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 30, 2013

Ran Out of Time

tick tick tick tick
    time does not stop
tick tick tick tick
    old year moves on
tick tick tick tick
    till no time’s left
tick tick tick tick
    old year’s near gone
tick tick tick tick
    new year’s heart beats
tick tick tick tick
    beats strong like drum
tick tick tick tick
    waste no more time
tick tick tick tick
    new year’s eve comes
tick tick tick… GONE

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rat Patrol

Though visions of sugarplums danced in their heads,
‘Twas M&Ms hitting the floor.
The kids made a mess and the holiday’s done…
But the mice know tonight THEY can score!
As Jimmy and Johnny and Sally and Sue
Drag wearily back to their beds,
The scouts are alerting the whole Rat Patrol:
It’s time that the army got fed!
Now dozens of soldiers are charging about
On hundreds of tiny white feet;
Although they weren’t stirring the night Santa came,
Tonight’s haul will be pretty sweet!
And somewhere, that jolly old elf sits and grins
‘Cause somehow, it only seems right
That visions of red, green, and blue M&Ms
Should make all the mice dance tonight.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

No Crime Like the Present

A holiday tradition? Yes, the poorly-chosen gift
Brings mirth to our festivities; it gives us all a lift.
The tasteless Christmas sweater, the gaudy Christmas tie,
And all the dancing, singing dolls that make us wonder, “Why?
What madness fell upon Aunt Lil to make her purchase THAT?
And who left Uncle Tom alone to buy up all THIS crap?”
The poorly-chosen gift might be our oldest Christmas rite…
Except for maybe fruitcakes. (Let’s not bring those up, alright?)

Monday, December 23, 2013

They Left It on the Doorstep Here

Another new Christmas carol, to the tune of
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

They left it on the doorstep here,
That present that Amazon sold;
Delivery was at half past three—
At least, that’s what I’m told.
But there’s no package awaiting me
So I gave the mailman a ring…
And while that silly Muzak played
I didn’t learn a thing.

For though I ordered it in advance
In hopes of avoiding this game,
It doesn’t matter how hard I try;
The outcome’s always the same.
The gifts I’ve chosen are out of stock
Or multiple orders get crossed;
And should the packages finally ship,
Along the way they get lost.

The days till Christmas are hast’ning on;
Now all of the good stuff’s been sold
And all my planning’s been shot to hell—
My mailman’s answer was cold:
When forms I’ve filed tell them that the box
Is gone from my doorstep here,
Perhaps they’ll choose to make good my claim
And save my Christmas cheer. [optional: AMEN!]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Superhero

Another Christmas song parody—this time,
a parody of a parody! The tune is from
Weird Al Yankovic’s Christmas at Ground Zero.
I rearranged the verses a bit to eliminate
the instrumental part; it’s a bit easier to sing this way
and you could write all kinds of extra verses to sing…

He’s a Christmas superhero
Though he isn’t very svelte
When he walks, he jiggles
‘Cause his big belly wiggles
As it hangs over his belt
He’s a Christmas superhero
But his costume’s not très chic
Such a pimpish vibe isn’t dignified
When you walk an L.A. street

All the kids are screaming for attention
Impossible demands for Christmas night
He’s been thinking things we shouldn’t mention—
Those little monsters are his Kryptonite

Even Christmas superheros
Don’t get to double-park their sleigh
So the traffic patrol
Called Animal Control
And they hauled his deer away
Hey, Christmas superhero!
The barman’s getting tough:
“With your big red nose and your ho-ho-hos
Bud, I think you’ve had enough!”

Staggering into the sports department
Pulling down a shotgun from the shelf
No one here believes he’s hunting partridge—
He’s gonna be a naughty little elf!

The Christmas superhero
Is bringing it this year
The shoppers are running
‘Cause Santa Claus is coming
With a boomstick of Christmas cheer
The Christmas superhero
Is driving ‘em lively and quick;
Whether naughty or nice, you better think twice
‘Bout a visit from old Saint Nick.
Whether naughty or nice, you better think twice
‘Bout a visit from old Saint Nick!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Greens with Envy

The Joneses’ house is blanketed in greenery and wire.
Those fifty-thousand lights look like a blazing forest fire…
At least, they did until the street’s transformer detonated.
So why are all the neighbors in a rush to duplicate it?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Working the Puppy Dog Eyes

He lays on a mat in the back bedroom,
Apparently asleep.
Suddenly one ear perks up
And four paws thunder down the hall…
Someone’s in the kitchen!

He sits at attention in front of the oven,
Apparently frozen.
Suddenly both ears perk up
And those puppy dog eyes beg for pity…
Some of that cheese wouldn’t hurt, either!

He gets what he wants with
Apparently little effort.
Suddenly the injustice of it all hits you
And you just shake your head…
If only YOUR boss was so easily swayed!

Friday, December 13, 2013

iChristmas

A parody of the holiday classic White Christmas.

I’m dreaming of an iChristmas
‘Cause Apple’s admen tell me so.
Pricy iPads glisten
And kids won’t listen
When Dad says the budget’s blown.
I’m dreaming of an iChristmas
Though iPhone data rates are high.
May your iStore apps all work fine
And the debt you incur not make you whine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snowing Sideways

Sunday’s football games inspired this parody
of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way.

Pass through it—
Is it the right thing to do?
How can I
When I can’t even see the field?
If I could
Maybe I’d give it a whirl;
How can I
When the ball freezes to me?

[chorus] 'Cause it's snowing sideways
Snowing sideways
We keep falling down
The drifts get in our way
It keeps snowing sideways
Snowing sideways

It’s knee high;
Too much snow on the ground.
You can’t run—
Slipping up’s all you’re gonna do!
If you could
Maybe you’d break through the line;
It’s open—
No one can even see you!

[chorus]

[chorus]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Achy Muscles

My achy muscles
Refuse to hustle.

The weather’s colder,
I’m getting older,

And young guys smirk
‘Cause nothing works

The way it did
When I was a kid…

But their day’s coming!
Then I’ll be humming

And laughing. “Jerks!
That’s how it works

When you feel the rustle
Of achy muscles!”

Friday, December 6, 2013

Approaching Storm

It rides the jet stream,
Soaring through the atmosphere
At thirty thousand feet,
An arctic blast that turns the earth
From balmy warm to frozen waste…
And no one can stop it.

Down below, far below,
Fur-clad humans shiver
And pray for snowplows
And wonder: Did they cause this?
Is this arctic blast the result of
Environmental irresponsibility?
Could they have prevented this?
Is there anything they can do to
Save dear old Mother Nature?
The academic debate continues…

Until the power goes out
And they face an ugly truth:
Sometimes the old girl’s just a sadistic bitch.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grownup IT

Have you ever played a game of grownup IT?
Here’s the way you play:

The laundry is mounting; it needs to be washed and
Somebody’s got to do it. YOU’RE IT!
The grass is too tall; it needs to be mowed and
Nobody wants the job. YOU’RE IT!
The bathroom is dirty; it needs to be cleaned and
Everybody has vanished. YOU’RE IT!
There’s too much to do; it just won’t wait and
Everyone else is busy. YOU’RE IT!

Have you ever played a game of grownup IT?
I bet you didn’t mean to.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The End Is Coming

December has arrived at last;
The year will shortly end
Though not before we break the bank
On Christmas gifts again.
But then, I guess it’s just as well
The year’s not more extended
Since by December’s end
Our credit’s also been expended.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After Turkey Day

‘Twas the day after Turkey Day. All through the barnyard
Survivors were angry. Their lives were so darn hard
Already! They just wanted someone to blame…
So they started to list all those villains by name:
Some blamed the first settlers from times long ago;
Some blamed the first turkeys for being too slow.
A few blamed the cows from the Chic-Fil-A store.
(Every barnyard is rife with conspiracy lore
Like “Kentucky Fried Chicken’s an alien plot”
And “That turkey they pardon still goes in a pot.”)

But one turkey stepped up and said, “Let’s endeavor
To look at the bright side. No bird lives forever
But while we are here, aren’t we all quite contented?
We’re fed the best food and our needs are attended.
At last, when it’s time, butchers take us out quick
And we give thankful families our breasts and drumsticks.
Few creatures have purposes noble as we.
We ALL should be thankful. We’re blessed! Don’t you see?”

Those who heard traded glances, then nodded assent;
They’d heard this before and they knew what it meant.
And so, though the farmer was never sure how,
Turkey Day claimed another… and the birds blamed a cow.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey in Your Craw

“It’s hard to soar with eagles when
You live with turkeys,” so they say.
Be thankful, grounded fliers—you
Can take revenge Thanksgiving Day!
Take wing (or leg or even breast—
Whichever one you like the best)
And vent your wrath with tasty glee…
Then chomp another piece or three!

But if the eagles grate your nerves
And of their flights you’ve had enough,
Just eat your fill, content to join
The Brotherhood of Turkeys, stuffed
With mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie,
And every food that makes you sigh
Then hit the couch! Your bulging frame
Can crash and watch the football game.

Perhaps you don’t like either side
And find both types a bit too fowl.
This holiday is not your thing;
It makes you want to sit and scowl.
So be it, friend. Your fate is worse
Than those I’ve mentioned in this verse
Because it’s YOU who ends up gnawed
And not the turkey in your craw.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Stray Cats

An acrostic poem, where the first letters in
each line spell something—here, the poem title.
I remember writing these in high school.

Slinking through the bushes
Trailing a chipmunk, maybe a mouse,
Ragged little felines make their way
Alone through a human jungle,
Yowling nuisances nobody wants.
Can’t afford to feed them;
Alleycats will just keep coming back for more…
Tender-hearted people do, though. We’re all
Strays at some time or another, aren’t we?

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Wonder of Soap

A pattern poem.

It defies our imagination:
Ancient people discovered
That a prepared mixture of
Animal fat and wood ashes
Could make them feel clean.

It questions our sanity:
Only humans would
Consider taking a bath in
The very same things
That made them feel dirty.

