I had originally planned for the blog to mix in short humor pieces with occasional serious poems.  After posting my first poem however, I quickly came to realize that this was a dreadful idea.  I needed a “brand” and my brand was humor – literary and political and general.  It was what people came here for and what they expected, and seeing something that looked dangerously like verse was a major let-down to those looking for laughs.   And so I deleted the odious poem that was blemishing the website, and have stuck to humor ever since.

Yet if you are going to snark at the pretensions of other authors, as I have done elsewhere on this site, you should probably be willing to display some of your own more serious writing, and let others judge – enjoy, despise, critique as they so choose.   And so, as an alternative, I have created this page to showcase a handful of actual, mostly-serious poems for those who feel like taking the leap.

I hesitate to even use the word “poems”, to admit to this dreadful vice, because truth be told, I hate ninety-nine percent of the contemporary poetry that I read.  I find it confusing, annoying, meaningless, overly precious, frequently pretentious and generally tiresome.   I like to believe that what I write is different:  narrative and clear and meant to actually entertain – to be enjoyed by a reader of literary novels.   But on that score, others will have to judge.   So without further ado, preface or caveat, and with a good deal of trepidation, here is a small sampling.   Any and all feedback is welcome.

In A Museum

 Eight at night
The water lilies in the dawn
The fishermen at dusk are gone
The guard extinguishes the light
And from the room of Rodin nudes
A gentle moaning now exudes
And fills the dark and ghostly halls
With a lover’s plaintive calls
And down in the curator’s lair
Amid a musty underworld
I hear the steps descend the stair.
Beside the bust of Pluto (under repair)
The feet, the legs, the face appear
It is the girl from that stunning Vermeer
“You have come,” I say,
“How long I have waited for this day!”
And in the vale that rests
Between the slopes of shawl that cross her breasts,
That ruby jewel
Vermeer four hundred years ago had placed,
As though to mark the spot a kiss had graced
And say to all the eyes of history
– Student, disciple, admirer
Who love a mystery
It was her lover did sire her.

And then those locks of golden hair!
Strange to see them now untrussed
And free in the evening air
Yet otherwise it is just
As I had dreamed –
Dreamed, imagined, known
It would be, known from the way
She would turn her stare to me alone
Even on a Saturday
Of crowds and conversation,
And share some silent intimation,
Hint of something spied, appraised
Of certain possibilities raised.

“How long,” I say, “how long I’ve gazed,
Amid the coughs and rumbles and sighs,
Back through the centuries, into your eyes.
How many times I’ve looked at you and said,
You will be mine if I must join the dead
How fast this mortal coil would I shed
To kiss your fine and constant brow,
(Once compared to a galleon’s prow)
And wed your tender lips to mine!
We are one forever now.”

The look she casts upon me then!
So strange and soft and tender-eyed,
Innocent and somehow sage,
And smiling from deep inside
As though she held some ancient truth
Yet all the freshness of eternal youth.

“It cannot be,”
She gently says.  “I fear
There are restrictions placed on me.
It was not easy coming here.”

Still, the sadness of her eyes,
Do they not say,
“You must persuade me and you may?”

And so I plead.
“We’ll fly beneath an El Greco sky
So fast the stars we shall outpace
So far
We shall escape all space
And wind up deep in Fragonard,
Rest an hour out of sight
Bathe within a dappled lake
And again take flight,
Reach Delacroix by day
Slip through Whistler by night
And sleep when we have reached Monet.”

She smiles.  “You dream.” Her lips
Are dimpled lightly at the tips.
“Now hear what I have come to say,
That though we may exchange a passing nod
Or smile a certain way
Know how it is
That it cannot, can never be
That I am eternally his.”

With that she slowly turns away,
Quietly ascends the stair,
Her footfalls stir the hallowed air,
And echo through the upper hall,
Fade to a distant, ghostly call
And cease.  She is there
At her place on the gallery wall.

