Poem Hunter

As is often the case (and I’m good at it), I have done something wrong headed, blind and/or stupid.  Probably all four.  That I have unsuspectingly done this makes no difference.  I am dealing with the consequences. What have I done, you ask?   I have inadvertently and unknowingly gotten myself on an internet mailing  list.  Every day, sometimes twice, an e-mail winds up in my mailbox.   It is from Poem Hunter.com.  When opened it will reveal a “classic” poem for my reading pleasure.  Which means I will have to read it.  And digest it.  And as often as not, too often in fact, not enjoy it.   

Why do I not put Poem Hunter.com on my junk mail list?   Because I am, by profession and fate, a writer.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I have, at times, even taught writing which is like a clown teaching someone to drive funny cars.  As a writer and a “teacher” I feel I should like poetry.

(As the lovely wife always tells me, there are no shoulds.  This is usually before she asks me to do something I don’t wish to do.  It’s sort of like saying, “you don’t have to do this, but…..”)

This morning I got hit with this.

Will Our Love Succeed?

I know deep down you’re good

That much is understood

Honest and hard working

I’m proud to wear your ring

But my heart does not sing

You still bring me flowers

I know what’s yours is ours

You have never said no

Even when it’s for show

But you don’t make me glow

You let me have my way

Yesterday and today

Trying to make it right

Each and every night

But I don’t feel delight

You’re there when I need you

You are solid and true

Everything that I need

You always take the lead

But will our love succeed?

Right, night, you, true, need, lead?  Well, yes, of course – poems are supposed to rhyme, aren’t they.

Yesterday begat this:

Five Ways To Kill A Man

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.  You can make him carry a plank of wood to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this  properly you require a crowd of people wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel, shaped and chased in a traditional way, and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears. But for this you need white horses, English trees, men with bows and arrows, at least two flags, a prince, and a castle to hold your banquet in.

 Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind blows, blow gas at him. But then you need a mile of mud sliced through with ditches, not to mention black boots, bomb craters, more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs and some round hats made of steel.   

 In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly miles above your victim and dispose of him by pressing one small switch. All you then require is an ocean to separate you, two systems of government, a nation’s scientists, several factories, a psychopath and land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

Hmmm.  What to make of this.  Jesus, an English Knight, World War I and the atomic bomb.  The middle of the twentieth century – that would be 1950.  Yes, I suppose the adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and the cumbersome three martini lunch could kill you.  If I’m not mistaken this is called dramatic irony.

I would suggest this is not so much a poem as it is a treatment for a multi-part Netflix series.  Blackadder with no sense of humor.  Just add vampires.

As did this poet:

A Desperate Cry

God’s creation

Blessed to be born in this world

We all may feel that’s the truth

Until I read this-

An abandoned baby

Malnourished, hardly an year old

Famine struck

Skin and bone

No food to feed

No water to have

Stranded alone in barren land

Helpless eyes staring straight

Standing legs more like a bamboo stick

Cerebral neurons popping out

Veins struggling to carry weak blood

Oh God! Nothing more I can add…

My heart is not strong enough

To read the rest-

A vampire vulture

Sitting beside and

Looking eager to end its hunger!

I pray! Save these innocents!

Let this never happen again!

Hmm.  I’m suddenly reminded of a stint thirty-some years ago at Actors Theater of Louisville where one night in bar, a young woman got up and announced that she and a friend were going to do an “improvised dramatic reading” with accompaniment on bongo drums.  As I’m very much for the soul expressing itself, I quickly ordered a triple boilermaker.  I told the waitress to “keep them coming”.

I should mention that I have my tried own hand at writing poetry.  In college.   At the behest of a teacher.  He said all poets are mad.  Being mad, I decided to write some poems.   I actually saved some of them to remind myself that there is such a thing as humility.  This is an example.  

(Please note how in all “good” poetry, a simple sentence is broken up into multiple lines.   I think this is to suggest abstract thinking.   Or perhaps to disguise the fact that what is in truth a simple paragraph, is in fact, a poem.)

The Frost Giants Rolled Out of Jottenheim

Pissed as hell and struggling with each other

Screaming their asses off.

My mother,

Danish in descent

With the Viking spirit of a Spaniard,

Issued small craft warnings and declared the harbor closed.

As she headed to bed to ride out the storm

Thor and I,

Hammers in hand,

Ventured forth, red beards wrapped angrily around our necks,

To show the multi-headed invaders we weren’t afraid.

They obviously weren’t impressed.

They laughed so hard they shook themselves into little pieces

Which they unceremoniously dumped on our heads,

The cold blooded bastards.

Thor and I,

Somewhat embarrassed at our poor showing,

Trucked back over the bridge to Valhalla

To get righteously drunk on mead

The feasting and the boasting got so riotous,

We woke my mother up.

That  was a real twilight of the Gods.

Ah, the wit.  Oh, the archetypal, mythological references.  I’m sending it to The New Yorker.   Okay.  Serious.  (I hate serious but…)  I leave you with this. 

To the lovely wife who puts up with me (barely):

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

So I love you because I know no other way

Than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

    ———-Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda**

Sometimes you just have to like poetry.

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