“Eau de Bohemia” by Susan Hayden

(for Philomene Long, in beloved memory)
“It will be apparent that it is difficult
to discern which properties each thing
possesses in reality.”
(Democritus, 8th century B.C.)
pixbyamelia copy

If you were a perfume, it would be Earthy,
the top note a forest blend
that would descend into oakmoss
and fresh mown grass,
a mercurial bath of Irish whiskey.
It would smell like your dreams,
the ripening of first fruit
and bloodroot
with heart notes of orange groves;
Los Angeles,
before the permanent roads.
The dry down would reveal
cracked leather and lavender rose,
poetry and prose as a saltwater path
toward the Boardwalk sun;
at once a yearning and a leap
of heat meets alchemy.
Your scent would be worn
by both peasants and royalty:
Slaves to the half-open window,
queens beneath the arch of the doorway,
counting the days in sighs
while memorizing escape routes.
Eau de Bohemia:
A tenacious fragrance
with a lasting theme
and a dreamy aroma that lingers.
The wearer will feel signs and seasons.
The wearer will feel worthy of anointment,
with good reason.
© 2008

Library Girl presents Cat Stevens Tribute – at Ruskin Theatre – Tonight! 9/8/13

I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter,

but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.
– Cat Stevens

Cover Photo

3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica, California 90405



                                                                                         (Inspired by a Terence Winch poem)
   Around 1966, I was bitten afterhours by a standard poodle named Coco. My pediatrician had to make a housecall to give me a tetanus shot. I wanted to marry Dr Burt Sokoloff and faked sick all the time so he would have to examine me. I was three. He was James Coburn’s double. I’d seen “Ride Lonesome”; I already knew my future husband would be like a steak at The Palm, a Prime Porterhouse; rough-hewn on the outside, tender underneath.
   Around 1997, my husband got Lasik and I thought, This will be the end of our marriage. I’d always been one big blur. But I quickly learned the naked art of backing out of the room.
   Around 1972, Ricky Horowitz and I cut 4th Grade and went to Benihana of Tokyo in Encino. We shared a Lunch Boat Special over an open fire and –even though we were both Jewish–played Priest and Confessor.
    “Every night I raid the refrigerator in a slumber party for one,” I told him.
    “I read my Mom’s Cosmo way more than my Dad’s Playboy,” he said.  “I know about fake orgasms and unwanted hair removal.”
     And then the bill arrived. It was $18. Ricky brought $5. I had to run home, steal my dad’s quarters and pay for the meal.
   Around 1996, my son was born, and there was a clearing in my heart, simple as a snow-plowed road after a massive storm.  I decided to name him after a singing waiter I’d met when I was 12, a Kenny Loggins look-alike who’d worked at The Great American Food and Beverage Company in Santa Monica. Allan Mason had dedicated “Danny’s Song” to me and I’d never forgotten it—or him.
   Around 1989, S.A. Griffin told me, “We are all sincere liars” and I believed him.
   Around 1969, Sam Weinstock asked for a slow dance during a family wedding at the Ventura Club in Sherman Oaks. He approached me at the dessert buffet, where I was pouring chocolate syrup on a do-it-yourself banana split.  He said he lived next door to my Aunt Goldie on Alcove Street and thought I was “kind of pretty.”  As he twirled me, his hands on my back felt like wheels of brie, smooth and effective; soft like a cow. I told him I was six. He told me he was forty. I told him he smelled good. He told me he’d bought his cologne at Rexall.
   Later, Mom said guys who wore Brut and/or Canoe were “cold and hungry.”
    Around 1990, I saw Christopher Allport onstage in a play at the Taper and announced, “That’s the man I’m gonna spend my life with.”
    It took a little convincing, but within 3 weeks he said, “I feel like I could spend 30 years with you.” I remember thinking, “Why not 50?”
   He was the domesticated wild man I’d been searching for in bars, at poetry  readings, and in equity-waiver theatres. Anyplace but in nature, where he thrived. He wore fleece year-round and Everyone wanted to touch him.
  Around 1980, my Dad drove me over the hill, to the gourmet section of Neiman Marcus, where they had free samples. We gorged on caramel corn and rumaki, bonding over food; arguing about religion.
   He said, “God will start to make more sense once you get older.”
   He asked, “Are you gonna finish that?”
   He was Santa Clause crossed with Nachman of Breslov. All my girlfriends had crushes on him. He had the best beard ever.
   His nickname for me was Pupik.
     Around 1993, my husband started writing me poems and songs but I was never satisfied. I wanted jewelry and public displays of affection. He cooked 5-star, gourmet meals that I refused to eat because I was either on Jenny Craig, Scarsdale, grapefruit + hard boiled eggs or the Atkins Diet. He kept trying to feed me, anyway.
   Around 1977, at Camp JCA/Malibu, I fell for my first guitar player, a Kosher folkie with bib overalls and a Star of David earring. I asked him to hike with me to the creek, where I planned on undressing from the waist up even though I didn’t have boobs.
     “I like you more than a friend,” I said.
     “We have no basis for a relationship,” he replied.
     But I wanted to be prepared in case he changed his mind. So Debbie Gold taught me how to give a handjob on a can of Tab.
   Around 1974, Ricky Horowitz taught me that the proper way to apply eyeliner was also the proper way to get a man to fall in love with you. He said: “Tilt your head back slightly and bring your eyes to a half-open state.”
    Around 1971, the best looking men on Ventura Blvd could be found in photos on the wall of the post office, carwash-style. I would stare up at them and wonder why all the guys I knew were clean cut in comparison.
     I asked Mom what TV shows they were on.
     She said, “These are mugshots, Susan.  These are horse thieves, train robbers, kidnappers. That one killed his wife. What’s wrong with you?!”
     I didn’t know. To me, they were scruffy and real, and I hated anything that was shiny and anyone who was polished.
© 2013

