Railspur Alley Park (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 3)

Railspur Alley Park.

a humid
lion house
hogo hangs
on the air

dogs and trees
dogs and trees
free jazz, jazz
for free, the

bass player
leans like a
drunk around
a lamp post.

After hearing this one, I asked Slim if he found this verse form, this 3 syllable line too confining. Did he not want to escape its shackles and roam free, go for 5, 6 syllables or even stretch a line across the width of the page. “Au contraire”, he said. He actually said that, “au contraire”, which I thought was a bit effete, a bit foppish for a bald guy of his heft, his corpulence.

“Au contraire, in fact I find it liberating to escape the tyranny of free verse, the endless decisions – upper case, lower case, line length, is it really a poem or is it just chopped up prose, if I am writing a poem about a flower, should the poem be in the shape of a flower, should I rhyme or not rhyme, what is doggerel anyway? This is like fundamentalism, religion, the boundaries are clearly defined, this far and no further, you have 12 syllables per verse, make the best of it!”

Well, that answer was a bit more than I needed or wanted, if I owned a watch I would have been looking at it.

“Got to go, Slim” I said.

“Hang on” he said, “I am feeling a vague fin de saison ennui, a certain je ne sais quoi and I have this urge to use every hackneyed French phrase I know in a pathetic attempt to sound world-weary, like I’m sitting in an outdoor café, a scarf knotted at my neck, smoking a Gitane and nursing an existential crisis, out on

a rain swept
pier, a lone
tourist bends
to the wind.”

Episodes 1 and 2 are here and here.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

A Note to Bono and Some other Irish Guys on St. Patrick’s Day

Bono, Paul
name those streets
it’s time
it’s time.

Mr. Joyce, James
yes,
that sea
still tightens the scrotum.

Mr. Beckett, Sam
we’re waiting
we’re waiting
we’re waiting

Mr. O’Brien, Flann,
Myles of the Little Horses
this is not about a bicycle.
My dad once told me
you were a regular
on the last bus out of the city,
heading home to Booterstown
langered, stotious,
three sheets to the wind
whether this was an observation
or a judgement or an exaggeration
I could never quite figure
but if you should meet my dad
in that section of heaven
reserved for former residents of South Dublin
please say hi from me
and I hope it’s always late June up there
and the evening is stretching its legs
and the light is like filtered longing.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Oprah Among The Chickens

Oprah among the Chickens

As I watched Oprah, Harry and Meghen
standing among the chickens
standing at the epicenter of an event
that sent shock waves
throughout the free world
I asked myself this question:

Is a rescue chicken
a chicken that has been rescued by people
or is it a chicken that rescues people?

I then asked myself another question:

How many Royals does it take to change a light bulb?

and a voice answered:

It’s a journey.
They must first acknowledge
that the light bulb
was the source of the light
that previously flooded the room
then and only then
is change possible.

Waiting for that Vaccine (aka Limbo Blues)

Waiting for that Vaccine (aka Limbo Blues)

today I remembered limbo
you can’t stand too far from the track

the first line is about memory
the second is a disconnected fact

Bob Dylan mentions Rimbaud
Van Morrison does too

today I remembered limbo
Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus

existential boogie
do that existential thing
been waiting for that vaccine
summer, autumn, winter, spring

if you’re looking for an answer
don’t ask Albert Camus

that dude’s been dead a long time
he can’t tell you what to do

and old Rene Descartes he said
I think therefore I am

well I call that a beginning
I don’t call that a plan

waiting for that vaccine
waiting to cut loose
hit me with your best shot
of that antiviral juice

Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer
I don’t need no appetizer
hit me with your best shot
of that antiviral juice

Over at earthweal, Brendan asks in reference to the pandemic “What tools in the poetic repertoire are there for describing and naming and calibrating it?” A good question!

This poem is adapted from two other poems – ‘Limbo Blues’ and ‘Existential Boogie’. So the form I picked is a sort of mutating blues and humour is a part of my poetic repertoire (although not everyone might agree ), so I used that!