It boggles our minds:
Is it more amazing
That such a crazy idea worked
Or that soap became so
Important to modern living?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Rhyme Nor…

Intransigence is a refusal to compromise.

One day an angry sonneteer exclaimed,
“My verse shall nevermore be marred by rhyme!”
(It’s true he’d had a bit too much to drink
That day, but he maintained his mind was clear.)
From that day forth, he claimed his verse was changed!
Defiant, he would never end two lines
With words that sounded anything alike.
He thought himself a pioneer of verse.

As time went on, he found this new frontier
Not quite as free as he had once believed.
It chafed him just as badly as before;
Without the rhymes, pure meter tied his hands.
At last he realized his great experiment
Was just a child expressing his intransigence.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pepto Abysmal (aka Thunder Lizards)

Some scientists say dinos died
‘Cause insects fastened to their sides
And passed diseases ‘round the earth.
In time, their deaths outnumbered births.

But I’ve a theory some revile,
A theory that makes others smile.
I think that we must ask the question:
Did dinos die from indigestion?

Before the dinos went extinct,
Perhaps their era simply stinked.
The stench from those enormous blasts
Would thin the herds out pretty fast!
Such gross intestinal terrorism
Might breed a growing skepticism
That drove them all to cash it in.
Why fight a battle you can’t win?

I think we call them “thunder lizards”
Because the gases in their gizzards
Resulted in explosive spasms,
Creating a deadly smelly miasm.
I’m sure such vocal metabolism
Could cause a saurian cataclysm!

That’s why I think the ‘saurs died out.
And of this fact I have no doubt:
In the history of our universe,
This “Big Bang” had to be the worst.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fried Him, Froze Him, Microwaved Him

I’m so glad I’m not a chicken
At a big commercial farm.
When I saw the batter thicken
I’d know someone meant me harm.
Plucked and butchered, dipped in batter,
Cooked to feed their avarice,
(I’d make sure to spit and splatter
While they fried me to a crisp!)
Then flash-frozen, packed in bags
For shipment to some market’s shelves.
I’d be bought by scalawags
Without the time to cook themselves.
They’d hurry home with reckless speed
And pop me in the microwave
‘Cause they’ve got hungry mouths to feed…
But I think they’d be awfully brave
To eat an angry bird like me
Who met his end so miserably;
The vengeance of such poultery
Might be some fowl dysentery.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gone in 60 30 15 Seconds

The scoop plunges into the bag
And eager eyes follow the motion.
The kibble rattles into the bowl
And eager ears perk in anticipation.
The bowl is lowered into position
And eager feet prance excitedly.
The bowl touches down
And the eager muzzle guzzles kibble
Until no trace is left…
But the eager dog is still hungry.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Secret Identity

For Veterans Day.

They don’t wear capes or stretchy tights,
Twirl golden lassos, fear kryptonite,
Or stand out boldly on the street
From all the other folks you meet.
But don’t be fooled…

Although they look so much like us—
Although these heroes make no fuss
About the super job they do—
We needn’t live without a clue
To who they are.

Today their secret identities
Are on display for all to see.
Let’s thank them for their heroism
While guarding us from terrorism.
(Tights not required.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cripple Crack

Oh my—three songs in one week! This one’s
based on the old folk song Cripple Creek and
the saying "Step on a crack, break your mama's back."
Note that the first stanza is the chorus;
it gets repeated everywhere you see [ch].

[ch] Stepping on a cripple crack
Made my mama cry
Stepping on a cripple crack
Was the reason why

Mama wasn’t happy
When she broke her aching back
She cried a little
When she broke her sacroiliac

[ch]

Papa called the doctor
He was betting at the track
Doctor said he’s coming
He’d already lost a stack

[ch]

Mama lays in traction
Got her bed inside a rack
Doctor left my Pa
To cook and clean our little shack

Stepping on a cripple crack
Made my Papa cry
Stepping on a cripple crack
Was the reason why

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gway Wabbit

I couldn’t resist this—an Elmer Fudd version
of Jefferson Airplane’s song White Rabbit.
Just to make it easier to read, I wrote it in
normal English; only the word “wabbit” is Elmerese.

One trick sends you flying
And one trick makes you sprawl
After ten tricks from that wabbit
You just sit and caterwaul
Go ask Elmer while he sits and bawls

And if you go chase that wabbit
Don’t be shocked if anvils fall
And you find out your sole protection
Is a flimsy parasol
Go ask Elmer—he can barely crawl

When you meet strange men in the forest
And get directions where to go
From a wabbit in coat and mustache
You should consider moving slow
Go ask Elmer—he’ll tell you so

When your shotgun is spraying buckshot
In a sloppy hail of lead
And you’re certain you’ve killed that wabbit
Don’t ignore your growing dread
Remember what the Fudd man said
He’s not dead
He’s not dead
He’s not dead

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Losing My Fleabag Blues

A standard 12-bar blues… as sung by a flea.

I’m catching me the next dog out of town
‘Cause ever since that collar started hanging around
Rover’s neck
My life is a wreck
You know I know I’m losing my fleabag
Yeah, that’s a drag

I got a couple thousand mouths to feed
But Daddy can’t get all the food his little babies need
What a mess
No time for finesse
My wife, she knows I’m losing my fleabag
And man, she nags

Old Rover was the perfect catch
And me, the itch he couldn’t scratch
But now, I’m just not feeling well—it’s
All this doggone flea repellent!

So get me on the next dog out of town
I haven’t got a future with that collar around
Rover’s neck
I’m living on spec
But not for long—I’m losing my fleabag
And that’s a drag
That collar means I’m losing my fleabag
I wanna gag
I know it’s so—I’m losing my fleabag
And I won’t beg

Friday, November 1, 2013

So Waisted

After the sugar rush…

“Once on the lips,
Forever on the hips…”
Or so the pundits say.
Some blame the carbs
And some blame cortisone;
We’re bigger either way.

Obesity
Is caused by more than food;
We all dread exercisin’.
Unless we move,
We’ll never ever cease
Expanding our horizons.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sugar Rush Again

A song for Halloween—a parody of
Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again.
[v] means verse, [br] means bridge… and yes,
“desperate” is only 2 syllables in this song.

[v] Sugar rush again,
They’re desperate to feel that sugar rush again.
The life they love is trick-or-treating with their friends
And they’re desperate for that sugar rush again.

[v] Sugar rush again,
The little monsters flash those hungry grins
To let the neighbors know they’re here to rake it in
‘Cause it’s Halloween and they need that rush again.

[br] Sugar rush again
Like a horde of locusts swarming down the highway;
Greedy denizens
Of a rush-inducing sugar-laden buffet
Eaten all day…

[v] Sugar rush again
They’re desperate to feel that sugar rush again.
The life they love is trick-or-treating with their friends
And they’re desperate for that sugar rush again.

[repeat bridge and last verse]
Yeah, they’re desperate for that sugar rush again.

Monday, October 28, 2013

This Little Other White Meat

Some of the little piggy made bacon;
Some of the little piggy made ham.
Some of the little piggy made sausage;
Some of the little piggy made Spam.
And some of the little piggy got processed and packaged ad nauseam.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I’ve Never Heard a Monshter Lishp

Another attempt at an Ogden Nash-type poem.
In the 3rd line, “menashe” means “menace.”
A lishp is shometimesh hard to undershtand.

I’ve never heard a monshter lishp;
Their shnarlsh are alwaysh loud and crishp
And, when they bite, they’re quite a menashe.
I guessh they never shcare the dentisht.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ninja Ballet

While Evil Warlord sleeps like dreamless stone
Behind his wall of palace guards, secure,
The shadows that he fears invade his home;
Of his disease they seek to be the cure.

Around his wall, behind his wall, and through,
The shadows swiftly make their way. With chilling
Resoluteness they do what they must do;
With cold precision, thus begins the killing.

Katanas flash, the dance of death begun
As figures clad in darkness pirouette
With superhuman strength above as-yet
Unknowing victims. Triumph almost comes…

When wires twist; ninjas drop like rocks and then
Director hollers, “CUT! We try again!”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Zombie Apocalypse #41

The hesitant sun peers over the city skyline to watch them rise from the dead.
They cringe. They prefer the shadows.
They lurch awkwardly down dark hallways,
     bumping along one wall,
     unseeing, unfeeling,
     unaware of their surroundings.
Driven purely by long-forgotten instincts,
They simulate attempts at personal hygiene and sartorial style before descending upon the city en masse.
The horror spreads! Terrified fast food workers duck behind counters… but it’s too late.
Zombie hordes overwhelm them, droning their dreaded one-word desire:
     “Coffeeeeeeee…”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Redshirts

According to Wikipedia, a redshirt is
"a stock character in fiction who dies
soon after being introduced. The term originates
with fans of the Star Trek television series (1966–69),
from the red shirts worn by Starfleet security personnel
who frequently die during episodes."
Perhaps most of us relate to them…

One moment of glory,
That’s all that they get—
A spot in one story.
These hapless cadets
Beam down to the planet
With captain and crew;
We take it for granted
They’ll wind up as goo.
Now legends of Star Trek,
They’ve gone from dead ends
With too-tiny paychecks
To famed might-have-beens.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Drawing Dead

“Drawing dead” means you can’t win,
no matter what cards the dealer gives you.
One Wild West legend died playing poker—
he was shot in the back of the head.
Since then, two pairs—aces and eights—
are known as “the dead man’s hand.”

Wild Bill Hickok thought
His aces and eights were good…
But a bullet won

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cloudburst

This cloud is the computer kind—you know,
a way to store information online.

The digital sky went on forever…
Or so to men it seemed.
Little by little, the fluffy white clouds
Filled up its placid scene.

Horizons darkened as grayscale fronts
Turned bitmapped black and white.
Soon thunderous sound shook the file-filled sky
And streamed from the growing night.

Maybe a hacker did digital seeding;
Maybe the sunspots came.
Whatever the reason, as lightning flashed,
Down came the digital rain.

As videos splattered computer screens
Unbidden by the mouse,
They ran like Salvador Dali’s thoughts
And puddled around the house.

