Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014

As usual, the world's a mess;
It always was, at my best guess,
A place we'd like to rearrange,
By making circumstances change.

We still have wars and poverty;
Without those two, where would we be?
We preach of peace, good will toward men,
And then we start to fight again.

At year-end's time, we try to cope
With what we have, but yet, we hope
For better times, as we pursue
Elusive dreams we hope ensue.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

If hippos were inclined to speak

If Hippo was inclined to speak,
Would he do so in Ancient Greek?
I wonder what he would discuss,
Our mighty hippopotamus?

His name, in Greek, means "river horse,"
(The river's where he bathes, of course).
The Hippo weighs about three ton,
When all his growing up is done.

Sir Hippo needs a lot to eat,
To keep his energy complete.
He dines with friends, on fields of grass,
Whole herds of them will graze, en masse. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A time to dance

Grasshopper was a happy girl,
Whose days passed in a pleasant whirl,
But summertime was growing short,
And fall was near, at last report.

She knew the frost would soon arrive.
Her shelves were bare, could she survive?
"Aha!" she thought, "I'll visit Ant.
She'll help fix things; I know I can't."

Grasshopper went to beg a loan
Of wheat, from seeds that Ant had sown.
Hard-working Ant had food in store
For winter's needs, but nothing more.

She bragged to Ant, that "Every day,
I sing, and dance my time away."
Ant said, "Now you will have a chance
To feed yourself; Can you still dance?"

Jean de la Fontaine
Translated from the French

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On nomenclature

What is fauna, what is flora?
I'd like to know what they're for; a
Topic with eccentric features,
Lectured on by high school teachers?
Funny names for cartoon creatures?
Tourists, visiting Andorra?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On brewing a pot of tea

First, you ought'er
Boil some water.
Just so you'll know,
It could boil slow.
As in the past,
It will boil fast,
If the pot's hot;
Slow, if it's not.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Celebrate the Solstice - Winter 2014

Tomorrow's the day; don't pass your chance up,
Solstice arrives: quaff egggnog, fill your cup!
Celebrate its return, shortest day of the year,
The longest night, but soon, spring will be here.

Solstice marks earth's passage, circling the sun,
The autumn's over, get ready for fun!
Winter begins; think of snow, think of ice,
Shoveling driveways, not one time, but twice.

What could compare to sky-high heating bills,
And cars that break down, or cold weather thrills
Like stocking supplies (the power might fail),
Or walking dogs, in the teeth of a gale?

The Solstice reminds us, just three months hence,
When our yearning for warm weather's intense,
We'll smile, see crocuses bloom by the door;
We love four seasons; how could we ask more?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The zebra

The zebra's black and white. Of course,
His stripes proclaim he's not a horse.
In Africa, he wanders plains,
Avoiding people, trucks and trains.

He's well-versed in love zebraic,
Complicated or prosaic;
Young zebras like to vie with pals,
Competing hard for zebra gals.

Fierce lions often like to munch
On juicy zebra steaks for lunch,
But zebras feel it's quite unfair,
When lunch is something they can't share.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The hoarder and the neatnik

She drove him wild; he married a hoarder,
A woman whose life seemed without order;
Order might be there on some cosmic scale,
But, proving that point? I think you would fail.

Her very best comfort zone was a cache
Of piles of junk mail, newspapers, and trash,
All over the house, wherever you'd look,
In every corner, every nook.

Obsessive compulsions take many forms;
Excessive neatness is one of its norms,
But hoarding's the other side of that fix;
Neatniks and hoarders are folks who don't mix.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On being wrong

I just didn't know what I was doing,
When I thought it was time again to wed;
The precious jewel I was pursuing,
Turned out to be a lump of coal, instead.
I missed the mark with Numero Uno;
But thought I'd learnt my lesson well;
The worn cliche drives home a point, though;
The best intentions often lead to hell.
Oscar Wilde described the scope,
Why second marriage often fails;
Past errors fade, and we succumb to hope,
And let optimism tip the scales.
As actors in a still evolving play;
Perhaps our luck will change another day.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Would Venus really trap a fly?

The Venus Flytrap doesn't shout,
Or tell its prey what it's about,
But spiders, flies, and frogs deplore
This unrelenting carnivore.

Its open petals sit and wait
For bugs, to fill its dinner plate;
When insects light upon its lap,
Its teeth close quickly, with a snap!

Once caught, each victim melts away,
To meet the Flytrap's needs that day.
It's lucky that the plant is small;
We're safe, because we're much too tall.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Crossing the river

Kharon the boatman,
Crosses black waters,
Bridging Styx river,
Heading for Hades.

Doomed to dark duty,
Fearsome, he ferries
Souls lost to sorrow,
Futures unfathomed.

Weighty his work is,
All light and laughter
Lost to the lifeless,
Waiting for judgment.

NB: In Greek mythology, Kharon was the ferryman who brought the dead across the River Styx to be judged by Hades, god of the underworld. The good were transported to the Elysian Fields; the sinners stayed below. The obol was a small coin paid to Kharon for his services.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Autumn music

In late October at a country place,
A man and maid stand silent, hand in hand,
Marvelling at the falling maple leaves,
As bursts of beauty meld into music
Keyed in a minor, melancholy mode,
Silken notes caressed on a clavichord;
The lasting memories in faded ink,
Inscribed in a dead girl's diary

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey's life is short and sweet;
He's the tasty bird we eat
To make Thanksgiving meals complete.

The story says that started when
Pilgrims sat down with Indians;
Turkeys that fly were eaten then.

Today the turkey doesn't fly,
He doesn't even give a try;
It's best we never tell him why.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Great War ends

November 11th: that day
Everywhere, men stopped to pray;
The time had come to end a war
Like mankind never fought before.

The moment came: the guns went still.
Shy silence filled the fields, until
Church bells rang out in joyful peal;
The war was done. Now peace was real.

Since then, we all commemorate
That final day, that fateful date;
Four horrid years of death and gore,
Till Europe curbed the Dogs of War.

An archduke and his wife were killed,
And when their scarlet blood was spilled,
Their tragic deaths determined why
Ten million men were doomed to die.

Mankind unleashed its dogs to fight,
They savaged, raged, turned day to night;
Death sealed the fate of fine young boys,
And cast them off like broken toys.

As cannon roared that dreadful year,
And soldiers died in pain and fear,
Their leaders spread what they called "truth,"
That killed a generation's youth.

The graves are there for us to see,
As proof for all eternity;
The war was simply bloody strife,
A useless waste of human life.

What good was served for those young men?
Why kill again, and yet again?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On a new word

I almost gasped, my mouth agape,
To learn about the new word, "vape."
Devised for smoking electronic,
Its common use might soon be chronic.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What we do with "o" and "u"

Of varied words with "o" and "u,"
The dictionary lists a slough,
And how to say them right is key;
They may not sound like what you see.

They're used to spell a word like rough;
A choice that might sound strange enough,
But then we see them used in bough,
And wonder what comes next, and how.

Are vowel changes ever through?
The answer's "no," for change they do.
These changes may seem curious,
But none of them are spurious.

EWW'/<: <<<<<<<<<<''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Climate change?

The fossil records all agree;
Trilobites ruled the ancient sea,
Far back in the pre-Cambrian,
Eons before the Dawn of Man.

Their species seemed to good luck linked,
Until the day they went extinct;
The winds of change blew high and low,
Three hundred million years ago.

Most scientists, in concert, say
A mass extinction came their way,
The trilobites are ancient lore,
Preserved as fossils, nothing more.

