Categories
Poems

When Your Back is to the Wall

When your back’s to the wall
And guns point at your heart
Then show them all
You won’t fall apart.

They’ll do their worst
So now you should spit,
Give them a curse,
And the hell with it.

Curse all their mothers
And die with a sneer,
For they are no brothers
And will not die here.

Categories
Poems

This is the Life

He always had time,
Yet stayed on his way.
Counted every dime,
Did not skip a day.

He was well recognized,
Well respected.
He was well prized;
It got him elected.

But the bigger they are,
The harder they fall.
When he smashed his car,
He was wrapped in a pall.

But this is the life.
It holds you near,
Is sweeter than a wife,
And costs you dear.

So we try to stay keen,
As sharp as a knife.
In a world great and mean,
This is the life. This is the life.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

The Girl From Perth
There once was a girl from Perth
Who was forever filled with mirth
She’d laugh and she’d smile
At all that life did beguile
And she made so much merrier this Earth!

The Hungry Mouse
There once was a hungry mouse
Who lived in a very great house
He would eat all of the cheese
As often as he pleased
So he was called a despicable louse!

Carl Linnaeus
Linnaeus was a grand botanist
With an eye as fine as any artist’s.
He knew flowers at a glance
And thousands of plants
So he put them all in a groundbreaking list.

Ferdinand Magellan
Magellan once sailed ’round the world
With a map that lay ever unfurled.
He trusted the moon and the stars
And he passed many hours
Watching the waves as they curled.

Categories
Poems

Silence

Silence flies on an owl’s wings
In the space between the breezes.
It follows the time when the skylark sings,
And waits as quietly as water freezes.

Silence sits and stares;
It makes fools seem wise.
Its pacific calm soothes anxious cares,
And it serves as Conscience’s eyes.

Silence waits in outer space
Amongst the beds of birthing stars.
It grants space terror, majesty, and grace,
And befits its stately powers.

Silence separates the words we speak,
And gives respect to the dead.
It defines the meek,
And fills with sound the pages that we’ve read.

Categories
Poems

Value Your Own Life


When the final sand falls through the glass,
And the land beyond yonder lies waiting,
They’ll count up your money, your exhibitions of class,
And the times you’ve left someone hating.

They’ll measure your life inside of their heads,
With an ounce of forgiveness or two,
Then leave you with the many dead
And compare some of them against you.

And there you will lay
Until no one recalls
How you met every day
And recovered from falls.

So it stands to good reason
That because time always forgets
We must value our own season
Before we descend to the pits.

Categories
Poems

The Glen of Dancing Trees

Mike, an ordinary guy, gets turned into a tree one day. He walks down to the river, and he finds a place upon a hill in a forest clearing to live. He discovers that there are others like him in the glen of dancing trees.

img_8584.jpg

While Mike was standing on the corner
He became a tree.
Why that was or how that was
No one could clearly see.
Mike became a big tall oak
With branches wide and strong
He had a crop of fluttering leaves
For the wind to blow along

Now Mike was not your normal oak
That stays planted in the ground
No, Mike was of the special sort
That goes walking ’round the town
He took his steps with big deep roots
That pulled up pavement as he walked
He stopped the delivery man in his stride
And village gossips as they talked.

Mike reached down with his big brown bough
And scratched the knot upon his chest
From it scampered a small brown squirrel
That had made the hole its nest
Then Mike walked to the river’s edge
Where a young girl read a book
And he leaned out over her shoulder
So that he might have a look

She was reading a classic tale
Of true blissful romance
In which heroes fought with words and blades
And lovers got to dance
And so absorbed was the young girl
In the words on every page
That she noticed not the walking tree
As it passed on towards the glade.

Mike soon reached the forest’s edge
And he entered with a smile
For this place seemed the home for him
And he walked on for a mile
Until he came to a sunny dell
Upon a grassy hill
And because it was the spot for him
He grew quiet and grew still.

Now Mike lives on the hill
Much like an ordinary tree
But on some nights he takes a walk
Past idle oaks and hickories
He goes strolling through the moonlight,
Where he’s brushed by season’s breeze,
And joins his friends who are just like him
In the glen of dancing trees.

Categories
Poems

A Most-Forgotten History

Near an old stone cottage lies an old stone bridge
In a grass-covered valley beyond a green ridge.
The bridge spans a river that purls as it flows,
One that makes a fine mist that catches rainbows.

It is a place as tender and as soft as a pheasant
With soft, gentle breezes and pink flowers present,
Where mothers and children can swim and can read
And take the sweet rest that they both need.

But years before in the bridge’s mortar was mud,
Made from mixing dirt and man’s blood,
And the air, now pacific, was then filled with shrill screams
From a man cruelly murdered at this crossing.

It was in the 1700s as he set on his way
Past ripening orchards and stacks of gold hay.
He was riding a young horse and whistling a song
Through dusk’s fabled shadows: black, treacherous, and long.

Beneath the bridge were three murderous men
Who leapt out to greet him with evil grins.
They surrounded his horse with their swords all aglint;
He understood at once their wicked intent.

The thieves acted quickly; they cut at his leg.
The man fell from his horse, and he started to beg.
But the bandits, wicked bastards, they stole his purse,
Then they tortured that innocent till he left this earth.

They made their escape cleanly, and the man died in vain.
He was half-eaten by crows when the sheriff came.
And the sheriff he looked out over that stone-masoned bridge,
And he saw there, far-off, the sight of the ridge.

