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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

End of Days

Predicted for so long, it finally came.
It’s New Year’s Eve,
The end of days we knew as Twenty-twelve.
Unlike the ancient Mayans,
Unlike religious zealots making guesses in the dark,
Three-hundred sixty-six of them were known
From New Year’s last.
And once we pass
Through the tribulation of Auld Lang Synes,
Through the Armageddon of hangovers,
Through the supposed Promised Land of bowl games
And New Year’s sale events,
We’ll start the cycle all over again.
In that, at least, the Mayans were right;
The end of days is just a new beginning.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 16

Benedict opened the church door
And gestured Miss Devin inside.
“Pieter!” he called as he followed her in.

In moments Pieter appeared. “Father!
Master Bonham has finally wakened
And is asking for you!” he gasped. Then,
Seeing Miss Devin, abruptly halted
And bowed. “Forgive my rudeness, ma’am.”

“Think nothing of it,” Miss Devin said
With a smile. “The Father told me of
Your master’s injuries. A fortunate man
Is he that you should care so much.
And one who inspires such loyalty
Must truly be a man of character.”

Pieter straightened and beamed with pride.
“Indeed, ma’am, he is. A better man
You’ll never find around these parts –
Of course, I mean no offense, Father.”
He bowed again as Benedict smiled.

“I take no offense, Pieter. It’s true,
Miss Devin,” he said with a smile.
“You’ll find no better man in Vaxen
Than Dietrich Bonham. I count myself
Most fortunate to call him a friend.”
Then he turned to Pieter. “Is your master
Dressed? Or does he lounge about
Awaiting his afternoon tea? Indeed,”
He said with a wink, “the man can be decadent.”

Pieter glanced at Miss Devin and shared
A conspiratorial smile with the Father.
“’Tis true, milady. My master’s been known
To eat the occasional chocolate truffle
And wash it down with a sip of brandy…
With never the slightest hint of guilt!”

Miss Devin covered her mouth with her hand
And feigned a gasp to cover her laugh.
“A wicked man indeed!” she said
And added, “You’re quite right, Father. Quite right!
Such a sinner as this one is surely in need
Of our ministry. I should enjoy meeting him.”

Benedict nodded. “I thought so,” he said.
“So answer me, Pieter. Is your master up
And has he made himself presentable?
Run now and tell him that visitors come!”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Puppy Love

For all of you good folks who
got your first dog for Christmas.
And yes, I like dogs... I'm just saying...

His tail won’t stop wagging
His mouth won’t stop yapping
He bounces and wiggles
The kids won’t stop laughing
Adults are amused now
But that won’t last long –
In time, little puppies
Grow into big dogs

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mayan Mistake

How could I let the end of the world pass without a poem?

Miscalculating Mayan minds
Prepared to meet their end
At midnight on the 21st.
They weren’t prepared to send
Out Christmas gifts if they were wrong;
No shopping had been done.
A million screaming children meant
This week would not be fun!

The parents told their kids to hush:
“We’re too late for the Christmas rush!”

Some argued that the calendar
Might be few days off…
But kids weren’t buying that excuse.
Some even dared to scoff:
“You’ve had 5000 years (or so)
To get this Christmas right.
We could have partied earlier…
No, you did this for spite!
You say you knew the end would come?
Then why not break the bank
Since credit bills would never come?
You’d have our lasting thanks!
Instead we’ve got no Christmas gifts;
We’ve got no Christmas turkey.
We’re stuck with used patolli boards
And month-old python jerky!”

Miscalculating Mayan minds
Prepared to meet their end
At midnight on the 21st.
They never planned to spend
The next b’ak’tun (or maybe two)
Anticipating doom
From children stripped of Christmas cheer
When the world did not go “boom.”

