Monday, October 27, 2008


Flagrant Self-Promotion

In response to absolutely no requests whatsoever to post some of
my own work, I'm going to anyway.  Hey, it's my blog;  deal with it.

* * *

To Shelley's Skylark:  An Autumnal Admonition

Hail to thee, blithe spirit,
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heav'n or near it
Pourest forth thy heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

It never fails:  soon as the sun's crossed south,
the autumn equinox brings on the mood
to gratify one orifice  -- the mouth,
and even poets' fancies turn to food.
Inspired thoughts no longer soar; they're stewed,
baked, roasted, broiled, sauteed, or fricasseed
in gravy rich with wine and herbs, imbued
with flavors of the vine and field, all freed
by master culinary skill to feed
the fading year's last hunger which now grows
until it overwhelms all other need:
to stuff ourselves with life, and then to doze.

So, Skylark dear, you'd best not soar with pride
this time of year; you'll end up batter-fried.

* * *
Proper Triolet Etiquette

Repeated lines must change their sense.
Shapeshifted punctuation frees
the truths held rigid, straining, tense.
Repeated lines must change; their sense
evolves to grow more rich and dense.
Such is what current use decrees.
Repeated, lines must change, their sense
shapeshifted.  Punctuation frees.

* * *

Spurlos Versunkt

The bright fuzz of the cellphone's static blurred
the most important item on your list,
or so I gathered from the bits I heard --

the batteries have died (they're what I missed
last time), so now I have to face alone
these rows of products which all coexist

in seeming sameness, and I softly groan
because I've grasped this truth:  they're not to you.
I wonder how it is I've never known

which you prefer.  I'm certain I'll renew
my vow that I learn every single thing
about you.  But, right now, what can I do?

Their mysteries these taunting sirens sing,
of Minis, Maxis, Supers, pads with wings.

* * *

Free Verse Pantoum with Parrot and Garbanzos

Shimmering faint gold,
emptied skins of garbanzos
flung into a heap
litter the white linoleum floor.

Emptied skins of garbanzos
litter the white linoleum floor,
rich thin surfaces tossed aside.

as he searches for deeper truth,
rich thin surfaces tossed aside,
slippery beauty unregarded.

As he searches for deeper truth,
I walk in to learn how,
slippery beauty unregarded;
foot-flailing, I fall.

I walk in to learn how;
I'm a sort of truthseeker, too;
foot-flailing, I fall,
victim of truth's deceitful surfaces.

I'm a sort of truthseeker, too,
flung into a heap,
victim of truth's deceitful surfaces,
shimmering faint gold.

* * *

Exchange of Sonnets Between Poet and Cat 

I:  "Lines to the Cat"

To sonnetize the cat, one needs a line
as lithe and limber as this queen herself
who sleeps within the tight coil of her spine
between two volumes on the nearby shelf
(Montaigne and Eliot, of course -- her choice
of sleeping matter which no doubt gives rise
to dreams wherein she plays with me, or, voice
a blackboard scrape, yowls as a rival flies).

But such a line must also have the strength
a Gothic arch requires to counterpoise
the fragile mass of Chartres Cathedral's length:
her stalking stance, as she responds to noise
behind the baseboard, leaps erect and mounts
dire guard, spring steel as she prepares to pounce.

II:  "If You Want Something Done Right . . . ."

I should have known:  you just can't trust a poet
to get those things that really matter right;
he'll get all inspirationy and blow it,
pursuing metaphors clear out of sight.
Sometimes, with luck, he'll catch one and strut back,
teeth bared around its dangling tail and feet;
he'll drop it on the page, give it a whack,
and wish it weren't so dead.  Some tasty treat.
But he's not much a mouser, so I'm here
to catch the truth within my own quick jaws
and show it to you as it should appear,
still living -- twitching tail and scrabbling paws.
I'll tell you this once more (this time's the last;
you ninnies have short memories):  I'm Bast.

* * *

Love Story

Creepity, freepity, 
Zardian Gormias,
native of Uranus,
fell for a squid

earthly in origin.
good for what ails you," he
moaned as she slid

suckery tentacles
deep in his apertures.
"Oooh, what you did!

Clearly you know all your
Darling, you've reached to the
seat of my id."

Quasars went quasing, and,
Zardian fell to his
hinges and bid,

"Marry me instantly,
"Mama won't let me coz
 I'm just a kid."