The sheriff shook his head at the grisly scene,
At the inhumanity of men and the cruelty they bring.
But the years pass on, and the generations forget:
A strong roaring fire dies, and is then again lit.

Seasons pass; centuries pass; the world turns.
The buildings rise and fall; the field grows and burns.
The geese they migrate, and the ducks come and go.
The whales make their journeys far down below.

And at the end of the day, what have we to show?
The human race is alive, that much we know.
Still we circle that fiery sphere called the sun,
And so we shall until our short day is done.

But till then the same places see new faces through years,
The laughter, the weeping, the joy, and the tears.
And the human race at once lovely, cruel, and so cold,
Lives in a most-forgotten history that grows ever old.

Categories
Poems

Butterflies

A poem about the butterfly migration.

A swarm of butterflies in a forest glen
Fly out from the shadows then swoop back in
They fly through shafts of falling sunlight
And the dust motes that trickle from the trees’ great height.

The forest is fragrant with the scent of fresh pine.
Spider webs are strung, gossamer and fine.
Orange mushrooms grow beneath a dead log,
And the mornings are blanketed by a damp fog.

Old elk walk stately along a river bed
As the butterflies flutter around their antlered heads,
And the river goes rippling past the old, quiet stones
While the butterflies make their migration home.

Categories
Poems

A Rural Autumn

The past few weeks, I’ve been quiet on my poetry website as I’ve been working on a murder mystery novel, The Murders in the Endicott Hotel.  I’m happy to announce that it’s finished!  It’s being reviewed by literary agents now, and I’ve started a new book too.  I also now have some time to get back to my poetry!  I’ve always loved nature poems–Keats’ “To Autumn” was one of my favorites when I was young–and I’ve loved paintings of nature.  So here’s an imagist poem about nature and the upcoming fall weather.

A Rural Autumn

As the fall leaves start to scatter,
Amongst the winds and raindrop’s patter,
The cold gusts in from north and west,
And the fields are fertile with the ripe harvest.

The strawberries turn red upon the vine
The grapes grow ready to become a wine
The pumpkins become both orange and round,
While from the hollow, the song sparrows sound.

The mists of autumn blanket the moist mornings
As the mushrooms grow in mud by springs
The dells and the valleys are webbed by streams
And the land glows golden in the sun’s banked beams.

Categories
Poems

Terry the Brontosaurus

Terry the brontosaurus saves the life of a triceratops at a great personal cost.

IMG_7481

Terry was a brontosaurus
With dry and pebbly skin
He ate from trees within the forest
And wore a very merry grin

One day a terrible tyrannosaur
Sighted a slow triceratops
And Terry cried, Watch out my friend!
As the T-rex licked its chops

So the triceratops it ran away
And the t-rex missed his brunch
The tyrannosaur felt angry then
And looked at Terry as his lunch!

Terry gave the tyrannosaur
His very best winning smile
And then he turned his tail to him
And sprinted for a mile!

The carnivore bared his sharp teeth
And started in pursuit
And through forests broad and rivers deep
Terry could not shake the brute

Then at last the worst did happen
As the t-rex caught his prey
On a grassy sunlit little field
In the middle of the day

The tyrannosaur held his claw
To the unfortunate victim’s throat
And said, My dear you’re at an end
For this is all she wrote!

But Terry was a kind creature
And he had a warm and cheerful air
That even the tyrannosaurus paused
Before making the final tear.

Terry gave a big old smile
And the tyrannosaur gave a sigh
Then the brontosaurus stood on his feet
As the tyrannosaur stood by

Then it was that Terry was heard
To address the t-rex and ask,
Don’t you think you’d prefer some leaves
Or some very tasty grass?

The t-rex said, I’ll try with you
Perhaps those leaves are fine
And Terry pulled down a clump of green
That was hanging from a vine

The t-rex tried to eat the greens
But his face blackened with dismay
Why this is the worst food, he said,
I’ve eaten in all my days!

Then the tyrannosaur changed his mind
And he pounced on the dinosaur
He ripped Terry from his tail to his heart
In the way of a true carnivore

So it was that the t-rex dined
On the brontosaurus’ frame
With the smacking sounds and cracking sounds
That were befitting of his name

And as the tyrannosaur licked its sharp teeth
Full of blood and raw proteins
He felt that a good brontosaur
Was certainly much more appetizing than his greens.

Categories
Poems

Sweet Kiss

Here’s another poem from the POV of a serial killer: the villain of my in-progress mystery novel, The Murders in the Endicott Hotel.

441px-Evelyn_De_Morgan_-_Angel_of_Death
Evelyn de Morgan – The Angel of Death, 1880.

 

 

Those who call it the sweet kiss of death
Have not seen people die
The way I have.

There’s nothing sweet
There’s nothing like a kiss
In the deaths of the people
Whom I kill.

A more appropriate way
To describe their deaths
Would be the bitter, rancorous clawings
Of untimely death.

But that is not poetic.
That is not
Metered
Or rhyming
Or even illuminating.

But I suppose
That if you want metered
And Rhyming
Then you should go
For Dr. Seuss
And if you want illuminating
Then go
To the light bulb store.

Because if you come to me,
I will give you death
And the kind of death I give you
Will never remind anyone
Of a
Sweet kiss.

Categories
Poems

From Where the Luminous Arise

“From Where the Luminous Arise” is a poem that talks of how underdogs and people at a disadvantage rise to success and triumph.

IMG_7569
The Moon over Mexico, 2019

And when the streets are soft with confetti,
And cheers run riot through the air,
Remember, remember the place
from where the truly luminous arise.

