How Lightning Strikes

How Lightning Strikes
Mary Ann McFadden

When hail beats down the ripening wheat
as it sometimes does, where can we turn our despair
except on those we love? When we’ve kicked the cats
and split hairs, and spat at our aging faces int he mirror,

what have we done? The weather isn’t fair.

It’s also true that we don’t deserve summer.
Here summer comes, ready or not, and though we may hate
loving it, this pup the size of a grizzly bear that romps on us
and licks our necks, there’s no escape,

nothing to pay for the pleasure.

We stand here looking out to mountain peaks
in air so clear our eyes ache, considering how a hunk of chalk
scrapes against the slate, and how the days remark,
how nothing stays the same, there’s nothing we can keep

and how lightning strikes, and isn’t a punishment.

Philadelphia Cunt (revised)

Philadelphia Cunt
(1.3)

Andorra Cunt
Bridesburg Cunt
Bush Hill Cunt
Brewerytown Cunt
Fishtown Cunt
Nicetown Cunt
Callowhill Cunt
Crefeld Cunt
Cobbs Creek Cunt
Cresheim Cunt

Center City Cunt
Logan Circle Cunt
Old City Cunt
Tourist Cunt:
Liberty Bell Cunt
Franklin Court Cunt
Ducks Tour Cunt
Rocky Statue Cunt
Love Statue Cunt
Independence Mall Cunt
Nation’s Oldest Zoo Cunt
Big Rusty Clothespin Cunt

Chestnut Cunt
Walnut Cunt
Spruce Cunt
Pine Cunt
Market Cunt
Cherry Cunt
Arch Cunt
Vine Cunt

Broad Street Cunt
South Philly Cunt
North Philly Cunt
West Philly Cunt
Northwest Cunt
Northeast Cunt

Mainline Cunt:
Bala Cynwyd Cunt
Bryn Mawr Cunt
Gladwyn Cunt
Ardmore Cunt
Haverford Cunt
Baldwin Prep Cunt
Rosemont Cunt
St. Joseph’s Cunt

Conshohocken Cunt
Connawingo Cunt
King of Prussia Cunt
Manayunk Cunt
Moyamensing Cunt
Passyunk Cunt
Pennypack Cunt
Poetguessing Cunt
Schuykill Cunt
(Sure-kill Cunt)
Tulpehoken Cunt
Wissahickon Cunt
Wissinoming Cunt

Kensington Cunt
Mechanicsville Cunt
Ninth & Lehigh Cunt
Ogontz Cunt
Oxford Circle Cunt
Powelton Village Cunt
Queen Village Cunt
Rittenhouse Cunt
Saint Martin’s Cunt
Spring Garden Cunt
Spruce Hill Cunt
Squirrel Hill Cunt
Strawberry Mansion Cunt
Tacony Palmyra Cunt
University City Cunt

Cornerstore Cunt
Diner Cunt
Traffic Circle Cunt
Dogleg Cunt
Mummer Cunt
Philadelphia Lawyer Cunt
Christ Church Cunt
AFSC Cunt
Painted Bride Cunt
Italian Market Cunt
Reading Terminal Cunt
Flower Show Cunt
Kimmel Center Cunt
National Constitution Center Cunt
Please Touch Museum Cunt
City of Brotherly Love Cunt

Amish Cunt
Catholic Cunt
Jewish Cunt
Quaker Cunt
Main Line Presbyterian Cunt

Cheese Steak Cunt:
Chubby’s Cunt
D’Alessandro’s Cunt
Pat’s Cunt
Geno’s Cunt
Jim’s Cunt
Cheez Whiz Cunt
Scrapple Cunt
Hoagie Cunt
Water Ice Cunt
Soft Pretzel Cunt
Naked Chocolate Cunt
Black Cherry Wishniak Cunt
Tastykake Cunt
Butterscotch Krimpet Cunt
Pignoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt

My Horse Body (version2)

My Horse Body
version 1 draft 2

My ears, soft, tall, all movement
and knowledge,
grew in first. I felt them
swiveling on my head,
attuned to sounds in all directions,
shuddering if a fly landed.

Then my tail—long, black, hairs of thin
steel cable. Then my mane, and with my mane
my muscled horse neck.

A few months after, eating
my Cheerios oats, my muzzle
appeared, causing me to lower my head
into my cereal box feed bag.
My mom could not fathom
an equine daughter,
could know me only
as an untamed thing.

Soon my horse eyes opened,
my new peripheral vision
giving me access to boundaries
my world wished to be blindered.

My horse body flailed, all awkward foal,
then gangly filly slowly
filling out to glistening chestnut mare.
I would have been a three-year-old,
primed for the Derby, when I was 12,
but it was 1975.
Ruffian was dead.
I gave up racing,
more crippled by my grief
than she had been by her courage.

My horse legs came back, muscle
and tendon, at 16, when I bought
my Trek. The bike was a horse,
I was a horse, two horses racing,
a pair of horses, harnessed
by toe clips.

I gave up the bike
for a boyfriend who needed
my constant attention,
and my horse body
grew wane, grew specter—
even the memory
of its mass, of my power
faded as shadowed as the Polaroid
of me at seven on a pony
for the first time.