Photos and emails and spreadsheets too
Became a swirly mess.
Did that say a porn star made Junior rich?
Receivers could only guess.

The downpour subsided, the landscape soaked
With info none could risk.
But some nameless nerd saved the day again—
Thank God for his backup disc!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Hole in Juan

A jealous husband shot Juan in his bed
(The husband’s bed, that is) and with his wife
(The husband’s wife, that is, not Juan’s). He said
(That is, Juan said) that marriages are rife
With complications no sane man would want
When he could have a ball without the chain!
Juan made it sound so cool and nonchalant—
At least until that bullet hit his brain.

They doctored up his body for the wake.
A dozen women—young and snockered—came;
They swore and made rude gestures. “Hey, you snake!
You would have lived much longer with ‘a chain.’”
And just for fun, they bolted all the doors,
Pulled out some guns and shot him in the drawers.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Winchester Cathedral

He rides slowly into town and dismounts
In front of Our Blessed Savior’s Rest Mission.
He glances around town and quickly counts
Six gunslingers. Thank God for ammunition!

He slides his rifle from its saddle holster
And loads bullets into its magazine,
Then chambers one with the lever. It bolsters
His courage when the “chak” is quick and clean.

Before the firefight starts, the friar comes out
Carrying a big box. “Greetings, my son,”
He murmurs. “Let me help. Many devout
Men have died at their hands. God bless our guns.”

The box drops. Two Colts and one rifle judge
The quick and the dead. The street runs with blood.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Snifficant Other

I was walking the dog the other day and…

Two canines, out with masters walking,
Pause to chat a while.
“Well, howdy do!” the first one says
While sniffing some place vile.
“I’m fine… and you?” the second says
As he responds in kind.
“Hmmm… have we maybe met before?
Some other place and time?”

“I seriously doubt it, friend,”
The first says with a snort.
“I’m pretty sure I’d know your scent
If we had sniffed before.
It’s possible you’ve met the guys
I often hang around;
They frequently get lost, and so
I mark the silly clowns.”

“Oh no, I’m sure,” the second says,
“I know this scent quite well.
I’m certain that we’ve met before;
I just can’t place the tail.”
The first insists, “Forget it, friend;
Don’t let it drive you nuts.
You’ve just confused my nether parts
With someone else’s butt.”

“I know you now!” the second snarls,
His growl at fever pitch.
“I smelled you at my pad last night.
You’re sleeping with my bitch!”

“Perhaps I am,” the first dog says;
He doesn’t seem upset.
“It’s not my fault you’re such a dog!
You treat her like a pet.
If you were more concerned with her
Than running with the pack,
Perhaps she’d sniff your own behind,
Not sniff behind your back.”

And then the first dog lifts his leg;
He marks the second’s tail.
I guess tonight that girl will know
Which one’s her alpha male!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Beast from One Fathom

A fathom is roughly six feet.

When little Georgie jumped into the pond,
His young imagination never dreamed
What creatures might await him—things not fond
Of little boys who kick and splash and scream.
His cannonball disturbed the murky depths;
He had to close his eyes and couldn’t see
What things he agitated when he leapt…
And they attacked with great ferocity!

Amid the swirling waters, leafy weeds
Entwined his legs and grabbed his thrashing knees
While tiny fish, attracted by the motion,
Nipped leaves and skin alike with blind devotion.
Young Georgie shrieked in terror as he fled!
He’s sworn off swimming; now he hikes instead.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jedi Mime Trick

When spaceships land at Tatooine en route
To parts unknown, the Empire, fearing trouble,
Has ordered its storm troopers to take out
Any spy who might put up a struggle.

Today, one hooded figure draws their eyes.
The troopers freeze as he raises his hand
And more figures appear—all the same size,
Stepping from the rabble when he commands.

As the hoods drop and painted faces stare
Back at the troopers, blackened lips all smiles,
The troopers panic. The live masks they wear
Terrify them! The troopers run for miles.

The Jedi sniggers. “Weak you are, Sith slime,
And strong I am in the ways of street mimes.”

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Away

Summer’s gone,
Those days we grumbled about the heat a mere memory.
Soon we’ll grumble about the cold;
It’s just a matter of time.

Until then
We’ll watch the leaves turn
From deep greens to brilliant reds and golds
To dull crumbly browns.
Released from the daily duties of growing leaves, they go bunjee jumping without a bunjee cord
And end their lives raked in a pile
Frolicking with children.
The leaves never grumble.

It’s not much of a retirement plan
But I guess there are worse ways to go.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Confused Beyond Measure

Sixteen ounces in a pint;
Sixteen in a pound.
One’s for volume, one’s for weight;
One’s a puddle, one’s a mound.
Different ounces, different uses;
Mixing them would not be sound.

They say eight ounces make a cup.
That’s wrong so many ways
‘Cause when I need a cup of flour,
That isn’t what it weighs!
Dry ounces in a fluid cup?
It puts me in a daze.

It’s just a plot to amplify
My many cooking flaws!
And sometimes, when I most despair,
I think: Did Dorothy pause
To ponder if she crushed the Witch
In dry or fluid Oz?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Down in the Holler

Away down yonder in the holler, Jack
Was sure he’d make a fortune off his still.
He knowed the fastest way to brew a batch
And sneak it to his “clients” up the hill.
He knowed the places G-Men liked to hide
And knowed the lying dogs who’d rat him out.
The county might be dry but Jack took pride;
His hootch would always flow. There’d be no drought.

Old Jack tried hard to make his moonshine quicker.
One careless night, distracted by his liquor,
He accidently stumbled ‘cross a mine
A fellow “businessman” had left behind.
His still (and dreams of wealth) lit up the holler
And Old Jack never sold another swaller.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Always Fade Away

Stupid little verses like this
are always harder than they appear.

He slipped his new red sneakers on
And jogged through London’s rain.
But wheezing made him stop at last—
The bloody color ran so fast
He couldn’t take the strain!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sloshed in Space

A very different tale of “first contact.”

“Ignite main rockets NOW!” yells Captain Clark.
“Great danger threatens Earth. We have to hurry!”
As blazing gases rush into the dark
Expanse of space, his brave crew starts to worry.
YOU’RE TOO LATE says the latest cryptic threat…
Too late for what? And how should they respond?
They speed toward a foe they haven’t met;
Without a plan, they might not last for long.

Somewhere out past Saturn they find the source—
In orbit there, a massive battle force!
A ghostly head the size of Mozambique
Appears and glares; they tremble as it speaks:
“You’re too late now; the party’s finished here
And once again you didn’t bring the beer!”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Barbaric

He comes from lands that aren’t so civilized
So men of culture think he’s crude… and deadly.
To draw your sword on him is ill-advised;
He rises to the battle far too readily.
His rugged clothing covers massive thews;
You’d think he dined on steroids every day!
And when he comes to your town, that’s big news.
Most townsfolk shun him till he goes away…

UNLESS some sex-starved wizard with a grudge
Shows up to steal their daughters, trash their town,
And feed what’s left to unleashed demon hounds.
In that case, folks aren’t quite so quick to judge
Their hulking savior’s intellect or morals—
No sense distracting him from bigger quarrels!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Stinky’s Alphabet

Not sure where this came from,
but thankfully it’s over now.

A is for asphyxiate; I’m running out of air.
B is for the butt that scented Stinky’s underwear.
C is for the choking sound I make when Stinky’s near.
D is for deodorant, the worst of Stinky’s fears.
EEEE! is what the teacher screamed when she first caught a whiff…
And that’s why Stinky’s alphabet ends here. Fresh air’s a gift!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Life’s a Sitcom

Life’s a sitcom. Aren’t you laughing?
Scattered through life’s tragedies
You’ll see people acting silly.
Look at all the comedy…

Don’t you know a guy like Sheldon,
Big Bang Theory’s anal nerd?
Does it drive you crazy when
He has to have the final word?

Maybe you’re pursued by Barney,
How I Met Your Mother’s stud.
(Note that grown-up Doogie Howsers
Won’t be like the child you loved.)

Don’t your Friends all drive you crazy
Like your Modern Family?
Have you got a Cheersy hideout
When you need a place to flee?

Then there's folks who think YOU’RE crazy;
At The Office, you’re THEIR pest!
Whether you’re a Mike or Molly,
Life’s a sitcom. Aren’t you blest?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ode to a Golf Ball

I am ridiculously well-pleased with this one!

How recklessly! How recklessly
The dimpled spheroid sails
Out past the fairway’s boundaries
Where penalty prevails!

Despite much practice at our craft,
Despite expensive clubs,
Still doth the dimpled spheroid seek
Its refuge ‘neath the shrubs.

Indeed, in deepest forest gloom
The dimpled spheroid hides;
We hear its mocking “thock, thock”
As with each tree it collides.

Yet still, each week we will return,
Our hopes forever soaring
As with the dimpled spheroid
We renew the past week’s warring.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Big Bang Theory

I don't know why but I've been fascinated by
the possibilities for storytelling with sonnets lately

You asked about this gun; you think it’s mine?
It ain’t. Some joker shoved it in my face
Then thumbed the hammer back and just said, “Die.”
He thought he’d scare me—oh, but he was wrong,
Dead wrong. He jerked when I replied, “You’re blind—
I could make you vanish without a trace.”
Too late he learned appearances can lie;
That fool was slow but I was fast… and strong.

I doubt his wife will ever care just why
He walked away and never said goodbye.
When Hoffa died and no one found a trace,
The killer walked; no body meant no case.
Your curiosity might not be wise;
Forget it, kid. DON’T THINK; that's my advice.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Rustler’s Sonnet

It is a love sonnet of sorts…
this guy is sure full of himself!

Rustlers are predators, all else is prey!
I find a heifer, cut her from the herd,
And change her brand. Another cow procured!
We’re experts; we steal eighty head in days.
My boys and me, we drive them dogies hard
Until we reach a slaughterhouse out west
Where greedy butchers pay us for the best.
From there we’ll hit saloons for booze and cards.