Not from beneath the glittering chandeliers,
Nor emerging from jade-tiled pools,
Nor rocked in rubied cradles,
Nor rising from feathered beds,
Do grim, hard heros emerge.

Those places boast no forge hot enough
To maintain the internal flame.
They cannot compress folk from blackened, dusty coal
Into coruscating jewels.
Nor are they like the urban abattoirs,
That butcher the strong and the weak,
And leave the lucky to survive.

It is the men who, in burning their bridges,
See better through the night.
It is the women who, in casting off their anchors,
Sail to uncharted shores.
It is the people—broken, bent, and mangled—
Whose pain and suffering and want
Drive them relentlessly
onwards, upwards, onwards, upwards,
Until they reach the stars.

It is the weary, the scarred, the undaunted survivor
Who succeeds—against the common prediction—
Despite the overwhelming odds,
In the face of discrimination,
Pushing back the strong hands of hate.

And when these men and women answer
Their calls to greatness and commence
To building structures that will endure—
The band will stand and the gigues will play,
Trumpets forever after:
A marching tune in days of June
And the blues in the winter bleak.
And when these men and women become
Luminaries like those before,
In the times of cold when
All the coats in Sweden
can’t warm a man,
They burn.
And in times of fear when
All the prayers to heaven
Can’t conjure manna,
They give of themselves,
Until there is nothing left to give,
But bone and heart and blood.

And when they have given all of themselves
To field and friend and foe
Then they die like all men will
And are buried down below.

Categories
Poems

July 2020 Poems

My favorite poems from this July are Water, Mr. McGraff the Happy Giraffe, Salted, and We the Living Tree.

The most popular poems, judging by likes, were The Sunday Limericks, The Housefire, Barcelona, and The Cosmos and Man.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda
Paul Limberg – July, a part of The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry


Contents
Barcelona
The Cosmos and Man
The Early Reaper
The Heat
The Housefire
Mr. McGraff the Happy Giraffe
Once More into the Void
The Prison
Salted
Seraphs in Black
Water
We the Living Tree

Barcelona
The walls are lined with bougainvillea,
And the streets are paved with cobblestone.
Ahead the Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Rises from the earth of Catalonia.

The day is breezeless, dry as bone,
While parakeets wing from tree to tree.
A suckling babe makes her mother moan
As she nurses on the malecón.

Up on the wharf, along the deep blue sea
Come fishermen with their morning catch:
Skipjack tunas, mahi-mahi—
Scales iridescent, fine as filigree.

What cold heart could Barri Gòtic not snatch—
What wounded heart could it not patch—
When lovers go to seek their match?
What locked imagination could it not unlatch?

The Cosmos and Man
It is Independence Day.
All those firecrackers—
Look at them all.
One after another after another.
Each one fascinating to watch,
Each one gone in a flash;
Each one is like a little life.

More are launched.
They are launched
In greater numbers
At ever faster rates.
This is humanity
Approaching its crescendo.

Imagine if we oohed and ahhed,
For every life lived like it was a firework.
Why not?
Folks are gone nearly as quickly, after all.
But we must tell ourselves
That we burn more brightly,
if not brighter, and are far more
important and everlasting.

At last the air is filled with fireworks,
A bright blaze. Thank the stars
That there is something beautiful
Yet to look upon.
The fireworks are captivating.
I don’t say good or bad, but
Certainly enthralling.

As expected, the show ends with a bang.
Some smoke lingers in the atmosphere.
A wind blows.
The stars twinkle high above.
The universe, it turns out,
Never cared that those fireworks
Existed it all.
And that
Is the very definition
Of unrequited love.

The Early Reaper
All men are fields of flowers
Which start from heavy seeds.
In spring, their early buds
Will breast the soil and grow.
In summer, their bright petals
Are upturned before the sun.
In fall the plants are wilting,
Their tender shoots are turned to husks,
And come winter they are withered
As the snow and winds sepulcher stalks.

And I am an early reaper
Who comes as a late frost.
In spring the flowers budding
Are the first of flowers lost.
And in summer I am fire
When the rains have left and gone
I spread amongst the meadows
And leave desert in my trail.
In fall I’m like the wild duck
Consuming every crop
In winter I’m resplendent
In robes of ice and lack and want.

The Heat
In this heat,
With the cicadas buzzing
Like chainsaws
And the dogs panting
Like lovers
There is nothing to do
But sweat
And sleep
Sweat
And sleep
Sweat
And sleep
Until you wash yourself
In the warm ocean
Until the rain falls
And turns the land green
Until the moon rises
And the heat
Like a cat
Curls up for a nap.
And then, only then,
Can you breathe.

The Housefire
She had skin
As smooth
As a watermelon’s
And eyes
As bright
As butterflies.
She stood,
Frozen for a moment,
With her mouth open,
So that her round white teeth
And the tip of her pretty
Pink tongue
Were just visible.

Her arm was outstretched,
Like a medusa
Under a deep sea.

I could understand her.

I suppose that’s
How
I might stand too
If I came home,
And I, like her,
Found my home
Burning.

Mr. McGraff the Happy Giraffe
There once was a happy giraffe
Whose name was Mr. McGraff
He was brown and yellow
And a very tall fellow
And he had the most wonderful laugh.

Now Mr. McGraff the lovely giraffe
Went down to the mud hole one day
And it was there that he saw in four crocodile’s jaws
The child of a hippo named May.

