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Speeding Down the Poetry Superhighway

Mood: Hungry
Drinking: Not yet

So this week I get to be a P.O.W. It’s an unfortunate acronym with bad connotations, but this is the lesser-known and much less painful kind of P.O.W. I’m a Poet of the Week. (So, I guess technically that acronym could be p.o.t.w. if you wanted to get all picky about it.)

Check it out over at the Poetry SuperHighway dot com.

-Lo, off to get some pancakes.


Mood: Cloudy
Drinking: Lipton’s

There is a poster
on the park bench
shouting your name
in 24 point bold.

This is how I find out you are gone.

Your picture stares out
like you did in the flesh
just four days ago
when you saw me walking
toward you up the path.
Except that was your real smile
the one that came before
you called me sweetheart
before you buried me
in a bear hug.

The smile on the poster
is professional.
Frozen for keeps now.
You are on display this way
wearing that horrible mintgreen jacket.
White hair all windtossed.
Nika laying at your feet.

The poster is streaked and
wrinkled with rain.

I make a scene without meaning to.

This is what happens when you are dead.
The world does not end.
The clock does not stop.

Your friends raid your apartment
and take away your fake cherry TV tables.
Your melted pomegranate candles.
Your best glass serving platter.
Your broken dresser.
They take what they can use.
They take what they want.
The rest resides in a landfill.
The apartment still smells of smoke and dogs.
The apartment still smells of you.

If I had never seen the poster
I’d never know you were gone.
I could still call you and
leave a message.
And wait for you to call me back.
In my head, you’d be sitting
in your chair smoking
your cheap cigars.
You would still be within reach.

I attend the memorial service.

Standing in the wind
fog boiling up over the cliff.
An unattractive redhead talks about
putting a plaque on the bench
so everyone will know it’s yours.
“I just have to come up with some words,”
she says.
I have a collection

of all the right words, but I

do not want to share.
Her makeup is made up
of hard crayola lines.
Her roots are gray and brown.

Your brothers are here and awkward.
The fat one, he sits like you.
Pleasantries are exchanged.
Everyone speaks in cliches.
The dogs are here, too.
And Nika. She is dull. Diminished.
She pushes her great dark head
against my leg, against any leg
in her path, just so someone
will reach down and touch her.
But no one is you.

They scatter your ashes

on top of the dunes.
The wind spits gray flecks
into my face.
I think that they should
have flung your pieces
out over the ocean.
Now you are landlocked.
Mixed in with the dust
and the dog shit.

I cannot stand for it.
But I do not move.

Today my friend got a bulldog
named Winston.
He’s one foot tall and fifty pounds.
He looks like a furry brown tank.
He leans against his collar
like a sled dog straining for speed.
He pulls her down the sidewalk as if
she were a featherweight.
As if she were nothing.
Someone should teach him how to heel.
I start to recommend that she call you.
And then I remember.

So I meet her, instead.

In the park, by your bench.
I show her how to gather the leash
just so. How to stand. How to command.

I am sure you would tell me
I’m doing it wrong.

But I’m just trying to keep you alive.

-Lo, wishing they had payphones in the afterlife.

The Perfect Drug

Mood: Shoulder to the grindstone
Drinking: Working on that recommended daily intake of water

It’s been a grey February. Not so much with the weather, although California has been drenched, dried off and then drenched again. It is the rainy season, after all, complete with landslides.

But the grey that’s been hanging around has been more of the mental variety. I have two very dear friends who have been going through some incredibly dark times, sometimes barely able to keep themselves from going under altogether. Sometimes I’ve woken up terrified that one or the other of them might have finally given in, let go, disappeared from the face of the earth altogether. Thus: greyness.

But both of them are stronger than they look. Stronger than they know. And they are fierce fighters. So now that they both have their feet set on the road to wellness, I’ve been laughing a lot more. Laughing with relief, with hope, with the lovely realization that sometimes you can actually write a whole long list of reasons that you’re glad you are alive. And *that* is saying something. Because sometimes when the Bell Jar descends, you’re hard pressed to come up with even one thing to write down, one thing that makes dragging your carcass out of bed worthwhile.

So, to celebrate, I spent the weekend in SoCal with Boy & Dog and my sister and her newly-adopted beast of a dog. In spite of the thunderous deluge that spanned most of the weekend, we managed to find a few pockets of sunlight during which we raced down to the beach for some surf and sand. I spent most of the weekend laughing. Really hard. To the point that my stomach now hurts because my laugh muscles were so out-of-use.