For the Mayan adults, whose children bawl,
It looks like the end came after all.
Merry Christmas to everyone else!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 15

I've mentioned that poets rarely show
the initial state of their poems, thus giving
the impression that poems spring forth
in final form. This week provides an example
of how the process really works!
While writing this week's installment,
I realized that nearly a full day and a half
had passed since Dietrich showed up at the church
with his injuries... and I had completely forgotten
that Dietrich's servant Pieter would be worried sick!
When I make my final version of the story,
I'll have to add a section where Benedict
sends word to Pieter and possibly
some of Pieter's activity. In the meantime,
don't be shocked that Pieter suddenly appears this week.
He has brought some clothes for Dietrich --
who, you'll remember, was naked when Benedict found him --
and has been helping the Father care for his master.

The heavy door creaked open and Pieter
Peered out. “Father,” he said, “Master Dietrich
Has awakened. What shall I do?”
Benedict nodded and said, “Thank you,
Pieter. I’ll be there in a moment.”

Cardinal Jarvik sniffed and said, “Master
Dietrich? What goes on here, Benedict?”

“One of my flock taken ill, Cardinal.
Beaten, actually. I’m nursing him
Back to health. Would you care to help?”

“Indeed not!” Jarvik cringed and drew back.
“Do I look like a manservant?”

“Indeed not!” Benedict echoed.
“Our Lord said He came to serve, but I
Would never mistake you for Him, sir.”
Then to Miss Devin he said, “Would you
Care to aid me, my dear? Dietrich improves
With each hour that passes, but I’m sure
The smile of an angel would do him good.”

Miss Devin blushed and said, “I would
Be glad to help tend your friend. Cardinal,
You may go ahead and find our lodgings
If you wish. I shall join you shortly.”

The Cardinal sniffed. “And how will you
Find your way without a carriage?”

Benedict bowed. “With the Cardinal’s permission,
I’ll escort the young lady when she leaves.
I have need of provisions and had planned
To go later today while Pieter was here.
I shall make sure no harm comes to her.”

The Cardinal harrumphed and fidgeted
Before finally nodding his assent.
He climbed back in his carriage and
The coachman closed the door, mounted his perch,
And smiled at Miss Devin before
Urging the horses toward the town square.

Father Benedict watched them drive away.
“A most unpleasant reflection on the faith,
That one,” he mused out loud. He turned to see
Miss Devin’s poor attempt to appear shocked.
His hearty laugh eased her embarrassment.
“Unpleasant indeed,” she said with a sigh.

“Then why are you with him? Have you no choice?”

“There are few opportunities for a woman
In the church – aside from taking vows, that is.”
Again she sighed and bowed her head.

“And you prefer a less… sequestered life?”

She hesitated. “I… to be blunt, yes.
I came to the church because of my parents.
I was not given a choice in the matter.
Joining the Cardinal on his missions
Allows me to see the wider world.”

Benedict stepped forward as a few tears
Trickled down her cheeks. He touched her shoulder
And, when she glanced up, he smiled and winked.
“There is no shame in that, my dear. Presumptuous
As I am, I know I can speak for my Lord
When I say He looks at the heart,
Not the outward appearance… nor one’s
Station in life. Holy orders can make
A prison as surely as iron bars.”
He swept his arm dramatically
Toward Vaxen Abbey. “Think of this place
As pasture where the flock of God
May run freely, Miss Devin. While in Vaxen,
Feel free to come by and ‘graze’ as often
As you desire. You’ll find no iron bars here.”

She smiled gratefully and rubbed the tears
From her cheeks. “Thank you, Father. I think I shall.”

“Excellent,” Benedict said. “And now,
Shall we tend to my friend Dietrich?”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Claus-trophobia

A bit of Christmas paranoia
To brighten your holidays…

Fear the fat man dressed in red,
Robbing you while you’re in bed!

Elvish gangsters at the Pole
Quickly fence the things he stole.

Parents fall into his trap –
Children sitting on his lap

Tell what gifts are in their dreams;
These dictate his Christmas schemes!

