken steps to have chosen that but didn’t
i also would’ve been a very effective mean big sister to somebody but that wasn’t my fault
and i would’ve been so so good at being a quack “doctor” in the 1890s or so but that wasn’t my fate either

angle of repose though
such a romantic little phrase
sounds like how many pillows an elegant lady needs for optimal comfort lying on a chaise

maybe not romantic maybe bleak
sounds like how much one must fold oneself and twist oneself to fit into a prescribed role so that there’s not so much societal friction

sounds like a lot of things
sounds good–
the sounds themselves that is
a very pleasing phrase
that feels good to say
opens up the mouth in a lot of ways–
and yet its meaning is about a closing
a cap a limit

nope
i certainly haven’t dealt with it thoroughly enough for it to not sprout again soon
it will be back to haunt me
the next time i’m climbing a grain bin
or even driving past one
or perhaps just drinking a baja blast with a completely empty mind

Regular Poem: Confession: I’m Very Stupid in So Many Ways and Also I Would Totally Bang Ann Coulter

23 Apr

no thoughts in the brain
is a pretty neutral state
blank and somnambulent and executing rote tasks by muscle memory alone
until it stabs you in the back
or in the brain as it were

and suddenly

what was once blank
is now fully lit with halogen bulbs and lurid in the harsh glow not to mention horrible to see and experience

it can be just a flash of something
not even a second long
precipitated by
a scrap of fabric with a suggestion of a meaningful emblem on it
or
a familiar smell carried in and then abruptly away on a breeze
or
just anything tiny and terrible to stimulate just the right wrong neural pathways

goodbye clean white uncreased 8.5×11 letter paper of the mind
hello new england clam chowder of the mind

what’s even in new england clam chowder
an inscrutable amalgamation of colors and flavors and textures
and ain’t that a kick in the head

a kick in the mind as it were
that kick starts every angry thing

next month i’ve gotta renew my driver’s license
i haven’t yet read the materials regarding such which the kansas department of revenue division of vehicles sent me a while back
so i’m wondering if i can keep my motorcycle license without much fuss

i’m much more likely to be able to remember how to kick start a motorcycle
than i am likely to remember
the relevant details as to why
i’m so angry all the time about these flashes of nothing and/or everything that keep sparking like a flame catching on the stray dry strands of a damp log on a bonfire

i’m better at general statements
than supporting arguments
i’d love to blame this on my incredibly vivid dreams and how i sometimes have trouble distinguishing them from real memories because of the way they feel and the way they stick
but
i know actually
i have a patchy long-term memory
that specializes in themes and images and phantom feelings

not very useful for passing driving exams for vehicles one hasn’t personally encountered since ann coulter was writing about how obama would be the new jimmy carter
not very useful
except to rile myself up with no scaffolding for the platform at the top of the in-construction skyscraper that is my rage

Regular Poem: Covenant Peanut Butter

21 Apr

Not to put too fine a point on it and not to as paul would say
Think of [myself] more highly than [i] ought to think

But you know how i feel about old testament prophets
And you know how i feel about mowing

And there’s no good reason on God’s green earth
Or even hell’s half acre

That my ancient battered lawnmower whose wheels are halfway to falling off and whose blades have probably never been sharpened in the fifteen years its been clinging to efficacy
Should have started today after spending the winter in a shed with no heating and no door

Not only did this old girl fire up and get the job done
But she also purred to life on the very first pull

It wasn’t exactly like when elijah was living with that widow and her son died and she was like “why’d you come here to eat my food and murder my son” and elijah laid himself out on top of him and cried out to God to revive him
But it wasn’t not like that

Not all miracles are so dire and dramatic after all
Some miracles are just little things that ought not be possible

But where’s the covenant peanut butter factor in
You’re asking or maybe not as seeming non sequiturs that really only make sense in my own brain and the way i associate ideas are kind of my thing too

(Well not this time babe
Thematic relevance and from the very same chapter of first kings)

It may have been the same evening year before last
That my best friend and her husband helped me change the oil and spark plug on this same old mower

That they wanted a snack and went to raid my cupboard
On a rare occasion that i had bread in the house

And she said
Surely this can’t be the peanut butter i bought when i lived here

(She was my roommate before she got married
And that was three roommates ago)

But it was indeed against all odds that peanut butter
And two years later (counting from that evening) or eight years later (counting from when we last lived together)

That peanut butter is still to this day in my cupboard far from depleted or rancid
In fact i successfully ate a generous helping of it on a waffle two weeks ago

(Before the widow’s kid died
There was the famine in the land and the infinite flour and oil miraculously extrapolated from scraps

Her house did eat many days
And the barrel of meal wasted not neither did the cruse of oil fail
)

I’m not saying i’m an old testament prophet
I’m just saying that for all my myriad curses i’m also

