Flowering Haiku

hectic sidewalk
frangipani blossoms
stepped over


calling bees
scent, color, and glory
unrivaled


the hillside
when rhododendrons bloom
shangri la


for two weeks
the valley flowers,
its spell cast

 

purple circle
rings the base of a tree
regal shadow

Falling Water Haiku

thunder yon
Zambezi rafting
greenhorns beware


cataract
water wind-misted
plume-zone green


terraced hill
rice paddy cascades
depth perfection


dry season
murmur to trickle to
fall-less falls


level rising
the overspill rolls
pulling drops

POEM: Calypso Facto

For seven years,
Ulysses was hostage to Calypso.

He was like, “Wife is waiting, gotta go!”

“You know, by Neptune, you are still cursed?”

“Being stranded with you was fun at first…”

“Out there’s the ever-present threat of Death.”

“Worth it, to not wake to your morning breath.”

COVID-19, you are my Calypso!



[Anyone got Zeus’s number?]

BOOK REVIEW: A Choice of Comic and Curious Verse ed. by J.M. Cohen

A Choice of Comic and Curious VerseA Choice of Comic and Curious Verse by J.M. Cohen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazon page

 

This poetry anthology consists of works selected and arranged by J.M. Cohen with the overarching theme of light-heartedness. Some of the poems are outright funny, others are more quirky, corny, or tongue-in-cheek. This edition was originally published in the 1970’s, though there was apparently a preceding edition that was largely the same that dates to the late-1950’s. The poems are almost all metered and rhymed, in part because that was still the dominant mode of poetry when these works were first published, and also because metered and rhymed verse conveys a jocular tone. Forms associated with comedic delivery, such as the limerick, are well-represented.

The 450-plus poems by about 180 authors (actually many more owing to the fact that the biggest contributor by far is Anonymous) are arranged into 22 thematic categories that are clearly meant to be more whimsical than categorical. The poets include those who are most well-known for playful verse such as Ogden Nash, Lewis Carroll, and Edward Lear, but also light works by poets known for seriously toned work (e.g. Alexander Pope, John Betjeman, and W.H. Auden.) There are also plenty by authors known for mixing light and serious work, such as G.K. Chesterton, Robert Graves, and Hilaire Belloc. There are also a large number of poets who you’re unlikely to have heard of unless you’re a literary historian. Included in the collection are some widely anthologized works such as Belloc’s “Matilda,” Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” and Aldous Huxley’s “Second Philosopher’s Song,” but there are a great many more that will be unfamiliar to most (and a few that may be familiar as graffiti on a restroom wall.)

I enjoyed this book. It turned me onto some poets with whom I’d been unfamiliar. The works included, as one would expect of light verse, are quite readable (though there are some outdated references here and there.) If you stumble onto a decently-priced copy, pick it up.

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POEM: Dark City Sonnet


any city you enter after dark
will not reveal itself until the morn
you’ll see it like a scrawny sheep unshorn
vague blankness punctuated by landmarks
you’ll see nothing in the darkness of parks
not junkies sprawled out in clothes, rank and torn
though you see neon twenty-four hour porn
you’ll know not the dogs by their noisy barks

light makes it more pretty and more ugly
you’ll see it pick itself up and brush off
like shame walkers concoct a makeshift coif
turning focus from the bloody and stubbly

to see a city at its worst and best
catch it when it’s wearing last night’s dress.

POEM: Tripless Trip

In the outlands lives a shaman,
an unkempt medicine man of some renown.

He grinds some roots with a wooden pestle,
black and shiny on its business end.

His apprentice sits drumming —
soft and offbeat.
You listen deeply,
dead-eyed tranquil,
but can’t wear that wild rhythm
“like a bear skin,”
whatever that means.

The medicine will be bitter, but no matter.
It’s not for you.
Your cure will be sought on a tripless trip.

When the shaman re-inhabits
his sweat-soaked body,
he says only,

“Beware the Jackdaw!”

You say, “What’s that mean?”

He says, “That’s for you to know,
and for me… not to know.”

You say, “OK, what’s a jackdaw?”

With an intense wild-eyed stare,

he says,
“Google it.”

You say, “Seriously?”

Then he shrugs and he nods off.

POEM: The Silent Wild

Looking through a window
at the falling snow flakes.
Silent is the snow fall
that piles upon my sill.

And though it weighs limbs down,
it doesn’t break the branches.
If there were a slight breeze,
it’d dust it all away.

Out beyond the farm land,
in the distant forest,
lies the kind of wildness
that’s silent at the bone.

POEM: Virus

Oh little spikey spinning sphere,
drifting across the fresh clear air,
you think you’ll hijack my machine
for replication of your genes.

 

Something inside does multiply;
so small I can’t fathom its size,
but still it squeezes out the me
any would know from memory.

 

Your song and dance are done to Death,
making Crazy like Lady Macbeth.
But do not forget that last Act;
in ambition is writ the wrack.

Desert Haiku

offset prints
bisected by tail drag
lizard sign


gnarled driftwood,
snake skin, rusty barbed wire
in red sand


cold morning,
the rising fire ball,
a silent knell


red sandstone
warmed by the rising sun
gorge aglow


yon mirage
mirror-clear blue,
chase the lie