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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 03

"What do you mean, 'Three more dead'?"
Simon Chase smacked the trembling man
With the back of his hand.
"That's nine men in just one week
And thirteen overall!
What caused the death of these men?"

The blow had knocked the stunned man
Into a stack of barrels.
With one hand he rubbed his jaw;
With the other he pushed himself
To a sitting position.
"The same thing as the others,"
He mumbled. "Mangled by a wolf."

"PREPOSTEROUS!" Chase exclaimed.
"A dozen people would have seen a wolf that size
And hunted it down by now!
There has to be another explanation!"

"I wish the news were better, Mr. Chase,
But the wounds were unmistakable.
Constable Garrett found the bodies
And Dr. Fenn confirmed it.
I spied on their investigation;
They're both confused,
But have no other explanation.
No animal can tear a man's neck
Quite the way a wolf can."

"It makes no sense!" Chase raged.
He stomped around the storage room
Behind the tobacconist shop
That served as his hideout.
He rounded on his informant:
"So, what do they intend?"

The man spoke slowly, cautiously:
"Garrett says that men are searching,
Have been searching, several days.
They find no sign that wolves are hunting
Here; and as you say, a wolf that large
Would surely have been seen…
Yet it has not.
The search continues."

Chase glared with slitted eyes
At something only he could see
While stroking his goatee –
A thoughtful pose more suited to
A satyr than a man.
"I want it found," he said at last.
"I want it killed. Tell the men
To bring the carcass here.
I want to burn it with my own hands."

The trembling man's eyes
Grew wide with terror. "Br-bring it here?
Are you sure, Mr. Chase? Even dead…"

Again the back of Chase's hand
Found the man's jaw. "Do I stutter?
This beast has cost me many men,
Strong men whose skills are not
So easily replaced. Perhaps I sound
The superstitious peasant, but –
If I were such – I could believe
This 'wolf' has chosen me specifically as prey.
I'll suffer no one, man or beast,
To ruin all my plans. I want it DEAD!"

"Yes, sir!" the bandit stammered.
And after peeking through the back door,
Making sure the way was clear,
He went in search of Chase's other men –
The killers yet to meet this hungry beast –
And organize a hunt.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tap Water Blues

Forget about the pros and cons…
How would a blues singer see it?
And yeah, you can sing it…

Some people say it's healthy
Some people say it ain't
Sometimes it's clear as sparkling wine
Sometimes it's thick as paint
But it's cheap
Pennies on the quart and it's cheap
It may not be the trendiest
It may not look cool
But it's cheap

It's cheaper when you drink it
And when you wash your hands
And when you clean your underwear
And soak your pots and pans
Yeah it's cheap
Pennies on the quart and it's cheap
It may not be the trendiest
It may not look cool
But it's cheap

Gonna find some empty bottles
Gonna dig 'em from the trash
Gonna wipe away the coffee grounds
And fill 'em from the tap
'Cause it's cheap
Pennies on the quart and it's cheap
I'll fake my way to trendiness
I'll fake looking cool
'Cause I'm cheap
I'll fake my way to trendiness
I'll fake looking cool
'Cause I'm cheap
Don't care if I offend the rest
I like looking cool
But I'm cheap

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ants

They're tiny but industrious
And move like flowing fountains.
So ants don't get discouraged;
They make anthills out of mountains.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 02

The servant, Pieter, briefly paused
Outside the bedroom door
As he considered knocking. Was it wise?
The master seemed ill-humored as of late;
Though that was understandable,
Given the events of recent weeks,
Such drastic changes to the day's routines
Would only draw more undesired attention.
He shunned his closest friends
And stayed in bed too long, as though in hiding.
The man feared for his master's health…
And just as much for his position.
Still, the man must eat! So, after confirmation
That the tray he bore still held a breakfast
Suitable for gentlemen,
He straightened up and, with a heavy sigh,
Hammered on the heavy oaken door. He called:
"Master Bonham, may I serve your breakfast, sir?"

A groggy voice replied with irritation. "GO AWAY!"

Pieter closed his eyes and sighed,
Then called out once again: "Master Bonham!
Breakfast tea cannot just 'go away.'
A gentleman must take it at a proper hour –
An hour passing rapidly with morning's light,
If I might be so bold.
I fear revolt among the aristocracy, my lord,
Should they discover I have, yet again,
Been forced to serve his breakfast tea
To Master's thoroughbred."

A moment's pause, then great guffaws of laughter
Met his ears. "Oh, very well, Pieter.
We wouldn't want my horse to join
The other lords for tea; he'd be so very bored.
You may enter."