Of One Not Well

The whistle whispers, distant, low
The tea approaches as she sleeps
And now the call begins to grow
And now, forlornly, in she creeps
Blanket-wrapped and ever-slow
Dull-eyed and shaggy, a Buffalo.
Across her eyes her tangled hair
That, dropping down into a chair
She tries half-heartedly
To blow
Off of her nose
And so to see
And still to keep her faint repose
Within the blanket’s warm enclose
“Not feeling good,” she says, a plea,
And coughs and whispers, “Where’s my tea?”
How lovely you are
My precious love
Reaching out at the cup
That descends from above
With a child’s eager hands
Savoring as in a dream
The warm, bewitching swirl of steam
As though to say the tea understands
I envy a trace
The attention it commands
Held, as a lover, an inch from your face
Touching, barely, your lower lip
A kiss, it seems, more than a sip
A lover’s warm and soft embrace
While paying no heed
To my own faithful hug
Love, if a palm be read as a face
I’d say you were in love with that mug
So intimately tilted up
Against your eager, parted lips
Can I be jealous of a cup
Of tea? I who have drawn a thousand sips
And from that very well
And tasted in embrace the springs that run
And felt the pitch and swell
Of tides
And even known the setting sun
That hides
Behind the soft horizon of your tongue
Or, lost amid the sweep and rush
Have I not found the moonlit night
Your inner soul, and known its hush
And felt its calm, ethereal light?
So warm her, soothing cup of tea
Seduce her, make her well and fine
Tonight she may belong to thee
Tomorrow, again, she will be mine

The Crossword

It happened again the other day
There at the kitchen table
Wondering is it an ‘O’ or an ‘A’
I fold the morning paper back
And write an ‘O’
And then think no
And smudge the pink eraser black
And pencil in an ‘A’
And wondering if I’ve made a mistake
And check the clue to thirty down:  Siberian Lake
I count the pills in front of me
And take them in my trembling hand
(Gnarled as the root of a tree)
And think of course she’ll understand
Of course she’ll know
My Russian lake
And whether it is an ‘A’ or an ‘O’
And which of these pills I take
Today, and thinking  I’ll just go
And see if she’s awake
And ask if she didn’t used to play
This Mozart on the radio
And tell her it’s a bright, spring day,
I rise and open wide
The shade, and head back to the room
We’ve slept in side by side
For all these many years
And stare upon the empty bed
And suddenly remember (how could I have forgotten?)
She is dead

A Proffer

Had I but the words to mold
This page into your nether shape
Chisel ‘til I see unfold
Your comely tail, Stare agape
Upon your pretty rear, behold
My true and fine creation
There beside its inspiration
How would they compare?

The one a feeble reckoning
The other alive and beckoning
A rhyme that one can but recite
Or living flesh that one may bite
Or pinch or swat or smartly squeeze
Or love or mercilessly tease

And though a work of art may seem
At times to fill us like a dream
That mirrors what is true and real
(But in some perfect way expressed)
No poem yet did squirm or squeal
Or yearn to be caressed
And yet against this lovely sight
Of nature through the ages treasured
With its promise of delight
My creation must be measured
For this is no mere art for sake
Of art.  Instead I aim to make
A proffer of these lines, a trade,
A Tale for a tail take.
Of this my offer will be made:

I’ll liken your bottom to a moon
That hides itself by afternoon
And bares its beauty in the dark.
Your ever-comely cleft compare
To a coquette’s question mark,
That asks if I would ever dare
To navigate your noble shore
And when it seems I have no more
Poetic arrows in my quiver
I’ll find the magic metaphor
That unlocks a secret passage
To a  hidden,  mystic river

Have I yet earned, by my swift flight
Of imagery a lover’s right?
Not yet?  Well then I fear I must
Compare a tiger to my lust
And to a swan compare your grace
And in your pretty bottom see
The apple that led to Eve’s disgrace
Though here distinction I must make
Between the fruit that tempted Eve
And this one that lures the snake
For is it not a bit suspicious
That your rump should be so fair
Like a shiny Golden Delicious
As though a halo it did wear
Beguiling with an artful show
Of innocence in its soft glow
Though gaining yet a trace of red
When blushing sweetly at what is said
Of it, or showing a pinkish splotch
Where a friendly reprimand
Has left a trace of Macintosh
As though the image of the hand
Upon your flesh, the lovers’ brand,
So red and warm and bright
Reveals the fiery hidden passions
Underneath the virgin white

I pause to say by now I trust
I’ve earned your virtuous respect
And also something of your lust
But if by chance you still object
To our arrangement then I must
Find one more tool with which to make
Improvement for my offer’s sake
I choose allusion, that device
That marks a poet’s last resort
When all his muse has turned to ice
And so at last he must exhort
The lifeless ghosts of poets past
As though in séance they may free
By whispering some famous quote
His frozen creativity
And so in closing here I note
That against my last, great trope
Your coy defenses have no hope
The battle has been lost and won
With this eternal line of prose:
My love is like a red, red rose

Surrender now, my pretty one
My cherished prize I now must take
And with these lines my payment make
Our tender romance has begun