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March 16, 2004


Whilst posting upon the Obsidian Wings
my mind ere turned toward various things --
Macallan, Harley, Moe Lane, Ken White,
Seth, cmdicely, and this new guy Kite;
A verbose assortment, some sane, and some not --
some I suspect to be mere AI bots --
yet all have the virtue of rampaging Turks:
in their strife and attacks, they save me from work.

A pilgrimage would suit me well, I feel;
I'd go in spring, with dawn and breeze for friend,
A pack, a staff, maybe an extra meal
A heart ready for what the world might send.
I don't know which to do, a quest for God
Or mayhap just a civic tramp or two;
But either way, the cheerful steps I'd trod
By travel's end might just my soul renew.
But we live in the modern world, and so
Journeys are means, not ends, with no real worth
Save for swiftness; and thus quickly we go
ever faster, faster, across the earth.
But the sun is bright on the road ahead;
I think that I'll take the long way, instead.

should we re-post from the first thread?

Naah, I'll just link here.

Good stuff over there, btw; including yours, Katherine. Nice to have you back for a while. :)

(If the ital tag doesn't work this is doomed.)

Loma Prieta Pantoum
San Francisco Bay Earthquake, 1989

Traditionally rhymed a-b-a-b,
the pantoum's essence is its scaffolding.
Basically, our viewers want to see
disasters, no matter where they're happening.

The pantoum's essence is its scaffolding:
two unrelated subjects are discussed.
Disasters, no matter where they're happening,
expose the contingency of what we trust.

Two unrelated subjects are discussed,
although, these days, the poet has more leeway.
Expose the contingency of what we trust:
gas mains, bridge, the stanchions of the Freeway.

Although these days the poet has more leeway
regarding form, not all can be in flux.
Gas mains, bridge, the stanchions of the Freeway --
I watched them pulling bodies from crushed trucks.

Regarding form: not all can be in flux.
Chaos and order must be reconciled.
I watched them pulling bodies from crushed trucks.
They sawed the mother's corpse to save the child.

Chaos and order must be reconciled
in the pantoum, or any poetry.
They sawed the mother's corpse. To save the child
they shored the rubble temporarily.

In the pantoum, or any poetry,
basically, the reader wants to see
the rubble shored up temporarily,
traditionally rhymed a-b-a-b.

Well, so much for my entry. :)

Spain, 2004
It is not the first time that
this has happened to you,
nor is it the first time
that it has happened since
that much-invoked date.

But it looks different in
a Western city, and it feels
different when the bombers
would cheerfully murder me
on my own morning commute.

I've never been to Madrid,
but I've seen these squares full
of flowers, this wax melted into
the sidewalk next to these flimsy
aluminum candle-holders.

I recognize these lines of people
waiting to donate blood, though
they know it's too late to be
useful and more than the
Red Cross knows how to deal with.

I wonder if we will do these
things next time; whether blood
drives and votive candles speak
unknown, universal words of comfort
to Americans and Europeans,

or if we only react this way
when the attacks aren't expected.
Did they build these makeshift
shrines in Jerusalem, once? Will we
always build them in New York?

(author's note:
1. Sorry, I didn't set out to depress everyone, it just sort of happened. And Jim Henley started it. :)
2. The title alludes to/is ripped off from Spain, 1937 by W.H. Auden. It was the first poem I ever really liked, and it captures, better than anything else I've read, the feeling of living in "interesting times".)

Notes on the _Spain, 1937_ (as linked) - the third line in each stanza should be indented, "Greece" should read "Greek", and the entire poem was censored by Auden in later life, in part because of

To-day the deliberate increase in the chances of death, / The conscious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder;

which might be considered from some points of view as an endorsement of terrorism for the right cause. Of course this is the guy who wrote one of the greatest lines of poetry, "We must love one another or die", then said, "That's a lie - we have to die anyway" and changed it to "We must love one another and die", then censored the poem.

Continuing in the pedantic mode - re Jim's fine piece of work, which reads like one of John Hollander's explain-the-form-by-example poems - Hollander distinguishes between the pantun and pantoum. He gives an example of the former:


Pantuns in the original Malay
    Are quatrains of two thoughts, but of one mind,
Athwart my two pontoons I sail away,
    Yet touching neither; land lies far behind.

He calls the pantoum "its fussy, refrain-plagued French derivative."

rilkefan: Thanks for the kind words. You of course nailed my prosodic inspiration exactly: Hollander's little book.

One thing: I thought the pantun was by definition a single quatrain. Ah well. As we say in poetry, "Whatever."