Now Mr. McGraff was a quiet giraffe,
As it is in a giraffe’s nature to be,
But seeing this calf almost halfway in half
His cries rang from mountain to sea.

Although unable to swim, he charged right on in
And he attacked the grim crocodiles.
After much splishing and splashing
And fighting and thrashing
The giraffe emerged with a smile.

He shouted, You cool crocodiles
With your treacherous smiles
On this sunny day you’ve been beaten!
And my next endeavor
Will be to turn you to leather
For having my hippo friends eaten!

In the course of a while
After much musing on style
The giraffe was seen with a grin.
He took the lousy old brutes
And turned them into four boots
And those crocs were not heard from again.

Once More into the Void
The Earth revolves, and seasons change.
Foliage turns red, brown, orange, and black.
Horses snort. Their breath rises.
Their hooves crunch through fresh snow.
Now the fawns are born.
They are brown, soft as butter, with white spots.
Their legs tremble.
In comes the sun. High overhead,
Its heat leaves the air shimmering.

At the amphitheater, a musician
Mops the sweat from his eyes,
Folds his cloth, and returns it
To his breast pocket. A crowd
Is sitting in the fresh green grass.
He puts the bow to his cello,
Turns to the band, and he calls,
“One more time around!”

The Prison
It was just a little prison,
But its walls were hard as iron
And its jailers were resolute bastards.
They hung men, day and night,
Hung them even in my dreams
So that as I lay sleeping, fearful,
I watched ghostly rebels
Swinging by their necks,
Dozens of them,
Swinging through the mists,
From nightmare gallows.

It was just a little prison,
But it kept me from being free.
It stopped me from doing
The things that I wanted to do.

It was just a little prison,
But I made it bigger
With bricks of fear
And mortar made of doubt.
The bars were of ignorance,
And I paved the floor
With missed opportunity.
I roofed the ceiling
With a broad sheet of discomposure
That covered up the sky.
Because why the hell not?
I thought I might as well.
I can’t see any distance anyway,
When I lose my temper.

It was just a little prison,
But at least I was my own warden,
And my own jailer too.
I could deny those visitors,
Courage and wisdom.
It was just a little prison,
But I made it
All by myself.

Salted
There’s no place I’d rather be
Than here by the sea
Where the birds are singing all day.
All my worries and cares
Drift away on sea airs
And I’m left to do nothing but play.

The world may be burning
And it’s certainly turning
But here every day feels the same.
I wake and I write
From morning to night
And at times I forget my own name.

Seraphs in Black
Against the rising beauty of the sun,
shimmering over an owl’s watchful eyes,
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Lightless labyrinths of deathly ebon
concealing nightmare beasts, dichotomized
against the rising beauty of the sun.

From trees, then across plains, desolate, dun,
thunder sixteen hooves guided by blind eyes
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Who race from four corners, the bloodless ones
taking, by frozen touch, their living prize
against the rising beauty of the sun.

They, in yawning hoods, take every one
judged guilty of slaying, sadism, lies;
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Who, like bright artists dabbing oils upon
canvases of horizons and dawn skies
against the rising beauty of the sun,
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Water
The pelting pitter patter of precipitation
tick tip tip tap
ppit ppit
on the rain washed window
during the dreary day
sends me, wends me,
bores me, as no sun can gather.
Another rain washed day:
grey and heavy storms,
forms of rain in sheets,
windy wreaths of rain
spin like cyclones in the lane.
The dreary drops go drip drip drip;
the gutter filling rain
makes slipping hours pass, peculating time
on stealthy phantom feet.
The steady clock goes tick tick tock,
Pock pock pick, pick pick pock.
Seconds sound in time to steady drops of rain
clock pock tick tock;
Seconds sound in tune to rain that nurses earth…
A water song, a sing along:
rivulets of rivers run,
languorous lakes will swell.
A water song with wet world words:
moist monsoon, sea storm squall, great ungainly gales;
sails and masts and levies snap in times of wet travails.
Tap tap tap, tip tip tip.
Ships snapped; sailors dead,
sunk in whirling eddies deep, in whirlpools, fish schools,
entombed in worlds of water,
in a never dreaming, seaweed feeding, never ending, sound unceasing sleep.
Such a sad unnecessary slaughter of superstitious sailors,
star-crossed seafarers, unfortunate mariners,
in scenes both past and present has never been succeeded nor never yet surpassed.
What a word is water; what a world is water!
Drip drip drip,
tick tick tock.
Clocks chime ten,
the dusky hour,
and still the rain pours down:
days and nights, nights and days,
months and months of rain.
The endless drip, the dreary dusk,
the weary walks from work
in incessant rain on ho-hum days,
rain interminable as an hour.

We the Living Tree
As a world we are a single tree
And each of us are leaves
We try to be strong and free
Still we shake in a breeze
And in a leaf’s November
When the time it comes to fall
Then it is well to remember
That spring will come to call
And although we may not see
The budding of new leaves
We’ll know they’ll come to be
After the passing of the freeze.

Categories
Poems

Sunday Limericks

Rats
Ferdinand Van Kessel – The Dance of the Rats, 1690.

The Nudists from Sweden
There once were three women from Sweden
Who dressed like they were from Eden
They walked around in the nude
With a happy naturist attitude
And they got even tans from their freedom!

The Dancing Mouse
There once was a mouse who could dance
And he waltzed by a river in France
His beautiful dance was so slow
Beneath the moon wan and low
That it was like he moved in a trance.

Schrödinger’s Cat
There once was Schrödinger’s cat
Who was quite happy and fat
Although physicists said
He could be both living and dead
The cat was indifferent to that!

