DOLLHOUSES

Since I don’t seem to be writing poetry these days, and since my forthcoming play seems to be on hold, due to the conditions in NYC, I thought I’d post some photos of the Dollhouses.

Grandpa and Grandma Dollhouse, with the Dogs.

And here is the Cat looking into the icebox.

The Attic is a mess.

Mom and Dad Dollhouse are here for a visit. . .
. . with Girl (and her pet Wombat) and Boy (with his pet Turtle.)

An old poem: Witch Hunt

An Old Poem: Witch Hunt

This was originally done as a performance piece.

Such was the darkness of that day, 
the tortures and lamentations of the afflicted, 
and the power of former precedence, 
that we walked in the clouds, and could not see our way.
The Rev. John Hale


Sarah Good, hanged			Susannah Martin, hanged
Elizabeth Proctor, reprieved	Rebecca Jacobs, acquitted
Martha Corey, hanged		Mary Bradbury, reprieved
Rebecca Nurse, hanged		Alice Parker, hanged
John Proctor, hanged		Ann Pudeator, hanged
Giles Corey, pressed under stones       Martha Carrier, hanged
Bridget Bishop, hanged		        Elizabeth Howe, hanged
Abigail Hobbs, reprieved		Wilmot Reed, hanged
Sarah Wilds, hanged			Ann Foster, reprieved,
Mary Easty, hanged			Mary Lacey Sr., reprieved
George Burroughs, hanged		Margaret Scott, hanged
George Jacobs, Sr., hanged		Abigail Faulkner Sr., reprieved
John Willard, hanged			Rebecca Eames, reprieved
Sarah Buckley, acquitted		Samuel Wardwell, hanged
Mary Witheridge, acquitted		Mary Parker, hanged
Dorcas Hoar, reprieved

Is three hundred years so long ago?

Can you see the village?
Saltworks, warehouse, wharf and fish flakes
cod ketches in from the Newfoundland banks   
trading ships in from Barbados or Surinam
The gabled clapboard houses, steep-roofed
I saw her on the beam suckling her yellow bird betwixt her fingers

small windows to keep out the cold
there is a black man whispering in her ear
board fences to keep the cattle out
meeting house to keep the devil out 
O  yonder is Goodman Proctor & his wife 
& Goody Nurse & Goody  Corey  & Goody Cloise & Goody Child.  
Goodman Proctor is  going to choke me.
church yard to keep the dead inside
gallows built sturdy on Gallows Hill
they both did torture me a great many times 
because I would not yield to their Hellish temptations

Can you hear the village?
Sea wind and tide rumble
Barking dog, brown wren scolding in the eaves
gossip in the gardens, on the streets,
children about their business to and fro	
the learned preacher enlightening his flock
I would advise you to repentance, 
for the devil is bringing you out
Kettles hiss and bubble, spinning wheels tick and whir
I have seen sights & been scared.  I have been very wicked. 
I hope I shall  be better:  if God will keep me.
And in the night dark calls of whippoorwill and owl, cat wail, fox yap
What a dreadful Sight are You!  
An Old Woman, an Old Servant of the Devil!  ‘
Tis an horrible Thing!
moanings of birth and love and death
scream of a rabbit caught.	
What sin hath god found out in me unrepented of 
that he should Lay such an Affliction upon me In my old Age?

Can you smell the village?
stew of rabbit and winter roots
herbs in the dooryards, hanging from the beams
sea scent--salt and drying cod
I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born. 
 I am a Gospell Woman.
Ye are all against me and I cannot help it.
sweat and urine, blood and shit
The LORD doth terrible things amongst us, 
by lengthening the Chain of the Roaring Lion,
in an Extraordinary manner;  
so that the Devil is come down in great wrath.  

Human nature has not changed.
They might lie for ought I know
We are wary creatures crouched in caves.
Outside our civilized circles wild eyes glitter in the night
Were you to serve the Devil ten years?   Tell how many.
voices of the dispossessed murmur under every window
they drum and dance in the dense black desert
praying to their devil, plotting our demise.
There is evil, evil all outside, all around.