Infinitely
Blessed

Regular Poem: On the Grind

20 Apr

she’s always on her grind
always got a scheme going a new project an old project always a project
usually for money but sometimes just for self-edification
some blend of physical and mental
that takes planning and vision and muscle in equal measure

a self-directed self-starter
on her grind
making that money
making those connections
(she’s gonna make it after all
throws a beret into the air and
freeze frame
)

i often find myself in bizarre situations with her
driving an open lonely stretch of turnpike
listening to her monologue about
events that she doesn’t give enough exposition to really understand
and conspiracies that i don’t exactly buy
and/or
standing with my back straight and my hands in my pockets with my head cocked in thoughtful listening mode
in foggy parking lots and chilly equine rescues and stuffy living rooms and dusty gutted hotels mid-renovation

when she introduces me to other characters in these bizarre situations
they without fail nod and say something like
oh right
that girl

a foundation has already been laid they already know without having seen me before
i’m the sidekick
and they trust me because they trust her and she trusts me

it’s so fascinating

we’re all protagonists in our own lives
but there’s so much to be learned about yourself when you analyze
what kind of supporting character you are in somebody else’s life
especially if that person lives her life in a completely different genre

she’s the plucky heroine of a pulled-up-by-own-bootstraps adventure
and in her narrative i’m her mentee
whom she sees as a younger version of herself
to be nurtured and cultivated and remade
into the best version of both of us

but in my narrative
(well in my narrative
i’m all white trash gothic and heavy-handed poetry)

she’s on her grind
like a powerful river
smoothing the rocks beneath her by willful and persistent erosion
always surging forward with an ultimate goal
obstacles surmounted in crests and bends

and i’m on my grind
like a grindstone
the free-standing electric kind with a sandstone wheel
i can sharpen or i can blunt or i can polish and i’m very good at it
but somebody has to flip the switch somebody has to connect the power and start me to turning

on my own i am inert collect dust
look like a pretty relic
some specimen in an antique shop
although i’m not antique
i work

i still work

just plug me in and see
just plug me in

Regular Poem: Operator, Please Connect Me to 1982

9 Apr

i’m always revisiting ideas from new angles
or perhaps they’re revisiting me
and perhaps the angles aren’t new
so much as the polygon has simply been rotated about the origin
sometimes the figure rotates a whole 360 before you know it
and there you are
the same in most ways just
translated a few units down and right
across this axis or another

we used to call my dad’s place
Doc’s Fun Cars
(facetiously of course
after a very trashy used car lot in the trashiest part of town
called
Jim’s Fun Cars
red hand-painted letters flaking rusty dandruff onto rusty pontiac hoods)
because he had several non-working vehicles deposited here and there

his house was never clean but hardly ever outright disgusting–
serviceable gruff-old-sentimental-divorced-guy-out-in-the-sticks-where-nobody-bothers-him cluttered

we’d sit around in uncomfortable chairs
bullshitting about politics and religion and conspiracy theories and dr. phil and local news and what have you
and he usually wouldn’t let me leave without giving me money
either just for myself
or to run errands for him with

so here i am
in most ways the same
just translated down and right a few units
across ghostly and/or unpleasant axes

bullshitting with a different old man
who has even more non-working vehicles strewn across his sprawling backwoods acreage
and he never lets me leave without giving me money

dilapidation neglect and abundance
choking robust weeds overtaking manmade structures
ancient furniture that doesn’t match
stories half remembered and twice embellished
fraught familial relationships

it’s so much the same that it makes the differences especially jarring

if i could actively choose a circumstance to revisit
or have revisit me
it would not be an off-brand analog of my dead dad
but that’s the thing about gothicism isn’t it
there really aren’t any choices at all
just fate

Regular Poem: And Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn

2 Apr

honestly
i was a lot more fun when i was just
angry
all the time

got a lot more accomplished
too
had more thoughts in my brain

of course
i was way more fun
when i was actually fun

that’s been too long ago to access
i don’t even like to open the window on that one

there are wafts of it that drift
through drafty windowsills
and crooked door jambs
sometimes though

i get phrases stuck in my head
have to say them out loud
or write them down
and still
they clank around
adhere here and there
until a different one
dislodges the previous

sometimes it’s something from old fun me
and it’s

like when you’re sweaty and overheated and
step out into the cool night
catch a breeze with a chill in it

so refreshing
until it’s not anymore

so here i am
out on the cold patio
clambering to get the door open
but it’s swollen with moisture
and i have to pull extra hard

and margie’s at the lincoln park inn

Regular Poem: Dream Journal

1 Apr

it’s like
when you finally start a dream journal
you stop remembering your dreams

they’re just blurs and smudges
streaks left over when the
windshield wiper of wakefulness has swiped over

i think a few nights ago
there was honeysuckle
and trying to transplant it,
graft it in
like you would a tree
but my subconcious knows even less
about botany
than i do