I keep the sheriffs guessing with my cunning.
While I toss back another shot of whiskey,
The law stops by the bar. They say they’re gunning
For me… but they don’t know my face! It’s risky
But he’s just prey—I tell him that I’m thieving
Elsewhere. I’m right; he thanks me as I’m leaving.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Landlubbers of the Linoleum

I would have called it Pirates of the Caribbean
but that title was already taken.

“Avast, ye hearties! Get on board! Set sail
For points unknown in search of hidden treasure!”
The captain barks his orders; if they fail,
They’ll surely miss a bounty without measure.
His motley gang of Legos piles aboard
Their vessel, once a tanker hauling bleaches;
Now dubbed the Grass Stain’s Peril, plastic hordes
May terrorize tanned Barbies on far beaches.

Across uncharted kitchen floors they roam,
Unfettered by the fickle winds’ demands.
They drive their craft aground on distant sands
Then stuff its plastic hold and sail for home.
The captain’s thrilled… but knows his freedom’s spent
If Mom discovers where the Twinkies went.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Made in the Shade

An attempt to write a poem
with unusual and complex rhymes.
It sounds a bit silly but it was fun to write.

Though summer wanes,
The humid days continue.
Though pressing needs
Preclude a change of venue
And no relief
Is in the weather menu…
Go seek some shade
Where maybe sweat won’t drench you.

When temperatures
Can lead to heat prostration,
The Temple of
Cool Shade is my salvation.
There, sheltered so,
I rest with less frustration…
And hopefully
Feel much less perspiration.

So as I wait
For autumn’s cooling breezes
(And possibly
Hay fever, colds, and sneezes),
I’ll savor days
Like these till summer ceases
And winter comes…
And every shade tree freezes.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kiddie Porn

He steps inside the candy store.
His pulse begins to rise—
Seduction’s an experience
Unknown to one his size.

Aromas tantalize his nose;
He shudders with delight.
Orgasm’s not a word he’s heard
But he’s a proselyte.

Although he tries to turn away
And knows he shouldn’t touch,
Forbidden fruit is way too good
And chocolate’s just too much.

Confectionary puberty
Has spoiled this child, once chaste—
It’s not unlike that “adult sweet”
He’ll someday want to taste.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mary, Mary 2013

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How has your garden grown?
Though the landscape man charged seven grand,
It’s deader than Al Capone!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sheepless in Seattle

Our little Jimmy’s gone to bed
But cannot go to sleep
So I suggest he close his eyes
And try to count some sheep.

“A novel innovation!”
Our precocious Jimmy drawls.
“These sheep of which you speak—
Are they out standing in the hall?”

I ponder this a moment.
It’s the kind of thing kids ask
And though I should be ready…
No, I’m not up for the task.

“Did Bo Peep screw things up again?
Are those her sheep out there?
She gets away with everything;
It really isn’t fair!”

I should admit defeat right now
And call his mother in.
Instead, I mutter this reply:
“I know. Men never win.”

“How many sheep did Bo Peep have?”
Young Jimmy’s lips pooch out.
“How will I know I’ve found them all
When there’s no more to count?”

“It’s not about the number…”
I begin, to no avail.
He fires a round of questions next
About their wagging tails.

“When all the sheep come wandering home,
Where else would Bo Peep find them?”
Young Jimmy asks, incredulous.
“They’d HAVE to be behind them!”

He talks so fast I can’t keep up;
By now my head is spinning.
But Jimmy’s staring into space
And I can see him grinning.

“Unless they’re in a slasher flick
And some guy hacked ‘em off!”
Young Jimmy’s getting wound up now;
He won’t be nodding off.

And me? Bad dreams will haunt me
Where some psycho doctor scams
Both Bo Peep and the FBI
In Silence of the Lambs.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mary Went a Little Glam

Not sure what glam is? Think early 1970s music.
Think about the look of Ziggy Stardust,
Roxy Music, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show…
Or maybe you shouldn’t. Ugh…

Mary went a little glam;
She thought it psychedelic.
But everywhere that Mary went
Folks labeled her a relic.

She shaved off half her purple hair
And spiked the rest with mousse.
Her tie-dyed spandex leggings clashed
With shiny platform boots.

She wore so much mascara, she
Resembled a cadaver.
Her fascination with the look
Meant boys refused to have ‘er.

At last her friends said, “Change or else!”
She thought them cruel and stuffy…
But now she’s dressing preppy and
Has changed her name to Buffy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Fraternity of Sneezers

Some sneezers roar like railroad trains;
They shake the walls and doors.
Still others blow like hurricanes
And knock us to the floor.

A few folks honk like Model Ts
(Or clowns with squeaky horns)
While others make a razzy sound.
These clearly aren’t the norm!

You’ll also find the bashful ones
That “meep” inside the nose
Or snorts that don’t go anywhere;
They’re swallowed, I suppose.

Flu season breeds camaraderie
Among the sniffly set
And common colds are common bonds
Except when someone gets

That sneeze that’s like a fireman’s hose.
(Does that one need explaining?)
At least the other sneezers draw
More pity than complaining.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sherpas in Love

In case you wonder, a chhuba is a Sherpa’s coat.

Way up in the Himalayas
Way up in that rocky landscape
Grimy sherpas take a break from
Guiding climbers bent on conquest

Silently they leave their parties
Slipping down adjacent pathways
Bashfully they seek out flowers
Breaking through the chilly ground

Hidden in their woolen chhuba
Held secure against the cold
Life’s a gift to share with lovers—
Despite the cold, love still grows strong

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 46

Ah yes, the final post at last! To some of you
it may seem to end a bit abrupt; that's because I can't
tie up the loose ends of the Dietrich-Lilian subplot
since (as I noted in a previous post) I somehow
forgot to build it sufficiently before I got here!
I'll take care of that when I turn this rough draft
into a final version. But at least the story makes sense.
I'll let this draft "sit" for a while, so I can go back and
read it with a fresh mind before I start the revision.
Eventually I'll turn the final version into a book.

The white wolf’s lips curled into a snarl
as he slowly inched toward the trembling Chase.
Chase began to scramble away, crablike,
unable to do more than that in his growing panic.
“This cannot be!” he roared, his voice cracking
from fear. “Your life is forfeit to me, hound!
The avenger can never survive the battle;
a price must be paid. The rules were determined
long ago. You have no right to ignore them!”

The wolf’s growling slowly transformed into something
resembling human speech, though barely
understandable. “The priest,” it growled.
“The priest is dying. He will die soon.”

“Humanity is fragile,” Chase sneered. “Many have died.”

The wolf’s lips curled upward in what might
charitably be called a smile. “He is the summoner.”

At that Chase’s face went white. “The PRIEST?”
he screamed. “You were summoned by the priest?”

“The summoner may not be touched,” the wolf growled.
“You have disturbed the balance.
A price is demanded of YOU.
The rules were determined long ago.
You will not ignore them. Vengeance is mine.”

Chase’s terrified screams were consumed
by the wolf’s ghostly baying as it launched
into its final attack. It echoed throughout
the hellish world Chase had created.
The flames dimmed briefly before exploding
around the wolf, the priest, and the girl—
first erupting into a whirling inferno, then
once again taking the form of a warehouse…
a burning warehouse.

Suddenly Dietrich was human again, on all fours,
naked. He glanced back and saw Lilian,
the priest’s head cradled in her lap.
“We must get out of this place!” he called,
and scrambled to her side. Together they managed
to get the priest to his feet and half-drag him
into the main entry. There Dietrich saw Chase’s coat
and slipped it on, then the three stumbled into the street.
Already the townsfolk were running toward
the tobacconist’s shop with buckets of water.
Dietrich and Lilian collapsed to the ground
with Benedict, desperately crying for help.

“Don’t bother,” the priest rasped. “I am done.
Forgive me, Dietrich. I have been a poor friend.
My only excuse is that I didn’t know the curse
would fall on you. I merely sought revenge
against Chase for my brother’s murder.”

“Father, there is nothing to forgive. I would have—“

Benedict gently raised one hand and pressed
his fingers to Dietrich’s lips. “I know.” His voice grew faint
as he took Lilian’s hand and placed it in Dietrich’s.
“Care for each other, and I am content.”
He smiled and breathed his last.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Moira the Destroyer

I’ve been watching too many kids shows…

Hi, I’m Moira! I’m tired of playing nice.
The real fun lies in breaking things—
No need to tell me twice!
What, it’s fragile? A fragile toy’s the best!
I’ll break it in a thousand bits—
It should make quite a mess!

I’m Moira, Moira, Moira the Destroyer
My mom’s a nervous wreck but I ignore her
The babysitters run away in horror
I’m infamous! I’m Moira the Destroyer

Aw, it’s raining. I’ll have to play inside.
Hey, Daddy, don’t you run from me—
There’s no place left to hide!
I said, “I WANT IT!” Don’t make me say it twice!
If I don’t get the things I want
Then someone pays the price!

I’m Moira, Moira, Moira the Destroyer
I don’t care if my neighbors cringe in corners
I don’t care if my family wails like mourners
I’ll get my way! I’m Moira the Destroyer

Monday, August 12, 2013

Which Came First, the Bacon or the Egg?

I was eating breakfast at an IHOP
(International House of Pancakes)
when this brief meditation on the relative
unimportance of “who came first” occurred to me.

Once mankind learned the source of bacon,
It wasn’t long before the making
Of sausage, chops, and other meats
Sent piggies squealing in the streets.

The chicken thought herself much wiser.
Convinced that man would be much nicer
If chicks were worth more live than dead,
She churned out food from her straw-lined bed.

It didn’t last; her ruse fell through
Once mankind found she cooked well too!
And even when everything “tastes like chicken”
She proves to be the most finger-licking.

So which came first?  That’s hard to say
And it may not matter anyway
Since the head of the line meets his end the fastest;
It’s the back of the line where you get fried lastest.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Weary Mouseketeer Theme Song

I know you’re all expecting what will probably
be the last Dogged by the Curse post…
but I’m in Disneyworld with friends and
simply couldn’t put the time in this week
to finish it. Instead you get this parody of
The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme,
which many of you vacationers will relate to.

