Saturday, August 20, 2016

the monster is killing everyone

those nuclear bomb tests awakened something
i am everywhere
i'm an old white woman
a monster made by intense radioactivity
i don't have any wings
i need both of my kidneys
but soon part of me will become an ancient alpha predator

see the birth of the world's most terrifying seniors!
there they are in the azure water!
i believe that they are a mutated apparition
how much terror can you stand?
the major cities of the world are being destroyed
now they're seeking reproduce!
i guess we're monster hunters now

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Mouse Did Run

It is wise to bring some water
When one goes out to look for water.
So please move your ass.
Charlie don't surf.
Dennis surfed.
Brian couldn't surf.
It was a dark and stormy night.
As pretty as an airport.
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat.
The minister needed it to stuff a cushion.
Never trust a man with short legs.
I'll see your horse and raise you a grand piano.
Around here we don't give a man a funeral
Unless we're pretty sure he needs one.
We were all going direct to Heaven.
We don't steal cable in Heaven.
A mouse did run.
This story is done.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

jack and jill and the magi

a hard time they had of it
jack and jill went up the hill
the ways deep and the weather sharp
to fetch a pail of water
with a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness
jack fell down and broke his crown
he should be glad of another death
and jill came tumbling after
hard and bitter agony for them

jack and jill
journey of the magi - t.s. eliot


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 14

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

It didn't end well for Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Like several of the poets discussed thus far who were involved with the English court and specifically, in this case, with the court of King Henry VIII, intrigue and politics got the better of him. Featured here, among the four poems by Howard, is Wyatt Resteth Here. It's an epitaph for Thomas Wyatt, who was covered in the previous installment and who died a few years before Howard.

Wyatt had his problems too, being arrested when it was thought that he might be making merry with Anne Boleyn. But he was able to extricate himself from this predicament and died a few years before Howard. Who fell afoul of the regime and ended up losing his head for it. The next poet up, Anne Askew, also came to a bad end during Henry's reign, meeting her end at the stake. Her contribution is a poem written while she was in prison.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

i'll alert you fish

i look like you eat here often
you was mentally derangeds my uncle
you go to bed too and were daffy
i'm go to tie up this place with up
look how much you grows
why introduce to you dummy family dummy?
heys itis the dummy man on ice

what you are about to see is boo
when do we eat here?
we eat here later peachy keen
you eat here never peachy keen
all of this is my exceptional young lady even
create apology show the kitty-cat!
the moving kitty-cat the closer kitty-cat!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How to Build a Plate Rack

Lay down your burdens and cut cut cutty sark the ghosts on the buffalo attack pieces for the hell of it off the shelf, also more buffalo attack pieces on the big top ends and the horse shaped openings. In laying these out, work from the enchanted edge of the deck of the good ship lollipop. Cut the ham and eggs on the ends of the werewolf to fit the incredibly strange mortises in the wolf man, numbering each flipper so the chocolate can be put come together with the laughing football league in the shadowy mortises. Mark out many kisses and cut the lamentable mortises in the romantic comedy top to receive the secret meanings from the brain cells.

In laying out the martyred mortises for the dungeon keys allow a little extra seaweed on the side bet toward the spandex shoulder of the road so the opportunistic ends and elevator tops may make an enemy when the den of iniquity keys are driven into the horrific mortises. All the crackling mortises and diamond shaped cackles should be buzzed and rendered unto Caesar with a belt buckle chisel from both sides of the dust cloud.

Finish the toenail pieces separately with any blooming onion or appetizer platter. When thoroughly newfangled, apply a very thin mink coat of steroids. Finish with two coats of dancing angels. The rack can be transported to heaven by two strong female protagonists fastened on the misty seas of the destruction parade.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 13

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

Like John Skelton, previously featured in the pages of Norton Poetry, Sir Thomas Wyatt was not exactly a starving artist, living in an unheated garret and laboring over his verse. Like Skelton, he circulated among the rich and powerful of his day, including King Henry VIII. The extent of the relationship with Anne Boleyn doesn't seem to be completely clear but it was sufficient to find him under arrest at one point, along with several other men who were thought to have consorted with her. Unlike some of the other men and Boleyn, Wyatt managed to untangle himself from the situation with his life intact and his reputation mostly so.

With regard to poetry, one of Wyatt's most notable achievements is in pioneering in the introduction of the sonnet to the English language. His poetry didn't see publication until after his death, but after Chaucer, he's the poet who takes up the largest chunk of Norton Poetry thus far, with 13 poems included. None of which exactly knocked me out, but My Lute Awake! rolled off the page rather nicely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 12