* * *

Lost Cause

Your mother's coming, so you've got to clean
my study?  Dearest, have you lost your mind?
My job as poet is to bring a keen,
insightful order to the mess I find
in nature's disarray; how can I bind
discordants into harmony if you
have moved my stuff?  It took me weeks to wind
the poem up you're holding in that slew
of tattered paper scraps, and this stack grew
by slow accretion until weight has pressed
the pencilled words to diamond; don't undo
this structured chaos where I work my best.

And then I said, "Your mother is a menace
to art."  So, Joe, bring me another Guinness.

* * *

Principles of Poetic Composition:  Rhyme

If you want to write in rhyme,
be prepared for sweat and grime
as you find yourself ensnared in verbal thicket
where you're chasing down a chime
to that misbegotten slime
of a word that seemed at first to be the ticket.

If you wish to soar with comet,
Must you plummet down to vomit?
That won't do, and you vow fiercely you can lick it.
At the risk you're going to bomb it,
you resolve at last on grommet;
if the critic doesn't like it, he can stick it.

For this mount is hard to climb,
and it's certainly a crime
that our language makes it hard to hit the wicket.
Why can't things that "glimmer" glime?
What the hell -- become a mime.
Point your cursor to "Delete" and quickly click it.

* * *

Drought Storm

What mercy from these clouds rolled gray as sharks
arched swirling in a rush about their prey?
Dust sketches gusts of wind with dried-blood clay
that's brayed to sterile powder by white arcs
of suns unshriven until now by dark
clouds' pardon.  Surging across the sun, they
harvest darkness; but lightning tongues its way
among them, feral:  they burn red and stark.

What mercy plummets with the slash of hail
against these stalks pale-gold with failure?  Leaves
and stems, drought-brittled, shatter, shred.  The sun
drives past the trailing edge of cloud, impales
the ice-stripped, broken gold of fields, and reives
all answer from us but the final "None."

* * *

The Man with the Blue Kazoo
(with absolutely no apologies 
whatsoever to Wallace Stevens)


He came and brought his blue kazoo
although not one had asked him to.

When conversation reached a lull,
he sprang erect and whipped it out.

"I'll play that which I wish were true;
I'll play it on my blue kazoo."

"Oh God, please, no!" they chorused out,
"not that old one-note blue kazoo;

not things exactly as you wish;
why not a tune to dance to, lad?

If not, why not things as they are?"
"My natural voice must ring out

because that's things as they should be;
I'll change what is to what I see

and know is truth so you'll know, too;
I'll play it on my blue kazoo."


The moon is feathers reflecting light
emitted by bald pheasant's eye

articulates the rats which swarm
in sewers of Jerusalem:

such is the poem, a substitute
for that which is, the failed Wahrheit,

which Dichtung shapes to fill the void
with jocular procreation.


Thus he played on the blue kazoo
endless while they restless grew.

He played a one-note waltz which seemed
just like the jig he played before

and indistinguishable from
the barcarolle that followed after.

His one-note fugue seemed just to be
the same as its preceding prelude,

and when "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
came out the same as "Scarborough Fair,"

they wrenched from him his blue kazoo
and broke it quickly quite in two.


"I must sing or die," he said.
"Then die," they answered. But, instead,

he clamped his hand upon his nose,
and, nasily reverberating

in his throat, his breath he blew
out in the song of the blue kazoo.

"Enough's enough," they all then said,
and broke his nose, and then his head.

The blessed silence brought relief;
things as they are came back to stay,

and all the group went off to bed,
to dream of polyphonic truth instead.


Down in his grave, as he decayed,
the venting gases squealed and played

the one-note song he wished were true
when he had played his blue kazoo.

For miles around, the earthworms fled,
the grass above turned brown and died,

and trees pulled up their roots and moved
from degustation in his vault.

And if you don't believe it's true,
I'll play it on my blue kazoo.

* * *

Schrodinger's Puss

Quibbity, quobbity,
Erwin J. Schrodinger,
genius and physicist,
boxed up his cat

testing his theory of
waves of the probable
rising til splat!:

choices collapsing from
crash to a certainty:
puss is squashed flat.

* * *
* * *

My husband had a great appreciation for "Spurlos Versunkt" (Dear, there are just some places men should not have to go, he says).

Personally, I'm quite fond of the Blue Kazoo.

I'm also very glad you posted your own work Howard. You shouldn't wait so long to do so again.
you are incredible
I would buy a collection of your poetry if it were in such a form
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mary and RennyPenny; these are somewhat older pieces that date from 1999 to 2003 when I was experimenting mostly with formal poetry. And no, I don't have a published collection, although a couple of these (the two cat sonnets) were published in an online journal (now defunct) several years ago.

Thanks again for stopping by.
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