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

My Love is like the Southern Summer Breeze

My love is like the southern summer breeze,

Slow, sticky, and smells like a chicken farm

Gleaming read and dirty in the distance.

Her hair is like a garden of vegetables

Bald except for a few struggling plants

Fighting off beetles and worms and root rot.

Her mouth like a sprawling field of bluegrass

Ringed with a fence of teeth, a few weathered

Planks still standing after the others fell.

Her body a sturdy line holding clothes

Of fading unmatched colors hanging off

Like all of a homeless man’s belongings.

And her mind is like poetry written

Ringing of the men who don’t understand.