Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lost Tribe

He said Ephraim, but go ask the crows:
Had anyone been sure about the past,
We'd have a clearer notion who was gassed,
Who vanished in a cloud of smoke, whose nose
Was longer than the average garden hose,
Whose riches could control a world so vast
That everybody in that priestly caste
Was more, and less, than people might suppose.

Would you have joined that tribe? Don't hesitate;
There are rewards, but sometimes there's a cost,
The huge scrapheaps on which our lives were tossed,
The bonfires of the mediaeval state
And purges, even now, at this late date.
We haven't been found out; we have been lost.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23 Poem

Sure, he's the best, if everything you need
Can be wrapped up in fourteen lines like these,
Packed with constructions, graceful, filigreed,
Strong as an ox and gentle as a breeze,
But never built on bald clichés like those.
You'll see his love is nothing like the sun,
While mine, dammit, is like a red, red rose.
Just hold your nose and wait until I'm done.
I wish I could put on some smart disguise
And write like that, boldly, effortlessly.
I trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
But I won't match that matchless mastery,
Not quite as simple as ABAB

Friday, April 21, 2006

Siren Call

You didn't warn me that the sky would fall
When Franklin spoke into the microphone.
I thought he understood he was alone
In thinking that the people in the hall
Were on our side. But Franklin heard the call
Of sirens in the air, and at the bone
He felt their wholly soft, caressing tone,
And ended up pinned back against the wall.

If I had known, I would have buggered off
Before the place blew up in misery,
Which doesn't always want much company.
You sputtered briefly, I began to cough,
And Boston Charlie decked that whistling toff,
Insisting, "We have met the enemy!"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beach Living

I've paid the bills, and washed the kitchen floor,
Done laundry, shopping, cleaning, paid the rent,
And fixed the toaster (since the handle bent,
Extracting toast has been a fork-based chore).
I have a job; three days of every four
The day ends and I don't know where it went,
The beer is gone, and all our money spent,
The ship has sailed, we're sleeping on the shore.

You might conclude I'm thinking we've been cursed,
But life is not a mere collage of ills.
It's certainly a bore, a clash of wills,
A frenzied dash, but we could finish first.
There's no good reason to suppose the worst;
I've washed the kitchen floor, and paid the bills.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Stop yelling at me! That's what I would say
If one of those hip hop "artists" asked me.
They won't ask me. They think that irony
Is someone else's problem. That's okay,
But if they're hoping I'll just fade away
While they rhyme "Habit, he" with "gravity,"
Prosodic meetings with depravity,
They ought to think again. I think I'll stay.

Is no one listening to this at all?
Indeed, for poets these are troubled times,
Verse forms replaced by critics' paradigms,
And when you ask about it, they just stall.
Please wait. Soon somebody will take your call,
And yell at you in ringing third-rate rhymes.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hot Times

The weather is no better down the street,
Where there were celebrations and delight
As long as the police kept out of sight.
It's raining champagne corks, on the elite
As on the poor, and everybody's feet
Are sore from conga overload tonight.
Our makeshift shoes are too tight – don't fit right –
And I took pills: every four hours, repeat.

Under the weather, I have shot my bolt,
Careening madly through the wine and song
That filled the air until it sounded wrong,
Electric surges ending with a jolt.
I'm taking off my sweater, and I'll moult
If this ungodly heat goes on too long.

Friday, April 14, 2006


I cover up my edge with masking tape.
I will not paint without my horsehair brush.
My throat is dry. Have I contracted thrush?
Yes, I could fly if I had the right cape.
You heard that Alexander was a grape?
This sort of thinking turns your brain to mush,
And when the man behind you whispers, "Hush!"
Think twice: are you or he in better shape?

This is not dancing, but a mass of tics.
If you were singing, that was grease I drank,
A moment after Mama's rowboat sank.
Put three more gin-soaked puppies in the mix
And spin around, waving four banjo picks.
I cover up my midriff with a plank.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Did I explain my attitude to shorts?
I hate them. Hate them. Hate them very much.
I hate them on the Belgians, or the Dutch.
I hate them in malls, in historic forts,
On dogs, on judges of our Supreme Courts,
Accompanied by music and a crutch,
I hate the way they hang, the way they touch
The half-uncovered thigh, by all reports.

Attempting not to look does me no good:
My brain cramps up and enters a deep freeze
While pondering eternal verities
Like why I hate shorts. Hate them. Understood?
There's always jokers in this neighbourhood
Expressing feelings by showing their knees.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Message to Middle America (Spring 2006)

Americans are not the government,
I know. The three years I was living there,
They welcomed me, were friendly, fond, and fair,
I always felt safe, anywhere I went,
The things I learned, the places I was sent,
All of it. I will not learn not to care,
I won't be browbeaten, and come to share
The feeling that good is an accident.

But when it comes to voting, what is this?
This Congress, and this Chief Executive?
Who chose this group? Again? Brains like a sieve,
This pack of clowns and liars? That's your bliss?
There's something here that you were born to miss,
And nothing will persuade us to forgive.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Here's how it works: consider, if a god
Is good, all-knowing, and all-powerful,
Why should an infant suffer? More than odd,
It's nasty. We prayed at the tractor pull,
But our guy didn't win the biggest prize,
And when we lifted our eyes heavenward
The only thing that happened to our eyes
Was they went blind. What else occurred
When both sides claimed they understood god's will,
Except that nobody was smart enough
To follow arguments on whom to kill?
Epistemology is really tough:
When newborn babies cry in desperate pain,
Good creatures try to help them. God? Insane.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pastel Shade

Cascades of promises washed over me:
What you would do, if I would just forsake
All other loves, what you would undertake
To prove your worthiness, what I would see:
Dreams would come true, the apples on a tree
Leap into pies no one would have to bake,
We'd find ourselves relaxing by a lake
In cool, pastel shade, kissing fitfully.

It isn't that I wished for better things,
Or hoped somebody sweeter would arrive
The moment you had gone. I wasn't five,
And I know all too well that love has wings
Only to fly away. These aren't mood swings,
Just hard thinking about being alive.

Monday, April 03, 2006


My wife says, when she disagrees with me
I get upset, so she has learned restraint,
And doesn't argue, pout, or make complaint,
But waits, and calms herself, so patiently
That I am unaware. Docility
Is her new watchword, and my own new taint,
As she is silent, pliant, sweet, and faint.
I'll never be as wonderful as she.

What terrible dark vengeance have I wrought,
That causes her to model mourning weeds?
I haven't struck her, or dismissed her needs,
Insisted on apologies, or fought.
She will not say. My stomach's in a knot,
And now we argue about pumpkin seeds.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Flaming Wheels

At first, I thought that I would specify
Exactly which of those exotic fruits
I wanted brought to me by men in suits
Made up of patches of Atlantic sky
And cool Pacific water, but my eye
Was soon distracted by the parachutes,
The climbing ivies, the parade of newts,
And flaming wheels of cheddar rolling by.

So I must take whatever fruit I get,
Sometimes bananas with dark, rotting peels,
Occasionally pears my nephew steals,
And, if I'm lucky, they come in a set.
One may not find it comforting, and yet
My life is measured out in flaming wheels.