Do not you see these children & women are rational 
& sober as their  neighbours when your hands are fastened?

Human nature has not changed.
Being Conscious of My own Innocency 
I Humbly Beg that I may have Liberty to Manifest it to the world
Watch your children fight for space,
watch the traffic, grocery check-out line,
listen to the evening news,
hear your own voice grow shrill.
How comes the Devil so loathe 
to have any Testimony born against you?
They said we were guilty of afflicting them.  
We knowing ourselves altogether innocent of this crime, 
we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, 
and consternated and affrighted even out of our reason.
With all gone wrong, with demons all round,
the fault can not be mine.
I will have, must have
someone else to blame.
God would not suffer so many good men 
to be in such an error about this, 
and you will be hanged if you do not confess.
It is false! the Devil is a liar.  
It is a shameful thing
that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits.

	
Where do you place your fear?
I take God in heaven to be my witness, 
that I know nothing of it, no more than the child unborn
In your heart, your bowels?
Or do you wrap it tight
and bury it like a corpse far away, outside yourself, 
That you were fled from Authority 
is an acknowledgment of guilt 
but yet notwithstanding we require you 
to confess the truth in this matter.
in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor’s soul?
I am going upon the Ladder to be hanged for a Witch, 
but I am innocent.


Can you see the village still?
Boundaries broad, buildings tall,
I am no more a Witch than you are a Wizard, 
and if you take away my Life, God will give you Blood to drink
all the traffic sound and stench
and still--
Is three hundred years so long ago?

If it was the last time I was to speak I am innocent


Note:
The names of the accused are read throughout, in a monotone.
words spoken by the accusers
words spoken by the accused
words spoken by the judges


Playaday: Colors

#17—color poem

CHARACTERS

RED

ORANGE

YELLOW
GREEN

BLUE 

PURPLE

Each wears a costume in its color.

WHITE LIGHT Wears a voluminous translucent white robe, big enough to hold the others.

SETTING: Inside a rainbow. (What the heck? The purpose of writing these little bits is to open up the imagination.)

GREEN

It’s mostly mine, you know. All of that. Grass, trees. Mostly mine.

BLUE

You’re kidding, right? It’s mine all the way. All that water and those clouds.

GREEN

Clouds are white.

YELLOW


No they aren’t. They’re yellow a lot of the time, and blue. 

ORANGE

And orange. At sunset anyhow, and some sunrises.

RED

Yeah, but. You guys might be common, but it’s being uncommon that’s cool. I mean, how often do I appear? Cardinals, a few red flowers, some of the stuff the people make. Special. I’m not common, I’m special. The one per cent.

PURPLE

However. I am, and have always been, royal. The majesty of my mountains, yes? The expense of the dye stuffs to color the garments of kinds and queens. Everybody knows that my title is “Royal.”

GREEN

Well, I don’t care what you say. It’s mostly mine. Besides, if any of you gets mixed up with white, you turn into an icky pastel. Pink, peach. . . . 

YELLOW

Ahem.

GREEN

Okay, okay. Generalization. But Purple is lavender, which is hardly royal.

PURPLE

Of course it isn’t. But it isn’t me.

RED

Any more than pink is me. I’m RED, right? Fire engines and sports cars and mittens and.  .

GREEN

And fires, right?

RED

Hey, that’s mosly orange and yellow.

ORANGE


And fires are not our fault. Come on.

BLUE

(Sings) “I’d rather be blue/ Thinking of you,/ I’d rather be blue/ Than be happy/ As somebody/ Else.”

WHITE LIGHT

(Enters with a flourish.)

Okay, everybody in! Come on, come on! Rain’s over, party’s over. In you go, in you go.

(The colors quickly scurry under White’s robes, which are closed. The curtain falls as White stands there, motionless, the others visible through the cloth.)

Playaday: About Coffee

#61—Write about coffee

CHARACTERS

A playwright 

SETTING

A study. The playwright sits at the desk, drinking coffee. There is an electric drip-pot in easy reach.