Who’s the owner of the parks that blister all our feet?
M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!
Eechy, ouchy, OCH! Our shoes have holes, our dogs are beat—
M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!
Mickey can’t save our soles;
Mickey WON’T save our soles;
Forever we will limp in misery-ry-ry-RY!
Hobble on and sing this song to Mickey’s company:
M-I-C, K-E-Y, don't-you-help-our-feet?
Hey, Mickey!
Hey, Mickey!
Hey, Mickey! We’re TIRED!!! Yeah!!!
-----------
Now it’s time to gripe and whine with all our company…
M-I-C… See how big our feet swell?
K-E-Y… Why? Because they weren’t made for this!
M-O-U-S-Eeeee!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Calvin and Hops

A pattern poem—7-syllable lines
(except the very last line, with 8),
7-line stanzas, and 7 stanzas total.

He knocks back another Coors
and vents at the barkeeper:
“Why did they have to do it?
He wash my friend—my conschience—
And now he’sh gone forever!”
He breaks down in drunken sobs;
other patrons look away.

The barkeeper sighs deeply.
He opens another beer
and sets it in front of him.
“Cal,” he mutters, “get a life.
You’re what, twenty-seven now?
That tiger was ALWAYS stuffed.
When are you going to grow up?”

“NOOO!” Calvin wails. It’s so sad!
He slurs his words when he talks.
“He wash vibrant and alive.
We did sho much together!”
He stares at the bartender
but doesn’t really see him.
“We were sho much more than friendsh…”

The bartender backs away
and holds up his hands. “Whoa, Cal!
I think I’m open-minded—
you have to be, in a bar—
but that’s just too much for me!
For God’s sake, Calvin… at least
tell me you wore a condom?”

Calvin scrunches up his face
and wags a finger at him.
“You, shir, are a filthy man.
It washn’t like that at all.
We wash merely plutonic…”
he thinks a bit “…platonic.
That toga party don’t count.”

“You gotta move on, Calvin,”
the barkeeper says. “Nothing
in this world lasts forever…
not even stuffed animals.
You should find yourself a girl
and settle down, have some kids.
You’re too young to act like this.”

A businessman walks in and
places a stuffed teddy bear
on the stool beside him. “It’s
for my kid’s birthday,” he says.
Calvin leers at it and says,
“He’sh too old for you, cute shtuff.
Wanna ride in my love wagon?”

Monday, August 5, 2013

Roadtripper

To the tune of the Beatles’ Daytripper.
I’m on vacation this week and…

Bumper to bumper
Drivers are out of their minds
Sitting in traffic
I’m seeing wrecks of all kinds
I’m seeing roadtrippers
Out on holiday
It’s taking so long
To get there
Hey, are we there?

Stuck in a theme park
People are parked on the curb
Bump-ups and bang-ups
I’m getting really disturbed
By all these roadtrippers
Out on holiday
It’s taking so long
To get there
Hey, are we there?

It’s almost over
I’ll be relieved to get home
Can’t it be over?
I’ll be relieved to get home now
I’m seeing roadtrippers
Road rage on parade
It’s taking soooo long
To get back
Will we get back?

Roadtrippers, roadtrippers yeah
Roadtrippers, roadtrippers yeah

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 45

Benedict felt the ground begin to tremble,
then the rumble grew to fill the air.
When the wolf opened its jaws, the rumble
leaped in volume and it felt as if
the entire world was shaking.
Then there was a boom; Chase and the wolf
were thrown away from each other
as Benedict and Lilian bounced roughly
off the ground. The wolf regained his footing
first and charged at Chase with unbelievable speed.

But as the wolf neared his prey, Chase roared,
“NO!” and lightning exploded from his raised hand,
a bolt so bright that Benedict turned away.
The wolf yelped in pain as the blast flung him
past the girl and the priest, bouncing him
limply across the clearing… and he lay still.

“NO!” Chase repeated, and another blast
crashed into the wolf’s limp body.
It skidded a bit further across the ground
and the wolf did not get up. Chase just laughed.

Benedict strained to hear the wolf’s breathing
and he did, weak though it was. He felt so helpless!
This tragedy was of his own doing, and now
his friend would suffer for it.

Must he? a voice whispered inside his head.
Are you sure there is nothing you can do?

Chase’s voice interrupted his thoughts. Deeper,
fuller, rougher than a human voice now, victory
colored it with contempt. “Now, my enemy,
my foolish hound, at last I have my day!
Many’s the time we battled, neither able
to gain the upper hand… until today.
Compassion makes you weak, and your weakness
makes me strong. Today I consign you
to the bowels of hell forever, and I shall
take my rightful place in this mortal realm!”
And with those words, he placed his hands together
and a fiery sphere began to glow around them.
“Burn in hell, you foolish hound of heaven!”

NOW! the voice in Benedict’s head cried…
and suddenly the priest knew what to do.
He flung himself between Chase and the hound
just as the fireball sprang from Chase’s hands.
It slammed into his body with an crushing thud
and he spun wildly through the air,
landing, broken, at the wolf’s side.

And as he landed, the wolf turned his head
slowly to see his friend—to see him
with the eyes of Dietrich. And when they met
the eyes of the priest, Benedict merely smiled.
He could do no more, and he knew it.

Chase’s laughter fell silent as the wolf’s body
slowly began to glow. It floated from the ground,
its dark fur transfigured by the power.
Chase shielded his eyes with one hand
and, when the light at last subsided
enough for him to lower his hands and see,
he faced his longtime enemy once again…
but as he had never seen it before.

The wolf that stood before him was white,
a white so pure that the dark simply fled
from its presence, and its azure blue eyes
flickered like fire as they fastened on Chase.

Chase’s knees buckled under their gaze.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Butt Cheeks Jiggle So

To the tune of Just a Gigolo, originally by Louis Prima
(who voiced King Louis in Disney's The Jungle Book);
I used the version by rocker David Lee Roth,
who’s been known to show his butt cheeks on occasion.
(If you’ve never seen the video—a send-up of MTV
in the 1980s—you can watch it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeXjBWN8LO8
I love the part where the Billy Idol imitator
gets accidentally electrocuted.)
I stopped after the first verse because
once I began the second verse with
“’Cause I got too much booty,”
it started getting a little weird…

My butt cheeks jiggle so
Although I’m walking slow
People think the room is swaying
Skinny chicks despise
The Spandex-covered thighs (ooh)
I’m displaying
Like a killer tide
They shove those clowns aside (bud-da-dum)
Folks are afraid to crowd me
They’re afraid ‘cause they know
When my butt cheeks jiggle so
Folks get crushed around me

Monday, July 29, 2013

Roaches

Behold the roach!
His hordes encroach
on lands that aren’t their own.
They stake their claim
in your domain
and make your house their home.

His merry band’s
far-reaching plans
would fill their tiny jaws
till they denude
the world of food.
They’re vermin with a cause!

Thank God their dream
of haute cuisine
at roach motels is strong…
or else their plan
to conquer man
would simply carry on!

They’d overcome
us with their num-
bers as they ate their fill.
But from greasy spoons
they are NOT immune;
even roaches can get ill!

So perhaps the roach
doesn’t fear reproach
or a nuclear demise…
but if where they eat
gives them sticky feet,
that’s a chain we’ll subsidize!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dogged by the Curse... Interlude

Today we sidetrack with an instructional post as I iron out the final act of this story.

Although I finally figured out how I want to end this story (I'm close -- I'm guessing two or three more posts), I didn't get this week's installment finished in time. So I'm taking today to prepare you for the finale...

Because I've realized there are some missing pieces in the story.

This is part of the reason that most poets don't let you see anything but the finished -- and probably well-polished -- work. I want to give you a quick look at the things that will require me to rewrite this "pulp epic" before I finally publish it in book form. Perhaps it will help any of you who decide to try something like this on your own.

First of all, if I hadn't been writing it right in front of everybody on the blog, I don't know if I would have gotten it finished at all. I've never tried writing verse this long -- it's nearly 17k words long already -- and since I wrote it "on the fly," as it were, I've had no real blueprint of where it's going. That's part of the excitement, but part of the frustration as well. If you decide to try it, be prepared for the inevitable hard places.

Of course, the most obvious reason I'll have to rewrite is the variety of different verse styles I've used while writing this. I simply didn't know what would be the best way to tell the story. I've used everything from pure blank verse and tetrameter to simple syllable counting and free verse; I even did one section with rhyming couplets. I suspect I'll use more than one style in the finished poem, just for variety if nothing else, but the current version has no pattern to the styles I used at all... and pattern is what makes a poem poetry.

The story has evolved as I've written it as well. Some characters simply vanished, like old Elias Fenn. (Remember him? He's the town doctor.) Likewise, Father Benedict became a much more important character than I originally planned. (That's part of the reason for my struggles near the end; I needed to figure out how Benedict fit into the finale now that he was so prominent in the story.) Loose ends like those have to be dealt with in the final version.

Finally, there are some missing parts to the tale -- primarily, I forgot to build a romantic connection between Dietrich and Lilian. I did hint at it, in the posts right after Dietrich got hurt and Lilian arrived in Vaxen, but I forgot to write the sections that actually showed the romance growing. Those will have to be added during the rewrite.

So, as you can see, this isn't as simple as just "writing a story in verse." Unlike writing a story in prose, the need to use a poetic form of some sort really complicates any attempt to just sit down and write. There are some very real roadblocks to getting it done. But it's also incredibly rewarding -- I can't tell you how proud I am of this very flawed piece of art! I'd recommend it to anyone willing to try.

And next Friday we'll hit the home stretch. Like I said, I expect it will take two or three more posts to wrap the very rough first draft of this baby up.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Belly Ache

For tempting man, God cursed the snake
to crawl upon its belly.
Since then, it’s wriggled lithely
on the ground like vermicelli.
I wonder if, at first, it had
a thousand legs or four?
Or did it travel Slinky-like
and spring across the floor?
Did speeding hoops (with tails in mouths)
zip through the woods? How slick!
Perhaps man was inspired to build
the world’s first pogo stick.
If that’s the case, this curse seems mild;
I think God helped its back
when He decided to remove
its sacroiliac.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Booty Call

Listen up, ye scurvy pirates!
Every hand on deck—don’t stall!
I’ll not give ye second chances;
This be Blackbeard’s booty call!