Friday, October 31, 2014

On lunching with a cow

I think I know what I would say
While lunching with a cow one day;
Small talk would probably be fine,
Especially of things bovine,
Of current costs of cheese and milk,
And other matters of that ilk.

If my palaver proved a dud,
I'd quit, and let her chew her cud,
And I'd be careful not to make
A social gaffe by ordering steak.
I'd stick to corn, and when all through,
I'd join her for a gentle moo.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Strong" verbs

If we can say, "drink, drank, I've drunk,"
Why can't we say, "think, thank, I've thunk?"
Instead, we say, "think, thought, I've thought."
I"ve brung" this up (all right, I've "brought"),
Because it flouts the grammar "rules,"
The stuff that we learned in our schools.
This class of verbs that we call "strong,"
Is puzzling; could the rules be wrong?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


This night the ghosts and goblins go
To greet the dead, both friend and foe;
Beneath the moon the witches fly
On broomsticks, streaking through the sky.
Fat jack o' lanterns spread soft light
To guide lost spirits through the night,
And costumed children at each door
Cry out with "trick, or treat!" once more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The first marathon

See him running down the streeting,
Hear the beating of his feeting,
Beating, beating, beating, beating;

He runs slower down the streeting,
Hear the thudding of his feeting,
Thudding hard, miles defeating;

See him stumbling down the streeting,
Hear no more his feet beat, beating,
Breathing hard, his strength is fleeting;

Slowing, gasping, feet repeating,
Finish near, his run completing,
Carrying the victors' greeting.

In 490 b.c.e, an army from Athens and Sparta defeated the Persian invaders at the Battle of Marathon. Legend has it, that a soldier named Pheidippides, brought news of the victory, running from Marathon to Athens. When the modern Olympics were re-introduced in 1896, the great-grandfather of today's race was named Marathon, in honor of that victory. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The snail

Consider how the lowly snail
Each night will always make a trail,
A shiny one, so he can mark,
The path he slithers in the dark.

The tiny mollusk has to put
Soft, slimy stuff beneath his foot
For traction, as he glides about,
A habit he can't do without.

He dresses in a sturdy shell,
That doubles as his home as well;
It shields him from the wind and rain,
An evolutionary gain.

He wishes he had less appeal,
Some keenly eat him at a meal.
For them, he's prized as gourmet food,
A way of thinking he finds crude.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pilgrimage long over

Sixty-one decades now have passed,
Since Geoffrey Chaucer breathed his last.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On courting love

I courted Love, urged her to stay,
She laughed, and quickly slipped away,
And vanished like a morning's dew,
A springtime bloom, when love was new.

At the convenience store

When I stop in to spend my dough,
Don't greet me with, "Hey, Dude!," or "Bro'."
It's quite enough to say, "Hello,"
Or, "Hello, sir," to show respect,
That greeting's also quite correct;
It was, the last time that I checked.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The hyphen

The hyphen is a simple dash;
The eye flicks by it in a flash.
When should I use it, and if not,
What choice have I? It's all I've got.

Unlike full stops, or the comma,
Hyphens provide little drama,
And seeing one, once I edit,
It may look wrong, when I've read it.

Sometimes its use relies on choice,
Dependent on the writer's voice;
Or poorly-placed, may obfuscate
A meaning that I want to state.

An editor, with fixations
Over proper punctuations,
May make decisions arbitrary,
In hyphening vocabulary.

Take the arcane dieresis;
Its ubiquity decreases,
Yet The New Yorker's iron style
Demands it from its rank and file.

With care, the hyphen has been used
To clarify, when not abused.
Consistency will shape the work;
That principle one mustn't shirk.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shopping at the mall

Wife loves to shop; that's just her way,
An urge that husband must obey.
He groans a bit, and rolls his eyes,
But keeps his mouth shut - if he's wise.

He knows he'll miss the football game,
But he's missed more than he could name.
"Let's go," he says, "I'll drive the car,"
(The nearest mall's not very far).

When they arrive, he has no role;
The weekend sales are in control.
"I'll wait for you, I'll take a seat,
I'll read my book, I'll rest my feet."

His wife, in search of something new,
Runs off to shop, as if on cue.
No use to grumble at his fate,
Resigned, he now prepares to wait.

He finds a bench, amidst the throng:
Young parents dragging kids along,
Old people, teens, both short and tall,
Just Saturday, inside the mall.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

On the rat race

Hurry up, you're too damned slow,
Move your butt, come on , let's go,

Skip the breakfast, can't be late,
Quick now, don't procrastinate,

Time for work, no time to fuss,
Grab your coat, go catch the bus;

Rats run hard to win the race;
Lucky, if we even place.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


An orange harvest moon
Fills up the sky;
Ghosts and hobgoblins haunt
Apple cider season

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Things that go 'bump' in the night

Something that creaked and went 'bump' in the night,
Conspired to give me a terrible fright.
I lay in my bed, and only could shake,
Blood pumping fast as a slithering snake.

No lamp was alight to banish the dark;
What nameless creatures were having a lark?
Were they starving for food, hungry for lunch,
Or looking for snacks, just something to munch?

I pulled up the covers and made myself small,
But nothing attacked me, nothing at all.
Relieved at my luck, I guessed I would keep,
And, closing my eyes, I went back to sleep.

Monday, September 22, 2014

On a chance meeting

I met her at a diner, she was sitting at the counter,
A slim, attractive woman, dressed in dark slacks and a sweater.
She was drinking coffee, I said, "Please, would you  pass the sugar?
It's raining cats and dogs outside, just not my kind of weather."
"It beats the snow and ice," she said, "and ducks find it a pleasure."

"I laughed, "You're right, but we both could do without that pleasure."
We rambled on, agreed mass transit would be better,
That traffic was awful, the day couldn't get much wetter.
I liked how she looked at me, music in her laughter,
It was open, unforced, relaxed, and then I wondered;

What if we had met before, when my life was freer?
I put the thought away; a silly thing to ponder.
I stood up, told her goodbye, paid, and left the diner.
Now and then, I think of her, of a pleasant stranger
I spoke to, on a rainy morning I remember.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Random thoughts at breakfast

I have to write this down before it flies
Right out of my head. Damn it! Where's my pen?
How did she phrase it, "Life moves on, love dies?"
Her comment was banal, cliched, but then,
Isn't most of life like that? We repeat
The same mistakes our parents made, and think,
They're so special, unique, world-class, replete
With significance, right up to the brink
Of revelation; they're just new to us;
Uncounted generations felt the same
Frustrations, the same losses and strong lusts;
There are no demons here that we must tame.
I wrote it all down; it's not very well-styled,
But then again, I'm no Oscar Wilde.                                                                                            

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On the bounties of fall

                                                "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"
                                                                                         Ode to Autumn
                                                                                              - John Keats

The hazy, hot, and humid days of summer spent,
Of her bright fireworks, only the embers remain;
Intemperate with pride, she thought the rules were made
For others, forgetting each player takes a turn.

The fall will yield a bumper crop from fertile earth,
A fruitful harvest, culled by labor, and with love;
And the fall offers cool mornings and sunny days
In defiance of icy winter's coming blast.

When winter comes again, her frigid onslaught sure,
When blizzards cloak the land, when rivers slow and freeze,
Beneath the suffocating coat of ice and snow,
Shy spring will wait her turn, to green the world again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Aurochs rocks

Let's note the Aurochs, now extinct,
Who disappeared before we blinked.
A relative of modern cattle,
He lost in evolution's battle.

Gone, in sixteen twenty-seven,
Now, he lives in bovine heaven.
Geneticists all hope to bring
The Aurochs back for one more fling.