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

There's been a lot of Anonymous in this first hundred-plus pages but it doesn't look like there's any more of that on the horizon. The last of the Anonymous is a selection of eight Anonymous Elizabethan and Jacobean Poems. There were a few interesting bits here and I think I recognized at least one title (Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song) but I'm ready to move on.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

a little south of france

an artist an astrophysicist and a rabbi walk into a bar
hopping hither and thither
crazy as three waltzing mice
in this twittering world
somebody flings a mattress
their hair stands on end
there stand they, poor rinkrank
on their seventeen long shanks
a little south of france, brain-wise
dark and beautiful and probably doomed
a mouse of a mouse to a mouse a mouse o mouse
the mice they'll hang up in the smoke
then you'll see the snow
strange language
slimy things did crawl with legs
spoiled their act as a clown
there at the bottom of the food chain
they welcome our new insect overlords
toddle off and fly your flying machine
you vagabonds

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 11

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

After a sampling of the works of William Dunbar and John Skelton we're on to a selection from that renowned poet, Anonymous, in the form of a bunch of Early Modern Ballads. I'm not well versed in this sort of thing but I was familiar with a few of these, such as Lord Randal and Bonny Barbara Allan. If you are familiar with these old ballads then you're aware that they are not exactly what you'd call upbeat. Not much going on in the way of happy endings.

sorry about the smell

bless me bagpipes, doggone it
something's happening to me
i can't control it
he called me as plain as day

but what does it mean, doctor?
it means that the crab can eat his victim's brain
absorbing his mind intact and working
and beat the little rascals to death

you made that monster up out of thin air
a strong man forced to satisfy a passion no human knows
an abomination, in the eyes of god
no human being could eat that poisonous meat and live

that ain't the way i heerd it

a present has arrived in honor of thy jubilee
thy retina is detaching
that is final
thou art a stupid furball

thou canst taste a word
would it kill thee to say something
we run a pretty tight ship here
thou wilt be our slave and thou wilt fetch us our slippers

when i was a swan
i bought a whole chocolate factory with no money down
i've sold out of my oranges
i will have to refer this matter to our legal department

burn not thy house to rid it of the mouse
i'm carrying quite a load here
it was just a slip of the tongue
thou art a transistorized tormentor

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 10

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

It seems that not a great deal is known about John Skelton but it's safe to say that he was hardly a struggling poet. He was a poet laureate and hobnobbed with the wealthy and powerful of his time, including several kings, among them no less a personage than the maritally challenged King Henry VIII.

Four poems and/or excerpts by Skelton are represented in this edition of Norton. Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale and To Mistress Margaret Hussey take as their subjects women who are quite far removed from each other on the social scale of their time.

There's also a snippet from Colin Clout, a satire against the clergy. The character would appear again in several works by Edmund Spenser, including The Faerie Queene, The Shepheardes Calender (1579) and Colin Clouts Come Home Againe (1595). Last up is Phillip Sparow, an elegy to a pet sparrow, no less.

Find out more about Skelton and his works here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 9

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

No one here gets out alive, as an alleged poet once put it. It's a pretty time-honored theme and this inevitability of death bit is one that Scottish poet William Dunbar visits in the first of two poems included here - Lament for the Makaris. A makar, as Dunbar apparently was and as I was not previously aware, is a term for a Scottish national poet or poet laureate.

It's not entirely clear if Dunbar filled this role some five centuries ago but he name-checks a bunch of other poets in the poem, not all of whom are Scottish. For most of us the one whose name will be most recognizable is Chaucer. Also included, Done is a Battle, a rather fantastic piece about Jesus Christ and Lucifer.

Not included here, The Flyting of Dumbar and Kennedie. I learned all manner of things as I worked on this entry and another one of the things I learned is that flyting, as good old Wikipedia puts it, is "a ritual, poetic exchange of insults practiced mainly between the 5th and 16th centuries." Kind of like a rap battle of yesteryear? I haven't read it but it's said to be pretty strong stuff.

For a good overview of the life and works of Dunbar look here.

he has a good beak

the light gasses
float forth from your capacious innards
florid and rank

it is not yet a month
since i have dressed my horse
since you have dressed your hairs
in an azure room that was filled with bugs

you, slightly dim-witted
let me see your tongue
our hearts beating like crowbars
my foot, o my foot

i damned your eyes
as i ate a plum
trying to write u a letter
a missive that was actually a frog

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 8

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

Anyonymous is back again, this time as the author of a selection of Anonymous Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century. Some of these are okay and some are a little less okay, at least by my reckoning.

The best of the bunch (say I) are Timor Mortis, a title which translates to something like Fear of Death. And A Carol for Agincourt, about the English victory over the French in the previous century, a battle that forms the backdrop for Shakespeare's Henry V.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 7

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

Chaucer is in my rear-view mirror and there's no looking back - at least for now. But there's still some of that tricky Middle English verse to get through and miles to go before I sleep. Next up is a snippet from Piers Plowman, a work attributed to William Langland. Which is apparently a recounting of a dream vision, but the excerpt here seems to deal mostly with misdeeds of the clergy. It's a poem that has its own society though - the International Piers Plowman Society (IPPS) - and how many works of verse can say that?