If ye want yer share of plunder
Take it now, ‘ere twilight falls!
First come, first served—that’s me motto.
We’ll not have no drunken brawls.

If yer slow and get no booty,
I’ll not put up with yer bawling.
Test me if ye dare; I’ll take yer head
To stop yer caterwauling!

So listen up, ye scurvy pirates!
Even if ye have to crawl
Come now and get yer share; this here
Is Blackbeard’s ONLY booty call!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 44

Slowly Chase got to his hands and knees,
Then stood up, his legs unsteady beneath him.
He slapped his hands together, brushing away
Clouds of sooty dust – a workman preparing to
Undertake a heavy job. With an evil grin
He muttered, “So you want to play, do you?
Then let me show you the fate of rabid dogs.”

Dietrich stood his ground between Chase
And his friends. Benedict and Lilian still lay
Where they had fallen when Chase was thrown back.
Slowly they gathered themselves enough to sit
And watch the brewing battle unfold.
Dietrich never turned his eyes to them,
So focused was he on his foe.
He dug his paws into the smoking ground,
Bracing himself for Chase’s retaliation.

Chase straightened his arms at his sides,
His hands palms down, and closed his eyes.
Then, with a sudden twist he gritted his teeth,
Screamed, and flipped his hands palms up.

Dietrich shook, his back arching
As an unseen force clawed at him,
Attempting to lift him into the air.
The glow around him intensified
The two stood motionless, shaking from the strain
Of apparently doing nothing… but both
Benedict and Lilian knew better. That unseen power
Had both of them pinned helpless to the ground.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waterboy (aka Sweater Weather)

It’s so hot, I’m meeeltiiiing…

According to most scientists
I’m mainly H2O, but this
Confuses me. How can it be
That heat has this effect on me?

You see, at ninety-eight-point-six
Degrees, I’m warmer than the breeze
That’s turning me into a puddle.
I’m far too wet to kiss and cuddle!

An ICE CUBE melts. MY heated state
Should cause me to evaporate,
Thus carrying the heat away
And cooling me throughout the day.

Instead, I’ll be a lesser man
Whose fate is irrigating land;
Perhaps they’ll plant a tree for me.
(I’ll water it posthumously.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ants

The great Ogden Nash once wrote
a short poem called The Termite:
     “Some primal termite knocked on wood
     And tasted it, and found it good!
     And that is why your Cousin May
     Fell through the parlor floor today.”
Although it’s nearly not as good, here’s my own
Nash-inspired meditation on another insect…

Ants trudge the earth from dusk to dawn
In conga lines a million strong…
But if they really want to dance,
They have to crawl in someone’s pants.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 43

Again Chase clenched the rope
And again more lightning danced
Down its length… but Dietrich didn’t react.
Instead, he lowered his head and snarled —
A low, threatening sound that slowly deepened
Into a rumbling growl that built
Into a wall of echoes. Louder
And louder, never stopping long enough
For the hound to even breathe, it filled
The clearing and drove away the smoky mist.
Then the rope itself began to vibrate,
Throwing sparks that crackled even worse
Around the hand that held it. Chase
Gritted his teeth and grunted, his body convulsing
As he tried to maintain his grip until
The rope shattered like fine crystal…
And a blast like a keg of gunpower flung him
Back from the hound and his friends.

Stunned, Chase sat up, shaking his head
As he tried to focus on his furry foe.
The quivering glow that surrounded the beast
Had to be the result of this host’s frailty.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Humidity

Perhaps it’s too much information,
but I bet you guys feel the same way.

My hate for high humidity
Gets fueled when sweat starts drowning me.
Do you like folks to drip on you?
Not me! But hot air’s sweating too
And when I shower, to wash it off,
A single toweling’s not enough.
The towel’s a soggy mess but I
Feel just as if I never tried.
Once dressed, sweat still flows down my back,
Beneath my waistband, in my crack—
That’s why I vent so fervently
When drowned by high humidity.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Takin’ My Talents to Myrtle Beach

The hot weather got me thinking about
LeBron James’s now infamous decision:
“I’m takin’ my talents to South Beach.”
But Myrtle Beach is much nearer my home…

My bossman, he just don’t appreciate
What a good job I do. No, it ain’t no reach
To decide the best thing I can possibly do:
I’m takin’ my talents to Myrtle Beach.

So much time gets wasted in useless work
And the pay is so low. We sit here for days
While the sunshine goes wanting. Let’s get up and go!
I’m skilled at preparing for fast getaways!

The smart girls head oceanward; they don’t wade
In secretarial pools. That’s poor fishing there!
Let’s go where career babes all travel in schools
And my angling skills matter – at Myrtle so fair!

So let me make this perfectly clear…

I’m skilled at acquiring the ways and the means
For escaping these overly boring routines.
So please understand, I don’t mean to be rude…
But I’m takin’ my talents to Myrtle Beach, dude!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 42

Chase scrambled easily to his feet as
Dietrich positioned himself in front of
Benedict and Lilian. He smiled as he said,
“Well, wolf boy, I see you made it.
I wondered if perhaps you’d gotten lost.”

Dietrich spread his front legs and lowered his head,
His eyes never leaving his adversary;
A rumbling growl filling the air between them.

Benedict quickly regained his wits and
Stumbled to the cross from which Lilian drooped
And began slicing her bonds with the knife.
She slumped to the ground, too weak to stand.
With some effort he managed to get her
To her feet and, with her arms around his neck,
Supported her well enough that they could lurch
Slowly down the hill. At the bottom
They stood a few feet behind Dietrich to watch.

Chase laughed, a harsh grating sound
That chilled their weary bodies.
It was enough to drive them to the ground.
“Do you think you’ve won?” he taunted Dietrich.
“Do you think this paltry effort has saved them?
I rule this domain – I control its weather,
Such as it is; I shape its terrain
To suit my whims; I set its borders
And bar its gates. I am the god here!
You have no more than I suffer you to have,
And my rules can change at any moment.
This is your cage, my unruly pet!
You are mine, as surely as if I held your leash
In the palm of my hand… LIKE THIS!”
And with that, a fiery rope appeared in his hand,
Stretching out to a thick black collar
Around the hound’s neck. “KNEEL!” Chase yelled
As he clenched his fist around the rope.
Lightning leapt from the rope and collar;
Dietrich’s eyes widened as his forelegs buckled
And he dropped to his knees, unable even to howl.

Involuntarily Benedict shrieked with rage
And tried to rise to his friend’s defense…
But Chase’s other arm snapped out,
The fingers of his hand spread wide, and
Neither the priest nor the girl could move.
Slowly their tormentor closed his fingers and
Twisted his forearm, lifting them off the ground.
He smiled at them. “I am the god of this hell,”
He gloated brightly, “and the angel of death
Incarnate. None find mercy at my hands!”
His lips slowly drew tight across his teeth
Like the snarling wolf he had feared so long
As he dropped his gaze back to Dietrich.
The hellhound returned his gaze without fear.

Infuriated, Chase clenched the rope again
And more lightning danced along its length.
He locked his gaze once again on the hound…
And froze.

Dietrich didn’t even tremble. Instead,
He slowly, deliberately, stood up as though
Rising from a pleasant nap, baring his own fangs
In a canine mockery of Chase’s smile.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Yorktown

A poem for the Fourth of July.
Technically, the American Revolution ended
With the Siege of Yorktown (Virginia). The British Army,
Under the command of General Lord Charles Cornwallis,
Surrendered to a combined French and American force
On 1781 October 19. The war continued
For another year as peace talks dragged on
And formally ended on 1783 September 3.

It was the end and also the beginning.
A small port of call, founded for shipping
Tobacco back to European markets,
Was captured by an enemy whose power was slipping.
They dug in to make their last stand. Did the British know
That their hopes of victory set sail that day?
Did the Americans know they'd “arrived” as a country?
Did the French know another revolution was floating their way?

Freedom is an intoxicating concept,
Tantalizing the mind but seizing the heart.
The founders of Yorktown never imagined their dream
Would be where America’s biggest export got its start.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bananamus Rex

I guess the title would mean “king of the bananas.”
And I guess this also means that the heat has me thinking
About things like ice cream way too much!

Way back in the days of the Herbaceous Era,
Way back when the flowersaurs wandered the earth
Bananamus Rex was the unquestioned ruler.
Not one of his peers could grow stems of such girth.

Though envious berries would say he was yellow,
Though fat sassy melons would call him thin-skinned,
He knew he was bigger than all their stem envy…
And great genus Musa was right in the end.

He welcomed the ice age and prospered despite it,
Evolving into the Bananamus Split;
A bunch of his relatives broke into movies—
They got starring roles giving comics the slip.

Some teamed up with sports doctors, working with athletes
To speed their recovery and give them an edge…
And then to the rest of us, B. Rex gave MUFFINS!
To disrespect B. Rex is pure sacrilege.

We’re way past the days of the Herbaceous Era;
We’re way past when flowersaurs wandered the earth.
But I think, of all those Herbaceous genera,
Bananamus Rex has most proven his worth.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 41

Benedict fought to control his emotions:
Anger with his own foolishness,
Fear for Lilian, guilt about Dietrich,
And a growing temptation to lose hope
All clawed for supremacy over logic.
He had to move quickly, yet not so fast
That he reached his destination breathless
And weary. He nervously shifted the knife
From hand to hand, juggling the blade
While he clutched at his robe in an effort
To keep from tripping. “Patience,” he muttered
Aloud to himself. “Know your limits and
Measure your efforts appropriately.
He’s goading you, herding you forward;
Don’t give him control. Don’t give him the pleasure.
Remember your purpose; remember your friends.”
The mutters became a chant of sorts,
Calming his mind as he strode toward
The man who murdered his brother so long ago.