Inspired by Katherine, we should perhaps enter Frederick Turner's latest in absentia. Politics aside, I'll grant it isn't bad for one day's work.

Japan blog flowing
Ramen noodles flipping soup
Mouse ball sticky goo

I'm not great at titles, myself (which is why I had no suggestions in the other thread, rilkefan), but Turner really ought to reconsider that one. It creates a predisposition that the aesthetic qualities of the poem cannot quite overcome. "On hearing the Spanish election results" would make the same point without bashing you over the head with it.

Jim, I've liked all of these but yours was incredible (especially to someone who's not good at rhyme and worse with meter--the longest form I can stick to seems to be a limerick.)

With apoligies for so many reasons...

There once was a John surnamed Kerry
Who's family did not come from Derry
But, alas, as was seen
He was still much more Green
Than the Bush with that most bitter berry.

The words we flip on our blogospheric trip
Are lyrical bullets shot from the hip:
Verbal attacks to make necks snap back
And beer-related threadjacks to pull us off track
But in between the lines sometimes we find
Our thoughts are best expressed in meters and rhymes;
We spit out the words from the tops of our heads
And place them in an order for the poetry thread.


The Lightweight's St. Patrick's Day Lament

Her hair is dark, her skin is pale,
her ancestors are Irish.
But give her just two pints of ale
and sshe staryts to righ%t liek thish

A Short Recollection of a Short Stay in Dublin

Guinness is Good for You
But Blackbush is better
My bag accommodates
But one woolen sweater

There once was a terrible poet
Who couldn't rhyme and he knew it
His similes were trite
Like bright stars in the night
And he had no rhythm

My God, Jim. And Katherine. What fantastic work.

Poems re: poetry
Remind me of this guy, who’s

Though meter and form
Adorn these lines, I remain--
Quite deferential.

But, cut me some slack.
Who says engineer's can't write?
Depth ain’t essential.

From reflective to lighthearted to downright obnoxious--sorry, once I figured out how to work in the last two lines I couldn't resist.

Four More Years
Maybe Al Qaeda is re-arming,
maybe you're still out of work.
Maybe the deficit is alarming,
and maybe I'm a big jerk.

But I can guarantee you protection
from gays and their proclivities
and weapons of mass destruction
related program activities.

Katherine, Calvin Trillin is quaking at his The Nation desk.

Traffic, it seemed, caused him pain;
Calmness, alas, not his vein.
It had to get out--
He burst with a shout:
“Come on, you ditz, pick a lane!”

Congress is having its say:">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=9&u=/afp/20040311/ts_alt_afp/us_politics_obesity&sid=96001004”">say:
It’s not Ronald’s fault what we weigh.">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=3&u=/nm/20040317/hl_nm/diabetes_children_dc&sid=95832458”">weigh.
Those epic-sized portions
Distend our proportions
But some will still sue anyway.">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=1&u=/ap/20040317/ap_on_re_us/brf_obesity_lawsuits&sid=95832457”">anyway.

If I keep this up, I'm going to start rhyming my code.

Sorry for being redundant, but I had to fix that "portions/portions" rhyme:

Congress is having its say:">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=9&u=/afp/20040311/ts_alt_afp/us_politics_obesity&sid=96001004”">say:
It’s not Ronald’s fault what we weigh.">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=3&u=/nm/20040317/hl_nm/diabetes_children_dc&sid=95832458”">weigh.
Epic-sized portions
Cause our distortions
But some will still sue anyway.">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=1419&e=1&u=/ap/20040317/ap_on_re_us/brf_obesity_lawsuits&sid=95832457”">anyway.

"Cause waistline distortions"? Epical?

Yeah. Or even this (for that visual effect):

Pythonic-bulge portions
Feed waistline distortions

von, Katherine and Moe, thanks very much for the kind words. Katherine, I really like your second one.

Speaking as the originator of this thread, I'd like to thank everybody who participated in this (and especially thank sidereal for sorta-suggesting it). These were all great - although I comment not on the political statements enshrined in some - and I'm going to put this thread up under Important Notes for anybody who wants to post a poem.

Until the next time we do one of these, of course. People like having a poetical mojo going every so often, right?


A poetry thread
Made permanent is like a
Strong wind frozen stiff.

Yes, a frequent opportunity to wax poetical is always appreciated.