Prologue and epilogue

They mark the start, and then, the end,
Outline the statement that I send.
I brag and boast in the middle,
As I ply my bow, and fiddle.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On quicksilver Time

Is time an item you can buy,
Like cigarettes, or apple pie,
Available, if you have need,
Or is its rationing decreed?

I went to the convenience store
To buy some time. I needed more;
More time, and I might beat the clock.
The clerk said time was out of stock.

When I was young, time passed so slow,
I hardly saw it come and go.
Tomorrow now is on its way;
Can we hold on to yesterday?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The ballad of Big Foot

Somewhere, some say, but facts are slim,
A giant lurks; can we find him?
Known as Sasquatch, Big Foot, Yeti;
He might find us, when he's ready.

In Washington and Oregon,
Some hikers glimpse him, then he's gone.
Sherpas in the Himalayas
Contend he's seen on snowy days.

Abominable Snowman keeps
Aloof from men, on mountain steeps,
The climbers claim it's unimpeached;
He's sighted where they haven't reached.

So, that's the gist, the story's end,
Passed on by travelers, as they wend
Through forest trails, or blinding snow;
Is he real? We may never know.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

On night terrors

Asleep, you are susceptible to fright,
When dark shadows coalesce as you dream.
Blackness enshrouds the room in moonless night,
Shapes creak and moan; sleep isn't what it seems.

You spring awake, your body drenched with sweat;
Your heart is pounding, images congeal,
Assault your mind, your night of rest upset
By eldritch terrors nearing the surreal.

Night terrors don't originate from guilt;
Carloads of crooks dream away like babies.
They might be caused just by the way you're built;
The question provokes a host of maybe's.

The best advice? Do what your mother said:
No pepperoni pizza, before bed.

Dead as a Dodo

Take pity on the Dodo's lot;
He was alive, but now he's not.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 2014

Coolness in the air;
The young ones are back in school.
What will they harvest?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

On things that count

She wore a bright new blouse and skirt,
One glance, and we began to flirt;
We were too young to have regrets,
A pair of undergraduates.

And when we met, to our delight,
The moment was exactly right;
We laughed and talked throughout the day,
Engrossed in what young lovers say.

I learned a lesson long ago,
When life taught me what I still know;
To celebrate first love's embrace,
A memory time can't erase.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Queen's English

The language of Her Majesty,
Her words weaving a tapestry,
Is right for her in every way,
Although unpopular today.

Her dialect is very posh,
So upper-clahs, and oh, my gosh,
Some folks will try to copy it
If they think theirs is not quite fit.

Her plummy accent's clipped, tony,
And, be warned, it isn't phony;
You can assume it, but take heed,
It's used by such a high-class breed.

Let's hear a speaker on his rounds
To find out how the accent sounds:
He makes a visit to your "hice";
(That's house to you; please say it twice).

And most important, this by far,
You must always drop your "R";
It's never far, but always "fah,"
When you take a trip by "cah."

If you chance to utter "very,"
You must know it rhymes with "Teddy."
One more point; the "uppuh-clahsses
Sound their "A's" like "O" in flosses.

These three tips are just a "staht,"
You must learn all rules by "hot."
If you slip up and say, "my house,"
You might as well go catch a mouse.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

E pluribus unum

We spin, without apology,
The web of our mythology.
It's habit now, as we pursue it;
Here's a taste of how we do it.

Let's sing, and praise Alabama,
To the tune of "Oh, Susanna."
Alaska's famous Northern Lights
Shine ghostly through the winter nights.

Arizona? I understand
They have a Canyon we call Grand.
From Arkansas, a resident
Named Clinton was our president.

Southern California's teeming
With young surfers prone to dreaming,
And Colorado, Is it not
Now legal there to smoke some pot?

Connecticut lays claim to Kate;
It's known as Hepburn's natal state.
In Delaware, there's a welter;
Businesses that got tax shelters.

In Florida, close to a third
Of residents are called "snow birds."
Georgia's not far, well in our reach,
A perfect place to eat a peach.

Then it's off to warm Hawaii,
First Oahu, then Kauai.
They're busy up in Idaho,
And grow potatoes; this I know.

Abe Lincoln lived in Illinois,
But elsewhere, as a little boy.
Indiana's the Hoosier State,
Exactly why, I can't relate.

Iowa's known for growing corn,
But you knew that since you were born.
Kansas boasts of wild Dodge City,
And Wyatt Earp's audacity.

This list of brags is going well,
Let's take a breather for a spell;
Not even halfway through the states,
We've lots more stuff to contemplate.

The Derby gives Kentucky fame,
Where horses win, unless they're lame,
And swinging down to Louisiana,
We enjoy New Orleans glamour.

Maine's cuisine is more than par
For those who love to eat lobster.
In Maryland, do you know what?
Babe Ruth was born,"Sultan of Swat."

What's Massachusetts claim to fame?
The place to which the Pilgrims came.
Michigan is where one panders
To the whims of Michiganders.

"Land of Lakes," is Minnesota,
That's not false, not one iota.
And Mississippi's the birthplace
Of Elvis,whom we can't replace.

An author known for writing some,
Missouri's where Mark Twain was from.
Montana's famed for its"Big Sky,"
And fishing that you'll have to try.

Marlon Brando's from Nebraska
Did you know? I had to ask ya.
Nevada is the place to go
To gamble and to lose some dough.

Up in New Hampshire, it's no lie,
Their motto is, Live free, or die."
New Jersey's where it's really at,
According to my neighbor's cat.

New Mexico is where they say
A magic town is Santa Fe.
In New York State, Niagara Falls
Awaits for honeymooner calls.

North Carolina, I've heard talk,
Is where Wright flew at Kitty Hawk.
Teddy Roosevelt liked it rough;
In North Dakota, showed his stuff.

Ohio is the state that sent
To D.C., seven presidents.
Pennsylvania's fame? Let me tell:
It's home to the Liberty Bell.

Rhode Island's where, good times or lean,
They build atomic submarines.
South Carolina, I'm aware,
Is home to TV's Steve Colbert.

South Dakota's forevermore
The site of storied Mt. Rushmore.
Great music's found in Tennessee,
Rock 'n roll, to Grand Old Opry.

To mention Texas, at their best,
Two lines of verse won't stand the test.
The state's brave flag, seen from afar,
Resplendent, carries one lone star.

Utah's amazing Great Salt Lake
Defies descriptions you might make.
Vermont's green peaks and valleys dream,
While Ben & Jerry make ice cream.

Five presidents, Virginia-born,
Served well during the nation's morn.
In Washington, "the old groaner,"
Bing Crosby, hailed from Tacoma.

And there you have it, each unique,
Competes hard for the life they seek;
But in the end, they concentrate
On being, The United States.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How tweet it isn't

A lot of folks love to tweet,
They think there's nothing fitter;
I think email's much more neat;
I have no love for Twitter.

I can't see much benefit
Except the chance to chatter;
Email has more meat to it;
Tweets use much less grey matter.

It's true a tweet's efficient,
Quick as a Maserati;
But emails are sufficient,
Though scorned by Twitterati.

Which one of them will prevail?
Though Twitter may suit your dreams,
I'll stay the course with emails,
As quick as twittering seems.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Driving while old

The car behind me pulls out in a flash,
Then pulls in front, to be the first one there.
The light turns red. He almost has a crash,
But still, he's ahead, though he got a scare,
And time won't wait! He needs to win this race,
Be number one. The light turns green. He goes.
Amused, I dawdle at a steady pace,
And reach my goal, intact from crown to toes.
His urgent needs are clear, he has to shine:
To have the biggest house, most costly car,
Best-looking wife, and drink the finest wine.
Will that be underlined in his memoir?
I once drove fast, and had no time to lose
When I was young; now slow, is what I choose.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The centipede

The poor unlucky centipede,
With more legs than he'll ever need!
Asked to put his best foot forward,
Which one to choose, must be horrid.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If grandma were alive today ...

