Tag Archives: dverse

Cats I Have Known (poem)

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Cats I Have Known

there’s the cat with nine tails
there’s the cat with nine lives
there’s the cat that got my tongue
there’s the cat that is out of the bag
there’s the cat that curiosity killed

Percy was our first
a long-haired white
a tour bus for fleas
he led a long and lazy life
those fleas didn’t get around much.

Next came Sweeney
who left us too early
killed by a car
in the back lane.

Then Sasha the hunter
who brought us daily gifts
of dead birds and mice
and fought an ongoing battle
for ownership of the back yard
with two blue jays.
Sasha, too, fell foul of a car
in the back lane,
I heard about it
while checking into a Holiday Inn
somewhere in Alabama,
the peroxide permed ladies
at the front desk
passed me a note
which simply said:
“Sasha is dead”.
“Sasha is a cat”, I explained,
seeing the look of concern
on their powdered faces,
this did nothing to alleviate the gloom
I couldn’t get my room keys fast enough.
That was enough catastrophe for us,
Sasha’s ashes now rest in an urn
nestled in the bowl of the cherry tree
in the back yard
where she is visited frequently
by her former prey.

Photo : graffiti in Getsemani, Colombia

Taking part in Anmols’ prompt “all things feline” Over at dverse

Drain The Swamp Rag

A version of this poem appeared with 4 other poems, a little while back in the online magazine Anti-Heroin Chic

The subject over at dverse today is “Smoke and Mirrors”, so I thought I would give the poem another outing.

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Drain The Swamp Rag

(Walk that back
walk that back
I know I said it
but I walked that back.)

Attack dog surrogates
inveterate invertebrates
re-stock the swamp
with old white males.

Post logic, post truth,
snake oil and kool-aid
re-stock the swamp
with old white males.

Mike Pence, John Bolton
Rudy Giuliani
re-stock the swamp
with old white males

Inveterate surrogates
attack dog invertebrates
re-mail the stock
to the old white swamp

re-stock the swamp
with old white males.

Don’t Play in the Traffic (again)

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Don’t Play in the Traffic

they met on a zebra crossing
it was a pedestrian affair
she had an air of competence
he…just had an air
they went downhill from there
to her house
in the middle of a roundabout
near the station
one morning they looked out
and the cars had changed rotation
the clouds were tinged
with a tawdry shade of orange
the sky was diffident
the sun judgmental
things would not be the same
would not be the same again.

 

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I’ve posted this one twice before, but I kind of like it. Participating in Open Link Night at dverse.

Deep Fried Road Kill ( the sequel to High Plains Sushi)

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Deep Fried Road Kill (a dizain)

Audrey, the lank-haired waitress, scans the bar,
sees Charlie nursing his long empty glass
“Hey you”, she yells, “get your ass outta here”
“Just my ass?” Charlie asks, to loud applause ;
deep fried road kill, okra, potato mash
warm under a heat lamp, he’s feeling ill;
he nods at his miner friends- Pit Fall Phil,
Old Arsenic, Rock Face, Busted Lung Lou –
in the holy glow of the pool table
they’ve still got that subterranean hue.

Yes, just when you thought it was safe to open your WordPress Reader…..the sequel to High Plains Sushi!  

The form used is a dizain, 10 lines , 10 syllables per line, rhyme scheme..ababbccdcd…For a more detailed discussion of the form, see Frank Hubeny’s excellent post over at dVerse.

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,

 

 

The Sun God

juxtaposition

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.

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.

 

Just a ruba’i before I go (2 poems)

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The man who communicated with paintings

He liked to shout at Picasso
commiserate with Van Gogh
ruminate with Monet
joke with Michelangelo.

The Last Ruba’i

this is it, finally, the last ruba’i
it’s time to call it a day, say goodbye
but there is still time for another rhyme
yes, that’s right, you have guessed it, it’s ‘Dubai’.

 

The ruba’i challenge over at dVerse ends at the end of the month……two more before the end! It’s a verse form, I think, that is perhaps best suited to light verse!

