So Long, Halong (Poem)

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So Long, Halong

As we ride out of Cat Ba

through a valley circled

by limestone crags,

a compilation of pop ballads

 

from the seventies and eighties

oozes from the speakers

and the affable English backpackers

at the back of the bus

 

groan in faux horror

as Aerosmith follows Bryan Adams

follows George Michaels

follows Michael Jackson

 

but when the Bee Gees launch

“How Deep Is Your Love”

the backpackers quieten down

and the driver stops honking his horn

 

at the dogs, children, women

in cone hats and cyclists

with finely balanced cargos

who drift carelessly

 

in front of the bus

as if it was an invisible

visitor from the future,

and we all strain against

 

the tug of the song’s chorus

far too cool to sing along

except for one backpacker

let’s call him Nigel

 

or Christian, or Jason, or Justin

who, in a high piping voice

declares his oneness

with the song’s embattled lovers.

 

This poem was first published in Oddball Magazine, and is a re-post from 2016. Participating in Open Link Night over at dVerse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why National Poetry Month Makes Me Anxious

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Why National Poetry Month Makes Me Anxious

It’s National Poetry  Month
and all across the internet
poets are dutifully posting a poem a day,
the blogosphere is loud with words
like babble, ripple, burble, unfurl
glow, glitter, shine, glisten
winds are blowing
suns are setting
dawns are breaking
waves are crashing
on every available shore
and birds, yes, birds
are chirping, trilling, twittering, even singing
nature is under siege
but I have to admit
I’m not up to it
I don’t have the diligence, the discipline
the creative bandwidth
all I want
is to produce
just one clear image
and nail it to the page
like a proclamation.

A Simple Desultory Quadrille….

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A Simple Desultory Quadrille….

in which Chuck considers
leaving Savannah
quitting the music scene
and getting a day job

‘cos he knows that in this deck of cards
we all can’t be the ace
and if it’s time to take a fall
it’s best to fall with grace.

 

For more about Chuck, see here. 

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a quadrille (44 word poem), incorporating the word “ace”.  dVerse,

 

 

Issue #13, Vapid Magazine

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Issue #13 of Vapid Magazine will be out next week

In this issue:

Kellyanne Conway reveals how she cured her husband’s insomnia!

Melania Trump wonders out loud if there is anything in the constitution that says the White House has to be white (she’s thinking pink stucco!).

Rudy Giuliani denies that the White House is white.

Robert Mueller shares his barbecue sauce recipe (un-redacted) and talks about retiring and opening a funeral parlour

In an exclusive interview Mrs Mueller talks about life with Bob (quote: “You’re disappointed! Let me tell you about disappointment”).

Plus….we ask the question: are algorithms ruling our lives? And fail to answer it, because we have no idea what an algorithm is.

In our How To feature, Jared Kushner demonstrates how to enter a house through the clothes dryer vent. Well done, Jared!

And finally in our health section, we ask:
Is your skin getting thinner? Do you wake up in the morning and feel offended before you get out of bed?
Are you at the point where apologies just don’t do it anymore?
Ten easy to follow tips to help you thicken that epidermis (the French word for skin)!

Vapid Magazine…home of all things vapid!

Living Off The Grid/ Rooster Gallery

 

 

 

 

Living Off the Grid

The sun with rare generosity
beats down on the solar panels
on the roof of Vincent’s log cabin.

The first sentence of his organic novel
The abattoir, for once, was silent
sits alone on his laptop screen.

This is the seed from which will spring
plot, character, content.
He gets up, walks out through the kitchen door

through the tortured arch of his driftwood arbor
and into the vegetable garden
where he urinates in a jagged arc

sprinkling life-giving nutrients
on the unsuspecting butter lettuce.
Returning to his desk

he taps out another sentence:
With his mother’s mop, he wipes
the blood from the kitchen floor.

Why so morbid?
It’s warm, he’s feeling drowsy,
he detects a faint signal from a long-dormant source

like the distant ping from a submarine
at the bottom of the ocean.
He should invite someone for dinner,

the lady who sells jam at the Saturday market, perhaps,
or the angry sculptress – she of the tangled hair,
the scrap metal raptors, the acetylene scent.

The jam lady it is.
Bottle of wine from the retired lawyer’s vineyard,
salmon from the gnarled fishermen down at the dock,

try a little humor,
ask her if raspberry jam is a male preserve,
make a nice salad. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

This poem first appeared a little while back in “The Basil O’Flaherty” .

It was also published previously on this blog, thought it was worth a second look.

Taking part in open link night over at dVerse, check them out here.

 

 

 

A Villain in a Villanelle

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A Villain in a Villanelle

he was a villain in a villanelle
a doomed lover in a sonnet
he played his part , yes, he played it well

he once did a bit with Howie Mandel
he played Wallace, he played Gromit,
he was a villain in a villanelle

a costive mule for a drug cartel
‘tho he does not like to dwell upon it
he played his part, yes, he played it well

he shared an elevator once with Kristen Bell
she’s not available for comment
he was a villain in a villanelle

he had a career without parallel
no low point and no summit
he played his part, yes, he played it well

he liked a glass of zinfandel
ice cream with caramel on it
he was a villain in a villanelle
he played his part, yes, he played it well.

 

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a villanelle, which causes me no end of pain.

