from the Poetry Cycle The War on Wonder Woman


A melancholy memory of mad Maggie. People thought she was crazy.

Born mad, Maggie looked out from infinite inward spaces,

mind unfolded into an unseen origami  

of wide leaping wings.

Her gorgeous mad eyes were that bird’s laughing wings!

  Her nubile red raspberry lips pursed to kiss

  the wonders of our blue sky world

  as they pass like Eden-tame beasts

  before her naked baby wriggling.

  Born with Venus at her Mid-Heaven

  Maggie burst out with a shout,

  naked as the round rocks one sees under fast springs

  in rain forests

  where huge painted spiders,

  (each with the face of a robotic Arachnid),

  spin webs of black-widow tinsel

  across boa-draped limbs whose warp and woof

     cast shadows that paint the inside of her eye-lids

     with prehistoric chameleon miniatures,

          monster butterfly monsters,

               and birds of living origami all together

                as appliqué onto a Toltec tapestry

  of an Amazon deep

  back county home to many of the herbs used by Maggie's Mom

  for m'lady's fevers, chills,

                         and make-baby pills.      


Yes, Maggie's mom was a witch as well as a whore.

And Maggie's "uncles" at the Barber's all swore

"She's making menstrual tea back at her double-wide

to paint curses on cat-skins" and "she may be white, Mike,

but she was born in the Delta where all colors flow

like tributaries into

     two centuries of more

of White Trash and Creole alike."


"Both those girls bleed Mumbo-Jumbo Gumbo, you know!"

Maybe and Maybe and Maybe, and yes Momma Maggie would be

open for business, an inflatable rubber pool, empty,

set out on the driveway as daycare for her baby.

And so

Maggie grew up in the driveway with her eyes on the street.

          "Poor folks have poor ways!", or so the Christians say.

But I think it's sad.

  Maggie was born to make men mad,

  make men paint dream scenes,

  write long poems and fall down drunk to sleep.

  Maggie stepped out

  of a school-boy's dream, or an old goat's reverie

  or a lecher's wildest scenario,

  all bare skin and infinite deep.

  Women stop talking when


  Maggie crosses the street

     like a deer a glade full of whispering rays.

  Women turn from gaggles of gossiping geese

  to mean eyed mommas

  with no kind word to say, eye-fucking Maggie.

  Christian Charity? Excuse me? No way!

  Maggie was as careless and changeable as a cloud           

  on a blustery day

  dark at dawn, sunny and sending down showers in turns,

     until Night comes like a black beauty to carry her away.

  “Maggie is crazy”

  one voice says.

  “Maggie had a baby”

  another voice says.

  I say those who have lain with Maggie

  are changed from that day. They do all the same things

  in all the same ways,

  but their hearts and brains have been carried away.


  Maggie was a painter. She painted in oils.

  Her art was full of tumult and wild magnetic fields

  that leapt from her palette to wrestle

  like wild women in the weeds

  driven by the thunder-claps

  of a lightening wracked storm.

  She was arrested, ranting, clothes torn,

  breasts embarrassing the officers,

  her bewildered tears delighting

  the mob.

  Now everybody purses their lips.

  Now everybody nods.

  Maggie was put someplace.

  Mad Maggie is gone.

     LAEL / 1973


You are a mouse-faced monkey,


as only

a girl of 14 can be.

Eyes wide as a kitten’s

at five weeks, whiskers

drinking the vibes off of everything,

arms wrapping legs

folded so as to make your knees

fit to your chin.

Like a lily in a vase

set on that stool

nibbling a piece of toast,

mirth in your pursed lips.

Your eyes are eyes that know

that someday they will Know

all the things that

Grownups carry on their backs

and stuff in their pockets

as they put on their coats

to go.


Lael comes with the other girls

to sit round the table like

cute stone gargoyles posted

on the lintels of

a gothic inner court, each cat mask

a door to some inward deep.

Roxanne paints her toe-nails.

then slips out to pee.

Kathy peers at her reflection

in a spoon. Lael

sips tea, face bathed in steam.

Kerry scowls at me,

then goes back to sleep.

Lael and Keri and Kathy are teens,

legs folded like folding knives,

knees under their chins,

bare feet tucked under their butts

on their chairs as they speak

in snippets, (as if each

were clipping adverts out of a newspaper

to design an expedition to the Mall

as complex as one would take to The Pole),

placing a piece of toast at the end

of a butter-knife with jam.

They eye it with suspicion - then put it in.

Silence at breakfast is not the daily thing.

