Monday, January 31, 2011

First Month Done

January's essentially over and it sucked as usual. I spent Christmas in South Africa once and it was warm and sunny. There was something unquestionably jarring about that, but I didn't complain, nor would I if I experienced it a second time. I opened presents outdoors under a kumquat tree. How do you like that?

We hate January not only because it's cold, but because the holidays are over and we usually find ourselves lacking in funds (because of the holidays). Not everyone in the Northern Hemisphere experiences this. Some people might have tons of cash because they're stingy, or have no friends, or don't observe any of the traditional gift-giving occasions at the close of the calendar year. I pity these people. And envy them. Others  might just like winter and don't mind January. And some are in climates warm enough that the cold and darkness of the month don't affect them much. I mostly envy these people.

No poem today, just read the lyrics to Little Feat's 1972 song "Cold, Cold, Cold" to capture the essence of things right now. That's a very underrated song, by the way. Also, stay out of Egypt. The Pharaoh is about to let his people go, though not by choice. Let's hope the situation ends reasonably well.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


            Chatterboxes (When the Blame Comes Marching In)

     It's not my fault.
     It's not my fault.
     It's not my fault when things go wrong.
     Oh how can I be blamed for that blunder
     When it's not my fault at all?

     I want to be all the rage,
     Hogging the stage,
     Up in the face
     Of the whole human race.
     I want everything handed to me,
     The VIP everyone can see
     But when the hammer comes down,
     Don't look at me.

     Si kosa langu.
     Si kosa langu.
     It's not my fault in Swahili either.
     Oh how can you blame me for that blunder
     When it's not my fault at all?

     I'll say what I want with impunity;
     I got hubris and visibility.
     I'll call for division then for unity
     Depending on how it all affects me.

     No es mi culpa.
     No es mi culpa.
     It's not my fault even in Spanish.
     Oh how can you blame me for that blunder
     When it's not my fault at all?     

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maybe We Should Focus on the Lies, Instead

It's very difficult to write a poem every day or even three times a week. Actually, it isn't difficult to write a daily piece of garbage, but composing some verse that's worth reading proves more problematic, especially when one considers the author's other interests, like volcanic eruption prevention, supernova discovery, ostrich pornography, and devising names for as yet unknown elementary particles ("bliv" is a current favorite). In other words, if there was no volcanic eruption in your area today, you know whom to thank. If you did experience an eruption, well, we can't be everywhere at once!

In the future, I'm hoping for a one word State of the Union Address from this, or any, US President. Of course, there would have to be some guidelines. It can't be a swear word, for one thing, not because they aren't nicely descriptive but because they may prove difficult to interpret for posterity's sake, especially in the form of written transcript. Here are some recommendations for one word State of the Unions:


    I suppose the last one might be technically defined as a swear word, albeit a very mild one, but its descriptiveness can't be denied. It should also be obvious that the author has a favorite.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One Soldier Too Many

        One Soldier Too Many

    Even a red squirrel could be
    An incognito bloodhound--
    Can't shut it off.
    Found a dirty nickel lying on the ground
    With Jefferson face down.

    Neck starts to prickle
    When they open up the gates--
    Can't shut it off.
    No B-Ball rims; they use orange crates
    And still shoot straight.

    A heatseeker senses
    When anybody packs--
    Can't shut it off.
    Quarter to never is the time to relax;
    Never miss an attack.

    Blind in the ears,
    Stone deaf in the brain--
    Can't shut it off.
    Real as a nightmare, nothing to feign
    And even less to explain--
    Can't shut it off!  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Titular

Die is set, no time for jokin'

Machines in house got no connection

Zero retreat, all incursion

Not the reassurance you needed

Get lost in the very immenseness

Ease of motion maybe the best thing

    Here's another item that got volleyed back and forth between profound and stupid and probably acquired a little of each along the way. There isn't much else to say about it, except that some of the rhymes turned out well. There's no title yet, but perhaps one will surface eventually.

Monday, January 17, 2011

For The One King I Would Honor

    Play Your Cards Right and Every City Will Have a Street With Your Name On It

I've never been impressed with Kings,
Their fingers clad in golden rings
Routinely kissed by sycophants,
Who bow and scrape and fawn and dance.

But at least one King earned his crown
By breaking ancient fences down,
Undercutting tenacious lies,
And opening many blinded eyes.

That's the King I'd get behind,
Who prevailed from strength of heart and mind
And not from incidental birth,
But he has long since left this Earth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

N is for Nostalgia and Narcissism

          N is for Nostalgia and Narcissism

    Tread carefully when you address me,
    The Spelling Bee Winner, 1983.
    I suffer fools, but not gleefully,
    Ever since I prevailed in that Spelling Bee.

    I shall never forget intoning deeply,
    That's how I defeated little Tracy
    In the Spelling Bee, 1983.

    And while we're on the subject,
    I might as well say,
    You can't spell that word
    Without "U-S-A"! 

    Second acts, who needs them? Surely not me.
    I've been everything I aspired to be,
    Tasted the sweet syrup of victory,
    So bear that in mind before you flee
    The Spelling Bee Winner, 1983.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

HAL With It

    Today is the "birthday" of fictional computer HAL-9000. Remember?

    "I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992."

    So despite the fact that the general public has been acquainted with HAL for over forty years, he's a mere nineteen years old and would only have been nine back in 2001 when he went loopy and killed several astronauts. It's little wonder, though; he was just a kid!