What does strength do
if we forget we had it?
Where does desire live
when the body is boarded up?

How is the snow queen vanquished,
so water, the blood of the land,
runs again and sun warms muscles
back to movement?

A single gesture
can be enough. My lover’s hand,
held flat, finger first across my lips
then shoved hard into my mouth,
pulling my lips tightly back,
my tongue down—a bit,
of warm flesh, but still I tasted
cold iron and was again horse,
shaken by the speed
of the metamorphosis
by the ease of settling in
again to my four-legged body.

And now I’ve dyed
my gray hair bright chestnut.
When I feel skittish
I head-bump her, nip
her neck affectionately
with strong horse teeth.
When I feel hungry
to run, she mounts me
bare-back and we ride,
two women together,
a horse and a human, harnessed
by desire.

We ride until I am lathered
and winded, until she
leads me home
and rubs me down
and covers me with a blanket
woven with her initials
and I doze, standing,
until I am ready to consent
to again be human.

When I was a Boy

As I’ve been thinking about imaginary bodies my mind has wandered to the Dar Williams song “When I was a Boy.” on her album The Honesty Room. Certainly one of my imaginary bodies as a child was a boy—not so much in terms of sex as of gender privilege. I wanted what boys had, all that freedom and independence and roughness that was praised and not scolded.

When I was a Boy
music and lyrics by Dar Williams

I won’t forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy; I’m glad he didn’t check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other’s lives out on the pirate’s deck.

And I remember that night
When I’m leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it’s not safe,
someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don’t know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.

And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, “Get your shirt,”
I said “No way, it’s the last time I’m not breaking any law.”

And now I’m in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that’s tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can’t help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they’ve got implants to put in,
they’ve got implants to remove

But I am not forgetting…that I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep, it’s a secret I can keep
Except when I’m tired, ‘cept when I’m being caught off guard
And I’ve had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.

And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you”

My Horse Body

another early draft of a poem that’s growing out of the “Fatty Girls, Imaginary Cocks, and Vaginas Like Bookstores” workshop at Split This Rock. If you weren’t one of those horse-loving kids in the mid-70’s, you can learn more about Ruffian here.

My Horse Body
1.1

My ears, soft, tall, all movement
and knowledge
grew in first. I felt them
swiveling on my head,
attuned to sounds in all directions,
shuddering if a fly landed.

Then my tail—long, black, hairs like thin
steel cables. Then mane, and with my mane
my muscled horse neck.

A few months after, eating oats
in the form of Cheerios,
my muzzle appeared, causing me
to lower my mouth into the cereal box
feed bag. My mom could not imagine
a horse body so knew me only
as an untamed thing.

Soon my horse eyes opened
and my peripheral vision
was from that morning vast.

My body then was all awkward foal
then gangly filly slowly filling out
to glistening chestnut mare.
I would have been a three-year-old,
primed for the Derby, when I was 12,
but it was 1975.
Ruffian was dead.
I gave up racing,
more crippled by my grief
than she had been by her courage.

My horse legs came back, muscle
and tendon, at 16, when I bought
my Trek. The bike was a horse,
I was a horse, two horses racing,
a pair of horses, harnessed
by toe clips.

My horse body has always held
my strength. My horse body held
my secrets. My horse body kicked
and fought when cougars threatened,
when safe, my horse body munched apples
and rolled in the grass in the sun.

This winter I dyed my gray hair chestnut.
I’ve resumed head-butting and affectionate
neck-nipping with my big horse teeth.
If you dare, offer me a carrot, sweet hay,
oats, a bare-backed ride, hard and fast
and long and sweaty. Offer—if you think
you can handle a horse.

Honey

Honey
Connie Wanek
On Speaking Terms © Copper Canyon Press, 2010.

Luxury itself, thick as a Persian carpet,
honey fills the jar
with the concentrated sweetness
of countless thefts,
the blossoms bereft, the hive destitute.

Though my debts are heavy
honey would pay them all.
Honey heals, honey mends.
A spoon takes more than it can hold
without reproach. A knife plunges deep,
but does no injury.

Honey moves with intense deliberation.
Between one drop and the next
forty lean years pass in a distant desert.
What one generation labored for
another receives,
and yet another gives thanks.

Pick a Peck of Peaches

Picking Peaches By the Peck
version 1 draft 3

I love peaches by the peck
I’ve picked pecks of peaches

Summers past in summer’s pastures
pecks of peaches I have picked

But now, my dear, I pull not pick
hand-selected pecks of peaches

pull my peaches out of you
pecks of perfect peaches

each peach crowning, fuzzy-head
pecks of peach perfection

from between your legs wide-spread
that have carried pecks of peaches

You labor, labor, pant and moan
we’ve been expecting peaches

birthing peach, then birthing more
pecks of peachly procreation

I pluck each peach and dry its down
another among our perfect peaches

the last one birthed I offer to
my Queen of Peach Proliferation

to bite and suck and eat all up
rolling in our pecks of peaches

peach juice splashed on thigh and chin
we’ve devoured pecks of peaches

I’ve picked peaches and I’ve picked you
and we’ll pick pecks of peaches

abuzz with love we’ll propagate
pecks of plumping perfect peaches

pre-poem research – The Bushel

All writers do research. Always. Sometimes it is called “daydreaming,” but it is still research.

