Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On Time!

My dear wife was pregnant for months upon end.
She prayed to the Lord a sweet baby to send.
Her others were late and her patience wore thin,
"Dear Jesus, please stop him from lingering in."

With joy then, on Saturday, she had contractions
A war in her tummy like fighting 'tween factions
And finally coming the wee hours next morn.
A big baby boy finished up and got born....
On time!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Waiter

She lays there uncomfortable, phone in her hand
A pillow for knees and one on each end,
Searching on Pinterest, hoping to see,
The birth of her darn baby.

Alas, baby's comfortable right where he is
Or she? We don't know if it's Mr. or Ms.
And so my dear lady is lying in wait.
Praying the babe won't be late!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gangland Birds

Raucous, unsettled birds those blue jays.
They moved into a nearby tree like a gang,
All swagger and coarse slang.
Then moved on to make sure some sparrow pays.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Battered tin trumpets are lovely to hear.
Pouring sweet melody into your ear.
Holding you captive to each awful note
With beauty like songs from a goat.

Rotten bananas are subtly charming
With pungent bouquets 'neath their odors alarming.
Just the cuisine for discerning elites
To bring forth their media bleats.

Whatever is lousy is tastefully chic.
Whatever is awful is tres magnifique.
Whatever destroys is really sublime.
Whatever is true is a crime. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Big, Fat Cat's Feet

An obese little kitty
Walked into the room,
Plopped down his bottom
And started to groom.
He sat there, a blob,
For what seemed like all day.
Then sauntered his bottom away.

The fog on my hilltop
Is much like that cat:
A lazy, unflappable
Layer of fat
Perched on the highland,
Heedless of all,
A cozy and comfortable pall.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

An "Ode" to my Mother in Law

There once was a lady named "M"
Whose pipes were all plugged up with phlegm.
She scorned pretty verses,
But loved tradesmen curses.
And gleefully rooted the system.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Banister Tabb - Poem Repertoire vol. 5

The Sisters 
The waves forever move;
The hills forever rest:
Yet each the heavens approve,
And Love alike hath blessed
A Martha's household care,
A Mary's cloistered prayer.
Perhaps this poem struck me because the times are so vituperative.  If one be on the one side, the other side is surely terrible.  Unless the vice be versa?  That's not to take a position on any position but this: God seems to have it in mind that people can be different, even opposed, yet faithful.  I should note that Jesus tells Martha that her sister was doing what was right.  But I'm not inclined to think that he was condemning her concern for hospitality so much as her anxiety.

Structure-wise, the poem is chiastic, I think.  The two first lines set up a contrast, which the third line resolves.  The fourth line likewise resolves the contrast which comes in lines five and six.

It's really just a sweet poem that might be tucked away as a reminder for acceptable difference in quotidian life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Emily Dickinson - Poem Repertoire vol. 4

Emily Dickinson 
They say that "Time assuages" -
Time never did assuage -
An actual suffering strengthens
As Sinews do, with age - 
Time is a Test of Trouble -
But not a Remedy -
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady -
"Time heals all wounds," say amateur therapists who lack enough silver in their coinage to buy some better sense.  Or if they don't go in for aphorisms they might say something more along the lines of, "In the wake of this murderous rampage that left scores of children dead, we need a time of healing" as if a certain collection of weeks or months, maybe salted with some preferred legislation or a nice speech, would remove the holes from the bodies and undo the harm that was done.

Nonsense, says Dickinson.  A real hurt does not heal from time.  Time is no physician, and certainly not the Great Physician.  Instead, time is a test.  If its ministrations work, it isn't by virtue of actual efficacy, but proof that the wound was no wound at all.  Further, "an actual suffering" will get worse over time.

All of this leads to the thought that over time we become bearers of suffering.  It's not a pretty thought.  I've seen it elsewhere in literature, in Trollope's Lily Dale.  And in her case, the suffering seemed as much the result of her determination to admit no possible remedy.  "It is my wound and nothing can be done!"  What of love that nurtured after a true love has passed away?  Can love heal the wounds left by love?  And if so, does that invalidate the love that came first?