Party Animal (Slimverse* – The Journey, Episode 2)

Party Animal

in he walks
like a bull
checking out
a paddock

the air shifts
nervously
eyes lower
bells jangle

(Episode 1 is here)
The following is a memory and like all memories it’s under constant revision. What’s significant I think is that it was the first time I realized that Slim was taking this whole slimverse thing a bit more seriously than I was. As I remember it……..


I invited Slim and the rest of The Poet’s Circle over for a few drinks to celebrate something, I can’t quite remember what it was and to be honest, it doesn’t matter.
The evening began relatively smoothly with an intense discussion about accessibility (no surprises there) and I made an emotional speech about the end rhymes in Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne”. The conversation moved on to verse forms – cinquains, tankas, sestinas, halibuns, what happens if one turns a haiku upside down -fascinating stuff. Then Slim chimed in and asked where our own invention, the slimverse, fitted in to this pantheon. There was an awkward silence. Eventually, The Accomplished Poet spoke up. I should add that he is indeed accomplished and his compact vivid poems, mostly about his garden, have been widely published. He politely suggested that perhaps a 3 syllable line was too limiting, that making poetic music with such a restriction is quite difficult.
Now there was another kind of silence, the kind that ensues when a lion tamer drops his whip. Slim said quietly “fuck you and your fucking garden” and aimed a punch at The Accomplished Poet’s head, who, perhaps because of all that work in the garden, is quite agile. He ducked Slim’s punch and kicked him adroitly in the crotch. When the applause died down and Slim could speak again, he uncharacteristically apologized and gave The Accomplished Poet a hug, a doubtful pleasure given Slim’s personal hygiene issues. The evening ended on a happy note with a raucous rendition of “Suzanne”, everyone hitting the end rhymes hard.
Later that night Slim and I wrote the above poem which stretched the slimverse form to two verses. History in the making.

(*Slimverse – four 3 syllable lines)

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Names ( Slimverse-The Journey, Episode 1)

Names 

those that can

stand alone

those that can’t

hyphenate.

Looking back now to 2016 when the above was written, it’s hard to believe that slimverse was once an obscure 12 syllable (3-3-3-3) verse form, standing in the shadow of its older sibling, the seventeen syllable (5-7-5) haiku. Now, it’s 2021, year 2 in the age of Covid and slimverse is, well, still  an obscure 12 syllable (3-3-3-3) verse form, standing in the shadow of its older sibling, the seventeen syllable (5-7-5) haiku. The above masterpiece was composed by Slim (Volume) and I in the early hours of the morning following “the Poet’s Circle” Christmas Party which was held at the Accomplished Poet’s house.  It was a fun-filled night of poetic over-indulgence and excess. The Accomplished Poet (an avid gardener) read a poem about pruning as a metaphor for the editing process involved in writing  a poem, it was tortuous but accomplished. The Upper Case Poet had a minor shoving match with our newest and youngest member, the editor of an edgy E-zine called “Capslock Off” – no prizes for guessing what the argument was about. Slim hung around the buffet all night like a dog that had come across a bag of pork chops while walking in the woods, then later insisted that he had an invented a new word : “tumultaneous” – when tumultuous events occur simultaneously. He was met with benign indifference. But that was all back when Slim and I were in each other’s pockets before our estrangement, our parting of the ways, but more about that later…….

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Ted’s less than Excellent Adventure (quadrille)

Ted’s less than Excellent Adventure

thousands of turtles
are stunned by the cold
off the Texas Coast,
the lights go out,
the lone star flickers,
Republicans tilt at windmills.
Ted Cruz flees to Mexico
but returns prematurely
after a less than excellent adventure
chastened, but still oilier than thou.

The challenge over at dverse is to write a 44 word poem (quadrille) incorporating the word “go”.

