Clerihew of American Literary Greats

Edgar Allan Poe
always lacked for dough.
Still, he always strived
to not be buried alive.

Emily Dickinson
lived a bit like a nun,
but her verse was insightful —
even sans an earthly eyeful.

Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain,
wrote personas known to speak plain.
His nom de plume
means “fathoms, two!”

The poet Walt Whitman
had a startled milkman.
Never one to be subdued,
if you just dropped by, he might be nude

POEM: Crisscrossed by Roads [Sestina]

I walked beyond the world of roads —
out where the mountains meet the sky.
The time moves slowly in those parts,
where miles are trod to gain meters,
but no one cares when the sun is high
’cause getting somewhere ain’t the goal.

But who can say what is the goal
in those lands that lie beyond roads?
Some listen for the voice on high —
thundered instructions from the sky,
counting out each exact meter,
though without a listing of parts.

Not everything is made of parts.
Not every walk requires a goal,
or counting of kilometers.
This world is crisscrossed in roads;
though seen only from high in sky,
but the trap is felt at no great height.

The surface etch shows: low or high —
those lines: the earth-scarred parts,
cut clean, like contrails through the sky.
Arrows converging on a goal,
the goal of longer, wider roads,
stretching out each kilometer.

Who’ll save the walked kilometers?
When roads are low, who’ll take the high?
Who’ll not ask to extend those roads
into distant, dangerous parts
when workers need their next new goal
and flyers see no lights from the sky?

We measure miles across the sky
and judge all sprints on the meter.
There’s no escaping precise goals;
there’s jumping long, pole-vaulting high,
making sums greater than the parts,
and building new (and longer) roads.

Now our old nodes have blown sky high.
We’ve teetered meters, taking part
in goals far bolder than new roads.

POEM: The World According to a Reader

I’ve built cities in my brain,
cities that no one would recognize.

I’ve danced around Dublin with Dedalus and Bloom,
but no Dubliner would recognize his fair city
from my mental projection.

It doesn’t matter how masterful Joyce is in his description.
I’ve only visited the version that I tossed up in my mind
as I tore through his poetry,
and which was torn down in the wake of my reading.

And yet I treasure that false metropolis.

It’ll do — for now.

Five Tiny Haiku

the forest,
seen from a child’s height,
shares secrets


lifting leaves,
I find a pale, sad sprout
ready to rise


sunflower seed:
carried across the floor
by dogged ants


floating leaf,
twisting as it glides
down river


a spider,
dangling by its web,
feels each breeze

POEM: Faces & Places of My Dreams

I once read that one never dreams:
-a place one hasn’t been, or
-a face one hasn’t seen.

This is either false, or
I’ve been a lot of places:
-of which I’ve no waking recollection,
-which don’t exist in my photos, and
-which no one ever asks me,
“Do your remember that place…”

I’m less confident that my mind generates faces —
except that I’ve dreamt featureless faces, and
I’ve sure never seen one of those while awake.

But, given that a blonde wig on a brunette actress is
— apparently —
enough to keep me from identifying her,
I can’t be certain that I dream faces,
faces I’ve never seen in the real world —
and there have been oh so many faces.

POEM: The Flood [a Triolet]

The pounding rain will ease,
but still the flood follows.
The gale becomes a breeze.
That pounding rain will ease!
And stillness tames the trees
while runoff swamps the hollows.
That pounding rain will ease,
but still that flood follows.

POEM: Creeping Colonization

The tender end of a creeper —
whip thin, light-green, and curling —
cantilevers itself across a chasm,
reaching toward our balustrade.

It pretends to be blown by wind,
but it’s just using the gusts
to lazily set its hook.

It will colonize our balcony,
if it’s given half a chance;
it will weave out our windows —
blocking out the sun
by the time we return from holiday.

It may work slowly,
but it’s more clever than you know.

People are intrigued by those shows &
books about the world “after humans.”
We show amazement at the projections
of how quickly nature will reclaim “our space,”
but shouldn’t we be the last to be surprised?

POEM: An Angelic Take on Time

“We, who move through this world, have varied gifts,” said the angelic figure who saw the world without time.

She could hold infinite temporal cross-sections in her mind at once. Though she usually focused on one time at a time as you and i might focus our vision on a bird sitting on a lamp post — knowing that one can shift one’s visual attention at will.

Her mind snaps from mundane moments to the nearest frenetic second —  be it tragic or festive. Just as your eye would snap from the bird on the lamp post to a furry canine shape, trotting into one’s periphery; her mind snapped to the “good part” of the story.

While you may think yourself either alive or dead, to her you are a Schrödinger’s cat of both alive and dead, but her mind always wants to snap to the second of transformation.