Grandma enjoyed the phone so much,
For local gossip, news, and such;
"What number, please?" came from the phone,
Back when there was no dial tone.

And, MI eight-oh-five-four-oh
Was her home number years ago,
Before we'd reached our mobile stage,
When cells are how we now engage.

Our texting, tweets, and emails rate
First place, when we communicate.
If grandma were alive today,
She might not know which choice to weigh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On having fun

Now that I've reached seventy four,
An age I never was before,
I sometimes stop, and speculate;
Will life be good, at ninety eight?

We know the future's hard to see,
(Though some count on astrology),
And few predictions are correct;
Life happens when you least expect.

When I was in my teenage years,
And full of adolescent fears,
I hoped that I'd reach twenty one,
The age when grownup life's begun.

That was a long, long time ago,
And now, I know just what I know;
Life's like a book, we turn a page,
And learn new things at every stage.

I'm sure, when I reach ninety eight,
There's stuff I'll still anticipate,
Like celebrating ten times ten,
When I'm a centenarian.

And when I've reached one hundred years,
Long-shorn of adolescent fears,
If I don't reach one hundred one,
I'll be content; I've had some fun!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life is short

"Life is nasty, brutish, short,"
That was Thomas Hobbes' report.
If life's as pointless as he fears,
I see no gain in wasting tears.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On marriage

Wedlock can be a quandary;
Which type of marriage should it be?
Outside the tribe, (exogamy)?
Inside the tribe, (endogamy?

I nixed the thought of bigamy;
Two wives would be too much for me.
I'm too scared by polygamy,
If they got mad, where would I flee?

And so, I settled, finally,
On regular monogamy;
That choice was not the best for me,
But we split up quite happily.

My time's my own now, and I'm free;
I live in peace and harmony,
Enjoying my own company,

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On horse races

Can horses race on well-kept ground?
Does fairness enter into it?
The question isn't too profound;
The answer's clear, for those with wit.

Should horses start out from the gate
With equal chances to succeed?
Or, is that hard to contemplate?
Is special treatment what they need?

With well-made rules, and honest goals,
Each horse will seek the finish line;
Not all are meant for winning roles;
But even tracks will let one shine.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cruising along

For fifty years, it never ceased;
I drove a million miles, at least.
If i could choose, to drive, or stay,
I always chose to drive away.

The weather never curbed my pace;
A fear of snow equaled disgrace.
Inside the car, my life was sweet,
While cruising in the driver's seat.

My love of driving now has passed;
The car I own will be my last.
With luck, it soon should be antique,
The type of car collectors seek.

Today, I hardly drive at all,
Not even to the shopping mall.
I only drive when I have chores;
They know me at convenience stores.

I drive there when I need some milk,
Or other products of that ilk.
Here's trivia that should amaze;
I haven't filled my tank for days!

A rise per gallon at the pump,
Before, would really burn my rump;
Did I say days? It's months for me.
It's like I almost drive for free!

Don't get me wrong, I still like cars,
(And rockets for my trip to Mars).
Now a grin's replaced a glower;
No more traffic, or rush hour!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On dealing with a bore

I locked up, on my getaway
To beat the rush to work that day,
But luck escaped me, what a bore!
I met the neighbor from next door.

She collared me, and moaned, and wailed,
Exclaiming what her woes entailed;
About her teenaged son named Fred,
Who's doesn't work, and stays in bed.

I tried to leave, but she was quick,
And told me that her cat was sick;
I also learned her back went out,
And that her husband has the gout.

I rolled my eyes. "What's with this dame?"
I know, I thought, I'll do the same!
"I'm sad to hear you have trouble,
Compared to you, mine are double."

I put my stuff down on the stoop,
Prepared to rattle off some poop;
How I stayed up too late last night,
And how my in-laws love to fight.

"And one thing more, I dropped my cup,
As scalding coffee filled it up.
Some splattered on my favorite tie."
I looked quite sad, as though I'd cry.

"A lace broke, as I tied my shoes,
When I saw that, I blew a fuse!
I noticed that her eyes were glazed;
She seemed to be a little dazed.

My neighbor, mumbling, left me then,
I guess she won't be back again.
I haven't seen her, and that's fine;
I know her problems aren't mine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Apostrophes can rile

Apostrophes can rile;
These marks for writing style
Are used to show possession,
Whenever that's in question.

Alas, when they're not needed,
(And here's where we should heed it),
In other formulations
They're silly aberrations.

While useful, they're a trial,
I would take a breath and smile,
And suggest we be at ease,
Dealing with apostrophes.

Monday, August 18, 2014


The right words sing out on a page,
Like canaries freed from a cage,
But sometimes, when I least expect,
My poem falls flat; oh what the heck!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Finishing schools

Do you recall "finishing schools,"
Where young girls went to learn the rules
On how to talk, and move, and get
The finer points of etiquette?

Those schools are gone, like dinosaurs,
Now fossils of the social wars,
Institutions of improvement,
Banished by the women's movement.

Today, the feminine mystique
Has rendered schools like those antique.
They're old hat, and you won't find 'em;
Don't believe me? Ask Ms. Steinem.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The almighty dollar

Remember, once upon a time,
Something that's part of ancient lore,
Of shopping at the "five and dime?"
Today, you shop the dollar store.

A dollar, just one hundred cents;
Phone calls were ten times a penny,
And gas was only thirty cents,
When two dollars' worth was plenty.

But that was when a buck had power;
Its moxie went a long, long way.
Now, you earn more every hour;
What does it buy you now - today?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

He had it all

Humphrey Bogart had it all:
Fame, wealth, and Lauren Bacall

Tell it like it is!

If your words are euphemistic,
They evoke the euphuistic,
A pompous literary style,
That should have passed away a while.
Passed away? I should have cried,
"What nonsense! It should have died!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: 1951 - 2014

He was born with a gift of laughter in his heart,

and a sense that the world was mad - Rafael Sabatini

Like game birds pierced by arrows from a tight-strung bow,
We struggle for a while, then let our spirits go,
To where, we do not know

How much can the gift of humor soothe cosmic pain,
How much can laughter mitigate the inhumane,
In a world gone insane?

Monday, August 11, 2014

The camel

The camel's quite a useful beast,
Where rain forests occur the least.
She dresses with one hump, or two;
Both kinds exist, I've seen a few.

Yet I'm afraid there is one hitch,
I never know which one is which;
Bactrian, or Dromedary?
Confusing, but not to worry!

Her hump's good for storing water,
(That's how Mother Nature wrought her),
So until the next oasis,
She lacks thirst in desert spaces.

Miss Camel's temper would be short
Without some water for support;
Were she thirsty, what a folly,
To expect her to be jolly.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Power outages

We always think great inventions
Will perform and meet intentions,
And appreciate the stuff we use,
Until the day we're out of juice.

Friday, August 8, 2014

In the comics: Scrooge McDuck

Do you remember Scrooge McDuck?
Now, there's a bird who had some luck!
This Uncle Scrooge played hard to win,
Relaxing in his money bin.

Scrooge spent his days inside his vaults
Perfecting money somersaults.
He'd leap and dive into his stash,
Laugh with delight, and count his cash.

