Column I wrote in August for the HWA newsletter. A bit of poetry and fun.
Blood & Spades Marge Simon
It is my extreme pleasure to welcome the extraordinarily talented artist and novelist Sandy DeLuca as this month’s column guest. Sandy has also been a personal friend and fellow collaborator of outstanding talents. You can thank her for stepping up to edit the special Poetry Page at our HWA Web site, aided by Max Booth III as well.
Sandy DeLuca created Goddess of the Bay Publishing in the late ’90s, producing several anthologies and a string of small press magazines. From 2001 to 2003 she edited and owned December Girl Press, producing novels and short story collections. She was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award® for poetry in 2001.
At present, she is a fulltime writer and painter. She’s written and published five novels, two poetry collections and several novellas.
Time, Interruptions, Nostalgia, Imagination–and the Poet Making the Best of it Sandy DeLuca
Some say that time is an illusion, that it is perceived differently, depending upon where one is in the universe. It can be mystical, metaphysical, and faster than the speed of light–all things which inspire poets and writers, and some will tell you that time is money–and most it definitely is to those of us who are authors.
As writers, managing our time is not often the easiest task, because many of us work day jobs and must resort to utilizing nights and weekends for our creativity. And those of us who have the opportunity to work from home often face other obstacles–interruptions by friends who do not view work from home as real work. I have this problem.
People arrive at my house without calling first, or they call on the phone and expect me to chat with them for hours on end. If anyone knows me well then they understand how much I dislike the telephone–and how dear my time is. I don’t like when people try to steal it from me, especially when people insist I should join them for a day or night out, so I’ve learned to turn some of those quirky friends and interruptions into fodder for my work, and like all fellow writers, my imagination helps me to turn everything around–sort of.
Back in 1976 I was a kid (compared to now anyway), and lived in a third-floor-walk-up in Providence, Rhode Island. I wrote back then, too, and had made a decision to go to college to study literature and art. I spent my evenings writing on lined-paper notepads. The people who lived in that building were priceless, and they knocked on my door at all hours. They told me colorful stories and did offbeat things. The landlord was a sculptor who thought he was Casanova and I was hooked on the Vampire Lestat. I kept my notes from back then, and still remember it as a time growth and turbulence, but I didn’t write about it until around ten years ago, and the poem below was penned and published in The Catbird Seat.
In 1976 My hair was blue black, down to my waist; I smoked choice dope; drank cherry brandy, lived on the West Side; the days sped by like red race cars, slamming against guard rails, sparks flying from fine-tuned engines
I read vampire novels, bought at a corner drugstore; tales of tenebrous Casanovas made me dizzy, infused, horrified me; I called a friend at sundown; we fastened a wooden cross to the door, splashed water blessed by Father Jerome on the sills
I whacked the volume up too loud as The Eagles sang Hotel California; my landlord tramped up the stairs, shook his fist, chided me; later he hit on me; called me the girl with the flawless body
I only wanted the boy in leather, who parked his Harley beneath my window, ate my bagels and ice-cream at dawn; sounded my bell at midnight when he got jumped in a downtown bar; I smeared ice on his swollen lips, held him until the workday traffic drifted below
He read to me from Matthew and I wrapped thorns around his wrists
I saw him again in 1985; he dashed by on roller skates as I read a book on modern painting; we’d both cut our hair, but the parables still rocked our souls
During that time period I took a road trip from Providence to Miami with one of my Harley men–a girl interrupted segment in my life. It turned out boring as heck, along with the person I traveled with. However, while rambling down a dark highway, in the middle of the night, with no other traffic but a farm truck, bobbing and weaving on the road in front of us, he made a joke about the empty fields, the dark and how somebody could just take down that drunken driver, bury him on the side of the road … and no one would ever know. Of course, we made our way to Miami without incident, drinking cherry soda, not downing speeders and without anyone getting killed. I have no idea what happened to the driver of that vehicle, but my friend’s words remained stuck in my head for many years. I began to imagine what could have happened had my companion been more sinister, and I wrote the poem below, which appeared in my Stoker-nominated chapbook, Burial Plot in Sagittarius. I also went on to write a novel by the same title in 2005 … and based on the same premise.
We never slept between Providence and Miami, rebels in a black mustang high on pills that made the stars brighter
Colors bounds off the windshield, bug-splatters on glass, neons & white flashing lights; psychedelic dreamscapes, worlds ahead in dark, no exit; Joplin’s gutsy voice accompanied our laughter
South-boys blazing by in a red pick-up, swaying side to side, tossing beer cans from windows
we didn’t need it, did we? you said you could kill them, bury them someplace in the woods nobody would know..
I still dream of the graves … shallow, made of roadside loam, pieces of flesh raw, soft, bones slicked with crimson
to wake screaming– your hands around my neck; so many of them between here and the end of our journey.
My life is tame, seemingly reclusive to some, and I have friends who insist it does me good to get out on a Sunday afternoon, and away from my word processor. I sometimes reluctantly go. Someone brought me to a flea market one Sunday. Oddities and scenes from that day conjured this piece, published in Niteblade in 2010.
Bought at a flea market from a gypsy cards spread on shaky table bones and beads piled in a copper bowl mangy crow on her shoulder … “Belonged to a girl just like you,” mother handed her a dollar … “Died last June,” I thought she said lips trembling hands shuffling slowly
I love my pretty doll did not care when eyes turned from blue to red or rosebud lips became an ugly scowl when blood stained clothing filled my drawers
No tears when big sister disappeared, or when Father’s body washed up on the beach
Now razor teeth protrude over parched lips devilish gaze on Mother’s Carotid
Baby doll nestles in my arms soft growl knowing smile …
Gypsy laugher Now I wonder where she’ll bury me
I’ve more or less learned to go with the flow, always with a notebook handy and always waiting for the next poem to manifest. Interruptions are frustrating, but–in time–a poet can learn to make the best of them.