Relieved to hear the humor
That his master used to show,
Pieter eased his way into the bedroom.
He placed the tray upon a serving rack
And drew the curtains back. The morning light
Proved his relief to be ill-founded.
The master, fully clothed, laid stretched face-down
Across the bed.
His face and hands were dirty,
His hair a twisted nest of twigs and leaves
And, if that weren't enough,
His half-closed eyes betrayed his lack of sleep.
Aghast at his appearance, Pieter asked,
"Have you been walking in your sleep again, sir?"

Dietrich Bonham raised his head
And flashed a weary smile.
"Ah, Discretion," he joked, "thy name is Pieter."

"The beast again, sir?" Pieter asked.
He tried to keep his fear disguised.
"Was anybody harmed?"

"No innocents," his master said.
"Indeed, the beast again ignored the easiest of prey
And sought instead the predators."
His eyes grew focused for a moment. "Evil, Pieter.
Their evil drew the creature
As a candle draws the moth.
He relished it, exulted in it.
Even now, I feel his satisfaction."
He slumped back to the mattress, then he mumbled,
"And too, my age. He is without appreciation
For the consequences of our actions."

Pieter sighed, again relieved. Beast or no,
This curse had yet to claim a blameless soul
And drive his master to despair.
"I'll draw a bath for soaking, sir,
To help your body heal. As for your soul…
Perhaps another's help should be considered."

"Indeed, an inquisition would remove
This burden from me. Or then, the local hunt club
Might enjoy some larger game –"

"The longer that this creature hunts, the likelier it is
Your jokes come true," Pieter said.
"I thought perhaps Elias might –"

"Elias Fenn?" his master asked.
"The man believes in fairy tales
And theories of conspiracy against
All holy orders. By the king!"

"Who better for discussing such a problem?"
Pieter wondered loudly as he filled
The gilded tub. "If he should talk about these things
With others, would he be believed?
A werewolf hunting only evildoers?
Perhaps he's in the king's employ
And merely killing time until the Pope arrives…"

He turned to see his master sitting, listening,
His head cocked to the side, more like a puppy
Than a wolf. The thought was not consoling, though.
"It's just a thought. Enjoy your bath," he said
And hurried from the room.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greased Pig

The kids are gathered anxiously
As they wait for the gate to open
And then, without warning
A tiny white blur zips out.
The kiddies giggle and scramble
Around the pen as the squealing rocket
Bounces through buckling legs,
Shoots from beneath falling bodies,
And slips through flailing arms.
The damp dirt is churned into a muddy mess
As cries of "where did it go?"
Echo off nearby sheds.
When it's all over,
The kids are tired but happy
And this little piggie goes "wee, wee"
All the way to the therapist.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Trojan Stud

A rewrite of an earlier poem;
The first version's on the blog. There I mainly
Counted syllables; this one's in blank verse.
A few lines made it through without a change.
A dual reference is meant by "unguarded
moments"—first, Paris and Helen, and then
Pulling the Horse into defenseless Troy.

In Greece, she was "The Face," desired by many.
Although a queen, she stepped aside to take
A royal boytoy—Paris, prince of Troy.
The prince was "up" for it; the queen was "down"
With it; together, they uprooted lives
And sent both Greek and Trojan kingdoms down
A bloody road. How should Greece respond?
On this one, Menelaus missed the boat;
Political intrigue like this would be
Prime TMZ material today.
Here’s what King Menelaus should have done:
Produce a pregnant mistress, maybe two…
Or three… and pay some gossipmongers well
To spread the "truth" about the prince's habits.
Paint Helen as another filly Paris
Was wont to stud. Let's face it, he was clearly
Horsing around already, right? In days
A dozen wagging tongues might have accomplished
What took ten years of battle on the field.
Instead, the Greeks had only this to show:
A wicked waste of military might,
A cuckold husband, Troy a pile of ashes—
We warred ten years for that?—and her, "The Face,"
Unable to produce a single heir
And likely stabled somewhere far from men
Until nobody cared. All told, it seems
A costly debt for one unguarded moment,
A heavy price for those obsessed with wood.

Ironically, we now believe that Trojans
Reduce the risks of unprotected sex.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 01

A milky-white moon glows peacefully above
While, deep within my cave, I wait
With manacles around my feet and iron bars
I hope will keep the beast confined.
They mustn't fail me, not again…
But they do. I'm loose and running free.

The crisp autumn air invigorates me
As I lope along the river path.
I pause to sniff the air, searching for prey.
The village is safely beyond the woods,
Too far away to respond
Should my victims manage a cry.

Ah, there! I scent them – strong, healthy, evil.
I feel that familiar rush; my fur stands on end
And the man I once was steps back, ashamed.
I don't care. I am hunger, nothing more.