Categories
Poems

Nostalgia

I am writing a thrilling murder-mystery novel, and it’s called More Punishment than Crime.  Its villain is a poet.  Each time that this villain commits a murder he writes a terrifying poem.  🙂  This is another of the poems from the book.

Picasso - Melancholy Woman
Pablo Picasso – Melancholy Woman, 1902.

A ball once bounced across the street.
I watched it from the window.
Its parabolas were nice and neat.
A child followed it and was struck by a car.

Once upon the merry-go-round,
Never again into the canary-dead mine.
As youth we slept amongst graveyard stones;
At Christmas we sang “Auld Lang Syne.”

There were dogs and cats,
Animals of all kinds.
We petted their heads;
We twisted their spines.

At school we put on such a façade
That it fooled all the others
Who never knew we were odd;
And at Christmas we sang bright carols.

Life is not more merry, nor a better ride,
If we show our true colors;
We must keep our real selves inside,
Because we are a monster.

Categories
Poems

The Early Reaper

I am writing a thrilling murder mystery novel, and its villain is a poet.  Each time that this antagonist commits a murder he writes a terrifying poem.  🙂  This is one of the poems from the book.

Philip Galle - 1574 - the Triumph of time Detail
Philip Galle – The Triumph of Time (detail), c. 1574

 

All men are fields of flowers
Which start from heavy seeds.
In spring, their early buds
Will breast the soil and grow.
In summer, their bright petals
Are upturned before the sun.
In fall the plants are wilting,
Their tender shoots are turned to husks,
And come winter they are withered
As the snow and winds sepulcher stalks.

And I am an early reaper
Who comes as a late frost.
In spring the flowers budding
Are the first of flowers lost.
And in summer I am fire
When the rains have left and gone
I spread amongst the meadows
And leave desert in my trail.
In fall I’m like the wild duck
Consuming every crop
In winter I’m resplendent
In robes of ice and lack and want.

Categories
Poems

Barcelona

Barcelona

 

The walls are lined with bougainvillea,
And the streets are paved with cobblestone.
Ahead the Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Rises from the earth of Catalonia.

The day is breezeless, dry as bone,
While parakeets wing from tree to tree.
A suckling babe makes her mother moan
As she nurses on the malecón.

Up on the wharf, along the deep blue sea
Come fishermen with their morning catch:
Skipjack tunas, mahi-mahi—
Scales iridescent, fine as filigree.

What cold heart could Barri Gòtic not snatch—
What wounded heart could it not patch—
When lovers go to seek their match?
What locked imagination could it not unlatch?

Categories
Poems

Barcelona

435px-Barcelona_-_Carrer_del_Bisbe

The walls are lined with bougainvillea,
And the streets are paved with cobblestone.
Ahead the Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Rises from the earth of Catalonia.

The day is breezeless, dry as bone,
While parakeets wing from tree to tree.
A suckling babe makes her mother moan
As she nurses on the malecón.

Up on the wharf, along the deep blue sea
Come fishermen with their morning catch:
Skipjack tunas, mahi-mahi—
Scales iridescent, fine as filigree.

What cold heart could Barri Gòtic not snatch—
What wounded heart could it not patch—
When lovers go to seek their match?
What locked imagination could it not unlatch?

Categories
Poems

Sunday Limericks

Franz Marc – White Cat, 1912

The Man from New York
There once was a man from New York
Who never did eat with a fork
So when at home or with friends
He’d just use his hands
No matter if he ate spaghetti or pork!

The Chatty Girl from Cameroon
There was a chatty girl from Cameroon
Who refused to eat with a spoon
She would happily slurp her soup from the bowl
And mop up its dregs with a roll
And she was well loved from here to the moon!

The Cat with a Knife
There once was a cat with a knife
Who had used it for all of his life
He was a delicate cat
Who had manners and sat
And spoke of good fortune and life!

 

Categories
Poems

Salted

Paul Gaugain – By the Sea, 1892.

 

There’s no place I’d rather be
Than here by the sea
Where the birds are singing all day.
All my worries and cares
Drift away on sea airs
And I’m left to do nothing but play.

The world may be burning
And it’s certainly turning
But here every day feels the same.
I wake and I write
From morning to night
And at times I forget my own name.

Categories
Poems

Seraphs in Black

“Seraphs in Black” is a villanelle, a type of French form poetry.  My poem is about the coming of the infamous four horsemen of the apocalypse.

800px-Gustave_Dore_-_Death_on_the_Pale_Horse
Gustave Doré – Death on the Pale Horse, 1865.

 

Villanelle – The villanelle has a strict structure.  There are five verses, each with ten syllables.  There are also two end rhyme words, in this case “sun” and “come”.  The rhyme scheme is as follows:

A1 b  A2          - Lines in first tercet.
  a  b  A1          - Lines in second tercet.
  a  b  A2          - Lines in third tercet.
  a  b  A1          - Lines in fourth tercet.
  a  b  A2          - Lines in fifth tercet.
  a  b  A1 A2       - Lines in final quatrain.

 

Seraphs in Black

“Then another angel came out of the temple
and called in a loud voice to him who was
sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and
reap, because the time to reap has come,
for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So he
who was seated on the cloud swung his
sickle over the earth,
and the earth was harvested.”
-Revelation 14: 15 NIV Bible

Against the rising beauty of the sun,
shimmering over an owl’s watchful eyes,
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Lightless labyrinths of deathly ebon
concealing nightmare beasts, dichotomized
against the rising beauty of the sun.