Like Ebenezer, his namesake,
Old Scrooge was schooled in how to take.
Reminds me of the "One Percent";
Those charmers, who live off our rent.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On new love

New love is just a passing phase;
Like snow in May, it never stays.
Its flame burns bright, consumes, until
It fades away, as new love will.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Botch me no botches

As I looked up a rhyme for botch,
I was surprised to find a lotch,
From A to Z, from blotch to watch,
Including New York's Mayor Koch.

Amazed to see the whole hotchpotch,
I wandered through the growing swatch,
A treasure worthy of Sasquatch,
To talk of, at the coffee klatch.

At times, you'd like less than you've gotch,
Like when the level dropped a notch,
And my glance wandered down to crotch;
If I still drank, I'd have a Scotch.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The platypus

The platypus, strictly oviparous,
Though mammal, lays eggs to have kids, and thus
She stands out from the pack
With a skill others lack;
Her children are never viviparous.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Enjoy the day

Ah, yesterday's a cancelled check;
Tomorrow's just a dream.
Today is all we can expect,
No matter how we scheme.
Days are done before we see 'em;
I believe in carpe diem.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On free advice

"Marriage can be love's death," I said,
When a friend told me he'd marry.
"I'd think a lot, before I'd wed.
You've married before; be wary.

"You have no need to take a vow;
Why not be happy, and stay free?
Why take the plunge, why do it now?
It smacks of pure insanity."

My free advice was worth its cost;
My friend remarried anyway.
Something's won, and something's lost;
Hope springs eternal every day.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fussy eaters

A horseman, and his hungry son
Were both quite fond of venison,
But counted horses in the stable,
Before they sat down at the table,
To make sure they were eating deer,
And not a horse, if one was near.


I plead a certain fixity,
about undue prolixity.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The rhinoceros

The rhino's very small at birth,
But he attains a mighty girth.
While fierce of face, he's very calm;
He learned his manners from his mom,
Though when his temper's getting short,
His foes can land on life support.
His brain's quite dull; its synapses
Slow down when he gets in flapses.
But left alone, like you and me,
He's just as nice, as nice can be.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On self-importance

The more I know men, the better I like dogs
                                   - Charles de Gaulle

Man makes a lot of noise, his ego's big,
His movements frantic, like a whirligig;
He shakes his fist, defiant, at the sky,
And claims his kind alone should never die.

The strangest animal of all is man,
Who's sure he's part of some eternal plan.

A carping guest whose tenancy is short,
He whines and leaves behind a curt report
To tell us that the hotel was no good,
And that he doesn't like the neighborhood.

The strangest animal of all is man,
Who's sure he's part of some eternal plan.

An unwelcome boor, uncaring at best,
He thoughtlessly befouls every nest,
Ignoring others' needs without disguise,
One fact is sure; he really is no prize.

The strangest animal of all is man,
Who's sure he's part of some eternal plan.

The infinite expanse of time and space
Pays scant atttention to the human race;
The universe is large, and won't reshape
Reality to suit a  hairless ape.

The strangest animal of all is man,
Who's sure he's part of some eternal plan.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The monkeys are running the zoo

A zoo's a place where we can see
Animals in captivity,
Where we can gawk, and others gape,
And see gymnastics by an ape.

Some like all creatures serpentine,
As they uncoil and recline,
But as for me, I tend to shake,
When I'm confronted by a snake.

A lion growls in his sleep;
Is this the life he'd really keep?
His diligent and patient mate
lies near, but won't elaborate.

Caged birds squawk and swoop and scatter;
What's behind their chitter-chatter?
Perhaps if they had any say,
They'd pack their bags, and fly away.

The monkeys look a lot like us;
Are we a subject they discuss?
Do they presume we're out on bail,
Relaxed, while they remain in jail?

The languid bears bask in the sun,
But are they having any fun?
Would they bet that we're fit to eat,
And classify us as a treat?

Who's in the zoo, and by what rules?
Are we, too, animals, or ghouls?
Have we an answer, something pat,
And worthy of a diplomat?

This spinning globe on which we live,
Is filled with creatures we can give
The same rights that we hold as true,
Or simply place them in a zoo.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On genealogy

What fun, I thought, that it would be,
To trace my genealogy,
To know the names, the times, and how
My family grew, from then to now.

My chart looked like a pyramid;
I wrote my name on top, I did.
Below, I wrote in Mom and Dad,
The closest relatives I  had.

Next, grandparents, four in all,
My parents' parents, I recall.
And then the "greats," eight in number;
No time then, to think of slumber.

The second "greats" made up sixteen,
More relatives than I'd foreseen,
Until I got to "great, great, greats,"
All thirty-two, both men and mates.

I had to slow my search a while;
I wrote down more names in the file,
Left room for cousins, uncles, aunts,
Part of the crowd by birth enhanced.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On getting the most out of every day

I try to value every day,
A part for work, a part for play.
I always think there'll be more time,
A wish that surely, is no crime.
But time flies fast, and there's no doubt;
Its passing's something we can't flout.
I left my bed before sunrise.
The morning fled before my eyes,
Until I had a sudden hunch
That it was almost time for lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The body electronic

Praise the body electronic
And the Web, it's vital tonic,
Providing a new synergy
To help us see what we can be

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On running fast

The Ostrich is an awkward bird,
With long legs verging on absurd;
The silly bird's not fit to fly,
Not one is ever in the sky.
But run she can, a thing of wonder,
When she sprints, it sounds like thunder.
She pecks and pokes for worms and slugs,
Grub that at her heartstrings tugs,
But she's still a tasty dinner,
If Lioness wants fowl in her.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Next time, I'll be an actor

When I come back, I want to be
An actor, rich, and fancy-free.
Successful actors, with great skills
Make millions, and can pay their bills.

I'll be among the "One Percent";
I'll buy my home, I'll never rent,
And when I get a fancy car,
I'll pay cash, when I'm a star.

An actor's good at "make-believe,"
He gets big bucks, just to deceive;
Each part he plays, however plain,
Had best seem real, and entertain.

Unlike the common "CEO,"
An actor works hard for his dough;
Next time, that's what I'll choose to be;
It sounds like lots of fun to me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On how you speak

No other person talks like you
In Washington, or Timbuktu.
That's because your idiolect,
The words and accent you select,
Provide a very special tweak
Every single time you speak.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I often drove by gypsy caravans in France,
Encamped at the forest's edge outside a city,
Saw tethered horses, heads held low in grazing stance,
Small children's laughing eyes, mothers, dark and pretty.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

On the sonnet

I'll sing in praise of sonnets, and the way
They pay allegiance to a set of rules,
Old rules free-versing poets won't obey,
As if poetic standards were for fools.
Rules scarcely matter; with a dearth of form,
Nothing gets in the way of their designs,
No well-known frame dare represent a norm,
To give a pleasant rhythm to their lines.
Adherence to a tried poetic style,
Is dull for poets lost in the embrace
Of novelty, and strict rules' denial;
To me, their best endeavors just lack grace.
If free verse slakes your thirst, please, don't refuse it;
The sonnet works for me, that's why I choose it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

White-gloved words

The professor smiles, greets the class;
He checks his watch, then sips a glass
Of water, and begins to speak,
His diction silvery, and sleek.

"Aristotle, in Poetics,
His great treatise on aesthetics,
Claims vanity will always cause
The doom of men with tragic flaws."

He pauses, then outlines the hell
Due men whose fortunes soared, then fell,
Poor dupes of pride's effrontery,
Who meet their ends in tragedy.

He glances round the silent room,
And tells of unforgiving doom;
His white-gloved words ring on, to scan
How time, and fate, make sport of man.

Intent, we drink in every word,
To understand the truths we've heard.
He stops, and leaves the lecture hall,
So long ago, as I recall.

