Tag Archives: poem

Spoke

yesterday, I misspoke

about misspeaking

and I apologize for that

you see we are all

spokes in the same wheel

which makes us spokespeople

this carries a responsibility

we are all moving in the same direction

which is good and bad at the same time

and also comes with being part of a wheel

if you are spooked by this

I understand,

but these sentences are essentially bromides,

ephemerals

foam drying as the tide retreats

salves that salve nothing

and as such should offend no one

which is a good thing

or is it

maybe I misspoke.

Peter over at dverse invites us to play with sound, to let our words ring out!

Animal Magnetism (a Quadrille)

Animal Magnetism

he had no animal magnetism
he was the kind of guy
who would have a hard time
getting a dog to hump his leg

then one fall day it happened
in a leaf-strewn park
a cocker spaniel it was
they’ve been together ever since.

The prompt from whimsygizmo over at dverse is to write a quadrille (44 words) using some form of the word “magnet”.

PUNK

PUNK

Walking down Commercial
On a sunlit lunchtime
I see this guy talking to this girl –

She’s got tattoos, rings, black hair,
Blonde streaks – he is leaning forward
She is leaning back

And as I pass by, he says:” I have always thought
That punk and hip-hop have more in common
Than they have not.”

The peak of his baseball cap is flipped back
like he‘s caught in a wind tunnel.
Noise cancelling head phones circle his neck.

Is that an egg stain on his cardigan?
Did he play bass once in a band called Head Lice?
Or is he just another fan?

Who knows?
He looks disheveled, disinterred,
Pale as a Pogue*.

And I want to stop
And tell him
That I don’t know about hip hop

But I have always thought that punk
Is the sound
Of someone puking pints

Outside a pub at midnight
Without implying
That is necessarily a bad thing.

*Pale as a Pogue

I shared a plane once with The Pogues on a flight from Vancouver from Chicago . I got bumped up to business class (I was flying a lot at the time). The Pogues were also in business class, on the way to Vancouver for a gig. The year was 1991, I know this because Joe Strummer was with them and according to Wikipedia he joined the band for a short period in 1991 , Shane MacGowan had left due to drinking problems.

They were the palest, skinniest, sickest group of people I had ever seen. They looked like creatures who spent most of their time at the bottom of the ocean at a depth where the sun could not penetrate, or maybe they just got up late in the afternoon.

The only thing I remember from the trip is that Joe Strummer was ordering drinks as soon as the seat belt sign went off. Vodka and tonic was his drink of choice, I think. When the stewardess brought his first drink, she said:
“ I hope that’s not too strong for you, sir”
Joe replied: “Too strong? Too Strong?” and began to laugh hysterically and continued to laugh for quite some time. As the flight progressed he would turn every now and again to the other Pogues and shout “Too Strong?” and start laughing all over again. I guess he was taking the Shane MacGowan role seriously.

Graffiti Photo was taken in Getsemani, Cartagena, Colombia.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse

Vice-Presidential Boogie

Vice-Presidential Boogie

Things are slow now
But I won’t be watching the vice-presidential debate

Things are slow now
But I won’t be watching the vice-presidential debate

Nothing against Kamala Harris
It’s Mike Pence, I can’t tolerate

Vice-presidential boogie
Do that vice-presidential thing

Vice-presidential boogie
Do that vice-presidential thing

You’re not part of history
But you’re waiting in the wings.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Leaving St. Bernard Behind

Leaving St. Bernard Behind

By the time religion got to me
all the joy had been filtered out
too many censorious priests,
too many soporific sermons
too many cavernous churches
with names like St. Michael’s, St. Theresa’s, St Ann’s,
too many saints.
Why, even my white Y front underwear
had a saint’s name on the tag, St. Bernard.
His name was also on my vests, my shirts, my pajamas;
I just couldn’t get St. Bernard off my back.
Where I found my true congregation
was on Sunday afternoons
with my dad, my uncle, my brother, my older sister
on the terraces at Milltown
watching Shamrock Rovers play.
There were binaries there too
heaven was a victory
and while defeat wasn’t exactly hell
it cast a pall over Sunday tea,
a pall that was quickly relieved by the sugar high
from the flotilla of cakes my mother
had been baking since Saturday afternoon.
Now St. Bernard has been replaced
by someone called Denver Hayes.
I doubt if Denver is a saint
and I’m fine with that
underwear should be secular
joy, unconfined.

