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, October 31, 2012

Round Ball Dreams

The new NBA season started Tuesday;
A short meditation on small beginnings.
(And yes, I forgot today would be Halloween
so there's no horror poem. As if 
Dogged By the Curse isn't enough... ;-)

One round ball,
A peach basket hung on a wall, and
A piece of paper with 13 rules.
Such a simple beginning
For a worldwide sport
Worth billions of dollars each year.
Forget the business for a moment…
How many weekend athletes
Found a reason to face each day
Because they found
A few moments of glory
Playing against friends?
How many kids
Found sanctuary from bad influences
Because of a hoop in a vacant lot?
How many scholarships
Has that round ball supplied
For kids with no other hope of college?
That's a lot of dreams from
One round ball,
A peach basket hung on a wall, and
A piece of paper with 13 rules.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watchers

It's been a while since I tried a poem like this;
Mrs. Cain was the last one. The Watchers,
According to the Book of Enoch, were 200 angels
Who fathered giants with earth women;
That's the main reason God flooded the earth.
As an aside, I suspect this is where writers
Got the idea for the Watchers in the Highlander TV series.

Just another in a series of poor decisions, eh?
Cast out of heaven by an ill-planned rebellion,
Cast out of hope by the promise of a woman's seed,
You set your hearts on a scheme for revenge
And your sights on the easiest prey.

Two hundred in number,
You banded together and nicknamed yourselves "the Watchers."
Was it funny, an in-joke of sorts –
The Peeping Toms of the spirit world,
Demonic gigolos cruising humanity,
A band on the run,
A band on the make,
Deceiving its women again?

So how did you do it?
Did you target first the curviest,
The roundest,
The sexiest,
The ones most likely to be envied by the rest?
Did you show up as Fabio,
James Bond,
The rock stars of the age
And whisk them away to exotic locales?
Did you bathe them in rich perfumes
And rare aphrodisiacs,
Drug them to believe that no human lover could ever measure up to you?
And after you knocked them all up
Did you go to the "other" girls –
The insecure, gullible,
Willing-to-do-anything-to-be-popular girls –
And drop the charade?
Did you claim to be gods…
Or vampires or werewolves…
And let Twilight fall
Over every last woman on Earth?
Did you find yourself with
A billion Bellas screaming to be turned?
So many women, so little time!
And all of them blissfully unaware you were
Polluting their bodies,
Polluting their DNA,
Polluting the whole human race…
For eventually all of these women would die
And your half-breeds be left in their place.
How can the seed of a human woman
Be born if no woman alive
Is fully human?

In the meantime
You bred like little demonic rabbits…
And the women were proud
To have borne demigods
Instead of mere mortals.

Your plan was bold, I'll give you that,
And monstrous in its scope.
I can't conceive of a hate so deep.
But the monsters you conceived
Were more than God could overlook…
So He made sure that,
When the waters broke,
Your children drowned in the afterbirth.
Then He locked you away in the Abyss,
A solitary confinement for sex offenders
Such as you, and chained you so
You can't even pleasure yourself.
And now, with nothing to do and no one to watch,
The joke's on you.

And yet, hideous as this tale may be,
I can relate in one small way:
I guess humans aren't the only ones
Who find sex a hard temptation to resist.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 07

This scene is finally finished!
A note about the moon: Father Benedict
notes that there has been no full moon
during the time Dietrich believes he has changed.
This is actually a modern movie addition
to the werewolf myth. Although some legends
include a change at a full moon, those myths
chose specific full moons, happening
perhaps once a year. Likewise with the wolf bite.
I chose to let the Father mention
these things to let the reader know
this change is NOT a standard "wolf-out."
When I'm done, I'll have to go back
and make it clear in the first section
that the moon is not full.

Dietrich sighed. "I have these dreams,
These violent dreams of torn flesh
And piles of mangled bodies;
Dreams of faces, terrified, screaming
As they turn to see me falling on them;
Dreams of claws and fangs and
Raging bloodlust. When I wake,
I could be anywhere besides my bed –
Sometimes a cave, sometimes beneath a bush,
Once behind a garden shed –
And always naked, never in my bedclothes.
I sometimes find them shredded but
Sometimes not at all. And lately
I find I've lost my appetite;
The thought of eating sickens me.
My servant says I'll waste away
And yet I've lost no weight."
He shuddered. "Father, I'm afraid."