Now he knows the hottest toys
Most desired by girls and boys;

He’ll snatch them when he makes his round
And then return them for a mound

Of cash. Yes, fear the man in red;
It’s this that keeps him so well-fed!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Poop on the Housetop

I think this is the last of the Christmas song parodies.
This one also parodies the love most children have
for "potty humor" (a love shared by many adults,
although they won't admit it.) This is a parody of
the children's Christmas song Up on the Housetop...
and if you pay attention, you'll find allusions to
an uncomplimentary name for chipped beef and
a favorite Christmas poem by Clement Moore.
I must admit, I'm rather proud of this one.

Poop on the housetop –
Reindeer plops
Everywhere that
Santa stops!
Eight busy reindeer
Out all night –
It’s on the shingles
Where they alight!
Ho ho ho, you better know
Ho ho ho, they’re gonna go!
Poop on the housetop;
It’s no trick –
You’ve had a visit from
Old Saint Nick!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 14

The love interest arrives! You can't have
a gothic horror tale without a love interest.
This section is proceeding slowly because
I need to introduce several previously
unrelated characters to each other
in a way that makes sense.. but
I also need to introduce several plot elements
that will drive the story forward.
As a result, this section may take a few posts
in order to get everything right. In a first draft like this,
it doesn't have to be perfect...
but it helps if I remember to put it all in from the start!

The morning came. As it wore on
And the sun neared its peak, a coach
Entered the town square of Vaxen.
Drawn by two black horses, the coach,
Bearing the symbols of the church,
Rattled along the cobblestone
Street and stopped at Vaxen Abbey.
The coachman scrambled awkwardly
From his perch atop the carriage,
Hasting to open the coach door.
A large man stepped out first, shoving
The door and the coachman aside
With scarcely a glance. His robe marked
Him as one of stature within
The church; his expression marked him
As one of great self-importance.

The coachman, used to such treatment,
Regained his dignity quickly
And offered his hand to the young
Woman stepping down behind him.
She smiled in gratitude, nodding
Before she accepted his help.
Having no station in the church,
She wore the dress of a simple
Servant – although, it must be said,
Fine robes would not have accented
Her delicate features as well.
The coachman had often wondered
What sin condemned this young woman
To serve as the man’s assistant.

The man strode to the abbey door
And pounded on it heavily –
Once, then twice, and yet a third time.
When Benedict opened the door,
The robed man said in a flat voice,
“You must be Father Benedict.”

“That I am,” he said. He smiled at
The young woman but not the man…
Nor did he invite them inside.
He stood patiently and waited.

The robed man snarled, “What kind of church
Is this, that its pastor doesn’t
Show Christian kindness to strangers?”

Benedict said, “It is a church
In a town where an unseen beast –
Whether animal or human,
We know not – murders its people,
And its pastor questions strangers
Who arrive dressed in Christian garb
But lack basic Christian manners.
The unholy may wear a robe
As easily as the holy.”

The coachman stifled a snicker
And the robed man flashed him a sneer;
The coachman feigned a coughing fit.

To Benedict the robed man said,
“I am Cardinal Jarvik, sent
By His Holiness to this God-
Forsaken part of the world, to
Investigate this strange killer
Of which you speak. This young woman
Is my assistant, Miss Devin.
His Holiness insists that she
Accompany me on these trips,
Although she is little more than
An inconvenience to my work.”

“I understand,” Benedict said.
“With such a lovely young lady
By your side, others might mistake
You for a mannered gentleman.”
Miss Devin smiled discretely, and
Benedict smiled at her once more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Saw Mommy Slapping Santa Claus

The bizarre Christmas song parodies continue…

I saw Mommy slapping Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
I couldn’t help but smirk
When she hollered out, “You jerk!”
She called him dirty names and said
He was a piece of work
But Santa must have kidnapped Daddy ‘cause
I don’t see him and there’re no gifts in sight
Oh Santa must be really pissed ‘cause we’re on his naughty list
After Mom slapped Santa Claus last night

Monday, December 10, 2012

Burnt Christmas

A Christmas carol for global warming –
Appropriately enough, to the tune of Blue Christmas.

