A Very American Problem

A Very American Problem

In the wake of the recent mass shooting…
in the wake..as if the mass shooting is an ocean liner
and we are sailboats helplessly bobbing.

In the wake of the recent mass shooting
the President will talk about mental health (not his own)
and find someone to blame.

In the wake of the recent mass shooting
Anderson Cooper and his panel discussed how in future
the notification of victims’ families could be speeded up,

the acceptance of the inevitability of mass shootings
inherent in this discussion
saddened me more than anything.

In the wake of the recent mass shooting
thoughts, hearts, prayers will go out,
in a mass exodus of platitudes.

In the wake of the recent mass shooting
no one will ask how someone who can’t legally purchase alcohol
can purchase an assault rifle.

This observation, this juxtaposition
has become so obvious, so commonplace,
it no longer qualifies as an insight.

Lecture (The Cartoon President)

via Daily Prompt: Lecture  

Lecture (Why Fifty Shades of Grey is a boring title)

a reason
to protest
glass

the
intimate
taste
of
butter

the
intimate
taste
of
glass

a reason
to protest
butter.

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The Cartoon President

I watched the new Showtime series “The Cartoon President” on the weekend. It was funny…..sort of, more Simpson’s than South Park. The main problem is the central character, Donald. He comes across as a benign mix of Homer Simpson and Archie Bunker or even Dennis the Menace – a rambunctious, mischievous boy child constantly frustrating the adults tasked with his supervision. He’s almost, and I hate to say this, likeable. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that Donald himself and seven year old boys all over the world will probably enjoy the show.
On the plus side there are very accurate caricatures of General Kelly, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump Jr.

 

All Aboard / Poetic Ailments / Onion Soup For The Soul

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Poetic Ailments

irritable vowel syndrome
arrhythmia
pain in the assonance
acute enjambment
inflammation of the lower case
latinnittus
typographical dysfunction
fear of sonnets
halibunions
grammaroids
the irrational fear that someone in the room is going to recite a Robert Service poem.

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Onion Soup For The Soul

I was reading Trish Hopkinson’s excellent blog  last weekend and I came across a post titled “20 Paying Lit Mags”. This intrigued me, there are so many Lit Mags to submit to and it’s difficult to know where to start, so I thought: why not try submitting to the ones that pay. I started to examine the list.
I will use the phrase “don’t get me wrong” twice in this post. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there is no money in poetry and that most people that run Lit Mags are doing it for the love of it.
What did I find? Well, on the whole, Paying Lit Mags don’t pay much. The lowest payment was $10, a lot of payments were in the $15 to $25 range for a poem or a short story. My favourite was this one:
PAYMENT: For original commentary, fiction, and poetry, Contrary Magazine pays $20 per author per issue, regardless of the number of works or nature of the submission. Reviews and Contrary Blog posts are usually unpaid. Author must email us an invoice within six months of acceptance for the payment to be processed. If no invoice is received within six months of acceptance, author forfeits payment, but all rights remain in force. Upon receipt of invoice, payments will be made through Paypal.
You have to chase down $20 and no matter what “all rights remain in force”. There should at least be a “no thank you but I insist” stage to the process. Then again, it is called “Contrary Magazine”.
But one magazine, “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, stood out. They pay $200 for a short story or poem. Could this be the magazine for me? I clicked on their website where I found a list of categories for which they needed submissions. For example:
Stories about My Mom
We are collecting stories and poems written by sons and daughters of all ages about their moms, step-moms, grandmoms or someone that is “like a mom” to you. Tell us what this special person has done for you. Is she always right? Do you still turn to her for advice? Does she annoy you with her advice? Have you become your mom even though you swore you never would? How has your relationship changed as you’ve gotten older? Share your best stories – ones that will make us laugh, cry, or nod our heads in recognition. We are not looking for general tributes (we know your mom is terrific) nor are we looking for biographies. We are looking for specific anecdotes about you and your mom or stepmom or grandmom. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is SEPTEMBER 30, 2018 for release in March 2019 in time for Mother’s Day.
I began to get the feeling that I might have trouble mustering the requisite wholesomeness for “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they are good people who are providing a valuable and popular service…hell, they are paying $200….but…you know. Also, I don’t think my mom would fit the “Chicken Soup” model, she had a somewhat colourful turn of phrase and an unerring ear for bullshit or pretentiousness.

She had this expression “plus fours and no breakfast” which always made me  think of  landed Irish gentry from  a JP Donleavy novel; their fortunes dwindling, living in a damp, draughty, decaying castle in rural Ireland tended to by a skeleton staff of loyal eccentric servants supervised by an ancient butler – a bead of rheumy moisture permanently suspended from the end of his nose. She had many other expressions a bit more profane than this one but I don’t think she would appreciate having them repeated here. So maybe I’ll try Contrary Magazine and if I get accepted I’ll invoice them for half the amount just to be contrary.