And what of Christ?  I wholeheartedly agree with Dickinson that Time is no healer - being deaf and mute. But cannot Christ make all things new?  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Don't trust time to do much good, but trust that within time the Christ who was raised from the dead can also heal a real wound.  And him doing so in no way implies that it wasn't a wound to begin with.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Edwin Arlington Robinson - Poem Repertoire vol. 3

Souvenir by Edwin Arlington Robinson 
A vanished house that for an hour I knew
By some forgotten chance when I was young
Had once a glimmering window overhung
With honeysuckle wet with evening dew,
Along the path tall dusky dahlias grew,
And shadowy hydrangeas reached and swung
Ferociously; and over me, among
The moths and mysteries, a blurred bat flew. 
Somewhere within there were dim presences,
Of days that hovered and of years gone by.
I waited, and between their silences
There was an evanescent faded noise;
And though a child, I knew it was the voice
Of one whose occupation was to die.

As a boy I often went with my mother when she visited the elderly.  There was a window of time when my older siblings were in school and my younger sister had yet to be born.  I suppose this period of time was quite short, a couple of years at most, but in my memories it seems like a whole era of my life.  This poem resonates with that time.  I remember the faint smell of urine, the old furniture (was it a yellowed couch on the southern wall, not plush, but more like an extended chair?  As I sat, the kitchen was off to the left, but I didn't go there.  I remember the narrow staircase up to the bathroom; I remember the treats that were laid out that were well-intended, but somehow off the mark.  I didn't really understand it.  I didn't really like it.

Here we have an adult who looks back at a memory.  There is much to the memory that is blurred: the house is vanished, the chance is forgotten, the presences were dim, and the voice was evanescent.  At the same time, the memory is concrete: in the glimmering window there is wet honeysuckle, and it is wet from evening dew.  There are tall dusky dahlias along the pathway.  The hydrangeas were aggressive and ferocious.  And there was a particular bat who flew overhead.  Granted, the bat was blurry, but perhaps from motion, not memory.

Outside, there is much that captures the child's interest.  The description in the first section suggests that his imagination was running as he accompanied his parents (?) to this house.  The child knew nothing of death and wasn't concerned with it.  What mattered was the garden, the plants.  He wasn't brought in, but left outside to occupy himself.  It was already late, late enough for dew to be forming, for a bat to be flying.  Perhaps it's a little strange that a child would be left outside past twilight.

The visit inside with the adults goes on.  The child ceases to play and imagine and begins to wait.  There is silence inside, punctuated by a voice.  And this voice, the child understands, is not like other voices.  It is evanescent - weak, vanishing, frail.  It is not the voice of one who will go on living, but the voice of one whose concern it is to die.

The life of this other, whether grandparent or some other, signifies so very little in the experience of the child. How can the child know that this voice belongs to one who was once young?  That this voice belonged to one who had had other occupations - even wandering in twilight gardens perhaps.

It is a wistful poem, about a child from the eyes of an adult whose view has expanded.  No doubt the voice that was only peripheral is now understood as the point of the whole experience.  The child had been brought there not to take in the garden, but because the person, whose frail voice was heard through the window, was important.  This person had dignity.  And this child, now an adult, recognizes this dignity in remembering.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Folly of a Young Man's Tongue

My father said,
When I was young,
To mind my manners,
Hold my tongue.
But I was proud
And talked a yard
For every foot
Of sense I had.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sara Teasdale - Poem Repertoire vol. 2

"Invictus claptrap," I thought as I began to read this poem.  But I loved the meter.  And the second and third stanza bring into doubt my initial irritation.  Hmmm...

The Shrine by Sara Teasdale
There is no lord within my heart,
  Left silent as an empty shrine
  Where rose and myrtle intertwine,
Within a place apart. 
No god is there of carven stone
  To watch with still approving eyes
  My thoughts like steady incense rise;
I dream and weep alone. 
But if I keep my altar fair,
  Some morning I shall lift my head
  From roses deftly garlanded
To find the god is there.

ABBA rhyme sequence. Very regular syllabically.  The first three lines of each stanza are made up of four iambs (unstressed - stressed).  The fourth line is made up of three iambs.  The effect of this is very flowing, with a discernible marker in between stanzas.

The poem seems centered on location: heart, shrine, place, altar.  Where is god (sic)?  "Not in the heart," answers the first stanza.  God is absent from that silent place, though the word "shrine" implies that there is some expectation that he be there.  Perhaps it is a false expectation.  Nor does any god reside there to give mute approbation or comfort.  The person is alone.