The overlook is secluded and
The men I kill all deserve death –
Brigands who lay in wait for innocents.
Perhaps it's the stench of blood on their hands
That draws me to their hiding place
But somehow I know where they are.
Despite my bulk, despite the rustling leaves
When I approach, they don't seem to notice,
So intent are they on their approaching
Victims. I know because I see
The shock in their eyes as I fall on them
From behind and they spin to face me,
Voices mute from a choking fear.
They'll never alert their victims to my presence.

I sniff their bloodlust in the air,
Pungent and savory; their fear
Is a warm sweet wine I can't refuse – raw
Passion, swirling in my mouth,
Pouring thickly over my tongue.
Their wickedness is intoxicating;
I am drunk, then ravenous,
Then finally satisfied.
I trot back to my lair and sleep till morning.

A milky-white moon glows peacefully above
While their intended victims pass by,
Unharmed, unknowing, safe because they're
Much too bland for my heightened palate.
Milk is for the lambs, not the wolf.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Announcing the Pulp Poet Project

A blog is better suited to short pieces
Than to extended narratives – and still,
What poet doesn't want to spread his wings
And stretch the form? From Homer down to Byron,
From ancient Saxon bards to Ezra Pound,
The longer forms have beckoned every poet.

But times have changed and poetry has lost
Its mass appeal. The epics of the past
Seem slowly paced, and often self-absorbed.
To reach the modern world, the form must change.

But how? Is there a model we can use
To shape the form and make it more appealing?

A century ago the pulps were born.
Although some people scoffed, the masses came
And read enthusiastically. The pulps
Gave us a host of stirring characters,
Larger than life and all still celebrated
Long after their creators passed away.
They challenged the existing forms of prose
And forged a path still followed to this day.

Perhaps the time has come to blend these two –
The faster-moving pulp approach to story
Along with classic rhythms from the old
Epic forms. Our modern world moves quickly,
And such a blend might suit the modern reader…
Provided that a balance can be found.

And so I launch the Pulp Poet Project.
Each Friday I'll be posting new installments
Of this "poetic pulp," a tale continued
As I experiment with styles and forms
In search of more effective means for telling
A pulp-style story using modern verse.

The story, to be called Dogged by the Curse,
Will focus on a werewolf who becomes
A hero though conditions work against him…
And I can tell you little more than that!
Like writers spinning pulp tales long ago,
I'm working out this story "on the fly"
Using those techniques we know they used.
I may, from time to time, write extra posts
To let you know the rationale behind
Some choices that I did or didn't make.
(I'll still make normal posts on other days.)

With any project such as this, you should
Expect some changes as I go. Right now,
I haven't even made a final choice
To narrate as the werewolf or third person!
I wrote tomorrow's post both ways; the wolf
Won out this time. Perhaps you'll see some posts
Both ways; we'll have to see what works out best.

Installments will be called "Dogged by the Curse"
And followed by a number so you'll know
Their proper order. Each post will be tagged
"Dogged by the curse" to keep the entire poem
Within a single category. Once
The tale is done, I'll gather them together
And edit them into a single poem.

The project starts tomorrow… and I hope
You'll all enjoy this pulpish gothic tale.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To Hell with Caesar

Decided to have a little fun with a classic speech!
--------------
At the River Styx, Caesar and Charon
Stare coldly at each other. Caesar speaks:

Grim Roman countryman, bend me your oars:
Come you to ferry Caesar, or appraise him?
The evil chagrin felt by men postmortem
Bids goodly souls to shiver down their bones;
That shall not be with Caesar. Ignoble brute,
Gods told you Caesar was ambitious –
Know it is so; I’ll make a grave assault,
And gravely now will Pluto answer for it!
Here, underfoot of Pluto and the rest –
For Pluto is a goner, and his minions;
So are they all, all goners in the end –
Come I, not to sleep at Caesar’s funeral,
But soon to rise as Emperor of the dead!
I shall free many soldiers here from Rome;
Their ransomed souls my ghostly legions fill.
Does this in Caesar sound ambitious?
When at last the gods comply, I’ll accept;
Ambition ne’er was made of sterner stuff.
Then Pluto will know I was ambitious,
For Pluto is a goner, and his minions.
Then all shall see, though at the Lupercal
I thrice refused to take a kingly crown,
This one I shall take; THIS is ambition!
Yes, Pluto will say I was ambitious;
And sure, he is a goner, and his minions.
I do not speak to you what Pluto knows,
But here I speak to you what you know not:
That many loved me once – not without cause;
No cause will stop them now – they’ll follow me
In judgment of these gods, turned brutish beasts
T’ward men who act with reason. Bow to me!
Carry me, Charon, to my carrion throne
Or stand aside and let ambition reign!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sports Shrink

These days, all kinds of athletes make use of
Sports psychologists to improve their play.
Sometimes that creates other kinds of problems…

My knees grew wobbly down the stretch
As pressure slowly built.
I couldn't make the final shot;
The spotlight made me wilt.

