Six senryu of Henry VIII

Henry VIII

Despite recent hoopla about the birth of a baby, I’m not convinced it ever makes sense to marry into the Royal Family. Witness this brief history of the marriages of King Henry VIII.   Written for Poetic Asides, in senryu form.

 

Six senryu of Henry VIII

I. Catherine of Aragon
Queen of earthly Queens
ditched after twenty-three years
for someone younger.

II. Anne Boleyn
In less than three years
he had her executed
on trumped-up charges.

III. Jane Seymour
Lady-in-waiting
to Anne, and Henry’s mistress.
Died after childbirth.

IV. Anne of Cleves
Married for six months.
Never even slept with him.
She got off lightly.

V. Catherine Howard
An adulteress?
Like her cousin Anne Boleyn
she soon lost her head.

VI. Catherine Parr
Henry’s third cousin,
put his house in order, and
outlived the bugger.

 

Year 24: Nothing says I love you like a banjo

kermit banjopicture from GitBox Culture

 

For my beautiful wife, on our wedding anniversary. Not the most romantic of sonnets, but consider the alternatives.  This year was supposed to be a silver plate, and next year a musical instrument.  Just what we need around the house, another instrument!  Anyway, I love you dear – this one’s just for you.

 

Year 24: Nothing says I love you like a banjo

Well, they came up with an impressive list
of anniversary presents to go
alongside the traditional gifts. So
now any guy can make a decent fist
of getting her what she’ll love. You promised
to cherish her always? Then why not show
it year by year, using the plan below?
(It’s kind of goofy, but you get the gist).

First ten years: paper, cotton, leather, fruit
wood, sugar, copper, bronze, pottery, tin.
So far so good. Then things disintegrate
until she’s just got a grab-bag of loot:
sculpture, watches, cars, glasses, But then, in
year forty-six, A POEM. I can’t wait!

 

Seventeen

Seventeen

It’s a whirlwind season in my home life. Graduations, college preparation, combing through old pictures, casting off items we forget we had and certainly will never use again.  Everyone is drifting – not in a bad way.  But we are definitely coming un-stuck from each other.  There is nothing to prepare you for this kind of pulling apart.  Everything tastes bittersweet.

In the middle of all of this, I wrote a villanelle – about change, and love, and seeing the ones we love with new eyes. For my father, for Father’s Day.

 

Seventeen

Suddenly, he won’t talk to me:
He’s become a steel curtain.
It’s just the way I used to be

with my father, too, half angry,
half amused at the old cretin.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me

about even simple things. We
are strangers more than next-of-kin.
It’s just the way I used to be –

I remember the agony
of this age – the man-trap he’s in.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me

except on days he needs money,
and really, is that such a sin?
It’s just the way I used to be!

I don’t take it personally –
this is a game a dad can’t win.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me –
it’s just the way I used to be.

 

Castro Camera

Castro Camera

This past week was Harvey Milk Day.  Milk was an amazing man, a flawed hero, a great gift and a significant loss.   I wrote this short piece last November in his honor.

 

Castro Camera

He was just another Lithuanian-American
Jewish boy who played football and joined the navy
a straight-laced actuary who loved the opera
and kept private matters private.
But then came San Francisco.

He said, “I finally reached the point
when I had to become involved or shut up.”

On Castro Street he flowered
turning to his neighborhood
unflinching in his call for civil rights
Ten months a Supervisor, till his
shocking death, November 27, 1978.

He said, “If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

After the trial, the White Nights
the riots and the beatings
they laid his ashes to rest
beneath the sidewalk at 575 Castro.
He was my age, more or less.

 

Harvey Milk Day poster

 

Don’t-Ask-Babe

Don't ask Babe

 

I wrote this one as part of the April 2013 Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day challenge. Just another day in the neighborhood…

 

Don’t-Ask Babe

I’d been sitting in the street with my hand up the
left front wheel well of the van like some large
animal veterinarian checking the cervix
of a past-due rhinoceros. Been there for at
least half an hour, effing and blinding about
why Chrysler can’t put the turn signal bulb
in a place accessible to normal sized hands

and I look up and there’s Don’t-Ask Babe
coming down the sidewalk towing his entire
forty-two-inch Craftsman rolling tool chest,
with twenty ball-bearing drawers, black.
(Don’t-Ask Babe, you wonder? His dad was
a huge Yankee fan back in the old country,
and it’s a bit of a touchy subject. So… you know, don’t ask).

