Line by Line and Measure for Measure

“Read me, Daddy. Read me,” so my son said

From the other side of our table.

The big book between us. “Shakespeare?”, I said,

“It’s boring and old.” He was four unfazed.

“Read me, Daddy.” I read the lines aloud.

Cheeks rested on balled up fists. Enraptured

With the rhythms of the words. He stopped me.

“Why’s the Duke in disguise, Daddy?” he asked.

“It’s his secret identity,” I said.

“Is he like Batman?” he asked. “I think so,”

I said. “And Angelo is the Joker

Although Pompey is funnier than him.”

And enraptured in the story of it,

My son just said, “Read me, Daddy. Read me.”

I wrote this sonnet in April 2021. I was curious to see how far my writing had progressed in one year’s time. I had remembered how clumsy I thought this poem was at the time, but after a year of not looking at it, I am pleasantly surprised. This poem is good. It has smooth flowing lines, and it clearly tells the story. Even though it is written as a blank verse sonnet, it does not feel like I cut corners due to the brevity of the form. I don’t know why I thought it was a clumsy poem. I guess I couldn’t get off my overly critical editing hat at the time because I now think this poem is good.

I Demand Respect—Flarf

Respect is for brass windchimes

Hanging in silence, the secrets

Of front porch meth heads talking

With animals and doing

Hamlet on motorcycles

While running their narcotics.

.

Respect is for children fried

Into pigskins in old lard

Behind the red barn shining

Through trees grown like a rug

Aligned into rituals

And broken vodka bottles.

.

Respect is for storied

Cities and old homes with red

And green colored leaves

Wrapped tight into small bushels

And bound to kill unwanted

Mythological undead.

***

FLARF is a wild style of poetry that started as a joke. People noticed that no matter how bad your poems were Poetry.com would tell you that you had won their poetry prize. Then, they would try to scam you out of your money. So devious poets started sending the crappiest poetry they could write to Poetry.com. Even that would win the poetry prize. These poets began sending each other their crappy poems, and eventually it became a legitimate poetry style. If you want to read more about the FLARF or any of the other poetry terms, check out the glossary of poetic terms from the Poetry Foundation at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms

Google painting is a type of collaging that primarily uses internet search results and Google’s search prediction capabilities to generate quasi-random phrases. The technique helps jumpstart creativity with strange juxtapositions, broken syntax, and internet speak.

Pegleg Pete—Blank Verse

When my son began to crawl, he learned that

If he really wanted to move, he would

Have to get up on two hands and one knee

And one foot. He would be there crouched like half

A frog ready to leap to the safety

Of the pond. Then, he would crawl like normal

Until he got to that foot when he would

Lunge and set back down on his foot with a

Clomp! He sounded like a peglegged pirate

Walking the deck. And that is how got that name.

.

And now, like how all of my old nicknames

Have transferred to him, his name has transferred

To me. With my ankle healing and my

Crutches gone and a hard plastic brace on

My foot, I walk like a one-legged man

Surveying the house like a pirate captain

Commanding the deck of his ship limping

And swaying as he goes. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp!

.

Blank verse is unrhymed poetry written in iambic pentameter. That means that there are ten syllables per line and the rhythm is broken up into iambs of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. I do not claim that my poem follows the iambic pattern in any rigorous way. In fact, I work out the rhythms of my iambic pentameter by ear and I allow for natural variance of speech. If upon subsequent readings I deem that the lines do not flow properly, I may shift the words around into a more fluent pattern. If you want to read more about the blank verse or any of the other poetry terms, check out the glossary of poetic terms from the Poetry Foundation at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms

December Poem 2: The Flattened Shadows

Life on a black Monday extended as

To kill all the light in the house. Shaking

Out the man’s hands and god’s to hold loose their

Gaze, I find myself balanced on this blind

Woman’s grip of existence. The black and

White echoes of where things might be. Confound

These frozen nights frosted with angry dogs

Barking at the flattened shadow of things

Hidden only in the deep dark rising

Fast from the drunken steam of your own breath.