Sometimes it is browsing, a word adopted by websters and heightened by the invention of google and wikipedia into an art form.

Today I need to know about pecks and bushels. How much is a peck? How much peck could a woodpecker peck? Here’s what I found out, which will now live somewhere in the dusty second-hand store I call a brain until I can spout it at an opportune but usually unimportant moment.

The Bushel

Bushels are now most often used as units of mass or weight rather than of volume. The bushels in which grains are bought and sold on commodity markets or at local grain elevators, and for reports of grain production, are all units of weight. This is done by assigning a standard weight to each commodity that is to be measured in bushels. These bushels depend on the commodities being measured and the moisture content. Some of the more common ones are:

* Oats
o USA: 32 lb = 14.5150 kg
o Canada: 34 lb = 15.4221 kg
* Barley: 48 lb = 21.7724 kg
* Malted barley: 34 lb = 15.4221 kg
* Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb = 25.4012 kg
* Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight and soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb = 27.2155 kg

Other specific values are defined (and those definitions may vary within different jurisdictions, including from state to state in the United States) for other grains, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, coal, hair [seriously? hair?], and many other commodities.

Government policy in the United States is to phase out units such as the bushel and replace them with the metric system as used for all purposes in the rest of the world, and for all scientific and technical purposes world wide. It is therefore important to know how the bushel relates to the metric equivalent, and whether the bushels are used as units of mass or units of volume.

The name “bushel” has also been used to translate non-US units of a similar size and sometimes shared origin, like the German “Scheffel”.

Philadelphia Cunt

I was at a writing workshop yesterday called “Fatty Girls, Imaginary Cocks, and Vaginas Like Bookstores” at the Split This Rock poetry festival. I think I’ll have several new poems coming out of their writing prompts. Here’s the first, as I wrote it in the workshop, all associate, sound-based flow of ideas. Look for rewrites soon. And—Yo, Philly friends—if I’m missing something significant, let me know!

Philadelphia Cunt

Conshohocken Cunt
Connawingo Cunt
Schuykill Cunt
Sure-kill Cunt
Cynwyd Cunt
Bryn Mawr Cunt
Tulpehoken Cunt
McCallum Cunt
Mount Airy Cunt
Chestnut Hill Cunt
Chestnut Cunt
Walnut Cunt
Spruce Cunt
Pine Cunt
Market Cunt
Cherry Cunt
Arch Cunt
Vine Cunt
Broad Cunt
Catherine Cunt
Delaware Cunt
Columbus Cunt
Cornerstore Cunt
Chubby’s Cunt
Cheese Steak Cunt
Scrapple Cunt
Hoagie Cunt
Water Ice Cunt
Pignoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt

But he could not stretch her spey, her spey, he could not stretch her spey

A slightly late International Women’s Day post – lest we forget that we are never the first generation of women to resist, to make our resistance public, and to celebrate it. This has been recorded by many of my favorite singers – Alix Dobkin, Peggy Seeger, and Karan Casey, whose version you can hear here.

Now go resist! And then sing about it!

Eppie Morrie

(Trad Arr. Karan Casey/John Doyle)

Four-and-twenty Highland men
Came from the Carron side
To steal away Eppie Morrie
Cause she wouldn’t be a bride, a bride
She wouldn’t be a bride

Then out it’s came her mother then
It was a moonlit night
She couldn’t see her daughter
For the moon it shone so bright, so bright
The moon it shone so bright

They’ve taken Eppie Morrie
And a horse they’ve bound her on
And they’re away to Carron side
As fast as horse could gang, could gang
As fast as horse could gang

And Willie’s taken his pistol out
And put it to the minister’s breast
O marry me, marry me, minister
Or else I’ll be your priest, your priest
Or else I’ll be your priest

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me

Then mass was sung and bells were rung
And they’re away to bed
And Willie and Eppie Morrie
In one bed they were laid, were laid
In one bed they were laid

He’s taken the shirt from off his back
And kicked away his shoes
And thrown away the chamber key
And naked he lay down, lay down
And naked he lay down

He’s kissed her on the lily breast
And held her shoulders twa
But aye she gat and aye she spat
And turned to the wa’, the wa’
And turned to the wa’

They wrestled there all through the night
Before the break of day
But aye she gat and aye she spat
But he could not stretch her spey,
He could not stretch her spey

Haud away from me, Willie,
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me

Then early in the morning
Before the light of day
In came the maid of Scallater
In gown and shirt alone, alone
In a gown and shirt alone

Get up, get up, young woman
And take a drink with me
You might have called me maiden
For I’m as whole as thee, as thee
For I’m as whole as thee.

Then in there came young Breadalbane
With a pistol on his side
O, come away, Eppie Morrie
And I’ll make you my bride, my bride
And l’ll make you my bride

Go get to me a horse, Willie
Get it like a man
And send me back to my mother
A maiden as I came, I came
A maiden as I came

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be with me

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me