I look up and he says, That’s a ’97 isn’t it?
and he starts pulling open drawers like he’s
playing whack-a-mole with a socket set. No, Babe,
I’m good, I say. He wheels around. What?
You think just cause I’m some stupid Mexican
I can’t fix your shiddy van? Then he flashes
his trademark smile and hands me a wrench.

Anyway, he says, I’m from the Dominican.

 

Multiplication

chicken

In honor of tax day, and with a grateful nod to Garrison Keillor and the Writer’s Almanac

 

Multiplication

If The Writer’s Almanac is to be
believed (as if that’s even a question),
Federal Income Tax was passed into
law exactly one hundred years ago.
That would be 1913, when Congress
ratified the 16th Amendment. Back
then, the form was a measly two pages.
You could fill it out in the time it took
to skin a chicken or chop down a tree.

 

Drink Me

Coffee heart

Last night, there it was.  A heart in a coffee cup.  We just looked at it and rubbed our eyes.  For me, coffee and love have always gone together.  In Tanka form…

should you find my heart
floating in your coffee cup
stir the cream gently
and then drink every last drop
until I am part of you

Thirteen folds

Thirteen folds

Not so long ago, down at the theater, we temporarily had to take down a large American flag. The man I was working with treated this job with the utmost care. I found the whole experience strangely moving.  To share with friends over at the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

Thirteen folds

He would not permit that it touch
the ground. The Flag. Methodically,
he gave his orders, calling forth
a kind of reverence in that dusty hall.

Fold lengthwise once, twice, he said,
making sure the stars are facing out.
Then beginning at the far end from
the field of blue, take the striped corner

of the folded edge and fold a triangle
upwards to the open edge. Turn the
triangle inwards parallel to the top edge,
and make another triangle.

Keep folding triangles, carefully,
solemnly, eleven times in all,
until you reach the end and all that
shows is a perfect three-cornered hat,

a pillow of stars on a free blue sky.
We followed every instruction..
It was as if his life depended on it.
Maybe ours did too.

 

While You Wait

Railroad tracks 2Remembering a local business that disappeared in the name of progress.  I can’t show you a picture, because it’s gone.  But here’s the general location, right next to the tracks where it sat before the new underpass went in. Written to share with friends at Poetic Bloomings and the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

While you wait

Before they built the underpass there was
an oil change place by the railroad crossing
on Main Street. Stuck waiting for a train?
their brazen candy-stripe sign inquired,
Have your oil changed while you wait!

and I often did, screwing up my courage
to sample their outrageously strong coffee,
thick as 10W30, hot as the devil’s arse,
while the train rattled slowly past and the
grease monkeys scampered around the bay.

One time I read a book on their table about
sibling rivalry. Another I remember staring
out the dirt-smeared window at the quietly
falling snow. I thought great thoughts there.
I decided straight-up: God loved the railroad.

But in the end not even God could help against
the wrecking ball of progress. Now I don’t wait
for trains any more. I get my oil changed in
a place with a stuffed bass on the wall.
It’s too clean. And the coffee has no soul.

 

The Eleventh Plague

Moses

The Fibonacci poetic form plays with syllables, following the mathematical “Fibonacci Sequence.”  1,1,2,3,5,8, etc.  I enjoy playing with this form, sometimes letting the lines increase and then shrink back down again.  Which is no excuse for what follows…

Dedicated to anyone who has ever read to an empty room and wondered “is it me?”

 

The Eleventh Plague

we
saw
Moses
looking smug
leaving Mount Sinai
with a sheaf of papers, shouting
My people! God has given me this brand new chapbook!
Everyone shuddered: Not again!
His poetry stank
but no one
dared tell
him
so

 

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