Benedict reached out to pat his shoulder,
The slightest smile upon his lips –
Not mocking, just a friendly consolation.
"You overlook the obvious, my friend.
A man disturbed by nightmares may,
While sleeping, rend his clothes;
May, in his distress, walk in his sleep;
And may, perhaps, forget how much he eats.
But there are more important questions here,
Questions you have yet to answer.
Has there been a full moon lately?
None that I have seen – and I should know,
As many of our church's celebrations
Fall on days determined by its fullness.
Without the full moon, can the werewolf come?"

Dietrich sat in silence.
He had not considered this.

Father Benedict continued:
"A greater question yet remains. Tell me now:
Have you been bitten by a wolf?
Surely you'd remember that,
Even if it happened in your sleep!
Have you a wound that I may see,
An injury that might lend substance
To your fears? A man does not become
A werewolf just because he fears he has.
Show me your wound; make me believe
A man might turn into a wolf."

"I have no wound, Father," Dietrich said. "And
I know the moon has not been full these nights.
Nevertheless, I know that something happens
When the darkness falls... and sleep with it.
Last night I locked myself inside a cave
I found on my estate some years ago.
Inside it is a cage; I know not when
It came to be, nor who the builder was,
Nor what his purpose might have been.
I only know I locked myself inside
Last night… and found the door torn open when
I woke this morning. Reason plays no part
In this, as far as I can see.
I have no answers, only questions…
Questions and despair."

Benedict cocked his head. "A cage? You found
A cage? On your estate, inside a cave?"
He gazed out the window, seeing nothing,
Lost in thought. "Something sounds familiar here.
I can't quite place it… Could you show me?
Will you take me there?"

Dietrich glanced outside and saw the sun
Dipping down to touch the trees.
"Not today; it's much too late. I fear
What I may do to you, my friend…"

"I understand," the Father said. "Tomorrow
Would be better anyway. I need to think.
Something seems familiar here. A cage…"

Dietrich rose. "I need to go now, Father.
The sun sets and I fear –"

"Then go," said Benedict with a smile.
"Ease your mind, my friend. Sleep well tonight.
Tomorrow we shall track your wolf."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Slightly Irregular

Each day that passes
Takes a little more effort
As I get older…
But would I really want life
To slip away easily?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yankees Gone Home (aka Dust Bunnies)

In case you didn't hear…
The Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees 4-0
In baseball's American League Championship Series,
Stopping their run to the World Series.

SWEPT. It's the worst way to lose.
It's not just that you lost, but that
You were never even a factor in the game.
The series is barely over before
The accusations start to fly.
Whose fault was it?
Who deserves the bulk of the blame?
Who should be made to pay
For this embarrassment?
As if you didn't feel bad enough already…

I think I know how they feel.
I've never played pro baseball
For a seven- or eight-figure salary and
I've never had the hopes of an entire city
Nestled on my shoulders.
But I've been SWEPT,
Blindsided by life
Just when I thought I had a chance
To win the game
Or cross the finish line first
Or snag the prize.
There it was, just beyond reach,
Suddenly jerked away
Without so much as a "sorry, mate"
To ease my disappointment.

Brooms have no feelings.
They sweep us away like
Dust bunnies under the bed
And return to the broom closet,
No worse for wear and
Feeling no guilt for destroying our dreams.
Sometimes the last straw
Comes from a broom.

But I take comfort in this thought:
No matter how many brooms there are
Or how often they make a sweep,
There are always more dust bunnies
Under the bed.

I am a dust bunny.
Sweep me away at your own risk;
I'll just be back tomorrow...
With friends!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 06

This scene has turned out longer than I expected.
Despite the length of this post (85 lines),
I'll have to continue this scene another week.

