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

Friday, 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