He came at last to a clearing encircled by trees
And the ground bare of the flaming grass.
A small rise stood ahead of him
And on its crest, a cross in the shape of an X.
Hung on the cross he saw poor Lilian,
Bound by her ankles and wrists with ropes;
She slumped forward, her feet spread,
Her hands stretched out above her.
He called to her, and slowly she raised her head;
Her lips moved without a sound.
He rushed forward to cut her down.

Chase’s laugh was harsh. “Not so fast,”
He mocked as he stepped from behind her
And walked halfway down the hill
So Benedict could not get by him.
“I’ve waited far too long for this,”
He said with a smile. “So lonely was my prison,
So harsh my punishment until this foolish mortal
Set me free… and in exchange
I need only kill a priest and a wolf. How simple.”
He glanced back at Lilian, smiling.
“He wanted her as well. Of course,
There’s little left of him beyond this body;
So anxious was he to make a deal
That he failed to realize the debt was due
Up front. However, I keep my bargains;
This vessel he provided will taste her
Before her true use to me is fulfilled…
But his business before my pleasure.
Prepare to die, foolish priest;
I’ll kill the hound once I’m done with the girl.”

He stepped toward Benedict. The priest raised his blade,
Prepared to take this abomination with him
To the grave, when a shower of fire and splinters
Exploded from the line of trees to the right.
Benedict flung his arm across his face
To shield his eyes from the burning debris;
Chase barely had time to turn and look
Before the body of the wolf hit him full
In the chest and the two tumbled across the clearing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stand-Up Comedy

He takes his place at the front of the room,
Takes the mike,
Takes a deep breath,
And wishes he’d taken something
For his queasy stomach.

His motionless audience
Stares at him like
Those huge stone faces on Easter Island –
Another tough crowd –
But he thinks he can reach them.

He’ll never know for sure.
The stone faces didn’t want to be here anyway;
Their bosses forced them to come
And they give him only
The standard polite congratulations afterward.

He reflects later that
The comedian was almost right.
He should have said
"Death is easy;
Making a business presentation is hard."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tees

T-shirts, that is… not the golf kind.

Stand up, my friends, and sing its praise –
All hail the noble tee!
It’s worn by every gender, race,
And age group that we see.

We wear them when we exercise
Or drop by Burger King,
When we see sights at DisneyWorld…
Or just need covering!

But most of all, they give us voice
When we’ve got things to say;
We share our truest, deepest selves
With an in-your-face display.

Without the help of Noble Tee,
How would I ever know
That man’s still searching for the beef?
(I thought we found it though.)

That group of kids Just Did It –
Though I’m unclear on the facts –
While other kids are chilling out
‘Cause Frankie said “Relax.”

I pity would-be fashion plates
In sharp tuxedo tees
While those who heart some awkward things
Defy analyses.

And sometimes tees say so much more
Than those who wear them see…
Like knowing you’re with Stupid.
That explains a lot to me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 40

Dietrich bayed angrily, his howls echoing
Eerily through the unseen cavern around him;
And the flames that had surrounded him,
Walling him off from his friends and his enemy,
Flickered as he charged toward Benedict’s voice.
He leapt through the flaming barrier, heedless
Of what might lie on the other side.

When he cleared the flames, he was in freefall.
And though he could see nothing but smoke,
Though he felt nothing beneath his feet,
He continued to run toward his prey.
Perceptions meant nothing in this place;
This hell existed solely to crush him
And he would NOT give the Chase such pleasure.
Onward he ran, churning the smoke
Into a whirlwind, faster and faster
Until at last the familiar voice of Benedict
Began to grow louder, clearer, nearer.
A rumbling growl built inside him
Until he could hold it back no more.
He erupted into a full-throated howl
As the flaming countryside reappeared
And he thundered toward the final judgment.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Backyard Again

The title was inspired by the name of
the NickJr kid’s show The Backyardigans.

My job’s become a hassle
The bill’s are coming due
I need me a vacation and
I know just what to do
When life becomes a drag
It’s time for me to head out to
The backyard again

The backyard’s kinda quiet
There’s lots of shady trees
I got a hammock hanging where
I’ll catch the slightest breeze
When four stars are forgettable
One place is sure to please
The backyard again

When gas is too expensive and
My money’s running tight
And there’s no time to travel far
Or book a quickie flight
Although I got home late from work
It's there for me tonight
The backyard again

Although the rat race won’t slow down
Tonight it detours around
The backyard again

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tide

Gentle eddies fill the moats of sand castles
While larger waves sweep away footprints
And tsunamis erase all trace of life.
So small and enjoyable;
So large and terrifying.
It rolls in,
It rolls out;
Sometimes in tiny ripples,
Sometimes in crashing waves
But always from the same source.
How deep the ocean is!
How shallow I am…
I wonder if there’s a tide in me?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 39

Dietrich wandered the hellish landscape,
Sniffing vainly for any scent
Of the Chase carried on the brimstone breeze.
Something familiar touched his thoughts;
Somehow, someway he knew this place
From long ago. A faint memory:
He’d run his prey to ground here once;
A creature, not of the physical world,
Had escaped from eternal torment, aided
By a foolish mortal seeking revenge –
Not so different from he himself,
He mused, though he would never take
The life of the one who summoned his aid
As the beast had. The Chase was gone,
Wiped away, his existence traded
For a price he never knew he’d pay.
The Chase had made his choice and yet
The beast had not dealt in good faith;
Dietrich would exact a fairer price and
The fair penalty due his deceitfulness…

If he could but remember the scent
Of his prey, recall the stench of its evil
Well enough to find its lair.
He sniffed again, and growled a curse.

He prowled the fiery forest that burned
And yet was not consumed, this land
That joined the worlds of flesh and spirit
Yet belonged to neither, that challenged his God
To reassert His will by its mere existence.
The beast taunted him, and he would kill it.

Then a sound echoed through the wood,
Its passion shaking the very land itself.
A voice – he knew that voice! Benedict!
Certainty filled him as he launched himself
Toward his friend, toward Lilian…
And, he knew, toward the beast itself.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ode to a Corn Pone

Technically this isn’t an ode
but I really like the title.
A pone is a huge slab of cornbread
cooked in a big pan. Here in the South,
Crisco is the most common “pan greaser.”

My family knew, at any dinner,
A pone of corn bread was a winner.
My dad would heat a cast iron skillet,
Mix some batter, then he’d fill it,
Slap that baby in the oven…
Soon, hot cornbread we’d be lovin’.
Crumbly wedges drenched in butter…
UMMM! I think I’ll have another!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Domestically-Challenged Sonnet

Sometimes an idea grabs hold and won’t let go.
I’ve often wondered what a love sonnet
written by Dr. Suess might sound like.
Instead of iambic pentameter, which sounds like:
da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM,
it’s written in the more common Suess rhythm known as
amphibrachic tetrameter, which goes like this:
da DUM da / da DUM da / da DUM da / da DUM da.
Otherwise it’s a standard sonnet… but
it’s amazing how much difference the rhythm makes!
Well, that and the fact that Suess probably
wouldn’t have written a particularly serious sonnet…

I once was enamored of someone named Sally;
Our torrid romance had a tragic finale.
We hooked up in grade school, we dated through college,
Then moved in together without our folks’ knowledge.
We reveled in freakishly wild copulation…
But sharing one bathroom bred endless frustration.
We fought over everything. Finally Sally
And I called it quits. We did NOT dilly-dally!

Some people might say we were BOTH young and foolish,
A bit too self-centered, our feelings too brittle…
But SHE’D push my buttons, then walk around mopin’!
She’d always complain that I left the lid open
Then squeeze all our toothpaste tubes right in the middle!
I know I’m no saint… but that damn girl was mulish!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 38

The truth of it all crashed down
On Benedict, and he wept bitterly.
It was nothing more than a trap for fools…
A trap for fools like him. Rage,
Revenge – these were the currency of fools
Like him, fools like ancient Esau
Who blithely traded all they valued
For a bowl of pottage, a moment of vengeance,
And without a care for their wasted future
Or that of others their folly might curse.
The burden weighed him down, sapping
His strength and his will. He had failed
Those who trusted him. All was lost.

Amid his raging emotions came
A quiet voice – quiet yet piercing:
Then why have you come here, foolish priest?
What did you hope to accomplish here?

Perhaps nothing, he thought to himself.
Perhaps I merely longed to die
But feared to die alone, in shame.

There was no condemnation in that quiet voice:
Fools have been known to change the course of
History, My child. Victory can snatched
From the jaws of defeat only when a fool
Reaches deep into its gaping maw,
Heedless of the danger its fangs pose.
Perhaps the fool dies… but so does the enemy.
The creature thrives by devouring hope.
Clutch yours close to your bosom, warm
And vibrant, and refuse to let it die.
Become the predator, and kill your prey.
Remember that you are not alone.

Then Benedict became aware of a glow
Bursting from his chest, of another fire
Burning within him, its heat consuming
His despair. How could this be?
He had no answer; he simply hoped
And that hope suddenly drove him onward.

Then the hopeful fool within him shocked him
By screaming a challenge at the top of his lungs.
“Chase, you coward! Come and face me!”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Maybe You’re Amazed

Sometimes poems take weird twists.
I originally intended this song parody of
Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed
to be about a guy trying to talk his way out
of an embarrassing position his girlfriend
caught him in. I was going to call it
Maybe I Was Tazed. Instead, I wound up
with this disturbing song that (unfortunately)
describes how some men approach relationships
with unsuspecting women.

(verse)
Baby, you’re amazed by the things you claim you’re learning now,
The awful truth you should have known about me
Maybe you’re amazed that a man could tell so many lies
Of such tremendous size
Frankly, I’m amazed that you took so long to doubt me

(bridge)
Baby, I’m a gland
I’m an overactive gland that blindly stumbles toward pleasure
And it really doesn’t understand
That, baby, there are men
Men who want a home, a life, and want a loving woman—
Baby, can’t you see that I’m not them?
Oooooooh, oooh

(verse)
Babe, you were unfazed by the lame excuses that I made
You held onto your daydreams so devoutly
Maybe you were dazed by the lies you wanted to believe
You chicks are so naïve
Maybe you’re amazed that you’re better off without me

(repeat bridge)

(tag)
‘Cause babe, I’m just a gland
And commitment’s not my plan
No, no

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pop Tart

I don’t know what sparked this one
but here it is – a tale of broken dreams.
And before you decide it’s a frivolous title,
remember that real Pop Tarts get devoured…
just like the girl in this poem.

