Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bad Poetry

Ode to Gertie Lee 

I know that feller Shakespeare
Who invented fishin' rods
Wrote a lot o' fancy stuff
That jolts like cattle prods.
But I'm a mind ta write a line
Or mebbe two, or three
'bout th' love that I have fer
My gal named Gertie Lee.
Now Gertie she's a keeper
She ain't like ones a-fore
Cuz she's got all th' kwa-la-tees
That men like me a-door.
My Gertie cleans her own fish
She baits th' hook ta boot
And when she takes a swig o' shine
That gal is quite a hoot.
Her hair is gold like corn silk
A-peepin' through the shuck
With rusty brown there at th' root
That matches my ol' truck.
Sairy's got a purty smile
Them teeth are straight an' true
'cept fer that gap there in th' front
She spits her snuff juice through.
Her cookin' gives me pleasure
Th' cornbread it's dee-vine
Her turnip greens with pot likker
Makes me lose my mind.
I'm gonna ask that Gertie Lee
To be my blushin' bride
Jus' soon as I kin find a job
That'll feed her two-ton hide.


Oh, My Beloved, My Sea Monkey

Suspended and freeze-dried in a cozy foil shell,
What dreams do you dream (if you dream),
Pray do tell.

The moment of creation, you awake from the evil spell -- 
I'd like to be excited, but frankly I can't tell
if you're happy in you're new home or DOA in hell.

Purified and tranquil in the water that you dwell;

How many of your powdered brothers
did I spill outside your plastic vessel?

Low these many days I wait like a sentinel
For you to wear the crown in your little citadel.
My tiny, mucus-like backwash friend,
A brine shrimp without a cocktail.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sea Monkey by Yard Sale

My dog has died.

I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.

Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.

His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.



I was changing a tire and the neighbor walked by
Stood and looked a while, then he said Hi
Got a flat? he asked and this made me grin
I said no, just changing the old air and putting new stuff in.
Was coughing and sneezing. My throat was on fire
Got a bad cold? My wife did inquire
No, it's not really bad. It is a good one
I love watery eyes and watching my nose run.
I was on a bus and on my newspaper I sat
The guy next to me asked "Are you reading that"
I said yes. Reading through your butt is all the new rage.
Then I stood up and turned the page.
Dentist hit a nerve and I came up out of the chair
Did that hurt? He asked as though he really did care.
I said no, there was a spiritual woman I used to date
And she was teaching me how to levitate.
I hit a pothole with my car one night
It made such a loud noise it gave my wife a fright
Didn't you see it she began to cry
Of course I did. I hit it. Didn't I.
Once I tripped on one of my little guy's toys
Fell down the stairs and my wife heard the noise
Did you miss a step? She screamed from the hall
I said "No Dear, I think I hit them all."

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Reflection Rag by Scott Joplin

Little Pierre
by William Topaz McDonagall

In a humble room in London sat a pretty little boy,
By the bedside of his sick mother her only joy,
Who was called Little Pierre, and who's father was dead;
There he sat poor boy, hungry and crying for bread. 

There he sat humming a little song, which was his own,
But to the world it was entirely unknown,
And as he sang the song he felt heartsick,
But he resolved to get Madame Malibran to sing his song in public 

Then he paused for a moment and clasped his hands,
And running to the looking-glass before it he stands,
Then he smoothed his yellow curls without delay,
And from a tin box takes a scroll of paper worn and grey. 

Then he gave one fond eager glance at his mother,
Trying hard brave boy his grief to smother,
As he gazed on the bed where she lay,
But he resolved to see Madame Malibran without delay. 

Then he kissed his mother while she slept,
And stealthily from the house he crept,
And direct to Madame Malibran's house he goes,
Resolved to see her no matter who did him oppose. 

And when he reached the door he knocked like a brave gallant
And the door was answered by her lady servant,
Then he told the servant Madame Malibran he wished to see
And the servant said, oh yes, I'll tell her immediately. 

Then away the servant goes quite confident,
And told her a little boy wished to see her just one moment
Oh! well, said Madame Malibran, with a smile,
Fetch in the little boy he will divert me a while. 

