Thursday, September 3, 2015

Immortality's Chain of thought (Oh, Castilleja)




Ms. Mary Joe Castilleja has hair like a prairie fire,
          lives alone in a second story apartment out back
          the 7-Eleven
                              & every morning can be seen
                                      walking out of town
                                                 on the edge
                                                       of the street,
                                                     merges with
                                                   the shimmer
                                              on the surface
                                        of the desert

Some say she was married once,
           but now all she has is an indian paintbrush
                 she keeps in a back pocket
                     of her just right jeans & a bucket
                          of discount terra-cotta flower pots
                            she bought on sale at Jim's
                                  one holy day

while all the prim roses were coming
down the crooked steps of the little white church
full of God & gossip;

she's more a roadside tangle,
a wild flower that knows a pew can be just
another windowbox, on a mortgaged porch

she has a place,
a wood crate turned on its side,
out among the cactus - where she ties her shirt up
& paints

                  wetting the tip with her tongue
              & dipping it in wildflowers,
for the natural color,
no one notices
as they pass,

but she collects woodie stationwagons
& minivans with license plates
                           from far away places like Alaska
                            or New Hampshire,

all the vacation weary drivers
flock like checkerspot butterflies just wanting a nip
of a petal or cream sac,
                                    promising affections
usually reserved for Spanish botanist, promising to whisk her off
to exotic locales like NW Russia,

for the climate of course --

she just laughs
                    and smashes another flower pot
               gathering the sharpest shards
        to give them life,
             in purple, red-orange
                                 & on cloudy days,
                                             green - dark as her own
                                                                                roots

with a hint of
                       immortality
                                         some say,
                                                 some say
                                                                  sacrifice.
                

36 comments:

  1. What a vivid picture you have painted, X. It sounds as if she has found her place and calling in life, whether or not it be our own. Perhaps someday her paintings will be discovered & she WILL have that immortality of which she never dreamed!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is vividly beautiful, X, absolutely gorgeous writing. I can see her, and so admire her spirit, love her dipping her brush in wildflowers......LOVE the prim roses coming down the church steps. One of my faves of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Inspiring.. X.. yes.. inspiring.. i spend some time under the Interstate 10 bridge Gulf loop boardwalk at the Casinos in Biloxi.. last year.. talking to some combat veteran wandering Jesus' who were currently living under the bridge.. there was no doubt they had fully escaped culture.. i could relate to everything these Jesus' said.. and then there was no doubt that i finally had fully arrived.. smiles.. i never pass a Jesus on the side of the road.. without giving him at least a dollar for a beer or whatever.. after all HE earned it...:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. i like her. a lot. she sees things that others overlook - there is a beautiful wildness about her as well and a being comfortable in her own skin - no wonder that people feel attracted - and others may look a bit down on her - unconventional as she is - ha- it takes a lot to be that independent no matter the circumstances - i wish i could be a bit like her

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great poem. Love these sections especially:

    "Some say she was married once,
    but now all she has is an indian paintbrush
    she keeps in a back pocket
    of her just right jeans & a bucket"

    "while all the prim roses were coming
    down the crooked steps of the little white church
    full of God & gossip;

    she's more a roadside tangle,
    a wild flower that knows a pew can be just
    another windowbox, on a mortgaged porch"

    "wetting the tip with her tongue
    & dipping it in wildflowers"

    "flock like checkerspot butterflies just wanting a nip" (my favorite line, I think)

    "she just laughs
    and smashes another flower pot
    gathering the sharpest shards"

    "with a hint of
    immortality"

    I was expecting "irony," but I like how you turned it. Beautiful, sad ending, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  6. S stole our thunder by mentioning all the choice lines, but hey, this is one of the wildest, most colorful of your poems that I have read. If Kerouac was an "outlaw of the sensorium", as I attempt to be, & I consider you to be, then this poetic protagonist of yours is outrider extraordinaire.

    ReplyDelete
  7. And by the by, many thanks for being my first commenter today. Your interest & POV is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the sense of the slightly-mad-artist, like van gogh, happy with her paints and her nature and her (self-inflicted?) misery.... a fabulously vivid portrait. She stands tall among the weeds on the roadside.