The Scale of Things … (a Poem)

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The Scale of Things

Is it possible to have a metric
a way to rate privilege
one that does not reference
gender, economic status, race?

Can the moral high ground be assigned?

Is a child loved by a parent
not more privileged
than one that is not?

 

This is in response to Anmol’s challenge over at dVerse which begins with the quote :

To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitious and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured….Michael S. Kimmel

Talking Senses (a Rubaiyat)

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Talking Senses (a Rubaiyat)

Wet whiff of sour milk
the rustle of silk
the kerang of a guitar
– the Who, or their ilk

the whirl of a dervish
the bloat of a blow-fish
the wince of a lemon
that chocolate fetish

I doubt my ability
to convey tactility
but, hey, here’s an eggshell
go on, feel the fragility.

Jilly’s challenge over at dVerse is to write a rubaiyat, using imagery that evokes all 6 senses – 1.) Visual, 2.) Tactile/Touch, 3.) Olfactory/Smell, 4.) Taste, 5.) Auditory, and 6.) Kinesthetic.

I gave it a go….I didn’t pay too much attention to syllables per line, I just went with what sounded right, but I did stick to the rhyme scheme!

Free Jazz (ruba’i)

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Free Jazz

in the park off Railspur Alley
lion house hogo, dogs and trees
like a drunk around a lamp post
the bass player leans.

This is my first attempt at a ruba’i (dVerse prompt). I have used, as per the form structure, a AABA rhyme scheme, I have used half rhymes because they fit! The first three lines are iambic tetrameter, the last line is shorter because it sounded good to my ear that way.

If you want to learn all about the ruba’i and the rubaiyat Check out Frank Hubeny’s excellent post at dVerse.

This is a rewrite of a poem that was published in ” The Basil O’Flaherty” online magazine.

 

The Reverend George Weeble (Quadrille)

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The Reverend George Weeble 

The Reverend George Weeble
liked to spend his holidays
visiting churches in foreign lands,
his parishioners called him:
the steeplechaser.
When I’m old and feeble,
George Weeble said,
when I retire,
I want to be
where the spires conspire
to show me the way.

Mish’s challenge over at dVerse is to write a quadrille (44 word poem) incorporating the word “steep”.

The Town of High Dudgeon

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The Town of High Dudgeon

In the town of High Dudgeon
at the corner of Grump Street and Curmudgeon
people talk about the old ways
about young people these days
with their smart phones, their social media
their Facebook, their Wikipedia
hell, in our day we had to know stuff.
Harrumph! They shout in unison.
Harrumph! They shout harrumphantly.

Outside the town limits
the future raises a middle finger
and data accumulates
about this moment
and the moment before
in cabinets that hum
a one note tune.

 

Participating in Open Link night over at dVerse, one of the best poetry blogs around!

Mr. Courtney ( a sonnet)

 

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Mr. Courtney

Sitting in Mr. Courtney’s English class
moving my feet to that iambic beat
while  greasy Joan doth keel the pot
and snot runneth down the back of my nose.

He tells us he is not a happy man
which makes us feel embarrassed, awkward, sad
(behold the dawn in russet mantle clad)
we pretend interest in (yes) Charles Lamb.

He struck me on the face once, hit me hard.
Have at you varlet! A palpable hit!
A snide remark I made, yes that was it,
about poor Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Still, would this poem be, if not for him,
Keats, beaded bubbles winking at the brim?

 

Taking part in Bjorn’s verse form challenge over at dVerse to write a sonnet. I’ve chosen  an ABBA, CDDC, EFFE, GG rhyme scheme. I’ve used half rhymes here and there to add interest and tried to keep to a ten syllable line even though I haven’t always stuck to that iambic beat. I’ve also woven in quotes from Shakespeare and Keats, these are lines that stuck in my head from those high school classes.

 

Todd and the Time Machine

 

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Todd and the Time Machine

I
Todd’s time machine
has three settings:
time was
time is
time will be.

II
Sometimes
the time travel sickness
hits him
like a five alarm flu.