“Borrowing Sugar” by Susan Hayden

I used to borrow sugar,
or try to
Not from just anyone;
from “entertainers”
in the neighborhood
They lived
in sprawling, ranch-style homes
with aerial views,
front yard aquariums
and life-sized statues
Leon Russell, on Woodley
The Jackson Five, on Hayvenhurst
Tom Petty on Mooncrest
Affluence and intimacy–
a false sense of security:
That was the real Encino

Never had a strategy,
only an impulse
I wasn’t even developed
Was nine/ten/eleven–
playing house with
a Betsey Clark folding scene
and Hallmark reusable stickers,
the inspirational kind
that said things like:
“Every Day Is A Gift From God,”
“Showered With Blessings”
and “I Believe In Miracles”

I was an anomaly
in the West Valley
A trickster
with a two-spirit nature,
a Technics turntable
and a Barbie suitcase,
with personal belongings–
a sheltered freewheeler,
seeking access
and the thrill of the hunt
And I was a bolter,
always running away,
just for a little while

Mostly I was
a New Romantic,
the sameness of my fate
as yet to be determined
Love was someone else’s story
carved in a spiral groove
on a vinyl platter
and so I borrowed sugar
or tried to
but instead
dogs barked, alarms rang out
and I was escorted off Private Property,
released back into
“The Ranch of the Evergreens”
–Los Encinos–
encircled by the Transverse Ranges,
surrounded by the nouveau riche

For months, years,
my measuring cup stayed empty;
roaming the streets of the 91316
where “It’s A Wonderful Life”
was shot
long before anyone was ever
borrowing sugar
South of Ventura,
Liberace had a piano-shaped pool
Let me swim in it once
Called me “Sweetie”
North of Valley Vista,
the gulleys and ditches
connecting flatland to hillside
were hideouts,
wishing wells of early faith–

Faith in the power of Everything
cancelled out by a voice saying,
“You’re Nothing”
Words of my brother,
brazenly dealing weed and coke
from his bedroom window,
dispensing insult and harm
to the one most in need
of protection
He tried to teach me
that Goodness was impermanent,
on loan
but I had my stickers to remind me
of another way of thinking;
I had love songs in my head
that gave fair warning
but made Big promises
When the lunatic moon
touched my brother,
converting him from a tender boy
into the Opposite of Sugar,
it was songs and sweets
that pulled me across

When not borrowing,
I was busy eating:
Hostess cupcakes, Fruit pies,
Sno-balls, Twinkies,
Zingers, Donettes
I was addicted to sugar
It made me bold and shy
Empowered me
Sedated me
Borrowing sugar equaled escape
from an unsafe home
Fleeing risk by risking
was better than staying put

The in-crowd lived elsewhere,
that much was clear
in woodsy canyons
with more shade and less heat
Jackson Browne was on Outpost Drive;
Joni Mitchell, on Appian Way
I wanted to be free and in the clouds
but was relegated to Royal Oaks
with its lion’s head door knockers
and central air conditioning
and I learned how to work my way in
by saying things like:
“Lend me some sugar,
I am your neighbor”

It was my only way around
a set of circumstances:
In search of the sweetness
from someone else’s life
whose whereabouts were hidden
but known to me
That’s how it started,
this borrowing sugar
That’s how it started,
this running away.

–Susan Hayden

© 2012

“Sparring With The Beatnik Ghosts” Tonight @ Stella Adler Theatre!