Some say a burnt Christmas will hound us
As greenhouse gas-fueled changes confound us
Chemicals in the breeze bring us all to our knees
And Santa’s just a dream, babe, when the ice caps cease to freeze
We’ll see a burnt Christmas, they’re certain
As nature pulls that tropical curtain
Scientists say we’re doomed, that the end’s coming soon
And we’re in for a burnt, burnt Christmas

Yeah, it’s a burnt Christmas that’s coming
The change to celebrations is numbing
Plastic trees wilt at home and the snow’s Styrofoam
Instead of Santa’s elves we’re stuck with a flock of garden gnomes
Though Grandma’s not run over by reindeer
Poor Santa’s down with heat stroke – it’s plain, dear
We’re not doing alright on this hot silent night
‘Cause we’re in for a burnt, burnt Christmas
Yeah, we’ll all have a burnt, burnt Christmas
I smell smoke – it’s a burnt, burnt Christmas

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 13

“NO!”

Dietrich jerked upright in the bed and screamed,
Uncertain of where he was or how he
Got there. The covers clung to his sweaty
Body; he fought to free his hands from their
Clammy grasp. Freed at last, he cradled his
Face in them and gasped for breath, his heart pounding.

Suddenly Father Benedict was there,
Sitting on the edge of the bed, a cup
In his hands. “Here, my friend, sip this water.”
And as Dietrich did so, the Father smiled.
“You’ve had quite the night.  I feared for your health.”

“How did I get here?” Dietrich asked. “And what
Terrible acts have I done? I must know!”

Again the Father smiled. “You have done nothing
But sleep and test my healing skills. Early
Yesterday you came to my door and collapsed.
Your wounds proved severe but not fatal… though
I confess I wondered how you got them.
I cleaned you up and put you to bed.
Since then you’ve done little but sleep, sometimes
Tossing and moaning, sometimes like the dead.
What demon haunts your dreams, Dietrich? The wolf?”

“I changed, Father. I prowled the woods, preying
On human flesh. I battled someone who sought
To destroy me and I tore out his throat.”

“A nightmare, nothing more,” Benedict said.

“But Father, it was no nightmare. I saw –“

“You saw only in your dreams,” Benedict
Murmured with a shake of his head. “I’ve been
By your side all day, afraid your injuries
Were beyond my meager abilities.
This blanket just thwarted all your efforts
To sit up in bed. Do you truly believe
You could have escaped their gentle embrace
And romped through the woods without my notice?”
He laughed at that. “You are no more a wolf
Than I am. Now rest; regain your strength.”

After a couple more sips of water,
Benedict patted his shoulder and made
Him comfortable. And as he dozed off,
Dietrich barely noticed the gritty feel
As he rubbed his fingertips together.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Apprentice

I see an image
Floating before my mind’s eye;
My petty efforts
To capture it on paper
Fail miserably each time

Monday, December 3, 2012

I’ve Got a Driver

Inspired by the Beatles’ song Drive My Car
And some televised golf tournaments.

My caddie said, “You should listen to me:
I’ve done this job for a decade or three.
The fairway’s narrow and there’s too many trees;
I know what you’re thinking, but won’t you please
Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I ought to listen; my friends say he’s good.
If he says “Hit an iron,” I know that I should.
There’s water short of the green if I dare…
But I’ve got a driver. I could get it there!
He says, “Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I disregarded my caddie’s advice,
Took out the driver and I hit a big slice.
My ball’s in the water, my score’s in the tank…
And I’ve got a driver and myself to thank.
Took that big stick from the bag –
Didn’t want to be a drag –
Took that big stick from the bag
And hit the ball badder…
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no