Me, Mike Pence and the Magaleptic Mob

Me, Mike Pence and the Magaleptic Mob

the only one between me and the magaleptic mob,
a zaftig army in dollar store camouflage,
is Mike Pence

their fists are raised to the spacious skies
there’s spittle on their lips
anger and atavism in their eyes

this does not bother me
a rock hits the wrought iron gate behind me
this also does not bother me
I’m staring into an open cooler
containing ten tall cans of craft pale ale
and a bag of frozen shrimp
and I can see that the ice is melting
way faster than I expected
this bothers me

Go through the gate, Mike yells
Go through the gate
But Mike, I reply, I need more ice for the shrimp!
Forget the fucking shrimp, Mike yells
Go through the gate
and I’m thinking,
Mrs. Pence would not like that kind of language

I look down at the shrimp
and imagine them curled and pink on my plate
with a dash of soy
a dash of sriracha
another rock hits the wrought iron gates
they swing open onto a long driveway
that leads up to a large mansion
which I know in the strange logic of dreams
is a house of consequence
I know this is the house of Richard Nixon

I turn to Mike who is bleeding from the forehead
and clutching the nuclear football
like a quarterback waiting for someone to run a pattern
and I say
Hey Mike, I wonder if Mr. Nixon has a freezer.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

Oh. the herring were running wild and fast
as we sailed out from St. John
and the cod were plump as Mary’s arse
on a Sunday morning after early mass
with sausages on the griddle-o
and rashers in the pan
whack fol de diddle dairy oh
whack fol de diddle dan.

These lines were randomly composed while listening to a band from the Maritimes in the Dubh Linn Gate Pub, Whistler, British Columbia. There were twenty additional verses, but they got lost on the way back to the hotel, as did I.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse


Jack ex Machina

Jack ex Machina

that familiar ache
in the western sky
the sun, a bawling fire

like a jack from a box
a memory springs

there’s a grand stretch to the evenings
my mother would say
in Spring.

Over at earthweal, Sarah Connor, asks us to celebrate Imbolc

“Today, I want to think about Imbolc. Traditionally celebrated at the start of February, Imbolc is a festival of new life and new beginnings. The name derives from “in the belly” — the first stirrings of life, seeds starting to sprout. In Northern Europe the days are starting to lengthen. Lambs and calves are starting to be born. Snowdrops are appearing, and buds are swelling in the hedgerows. It’s a time when my stride starts to lengthen and my shoulders go back a little. The darkness of winter is starting to lift. Everything is trembling on the brink of the explosion of life that is spring”

This a a rewrite of an older poem, which I couldn’t get right, so it’s a new beginning and it references Spring and springs.

Cuban Heels

Cuban Heels

Your high society mistress has long since left your bed
and that Scandinavian seamstress has you hanging by a thread

those so-called glitterati won’t return your calls
and your two-toned Maserati is running on nothing….nothing at all

but when you walk out in the morning
you’ve still got that strut
Cuban heels
nerves of steel
when you walk out in the morning
you’ve still got that strut.

Peter over at dverse asks us to think about opening lines, check out his entertaining and informative post here.

The Sun God (poem)

juxtaposition

Over at earthweal, the challenge is to write a poem about Deep Time. This is a poem about a place where time is deep and the air is thin.

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.

Make America Serious Again

Make America Serious Again

make America serious again, Joe
it’s time
it’s time

all those rabble forming
Capitol storming
sons and daughters
of Fox News
and The National Enquirer
with their MAGA hats
and their saturated fats
and their uniforms from Costco

kick them to the curb, Joe
kick them to the curb

those blond surrogates
with their perfect teeth
and their android eyes
those slick grifters
those cocaine sniffers
those arse lickers
with their Bannon leers
and their licorice souls

kick them to the curb, Joe
kick them to the curb

It’s time , Joe
the world needs
a man on a white horse
at least for a while,
it’s high noon, Joe
the orange buffoon, Joe

kick him to the curb
kick him to the curb

it’s time, Joe
it’s time.

Taking part in the Open Link Weekend over at earthweal, check them out …one of the most interesting poetry websites and Brendan’s editorials and challenges are always fascinating.

Slim’s Third Dream (tanka)

Slim’s Third Dream

Slim retires again
to do battle with the night
his mother appears

they share complicated jokes
in his sleep, he laughs out loud.