The Sun God

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Over at dVerse, the challenge is to write a poem inspired by or incorporating the geography of a place. This poem, I think, fits that description. It also addresses the presence of previous occupants of the place and of course the geography and topography of the character’s head! Please visit dVerse and Check out Anmol’s interesting and erudite post on the subject.

The Sun God

Myron volunteered once
as a caretaker on an island
in the middle of a lake
in the High Andes
North of Puno,
the Altiplano.

The top of the island
was as flat as an anvil
and every day
he would climb up there
from his lake side cottage
to study the funerary towers
of Silustani
over on the mainland,
using his large binoculars.

It was never quite clear to Myron
what exactly he was taking care of.
He had a house,
a dread-locked alpaca
and three guinea pigs.
The guinea pigs were housed in a wired compound,
inside the compound was a miniature mud hut
with a thatched roof
and three open doorways
which the guinea pigs retreated through
every time he approached.
He thought,
perhaps he was supposed to eat the guinea pigs
it was clear that they thought this also.

Located close to the funerary towers
were the remains of an Inca temple
worshipping the Sun God,
at that time in his life
Myron was losing faith in atheism
and the Inca worship of the sun god
had a certain logic to it.
Without the sun where are we?
Where are we, indeed!
He wasn’t overly keen on human sacrifice
but he had to admit that the Incas
dealt with the blood well,
channels and drainage being an Inca thing,
knowledge they acquired along the way.
Subjugate, assimilate,
and so it goes forever.

Myron thought he would use this time to write
but mostly he sat looking at a blank page
listening to the tinnitus in his left ear roar
and in the absence of his fellow human beings
he began to think that the alpaca was judging him,
the way it stared at him from under its matted fringe
and down its long nose.

One night he found himself shouting abuse at the alpaca.

The next day he left for Puno
and got drunk on gassy lager
in a pizzeria on the ragged, dusty town square

not far from the shores of Lake Titicaca.

 

This poem was previously published in The Galway Review.

Issue #10, Vapid Magazine

looking at me

 

Issue #10 of Vapid Magazine will be out next week.

In this issue, Ivanka Trump and Gwyneth Paltrow discuss what it is like to be rich, vapid and blonde and we ask the question: can an influencer be influenced by an influencer who is under the influence?

Also…How to protect your skin against climate change! 10 Easy Tips!

Vapid Magazine…..Home of All Things Vapid!

That Poetic Hum (poem)

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That Poetic Hum

that poetic hum
that poetic drone
your ear always on the alert
for that cadence in the every day
that unconscious internal rhyme
there’s a barber shop on Dunbar Street
or that line that requires a non sequitur
she was a woman before her time
and you say
in a town lost to time
to everyone’s irritation
then when you find that seed
that germ of a poem
you are lost to all around
family, colleagues, friends
your head in the clouds
and when you poke your head through
the accumulated cumulus
you come face to face
with another poet who says
that last line’s a bugger, eh?
and you say
it most certainly is
it most certainly is.

 

Over at dVerse, Gina’s challenge is to write a poem around the notion that the poetic mind never turns off, that it’s always there in the background as we engage with the every day. Check out her excellent post here.

Vulture on the Outfall (poem)

 

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Vulture on the Outfall

There’s a sign out on the highway
Jesus is Lord over us all
there’s an abandoned factory
there’s a vulture on the outfall

Jesus is Lord over us all
in this pissant little town
like that vulture on the outfall
we’re still hanging around

in this pissant little town
there’s a double-wide on the hill
I’m going there tomorrow
to get that prescription filled

Oxycontin, Oxycontin
hillbilly heroin
the time to start quitting
is right before you begin.

 

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a poem in a verse form that uses rhyme and repetition, the pantoum is one of the forms referenced. The last verse departs from the form.

 

 

Free Associating in New Orleans (Redux)

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Free Associating in New Orleans

The waitress in the restaurant on Frenchmen Street
tells us that the rack of lamb changed her life;
that the flank steak with an ocean sauce of baby shrimps and clams
is to die for.

Surf and turf; America continues its love affair with protein.

The first cab driver is from Saudi
his mother is from Pakistan
he tells us that Pakistan
is a better place to party.
No surprises there.

The second cab driver is Egyptian.
We talk a little about Trump’s America
but mostly we talk about Mohammed Salah,
the Egyptian Messi
Egypt’s pride and joy,
who apparently is also a good person
gives back to his community
has sponsored seven weddings
in the village he comes from.
Now all of Egypt supports
Liverpool Football Club.

The third cab driver is Jordanian
The fourth cab driver is Algerian,
we commiserate, our national teams
did not qualify for the World Cup;
we talk about lack of money
pampered players, poor coaching.

Immigrants in cars talking soccer
We couldn’t be happier.

Later, in the early hours
waiting for my hangover
to make its way across town
to my hotel room
with its suitcase of regrets
I wonder what my taxi driver friends
think of it all…..
Mardi Gras
Fat Tuesday
Show me your tits
Christian rituals.

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a poem about Mardi Gras,  or similar festivities and to perhaps use juxtaposition to present a contrasting view point or mood.

This is a poem from last year, which I re-worked after thinking about the challenge.

 

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.

 

Brexit at Tiffany’s (Redux)

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This a post from February last year, I thought it would be worth another read. Ever since the UK slipped on that Brexit banana skin, it has been suspended in mid air bracing for a collision with the ground. It won’t be long now.

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”

**********

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A Brexit poem from Slim’s locker:

Come what? May?

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