PLAYWRIGHT

(Staring at screen.)

Okay. A play about coffee. Sounds stupid to me, but at least it will pay. Who’d have thought that a coffee roaster would pay me to write a whole play about coffee? Huh. Featuring him. And his wife and his brother-in-law and his obnoxious teen-aged daughter. Well, okay. I can do this. Ten thousand bucks is ten thousand bucks, even though it feels like selling out. Let’s see now

(Types while talking.)

Characters:

A Coffee Roaster. Forty-ish, tall, handsome. Jeans and a buffalo-check shirt.

Wife.  Slim, blonde ponytail. Fleece and spandex and expensive running shoes.

Brother-in-law:   (Sits back and stares at the screen.)

Okay. That’s all type cast, right? They’re just playing themselves here. And if I were to do the slacker brother-in-law, he’d be an asshole, because he is. Okay. Redo. Let’s see.  

(Types again.) 

Characters:

An asshole. No. Come on. Think ten thousand bucks.  Characters. Miranda: Teenager. Blue mohawk, tattoos, torn jeans. Coffee addict. Paula: her mother. Plump, tired, mom jeans and sweatshirt with sequins. Jeff: her father. A coffee roaster. Shabby, unshaven but not in a cool way. Brad: her uncle—mother’s brother. A Guy in a Suit who wants to take over the coffee business.

(Sits back.) Nope. That would work, wouldn’t it? As a play? But not as a ten thousand dollar production about the company. Okay. Third time’s the charm.

(Types.)

Characters:

A King. Forty-ish, tall, handsome. Fairy-tale style robes and crown. A Queen:  Fairy tale style. A Princess: Dressed like a princess but with bare feet. A Knight: Heavy armor, with a mask. 

(Sits back.)

Ha! That way I get to see him clunking around. Good. And, let’s see. The barefoot princess will discover coffee bushes and the King will wonder what to do with them and the Queen will figure out how to roast the beans and the Knight will clank around. Or maybe he could be a jester instead? Okay. Work, work. Ten thousand dollars, here we come.

(Starts typing.)

Playaday: Forget Matilda

#100—Forget Matilda

CHARACTERS

RYAN—middle-aged male, conventional clothing, red sneakers
SYLVIA—old female, conventional clothing, red sneakers

Setting: A bare stage, two chairs.

(Ryan enters, sits, looks at the audience in despair.)

RYAN
It’s over. Three months of my life, in vain. I tried and tried and it didn’t work and she left. I don’t know what to do. I simply don’t know what to do. How can I go on?

(Sylvia enters, stands looking at him for a minute, pulls up the other chair and sits down, facing him.)

RYAN

Who are you?

SYLVIA
I’m Sylvia. Who are you, oh miserable man?

RYAN
Why should I tell you?

SYLVIA
Because I saw you sitting here and I’m going to help you. 

RYAN

Why should you help me?

SYLVIA
Because it’s what I do. I’m a general helper. I wander around looking for people to help and I help them.

RYAN
I don’t know you at all. I’ve never seen you before. Why should I tell you my troubles?

SYLVIA
Because you don’t know me and you’ve never seen me before, that’s why. Nothing like a stranger. I have no stake in what happens to you because I’m not your family and I’m not your friend, and I didn’t cause your troubles. Right? So tell me.

RYAN

Okay. I guess that makes some kind of sense.

SYLVIA
Of course it does. Tell me.

RYAN

It’s Matilda. 

SYLVIA
And she is?

RYAN

My girlfriend. My ex-girlfriend. I thought she was the one, you know? Everything was going so well. And then she, welll, she just up and told me that she was moving to California, of all places, because she got a good job offer there. So I said I’d find a job there, too, and go with her, and she said not to bother. And she just got up and walked away. That was it. What can I do?

SYLVIA
Seems pretty clear to me.

RYAN

What?

SYLVIA
Well, she spared you all kinds of agony. She made it really, really clear that whatever you had going with her is over. 