 

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Brexit at Tiffany’s

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Brexit at Tiffany’s

I ask Slim for his response to a recent report that Nigel Farage thinks it would be a good idea to re-do the Brexit referendum. We arrange to meet for a few pints in ‘The Post-Coital Beetle” to discuss his response and catch up. Slim is late, so I get a booth, and order a pitcher of Blue Buck. On the television screen suspended from the ceiling, two ex-soccer players – Matt Holland and Phil Neville – are discussing possession stats for the English premier league; apparently, the team that keeps possession of the ball usually wins. Not rocket science, but then Matt and Phil are not rocket scientists. They both look trim and fit in their English sportscaster casual wear. Phil is wearing a beige V-necked sweater, a white button down shirt, tight black pants and fashion sneakers. Matt is wearing a black crew neck, tight black pants and, yes, fashion sneakers. They look like their mothers dressed them.

I have never met Slim’s mother, but I doubt if she would have dressed him in the outfit he is wearing as he bursts through the pub door like an overweight, balding Kramer – faded baggy jeans, a MEC Gore-Tex anorak whose wicking days are long over and a white T shirt, one size too small, with the message “Fragile” on the front. He slaps a sheet of white paper on the table and says:
“Here you go!”

On the paper lies the following poem:

Disparaging Nigel

Nigel Farage
will be remembered forever
as the man who made
the word, ‘wanker’,
seem inadequate.

Very good, I say, “disparage”, “Farage”. What do you want to call the post?

‘Brexit at Tiffany’s’.

Ha! Or how about : ‘Guess who’s coming to Brexit’!

Slim looks like he has just swallowed a cup of Drano.

I think you’re missing the fucking point. It has to be a movie or book with ‘Breakfast’ in the title, like, say, ‘Brexit of Champions’ or ‘The Brexit Club’.

Well, anyway…… so it’s not a homonym, it’s not a synonym, it’s not really a pun, what is it?

It’s a malapropism.

Who took Sidney Poitier to dinner?

Katherine Houghton

How did you know, no one ever gets that right.

I know because every time you have a few drinks, you ask the same fucking question.

Poutine?

Why not? Life’s short.

It’ll be even fucking shorter if we keep eating Poutine.

We both lean back and laugh. On the screen above our heads, Manchester United score a goal and the colour commentator says:

“See, what just happened is that United have put the ball in the net and it’s been proven time and time again that if you want to score goals you have to put the ball in the net”

**********

looking at me (2)

A Brexit poem from Slim’s locker:

Come what? May?

Hard Breggsit?
Soft Breggsit?
Breggsit  over easy?
Not on the menu.

Conveyor (Bean There)

via Daily Prompt: Conveyor  

Conveyor

I replaced a mechanical arm once on the night shift at the Bird’s Eye factory
in Eastbourne, England.

The arm swept the green beans from the main chute into side conveyors
where ladies wearing hair nets separated the good beans from the bad.

It was the top conveyor, so I was in full view of the workers below
as I moved my arm back and forth sweeping beans
in a poor imitation of a mechanical arm.

My fellow student workers threw beans at me and the ladies in hair nets
shouted “get a move on, Paddy”. My name isn’t ‘Paddy’
but that’s what English people called Irish people back then.

Time moved like molasses
time passed like a wet Sunday in Belfast
before the Troubles.

On the way home in the early morning,
we stole milk bottles from doorsteps, just because we could.
Ahhh, the memories.

Tardy. (from the Latin,’tardus’ –slow, sluggish, stupid)

via Daily Prompt: Tardy 

 

cranberry

 

Tardy. (from the Latin,’tardus’ –slow, sluggish, stupid).
Tardy. late for a party, late for a deadline, late for the show.
Tardy. Like the Democrats, like the Grand Old Party.

But tardy is more than just late
there is a ‘stuckness’ to the word
as in tar or molasses or mud
there is need for a third party
with no ideological load
driving straight down the centre
the centre of the road.

Hiram Bigot Jr.

Hiram Bigot Jr.