December Poem 1: Who Cares for a White Christmas?

With each drop of snow, the bough would straighten

A little closer to its former height

In short increments like the stiff back of

An old peddler who had just let down his

 

Pack. And the sun reflected like shaved glass

Off the boughs heavy with snow that broke loose

In the field of white to unwrap more green

And to fall in clumps like comets followed

 

By a tail of drifting powder. The green

Struggling to hold to life in the frozen

Desert of white. Life more beautiful and

Mysterious, the evergreens had a

 

Natural giftwrap decorated to

Rival the pale imitation held so

Proudly decapitated in my home

Rooted in piles of consumer goods.

November Poem 12: Marina (Part 9)

That night, I didn’t drink. As bad as I

Wanted to. As bad as my life seemed at

The time. I just looked at the paint on the

Wall. And there next to the raised bead where the

Shipwright had welded together the two

Sheets of steel was a raised lump in the paint.

Pressing my finger against the lump, it

Deformed with a slight crunch. It was my fault.

I had been neglecting her ignoring

The rust near the waterline. The blotches

Dripping down like fat tears of blood. In the

Morning, I would address the problems with

A needle gun and a few coats of paint.

With love and hard work she would forgive me.

 

Marina (Part 8)

Marina (Part 7)

Marina (Part 6)

Marina (Part 5)

Marina (Part 4)

Marina (Part 3)

Marina (Part 2)

Marina (Part 1)

How I Write: a Walk Through

November Poem 11: Sunday in the Park

Black and white flocked on the green field honking

And scratching lazy through the grass. Mother

Sat by and watched (or didn’t) as she was

Posing for hundreds of pictures in her

Long dress and sun hat hoping for the one

Lucky one from that perfect angle that

Makes her look prettier and a hundred

Pounds lighter. Out in the field, her son, the

Angry fat kid tried his best to hit the

Geese as he lumbered toward the flock and heaved

The ball in an arcing directionless

Toss. Her fat kid with a football chased the

Flock into flight. Haphazard and frightened,

They were all getting some needed exercise.

November Poem 10: The Heckler’s Veto

I walked out on the stage and choked down the

Blood filled consciousness of style. The red

In the faces of the people in the

Crowd. The halos on their crown. The yelling

In unison to overpower the

P.A. But this language serves. And willing,

I forgot how I fought through the echo

Of these cracked bricks of wall to have my voice

Heard. My religious rhetoric couldn’t

Belie fart fetish inconsistencies

To discuss the blank painted few and the

Furniture decorations revolving

Completely around far chicken and the

Ways that these things disprove the narrative.

November Poem 9: The Creeping Vines of Verse

I needed to write for my daughter and

The blood on the porthole that was covered

In Neosporin. But that style of

Writing comes from the black volcanic beach

Sand in the decorated card that I

Always keep in my vest pocket on the

Days that I feel the need to dress well. But

When real men come down to real writing it

Is time to get some man style robot-

Suit sleep to calm the clink and chunk offered

By impulse sensibilities. Sure I

Could brainstorm a stand of trees that clicked pay

Now on the creeping vines of kudzu in

Autumn nights, but who has  time for all that?

November Poem 8: Marina (Part 5)

(Sorry, I wrote this one out of order. I hope you can handle the confusion.)

 

When I was on the street, Jimmy had been

The only one that still had anything

To do with me. He’d give me a few

Dollars in exchange for odd jobs that he

Could no longer do. The work gave me time

Away from the bottle to think things through,

But mostly, I came for the pictures of

My daughter. My wife and I had named her

Marina in Jimmy’s honor because

He had worked as a fishing boat captain

Before he knew about the MS and

Was forced to retire. My daughter held

A prominent place amongst the lot of

His pictures if not always in my mind.

 

Marina (Part 8)

Marina (Part 7)

Marina (Part 6)

 

Marina (Part 4)

Marina (Part 3)

Marina (Part 2)

Marina (Part 1)

How I Write: a Walk Through