Tag Archives: poetry

Ducks Chillin’ (Thanks)

Ducks Chillin’

Thanks for Jeff Tweedy
Thanks for Annette Bening
Thanks for Michael Stipe
Thanks for John Lennon.

Thanks for Lucinda Williams
Thanks for Jurgen Klopp
Thanks for Paul Durcan
Thanks for Roger McGough

Thank for Sally Rooney
Thanks for Saul Bellow
Thanks for T.S. Eliot
Thanks for Elvis Costello

Thanks for Billy Collins
Thanks for Bob Dylan
Thanks for green lakes
glacial silt, ducks chillin’.

Brendan over at earthweal asks us to give thanks!

Also taking part in OpenLink over at dverse

Vapid Magazine Submission Guidelines

Vapid Magazine Submission Guidelines

Format:

All submissions should be single-spaced. Please use Arial font, Arial is one of our favorite Shakespearean characters.

If your submission is of a religious nature, you may use a Baptismal font.

Please do not use semi-colons, they confuse us.

Poetry:

Please submit a maximum of 6 poems at a time.

Simon Shallowpond, our poetry editor, celebrity watcher and gossip columnist has catholic tastes, but will accept non- religious poetry. He is partial to free verse. “Free verse”, he says, “let it roam, far from all rhyme and reason!”
All verse published here at Vapid Magazine is of course “free” in that we never pay for it.

Fiction:

Our main requirement is that all fiction should be totally made up. Please keep it short, our attention span is limited. Endings should be happy.

Non- Fiction:

Here at Vapid, we believe that this category no longer exists.

Visual Art:

Yes, we accept visual art. Our Art Editor, Georgina Shallowglass likes to say “if I can see it, it’s visual”.

When to Submit

Unfortunately, we are not accepting submissions at the moment, our staff is working remotely because of the pandemic which means that they are not doing anything that remotely resembles working.

In these trying times, we would like to encourage all our readers to stay safe and keep it Vapid.

Hiram (Poem for Earthweal)

Hiram

Hiram 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 artificial.
Good times.
In the evening,
he sits on his porch
staring out at the Christmas tree green of the lawn
drinking lite beer
and polishing his assault rifle,
this gives him comfort.

Not that he’s afraid,
he ain’t afraid of nuthin’,
he ain’t afraid of AOC
he ain’t afraid of Antifa
he ain’t afraid of that girl from Sweden
the one that never smiles
he’s vigilant, that’s all;
vigilance is of the essence.
He likes the sound of that,
maybe get a T shirt made
put that on the front,
‘G.I. – God Incarnate’ on the back.

No, he ain’t afraid of nuthin’,
but sometimes
in the early hours of the morning
he lies awake
his gut gurgling like a drain
as it processes
the Outback appetizer
of deep fried onion rings
that the waitress
piled high on his plate
like a jumble sale
of used Olympic symbols;
he lies awake
stalked by a fear
he will not name
the fear of being left behind,
left in the dust,
by the twenty first century.

This week I’m hosting the weekly challenge over at Earthweal (Title “Fiction? Don’t be a Stranger”). So head on over there and prepare to be challenged.

Also taking part in Open Link over at dverse


Edgar

Edgar

Meaghan loved her job,
the compensation was meager
but that didn’t bother her
what bothered her
was her relationship with Edgar;
she felt beleaguered.
“What the hell is wrong with you”,
Edgar raged, on a regular basis,
and all she could think of was:
Isn’t “raged”
an anagram of Edgar?

This was a response to a Daily Prompt (back in the day), the prompt was “meager”.

The Dryer Vent Invasion (poem)

The Dryer Vent Invasion

Last night I dreamt
that Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller
had entered my basement
through the dryer vent,
maybe “entered” is the wrong word
it was more an “insinuation”,
a slithering, under the vent flap
down the plastic vent hose
and into the dryer drum
where they paused briefly
to cough up some lint
before pushing open the dryer door
and oozing out onto the basement floor.

In the morning I went down to check the basement
feeling more than a little anxious.
it was empty, nothing had changed.
I sensed movement
out of the corner of my right eye
I turned, but there was no one there.
I sensed movement
out of the corner of my left eye
I turned, again there was no one there
but there was a smell
not the usual one, from that sock
abandoned at the bottom of my gym bag
this was rancid, pungent, acrid, fetid, halitotic
with a hint of damp weasel
the smell of venal ambition
the smell of distilled evil
one hundred per cent proof.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night (3)

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Given the week that it is, I decided to bring this poem back from the dead…..

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night

The dead move slowly
through the graveyard,
they are few at first
but as they pass
each row of headstones
grey fists punch
through mounds of earth
in a manic salute
and the throng grows
and the throng grows
and the night howls
and the fog curls
and a thin cloud
bisects the moon
and at the edge
of the graveyard
is an old well
and at the bottom
of that well
is a little boy
and that little boy
is crying for help
and that little boy
is Thom Yorke.

Taking part in earthweal’s weekly challenge, below is Brendan’s multi-faceted prompt, something there for everyone:

Tell your own story of a descent into darkness and return.
Write of moonshine and dark brightness.
Encounter a ghost and haunt us with its image and voice. Who are these visitants from what Hamlet called “the bourne from which no traveller returns”?
Are the elven still to be found in moony places?
Re-live a classical remake ofthe myths, like Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” Colerige’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or Spenser’s Faerie Queen.
What is your favorite folktale, and why? Where has it led you?
Would anyone like to turn present politics into an All-Hallows fright feast? (Such a telling does might help drive a stake into our worst fears.)

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

Michael Stipe, the Cubist

Michael Stipe, the Cubist

Netflix has a new series called “Song Exploder”. Each episode takes a famous song and looks at how it was made, recorded, the inspiration behind it. I have watched one episode so far, the song in the spotlight was “Losing My Religion” by REM. I found it fascinating, particularly because the members of REM are such engaging and willing participants in the analysis of the song , none more so than Michael Stipe . It reminded me what a great and idiosyncratic lyricist Michael Stipe is. I won’t quote the whole lyric (I have attached a video which syncs the lyric with the song), but here’s the second verse:

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough”

What struck me, on seeing this, was how each line emerges from the page like planes in a cubist painting; each line views the subject from a different angle.

Consider this, the last verse, that play between “failed” and “flailing”, the conclusion “Now I’ve said too much”. Throughout the song, he doesn’t rhyme once, he just keeps throwing out those viewpoints, those angles, those curves: pretty much a perfect lyric.

Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much”

Here’s the video….

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

Rhymin’ (Neil) Diamond – the Good, the Bad and the Internal (again)

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The great Paul Simon once said: “I’d rather be a bucket than a pail”. Ok, maybe he didn’t but perhaps he should have. Anyway, this is not about rhymin’ Simon, this is about rhymin’ Diamond who once said:

I am, I said

To no one there

And no one heard at all

Not even the chair

Implying that, in a room containing inanimate objects, the object most likely to reply would be a chair. That chair is important, not just because it rhymes with “there”. The chair suggests that Neil is in a room, and there is only one chair (“the chair”), so Neil is most likely lying on a bed and of course he is alone, so alone that he has resorted to talking to the furniture. Without the chair, he could be anywhere, it becomes the focus of his existential crisis. This is a “pop song”,  and it has to look easy and that’s hard and he does it through that one detail, the chair.

It has to be said that Neil is perhaps not at the same level as Paul Simon when it comes to poetic, sophisticated lyrics, but he has his moments. Take the first verse of “ Cracklin’ Rosie”:

“Aw, Cracklin’ Rosie, get on board

   We’re gonna ride

   Till there ain’t no more to go

   Taking it slow

   And Lord, don’t you know

   We’ll have me a time with a poor man’s lady

There’s that internal rhyme happening – board, more, Lord, poor -and all those ‘O’s’, fifteen in total! And the assonance in the chorus of

“Cracklin’ Rose,

You’re a store-bought woman”

It goes a bit downhill after that – “you make me sing like a guitar hummin’” – hummin’ and woman – ouch!

But, for my money, Neil’s finest moment when it comes to writing lyrics is in “Sweet Caroline”. The song, admittedly, is not without some absolute groaners:

“Where it began,

I can’t begin to knowin’”

And that’s the first two lines.

Even the chorus, which contains that finest moment is a syntactical nightmare:

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

I’ve been inclined,

To believe they never would

Oh, no, no

I have wrestled with this for some time and the best I can come up with is this: ”I’ve been inclined to believe that good times never would never seem so good”. Think about that too long and I guarantee that steam will come out of your ears. But it doesn’t matter, because all that matters is that rhyme between “Sweet Caroline” and “I’ve been inclined”. He could have gone for “fine”, “wine”, “mine” etc but there is something about “inclined” that is so unexpected, so colloquial, so conversational. It surprises every time you hear it. And of course, the acid test of any chorus is how well it does in a pub or bar late in the evening and everyone is a little hammered and some skinny guy on acoustic guitar hauls out “Sweet Caroline” and everyone is just waiting to belt out that chorus and I guarantee you that the volume will perceptibly increase when they reach that line and everyone takes just a little credit for recognising how clever it is.

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)

Blue sunset 2

 

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.”