RYAN

So what do I do?

SYLVIA
Forget her.

RYAN

Forget her? That’s your advice?

SYLVIA
Yup. Forget Matilda and get on with your life. ‘Bye now. No need to thank me.

(Exits.)

RYAN

Forget her? I guess that never occured to me. Well, okay. I guess I can do that. Forget Matilda. Good. 

(He closes his eyes for a minute, breathes deeply.)

There. That’s done.

(Stands, shakes himself, and exits.)

Playaday: What you’ve forgotten

CHARACTERS

Linda—a retired nurse

Nancy—a disaffected priest

Vicky—a retired lawyer

Sharon—a massage therapist

Sally—a matriarch

Setting:  A coffee shop. They are all seated around the table.

VICKY

I hate it that I can’t remember things. Yesterday it was my glasses. I took them off when I came home from running errands because they were fogged up from the mask and the cold, and I put them somewhere. And when I sat down to read the paper, I realized I didn’t have them on my face. So I looked on the table in the front all. Not there. KItchen counter. Not there. Then I asked Sharon if she’d seen them.

SHARON

I asked her if she left them in the car. Well, no.

VICKY

I went out to check. Retraced my steps. And realized I had checked email on my computer and I always take my glasses off to look at the screen. But they weren’t on my desk. Then Binky came in and walked across the keyboard. Damned cat is determined to leave his mark on everything I do.

SHARON

Hey! He’s old. He just wants attention.

LINDA

Sorta like me.

NANCY

Ha! Like all of us.

SALLY

It’s been a long time since I”ve walked across a keyboard. Maybe I should try that.

NANCY

So you obviously found them, since they’re on your face now.

VICKY

Yeah. Turns out Binky had somehow knocked them on the floor, and I couldn’t see them on the carpet. Geez. I’m getting pathetic.

SALLY

Bob and I got an idea awhile ago. We could get a big, big basket and put everything in it. That way we could always find things. Keys, glasses, mail, coffee cups, water bottles, gloves, hats, library books. . .

NANCY

I love it. But how big would the basket have to be?

LINDA

Mine would have to be the size of my house. And I live alone.

NANCY

Huh. I might try that, actually. A basket by the door. 

SHARON

Let us know if it works. Vicky can’t find her calendar now that it’s not on her phone.

VICKY

But that’s probably okay. it’s not like I do anything but have coffee with you people.

SHARON

Speaking of which—gotta go. Same time next week?

NANCY

Yup. See you then.

Playaday: How People Drive

#8—How people drive

CHARACTERS

DEER

RABBIT

SQUIRREL

SETTING:  A forest clearing, late afternoon.

DEER

They drive at twilight. That’s really so stupid. They can’t see anything then. They don’t know where the trails are, and they get in the way. We’re going about our business, right? Moving from the woods to the pasture or back again? And we go in a narrow line on the trails so as not to disturb everything the way they do. When we bump into them, it hurts us and sometimes we even die. I hate it. And even though sometimes they die too, or their cars get smashed up, they don’t seem to learn.

RABBIT

Yeah, well. I know what you mean. Same here, trying to cross those hard paths they make in the half-dark. And when we run from them the way we’ve learned, the way that so often works when coyotes or foxes chase us, they catch us anyway. They squash us and leave us for the crows and vultures. And they think “only a rabbit.” Doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

SQUIRREL

Hey, hey. We have to be out in the daytime. Even worse, even worse. Acorns, right? Seeds. Gotta get ‘em while it’s light. Dodge and spin. Decide quick. Back and forth. Tuck in the tail. Get between those wheel things. Fast as you can. Bad animals, them. Only squirrels. Yeah. Only squirrels.

DEER

Gotta get going. I’m meeting the kids up on the ridge. Wish me luck.

RABBIT

Yeah, me too. Wish me luck.

SQUIRREL

Good luck, guys. Heading for the nest. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.

DEER

Who knows?

RABBIT

Yeah, whoever knows?