A note about the stories: right from the beginning of the project  it was decided that the stories would be no more than a couple of paragraphs long. We originally wanted them to fit on the back of a postcard. There are many stories all this length. We will keep putting them up.

The cell was small, the skirt was wide
What’s under there? her cell mates cried
A cloven hoof?  A hairy leg?
Or treasure trove To make men beg?
They saw her enigmatic smile
The spark that fired her wondering eye
And when she set to twirling
They saw time flying by
No pleas could stall her passing
No tears put out her flame
When only smoke and ash remained
(and shame no one would claim)
They could not tell her story
Having never asked her name

She slides into one of those invalid-blue discomfort chairs
under ‘Gate 21’ where her future lay refueling
a tiny brown paper lunch-bag perched in her diminutive lap
I admire the distinctiveness with which she slips from this unlikely sack
a half dozen oysters artfully arranged on seaweed and how
with the gusto of a gossip savoring overheard conversations
she slurps them into mollusk oblivion

I pinch my inner arm
She presses her tongue along the corners of her mouth
and her skirts apparently without her assistance
appear to rise and crowd her thighs
Certain that I am deceived by a trick of terminal light
I stare as from the worn and torn receptacle housing the gutted bivalves
a platter of tossed greens emerges
coated with crumbled chèvre and
a tasteful sprinkling of fresh raspberries

I determine I am witnessing the impossible
She pulls out a seven inch tower of Mocha Fantasy
when her flight is called nibbling off a small chunk
with unconcealed regret she replaces her fantastic post-repast indulgence
into its chimeric culinary bindle
and as she takes her place in the slow moving line
a gust of air conditioned fate holds her self-determined skirts poised
like a hula-hoop about her rolling derrière

Now her plane is not my plane so I do not try to follow
my feet firmly planted on the ground later I will be sure
so sure that I have been privy to some mystery
that I will begin buying tickets cheap ones, at first, to nearby locations
just to roam the terminal hoping she will reappear
later still I will begin to fly farther and farther spending
more and more time in terminals around the globe
when I find her again I won’t hesitate
I’ll follow find a way to lay my head
in her magnanimous skirts and perhaps
never return

She Who Walks the Desert Alone has that circling the drain look in her eye, having stayed alive too long in a place that chews up the best, and the look puts people on edge.  That along with the bony appendages draping like lucre across the heavy fabric of her voluminous skirts probably account for the rumors. Like the one about the demon, who lives between her legs and pleasures her whenever she wants.  You can see its tail, they say, trailing behind her.  I know better – that’s no tail but a crowbar she hauls to catch the sand storm static that drives men to their knees with head pain.  Another local legend has it that once, when a few stragglers tried to ambush her, ghosts flew from unseen seams in the many pleats that enfold her to finish them off.  Every now and again a piece of one of those sorry fools turns up.  ’Course a demon and ghosts are easier to believe in than a woman who’s smarter than you and carries a knife she knows how to use.  My own personal theory is that it’s her freedom she guards so carefully.  That’s a place few can envision and none care to go.

it was a dark and stormy you-know
and I was
looking to reconstruct
the pride in my adolescent swing, hips that nestled
my butterfly perched on orange blossoms
stretched out over a construct of
rose thorn, restless doves, froth of the sea
hoping  for a drape of mirror’s sand to sway
over my trembling wrinkled silk, my shaking mane
to take in
all the best men I have known
when at my window…
a disquieting turbulence:
the silencing wind over a falcon’s shadow
skinny arrested moans, ravening eyes
transforming my blossoms
into a bread box bursting to be brunched

guided by some unseen hand
like a dervish whirling, my skirts fly
my fists wrestling rippling hems
to hold him steady beneath the pulse
of my butterfly’s wing
while little rain women cry
and crumble the blood between the brick
making slick the surface
and sure the tumble

looking out wondering
what accident of nature worried my scaffold
sulfur burns at my nostrils and blue smoke rises
to obscure the pattern melting
into my freshly  landscaped lawn

Two drawing variations for the story Voyeur

My Aunt Dot told stories
stories from before the womb of time awakened
stories of when the dream of life wound itself beneath skirts
and excited imaginations
she whispered in my ear
that there were flowers in the belly of the Wolf
and that woodcutters were notoriously unreliable
My Aunt Dot traveled
and brought back mysterious things:
astrolabes, priapic goats, books filled with strange symbols and bizarre creatures, polished magical rocks, crystal balls, Tarot decks and the
latest fashions
She was glamorous
her hair steely and short
she wore long black gloves with rings over top, spike heels, stockings with                      embroidered snakes twining in and out of black seams,
hats with smoky veils and red red lipstick
she smoked rainbow Sobranies, drank Scotch, listened to Jazz and
remained single till the day she died
Women came from all over the world to pay their respects
they all knew my name
cradled my face in their hands
laughed those sniffing-back-grief kind of laughs
when they hugged me
as Dot’s ebony urn was placed upon its alter
dozens of black skirts lifted
and a triumphant ululation
encouraged her on to what wild dreams
the blind tiger at the edge of the world has to offer

My Aunt Dot understood
the scent of hyacinths
the nature of love and grief
the triumph of ecstasy

you want to know more about it?
she would say:
go ahead
lift your own skirt

Dot wrote a book called 1001 Funny Things You Can Do With A Skirt.  She gave me a copy for Christmas but my mother burned it before I was able to bend open the cover, angrily muttering something to Dot while I, all teary eyed and enraged, watched it crackle in the fireplace.   Later, Dot told me it was best to be grateful for the things I had, ice cream, music, a hand in my hand, the love that I had and the love I would know, but most importantly my sense of humor because it was hard to survive without one.

When I went off to college she sent me her book, CDs of the Jerusalem Quartet playing Shostakovitch, and a note that said, “Isn’t life fantastic?”   I listened to the music, read the book and went out to buy a few skirts.

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