    ReplyDelete
  9. wetting the tip with her tongue
    & dipping it in wildflowers,
    for the natural color,
    no one notices

    Somehow this makes me feel that an artist goes to great lengths to add that extra magic to their work. Such an exquisite poem :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, you painted her with all the wild & lush colors of life ~ I specially admire this part:

    This part really spoke to me:

    she's more a roadside tangle,
    a wild flower that knows a pew can be just
    another windowbox, on a mortgaged porch

    she has a place,
    a wood crate turned on its side,
    out among the cactus - where she ties her shirt up
    & paints

    wetting the tip with her tongue
    & dipping it in wildflowers

    Unique title and inspiring verses X ~

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent character study. Really comes to life. >KB

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is such a great portrait of someone who has found her path in life.. I like someone that has gained that level of independence... and somehow I think the description of how she makes something new from the shards is a reflection on what she has done with herself.. maybe we all need to create something beautiful from shards.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a wonderful tangle is Ms. Mary Joe Castilleja, and in a strange way I envy her peace.
    "all the vacation weary drivers
    flock like checkerspot butterflies just wanting a nip
    of a petal or cream sac,
    promising affections
    usually reserved for Spanish botanist, promising to whisk her off
    to exotic locales like NW Russia...
    I am glad that she laughs, knowing as she does, the nature of things.

    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete
  14. Fantastic imagery you got here.

    Her spirit flows beautifully in words and painting.

    So poetically driven and brilliant. :)

    P.S New poem on my page. Check it out. You'll really like it a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Came by to see what you did with your notes ~ such a vivid portrait you painted of the street artist ~ so colorful. Your writing style, especially depictions of urban characters, reminds me of a poet who no longer blogs ...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like her - a lot. Dipping her brush in wildflowers...wow. I imagine she is the wonderfully comfortable in her own skin kind of person that always blooms where she is planted. This poem of yours is so visual and descriptive, I feel I could look out my window and see her, sitting there, painting and turning our plain humdrum street into a place of amazement. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Not a primrose, a wild flower. Great metaphors in this interesting portrait of a slightly mysterious, very lively character.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mary Joe is stripped of the normal restrictions of life and is free. I long for that in my own life and to live it as colorfully and artistically as she. Just lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  19. My Dad used to say that work is spiritual, and he lived it too ... sounds like Mary does the same. The hotspot of this poem, for me, is this passage:

    while all the prim roses were coming
    down the crooked steps of the little white church
    full of God & gossip;

    she's more a roadside tangle,
    a wild flower that knows a pew can be just
    another windowbox, on a mortgaged porch

    because it speaks to me the most, how she passes her days, unassuming. This poem has a very nice flow and rhythm to it, and the ending is pretty perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  20. A vivid and beautiful portrait.

    ReplyDelete
  21. a wild flower that knows a pew can be just another windowbox...this line stood out for me...another wonderful piece X. Love your writing.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I really think that's the way to live, with/alongside nature and being one's real self. Problem is that it is very hard to be self-sufficient. Money is the root of all evil and that's for sure! And I have gone beyond caring what others think!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, it's not the love of, but the need for...

      Delete
  23. In the poem before this you give a profile of the terrain of self, learned slowly and by tripping over ever rough spot, falling, and scraping skin, bursting balloons...here you paint a woman on verbal porcelain who is more than a woman, or a self, a sorceress, a symbol, a sphinx in a most sphinx-like setting with a dusty undercoating of American Gothic. Both superb portraits of states of being and moments in time from which we long to avert our eyes even as we stare, that we try to drop yet carry anyway. Fine work--deceptively easy to read.

    ReplyDelete
  24. She is vivid, beautiful and colorful...a grand portrait....

    ReplyDelete
  25. but now all she has is an indian paintbrush

    This line evoked so much emotion in me, it is hard to put into words but it got to me

    This is absolutely gorgeous
    wetting the tip with her tongue
    & dipping it in wildflowers,

    The whole piece

    mindlovemisery

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is so gorgeous. For me, it turns on the prim roses / roadside tangle stanzas. That tells her story in such a visceral way.

    ReplyDelete
  27. You've expertly painted a "roadside tangle" character in living color!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have to say I've never poetry quite like yours...and that's good. I am still reeling and must go read it again. I think I know her.

    ReplyDelete
  29. What a great character sketch, X. I would love to meet this person, shimmer out to the desert with her and paint. A part of me wants to be her. Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  30. A delicious poem, evocative of early films.
    Favourite line among a lot of lovely lines: " the little white church
    full of God & gossip;!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I like the descriptions...especially the Prairie fire hair.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Very interesting poem, very eerie about a very strange woman with special talent but very spooky. She gives me the jitters.

    Beautifully written alluring poem.

    Best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  33. A scary story unfolds i n the poem, nice narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ooh--a rather sad portrait--people doing their best--enlightened in their way--thanks, humanist. k.

    ReplyDelete