So Little Pierre was broght in with his hat under his arm
And in his hand a scroll of paper, thinking it no harm,
Then walked straight up to Madame Malibran without dread
And said, dear lady my mother is sick and in want of bread. 

And I have called to see if you would sing my little song,
At someof your grand concerts, Ah! Say before long,
Or perhaps you could sell it to a publisher for a small sum,
Then I could buy food for my mother and with it would run. 

Then Madame Malibran rose from her seat most costly and grand
And took the scroll of paper from Pierre's hand
And hummed his little song, to a plaintive air,
Then said, your song is soul stirring I do declare. 

Dear child did you compose the words she asked Pierre,
Oh yes my dear lady just as you see,
Well my dear boy I will sing your song to-night,
And you shall have a seat near me on the right. 

Then Pierre, said, Oh! lady I cannot leave my mother,
But my dear boy, as for her you need not bother,
So dear child don't be the least cast down,
And in the meantime here is a crown. 

And for your mother you can buy food and medicine,
So run away and be at the concert to-night in time
Then away he ran and bought many little necessary things
And while doing so his little song he hums and sings. 

Then home to his poor sick mother he quickly ran,
And told her of his success with Madame Malibran,
Then his mother cried, Oh! Pierre, you are a very good boy,
And to hear of your success my heart is full of joy. 

Dear mother, I am going to the concert hall to-night,
To hear Madame Malibran, which will my heart delight,
Oh! well said his mother, God speed you my little man,
I hope you will be delighted to hear Madame Malibran. 

So to the concert hall he goes, and found a seat there,
And the lights and flashing of diamonds made him stare,
And caused a joyous smile to play upon his face,
For never had he been in so grand a place. 

There the brave boy sat and Madame Malibran came at last
And with his eyes rivetted on her he sared aghast,
And to hear her sing, Oh! how he did long,
And he wondered if the lady would really sing his song. 

At last the great singer commenced his little song,
And many a heart was moved and the plaudits loud and long
And as she sang it Pierre clapped his hands for joy.
That he felt as if it were free from the world's annoy. 

When the concert was over his heart felt as light as the air
And as for money now he didn't seem to care,
Since the great singer in Europe had sung his little song,
But he hoped that dame fortune would smile on him ere long 

The next day he was frightened by a visit from Madame Malibran
And turning to his mother, she said your little boy Madame
Will make a fortune for himself and you before long,
Because I've been offered a large sum for his little song. 

And Madame thank God you have such a gifted son,
But dear Madame heavens will must be done,
Then Pierre knelt and prayed that God would the lady bless
For helping them in the time of their distress. 

And the memory of Pierre's prayer made the singer do more good
By visiting the poor and giving them clothing and food
And Pierre lightened her last moments ere her soul fled away
And he came to be one of the most talented composers of the day. 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Adagio by William Bennett 

Sonnet 104
(original version;  the inspiration for Liszt's piano solo)
Upon the sea I sail tonight
Aboard this sturdy shipeth;
Sweet are my thoughts of kisses light
That I planted on your lipeth.
A thousand kisses upon us rained
from heaven, like a thousand pennies;
Shy innocence you so aptly feigned
After dinner that night at Denny's.
Above me  fleecy clouds drift by,
So soft, so fleecy, fleecy;
Some look like ducks to my sad eye,
Some look like geesey, geesey.
No duck, no goose, no fleecy cloud
Tonight can bring me lucketh;
Only your beauty contains the power
To make this night cease to sucketh.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonnetto 104 del Petrarcha by Franz Liszt 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Poetry about Love

By Rachel Wetzsteon 1967–2009

In an uncurtained room across the way

a woman in a tight dress paints her lips

a deeper red, and sizes up her hips

for signs of ounces gained since yesterday.

She has a thoughtful and a clever face,

but she is also smart enough to know

the truth: however large the brain may grow,

the lashes and the earrings must keep pace.

Although I’ve spread my books in front of me

with a majestic air of I’ll show her,

I’m much less confident than I’d prefer,

and now I’ve started pacing nervously.