From trees, then across plains, desolate, dun,
thunder sixteen hooves guided by blind eyes
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Who race from four corners, the bloodless ones
taking, by frozen touch, their living prize
against the rising beauty of the sun.

They, in yawning hoods, take every one
judged guilty of slaying, sadism, lies;
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Who, like bright artists dabbing oils upon
canvases of horizons and dawn skies
against the rising beauty of the sun,
the apocalyptical black dead come.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

Sweets
Josefa de Óbidos – Still Life with Sweets, 1676

The Ballerina
There once was a girl from Argentina,
From the city of Magdalena,
She was as slender as a fawn
As graceful as a swan,
And so she became a ballerina.

The Lucky Kentuckian
There once was a child from Kentucky,
One who was bold and brave and quite plucky
He would bet on horse races,
On dice, and on aces,
And he would win because he was lucky.

The Girl from Berlin
There once was a girl from Berlin
Who thought butter and cream were a sin
She said cakes came at too high a cost
But she never knew what she lost—
For there’s a price for staying too thin!

Categories
Poems

The Heat

Gaugain
Paul Gauguin – Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch, 1892.

In this heat,
With the cicadas buzzing
Like chainsaws
And the dogs panting
Like lovers
There is nothing to do
But sweat
And sleep
Sweat
And sleep
Sweat
And sleep
Until you wash yourself
In the warm ocean
Until the rain falls
And turns the land green
Until the moon rises
And the heat
Like a cat
Curls up for a nap.
And then, only then,
Can you breathe.

Categories
Poems

We the Living Tree

“We the Living Tree” is a poem about how we’re a part of the tree of life.

Its rhyme scheme is abab.

lippi-detail_orig
Filippino Lippi – Madonna and Child with SS Jerome and Dominic (detail), c. 1485.

As a world we are a single tree
And each of us are leaves
We try to be strong and free
Still we shake in a breeze
And in a leaf’s November
When the time it comes to fall
Then it is well to remember
That spring will come to call
And although we may not see
The budding of new leaves
We’ll know they’ll come to be
After the passing of the freeze.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

Giraffe
Jacopo Ligozzi – Barbary Moor with Giraffe, c. 1580.

 

The Big Hippopotamus
There once was a big hippopotamus
Who nibbled grass from a lake’s bottomus
He once found there a snail
Who looked up and paled
And cried, “Don’t eat me; I taste like your snotimus!”

The Nudist Pair
There once was a nudist pair
Who ran naked in the open air
They loved to run slow
Along a rippling river that flowed
But they ran faster when chased by a bear!

The Laughing Giraffe
There once was a joking giraffe
Who loved nothing better than to have a good laugh
He stuck his long tongue in the ear of his friend
And then he tried to pretend
That he was just giving a bath!

Categories
Poems

The Cosmos and Man

“The Cosmos and Man” is written in free verse and uses fireworks as a metaphor for life.

To those in the United States, Happy Fourth of July!

Fireworks
Giovanni Signorini – Fireworks Over the River Arno

It is Independence Day.
All those firecrackers—
Look at them all.
One after another after another.
Each one fascinating to watch,
Each one gone in a flash;
Each one is like a little life.

More are launched.
They are launched
In greater numbers
At ever faster rates.
This is humanity
Approaching its crescendo.

Imagine if we oohed and ahhed,
For every life lived like it was a firework.
Why not?
Folks are gone nearly as quickly, after all.
But we must tell ourselves
That we burn more brightly,
if not brighter, and are far more
important and everlasting.

At last the air is filled with fireworks,
A bright blaze. Thank the stars
That there is something beautiful
Yet to look upon.
The fireworks are captivating.
I don’t say good or bad, but
Certainly enthralling.

As expected, the show ends with a bang.
Some smoke lingers in the atmosphere.
A wind blows.
The stars twinkle high above.
The universe, it turns out,
Never cared that those fireworks
Existed it all.
And that
Is the very definition
Of unrequited love.

Categories
Poems

The Prison

This poem is about the prisons that we make for ourselves.

It’s written in free verse.

800px-Deliveranceofstpeter
Rafael – The Deliverance of St. Peter, 1514.  Fresco in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.

It was just a little prison,
But its walls were hard as iron
And its jailers were resolute bastards.
They hung men, day and night,
Hung them even in my dreams
So that as I lay sleeping, fearful,
I watched ghostly rebels
Swinging by their necks,
Dozens of them,
Swinging through the mists,
From nightmare gallows.

It was just a little prison,
But it kept me from being free.
It stopped me from doing
The things that I wanted to do.

It was just a little prison,
But I made it bigger
With bricks of fear
And mortar made of doubt.
The bars were of ignorance,
And I paved the floor
With missed opportunity.
I roofed the ceiling
With a broad sheet of discomposure
That covered up the sky.
Because why the hell not?
I thought I might as well.
I can’t see any distance anyway,
When I lose my temper.

It was just a little prison,
But at least I was my own warden,
And my own jailer too.
I could deny those visitors,
Courage and wisdom.
It was just a little prison,
But I made it
All by myself.

Categories
Poems

June 2020 Poems

Of the poems which I posted this June, my favorites are “A Wildebeest Named Gnu”, “The Rope Fence of the Pastel Houses”, and “The Stars Above”.

The most popular poems, judging by likes, were “The Stars Above,” “The Clouds of Passerines are Brittle,” and “Quick Folk”.