Mementoque temporis memoriam

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We, all of us, return, and dress another way,
A different simulacrum of reality;
The energy we call the soul assumes new form
Within a multi-verse of change and random choice.
Next time, you might come back a brilliant butterfly,
Bright wings a-flutter, flying off to find a mate,
Still missing, caterpillar-like, your warm cocoon;
A young amoeba, almost ready to divide,
Multiplying in a single drop of water,
And unimpressed by nearby parameciums;
A single sunbeam, shining on a chilly day,
Homesick for the fiery star that cast you off;
Or, a forlorn grain of sand, on a wintry beach,
Wistfully recalling you used to be a rock.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ain't misbehavin'

Some people think that words like "ain't"
Are tantamount to moral taint.
I use my "ain't's" to stress a point,
When something may be out of joint,
Then code-shift back to I "am not,"
If I don't need my "ain't's" a lot.

Friday, June 27, 2014

On losing direction

Much like a ship that's lost its sails,
And unequipped to weather gales,
A feckless person often fails
To heed a number of details,
If he insists that lowly snails
Bear no relationship to whales

Thursday, June 26, 2014

On the penguin

The penguin, with tenacity,
Seeks dinner with audacity.
His wings, as flippers, help him find
The seafood always on his mind.

He swims quickly under water,
And eats a squid, once he's caught her.
He's flourished well from early times,
On South Pole shores, his favorite climes.

His costume cries out, "elegant!"
Black suit, white shirt, quite swellegant,
His style's suave, it's a clincher:
He could dance with Fred and Ginger.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

If time means nothing in eternity

If "time" means nothing in eternity,
And "space" means nothing in infinity,
In infinite eternity, why waste
Our breath, in seeking to define the case?
Why should the universe lack any flaws?
Why posit order, unforgiving laws?
Do we demand a cosmic elegance
To prove an underlying relevance?
Can we observe a rhythm to the dance,
Or, are its movements random, merely chance?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The elephant

A mighty beast, and well-renowned,
This pachyderm in packs is found.
Elephant strolls, he doesn't bound;
His tread can really shake the ground
If he decides to run around,

On land, the only true colossus,
He's not the kind of guy you crosses,
And prehensile, his long proboscis
Is useful for the stuff he tosses
When requested by his bosses.

Quite often he plays celebrant,
And always waxes eloquent;
He boasts to Missus Elephant
About each new development
That makes his job quite relevant.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's the berries

Yogurt for breakfast, what a treat!
It's good for you, just slightly sweet.
Blueberries wait on the bottom,
Hiding well, but soon I've got 'em.

Their location makes me work,
To find out where these berries lurk;
My spoon fills up when they're in sight,
To solve my empty stomach's plight.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The old computer's down blues

                                                          Pick your own tune

Well, I sat down and booted up the old PC,
The darned screen stayed black - I guess it had it in for me.
I pressed a few keys, but it did no good;
It still stayed black, like I knew it would.

Must be on strike. Wants a raise. More vacation.

So I called my pal at the computer fix-it store.
I kept my story short, so I wouldn't be a bore.
He said, "I can't come now; I'm here in the store alone.
I'll be there tomorrow; if I can't, I'll phone."

Best offer out there. Had to take it. Read the paper.

I shut off the computer, put more coffee in my cup.
Now I had a list of "couldn'ts"; I was one sad pup;
Couldn't check my email, couldn't work on my blog,
So I grabbed the leash, and I walked the dog.

Dog was happy. Humped my leg. Quality time.

Before computers came, I did lots of stuff;
Most of the time, I was busy enough.
I listened to the radio, and read a lot;
The librarian was surprised at all the books I got.

They were on paper. Made outta trees.
Had to turn pages.
Saved on ee-lec-tric-ity

Friday, June 6, 2014

The frog

Let's praise the cheerful, jumping frog,
As full-grown bull, or polliwog;
The frog, who loves to swim around,
Unlike the toad, who likes dry ground.
The frog's tune is ubiquitous,
At dusk, it never quits on us,
His "rivet! rivet!" casts a spell;
When night comes on, its echoes swell.
The English call the French, "the frogs,"
(Because they eat frogs legs, the dogs!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The immigrants

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free
                                          - Emma Lazarus
                                    "The New Colossus"

Throughout the nineteenth century,
New immigrants, each steady wave,
Braved the vast, uncaring sea
To reach our shores, so they could be
The masters of their destiny,
And celebrate what free men crave.

The ocean's dangers to be crossed,
On steerage decks of sailing ships;
Despite the risks, by storm winds tossed,
Their golden dreams were never lost,
To live free men at any cost,
That goal held strongly in their grip.

What was there to deliberate?
The families, children in tow.
Refused serfdom's dismal fate.
They kept their pledge to immigrate,
A pledge they soon would consummate,
On distant shores they'd yet to know.

The Irish, Germans, Czechs, and Poles,
And others, bitten by unrest,
Their purpose now under control,
Planned fuller lives and richer goals,
And scorned their former lowly roles,
Determined to achieve the best.

Their "welcome" was a cruel disgrace;
Rejected by each "patriot,"
Contempt was what they had to face,
As though they were a lesser race,
Intent to steal another's place,
Revilcd work would be their lot.

And work they did, denied all aid;
And learned the language day by day.
They dug canals; though poorly paid,
Worked more, and railroad tracks were laid,
Long tunnels carved and bridges made,
Improved the land, and there they stayed.

They spread throughout the good young land,
Established roots from sea to sea,
On dirt-poor farms, or ocean strand,
Or frontier cities, man by man,
The strong, the weak, from every land,
The builders of democracy.

The pig

The animal we call a pig
Might teach himself to dance a jig,
And tap the time with cloven hooves,
While checking other piglets' moves.

And when he grows to be a hog,
He might teach himself how to jog,
Emitting happy grunts and squeals
As he gets hungry for his meals.

Warm, he might plop down with a thud
To cool himself in gooey mud,
And muse upon each porcine rule
That young pigs memorize in school.

Monday, June 2, 2014

On a promise

Her words were swallowed by the wind,
But her eyes met mine in promise,
As we stood on that promontory,
while white-capped waves crashed below,
On boulders buttressing the shore
Against the ceaseless, pounding surf
And the hunger of the endless sea

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On painting a still life

The still life he did was almost perfect;
The pert, umbrageous flowers bravado'd
In a riotous cascade of colors.
The painter stopped his brush in mid-gesture;
On the canvas, below the vase of blooms,
He drew a scatter of dead, dry petals,
And dabbed on appropriate, dark shadings,
To complete the picture

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The octopus

We can't mistake the octopus;
For one, he doesn't look like us,
And plus, he has no skeleton
To put a brand new suit upon.

The octopus eats whelks and clams,
We start our day with toast and jams,
And if he grabs something to chew,
He has eight arms, not two, like you.

His home is in the seven seas,
Our home's near mountains, fields, and trees,
And when a villain's threats are grim,
He shoots a stream of ink at him.

We're called men (what two of us is),
They, if two, are octopuses,
But, if they live in Greece, don't sneeze,
You'd call a pair, octopedes!