"Sound Science"

Three hundred years of Western science
Were intended to reduce reliance
On charlatans and superstition
Improving knowledge, health, nutrition.
Humans were expected to progress
Out of an obscurantist mess,
And, alchemy and ignorance spent,
Proceed to their enlightenment,
At a steady but increasing rate.
Our progress seemed inviolate.

But optimists were disconcerted,
For part of science was perverted,
Co-opted for warfare and destruction,
And less for improvement and instruction.
Some scientists, the egotistic,
Made names mis-using the statistic;
Others in pursuit of wealth,
Endangered other people’s health.
Bit by bit respect was wrecked
By commercializing the suspect.
Some facts once seen as proved, objective,
Emerged as just a bit subjective.

This has given the ideologue
The chance to cast a gloomy fog
Over the work of honest men,
Questioning their acumen,
And claiming what is wrong as right,
That morning is, in fact, the night.
The right wing’s devious technique
Is to adopt the double-speak
That we were warned about before
In Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”:
Big Brother, straight-faced, telling you
That four plus four makes only two.

“Sound Science” is when they infer
Some “facts” from the Apocrypha.
It’s when the ignorant react
To consensus and to fact
By appointing some ambitious buddy
To conduct yet one more bogus study,
Making sure that he’s agreed
To postulate just what they need.

Hell-bent they are on mis-informing
The public about global warming,
Mounting an unwarranted attack
Via some scientific hack
On what real scientists have proved.
Faced with research they are un-moved,
Determined as they are to foil
An awkward challenge to Big Oil.
Research deemed inconvenient
Is trashed. The Right invent
Some specious reason for retraction
To postpone the obvious need for action.
These Tweedledums and Tweedle-dees
Will ruin him who disagrees,
And in good family men engender
The need to bow to their agenda.

Who knows what “facts” we’re faced with next,
Culled from some religious text,
To which the “chosen” are addicted
(Biblically contradicted!).
Against the weight of weighty science
The born-again yell their defiance,
And claim against all common sense,
And overwhelming evidence,
That everything from peak to beak,
As is, was made in just a week;
When to others it seems evident
That un-versed Hebrews were intent
On trying to explain the world around them,
And its wonders as they found them;
And (a bit of introspection)
Why Man displays such imperfection.
So, just like Jonah and the whale,
They devised a clever fairy-tale.

Fast forward now four thousand years
Rumours or wars and vales of tears.
We find the planet still is wracked
With faith that masquerades as fact.
Beware! Palmists return like ancient times
And fortune-tellers with their signs,
The ignorant, the sycophant,
The weirdo preacher, full of cant;
Poseurs and liars, those who rant,
Trying to be relevant,
Perverting science and the law
In ways we can no more ignore.
These men turn back history’s pages
To before the Middle Ages,
Without the slightest inhibition,
To the days of superstition.
And why? Truth-twisters simply want to collar
One more measly extra dollar.

Enough’s enough
Stand firm and tough!
No triumph of ideology
Anathema to you and me!

Dig that crazy cat,
alive one minute, then dead:
Quantum mechanics.

Hi there. Dunno how I came across your site but I like it! Some good stuff on there. Dunno where you are. I'm in Northumberland, England. I write a bit of crazy poetry myself. Check out website if you want. www.robbiejohnbob.bravehost.com It's poetry. And beer. And it's a laugh.

Ah, Northumberland -
Where, over valiant acre steeped in history's blood,
The shadows thrive where Hadrian built his wall.
If stones could speak, perhaps these ones would scream;
Their secrets, though, they keep; and spurn our wonder.

Calvin you and I are relat related. Your mother married Abe Trillin and you are their son. Your mother's maiden name was Weitzman. We lived in Kansas City, Mo. and you were born there. Your mother's first name was Edith. Sincerelu, Adelle (Blender) Manell, 2027 Highland Dr., Newport Beach, Ca. 92660. Hope to hear from you.

An Ode to Rummy
When black is blue
and white is red,
when slavery is freedom
and alive is dead,
that's when I will believe
what we do in Iraq is just,
that's when I'll believe
"in God we trust".

Strewth! I'm on a roll!!!

Oh, Hydra heads!
American sabres
blunting fast...