800px-Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_juin
Paul Limberg – June, a part of The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Contents

The Bird
The Clouds of Passerines are Brittle
Disregard the Stars
Fog’s Soliloquy
Music in Winter
Quick Folk
The River to a Trout
The Rope Fence of the Pastel Houses
Song at the Dawn of the Universe
The Stars Above
What are Islands
A Wildebeest Named Gnu

 

The Bird

“It’s good,” said the little sparrow in my breast,
As if sparrows could talk,
As if sparrows in breasts could talk.
So saying, the sparrow encouraged the egg to grow.

And so the egg developed.
It grew in its nest,
One made of thorny vines,
Bent sticks, and poison oak.

“And look, soon it will be hatching.”
First its beak pierced
The shell of my bloody heart,
And then out, through that shell, came a head.

Out came the little chick, Wrath,
Whom I’d been nursing for years.
I fed it on worms and belladonna,
Nurtured it, and taught my hate to fly.

“Go on, dear bird, fly far,” I told it.
But it never did, no.
It stayed, circling my head,
Because I had cared for it well.

And now, now that I am old,
I cannot make it leave.

 

The Clouds of Passerines are Brittle

The clouds of passerines are brittle:
One sharp sound, or just the turn of a thrush,
Breaks them as easily as a forced committal.
But real love bleeds as red as indian paintbrush,
And will even alone wage war against armies
With white flags plied only as tourniquets
And no uncouth tactic too mercenary.
To such cogent arrears each heart is convinced of debt—
When innocent youth is mortgaged to adolescence—
That must be paid in full before death does foreclose.
Therefore each heart puts passion before common sense,
Folly before judiciousness, immodesty before clothes.
Still, ancient wisdom would rather be untruth,
Be forgotten, lost to desert scenes,
Than renege upon the human flower of youth
And the honest love of people’s most hopeful dreams.

 

Disregard the Stars

Imagine if each of the stars was a lady
And the sky shone with their allure every night
Or if each leaf in a tree that is shady
Was a girl who was both lovely and bright
Still I would not look from your eyes
When you smile with your hands clasped in mine.

And think if each flash on the ocean
Was an old romance that sparked into flame
Or if each flicker on a land that lay frozen
Was a call to a new and voluptuous game
Still I’d use every means ever devised
To keep our loving hearts well intertwined
For it’s true that love knows no demise
When devotion and affection align.

 

Fog’s Soliloquy

I walk upon the dank, dark moor
And drift from post to post
My feet are wisps on the damp floor
My step is softer than a ghost’s.

My hair’s like tendrils that always waft
My form is a clammy embrace
My figure’s gentle, light, and soft,
I leave no print or trace.

In fancies frightened I make faces
As I wander through the bog
Making eerie, mystique places—
You know me by my name of Fog.

Music in Winter

In winter, along the grey and green northwestern shore,
the freezing ocean draws its briny waves and bubbling foam
over beach crabs, Nautilus shells, and the crow-combed floor
as the sun sets beyond the sea into her western home.
Then the stars come out. One by one, they start to appear.
They are like lighthouses in the cold, black galaxies of space,
each with a message that says, Here, there are planets here,
circling round and round, far away, revolving round a fiery base.
And then, floating up from the water, comes the crescent moon,
scythe-like, Arabesque, swathed by scudding silver clouds,
and blinking behind a raven who flies, witchlike, through the woven gloom,
through winds whose warp and weft are the cloth of night’s dark shrouds.
In the midst of this a couple wander onto the sands.
They are lit by moonlight. Her hair is long; their feet are bare.
They walk like lovers and intertwine their hands.
They stop at sea’s edge and breathe the salty air.
It is a dark, cold night. A vagrant cloud covers the moon.
Not a light, not a lamp, not a glow can be seen.
The music of the ocean’s combers is an ancient tune.
The rustling of the firs lends woodwinds to the night’s song,
while the girl adds vocals to the primordial, ancient endeavor,
singing into the wind, into the wilderness, into the wild, high and strong,
a song that lasts a moment, with notes that last forever.

 

Quick Folk

We may all be but beings in spheres of glass
Made to march and tumble as hours pass
While some great Being holds us in mighty hand
Or sets us, like a trinket, upon a cabinet stand
Where we exist like strolling shapes in a snow globe,
Or mobile figurines on a topographic lobe
Where the mountains are like grains of rice
And Antarctica is but a trace of ice—
If we are all but tiny beings in these spheres,
Still have we our hopes and loves and dreams and fears
And as we pass through our short years,
We laugh with joy or cry with tears,
For as the hours wind from the mortal clock
With every quick tick and every quick tock
We wonder what lies past the last frontier
And hold our passing lives more dear.

 

The River to a Trout

What a fine and watery home you are!
With currents rippling, cold and clear!
With a sunken gravelly sandbar
To which eggs will easily adhere.

And what a clean, quick sound you make!
As your water burbles over stones—
Aqua drawn from a cold lake,
Where the water’s as silent as bleached bones.

River, you branch and fork and cleft
Beneath the willows and the oak
And entwine with mists of gossamer heft
That mantle your surface with smoke.

 

The Rope Fence of the Pastel Houses

I pass a seashell of no significance
as I follow the curves of a whitewashed fence
and the uneven coastline of the sea.

The fence is jagged, hardly even, somewhat ragged,
with braided rope in place of slats,
stretching further than I can see.

Above my head, squawking shrilly, are hoary seagulls on the wing—
circling, circling, flitting, snatching, snatching at a crust of bread
then aloft again to form a ring.