In the two years since we’ve adopted the LeeLoo, I’ve discovered that dogs can bring out the best in people. I’m an admitted misanthrope, and usually stalk around town without really looking at people. I have an aversion to talking to strangers that borders on phobia. But when I’m with LeeLoo and meet up with another dog owner, I’ll stop and chat. We’ll let the dogs do the butt-sniffing thing and have a completely pleasant conversation, then go on our separate ways feeling better about the world in general. It’s really weird how that works.

It may be that LeeLoo makes me laugh more because she’s such a clown. Boxers are known to be dorks of the dog world. Their monkey faces and childish antics make them great entertainers. And this weekend, wandering around my sister’s neighborhood with my little brown LeeLoo and her fat white Yoda, we spent a lot of time doubled over with laughter.

First, you have to understand that I am a DORK when it comes to my dog. I have been known to dress her in ridiculous outfits (and I know my friend J is HORRIFIED, absolutely horrified, if he’s reading this). Dogs in clothes are just unacceptable, I know. But. So. Funny. I’ve created a profile for LeeLoo on, because I’m that much of a dork. And so it has been with a great sense of satisfaction that I have watched my sister (who used to ridicule me constantly) become a dog dork, too. The day she created a dogster profile for Yoda was a great day in sister history. (See LeeLoo on dogster here.
And Yoda here.)

My sister has wanted a dog for a long time. We grew up with Beagles and Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels all over the place, so all those in-between years of college and roommate housing sans dog were just kind of missing something. Once she and her boy got a place of their own last year, they began their dog search and eventually found Yoda’s sad story on

(Note: If you’re bored now, you might as well just skip on over the rest of it, because it’s just dog, dog, dog and more dog.)

Yoda, who is part Boxer and part American Bulldog (a big boy), fell on hard times over two years ago when his owner died suddenly of a heart attack. The Yodes was so upset, he lost all his hair. His deceased owner’s family didn’t want to pay the vet bills to get Yoda better, so they dumped him at the pound. He was scheduled to be put down when some people from a Chihuahua Rescue found him. I don’t know why they decided to take a 90-pound naked pink dog when they were really looking for tiny teacup-sized pooches, but they did and in doing so, they saved his life.

Unfortunately, nobody who comes to a Chihuahua Rescue looking for a waif-like Bit-Bit or Tinkerbell is interested in a big white brute who looks nothing like his greenish Jedi namesake but is instead polka-dotted with crusty bald patches and suffering from a severe case of doggie depression and really sour farts. So Yoda languished in the rescue kennel for two long years. And then my sister came along. And after much patience and paperwork on her part, Yoda had a new home.

And he’s loving it. He eats up the attention and is starting to drop a few pounds now that he has a girlfriend (that would be LeeLoo) and gets regular exercise. He’s made friends with the grannies and grandpas in the senior center next door and is proving to be excellent company for my sister.

So you put this big sweet nerd together with my little drama queen and you have a Vegas-level show on your hands. And all you can do is laugh.

Everything they did was funny. Sometimes it was the way LeeLoo got jealous whenever we paid too much attention to Yoda and so she would start doing all her tricks in a row on the other side of the room, as if to say, “Hey! Look at me! Over here! Look what I can do! Stop playing with that fat bitch and come over here and rub my belly!”

Other times it was the way Yoda snored like a fat old man. Or the way he tried to “romp” at the beach but ended up looking like an epileptic rabbit. It was the way LeeLoo shot Yoda incredibly dirty looks whenever he would stick his nose in her ear, which he did every five minutes or so, with loud and long snorting sounds. It was the way Yoda consistently poops in a perfect circle, looking over his shoulder to make sure he’s doing the job right.

It was ridiculous. It was stupid. It was perfect. The best kind of medicine for a weary and grey psyche. Double-dog therapy. I should do it more often.

-Lo, who knows she’s a total dog freak and refuses to be embarrassed about it.

“Like Christians at a suicide”

Mood: sort of Antichrist Superstar
Drinking: imaginary Absinthe

London Bridge

There were 19 in one year
who succeeded in falling

It took some doing.

Because first they had to get there.
Had to find a spot in the lot.
Had to ride the bus.
Had to pay the fare.
It’s not like you just happen to end up
at the bridge on your way to the store.
You have to mean to be there.
You have to make a plan.
You have to navigate tourist traffic.
You have to walk out there on the span
and stare at Alcatraz. Watch the perfect little sailboats
bounce from wave to wave. Wait for wisps of fog
to float on by so you can get a good shot at the orange-red tower.

The experience is the main attraction.

You have to wonder if it was the first time for most
or had they done it all before? Did the urge to take a leap
just hit them in mid-stride or did they leave a note
before they left it all behind?

I want to know how hard it is to climb over the rail.