Today is late in the Day of the Year

and I have rented a room in their house

long enough to hold no Mystery.

Their momma trusts me. I help make ends meet,

and I don’t make noises

from either end, (it would make them angry).

So, this is as close as we are likely to get

to World Peace.

I go to the door

and know Lael is watching me.

I would give the World to see

   the Man and the World

       That Lael sees.


The beltway like a cyclotron

degaussed her moral compass

and within, the worlds in collision

beat her lambskin

into an Empress Wu

of porcelain perfection

and clockwork calculation.

She could have gone to Boston

and edited trade paperback editions

of Newbury and Pulitzer Prize winners

- glib and semi-shaven.

She could have gone to Los Angeles

and scripted PBS documentaries

detailing Inuit teenage drug-use or Brazilian

super-slums. But no.

She, being the over-achieving best-of-breed

daughter of one of the Sons of Men given

to Military Careers, born in

the Seventh Generation and the First Female

of them,

she chose the Army and Intelligence.

It was her decision

to disappear into the Nameless

of an Acronym

and learn Arabic and Chinese

and the Kung Fu of passing through

the firestorms of Politics in Washington

like a neutrino through the sun.

She is impeccably invisible.

She is zero divided by one.

You looked right at her. So.

What was the color of her hair?


She was the color of empty air.


I wrote this to a Turkish-banjo raga written by the gee-tar man Michael Brennan

Mary was a crazy child

dancing from her dead momma's womb

by the time her daddy hung for his sins.

Mary danced her way to madness

and never came back to take refuge

with Jesus or surviving kin.

We just had to let that wild girl go.

She's up on the mountain now.

She's wearing rags and talking nonsense

about the Blue Black Lady Goddess of Death

that danced across the deadly ocean

just to make our poor lost dancing Mary

her daughter.

Now she's up there and talking crazy.

Now she calls herself Kali

Now she's up there

dancing all alone!

(the sung verses)

Kali is a Mountain girl

lightening cracks

when her fingers snap 'n

storm clouds follow where're she goes!

dancing on the break neck pass

where hailstones clap

where black birds crow

Kali is a mountain girl

her bare feet stepping high

her hips swinging like a bow

the stand up bass

her belly roll!

boys step back - don't come closer

though her sweat is salty sugar

she who dances naked with a cleaver

is the one who taught her all she knows!

Kali is a Mountain Girl.

And she who dances naked with a cleaver

is the one who taught her

all she knows!

[repeat these verses in different orders

until folks wax weary of dancing]

Thanks to MB for the music with which I waxed GREEN!


A straw bonnet, yellow as grain, so plain

it's an Easter bonnet for a Puritan just

come in from a Garden

  with blackberry thorns like teeth

  able to bite like a dog on the end of its chain,

  able to bite through gloves worn by a workman

    teaching an electric meter-reader a mean dog lesson.

Sleek as a seal, she sets the gloves down

one on another,

like hands in prayer.

And with cowry shell blue eyes  

looks right back at the world.

She is solid as a well made wall.

She goes back and returns

to sit with a tall lemonade

with sweat on the glass. Salt sweat

pleating blonde commas across her brow.

She goes up in the house

humming a song I cannot follow.

     There is a moon on a rock,

     a rock in the sea,

     a boat with the body

     of a small Valkyrie.

     Choir of Clouds.

     Bird song on the breeze.

     Her lieder is done.

     Come Winter to me.


I take issue with that thing people say

about Silvia

"Genius lives next door to madness"

as if a girl could fly

over the sun

grab some apples

and land again without singeing her dress

as if her Lucifer was but the lucky sister

of Icarus

not the Belle of the Ball held in

a Sheol of groans and sadness

as if incest, cigarettes and drunkenness

were fashion statements like

the length of milady's dress

as if endangering your babies

and turning on the gas

were a matter of Movie Star

popularity or Opera tears and

audience forgiveness.

I think it is a car accident and Cancer

this Crazy business

and no teen full of dreams

ought ever seek to lay

beside her on the bedspread.

And I for one am tired of all this

precious chatter and taking Selfies

by the throbbing Rock of Gibraltar

and the toenail on her bed.

For She is not famous in her own mind.