I’m poring over theorems, tomes and tracts.

I’m getting ready for a heavy date

by staying up ridiculously late.

But a small voice advises, Face the facts:

go on this way and you’ll soon come to harm.

The world’s most famous scholars wander down

the most appalling alleyways in town,

a blond and busty airhead on each arm.

There is an inner motor known as lust

that makes a man of learning walk a mile

to gratify his raging senses, while

the woman he can talk to gathers dust. 

A chilling vision of the years ahead

invades my thoughts, and widens like a stain:

a barren dance card and a teeming brain,

a crowded bookcase and an empty bed... 

What if I compromised? I’d stay up late

to hone my elocutionary skills,

and at the crack of dawn I’d swallow pills

to calm my temper and control my weight,

but I just can’t. Romantics, so far gone

they think their lovers live for wisdom, woo

by growing wiser; when I think of you

I find the nearest lamp and turn it on.

Great gods of longing, watch me as I work

and if I sprout a martyr’s smarmy grin

please find some violent way to do me in;

I’m burning all these candles not to shirk

a night of passion, but to give that night

a richly textured backdrop when it comes.

The girl who gets up from her desk and dumbs

her discourse down has never seen the flight

of wide-eyed starlings from their shabby cage;

the fool whose love is truest is the one

who knows a lover’s work is never done.

I’ll call you when I’ve finished one more page.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: What Is This Thing Called Love by Cole Porter

Epicoene, or the Silent Woman: Still to be neat, still to be drest

By Ben Jonson 1572–1637

Still to be neat, still to be drest,

As you were going to a feast;

Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd:

Lady, it is to be presum'd,

Though art's hid causes are not found,

All is not sweet, all is not sound. 

Give me a look, give me a face,

That makes simplicity a grace;

Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:

Such sweet neglect more taketh me

Than all th' adulteries of art;

They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Time Stands Still by John Dowland

To You

By Kenneth Koch 1925–2002

I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut

That will solve a murder case unsolved for years

Because the murderer left it in the snow beside a window

Through which he saw her head, connecting with

Her shoulders by a neck, and laid a red

Roof in her heart. For this we live a thousand years;

For this we love, and we live because we love, we are not

Inside a bottle, thank goodness! I love you as a

Kid searches for a goat; I am crazier than shirttails

In the wind, when you’re near, a wind that blows from

The big blue sea, so shiny so deep and so unlike us;

I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fields

Always, to be near you, even in my heart

When I’m awake, which swims, and also I believe that you

Are trustworthy as the sidewalk which leads me to

The place where I again think of you, a new

Harmony of thoughts! I love you as the sunlight leads the prow

Of a ship which sails

From Hartford to Miami, and I love you

Best at dawn, when even before I am awake the sun

Receives me in the questions which you always pose.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Our Love is Here to Stay by George Gershwin

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,

which may not happen.

I would like to watch you,

sleeping. I would like to sleep

with you, to enter

your sleep as its smooth dark wave

slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent

wavering forest of bluegreen leaves

with its watery sun & three moons

towards the cave where you must descend,

towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver

branch, the small white flower, the one

word that will protect you

from the grief at the center

of your dream, from the grief

at the center. I would like to follow

you up the long stairway

again & become

the boat that would row you back

carefully, a flame

in two cupped hands

to where your body lies

beside me, and you enter

it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air

that inhabits you for a moment

only. I would like to be that unnoticed

& that necessary.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nocturne (Nuages) by Claude Debussy

I Knew a Woman

By Theodore Roethke 1908–1963

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,

When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;  

Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:  

The shapes a bright container can contain!

Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,

Or English poets who grew up on Greek

(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,  

She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;  

She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;  

I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;  

She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,

Coming behind her for her pretty sake

(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:

Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;

She played it quick, she played it light and loose;  

My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;  

Her several parts could keep a pure repose,  

Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose

(She moved in circles, and those circles moved). 

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:  

I’m martyr to a motion not my own;

What’s freedom for? To know eternity.

I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.  

But who would count eternity in days?

These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:  

(I measure time by how a body sways).
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  My Foolish Heart by Victor Young