Does anyone ask you what you think you’re doing or
do they think it’s the perfect photo opp?
Do you take your time and make a scene
or do you rush into it, madly, like lovers at arrivals
with no eyes for anyone else.

At least you were somewhere really beautiful when you died.
You went out better than Marilyn.
Better than Elvis.
Falling down
beneath the blue-green waves
has got to be better than going out
with a bang. With a slice. With a swallow.
Hell, you don’t even have to string the rope,
tape the hose, close the door.
You just let go.

Maybe I’m giving you too much credit.
Maybe you’re just lazy.
Maybe it was all a misunderstanding.
An unfortunate accident somehow misconstrued as fate.
Maybe I make it all mean far too much.

After all, I’m the one standing safe
on the edge.
And you are the one falling down.

-Lo, who thinks that greeny absinthe color is really quite beautiful.

The Irony and the Agony

Mood: Itchy & Scratchy
Drinking: Sugarey Tea

If I had known that I would be wasting so much of my week sitting in waiting rooms in medical facilities yet again, I probably would not have so blithely posted my little ditty about how much waiting rooms suck. It’s cosmic payback. Such a bitch. Here I was all healthy and cocky, thinking my waiting room days were behind me. Silly, foolish little girl.

I shan’t bore you with the miniscule details of my five days of scratchy suffering. The nutshell version is that I woke up one day last week with only one eye. The other eye was still there, but completely useless and swollen shut. I looked like I had been hanging out with Brad Pitt in Fight Club, all testoterone posturing and yelling shit like, “I want you to hit me as hard as you can!” And then Edward Norton took a big swing and popped me right in the eye and tadaaaa…big swollen yuckiness, kinda like Jared Leto after he got his angelface beaten to purple smithereens.

Sadly, there was no Brad, no Edward, no Jordan Catalano and no masochistic punching going on. Just me, my dog and some poison oak. (Of course, it took four days and three different doctors before someone in the medical profession could narrow it down to the vile plant. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. Bitter, bittter, mutter, mutter.)

The first doctor (in urgent care, you should never go there), he looked at my punchbag eye and did a lot of “hmmming” and then said, none too confidently, “Yes, you seem to be having a severe allergic reaction.” Didn’t matter that I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life. Nope. Sudden and violent onset of inexplicable adult allergies, that was his diagnosis. So he writes me out a little white pharmacy slip and sends me on my way with the comforting words, “Don’t worry. This is as bad as it’s going to get.”

Uh-huh. WRONG!

The next day I magically developed even more red itchy bubbles, all over my face and neck. Looked like the miniature pimple monster sat down and shat all over me. The only improvement was that I could see out of my right eye once again. I started wearing a baseball cap. And girls, I don’t do baseball caps.

The next day I went back to urgent care (even though I already said you should never, ever go there). New doctor, new diagnosis…sort of. She made me get buck naked so she could see all the new itchy spots and did an uncomfortable amount of, “Hmmmmm. Huh. Hmmmmm. Shingles? No. Hmmmm. Herpes? No. Hmmmmmm. Yeah, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. It is a bummer, though, since it’s all over your face.”

And I was left clutching my little hospital gown, stammering, “Uh. Did you say herpes? Because, are you crazy? People don’t get herpes all up on their eyebrows! You’re fired!”

Finally, Doctor #3 (Name: Pan of Potatoes or Pan of Tacos or something having to do with a pan) takes a look at me for about .3 seconds and says “Have you been hiking lately?”
Me: “Um. I took my dog to the beach?”
Panoftacos: “aHA! POISON OAK! Your dog gave it to you.”
Me: “No more Scooby Snacks for that little bitch!!!”

That was a fat nutshell of a story, but believe me, there’s a much longer version I’m keeping to myself. And boring my family to death with. (It involves me repeating the words, “No, really, I look like a friggin’ pufferfish!” over and over and…) But yeah. Moral of the posting: Don’t get all big headed and thinking you’re funny posting about how waiting rooms are evil because those waiting rooms will get you. Every. Single. Time. They’re all out there. Just waiting.

And before you know it, as much as you try to avoid it, you’ll be sitting in an uncomfortable chair, trying to hide your swollen puffy eye with big Jackie-Os, pretending to read a 2-month old People cover story about how Julia Roberts named one of her poor kids Phinneas and watching 1, 2, 3 hours of your life slide away into oblivion while a fat woman in the chair next to you farts on the vinyl and pretends she was just scooting around.


Waiting Rooms: 3
Lo: 0

-Lo, who’s all hopped up on steroids now and just waiting for the irrational rage and excessive bloating to kick in.