Then comes the hinge, "But if I keep my altar fair."  God is nowhere in the places or situation so far described, but this conditional clause introduces where he might be.  "Some morning," indeterminate, out of one's control or agency, "the god" might appear upon said altar.  But it is too much to say that it is beyond the person's agency, because though this god's arrival is not a matter to be controlled, still it depends on her keeping the altar fair.  And she is doing so.  She is "deftly" garlanding roses.  In the first stanza the rose and the myrtle intertwined without intervention.  In this last stanza, their beauty is being enhanced.

So then, god arrives in beauty.  We participate in the divine not by waiting about for him, not by seeking consolation or approval, but by pursuing beauty, by making that which is beautiful more so by our artistic action.  So the seeming centrality of location is not borne out.

I'm always curious how other people conceive of God in all sincerity.  This conception of God is very forlorn.  He will be absent through the darkness and loneliness, but maybe he'll be present later as a kind of abstraction connected to my action.  How despairing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I'm Older than I Am

I've heard of Lady Ga Ga
And know that youngsters boogie.
Or is it that they cha-cha slide?
Or try to dance like Snookie?
I really haven't any clue
I'm aging by the day.
And culture keeps a-marchin' on
And maybe even's gay?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wallace Stevens - Poem Repertoire vol. 1

It's recently come into my mind to start reading poetry instead of occasionally writing lousy examples of it.  In the back of my mind is building a repertoire of poems to give to my children as they grow up.  Having poetry books at hand is a great resource, but don't serve much good if I don't appropriate any of them.  And one appropriates by reading it, over and again, talking about it, maybe memorizing it.

Here's the first beginning of an initial hint of a start:

"Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" by Wallace Stevens
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

So... alliteration in the first line.  Internal rhyme in the second.  He doesn't choose random colors.  The first color becomes the second, while it's replacement follows... just a bit tediously.  The colors themselves are pretty basic, only exciting when compared to white.  And the repetition of pattern isn't exciting either, except that at least it's a pattern!  For my part, it seems pretty silly to wear socks to bed, lace or not, and to wear a beaded belt?  Uncomfortable.  Weird.

And here he makes the connection between apparel and sub-conscious thought.  The one who wears boring dream-time clothes will dream boring dreams.

But an old drunken sailor?  Wearing entirely inappropriate boots?  Well, he's likely to dream something a bit more exciting.


Monday, May 20, 2013


Old MacDonald had a farm
But what lack of efficiency!
Having one of everything
Diffusing his proficiency.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

English is Murder

Grass (British)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cemetery Improvements.

Tumble, tumble, trees come down
Beside the graves, on and around.
The aging pines were fit no more
To grace the cemetery shore.
Undulating hills now bright
And shorn of shade and bathed in light
Are somehow bare, though marked by stones,
Are somehow bald, though filled with bones.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Blabber and Haikus

Oy, life with two kids instead of one, while trying to exercise, read books, and overthrow the local soil and water commissionar....  Well, I've lost track of responsibilities.... like the occasional haiku.

So over at Mr. D's we were blabbing about something or another and I asked him an innocent question, "What do you think about lawn games?"  Now what I was expecting was an enthusiastic espousal of a particular lawn game, such as the following, "I would sell my first born child to play a good game of Kub on a proper lawn with good quality hard wood."

But no.  He says that he's against them.  Communist.  But I responded with tact:

The Jarts of Justice 
Raining down on Mr. D. 
Incorrect answer.

He replied that he thought the haiku was somewhat forceful, not to say violent, coming from a minister of the cloth.  I didn't think so at all.  I asserted as much with the following:

Bocce balls will creep 
Like angry iron ninjas 
To kiss your sweet sleep.

Delicate.  Picturesque.  Entirely in keeping with my calling.

I still can't believe he doesn't like lawn games, though.  Crazy.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Future

To understand the future intellectually is beyond us.  
To understand it systematically is further yet beyond our ken.  
But to have suspicions?  Now that's right in the wheelhouse of man.  
And I've got suspicions.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A No Darn Snow Limerick

There once was a place without snow.
To some other place it would go.
It left us all brown;
The whole landscape frowned.
Did I like it? No, no, no, no, NO.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Nuances of Winter

The deep blue sky speaks hopeful words
And shows the scene of flying birds.
The shadows creep on melting snow
While gray depression starts to go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Have a New Year

The sky and the ground are all white.
But the color is missing its light.
Dark at the noon of the day.
In spirit, the palette is gray.