Charming Hostess


bulletBird of Rivers
bulletaish ye kdish
bulletheaven sitting
bulletdame la mano
bulletlong black veil
bulletstreet of tubing
bullettwo boys
bulletkaffe turke
bulletmore time
bulletlady gays
bulletadir hu

About Charming Hostess







1. ms lot
2. aish ye kdish
3. heaven sitting down
4. sicily
5. torso
6. dame la mano
7. long black veil
8. esturlu
9. street of tubing
10. two boys
11. rise
12. kaffe turke
13. szerelem
14. more time
15. lady gay
16. adir hu

1. Ms Lot
Well if he treats me like a young girl still,
That father of mine, and here’s my sister
And we’re still traveling into the hills—
But everyone on the road knows he offered us
To the Strangers, when all they wanted was men
And the cloud of smoke still over the twin cities
And mother a salt lick the animals come to—
Who’s going to want me now?

This is a Muriel Rukeyser poem about the daughter of the biblical character Lot. Lot’s wife is turned to salt for looking backwards at her burning city, but what did the daughter think? I set the poem to a Bulgarian folk song.

3. Heaven Sitting Down
Wintertime. I wish I was dead, or way far out to sea: Someplace where no one knows me. I wish I was in heaven sitting down.
Buoyed by a good-will cloud, waiting to get taken down. Someone calm me with a brick! I wish I was in heaven sitting down.
Two gardenias para mi, rubies in a grey green sea.
My chest opens up to sing some old song that used to soothe me, but now I’m out to sea. I wish I was in heaven sitting down.
I wonder why. I’m hoping so. I’m empty and clear. In water, a tear.

4. Sicily
The air fare is prohibitive
And I don’t speak the language
The culture’s not near or dear to me
But I wanna go to Sicily
Charlie Luciano took a ride
An ice pick in the throat and he survived
No wonder they called him lucky
Am original gangster from Trapani
That’s his home town in Sicily
Back at home there’s two kinds of pizza
Sicilian is better and it costs more
Everybody else can go to Napoli
I’ll go by myself to Sicily
I wanna go to Sicily
I want to be strong, I want to be ready to be alone
I want to swing from trees and not fall down
I’m keeping it real like a ministering angel
Cuz I’m amazed that somebody as dumb as me is still alive to tell the tale
Paradise disguised as hell
Hell disguised as paradise
I can see it with my own eyes
I can see the times I lied to me
I’ll go by myself to Sicily

5. Torso
Languid play is one trip to take. I urge her fast, fast out of her dress. She’s mean, elaborate, gorgeous in shadow. I get lost where her legs meet her torso.
I won’t lie: I am weak but true. I want you in my bed again, your smell in my hair.
When she sees a toddler with red hair, she exclaims, that’s what my child will look like. Do I care what your child looks like with some man, when the child should be yours and mine?
Marriage is a sacrament, but we can still be friends. Marriage is a sacrament, I gave it up for Lent. Marriage is a sacrament, but I can still be spent.
This will take a little time.

6. Dame La Mano
Oh show mercy on this match, divine source. Lead us from darkness.
If the sea was made of milk and I had a little boat made of cinnamon
I would stain myself completely just to save a glimpse of you.
In the sea is a tower. In the tower is a window.
In the window is a girl. And all the women call out to her
Give me your hand, my dove. Fly up into my nest.
Those who sleep alone are unlucky. Come sleep with me.
Regions of Origin: Spain/Morocco
Languages: Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) and Hebrew

7. Long Black Veil
Ten years ago on a cold dark night, there was someone killed by the town hall light. Just a few at the sc€n€, but they all did agree that the slayer who ran looked a lot like me.
The judge said, “what is your alibi? If you were somewhere else then you don’t have to die.” I spoke not a word, though it meant my life. I had been in the arms of my best friend’s wife.
She walks these hills in a long black veil. Visits my grave when the night winds wail. Nobody knows, nobody sees. Nobody knows but me.
Well the scaffold’s high and eternity near. She stands in the crowd, and she sheds not a tear. But sometimes at night, when the cold wind moans, in a long black veil, she cries over my bones.

10. Two Boys
Two boys are playing and they don’t know what they’re doing. But as I’m trying to age with grace, I’ll walk by without slowing. Two boys are growing and they don’t know where they’re going. I guess I’ll stop for a minute just to watch them play, for the joy of a young man moving.
One hawk is cresting, and the chickens are nesting. Boy, I wanna be just like you—but I’ll settle for the next best thing. Two men are boying, and I’m guilty (but enjoying). First the little one knocks the big one to the ground, then the big one’s free and the little one’s bound. I saw your shirt ride up when you lay down--your pearly belly was showing, and I could not keep from looking.
Three boys are playing, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m saying over and over, “This too shall pass”---just to keep me away from ruin.

11. Rise
A genius is falling from a man’s hands—saw your eyes as he pulled from your grip and slipped. He fell away and you are falling. Why are you blessed and he is cursed and cursing?
Saw my sister give her whole self over to a man’s hands. Saw her, pale, vomiting in a corner—just to join him.
“Every weekend I cry, when I don’t know where he is, I’m terrified. He come to my house high, then he lies.” I saw that she loved him, that she would rather be miserable with him than lonely without him. I said to myself, this is this man’s beauty, his glory, his story.
A genius is hiding in a narrow box 10 feet below the ground. He’s alive—and I want him to rise. Earth will fall away and he rises in a refiner’s fire which consumes and is not sated.

13. Szerelem
Oh love, why have you deserted me?
I wandered around in the garden, and I had a rose, a beautiful rose.
Then they took my rose from me.
Why must love be eternal suffering?
Region of Origin: Transylvania
Language: Hungarian

14. More Time
Incomplete mind. A pearl in your mother tongue, I hear you calling for more time.

15. Lady Gay
There was a lady and a lady gay, of children she had three
She sent them away to the north country to learn their gramaree (magic)
They had not gone but for a very short time, scarce 6 weeks and a day
When death, cruel death came hasting along and stole those babes away
It was the heart of the winter time when the nights are cold and clear
She looked and she saw her three little babes come running home to her
She set a table both wide and long, and on it she put bread and wine
“Come eat, come drink, my three little babes, eat and drink of mine.”
“We want none of your bread, mother. Neither do we want your wine
For the cock does crow and the day does show---we must go back to Paradise
Green grass grows over our heads, cold clay is under our feet
And every tear you shed for us wets our winding sheet.”

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Copyright 2006 Charming Hostess

Last updated July 27, 2008 Charming Hostess