but anyway that’s not enough information
to put in a dream journal
and if it were
i quasi-remembered it
in bits and pieces days later
so i can’t remember a date to put on it
for the dream journal

so not like streaks on a windshield
after all

more like
details suppressed during a traumatic event
due to adrenaline and focus on other details at the time
and then re-emerging haphazardly and unexpectedly–
sudden goosebumps when you’re not cold

i read somewhere
if you don’t dream you’ll go crazy
dreaming creates some neurological equilibrium
whether you remember the dreams or not

not something you can control
and you can’t even observe it half the time
at least not without a bunch of fancy equipment

there are other better ways
to go crazy
anyway

Regular Poem: Gamble

17 May

lay your money down
heap it in the pot
feel the excitement as you win

but realize
that too many people have placed the same bet
the odds were in your favor
so your share is small

yes
you’ve bet
that i
wouldn’t learn from my mistakes
that i
would make impulsive decisions
that i
would be writing the same bullshit about the same four people for the thousandth time

that’s not a safe bet, babe
that’s a fixed fight

that’s the black sox scandal of 1919, babe

i use the gambling metaphor because
i use the gambling metaphor in my colloquial speech that everyone around me picks up on and subsequently uses

i’m turning us all into humphrey bogart
one hard-boiled cliche at a time
but not like regular philip marlowe humphrey bogart
but surreal dark passage humphrey bogart where
half the time you don’t even have your own face
just bandages and chiaroscuro
and spite

of course

you’d have bet on chiaroscuro and spite
you’d have bet on a lot of things

i always deliver on a lot of things
and never deliver on others

one thing i did actually learn
is that an always-never argument
is automatically invalid

there are sometimes
indubitably

what are my favorite adverbs
who are my favorite people

they say not to write using adverbs
they say it’s lazy
telling rather than showing

but
what is a person
divorced from
how
she’s completing an action

adverbs answer a lot of questions

i ask
i answer myself
i use old-timey stock phrases

there are a lot of things worthy of hate
but adverbs tend to be
a grammatical whipping boy

catch me behind the woodshed
i’m always ready for a punishment
physical preferred because i know i can take that

put your money on me
i’m the horse with the worst name at the kentucky derby
but the worst names usually win
and you can wear whatever hat you want as you drink mint juleps

max bet
accidentally six bucks a spin
when really you had meant
repeat bet

but every bet
is still a bet
there’s the chance to lose
and the house always wins regardless

Regular Poem: Taurus Season

30 Apr

Aries Season

i said something blunt and dismissive
in my usual
blunt dismissive way
and she said
“of course you would say that
you’re a taurus”

and i said
“i don’t know what that means and also
how do you know when my birthday is”

so from what she told me about what that meant
and a few other anecdotal sources
and from the fact that i tend to celebrate my birthday
the entire month of may
and people pretty universally let me

i’ve come to the conclusion
that taurus season
is all hedonism–
a hedonism of both the body and the mind
all ranting and buffets and margarita buckets and new clothes and sunshine hammock naps
lazy convertible rides and raspberry iced tea
skinny dipping and off-key singing
and saying a lot of blunt dismissive things
whenever you want

if aries is aggressive and impulsive
maybe taurus is that but with a rounded edge from overuse

at least i know that a taurus is a bull
and a bull is big and mean and has horns
but is often too lazy to use them

Regular Poem: Bad Girls Book Club, Part II

29 Apr

Part I

well i started the book without the
nouveau cahier
excuse me
new notebook
(there’s a lot of french sprinkled in because that’s what it’s translated from
and you know how i am
how my brain
splinters and drifts and then finds pieces of itself on a distant shore half petrified with salt and wind)

and so far
i don’t like it
it’s very pretentious
and if i had a euro for every time within even just the first three chapters someone’s derided the bourgeoisie
i could buy a decent croque-monsieur and orangina already
of course the bourgeoisie deserve to be derided
and so do i for feeling such pride at having
spelled bourgeoisie correctly on my first attempt
but still

what was the last fiction book i liked

oh yeah

destitute romantic dreamers in the deep south
generational trauma and troubles
sympathetic selfish people struggling with familial curses and differing addictions
literal and metaphorical ghosts
magical realism
lyrical writing
ruminations on love and loss
modern trashy gothic

i’ve got a dramatic streak
a
windblown moors a craggy precipice a lighthouse in a hurricane
streak
that’s dissatisfied with the bourgeois
existentialism and philosophizing
inherent in so many fictional works
not written by disenfranchised people
or at least people disenfranchised adjacent

angry hopeful people with little money
and weird relationships with their parents
sentimental and pragmatic and spiritual and
maybe a little nuts
striving yearning working hands and working minds
seeing sad beauty in dog vomit

jane eyre in an indian casino in oklahoma

maybe i have niche interests
or maybe i just can’t relate
to middle-class french people
who hate their lives
for very different reasons than
i hate mine

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