"Ah," the Father said, and nodded.
"You speak of the recent murders, no?
Ghastly things they are – horrors
That plague an unbelieving world,
Terrors the faithful pray will pass them by.
A good man should be troubled, Dietrich;
Death, especially violent death,
Is not the kind of thing we should wish on
The worst of men – although, it must be said,
An evil man's demise can sometimes be
God's blessing to the rest of us."

"But do you believe in werewolves?"
Dietrich persisted. "Could such a horror
Roam the darkness of God's creation?
Could such a horror possess a man
And turn him into a murdering beast?"

Father Benedict squinted quizzically; then,
Choosing his words with care, he said:
"After a fashion, I suppose.
Even among the vilest heathen,
Tales are told of the hounds of hell
Pursuing wicked men to their final doom.
With eyes blazing in fiery judgment
They track the ungodly and drag them, screaming,
Down to eternal flames of torment –
Down to the Devil they chose to serve
So faithfully during life." He paused
And, with a slight smile, asked, "So, Dietrich…
Am I to assume you fear a werewolf
Stalks the woods around our little village?"

"Not only do I fear this thing," he said,
"I fear that I myself might be the beast."

The Father almost laughed… but then,
Seeing Dietrich's shaking hands and
Panicked look, he stopped. With a heavy sigh
He reached across to steady Dietrich's
Shaking hands and said, "In such a case,
I doubt that even wine is strong enough.
This seems the place for brandy."
He raised an eyebrow, gave a knowing wink,
And as the slightest glimmer of a smile
Crossed Dietrich's face, he rose and walked
Across the tiny room. He turned,
Lifted a finger to his pursed lips, and
Flashed a conspiratorial smile;
Then reached behind the pallet and
Retrieved a bottle of brandy.
"I only keep it for medicinal purposes,
Don't you know," he said.
Returning to the table, he tossed
The remnants of their tea and poured
Them both a healthy dose.
Then, with a hearty "To your health"
They gently clinked the teacups.

After a savored sip, the Father said,
"You're not a man to surrender reason easily.
Many's the time when superstition
Threatened to overwhelm this parish
And yours was the voice that steadied
This flock with calm and stable tones.
Often when hysteria strikes,
The cleric's voice of reason carries
Little weight with the people –
He's supposed to say those things, you understand.
It took no more than your support
To give my words an anchor they would trust.
I find it hard to fathom why
This man, this strong oak firmly rooted
In reality, should now be frightened
By some ancient bogeyman."

Dietrich rose to go, ashamed. "Forgive me,
Father. I was wrong to bother you with this."

Once again the Father smiled. "Sit, Dietrich.
Even the strongest man at some time
Finds his faith in crisis. You fear the wolf –
Then let us see if we can slay
This creature's threat and set you free.
'Come, let us reason, saith the Lord,'
The holy book says. Let us do so now.
Let us suppose this thing you fear
Might possibly be true, and let
The eyes of reason search it out;
The Lord shall be the judge.
Now tell me, my friend:
What makes you fear the beast within?"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In-Your-Face Bravado

He rails at the camera
Putting himself out there
Expecting to be criticized
But sure of himself

He tweets to the masses
Stirring up the controversy
Expecting to be criticized
But ready to take it

He trashtalks his opponent
Risking embarrassment
Expecting to be criticized
But enjoying the game

Most of his opponents
Have "me, myself, and I"
But he's got
A big hulking ego
Guarding his back who
Expects to be criticized
And is ready to take it

Whether they admit it or not
His opponents are nervous
Because they
Expect to be criticized
If they lose…
And, unlike him, they're
Not ready to take it

Bravado is useless unless you
Expect to be criticized
And you're ready to take it

Are you ready to take it?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Close Encounters at Gettysburg