My teammates said I had to choose—
Step up or warm the bench!
They called a sports psychologist
To get my teeth unclenched.

He told me I was good enough.
He said I was "the man."
He told me not to say "I can't"
But only say "I can!"

He had me chanting mantras that
Would build my confidence
And then we worked through roleplay games
To end my reticence.

My pre-shot preparation's now
The finest on my team;
My routines are meticulous,
The best you've ever seen.

But Coach has put me on the bench
And sent the sport shrink packing—
I now take thrice as long to miss
Those crucial shots I'm jacking!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sun Wukong vs. Godzilla

In China, Sun Wukong is the Monkey King,
Star of the epic "Journey to the West."
Besides the coincidental similarities
Between the names Sun Wukong and King Kong,
In Japan the Monkey King is Son Goku—
Yes, the name of the hero in the
Dragonball and DragonballZ cartoons.
For this epic battle I borrowed some of
Goku's enhancements to the Monkey King's weapons.
Godzilla is actually Gojira in Japan,
A name created from the words for
Gorilla and whale. Another happy coincidence!
The Monkey King versus the Sea Monkey—
It certainly makes sense to me.
The poem uses an Americanized version of
Japan's long poem form called the choka.
For this epic, I tried to use haiku-like images.

The Monkey King
Weary hero triumphant
Returns to China
Enlightened after struggles
Beach vacation
Basks in the sun for days
Breezes whisper
Ocean lapping shoreline
Peace at last
Heaven's true reward

Screaming villagers
Monstrous tidal wave rises
Simian sympathy
Rescue the hairless monkeys
Grow bigger
Lengthen golden staff
Slap ocean
Send wave outward
Tsunamis crash
Godzilla now visible
Monkey rage—
Repel invading islander!

Giants clash
Churning ocean battle
Movie roar
Atomic Godzilla breath
Wukong unharmed
Wearing dragon armor
Whirling staff
Airborne Godzilla tumbles
Mountain impact
Landslide buries landscape
Monkey whoops
Underestimates opponent

Brilliant sunburst
Landscape rains from sky
Godzilla loose
Wukong caught off-guard
Leaping lizard
A tail's as good as a staff
Spinning, sweeping
Monkey feet skyward
Godzilla kicks
Head; Wukong woozy
Monkey flung
High toward the clouds
Bad mistake
King of cloud traveling

Soft landing
Stormcloud catches Wukong
Zooms earthward
Pierces cloud with staff
Lightning erupts
Shocking turn of events
Godzilla staggers
Lightning bolts take toll
Wukong leaps
Kick to lizard's head
Grabs tail
One-way flight home
Monkey poses
Energy blast at target
Monkey leaps
As Godzilla splashes
Monkey drives
Staff into Godzilla's head
Staff drives
Godzilla into ocean floor
Another blast
Hole in floor sealed

China saved
Wukong hailed as hero
More sunbathing
Godzilla restrained until
Next Toho movie

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aslan

He's not a tame lion
Nor is he safe.
No one can know his plans
Or predict his moves.

He's a wild creature;
He goes where he will.
You can't keep him
Or make him your pet.

But he keeps his own
And directs their paths.
He won't desert them
In time of need
And his sacrifice
Is not in vain.

He's not a tame lion
Nor is he safe…
But he's good.
That is all that matters.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Limits of the Force

Inspired while watching a Star Wars trilogy
Broadcast over the Labor Day weekend.
A syllable-count poem – 10 per line.

The Force is a power beyond our dreams.
We just can't imagine what it can do.

This is your mind on the Force: Your spaceship
Sinks in a swamp off Dagobah's shoreline.
Concentrate, paduwan! It will arise,
Float through the air to the shore and alight
On the sand. WOW! Strong are you in the Force!
But you'll have to drag the dying body
Of your father to your ship on your own
If you want to escape the doomed Death Star.

This is your mind on the Force: The minions
Of Jabba the Hutt impede your passage.
You pinch the air with your finger and thumb
And they fall to the ground. Or an army
Of battle droids comes. Fling out just one hand;
A shock wave of energy blows them back
In a heap. WOW! Strong are you in the Force!
But when you drop into a pit and face
The Rancor, you'll have to stick a big bone
In his mouth, hit a button with a rock,
And wonder why you tried to shoot Jabba
With a blaster when you could have just used
The Force for all these things. Duh, paduwan!

The Force is a power beyond our dreams.
We just can't imagine… No, we just can't…