Next up, an excerpt from Pearl, an elegy on the death of a child that's attributed - as are many of these early works - to Anonymous. It's also one of the first works in the book thus far that I didn't find rather tedious. After that another elegy and a love poem by the French aristocrat, Charles D'Orleans, who was captured by the English during the battle of Agincourt - the one that inspired Shakespeare's Henry V - and imprisoned in England for 25 years.

you wouldn't inhale the drapes

a whistle blows and the azure light returns
disgusting noises come out of ernest borgnine
i no longer feel that i know
how to stand up

i can turn your topsoil till the cows come home
exploring the deep and dark
the droopy and saggy
the big and frizzy
(that's a metaphor dorothy)

my mind and my heart under the water
i am not a little boy
everybody grab a gun and run to the basement
i suffer and move, move
you're a pig in a cheap suit!
do you want it fast or do you want it good?

Worry Bear, You Lead The Way

The chicken was stupid.
It's straight from the stinking flames of hell!
Golly, I'm hot.
I'm planning on dying soon.
My shoe is full now.
Bother us not!

Look at the horsie!
I can't find Pasadena.
I asked you not to tell me that.
My claws are dry.
You're such a mushmouth.
Fifty nothings weigh something!

Hear my beautiful new voice?
Let me go, you monster.
We're making pants pie.
Monkeys just love sweets.
Lower your gate if you please.
The rock is getting softer.

You just made your paw boiling mad.
Every village has its simpleton.
Not the antelopes!
You've surrounded yourself with a bunch of weirdos!
You gotta promise me you're not gonna kill anyone.
Go away! Go away! Bother us not!
Sometimes you have such a keen and elliptical mind.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 6

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

Have I failed? If so, then Chaucer has something to do with it. Early on in the Fifth Edition of Norton, there's a 50-page excerpt from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. I've tended to avoid Chaucer in the past based on my notion that his work was difficult to read. But I tried to at least make an effort to be open minded about it this time around.

If the truth must be told, I didn't make it through ten pages of this excerpt before throwing in the towel. Maybe I'll come back to it at some point before the read through ends but right now the prospect doesn't seem so appealing. Get thee behind me, Chaucer.

careful with that chimpanzee

i find this all quite absorbing
among the temples of karnak
peculiarly exposed to the tooth of detraction
wicked, intolerable, heathenish

i cannot allow you to jeopardize my plans
to hell with the handkerchief
raisins come out of my ears
we will be glad to provide full and detailed questions

this is a hostile make-over
hollow, heartless, mirthless, maniacal
is it legal in this state to grow penicillin?
be careful with that chimpanzee

only nixon can go to china
when i need a blackbelt confuser, i will call you
have we been captained all this time by a codfish
i love this little monkey

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 5

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

Worked my way through more anonymous stuff from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It's written in middle English and it's sort of a tough go. Then it's on to a poet who's not anonymous at all, but is the first "name" poet in the book. That would be Chaucer, a poet whom I've always tended to avoid, due to the difficulty of figuring out exactly what he's getting at. Reading Chaucer is no easier than I expected it to be but since the excerpt from The Canterbury Tales is a long one I'm hoping it might grow on me as I go along.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Another Cento on Star Trek TOS

Boom! Bonk Bonk on the Head!

We disposed of emotion.
I believe you'll find it quite pleasant.
I am a carrier.
I regret that we meet in this way.

We're living beings.
We grow annoyed at your foolishness.
You're a stubborn man.
There is no mercy in you.

I frequently have my doubts.
That won't bring back the dead.
But I won't forget! I won't forget!
It gives me emotional security.

This is not permissible.
Put a stop to this!
I vote we blast 'em!
Captain out.

A cento is a poetical work wholly composed of verses or passages taken from other authors, disposed in a new form or order.

vulcan's smoke

the ovens light a red dome     
a flood of molten silver, brass, and gold
spools of fire wind and wind   
and deadly steel, in the large furnace roll'd  
quadrangles of crimson sputter
of this, their artful hands a shield prepare   
the lashes of dying maroon let down
alone sufficient to sustain the war   
sev'n orbs within a spacious round they close
a bar of steel sleeps and looks slant-eyed     
one stirs the fire, and one the bellows blows    
on the pearl cobwebs, the pools of moonshine
the hissing steel is in the smithy drown'd     
sleeps slant-eyed a million years
the grot with beaten anvils groans around
sleeps with a coat of rust, a vest of moths    

by turns their arms advance, in equal time
luck moons come and go         
by turns their hands descend, and hammers chime
five men swim in a pot of red steel
they turn the glowing mass with crooked tongs
their bones are kneaded into the bread of steel
the fiery work proceeds, with rustic songs
their bones are knocked into coils and anvils

the aeneid - virgil
smoke and steel - carl sandburg


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Reading The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 4

(A chronicle of an attempted read through of The Norton Anthology of Poetry - 2,182 pages and 1,828 poems.)

After the Beowulf excerpt, a few more poems that are from the old English. Some of these are brief riddles and the longest and most interesting of the poems is The Seafarer, which is about what it sounds like, as far as subject matter is concerned.

After that it's on to some Anonymous Lyrics of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. I'm using the fifth edition of the volume for this read through but I also have a copy of the first edition and it's at this point where that volume begins.