Four score and seven thousand years ago,
I’m told some aliens brought forth upon this
Planet… us, conceived in secrecy and
Dedicated to the proposition
That they would return someday. As for us,
We now meet on a shifting battlefield
Where fact and fiction cannot be determined
With any certainty, nor can any
Indisputable evidence be found
To consecrate or denigrate such theories.
Some say that this task remains before us—
To resolve the questions left unanswered
By peoples who appear far more notably
Advanced than they should. The world has little
Memory of what really happened then,
But we cannot ignore the implications.
Will we become a planet under "gods,"
Our way of life replaced by government
Of the aliens, by the aliens,
And for the aliens from this day forth?
Or will we choose to rule our own future?
This much is sure: We can never forget
What a confusing mess our forefathers
Left for us to sort through and grouse about!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 05

NOTE: A continuation of part 04.
I used to wonder how ancient poets
created poems that were so long.
I'm discovering that, once you have
some idea of where you're headed,
the details begin to come naturally.
The scene started in part 04 and
continued this week in part 05
will have to be continued next week.
(I've already written some for next week,
but I stopped where the break
seemed most appropriate.)
This poem is already nearing the length
of the longest poem I've ever written...
and it's barely getting started!

They stepped inside. The Father led
His friend away from the sanctuary,
Along a narrow hallway to his room.
Pausing to smile at Dietrich, he said,
"I think a cozy home provides
Far better rest for troubled souls
Than a cramped confessional ever could."
He opened the door, bowed slightly,
And said, "Besides, I've yet to see
A confessional suited for sharing tea."

The Father's room was little more
Than a booth itself, with a table,
Two chairs, and a pallet for a bed.
He hadn't been here in a while, but
Dietrich still felt quite at home.
He sometimes wondered if he'd missed
His calling; surely such places
Held no attraction for normal men!
Many a night had the two men spent
Engaged in wars at a chessboard, pawns
In the game of life, each pretending
He wielded the power to impose his will
Upon others – just a game, of course, no more.
But the war of wits had a fellowship
About it, a sharing of deeper things
That can only pass when a bond is formed.
Pieter was right, of course; the Father
Was the only man who might ease his mind.

The water was boiled, the tea steeped,
The cups shared with a bit of bread.
Trivial patter passed between them –
Weather, business, family matters,
Gossip. Then both men sat, speechless;
Their eyes met, and Benedict raised
An eyebrow – nothing more than that –
And Dietrich's troubled words poured out
Unbidden: "Father, I fear my soul is damned."

"Do you now?" he asked softly, the slightest
Trace of a smile crossing his lips.
"And here, I thought we had a problem
That might prove too great for us to solve."

Dietrich slammed the table with his hand.
"You mock me!" he started, but words failed him
And all he could do was cradle his face
In his shaking hands. Then he jumped
As he felt the Father's hand on his.

"Forgive me, my son," Benedict cooed.
"I meant no harm; such problems are
My realm of expertise, you know.
I thought a bit of levity
Might lift your spirits. I was wrong.
Forgive me, please, and share with me
This inexplicable burden you carry."

Dietrich looked up, suddenly aware
Of tears on his cheeks, and stammered;
"Forgive me also…" but Benedict
Raised a finger to his own lips.
"No more words are needed between us,
My friend, except they lift your burden."
He studied Dietrich's face. "I've never seen
You thus. Whatever could have caused
You such distress? Of all my charges,
The state of your soul troubles me least!"

"Do you believe in werewolves, Father?"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barbarian Raid

Not your average sword & sorcery tale.
Rhythm inspired by the Bob Seger song
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man (YouTube video here).


Thought I had a good plan
Gonna make a quick raid
Score myself a big haul
That's the way the hand's played
Always like to work alone
Easier to get away
Didn't tell a single soul
No one else to get paid

Gonna make a quick barbarian raid
Make a fortune on tonight's escapade
Then I'll find a cute Bavarian maid
Who'll be getting this barbarian laid, yeah

Snuck into the big town
Knew I had my plans right
Slipping down the city streets
Hid by the dark night
If they saw me coming
Just another urbanite
Wearing metal armor
Leather pants are too tight
Carrying a massive sword
Ready for a big fight
Won't nobody bother me –
I'm a kinky sight

Gonna make a quick barbarian raid
Make a fortune on tonight's escapade
Then I'll find a cute Bavarian maid
Who'll be getting this barbarian laid

