ATTENTION IPAD USERS!
Apple doesn't like listing me as "Will Shakespeare (poetry blogger)"
to differentiate me from the other guy, although everybody else does.
They took my first book but now won't take new ones. (Go figure.)
Since Smashwords distributes my books to Apple anyway,
just go to my Smashwords author page and download EPUBs from there.
Smashwords provides samples of my books also.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Money Woes

Here’s a silly poem for paying the bills.

Your money comes, your money goes—
Into the black, out through the nose.
An empty wallet clearly shows
The less that comes, the more that goes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nightmare in Stone

It’s kind of strange… but then, most nightmares are.

I step through the portal of light.
Momentarily blinded, I
Find myself on my knees, retching
From the journey. I didn’t die
But I doubt I feel much better
Than I would have, had I done so.
I look around and all I see
Are busts of Marilyn Monroe
Smiling down, just like the Virgin
Mary would if she was granite.
The crowd of Virgin Marilyns
Are planning to drive the planet
From its orbit with the power
Of their minds, and they surround
Me, singing songs about champagne
And slinging some smelly herb (ground
With their heads) from a big glassy
Bowl that looks like some kid’s marble
Shooter grown big and cut in half.
But they’re drunk and only garble
The words, so all I hear is just
Gravel on a tin roof—rusted.
The love shack of the love goddess
Rumbles, and the words get busted
Like piñatas and spill still more
Nasty herbs over us, and when
It hits the Virgin Marilyns,
They all turn into girly men
Statues in pleated white dresses.
Now they’re growing, and with voices
That echo like deep hollow wells
They say, “Of all the bad choices
We’ve made, this takes the cake!” My heart
Pounds—I’m standing in Golum town,
Sweating bullets… then I wake up.
I won’t sleep till I “column” down.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunshine Supermen

For the members of the U.S. Soccer
Team, who played great in some tough conditions.
They made us proud to be Americans.
Inspired by the song from—who else?—Donovan.


Sunshine crashed loudly through the goalpost windows,
Repeatedly streaking past stunned goalies
In the final minutes, stealing their hopes
Of easy victory. Domination
Takes time—we know it—but in a short while
Our sunshine supermen will show their style
‘Cause they’ve made their minds up—the World Cup trophy
Will one day be ours. Won’t that blow the minds
Of the others who’ve looked down on our efforts?
We’ll soon be there, on the world football scene
Standing tall… Won’t that blow their little minds?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Meaning of NO

Funny how much we can say with only
Two little letters. IF carries all our
Hopes and dreams in a single resigned sigh
Or an optimistic outburst. UH says
Less about our confusion than about
Our general lack of interest. And then
There’s NO, so negative-sounding at first
And such an onerous burden for most
Of us to carry. And yet it’s the YES,
With its massively heavy third letter,
That yokes us in bondage and commits us
To following paths we soon grow to hate.
NO shuts off one path and leaves a thousand
More open for travel, while YES and its
Pathological desire to please picks
A single road at the expense of all
Other options. Does this mean NO means freedom?
I’m not ready to say that just yet, but
Perhaps we would all be better off if
We just learned to say NO once in a while.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poetry in Motion

Sometimes I feel a sense of loss
When I write poems on a laptop.
It saves on paper—yeah, that’s true—
And making copies easily
So I can rearrange the words
Without completely losing all
My early drafts is quite a boon.
In some ways it improves my work.

And yet I miss the scratch of pen
On paper as I wrestle with
Some headstrong, mulish metaphor.
Tac-tac-tacking on a keyboard
Lacks the romance of the starving
Artist; it sounds like wasting time.
Drumming thoughts into submission
Loses something in translation.

But in the end, I think I miss
The satisfying “scrunch” and rattle
Of balled-up rejects sailing toward
The waste can most of all. To hear
The sound as insubstantial thoughts
Take shape—and still, despite great care,
Miss their mark—is a thrill unmatched
By any other medium.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Demons as a Metaphor

Reddened by the fierceness of His anger—
Painful to the touch, like glowing neon—
Horny little devils ache and wonder:
Could such scalding judgment be foregone
By a little forethought of their actions?
Heaven’s indignation seems obscene!
“Tiny indiscretions” shouldn’t merit
Punishment so stern or so routine.
In their fury, all-consuming vengeance
Twists their logic hopelessly askew.
If they suffer, everyone will suffer!
“Misery loves company.” It’s true.

And so cartoonish minions hit the warpath;
Whiny diapered dragons vent their wrath
And rarely pause to rue neglected sunscreen…

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad Reckoning

This one is in memory of my dad.
From “dead reckoning,” navigation based
Only on previously-known positions—
Or, more simply, navigation by guessing.


A new ship has set sail, its navigator
Not yet sure of himself, and he relies
On your guidance. How do you chart his course
When your own maps are so inaccurate
And your North Star is not clearly in view?
This shoreline seems fairly familiar but
The open sea offers landmarks no more
Familiar than the scratchings on your map
That proclaim “here be dragons.” You take soundings
Frequently, but you are out of your depth;
The ocean is fathomless, like your fear.
And still you do it; the truth is that guidance
Often consists of no more than a smile,
A hug, and a few words of encouragement.
And somewhere, “father” on, this young ship’s captain
Will undertake the training of another,
Amazed at your great knowledge of the sea.
There is no other way to learn the trade
Than by mastering the tradewinds firsthand.
It’s a skill passed down from father to son.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pebble Beach

A brief meditation on the golf course,
Site of the 2010 U.S. Open.