She used to be a normal gal
She used to live next door
But then the stars got in her eyes
She knew she wanted more

She got herself an agent
And connections on the coast
She got herself a posse
Paid to tell her she’s the most

And now she’s wearing little more
Than duct tape to premieres
(It covers nips on plumped-up breasts
That look a lot like spheres)

She gets a lot of “acting gigs”
(Without the tape, of course)
For porn sites on the Internet
(She screams until she’s hoarse)

Her big recording contract
And “real” movie deals all failed
Now any cash her work brings in
Is spent to make her bail

A mainstay of the rumor mill
For shows like TMZ
She’s known for being famous
And for promiscuity

She knows she’d have been happier
A relative unknown
Instead, she’s just a fallen star
Strung out on methadrone

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 37

Benedict’s world erupted in fire –
Not an uncontrollable wildfire,
Not a shapeless conflagration,
But a landscape sculpted from tongues of flame.
A forest of flickering trees blazed
Like tarred poles, their smoky leaves
Fluttering down about his feet,
Settling thickly on the molten ground;
A meadow of glowing embers opened
Onto a wide clearing of charred earth,
And a tangle of hard coal paths
Crisscrossed the ghostly wilderness.
They wound their way back into
A choking haze that might have been mist
On a spring morn in the real world.
He wheezed harshly as the acrid air
Raked at his lungs; it stung his eyes,
Filling them with unbidden tears.
He covered his nose with the sleeve of his robe
But the effort proved useless; his sinuses burned
All the more, and the pungent miasma
Refused all efforts to make it more breathable.

He stumbled forward, barely able
To see the path under his feet,
Driven only by his fear and guilt.
How long had he wandered through smoke and haze?
Benedict neither knew nor cared;
All that mattered was Dietrich and Lilian.
He clutched his robe tighter around himself
And focused his cares on them, hoping
His ragged breathing would care for itself.

Then suddenly, the smoky haze was gone
And shock took its place. He knew these woods!
At least he knew woods like these.
Earlier that very day he’d stood in
This very clearing with Constable Garrett.
Indeed, at his feet was the very rock
Imprinted with the footprint of the mystery wolf –
Or rather, it was a chunk of glowing
Coal, similar in size and shape
And bearing the selfsame mark. Around him
Stood a grove with flaming trees
And smoky leaves and a river of lava
Flowing gently beside the river path.

“At last! Welcome, my wayward priest!”
Chase’s sickeningly cheerful voice
Echoed among the rocky cliffs.
“Come and join us! You’ve kept us waiting
Much too long. The lovely lady’s
Boorish hound is eager to hunt.”
Benedict heard a ghostly baying
From somewhere deep in this hellish wilderness.

Again Chase called. “Come, my priest,
And let me teach you all where power lies…
Or you can die alone. It matters not
To me, as long as you and the hound die.
The girl will merely long for death.
Come, try to save her if you dare!”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rocky Mountain Fly

John Denver never imagined this…
but I’ve been there. He should have.

I was bored in the summer of my thirty-seventh year
Leaving home for a place I’d never seen before
I flew out to Colorado, thought I’d have a little fun
So I hit the trails – then I thought I heard a roar
Guess it coulda been a wildcat, coulda been a grizzly bear
Or it coulda been a buzzsaw running wild
But it had a bloody stinger twice the size of Braveheart’s sword
And I knew without a doubt that thing was riled!

It was a Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
It came screaming down like lightning from the sky
It buzzed around and laughed at me while I hopped around and cried
Rocky Mountain fly

I scrambled up the mountains, stumbled through the highland snow
And went tumbling through some briars that cut my face
Even got a little crazy once, playing Tarzan in the trees
But behind me, I could hear him keeping pace
So I hid out in some bushes where I got all tangled up
And I didn’t move, for fear of being found
Though I held my breath and closed my eyes and hoped he’d zip on by…
He found me and I left in one great bound

That Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
He’ll sting you in the ears and in the eyes
Then buzz around and laugh at you while your screams intensify
Rocky Mountain fly

Now this wilderness of wonder has become a house of fear
Haunted by a beast that preys on little me
I had to drive him from my life! There was just one thing to do…
My plane flight left at seven twenty-three

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
It hovered near the plane and waved bye-bye
Then it buzzed around and laughed at me as I left for Anaheim
Rocky Mountain fly

Yeah, they’re Colorado Rocky Mountain flies
I’ve seen them raining terror from the skies
Welts all over campers and everybody cries
Rocky Mountain flies

Monday, May 27, 2013

TMI (Too Much Information)

For everybody who ever ended up
On the wrong end of a vicious rumor…

So tell me, Mr. Curious
Discerning minds must know:
Was it truly necessary
That your nasty rumors flow
From the lowest bottom-feeders
To the predators on top?
I don’t like the toxic fallout—
All that gossip oughta stop!

Oh, you’re brutal, Mr. Curious
When dishing out the blame
And you’re indiscriminate when
Weaving webs and naming names.
But remember this if you intend
To tell your lies on me…
Mumbled words from swollen lips are
Just a curiosity!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 36

Another short section, short for two reasons:
one, because I'm trying to figure exactly how
to handle this confrontation; and two, because
I'm still experimenting with various forms.
You'll note that the second stanza is done
in rhymed couplets with lines of uneven length,
searching for something that doesn't sound singsongy...
although I'm still not happy with the result.

Benedict’s breath came in ragged wheezing gasps
As he stumbled through what had once been the doors
Of Chase’s tobacconist shop. He paused,
Feeling a breeze that shouldn’t have been there,
A chill wind from back in the shop.
He tightened his grip on the knife,
Lifting it like a stubby sword,
And easing his way forward.
Like Dietrich before him, he found himself
Walking down a slope, descending slowly
Through evil so thick it pressed against his skin.
His heart pounded so that he feared it might burst
But the bitterness of his guilt wouldn’t let him stop.
No more, he told himself; no more will others
Suffer for my foolish sins.
Again he regripped the knife,
As if that might somehow fend off his fear.

How long he descended into the earth, he didn’t know;
Time had no meaning here and the distant glow
Seemed to recede with each of his hesitant steps.
Still he pressed on, his journey into the murky depths
Stealing what little hope remained within him,
Even as he muttered vows to avenge them…
Until the truth in the glow ahead became clear
And all his strength was drained away in fear.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PowerBall

After that huge payout a few days back...

Six little numbers
Printed on a line;
Only two dollars
‘Neath the lottery sign.
Millions of people
Praying it’s their time…
But the IRS says
“It’s mine, mine, MINE!”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cloak of Visibility

A poem about perceptions, both real and poetic.
Is the “invisible man” in this poem really invisible
or is it just his belief? Likewise, the poem
seems to be made of rhyming couplets
though it really isn’t. But it still sounds right
even if you leave out the parenthetical lines,
even though those are some of the rhyming lines
(which also question the man’s perceptions about himself).

No one ever sees him;
No one ever notices the quiet ones.
He wants to be noticed,
He wants his moment basking in the sun…
But what can he do?
He really doesn’t stand out.
What can he do?
No matter what he’s planned out
He’s afraid it’s all in vain.
It doesn’t matter what he does,
He’s still a little plain
Compared to those around him.
(Or so he thinks. Perhaps they feel the same.)
He wishes he could find a way
To be more than he is today
But no one ever sees him.
(Or do they?)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 35

That fear—palpable, cold—clawed at Dietrich,
Its jagged nails raking down the length of his spine,
Probing for some weakness,
Any weakness it might exploit against him.
And yet, even as it pawed at him,
Even as it sought a fingerhold
The wolf felt something, a touch so familiar
And yet unknown for so long—
An evil so dark it couldn’t be forgotten.
He had faced this prey before,
Long years before,
Before the hunt burned within him
And his pursuit of the guilty wove its way
Along this frail mortal plane.
The fullness of the sin he scented now stung his nose,
A pungent odor that all but pulled him forward,
Downward, ever downward,
With a satisfying richness he had missed for so long.
This, yes, this was worthy prey!
He would run it to ground
And drink deeply of its tainted blood;
He would set his teeth into its thick neck,
Shake the life from its vile body
And sate his desire for justice.

Almost without thinking he picked up his pace,
So eager that the flames engulfed him
Before he had time to react.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Can’t Come Down

Having a little fun with a Bible story
from chapters 2 through 6 of Nehemiah,
a book in the Old Testament. In verse 6:3
Nehemiah answers a letter: “I am doing
a great work and I cannot come down.”
That couplet is deliberately off-meter
in this poem, by the way.

Old Jerusalem was ruins
When the king of Babylon
Sent his servant Nehemiah
Back to get a rebuild done.
But the locals didn’t like it;
They were threatened by the act.
First they tried (and failed) to scare his crew
By planning an attack.

After Nehemiah’s critics
Couldn’t scare them off the job,
They tried luring Nehemiah out
To kill him on the spot.
“Yeah! We’ll pound him into pudding!”
Sneered the evil Sanballat.
“He’s a slave, he’s easy pickings.
That’ll be the end of that!”

Nehemiah wasn’t stupid
And he didn’t mess around.
He said, “I got a lot to do
And I can’t come down!”

They sent many other letters.
Every answer was the same:
“I got better things to do today.
You oughta be ashamed!”
Sanballat bought off some prophets;
He bought off officials too.
He paid lots of folks to lie…
But Nehemiah wasn’t fooled.

Nehemiah never wavered
And he never messed around.
He said, “I got a lot to do
And I can’t come down!”

As the walls got ever higher
All the workers’ spirits rose
While their enemies’ sank lower;
Fear of God had gripped their souls!
And when all the walls were finished,
Sanballat could only frown
‘Cause it didn’t matter what he did…
They wouldn’t come down.