And in the distance, softly scratching their stemmed backs upon the posts,
are coastal grasses, likely latching their seeds upon white painted posts,
for the wind to blow and foster breeding.

To my left are pastel houses, built on stilts with reading nooks
and oriels for those with books
to put their backs to while they thumb through pages of Of Mice and Men.

While from a cattail, singing sweetly, warbles warmly the gentle wren
Brown and round and barred so drably, yet still considered very fair,
The pleasant wren makes moving music then flies upon a gust of air.

I continue on my road to fortune, whistling with the wandering wind,
Getting there as quick as those folk who have in mind no certain end,
And speaking with an amiable neighbor, I’m kindly told a thing or two
That when traveling over any distance, it’s but common sense to enjoy the view.

 

Song at the Dawn of the Universe

With the universe’s dawn came dance culture
When the meteormen flew and sang,
When the starladies played an overture,
That filled the world with song at the Big Bang.
The nebulas they were humming,
While comets whistled choral tunes,
From the blackness, pulsars started drumming
And manly planets danced with ballerina moons.
The noble gases wound themselves like lovers
A singularity flung its arms in celestial scatter
Sending gossamer, sparkling space dust like covers
To blanket those lovers beneath modest dark matter.
Auroras sang in ethereal soprano, lofty and high,
While black holes came in with cosmic violin
And igniting stars waltzed through the early sky.
Like so, the universe pirouetted and then began to spin.

 

The Stars Above

And when I to suit my fancy lie
Beneath the tree and darkened sky
And watch with wondering eyes the stars
That glimmer through the night’s short hours
And find there the constellations bright
With Grecian myths of astral light
I wonder if in the twinkling air
There might be other life up there
For while I lay thinking on our great world
One not much larger than an azure pearl
I send my thoughts to a far, empyrean shore
Where no manmade craft has gone before
And stretching out my hand and mind
I hope to greet one of like kind
One whose curiosity about space
Extends beyond the limits of their race
And lets them dream of far-off lands
With quiescent oceans and rocky sands

 

What are Islands

What are islands
but the very branches of the earth
rising up to break the waves?
And what are pits
But little scalloped holes
Where bats may live,
as they do in darkened caves?
What are these features, high and low,
But the merest bumps
Upon a sphere so smooth
That but a small ways up
From its brilliant atmosphere
These ridges and declines
Vanish into a sleek and satiny luster?
I’ll tell you now.
These islands and these pits
They are our home:
The verdant forest,
The yellow plain,
The milky fog
The chilling rain.
They are our home.
We have no other
On which to roam,
We have no other
To explore
From mountaintop
To ocean floor.
And if we throttle
This pretty planet
If its cerulean face turns grey
Still the sun
Will descend at dusk
And still the sun
Will rise at day
But all those things
That make life happen
The birds, the bees
The air, the trees
Will be killed by cement
Or disease.
Where sentient beings far above
Hopefully can think and dream and love.

 

A Wildebeest Named Gnu

There once was a wildebeest named Gnu
The laziest beast that the veldt ever knew
One day a lion poked him and said,
Now either you run or you’re dead
But Gnu couldn’t be bothered to move.
Then the lion scratched the young gnu,
Said, From you I’ll make a gnu stew!
For I have claws that can shred
And I can bite off your head!
But Gnu couldn’t be bothered to move.
Then the lion jumped on Gnu’s back
Saying, I’m going to attack!
You’d better start running my friend!
Now I’ll give you some steps out in front
’Fore I start the hunt,
Then we’ll see what takes place in the end!
But Gnu couldn’t be bothered to move.
So the lion shook his head
He walked away and he said,
Such a riddle the world never knew:
For though the gnu just seems lazy
To be so idle is crazy
He must be some kind of statue!
And Gnu would have smiled
For he thought it worthwhile
But he couldn’t be bothered to move.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

17.9.1
William the Hippo – c. 1961 BC – c. 1878 BC

 

The Big Hippopotamus
There once was a big hippopotamus
Who nibbled grass from a lake’s bottomus
He once found there a snail
Who looked up and paled
And cried, “Please don’t eat me, I will taste like your snotimus!”

The Nudist Pair
There once was a nudist pair
Who ran naked in the open air
They loved to run slow
Along a rippling river that flowed
But they ran faster when chased by a bear!

The Laughing Giraffe
There once was a humorous giraffe
Who loved nothing better than to have a good laugh
He stuck his long tongue in the ear of his friend
And then he tried to pretend
That he was just giving a bath!

Categories
Poems

The Bird

This poem tells of a little bird that grew inside me. The poem is written in free verse.

still-life-with-three-dead-birds-cherries-redcurrants-and-insects-jean-baptiste-oudry-1712-4810f396
Jean-Baptiste Oudry – Still Life with Three Dead Birds, Cherries, Redcurrants, and Insects, 1712.

“It’s good,” said the little sparrow in my breast,
As if sparrows could talk,
As if sparrows in breasts could talk.
So saying, the sparrow encouraged the egg to grow.

And so the egg developed.
It grew in its nest,
One made of thorny vines,
Bent sticks, and poison oak.

“And look, soon it will be hatching.”
First its beak pierced
The shell of my bloody heart,
And then out, through that shell, came a head.

Out came the little chick, Wrath,
Whom I’d been nursing for years.
I fed it on worms and belladonna,
Nurtured it, and taught my hate to fly.

“Go on, dear bird, fly far,” I told it.
But it never did, no.
It stayed, circling my head,
Because I had cared for it well.

And now, now that I am old,
I cannot make it leave.