III
Returning through the time hail,
through the accelerating centuries
he hears his wife yell
from the ever present
from the basement stairs:
I’m turning off that bloody time machine
your dinner’s getting cold!

 

The subject of the day over at dVerse is “Time and What if”

I Should Never Have Started This Villanelle

 

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Thinking of it now, truth to tell
I should have said goodnight, turned out the light
I should never have started this villanelle

now I am stuck in verse form hell
everything I write seems totally trite
thinking of it now, truth to tell

I can check out but I can’t leave this hotel
(the Eagles, you get the reference, right?)
I should never have started this villanelle

mission bell, tinker bell, death knell
I’ve started to write total shite
thinking of it now, truth to tell

I have to get off this carousel
it’s been a struggle, it’s been a fight
I should never have started this villanelle

I need another word that rhymes with ‘elle’
final quatrain, the pain, the urge to yell;
thinking of it now, truth to tell
I should never have started this villanelle

 

Ha…so this all started about a week ago with a challenge on dVerse to write a poem using a verse form that incorporated repetition. I posted 3 poems that were essentially chants but I felt that this was a cop out so I decided to write a villanelle. That was a mistake, that’s all I worked on all week. I felt like I was in a creative straight jacket, that I was wearing one of those ankle bracelets that would alarm if I tried to escape the villanelle. It didn’t help that I got half way through one attempt before I realised that I had the wrong structure, the wrong rhyming scheme.

That poem was built around two lines:

a villain in a villanelle
a doomed lover in a sonnet

It will never see the light of day.

Of form and free verse……..

Free Verse

free verse, let
it roam, far
from all rhyme
and reason

The irony is that this short poem actually has a form – 4 lines, 3 syllables per line. It’s called slim verse. It was invented by my friend, Slim Volume, and I. Of course Slim Volume is not his real name; he used to play in a punk band, The Working Stiffs, and that was his stage name, not that they appeared on many stages. You may remember their seminal album, ‘ Anger and Acne’, but you probably don’t. My all time favorite stage name belongs to the bass player in the Boomtown Rats, Pete Briquette. You’d have to be Irish to get it…..peat briquettes were used as a substitute for coal in open fires. Where was I…oh yes..slim verse..this was meant to be a form designed for the attention span of internet users, problem is I got tired of its limitations. We were churning out aphorisms not poems. We don’t talk about it much anymore, too painful.

…taking part in Open Link night over at dVerse, check them out, well worth the visit!

 

 

 

And Sometimes I Wonder (poems)

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The challenge from Jilly over at dVerse is to write a poem using repetition, the snag is that the poem has to be written to a particular form; the forms being either villanelle, terzanelle, pantoum, triolet or chant. Check out Jilly’s fascinating post for examples and definitions of these forms. I have to admit, having never studied poetry beyond high school (and not much at that) I find these forms intriguing and a little daunting, so I decided to go for what I thought was the easy one – chant; this proved to be a bit more elusive than I had imagined. Here are 3 attempts, the first one is new, the other two are edits of previous posts.

And Sometimes I Wonder

and sometimes I wonder
why it’s easy to curry lamb
but hard to curry favour

and sometimes I wonder
would a defibrillator
stop Donald Trump lying

and sometimes I wonder
are all Donald’s lies
by definition, white

and sometimes I wonder
living comfortable lives
can we legitimately claim suffering credits
from our parents, the past.

Smart Phone (with apologies to Dickens and Darwin)

’twas the best invention
’twas the worst invention

’twas communication’s new dawn
’twas the end of communication

’twas a pain in the neck
’twas incipient myopia

’twas why we evolved
with opposable thumbs.

Auto

auto-didact
auto-deduct
auto-redact
auto- instruct
auto-emphatic
auto-erratic
auto-erotic
auto-neurotic
auto-symbiotic
auto-despotic
auto-dramatic
auto-Semitic
auto-semantic
auto-romantic
auto-demonic
auto-symphonic
auto-bubonic
auto-ironic
auto-motive
auto-emotive
auto-mobile
auto-labile
auto-manual
auto-mandate
Otamendi*
Otamendi
Otamendi.