The prompt from Brendan over at earthweal is to write a Michealmas Festival poem. This poem really doesn’t do the prompt justice, but it’s the poem that the prompt prompted.

Also taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse

September and Everything After

Summer has left the building
is already in the limo

snorting white powder
drinking champagne

dupes, fall guys
we wait for the encore

ignoring the bouncer
pointing to the door

the door marked winter

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Also a note to my friends over at earthweal, I have two poems published in The Galway Review, if you have a chance take a look here, (Jim.)

Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview) 3

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The Stack

And what a
beautiful
plume we have
here, Nigel,

a plume with
time on its
hands, look at
it loping

across the
sky like a
giant Chinese
dragon, let’s

hail a cab
to find the
plume’s end, where
the last wisps

of vapor
drift upwards
and a blue
mist hangs, yes,

there it is
in the sky
to the west
stalking the

cars in the
parking lot
outside the
big box mall

while the sun
bawls and the
sky gets all
indignant.

Post Poem Interview 

You played well out there tonight, Slim.

Slim: Well, you know it’s not about me, it’s about the poem, I’m just part of the process.

Are you suggesting that you are perhaps some kind of conduit linked to some higher power, some higher resource.

Slim: No, I am just mouthing platitudes, isn’t that the idea?

Quite, so I am sure everyone is wondering, who is Nigel?

Slim: He’s my cousin.

That’s a very English name.

Slim: That’s hardly surprising, he is English.

Do you call him ’Nige’ for short?

Slim: No!

It sounds like he could be a member of one of those floppy-haired synth bands from the eighties, you know, like Soft Cell or Human League or The Pet Shop Boys. Didn’t XTC have a song about a guy called Nigel. Is he in a band?

Slim: He’s a welder.

Does his hair not get in the way?

Slim: He’s bald, where is this going?

(mumbles) somewhere slow or nowhere fast. So tell me about the structure of this poem.

Slim: I took the 3 syllable line, 4 line verse , I have been using, and applied it to a poem that I was never happy with and it worked, at least it made me trim a lot of the fat and I came up with a better poem, I think?

……….what? Sorry I nodded off there for a bit. Well, I’m sure you are itching to get back to the dressing room and join the rest of the lads in a lukewarm bath of diluted sweat.

Slim: Can’t wait!

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Joy (a double septo)

JOY

always there’s another task
joy lies in the avoidance

The theme over at earthweal is “Joy”.

My syllable count is low at the moment, so I have opted for a form I call “a double septo” or “a quatorze” – two lines of 7 syllables each. See here for another example of the form and here for more syllabic discussion involving Adele.

Talking About Evolution (2 poems)

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Watching the Knowledge Network

The earnest English anthropologist
is talking about evolution.
He shows a film of long-haired men
digging on the shores of a lava lake in Africa.
Later, one of them appears wearing a big collar,
a big tie and bushy sideburns.
He has a collection of bones
which he assembles into a skeleton.
A debate follows
about the significance of tools
in our leap from ape to man.

On the coffee table is a copy of “The Little Red Hen”
as retold by Maria M. Southgate M.A. B.Com.
I make an astonishing discovery.
On page thirty-six, the little red hen
is cutting her field of wheat
with a very sharp knife,
and immediately I think:
those idiots, those bell-bottomed fools
as the clamber over each other
into our bollock-naked past
they have completely over-looked the tool-wielding fowl.
All the degrees in the world,
and they miss something so barn-door obvious
I found the above poem today in a box in my basement, while doing a pandemic purge. It was probably written in the late eighties. The odd thing is I was trying to figure out how to respond to Brendan’s prompt over at earthweal, in which he asks us to write about ”evolution” and this poem turns up out of nowhere. (There was a rejection note from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin of Cyphers magazine, saying she liked it but it was too much of “a one idea poem”.)

In the same box, I found another evolution related poem, which again I had completely forgotten about. I had to ask myself, have I actually evolved as a writer since then……and, you know, I’m not sure…..there is still that tendency to be facetious….talking of facetious, here’s the other poem..

Gorilla

There was a young lady from Orilla
who fell in love with a gorilla
in Toronto, at the zoo.