Just stumbled upon your site and think it is a bit strange and entertaining. I am a singer/songwriter and I travel around and sing. To describe myself, I am a radical right wing leftist who feels we should conquest the world and then apologize and give back with penalties. I feel our schools should have an unlimited budget so the pursuit of excellence is absolute for our kids. To finance I would take over another country and plunder their coffers. I feel it is ridiculous that there is any hunger or medical need in our wonderful land. To finance this grand vision I would take over another country and plunder their coffers. I believe the best way to solve the terorist problem is to turn our backs on Isreal and wipe out all the Arabs. I must admit I get confused with the polarity of my political and social conscience. It is hard to be an ultra righty and an ultra lefty at the same time. For example, I marched in an anti war protest rally and when encountering pro war hecklers, I joined in and threw rotten eggs at myself. I am crystallizing one socio/political conclusion as it is impossible to surmise otherwise. It is certainly clear we must bring our troops home and start to take care of our own. Katrina was quite impressive with her display in support of my argument. I stand amazed at my sudden reversal of support for the war in Iraq. This confusion has been playing dastardly games with my psyche until I came up with the answer. We should get out of Iraq, Come home and take care of Americans, and to make sure we don't see a repeat of Viet Nam, we should nuke the whole damn place. Anyway, nice weird little website. I read you are an ethics professors. I am plagued with a question regarding ethics. Is it ethical to illustrate the existence and complexity of God with the following question: If God can do anything, could he throw a fastball so hard that he himself could not hit it?
I love everybody everywhere and obviously as a touring musician I have too much time on my hands. Please visit my website and hear my CD. Please buy many copies and tell all your friends. In closing, many blessings to you for your site, the morsel of entertainment and info it has provided me, and God Bless America
Tim Brummett
Slightly crazy singer

Very nice. You're site is very helpful. Naked truth: http://anthony.ianniciello.net/blog/archives/000079.html , Small brain blog

Sorrow often catches me unawares
It’s not that I needed her
For any one thing

Now she has folded her tent
And stolen away
Where she was
Is just empty

I keep tripping over emptiness

Meow meow meow. Hey, a poetry slam! You-all know slam's traditionally an aggressively delivered performance-based medium; Generally, "keystylin'" is looked down upon by the likes of me, but I couldn't resist a free-for-all, despite being not nearly as well-versed in poetry and its techniques as one ought to be before diving into a thread like this, so I thought I'd ask first: Am I welcome to put in my two cents?

There is an old joke
that says dogs think we are gods,
because we give them food, water and care,
and that cats think they are gods
for the same reason.

Another says
the difference between them
is that if you get trapped in a mountain cabin in winter
and die,

with a dog,
in the Spring, when they find you
laid out in skeletal repose
the dog's skeleton will be at the foot of your bed,
a Greyfriars' sentinel.

But a cat?
They'll find it fat and happy,
its manifesto of practical survival
writ in teethmarks on your bones.

I've tolerated both species in my life,
and I prefer the cat.

Dogs form their cargo cults too easily.
So they throw themselves into their worship
with all four feet? So what?
They give their devotion too cheaply for it to be dear.
Who's to say
they wouldn't thumblessly embrace any other god as warmly?

But a cat's embrace
is as likely to be of claw as of purr.
Cats are Old Testament gods,
furry YHVHs, prescriptions never refilled.

But no matter the smiting,
I'll keep touching the paw of my Skinner box,
and whether I get the purr or the claw,
I can be content.

This is a poem I wrote for my parents!
My Godsends
Does God know how much he has blessed me? My opinion is yes, and very much.
He has given me you, you two very special people. Does he know how grateful I am to have you? My opinion is yes, I am most very grateful, for he has given me the gift of you, you two very special people. Does God know my name for you? My opinion is yes, because you were sent from heaven, from God, to me. Do you know my name for you, you two very special people. You are my Godsends. For I know you were sent from him, because no two people could be as perfect as you, you are My Godsends.

My parents are my world and have done so much for me! They are absolutely perfect in my eyes, and so I wrote it for them, it's not much, but it's all true.

Every Never

By all appearances times are a changin’ – and me along with it,
but then again appearances are funny that way.

Its in a hug, a big smackin’ kiss on the cheek, and a fire in the eyes,
a zest that, well, wasn’t quite there before – only its never left.
Dreams that spake of shadowy screams and disconnection,
find now themselves wrapped in flight.
Either way, though, I have thus far waken up each time to live again.

It seems that every-never so often I walk a warrior’s path,
and doubly so when I least realize my strength.
Stories that would shame the biggest fish, scale the highest mountain,
absent hyperbole have found they could in-fact inspire such things.
Ahhh, even now my pen rushes forth in search of flowery verse,
but alas, this moment I have found Word not in the fray of seeking,
but in the panting, heave-ho of my eternal breath.

Into the morgue, a truism strode
Nobody turned to look
“You go to war with what you have!”
Eyes stayed closed, hands cold

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