 

*plays centre half for Manchester City.

 

 

Christmas Cheer (quadrille)

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Christmas Cheer

cell phone rings
you’re not listening
you left it in the Fox and Vixen
on top of the cistern
in the stall
beside the condom machine
it started with one beer,
some Christmas cheer,
now you can’t recollect
what it is that you regret.

 

response to dVerse prompt from whimsygizmo, to write a quadrille (44 word poem) incorporating the word “cheer”.

Poem: Desire – what is it good for?

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Desire – what is it good for?

tender is the night
long is the day’s journey into night
it’s easier to name a street car
than it is to name one’s desire
never attempt a ménage in a glass menagerie
there is nothing less erotic than a red wheelbarrow
a thing of beauty is a joy for a fortnight.

 

…a response to Anmol Arora’s prompt – Poetics: Desire and Sexuality in Poetry,  over at dverse (check it out, it’s well worth a read).

photo taken in Sitges, Catalonia.

 

Heavy Metal Heaven (Edit)

 

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Heavy Metal Heaven

Slim plugs in his guitar
sets the dial on his amp
to “heavy metal”
hits an E minor seven
walks out of the room
makes a cup of coffee
drinks a cup of coffee
checks the football results
texts his brother in England:
what’s up, mate?
his brother doesn’t answer
he starts writing a novel:
The sun –
a red ball of anger on the horizon –
shouts through the brown chemical haze:
“that’s it, I’m outta here”.
Then, and only then, they hear a baby cry.
That’s all he’s got
He returns to the room
that E minor seven
is still going
but faint now
like a rustle of paper
like the distant chatter
of dead drummers
in heavy metal heaven
he picks up his guitar
hits an A minor seven
walks out of the room
starts his taxes……

 

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taking part in Open Link Night over at dVerse

Between (Everyone’s got something to bring..)..Poem.

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Between

Between the caucus and the carcass
between the chaos and the calm
between the fracas and the ruckus
between the righteous and the damned

Between the priest and the sermon
between the singer and the song
no one can determine
why we all can’t get along

Between the question and the answer
there is a life time of space
between the dance and the dancer
there is beauty and there is grace

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

Between the caucus and the chaos
between the crack house and the calm
between the raucous and the ruckus
between the righteous and the damned

Between the priest and the sermon
between the lawyer and the law
no one can determine
what is right and what is wrong

Between the question and the answer
there is a life time of space
between the dance and the dancer
there is beauty and there is grace

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

 

In response to the dverse prompt to write a poem using repetition (thanks Jilly). I had the first 3 verses for a while..the prompt spurred me to finish the poem!

 

The Chester Beatty Library (Poem)

A slightly different version of this poem was published a while back in The Galway Review .  I am posting this edited version as part of dVerse’s open link Thursday.

The Chester Beatty Library                                   

In the Chester Beatty Library
Four elderly ladies
Permed, perfumed and powdered
Stroll past the ancient texts
The papyrus and the parchment
Seemingly unimpressed
By the evidence before them
That ever since we could stand upright
We have tried to leave foot prints
In the wet cement of time.
What intrigues the ladies,
Is how these fragile treasures
These artefacts and amulets
Were safely transported
From their exotic homelands
To the airless glass cases
In which they now reside.
They explore this theme together
In intertwining solos
Like a modern jazz quartet
Like mythical creatures
Compelled to talk forever
Because they believe
That to stop
Would be to die.

 

If you are ever in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library is well worth a visit. The photo below is not the Chester Beatty Library, but it was taken in Dublin in September. I am including it here to show that the sun shines in Dublin but the clouds are always on the move.

 

Radisson

Yuck (a quadrille)

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Yuck (quadrille)

I have never been to Yucatan
but I’ve been to Playa del Carmen

I’ve never been to the Yukon
but I’ve camped in Uclulet

I have never played the ukulele
but I have strummed a guitar

as for the Ukraine
haven’t been there either.

 
In response to the dVerse prompt to write a quadrille using the word “Yuck” which I haven’t used but the sound is there. Thanks to the people at dVerse for making things interesting.