She could not stay with him
or have her way with him,
she did not know what to do.

Then the government
gave her a grant
to build a halfway home,

a micro-climate
for the primate,
a keeper out on loan.

With visiting rights
and hot jungle nights
all her problems were solved.

Until one day
I’m sorry to say
the goddamn gorilla evolved.

Orange Peel

Orange is the New Bleak 1 (3)

 

Orange Peel

While lunching on rice and beans
I became aware of
the orange on my table
its thingness
its facticity
its outer skin
both verb and noun
but not noun
until it is verbed.
so I verbed it
and discarded the noun
without tasting it
on the grounds
that I don’t find
its taste appealing
or, to paraphrase,
its taste
does not
appeal to me.

 

Bjorn’s prompt over at dverse is all about verbing nouns

Is Joe?

Is Joe
the rainbow
after the storm
the light
at the end of
the tunnel
the bar man
who will create
a cocktail
that is better
than the current mix
of braggadocio and bile,
garnished with a licorice stick
of lies, the Orange Russian?
Is he the man
to drive the sedan of democracy
straight down the middle of the road
to remind us of what
we used to regard as order?
Or does he have to be that?
It would be enough to be
the ornament on the hood
of that sedan,
because the thing is
he doesn’t have to be the thing
others can take care of the thing
he just needs to be
a symbol of the thing.
Is Joe
the rainbow
after the storm
the light
at the end of
the tunnel?
Jesus, I hope so.

The challenge from Brendan over at earthweal is “Write about storms and rainbows from whatever vantage seems most appropriate to you.”

New Horizons (A Lads’ Poetry Project Update)

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Well, a lot has been happening in the Lads’ Poetry Project since we last checked in, we have two new additions to the project, both from the UK, and both of a quality that the project doesn’t deserve.

First we have Sarah Connor who gives us the view from the other room where there is a party of a different kind going on, find out more here!

Next we we have Kim Whysall-Hammond who gives us the perspective of the only woman in the room (she uses the word “engineer” in a poem which is a fairly rare occurrence), find out more here!

Sarah and Kim are both fine poets, so be sure to check out their other work when you are over there…and remember the Lad’ Poetry Project criteria are simple:

the poem must start with the phrase (or some variation of it): “Me and the lads…” and the tone must be somewhat less than elevated.

Tadpoles, Dead Cats and Seamus Heaney

 

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Tadpoles, Dead Cats and Seamus Heaney

I wrote a nature poem once
it went like this:
You call yourself a tree?
My bank has more branches!
Not much of a poem really
I wrote it at a time when the Irish poetry scene
was dominated by rural poets
or to be more precise, by Seamus Heaney,
whose childhood memories
of peat bogs, tractors, ploughed fields, hard won harvests
of curlews and corncrakes of snipe and gannets
did not resonate with me
my childhood having been spent
in the newly spawned suburbs of south Dublin
where my friend Dermo and I roamed back lanes,
and vacant lots that promised prosecution to trespassers
a world of nettles, thistles, dock leaves for the stings
crows and magpies, a rumour of foxes
gardens of roses, dahlias, rhubarb, gooseberries
the ubiquitous potato
tadpoles in jam jars,
their embryonic frog legs kicking
and let’s not forget that dead cat we found
half consumed by maggots
in a cardboard box in the woods
behind the cavernous church
where Dermo liked to sit of a Sunday
close to the aisle, listening to the sound
of the women’s girdles as they strode up
for Holy Communion, according to Dermo
this is the sound that the girdles made:
whick whick
whick whick
but I digress…

I met Seamus Heaney once
north of the Liffey
a creative writing class,
this was before academia
and Nobel prizes
he was living in a cottage in Wicklow
he came, read some poems
and joined us in the pub afterwards
where I asked his opinion
of some of my heroes:
ee cummings, “a bit of a lightweight”;
Roger Mc Gough, the Liverpool Scene,
“a bunch of tricksters”;
James Simmons (a firebrand contemporary)
“does not understand the finality of print”.
These judgements were delivered
with a smile in a soft Derry accent,
a nicer man you could not meet
and one of two Nobel prize winners
that I have shared a drink with…
buy hey,
that’s more than enough name dropping for one poem.

 

Taking part in Sarah Connor’s challenge over at Earthweal.