Carved by the ocean, painted by breezes,
Vistas with dangers that drive men to prayer.
Beauty disguises a legend whose terror
Tests players’ spirits. Golfers, beware!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stuck Figures

“Something has to be done. That much is certain.”
They stand there, rigid and expressionless
Like stick figures scratched out with magic marker
On a photograph—they don’t belong there.
They’re out of time, out of their element,
Out of luck. “At least we could have tried something,”
One murmurs as the boss approaches them.
It’s a moot point; barring a miracle,
This failure will be swept under the rug
And never mentioned again. It’s just business.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Housecat’s Grace

Inspired by picky housecats everywhere!

Lord, we’re tired of eatin’ chicken
Roast beef makes us want to sicken
Tuna fish will leave us pickin’
Only one thing gets us lickin’!
Give us what You know we savor
Or You’ll garner our disfavor
Only one thing makes us quaver—
We want food that’s fanny flavor!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Generic Fairy Tale

Well, once upon a time
A long, long time ago
Something unexpected
Happened to somebody.

It caught them by surprise,
But they knew right away
Something had to be done—
It had to be done quick!

So they made up a plan,
But things didn’t go well.
Some strangers got involved—
It got complicated.

In the end, this person
Managed to do ok,
Largely because they were
A good sort of person.

This taught us a moral:
Good people do ok...

Somehow, my life ended
Up in the wrong story.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Soul (Slam-Influenced)

Yet another version of Soul, this one
Influenced by slam poetry. Searching
For the best is also an experiment.


I’m not alone. He's watching me every
Moment—I’m sure of it. He follows me
Around all the time so I decided
To catch him—me?—and prove once and for all
I’m not crazy, he’s there. I lunge at him,
Thinking my tackle’s good, but he slips through
My fingers without so much as a squish.
So the mystery remains: Just who is that
Guy constantly moving in the shadows
Just beyond my reach?
Scientists say he’s
My imagination; I'm nothing more
Than a splash of chemicals and some gooey
Jello making uncontrollable sparks.
But if that’s all I am—just a cosmic
Cocktail, neither shaken nor stirred by something
Transcendent—then why do I care he’s watching?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Soul (Original Version)

Here’s the original version of Soul:
Iambic pentameter length lines with
No concern for the number of stresses.
Comparison with the sonnet version
Proves form influences the final poem.


Ethereal, intangible, in question—
It cannot be seen, it cannot be proven.
With gossamer fingers it maintains
A tenuous grasp on human consciousness.
Will we deny ourselves and all we are
Because we won’t believe what we can’t see?
Philosophers from millennia past
And great theologians—all these agree
The spark of humanity far exceeds
What nature alone presumes to give us.
This subliminal existence points us
Toward a sublime truth: Neither animals
Nor gods, our mere being poses more questions
Than physics and all the sciences can
Explain… so the answers must lie beyond
This mortal coil, in the realm of the soul.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soul

This is an experimental sonnet:
Lines are iambic pentameter length
But with only four stresses on each line.


Ethereal, fleeting, evasive, in doubt—
It cannot be seen, it cannot be heard
Yet gossamer fingers may lift the devout
From bowels of gloom where hopes lay interred.
Philosophers from millennia past
And great theologians—all these believe
The spark that ennobles us cannot be cast
From the selfsame mold as the world we perceive.
Subliminal consciousness clearly points us
To a truth more sublime: As neither beast
Nor god, our presence here anoints us—
Indeed, compels us—to seek the priest
Presiding over this mystery cult.
Ignoring this task brings a dire result.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Piranha

Inspired by an NBA playoff game.

They surge down the court, a school of piranha
In search of prey, their hunger overwhelming
Their individuality. Five players
And yet one, linked by an insatiable
Desire to dominate this wooden sea.
A single glance from one, and another
Responds—inside, outside, passing, shooting;
They circle their prey, anticipating
Their every move before it can be made.
Familiarity gained from their hours
Together erupt in a scoring frenzy,
And the carnage is inevitable;
They devour mercilessly, without conscience.
Others will soon hear of this desecration…
And they will fear. A dark, consuming fear.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brainstorm

The grey matter firmament darkens as
A moody front of creativity
Rolls in. Calm thoughts give way to unsettled
Rumbling as colliding ideas shatter the
Placid mind. Neurons firing randomly
Send jagged bolts of enlightenment surging
Beyond accepted norms; no previously-
Held notion is safe. Torrents of novelty
Drench the stubborn ground. After the deluge,
New concepts will push their fragile blossoms
Through unquestioned beliefs, and this stormy
Mindscape will be irreparably changed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flat Tire

I’m not sure where I picked up that old nail.
All I know is that my once-smooth journey
Was interrupted by a loud ka-POW as
The steering wheel jerked itself violently
Out of my hands. Now here I am, sitting
By the side of the highway, watching others
Pass me by. I’m as flat as an old tire, and
I know I’ll need more than a quick patch job
And a few strokes of a bicycle pump
To get me back up and rolling again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Misunderstood

Musing on the eighth chapter of Proverbs,
Where Wisdom is portrayed as a woman.


When Wisdom came to visit me today,
She said we had to talk about some things
So I said, “Come on in and stay a while.
I’m making dinner—there should be enough.”
So she sat down, and I was cooking something
Or other—I can’t remember now—and
She kept talking. I said “uh-huh” and “yeah”
A lot about… whatever till she left.
I don’t recall just what she was talking
About. I do remember burning something.