Over at earthweal, the challenge is:

For this challenge, explore the art and acts of entanglement in a poem. How does one life entangle another? How do the dead remain entangled with the living? Become the thing you see. Reflect on how that seeing changes the world (at least, your view of it). Then (or separately) ask yourself what existence would mean without that entanglement: how much less light and air and beauty. Flip the switch both ways to see how it works. Entangle yourself in the world. Let your witness be our testament.

A lot of questions, I think I may have addressed one!

The Poet’s Circle on Zoom

The Poet’s Circle on Zoom

Way back when, in the time before Covid,
the Poet’s Circle would meet once a month
at The Post-Coital Beetle
for an evening of mixing metaphors.
Last week after much discussion
we had our first session on Zoom
and I don’t mind telling you
it was a white horse of a different kettle
a whole other crap shoot.
There were problems of course,
some of our members
had difficulties with the technology
and that was just the tip of the molehill,
as one of the poets observed
you can lead a leopard to water
but you can’t make him change his tricks;
but when The Academic Poet suggested
that metaphor has no place in modern poetry
that was when the spittle really hit the screen
it all went to hell in a hand basket
and that’s an idiom not a metaphor.
I tried to cool things down with a joke
but as they say
don’t bring a pun to a bun fight
and there’s no point
trying to count the pigeons
when the barn door is open
and the cat has bolted from the bag.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Down by Jericho Beach (Edit)

 

Social distancing (3)

 

Down by Jericho Beach 

the trees look guilty
the ocean is ill at ease
no one’s fault, but still…..

the courts are empty
no tennis ball pock pock pock
Canada geese honk

eagles isolate
my face itches like crazy
demands to be scratched

and those ducks, they don’t know squat
about social distancing.

 

Photo “Social Distancing”

 

The  challenge from Grace over at dverse is to write a poem using personification and/or imagery:

Personification

A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person.

When I read the prompt I thought of this poem from back in April 2020, I made a small edit.

The Toddler King Part 5

The Toddler King Part 5

5 a.m.
the toddler king
checks his twitter feed
access denied

it’s quiet now
but all last night
all he could hear
was the squeak and rustle
of rats leaving the ship

he stares out into the murky depths
Mitch McConnell swims by
an oxygen tank strapped to his back,
his lugubrious visage
fills the porthole
he removes his oxygen mask
a bubble escapes from his mouth
and floats upwards
his wattles sway like kelp
in the shifting currents
he has the detached look
of a man examining a museum exhibit
another bubble escapes upwards
he turns and kicks for the surface
his sagging buttocks
pale but somehow luminous

Am I dead?
The toddler king wonders
I can’t be dead
I’m absolutely not dead
If I say I’m not dead
I’m not dead.
Hey, what’s Ted Cruz doing out there
I thought this was a Cruz ship!
See, I made a joke
I can’t be dead!

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Hacienda Merida (Edit)

Hacienda Merida

It’s 5 AM and still dark as the lake
When the rooster starts his clownish complaint.

He is quickly joined by the village dogs,
The gecko on the wall behind the bed
Birds and more birds

And finally Fiona the donkey
Whose hoarse and outraged heehaw
Signals she is not ready for another day

Tethered to a pole in fickle shade.

This in response to Sherry’ s prompt over at earthweal : “For this week’s challenge, speak for animals, or let the animals speak.

The Altar of Zoom (Is there Virtue in Virtual Mass)

The Altar of Zoom

God is now on Zoom
but his microphone is muted
some would say
and I don’t dispute it
that his microphone has been muted
for quite some time now
okay, don’t have a holy cow
that was a joke
but honestly it’s been a while
since he spoke
those proxy sermons
from earnest priests
hardly count
they can’t hold a holy candle to
they don’t have the heft, the clout
of his greatest hit
the Sermon on the Mount
yep, that’s the big one
voted top sermon of all time
by the folks at Rolling Stone
a hard one to follow
one that stands alone.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse