Tag Archives: poetry

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

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.

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.

 

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”

**********

looking at me (2)

A Brexit poem from Slim’s locker:

Come what? May?

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

Pantoum of the Opera

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Pantoum of the Opera

A night at the opera
I have to admit, it’s not my cup of tea
the braying sound of a male tenor
the smell of moth balls in the cheap seats

I have to admit it’s not my cup of tea
the diva’s ululating grief
the smell of moth balls in the cheap seats
if only it was brief, if only it was brief

the diva’s ululating grief
the uncontrollable urge to sleep
if only it was brief, if only it was brief
there would be some relief

the uncontrollable urge to sleep
the braying sound of a male tenor
there is no relief
a night at the opera

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a pantoum. Click here to learn all about the form. I have stuck to the form for the first 3 stanza’s, I have improvised in the 4th, which I think is within the rules!

photo: Approaching Planet Cistern

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

Having a Pint with Adele (and the meaning of post modern) (redux)

It’s open link night over at dverse and I thought I would link to this post. It’s not  a poem but it involves poetry and contains poems!

Having a Pint with Adele (and the meaning of post modern) 

It is late afternoon in The Post Coital Beetle and Slim and I are starting into our first pitcher of Blue Buck Ale, nachos have been ordered. On the television screen on the wall in front of us, a baseball player is attacking a dugout water cooler with his bat. The television is on mute. Adele emotes in the background.

It’s been a while since Slim and I have got together and although nothing has been said, I sense that he has a beef of some kind. Not that this is unusual, having a beef is Slim’s default mode, but at the moment he seems relaxed. He has just finished a three hour practice with his band “Bad Complexion”. Slim plays bass and does background vocals. The armpits of his faded Clash T shirt are wet with sweat and the T shirt has been washed so many times that it no longer fits, leaving a gap of bristly pink flesh above the belt of his jeans. The image of a pig’s cheek pops into my head.

He’s smiling.

“She’s really just an old-fashioned British pop singer, isn’t she?” He says.

“Who?”

“Adele, you know…somewhere between Lulu and Shirley Bassey.”

“I guess…she also has that girl next door thing”

“Exactly,” Slim says, “like Cilla Black.”

“That name brings to mind a small black and white television set”

“You could have a pint with Adele,” Slim says, wistfully, and we both fall silent thinking about sharing a pint with Adele.

The pub door opens and closes. Cold blast of January air. Skunky whiff of over-hopped ale. Or is that Slim’s armpit? The silence lingers a little too long.

“I’ve taken up cooking, I’ve become a devotee of Wolfgang Puck.”

Slim does an owl blink, I can almost hear his brain working.

“Who the fuck

is Wolfgang

Puck? And why

should I care?”

He intones smugly.

“You’re doing that 12 syllable slimverse thing again, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he says, “and that reminds me, I have a bone to pick with you.”

Ahh, not a beef but a bone.

“Shoot”

“This lame-ass blog of yours, I thought it was supposed to be devoted to my poems, but lately it’s all your stuff and you’ve taken stories I’ve told you and used them for your poems and created this character called Slim”

“I’m being post-modern”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“You know, there are many ways of knowing and many truths to a fact.

“Crystal clear then, how can anything be post-modern? ‘Modern’ means ‘of the present’ – ‘now’, the only possible way a work could be post-modern would be if it was written in the future, for that we will have to wait for the invention of time travel.”

He folds his arms, discussion over.

“You have a point. Anyway, you haven’t been giving me much to publish lately.”

“Ok, how about this one, it’s called ‘Rasta’:

It’s a fact

all Rastas

are born out

of dreadlock.”

“Amusing, but a bit thin, we need flesh on the bones, Slim, flesh on the bones. Besides, I’m not so sure about this slim verse thing.”

Slim drains his half full pint glass and refills it.

“Go on.” He says.

“Well, you know, the haiku has got a headlock on internet poetry and it has seventeen syllables to work with, that’s five more than a slimverse. Now I hear that someone in the north of England has come up with a new form – the ‘anchored terset’ which is essentially a three word/four line poem, the fourth line being a punctuation mark, for example:

Sky

Field

Cow

.

It’s a race towards nothingness.”

Slim drains his pint glass and leans forward, his finger poking in my direction.

“Here’s an anchored terset for you….

You

Fuck

Off

!”

He tries to storm out but because we are in a booth he has to slide along the bench seat, his stomach rubbing against the table’s edge. His T shirt rides up. At the same time the waitress arrives with a plate of nachos shaped like a volcano, a volcano spewing molten cheese lava. The waitress stares in horror at the sinkhole that is Slim’s navel. Slim shouts at the waitress:

“I thought I said ‘hold the jalapenos’!

We watch him leave, on his back Paul Simonon slams his Fender Precision Bass into the stage at The Palladium in New York city.

“He seems upset”, the waitress says, and I’m thinking:

I can’t see

the pulled pork,

she forgot

the pulled pork.

 

After all

that bother

she forgot

the pulled pork.

 

 

Reference:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/feb/04/a-brief-guide-anchored-terset-poetry

 

 

 

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!

Indignatron B (as seen on TV)

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Indignatron B (as seen on TV)

Are you feeling indignant?
Do you feel the urge to rant?
Are you sick of the city, the government
sycophants, dilettantes, the cant;
are you bitter about the glitterati
the literati, the witeratti, the getfiteratti
that tosser on your street
with the Maserati or is it a Bugatti
always wittering on about his colonoscopy
his digestive tract?
Relax, help is on the way,
take one Indignatron B tablet daily
and you won’t give a shit about all that.

Warning:
Some users of Indignatron B have become so unbearably pleasant, that their friends can’t stand them anymore.
Do not mix Indignatron B with alcohol, some users, who have, experienced such a feeling of intense happiness that all they could think about was doing it again.

Why I have difficulty writing haiku

 

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I thought I would give this one another outing at Open Link night over at dVerse.

Why I have difficulty writing haiku

problem with haiku
definite article is
first casualty

next casualty
indefinite article
makes me sound little

like Japanese guard
in prison camp in movie
world war two movie

who for some reason
is speaking English (how? why?)
with staccato voice

or perhaps I am
po-faced guru on mountain
dispensing bromides:

crow flies at midnight
in front of luminous moon
affair ends badly

all because I am
in service to, at mercy
of, syllable count.

Driving Home with Leonard Cohen (4)…Poem

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Driving Home with Leonard Cohen

Despite what he says
not everybody knows,
not everybody knows
like Leonard knows.
Not everybody knows
that the best songs
are about loss,
endings,
so long,
ways to say goodbye,
closing time,
and that age
can be laughed about
but not at,
if I had a hat
I would raise it to Mr.Cohen
perched up there alone
in his tower of song.

 

I have posted this a few times before, but since this week is turning into music week at stopdraggingthepanda, I thought I would give it another outing

A note on the genius of Leonard Cohen:

Below is the first verse of “Suzanne”. Notice how he doesn’t hit a conventional rhyme until the chorus where he rhymes ‘blind’ and ‘mind’ and creates a tension and release which runs through the whole song (he repeats that pattern in the next 2 verses). 

“Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind”

Participating in OpenLink Night over at dVerse.

 

Free Jazz 2 (of ruba’i and rubaiyats)

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Free Jazz 2

The saxophonist taps his foot
the trumpet player palms his mute
they sound like elephants mating
when they play free, when they play loose.

The drummer puts on his jazz face
eyes closed in ecstasy, lips pursed,
they dance on the edge of chaos
when they blow free, when they play loose.

 

So this another entry in response to the dVerse challenge to write a ruba’i or rubaiyat. For a description of the form , check out Frank Hubeny’s post here.

The two quatrains (which makes it a rubaiyat) have an AABA CCDC rhyming scheme, although I have avoided straight rhymes and relied on some sonic connection between the end words.

After a month of sonnets and now this, I’m getting a bit rhymed out. I’ve also been working on shoehorning another song lyric into sonnet form on the basis that sonnet means “little song”. It’s not working. I think it’s time to return to the relative chaos of free verse.

 

 

Listening to U2 in Kitsilano Gym (Poem)

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The Edge

the Edge is a painter
he’s all about the brush strokes
a splash of metal here
a splash of funk there
an acoustic wash
a chopped abstract rhythm
on top of bass and drums
yes he can make it
cry or sing
but that’s not his thing
that’s not his thing
and if a one note solo is enough
a one note solo is enough.

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.