Friday, February 24, 2006

Stories I Want to Tell

Peter all in blue
flies from Mr. McGregor
drops one shoe
in cabbage
in potatoes.

My hero
outwits this farmer
every garden turn.
Forfeits jacket
before slipping
under gate.

In my story
Peter finds me
outside with a pink suitcase.

But don’t mistake us
no Alice and Mad Hatter
no Grace and White Rabbit.

We are Chella and Peter
in a wood at dusk
far from family noise.

He tells me his grandfather
sacrificed his own tail
to save Otter.

I want to confess
my father shoots otter
bruises me
when mother’s not home.

I want to say
some pain is worse
than dying.

Peter holds my hand
under the harvest moon
stars floating downstream.

Chella Courington
Published in _Phantasmagoria_(volume 5, number 2)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bush on Top

Bush is on top, and the grammar cops are out. No health care for the poor, no drug care for the elderly, no choice to the ladies. But sure as hell no comma splices, no run-on sentences. And fragments! Crucify Faulkner. Heaven forbid. Grammar matters. How else can we distinguish rote learners who believe in arbitrary standards from everybody else? Too many funny tongues out there not to detain them in rules. People speak Spanish and Arabic and German and Slavic. Grammar matters. Just look at those Appalachian folk, nestled in woods where banjos still duel. They speak the King’s English. All those double negatives of Shakespeare never went out of fashion. They maintained the standard. They don’t know no different. Hooray for Shakespeare! Give me my own tongue. 2006. Grammar books on The New York Times best-seller list. Check out the authors. Any of these books by persons of color? Who’s clamoring for the maintenance of the old guard? It just rubs me the wrong way when folks start bandying about rules of grammar. Sure (ly). Business letters need to be as clean of grammatical unconvention as possible. They’re directed to one of the most conservative elements in the United States of American: Business. An industry that works in cliché: judges everything by the cover. Not to sound like an anarchist but grammar is not organic: grammar is made by usage. So what if your English grandmother said “Give the cup to John and me” and you say “give it to John and I.” But like much in this predictable life, an emphasis on grammar in 2006 is not surprising. Grammar cops work in cahoots with Homeland Security.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Writing in the Dirt

Daddy still doesn’t know me after forty years.
Thinks I ought to praise Jesus and live five miles away.
He reads a poem I wrote about a penis.

Throws his arm high like Moses with a staff.
Stomps out the back door
mumbling in his wake.

Later I hear him tell mama
"That girl of yours writes in the dirt."

I turn my face to the wall.
Cracks of plaster deepen
every time the house settles.

Red clay shifts to quicksand
swallows me whole.

My poem floats beyond the live oak.

This poem by Chella Courington was published in the recent issue of _In the Grove_.