Stopped to have a few drinks
I was feeling pretty rough
Broke into a tavern
Where they kept the good stuff
Mighta stayed a bit long
But I ain't no powderpuff
Musta emptied half the stores
Making sure I had enough
Stumbled out the front door
Thinking I was pretty tough
Ran into the city guard
So I tried to run a bluff

Time to make my quick barbarian raid
Little wimps won't put me in a stockade
Gotta find a cute Bavarian maid
Who'll be getting this barbarian laid

Challenged half the king's guard
Called 'em little girly boys
Waving 'round my big sword
All they got is little toys
Staggering and slashing
Trying to maintain my poise
I could barely see straight
Then I heard a lot of noise
Guards was running everywhere
I was getting quite annoyed
Caught me in a big net –
They was overjoyed
Thought when I was done
I'd be a wealthy playboy
Now I'm in the stockade…
And merely unemployed

So much for my quick barbarian raid
Trust me, it's no stretch to say I'm dismayed
Here in this stockade they don't have a maid
Who'll be getting this barbarian laid, no

Monday, October 8, 2012

Martian Love Song

Little lime men cruise an ancient red planet
Feeling so lucky and looking for fun
Smiling and flirting with little jade women
Glowing like gems in the dim summer sun

Strutting like starshine, hoping they sparkle
Giggling and gaming a date for the night
Little jade foxes with onyx-black peepers
Lick their thin lips with coquettish delight

Gathered in groups on a ruby-red shoreline
Tickled by tides from a cool methane sea
Dreamers and lovers share, shoulder-to-shoulder
Comet trails bright as their futures-to-be

Why should the aliens have all the pleasure
While we stand staring like dimwitted cows?
Planets change orbit for reasons less wondrous—
Make me your leader, dear. Come to me now!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 04

NOTE: This week I figured out a major
plotting problem. As a result, this scene
will be much longer than the others
and I only got a portion of it done.
I'm also playing around with a slightly
different meter for the lines,
and this further slowed my work this week
But I now have a much better idea of where
the story is headed, so the scenes
coming up should have more detail
than the past installments have had.

The town of Vaxen had a single church –
A simple building, not a great cathedral
Built from quarried stone. The local folk
Had gathered river stone and mountain rock,
Materials not valued by the masons
Sought by wealthy Europeans.
More like a villa built around a silo,
Its rounded walls became a substitute
For vaulted ceilings; timbers spanned
The sanctuary, waterproofed with tiles
From local craftsmen – rough but solid;
And barrel windows, framing painted glass,
Provided them a poor man's imitation of
The glory bigger churches took for granted.

A village might be poor but names cost nothing,
So "Vaxen Abbey" gave a sense of pride
To all its people. A stairwell wound its way
Around the sanctuary's outer wall.
Each Sunday, Father Benedict would climb
The steps and slowly toll a massive handbell,
Summoning his charges. They would scurry
Down the street and enter by a heavy
Oaken door embossed with symbols.
A giant cross there welcomed them inside.

It was to this door that Dietrich now came.
He pounded on the door – respectfully,
Of course! – till Benedict responded.
The door swung open slowly and the priest
Appeared. A massive smile spread 'cross his face.
"Ah, Dietrich, my good friend! It's been a while.
How have you been?" he asked. He looked concerned.

A moment passed in silence. Dietrich glanced
Around the church and, seeing no one, asked,
"Father, have you time to spare for me?
A great many questions have plagued my thoughts
Of late. I find myself in need of wisdom
Far beyond my own. Might I impose?"

"Of course, my son," the father said. "I'll always
Make the time to help you find your way.
Perhaps I'll even find some 'sacramental
Wine' the church can spare." He smiled. "Come in."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chinese Food Junkie

Stir-fried veggies
On a pile of sticky rice
With soy sauce –
The monosodium glutamate
Tasted good too!

On a slow boat to China
Is it Chinese junk food?

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Thought I Left My Soda Here

Bubbles, bubbles up my nose
In the can and on my clothes
Running off the tabletop –
Guess I'd better find a mop!
Once, this floor was spic-and-span;
Who's the jerk who shook my can?