(Some people call them octopi.
(It's Latin, but don't ask me why).
Or, call them Immanuel Kant,
If that is what you think you want.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Now that I'm old

Now that I'm old, I can do what I wish,
Eat steak for breakfast, or left-over fish;
Get rid of my duds, I don't need a lot,
Wear sweats when it's cold, and shorts when it's hot;

Stop shaving my face; clean-shavings a pain,
Leave my umbrella, and stroll in the rain;
Stay in the house if the roads are a mess,
And drive when I choose, no more, and no less;

Sleep in when I like, or stay up all night,
Watch TV all day, or go fly a kite;
Answer the phone, if I'm willing to talk,
Or just let it ring, and go for a walk;

Read a new book, if it meets with my taste,
Or toss it away, if I think it's a waste;
Watch Casa Blanca, a film that is fun,
Eat gobs of ice cream, or groan at a pun;

Make doctors' visits, but refuse to wait,
And give him "what for!" if he turns up late;
Tell off the waiters and clerks who are rude,
Give them a rant on their bad attitude.

Old age ain't easy; I won't deny it,
But parts can still make life a laugh-riot.
I followed the rules, and I toed the line;
But that was before, now this time's all mine.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The snake

The snake regrets his hasty action,
And hopes to gain a little traction
To clear his character, proceedin'
From what he said to Eve in Eden.
Someday, he hopes that he can grapple
With that business of the apple.
He's sad for Adam, and craves pardon,
For their eviction from the Garden.
He claims he only intended good;
To clue them in on the neighborhood.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two languages mixed after 1066

"Old English," we call it, a West-Germanic speech,
Spoken in the lands of the Anglo-Saxon reach.
Today, that tongue sounds foreign to our modern ear,
Yet that was what they spoke, before a fateful year.

When Normans swooped to conquer, in ten-sixty-six,
They thought the English language only good for hicks;
The victors wouldn't speak it, using only French,
But people's thirst for English, wasn't to be quenched.

With French officially what everyone should speak,
The Normans thought English, quite soon would be antique,
A fossil, in a land where Norman lords would dwell,
But English was a tongue no conqueror could quell.

It pilfered words from French, a most ingenious act;
The language changed, by adding terms Old English lacked,
And from that blend there grew the current verbal mix,
By spackling French cement, on top of English bricks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sleeping in

I always did appreciate
The days when I could sleep in late.
You have to push and pull and prod,
To make me leave the Land of Nod.

The Army rose at reveille,
Too early for the likes of me!
When I'd awake, of slumber shorn,
I'd rise, ill-willed, to greet the morn.

My duty done, civilian work
Made clock alarm bells hard to shirk.
My job began at nine each day,
And wide awake, I had to stay.

When I retired, I could foresee
Great scads of sleep in store for me.
No early morning rush ahead,
I'd snooze, and dream away in bed.

But life is full of little jokes,
Seems sleeping late's for other folks;
I seldom sleep beyond the dawn,
I'm out of bed, with one last yawn.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Archaeopteryx

One of nature's clever tricks,
Was the Archaeopteryx.
Birds were new, without a doubt,
Dinosaurs were in a pout.
Birds flew fast in all weathers,
And they dressed in bright feathers.
This was very far, far back,
When dinosaurs got the sack.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy the man

Happy the man, who, like Ulysses,
Or, bold Jason of the Golden Fleece,
Can boast of a successful journey,
Full of tales, and end his days at home.
Ah, when will I return, where smoke drifts
From the chimney of my modest home?
In what sweet season will I go back
To see my home, my only kingdom?
I treasure it much, this slate-roofed house,
More than soaring, marble palaces;
My land, more than the Seven Hills;
My Loire, more than Tiber's flood at Rome.
Anjou's gentle hills, its countryside,
Are worth more to me than all Rome's gold.

Joachim du Bellay
Translated from the French

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let's bring thou back

Let's bring back thou and thee and thine,
For personal use, both yours and mine;
They'd add both depth and clarity
To where you stand with they and we.

And what of you, how would you know,
If sole or plural, where you'd  go?
You would be left for public use,
For matters simple or abstruse.

Ideas like this should not provoke
An urge to laugh, much less, to joke;
If we could wake it from its slumber,
We might invoke the dual number!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The old king

In days gone by, a tired old king,
Though weary, worn, and grey of hair,
Still believed that his heart could sing,
And wed a girl, a maiden fair.

One day, a callow youth came by;
He wooed her well, this winsome boy,
With ardent glance and wistful sigh,
And stole the old man's greatest joy.

The king, a bitter lesson learned;
Farewell to youth, and cheating wives!
With honest love so coldly spurned,
The king took from them both, their lives.

- Heinrich Heine
  Translated from the German

If the Auk could talk

The other day, I heard a talk
About a bird they called the Auk.
The fellow (also known as great),
Extinct by eighteen forty-eight,
Knew how to swim, but couldn't fly;
He thought of it, but wouldn't try.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's the rhyme?

When I looked up some rhymes for botch,
I found a few, from blotch to watch
(The next-to-last, I saw was swatch.)
Then the level dropped a notch;
My downward glance came up with crotch.
If I drank booze, I'd have a Scotch.

Monday, May 5, 2014

There's no guarantee

It was fun while it lasted, enjoying nice things,
The new autos and houses, vacations, gold rings,
Fancy dinners and drinks, Broadway shows, front-row seats,
Dressed in well-tailored clothes, your game-plan seemed so sweet.

Recall the excitement, when your flame burned so bright?
But no thing's guaranteed, and day changes to night.
When they bring you the bill at the end of it all,
Will you sign with a flourish, or just with a scrawl?

Was the food very tasty, well-worth what it cost?
Did it equal the best, was the entree well-sauced?
Was it less than you liked from the very first taste?
Did you make a mistake, did you choose it in haste?

No one owes you success in the choices you make,
No one watches your steps on the path that you take;
The direction you choose for your wanderings through life,
Is your own choice to make; Lady Luck's not your wife.

The joining

The faithful surf gives out a steady roar,
And makes his urgent pleas unceasingly.
The lover's song, voiced low, sometimes will soar
To trumpet loudly of his constancy.
The surf retreats, returns in endless flow,
To press abundant kisses on the beach,
While gliding gulls ignore the scene below,
As surf and shore keep teasing, each with each.
The land and sea are one beneath the tide,
Controlled by orders from the ruling moon;
No human intervention will divide
Their ordained merging, late or soon.
The swarming surf recites an ancient poem,
And joins the land beneath the heavens' dome.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Not set in stone

I used to think that Strunk and White
On grammar, had the rules just right;
In fact, The Elements of Style
Has been like gold, for quite a while.

The book tells you the "what" and "how"
Good language usage should allow,
But living language has a way
Of changing almost every day.

New forms are born, and do their part;
Old forms decline, when new ones start,
And sometimes, we may even see
Old forms regain their currency.

I think that Messieurs Strunk and White
Worked hard to try to do it right.
Like weather, language, rain or shine,
Insists on changing all the time.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dressing up, dressing down

Business suits were a "must" till I retired,
A help to my career, and they mattered.
My suits are fossils now, and I'm attired
In comfort togs, some of which are tattered.
I bought the best suits, ones I could afford,
Conservatively tailored, but in style,
No detail left undone, no touch ignored,
The image sincere, beyond denial.
Now, closets bulge with untouched suits. The stuff's
A weight, like nosey neighbors refusing
To mind their business, in spite of rebuffs
A flock of sheep wouldn't find confusing.
My dress clothes worked, that's true without dispute,
But now I've said goodbye to business suits!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

First, people made jokes

- We have found the enemy, and he is us.
                                                   - Pogo

First, people made jokes
About other cultures and beliefs;
Then they joked about other people:
Male people, female people, bald people,
Fat people, short people, stupid people,
Poor people, blind people, deaf people,
Lame people, black people, white people,
Straight people, gay people, young people,
Old people...

Then people looked in the mirror,
And stopped joking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Caesar's Gallic Wars

"All of Gaul is divided into three parts."
                                     - Julius Caesar 

Enemies loomed; all Gaul was divided,
Massing his army, Caesar decided
The time had come to fight; soon Gaul would be
A new province of Rome, from sea to sea.