San Francisco’s popular traveling poetry super-show “Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts” brings its marvelous, mystic boxing match of spoken word variety to southern California for the “L.A. Sparring Tour” June 4-6 with five “Rounds” of knockout poetry and music.The L.A. Sparring Tour kicks off at Beyond Baroque (681 Venice Blvd., Venice) on Saturday, June 4 at 9 p.m. This Round (#15 in the series) features San Francisco cabaret poet Cara Vida, Ellyn Maybe & Her Band, Jeanne Spicuzza, Guy Hoffman, Eve Brandstein, Lisa Thayer, Susan Hayden, Jack Bowman; plus Mystery Poets. Hosted by Rich Ferguson.Next up, the first-ever Sunday matinee show of Sparring With Beatnik Ghostswill inspire and entertain at the Whitefire Theatre (13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks) – June 5 at 11 a.m. (doors 10:30 a.m.). The special matinee show will offer six featured performers plus an open mic segment at the conclusion (sign-up at 10:30 a.m. as time slots are limited). Mani Suri will host and produce the Round 16 reading at Whitefire, showcasing the talents of Peter Coca, Jim Bolt, Amélie Frank, Elizabeth Iannaci, Angel Perales, Mehnaz Turner and special guest San Francisco poet Cara Vida.

There are two incredible evening shows Sunday, June 5 in Chinatown at Grand Star Jazz Club (943 Sun Mun Way, Los Angeles) — Rounds 17 and 18. The first round of the “Sparring Double Feature” is at 5 p.m. – an ensemble spectacular with jazz performers “The Scrappers”; hosted and produced by S.A. Griffin: and featuring dynamic wordsmiths Rafael FJ Alvarado, Laurel Ann Bogen, Michael C. Ford, Douglas Kearney, Marc Olmsted, Ara Shiriyan, Herbert T. Schmidt, Jr. and Pam Ward. The second round of the evening will be brought to you by Mike The Poet at 9 p.m., ushering in an impressive lineup of performance poets, including Jim Bolt, Rachel Kann, Michael Leon, Mindy Nettifee, Brenda Petrakos, Dani Roter, Chris Vannoy, Cara Vida, Rex Weiner and special guest Berkeley poet Steve Arntson. Plus mystery poets will surprise and put the ghosts in check.

The final round of the L.A. Sparring Tour will bring the three-day poetic séance to a rollicking close on 7:30 p.m. at Monday night, June 6 — Stella Adler Theatre — 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Host Mike The Poet will bring together one final sparring crew to keep the ghosts in the ropes. Features include Hart D. Fisher, Busstop Prophet, Richard Modiano, Eric Lawson, Lee Boek, Rachel Kann, Susan Hayden, Lisa Thayer, Besskepp and Bay Area Poets Cara Vida and Steve Arntson. Mystery poets will materialize to join in on the Spar.

The L.A. Sparring Tour is produced by Mike The Poet, Michael C. Ford and Daniel Yaryan. Grand Star Producer is S.A. Griffin and The Whitefire Theatre Producer is Mani Suri. Admission to these events is a $7 donation ($5 for students/seniors at Beyond Baroque). No one turned away.

For more information, visit www.sparringwithbeatnikghosts.com or email dyaryan@gmail.com.

RSVP at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149589848443704

“Paris, 2003” by Susan Hayden

for Chris

Flushed with the energy of art and alliance,
the rocket science of materia prima,
he takes me by the hand to wisteria and secrets,
steals my breath and kisses me
like I’m his new mistress, not his old wife.

This is our life and love is earned,
sealed with an alchemist’s loyalty
and candle wax
from sticky long nights of burning.

Singular as a field holler,
a worn-out blues tune written for us alone
yet universal in skin and bone;

his attendance, his inscription,
a hermetic cabinet of curiosities

called home.

The Boulevard glows with our footprints,
stable and so slippery.
Walking on ice has never been this easy.
Hang on.
Husband, man of the house, best friend.
Any minute this could end.

Susan Hayden

© 2011

“Boys without Fathers” by Susan Hayden

This has always been
a “Quest” story:
Adventures, magical rewards,
the tests

Running for my life
and from my life
since I had feet

Running to meet
who were once
boys without fathers

Boys without Fathers

They learned their way
around things,
not by choice
They’ve given voice
and reason
to my tiny little leaps
toward the Unknown

and I was (and still am)
to their lack of guidance–
that moral (or immoral) code
by being let loose
to draw conclusions
of their Own

A Father will reveal
a river’s hidden moves;
the groove in the magic angle,
twenty degrees to skip a stone

not leave a Boy
to bond with the Alone
and grow up overnight
with no instructions

A Father will show
How to build a fire
Pitch a tent
Give directions
Embellish all reflections

Fight with snowballs,
Fish through ice
He’ll be the one that says,
“Roll the dice,
it’s your turn”

Your Turn

This has always been
a “Quest” story
with its circuitous route,
its point and its shoot;
its natural disasters

Still running to the men
Who were once
Boys without Fathers

To seek from within them
what’s unwritten:
the secret to dreaming
the unmarked trail
the backroad home
the way to make peace with the Alone

The adventures, the magical rewards,
the tests
and a plea in their honor,
a simple request:
Please teach me
How to grow my own Boy,
the One without a Father

Susan Hayden

© 2010