Monthly Archives: July 2011

Passion wagon

(Hey, the lockout is over – here’s a villanelle for the NFL – for friends over at dVerse, a great site to check out if you haven’t already.)

You wonder what it is I’m thinking of
As we are locking lips here in the car?
I have to say my heart is filled with love

For all creation – the bee, the wood dove
And giant men in spandex near and far.
You wonder what it is I’m thinking of

As you fumble with the seatbelt and shove
Me backwards, inflicting the biggest scar
I have? To say my heart is filled with love

For you is true, but it is not enough.
You know how my libido seems sub-par?
You wonder what it is? I’m thinking of

Owners and players standing hand in glove
Proclaiming peace like buddies in a bar.
I have to say my heart is filled with love

For you, but mostly ‘cause you’re splayed above
Me like you caught a touchdown from Bart Starr.
You wonder what it is I’m thinking of?
I have to say, my heart is filled with love.


The world without coffee

(a rather loosely-informed sestina on my second-favourite vice)

According to my newspaper the time
Of greatest flowering in European cultural life
Coincided with the advent of the coffee
House in cities like Vienna. Poets lost love,
Philosophers thought deeply, Shrinks shrank, and great new
Symphonies soared above the pervading creative buzz.

Surely it was not always so. The buzz
More generally heard before that time
Was the gentle snore of citizens tanked up on new
Wine or local ale. Such widespread alcohol slowed life
To a crawl beyond mid-morning, for who does not love
To lie down when half drunk anyway? Imagine, then, coffee,

On its introduction from the east. A single cup of coffee
Could rouse a person with its distinctive buzz
To new heights of creativity. Quite soon, the love
Affair with this dark stranger from the shores that time
Forgot had spread from cup to saucer, transforming life
For the noveau-jazzed across the continent. The New

World, similarly, benefitted from the new
Caffeinated order. The Thirteen Colonies made coffee
A staple to accompany the westward spread of white-faced life
Swarming native land like a great cloud of queenless bees, their buzz
Stinging like a pickaxe blow in railroads and then in factories, where time
Triumphed over human scale, and simple love

Disintegrated into commerce. The love
Of money, wide-eyed, unblinking, brought a new
And harsh reality to bear – a far cry from the time
When agriculture and its rhythms reigned. Now coffee
Represented all that served to amplify avarice, that buzz-
Cut every wayward tree, and scythed through individual life.

It seems there is a rule in life
That we must pay the price for all we love,
And surely we have paid in full for the buzz
First tasted many centuries ago. Those pioneers knew
Not what they were playing with, and their coffee
Dalliance has robbed us all of a simpler time.

But then again, with the buzz of life I get each time I grab a venti toffee nut caramel white mocha frappuccino double blended with no whip cream and extra caramel drizzle, my love for this beautiful drug is brewed anew – The world would be so much less poetic without coffee.

Mr Paganini goes on the tiles

(A silly fable written to a prompt over at the wonderful Poetic Bloomings site.)

As Paganini stumbled
Through the ancient stable door
His haughty countenance crumbled
Before the congregation on that floor.

A dozen stallions strong and fleet
Were breathing on his nose
While all around his trembling feet
Stood arching rows…

Of cats! Their green eyes blinking
With a look so fierce and bright
That Paganini started thinking
They were spoiling for a fight.

The atmosphere grew bolder
As a Siamese stalked near
And jumped up on his shoulder
To whisper in his ear,

“It’s come to our august attention
That your musical career
Has caused too much pain to mention
For the members gathered here.

The bow you boast is magical
To spin music without fail
Is only fully functional
At the cost of a flowing tail,

While the singing strings you love to stroke
To drive the ladies nuts
Can only really be baroque
Thanks to someone’s mother’s guts!”

A noisy chorus raised the roof
Of that bucolic dive
Presenting him the awful proof
He’d not escape alive

The violinist trembled
And sank down to his knees
Before all those assembled
Mewing pitifully, “Please!…”

But the angry crowd came forth in packs
With cries of “hiss!” and “neigh!”
And on a hundred hairy backs
They carried him away

Ten miles, before they cut him loose
With a note clear and nefarious:
“Leave off your animal abuse,
Or we’ll bust your Stradivarius!”

Next morning he awakened
In an empty country lane;
His night had left him shaken,
He swore he’d never drink again.

But just as a matter of careful course
After this nocturnal spat
He lavished sugar on his horse
And was nice to every cat.

To a certain bird

A rush of silver
Was your final gift to me.
Then awful silence.
On the step, your eyes slid shut
As my heart begged you to stay.

Pumping Iron

We started pumping iron on the porch
The summer that our river burst its banks.

He stood in the driveway with his shirt off
Glistening like a sword drawn from the sea,

Shouting, I am strong now. What have you left
To offer, old man, before I slay you?

Eye-to-eye we fought to keep our balance
Two strangers astride the Leviathan

Each one thrilled and yet terrified. It was
Blood-lust and it was hubris that tossed us

Until we washed up on our backs, arms raised
And flexed and raised again without talking.

Something’s blocking the sun, I said at last.
Your pride, he spat. No, I smiled, your biceps.


I don’t know where your black shoes are.
We don’t have time to curl your hair
At this point, my dear, I really don’t care
Just grab your stuff and get in the car.

Why do we do this to ourselves each May,
This ritual humiliation we call the recital?
Can this two-hour battle of flesh versus machine be as vital
To our children’s development as their teachers say?

Leave your sister alone, you unrepentant brat!
Can’t you see she’s having nervous fits
About the middle section of this piece? It’s got her scared to bits.
And don’t say that dress makes her look fat.

Look, I love soccer, but I wouldn’t love it more if you made me
Take a penalty in front of a thousand people, for crying out loud.
Why can’t these poor frightened souls be allowed
To play for fun at home instead of out where everyone else can see?

Oh gosh, there’s your grandma in the second row.
All her friends from church have come along
To hear you play your two-finger version of a patriotic song.
You’d better stop your tears, or all the makeup stains will show.

I’m all for music lessons, please don’t get me wrong. I’m quite aware
They teach us discipline, which is of course right and good.
But somewhere I think we crossed the line, and what could
Have been encouraging to kids has instead become a collective nightmare.

There she is, under the lights. She looks so innocent
Sitting on the piano stool, preparing to do violence
To America the Beautiful. In her defense
The outfit’s pretty, even if her playing’s only twenty-five percent.

You show me a gifted pianist playing Chopin out his mind,
I’ll see your smug little prodigy and raise you
Five hackers lurching sweat-drenched and distraught through
Fur Elise like a drunken typing pool. Full house beats one-of-a-kind.

Oh, well done, you were divine, a taste of heaven to the ear!
These flowers are a token of my love and great esteem.
You are so talented and brave.  Let’s go get the largest ice cream
We can find, and forget this charade until we have to do it all again next year.

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