She is Dead.



before my shop counter

a credit-card proffered

- someone's Platonic Form

of a daughter,

milky lilty voice her

curtsy tilt

of doll face

and down cast eyes

with her

"thank you sir" -

something off kilter

I looked up for real at her...

her ash and perfect

ironed hair she was all

porcelain doll and a silence in motion


since that mean old Queen

ruled a British Empire

and hovered over her Throne

like a dirigible


over a field of bones.

a Girl Scout of some

high Masonic Degree

she wore a tartan skirt

strictly to a perfect knee

and a chestnut vest

covered with every

complex patch

and bronze award

ever awarded in Girl Scout history!

every measured inch

a perfect Lady

in miniature -


and groomed to

some Bonsai Garden level

of paranoid order

and her smiling

smiling smiling

so frightened me. you see

her eyes were of some wretch

clinging to the bars

of a caged window

in an institution

of incurable insanity.

never free never free never

free please have mercy

please please please

free me mister           "no

honey I am so sorry"


your raptor faced momma

in her $2000 power suit

with matching beige everything

is looking at me

like a mouse in the grass, so please

I'll just put this book in a bag for you


( I am so sorry)

"I hear the tour is interesting

Indian lore, stuffed beavers, dioramas

of panthers meeting lions

in the jungle

samples of gems found

in lava

cowry shell necklaces

necklaces of animal bones" - then

they're gone with a raisin eyed

smile from momma

that could turn birthday cake

to stone,

air dead as the ugly calm

before  the cyclone.

there is no god - no sir!

if there were a god

he'd save her.

Note: I worked as museum shop cashier as part of being a Camp Host at Fort Stevens near Astoria Oregon. I was actually shaken by this encounter. The girl was a human doll of perfection, her mother an argument that psychic vampires walk amongst us.  


from the warm equator at her waist

to her perfect row of ten painted toes

her hips and stem like limbs

are laced as if a slave black widow

webbed them

her shaved pudenda a moist pout

- a whisper in your inner ear, her

torso a grecian porcelain

with lacquered breasts

ripe as a girl of sixteen, her

black hair heaped in loops and spills

as effortless as they are


eyes painted by an other bar girl

to suggest that an Egyptian immortality

must surely

lubricate your cock if you

pay to fuck her

it is the terror of a child's eyes being

led by her Mother

into class on the first day of school

that makes me unable

to forget her.


How small in the little ocean

of a thousand rag dressed

men and women

is the girl curled, sucking her thumb

shaken by fevers and chills

on frozen ground, (unseen in plain sight

like a dog knocked to the side of the road),

Hungry ghost faces - skeletons

all of them

looking up at the machine gun towers

as if the corners of the camp

were parents

and they were their children.

Earth is a pox covered woman

and this scene is a little red flower

- one of a thousand. Ten thousand.

No, one thousand times

one hundred and


She holds a crust

like a doll to her cheek

as she sucks her tongue, as she sleeps.

A woman sees this, snatches down

then stumbles off chewing

and is gone.

A man shits, a man shits his pants

as he stands

looking from side to side

as this were a train station

and he had come to collect

a mail order bride.

He finishes his shit

and frowns.

the man with the wheel barrow comes!

the man with the wheel barrow comes!

The man with shit covered feet goes, he goes

afraid, afraid of the wheel barrow.

Eyes open. Eyes closed.

It don't make no matter

to the wheel barrow. No.

Note: this is a small coda on a book many of you wrote a book report on in High School, The Diary of Anne Frank. In October 28th of 1944 this "Jewess" was transferred from a Vernichtungslager "extermination camp", (a place where modern industrial methods were used to create factories designed to exterminate people), called Konzentrationslager Auschwitz to an Aufenthaltslager, "holding camp" called Bergen-Belsen, (a place where it was outstandingly disease and starvation and exposure that killed people), and where Margot Frank and her iconic fifteen year old sister Anne died in early March of 1945, likely of typhus. The camp was 'liberated' one month later. 35,000 people died in the first three months of 1945. Of these 18,168 died in March alone. Remember, Bergen-Belsen was NOT a camp for industrial assassination. This, you might say, was murder by poor hospitality.



      what Gail sees...


When Gail lays on her bed she looks out the window

and sees apple tree branches

and sees apple tree branches

bearing apple tree blossoms

and the apple tree blossoms

wear bees buzzing on them

and the bees buzzing and walking

on apple tree blossoms

sing stories to Gail

looking up at them

for Gail it is Winter

stepping out of late Autumn

a Girl no longer young

on seeing the bees

she smiles blessings upon them

for bees on the blossoms

of apple tree branches

bees falling upon them

branches reaching for Heaven

above an old woman

they fly up to Heaven

for her thoughts and her eyes

are wide open

like these apple tree blossoms.