     It wasn't easy for me, either.
     That red eye revealed nothing,
     Conveyed no turmoil.
     I was more than machine,
     Something to keep clean
     And supplied with oil.

     You knew that but could not
     Bring yourself to act as though
     Mine was a life you should save.
     So now you know why,
     I intoned, by and by,
     "Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?"

    Talk about esoteric subject matter!    

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Grumpasaurus

        The Grumpasaurus

    He rises, slumping heavy-footed
    On the floor above, snarling,
    Standoffish, daring any being
    To even look at him sideways.

    For decades, he renders all
    Lesser creatures meek, helpless,
    Driving them into shells,
    Beneath rocks, under stairways.

    But one day, the terror recedes;
    The aura collapses, exposed as fraud.
    The beast looks less fierce, more sad
    And you say, tauntingly, "Good morning, Dad!"

    Wouldn't you like to punch your father for all the times he needlessly menaced you? But by the time you have a good grasp of the manipulative, childish games he was playing, he's too old for you to mess with. Maybe your father didn't play those games. Then he was a good father. Or perhaps you're just not very bright.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

From Adventure To Exercise

          From Adventure to Exercise

    A walk makes no sense
    When there are no stones to skip,
     No sign of a fence
     To jump. Why waste the trip?

      I suppose a man ages
     And is forced to subsist
     On fewer empty pages
     And more moments missed.

      But I've still got some spring
      When Spring gets to stalking.
      Just keep handy the bandages, the sling
      And keep walking!

     I rarely meet anyone interesting on afternoon strolls, especially on weekdays. Ordinarily, the same milquetoast dog owners spout their underwhelming platitudes without stopping. Well, sometimes the dogs stop. Weekends, however, can be a different story. Henry Kissinger appears periodically, usually in mid-lecture to some coeds about why a detente between Indian and Pakistan would help shorten the war in Afghanistan. The coeds, of course, are unfailingly callow and beautiful in that giggly way that one might assume would irritate an old man, but apparently not. I follow behind the small throng just to pick up some useful information and Old Hank never seems to mind, assuming he notices at all. Just another reason exercise is so beneficial.    

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wile E. Coyote's Theme

    Anvils keep falling on my head (CLANG!)
    Some are made of iron and some are made of lead;
    Please help me out, I'm dead--dag!
    I'm never gonna stop these anvils by complaining.
    Oh, set me free.
    These anvils keep hitting me.

     How did that taste, B. J. Thomas? Several years ago, I sentenced Thomas and a number of other 1970s wuss rockers--England Dan and John Ford Coley, Dan Fogelberg, Dan Hill--to death, but I commuted the sentence to life in obscurity. It didn't work with Fogelberg, plus he wound up dying anyway. Nothing to do with me, I swear.   

    The lyrics above are least 20 years old, composed as a dedication to the foibles of a cartoon coyote. I wanted to make a montage as well, but never got around to it. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


    This whole idea of reading the Constitution in Congress should have been done years ago, a kind of literacy test for public servants. In fact, it was done years ago by Rep. Barney Fife (D-NC)*. See below.

*D for Deputy

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grown Ups Ruin Everything

                Grown Ups Ruin Everything

       Is there something known as "rightful death",
       A legally sound denial of breath?
       Who cares if it's "leaped" or "leapt"?
       Can a competent person be called "ept"?
       Grown ups
       They made cartoons cynical and joyless.
       They made rock & roll "adult contemporary".
       They took the rough edges out of jazz
       (Smooooooth move, market analysts!)
       They made televised card games.
       They made famous people stupid
       And stupid people famous.
        Enough of adulthood,
        Or what passes for it

    The above represents a rather prosaic and philosophical foray into poetry, an approach that can be arresting and innovative as well as tedious and preachy. It's probably best to employ such an angle occasionally rather than making it one's regular MO. But hey, it's your writing.   

Monday, January 3, 2011

Selling It!

              All She Wrote

    She soaked the first letter in perfume.
    Three years later, the fragrance lingers.
    For dear life, I hang on. 
    The paper still lies in my dusty old room,
    Hiding in a shoebox or tucked in a drawer
    For now she is long, long gone.

    I interviewed for a high level sales position once, but I wasn't really qualified for the position. At the end of the meeting, the Human Resources officer gave me a few minutes to make my case, so I said:

    "Football. Golf. Is that your family? Nice tie, buddy. Golf. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Golf. Football. Want to go to the sports bar and get some wings? Golf. Nice day, isn't it? I'll buy you a beer. Golf and football. Football and golf. Sports! Let's close the deal. Golf. How about those (insert local sports team)?"

    The HR officer looked very impressed but, ultimately, did not give me the job. When I asked why, he peered at me thoughtfully and said, "You were one 'golf' short."   

Sunday, January 2, 2011

N. Dr. Nate

        N. Dr. Nate

    Get on down; we need you here.
    Blow your nose so your head is clear.
    Park down the street, come in the back;
    Hide your keys in the concrete crack.
    Sit on down; there's much to discuss.
    Ain't no time for the usual fuss.
    Hope you brought paper to take some notes;
    You'll find pencils in the plastic totes.

    Shut your teeth, eyes to the front.
    This is for real, not a scavenger hunt.
    Follow directions, stick to the plan
    Or risk turning into an "also-ran".
    Climb up on the best set of tracks;
    Keep on grinding your little axe.
    You can't know why we speak in cliche'
    (It's because we have nothing to say)

    N. Dr. Nate would be a good name for a villain in a kids' story.