Here’s Sarah’s prompt”

“So, for this prompt, I’d like you to think about how you first felt connected to nature – maybe as a child, or as an adult. Some of those lost words may inspire you, or you may have your own lost word (or world?) that gave you a sense of wonder at the natural world around you. Maybe you collected caterpillars, or watched birds on a bird-table, or squatted down to watch beetles, or looked up to see squirrels in the treetops.”

Dog in a Tartan Skirt (Redux)

 

 

Dog in a Tartan Skirt 

There’s a dog wearing a tartan skirt
outside the window of Starbuck’s;
a tartan skirt, a belt, and a knitted white sweater.
Its little dog legs are moving frantically
on the wet pavement,
while across the slick road
and the sodden green park
the ocean sits
like a slab of lead
having clearly decided
to take some time off,
no crashing on the shore today.
South of the border
America blunders around
trying to remember
where it parked
that big ass car
that everyone admired
and envied.
The people look to God
but God, once again,
is moving in mysterious ways
and I, for one, wish He would knock it off,
could He not for once in His eternal life,
clarify something?
I mean, for fuck sake,
there’s a dog wearing a tartan skirt
outside the window of Starbuck’s.

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Also taking part on Open Link Weekend over at Earthweal.

 

Bike Ride by the Fraser River

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Bike Ride by the Fraser River

tug boats and log booms
the plaid twock of a golf ball
a band playing soul

the sweet, sweet smell of Purell
backyard wedding, guests on Zoom.

 

The challenge over at earthweal is

“STRANGE WORLD is the theme of this challenge. Take the opportunity to assess what’s become so strange in your world……”

Of Statues and Limitations (Edit)

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Of Statues and Limitations

As we round Lee’s Circle in New Orleans
talk turns to statues
and the topless monument;
the shuttle bus driver tells us
that Robert E. Lee’s statue was removed
under the cover of darkness
by a crew dressed like ninjas,
to avoid recognition.
People woke up the next day
to find the statue had disappeared.
A photograph on Wikipedia
shows the statue being removed
in broad daylight by a crane;
reality is nearly always more prosaic.
She also tells us that she grew up in the neighbourhood;
as kids, they just called the monument,
“The Statue”, they did not know or care
who Robert E. Lee was.

In 1966, the IRA blew the statue of Horatio Nelson
off its pedestal on top of Nelson’s Pillar
in the middle of O’Connell Street, Dublin.
To my parents’ generation
Nelson’s Pillar was known simply as “The Pillar”.
(Dubliners are very fond of the definite article:
“How’s the head?”
“Are you still playing the soccer?”)
To them, The Pillar was a landmark
a place to meet your date
en route to one of the cinemas
on O’Connell Street to catch a film (2 syllables)
and perhaps a humid snog
in the back seat when the lights went out.
To the IRA it was a symbol of British Imperialism
of British oppression,
an insult to our patriot dead;
blah, blah, blah, boom!
The IRA was a particularly unsubtle organisation.

Is all this just facile juxtaposition,
chopped up prose
masquerading as a poem,
or is there a point?
Yes, yes and yes:
see what I think is
there are people who look up at statues
there are people who believe
statues are looking down on them
and there are people
who look straight ahead
and keep moving forward
into the future,
leaving the past
to its state of disrepair.

 

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Top photo taken at the Takashi Murakami exhibition (The octopus eats its own leg) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Bottom Photo taken in Medellin, Colombia, statues by Fernando Botero.

Luminescence

sunrise-4

 

Luminescence

The stars are out
luminescence rises
from the surface of the pond
I think of Tommy
Tommy Tumescent and the Hard-Ons
yes you could say
they were big in the fifties
yes you could say
they rose to stardom in the fifties
all pompadour and pointy toe
and to counter this puerile nonsense
I also think of iridescence
finesse
obsolescence.

This is one from the past, Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

 

One Bison, One Skunk (Close Encounters)

 

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Sherry, over at earthweal, asks “Have you had an encounter with or a visitation from a wild creature?”. Here’s a couple….

Old Bull Bison

an old bull bison,
morning, Yellowstone

(still dark)

caught, out on the move
in the headlights glow

the arc

of life turning down
no seed to be sown

no spark.

 

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Skunk

struts across the lawn
with a cleric’s confidence
tail cocked, sphincter primed