Hiram Bigot Junior
likes to drink water
direct from the spigot
on the front wall of his house,
he hasn’t had to connect a hose to that darn spigot
since he converted the lawn to ProTurf. Good times.
In the evening, he sits on his porch
staring out at the Christmas tree green of his lawn
drinking lite beer and polishing his bump stock,
this gives him comfort.
Not that he’s afraid,
he ain’t afraid of nuthin’,
he’s vigilant, that’s all;
people are arriving
in droves from shithole countries
like Africa and Botswana,
vigilance is of the essence.
He likes the sound of that
maybe get a T shirt made
with that on the front,
‘G.I. – God Incarnate’ on the back.
No, he ain’t afraid of nuthin’,
except sometimes
in the early hours
he lies awake
his gut gurgling like a drain
as it processes that Outback appetizer
of deep fried onion rings,
piled high on his plate
like a jumble sale
of used Olympic symbols
he lies awake
stalked by a fear
he has not the wit to name
the fear of being left behind
left in the dust , by the twenty first century.

Loophole (Time, Space and “Interstellar”)

via Daily Prompt: Loophole

Interstellar

Once on a bus
across the Altiplano
from Puno to Cusco
I watched the movie
Interstellar, starring
Matt McConaughey.
Matt’s a clever feller,
I just said that
to rhyme with Interstellar
no one
says feller anymore
anyway, it appears that
time is a line
our lives are
moving along
and we can only
move forward along
that line, never back,
but there is a loophole
or a wormhole,
to be exact,
way out there
in outer space
and if one travels
to outer space
and passes through
that wormhole
one can visit
the multiplex cinema
where one’s life
is playing
and view
any previous point
on the line one’s life
is travelling on
problem is
when one returns
to earth, it’s fifty
years later and
everyone one knows
is either dead or dying,
thus the line one’s life
is travelling on
is irreversibly altered
that’s the catch
which by the way
is different than
a loophole.

 

Study (Good God Y’all! What is it good for?)

via Daily Prompt: Study 

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This Just In…

A recent study
has shown
that studying
the eating habits
of North Americans
has zero effect
on the eating habits
of North Americans.

Now time for an old favourite….

Breakfast at Denny’s

I was sitting in Denny’s
wondering how
everyone’s ass
got to be so big
when the waitress
announced
they were flat
out of pancakes.

Found Poetry – Theft or Tribute?(Sgt. Pepper Mashup )

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Sgt. Pepper Mashup 

Made passively tolerant by LSD, he was happy to sit back
endlessly recombining like some insoluble chemical compound
all he really wanted was the cyclic cloud drift of his verse.

The song never relinquishes this staccato dominant
played by Harrison on his Stratocaster with treble-heavy settings
making the most of McCartney’s rich ninth’s and elevenths –
a brilliantly whimsical expression of period burlesque.

It is impossible to conduct a revolution without picking a side
like a comic brass fob watch suspended from a floral waistcoat
objectivity is illusory and all creativity inescapably self –referential.

The track is whipped to a climax by a coruscating pseudo-Indian guitar solo.
Lennon grinned sardonically, as he walked past Aspinall,
requesting from Martin a sound like the end of the world.

 

I have always felt that found poetry is a form of theft. Yet, here I am with my first found poem. It all started with listening to the remastered copy of Sgt.Pepper, (issued last year, and a vast improvement on the snap, crackle and pop of my old vinyl version) and in particular, the guitar solo in “Fixing a Hole”. Paul McCartney played lead guitar on a number of tracks on the album, but the style of playing on the solo sounded more like George Harrison. So, I consulted the bible – “Revolution in the Head”, by Ian MacDonald, a track by track analysis of 241 Beatle tracks and essential to any Beatles nerd. The solo was Harrison’s.
I read a couple of other track analyses and found myself enjoying MacDonald’s writing style, a number of phrases jumped out from the page and the idea of a found poem formed. The result is the above poem. It has, believe it or not, a structure: each line is a direct quote from an analysis of an individual Sgt. Pepper track, and the lines are sequenced in the same order as the tracks appear on the album.
Buy Ian MacDonald’s book, you won’t be disappointed and I will feel better about stealing his stuff.

 

Butcher (Forlorn)

via Daily Prompt: Forlorn 

Forlorn

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Butcher

7: 30 in the morning,
at the corner of Main and King Edward
a butcher in a white coat
stands transfixed
behind the empty meat trays
in the window
of the Windsor Packing Company.
A sign says:
Order your holiday turkey and ham early,
a cold January wind blows.
Back in the fridge,
somnolent sausages
blood red sirloin
and thick pink pork chops
(each with a trim icing of fat)
wait patiently
for their return to the public eye.

 

Birds,Wires etc/ Why Ireland Failed to Qualify for World Cup 2018

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Why Ireland Failed to Qualify for World Cup 2018

On the day my brother and I
organized a soccer game
on the playing fields
of Oatlands College,
Mount Merrion, Dublin,
an assault of Christian Brothers
descended from the big house
like a murder of crows
their black soutanes flapping
in the wet winter breeze
descended with one aim
and one aim only –
to remove the scourge
of this foreign game
from the green Catholic fields
of Ireland.

 

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