His legions marched; they fought their foes, and won.
The vanquished swore their fealty; war was done,
And at its end, the Romans gained it all;
Laurels went to Caesar; defeat, to Gaul.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The lion

The lion is the king of beasts,
A point there's no denying,
In fact, if you said otherwise,
He'd say that you were lying.

His regal mane, and stately tread,
Are signs of his high station;
He sleeps, when he's not making love,
His favorite avocation.

His loyal helpmate, Mrs. Lion,
Will jump to do his bidding;
When Lion roars and flicks his tail,
She knows that he's not kidding.

The lion is the king of beasts,
Commanding our attention.
His place in life is absolute,
At least, that's his contention.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chasing away Mr. Blues

When Mr. Blues comes to visit,
The pain is exquisite.
When that mean old dog bites,
Your despair knows no heights.

But one fact remains true;
He'll leave, and then you
Will cheer up and incline
To your old state of mind.

Regaining resources,
You'll marshal your forces,
Solve problems when ready,
Both major and petty.

The challenges waiting
Might seem aggravating,
But you'll meet them each day
When Mr. Blues goes away.

Friday, April 11, 2014


When people die, they're only dead;
No angels weep beside their bed.
Please, spare the silly euphemisms
As we go through departurisms.

We don't "pass on," we're simply done,
As though we never had begun.
The only place we were, is here,
And now we're not; is that not clear?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On the road

Your beatnik friends, were they on track?
Please, tell me how, Jack Kerouac;
Did they express, in great degree,
Your fervent longing to be free?

What made you get out on the road,
Your need to shuck a heavy load?
Or was the road your only goal,
A means to irrigate your soul?

And when you rode from coast to coast,
Of what deep insight did you boast?
The same sun rose on east and west,
Which coast did you decide was best?

You knew your life was just on loan,
Not some new plaything you could own,
And knowing that, saw it clear,
Embraced the whole, devoid of fear.

You saw a chance to get some kicks,
And rolled along Route 66
(The road we used to navigate
Before they built the Interstate).

And whether you were right or wrong,
You stayed the course, and sang your song;
It rang out on the open road
In cadences that never slowed.

Was it "beat," your generation,
Or symbolic of the nation,
Espousing a philosophy
Demanding that all men be free?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Another spring

Weary of winter,

                                        waiting for springtime,

March makes a promise

                                        unmarked by misgivings;

Fertile earth will unfreeze,

                                        flowers will flourish,

Warm sun will shine,

                                        and songbirds will sing;

New life will unfold,

                                        bare forests will fill
With foliate splendor,

                                        spring will spread seeds,

Ensuring summer's

                                        promise of pleasure

And bounteous plenty,

                                        once more, saying, "Yes!"

To each youthful year's yearnings

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A good night's sleep

For years I was stubborn, refusing to rest,
Instead of admitting a good sleep was best.
When the thought of a nap came into my mind,
I banished it fast, and went back to the grind.

I'd stretch and I'd yawn, and I'd say with a groan,
"I need to write, and more time than I own."
I'd drink coffee all day, cups past all the telling,
Ignoring my sleep-loss, my body rebelling.

I stayed in the game, with my eye on the stake,
Kept playing my hand, though I needed a break.
And the hours dragged on, but at last all seemed fine;
If I had the best cards, the jackpot was mine.

At my keyboard that day, and the memory's sore,
I fell asleep in my chair, wound up on the floor,
And as I got up, I realized with a shock,
I'd been leading my life in a race with the clock.

From infancy's days, all through life's churning storm,
I'd been brain-washed to think work alone was the norm;
But it isn't at all, that's a tale we've beeen told
That keeps us distracted until we are old.

"I'm retired," I thought, "What's the point, what's the rush,
And these are the days when my life should be lush."
I looked all around, as the shadows grew deep,
Walked into the bedroom, and went straight to sleep.

I'd just learned a lesson, a truth for the ages;
We change as we grow through life's varied stages.
Ambition is good, we should welcome it's prod,
But up to a point; after that, it's just odd.

Now I sleep when I'm tired, always seeking to rest,
I pay heed to my body; I've learned it knows best.
I make plenty of time for smelling sweet flowers,
It's balance in life that enhances our powers.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Growing up

Sing out, fair goddess, heed my call,
For I have bridged my gap-span years,
And I have faced up to my fears,
Not hurting very much at all.

The dream, now just the merest shade,
Like quondam love, of love bereft,
Proclaimed its fickleness and left,
To end an empty masquerade.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Once my poems were Latinate,
But now they're Anglo-Saxonate.
Once I found a lot of pleasure
In obscuring every measure.

Now you have no need to scurry
To the nearest dictionary;
I strive to make my verses clear,
With words that please the eye and ear.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Will they like us out there?

Imagine faring out in space
To represent the human race:
What values would we try to stress
To justify our earthly mess?

Would other forms of life think well
About our planet's living hell,
The brutal wars, the genocide
We wage with patriotic pride?

Would aliens condone our urge
To murder children, and to purge
The men who choose to disagree
With rules decreed by you and me?

Way out there in the universe
Would we find praise - or just a curse?

Monday, February 10, 2014

No second chance

At a country place in late October,
Where trees are dressed in antique colors,
Brilliant bursts of red and ochre overlay
A palimpsest of past pleasures.

Former lovers in the silent house, uneasy,
Wait for remembered tones of a grand piano,
And frustrated by time's passage, strain to hear
Chords played long past, and only half-recalled.
The briefest memory of passion's music
Fails to interrupt the silence.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A winter wish

Fraught by weather wan, and weary,
February's days are dreary.
Condemned to freeze this time of year,
The month will not be warm, I fear,
Winter's cold, cruel winds will blow,
With four more weeks of ice and snow,

If I could have one wish for me,
I'd fly down to the southern sea,
Where warm days reign, and song birds sing,
While soft winds sigh, and lovers cling,
Where February's ways are sweet,
Beneath the summer sun's bold heat.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The giraffe

Sometimes I smile, and have to laugh,
When contemplating the giraffe.
A giant, peaceful herbivore,
Polite, he's disinclined to roar,
(Though he might give out a bellow
If he meets a nasty fellow).

He likes Acacia leaves to munch,
And cranes his neck to reach a bunch.
(Higher leaves are best, the upper,
Which he chomps on for his supper;
His gourmet taste for leaves is fine,
But he forgoes the glass of wine.)

No animal is quite as tall,
In height, he stands above them all.
The mild giraffe is in first place,
With stilts required, to see his face.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

After last night's storm

I walked beside the restless sea
And thought of what we want to be,
Our foolishness, and how we try
To dominate both earth and sky.

The littered beach's tattered form
Displayed the wrack of last night's storm,
Crushed clam shells, ragged scraps of trash,
Bore witness to the storm king's lash.

A Christmas tree rose on the sand,
As if awaiting some bright plan,
Set there to make clear testament
To man's absurd capricious bent.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Do you see us?

Do you see us old people on the street?
A lot of us use canes, and can't walk fast;
We're old, but we had lives like you, complete
With kids, homes, jobs; that part of life's our past.
Do you see us, or do you look away,
Embarrassed we might stop, and talk, and fuss,
And tell you time will catch you too, one day?
(We have so much in common, you and us.)
Your anxiety doesn't make us gloat;
We're walking the same road, just further on.
Sometimes its smooth, sometimes bumpy, but note
How similar, the things we're musing on.
Can you see? If our presence blocks the view,
Be tolerant; we're just the same as you.