May Comes Just in Time

And have you ever wondered what it’s like

to have the adulation of the crowd,

to be the one that everybody wants

to be, the one that everybody envies? Well,

consider for a moment what it’s like.

Consider what you’d lose if it was you.

I don’t imagine what it’s like. I know

what it is like when everyone you know,

and even strangers half a world away,

can tell what you are thinking, what you’ve done

and haven’t done; can share with others all

and everything. It isn’t possible to hide.

And what is worse, I’ve done it to myself.

It’s all my fault, but I can make it stop.

I can and will retreat, will cover up and hide.

No longer will you see me on a pedestal,

a plinth, a soapbox ranting to the world.

And even though, at times, my readers have

been numbered in the upper single digits,

I’m quitting anyway. It’s at an end.

When I was working on a master’s degree it took me a year and a half to write thirty dumb poems to submit as a master’s thesis. And now I’ve written thirty poems just this month. And if I staggered to the end, I did make it to the end The winner isn’t just the one who finishes ahead of everybody else. Everyone who does the impossible wins. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The Mind And Heart In Conflict

The steady, steady, steady, steady beat

is interrupted by a different beat,

a looser rhapsody whose rhythmic beat

is filled with interruptions, extra beats

and silences, a wild abandonment

of order, structure, pace. Cacophony

is what I hear. A jumbled, restless beat

that can’t be right. That needs to go away.

I want the beat to steady. It should be

predictable: ta dum, ta bum, ta dum;

a boring beat to fit a boring man.

This wild exuberance is not for me.

Dum . . . Dum . . . Dum . . . Stability

is what is wanted, needed. Dum. Dum. Dum.

I can’t predict the wild, orgiastic excesses

I feel. I need the metronome I’m used to.

Extra beats are fine for someone else.

I’m bothered when expected beats are missed

and wait impatiently for their return.

It isn’t right. It isn’t right. But still

I hope the beat, the music never stops.

Success is Nearly Here

There isn’t any reason I should fail.

I mean, come on. It’s easy. Isn’t it?

It isn’t rocket science after all

where there’s a zillion things you have to know

like squaring roots of cubic octagons,

and figuring the oxygen you’d need

to keep alive a panicked astronaut

when he discovers when he’s way out there

he’s eaten all the waffles on his ship,

and now the choice is starve or slit his wrists.

If bozos riding chipmunks can succeed

then why not me? It doesn’t even take

a half a brain to make it work. I’m sure

that I could even do it in my sleep.

The challenge isn’t doing it you know.

There isn’t any challenge don’t you know.

I’ll start tomorrow morning when I’m fresh.

A Lecture on the Great Vowel Shift

(If you’ve been a student you have probably sat through some variation of this lecture and had the experience of being in a class taught by this instructor.)

I know. It’s boring. You can take a pass

today. Forget about the lecture. Sleep.

It doesn’t matter if you are awake

or not or sleeping at your desks with eyeballs glazed.

In fact, I think that I’d prefer them glazed . . .

in aspic. I digress. But that’s all right.

My lecture is about a seismic shift

in language. Nothing of importance. Dumb.

So fiddle with your phones. Pretend to care.

Or don’t. It doesn’t matter either way

for nothing makes a difference in your lives.

But anyway, in case there’s anyone

who cares, imagine you are speaking French

or Spanish. Have you been to Italy

and listened to the way the words are formed?

It isn’t necessary that you know

what’s being said. It’s how it’s being said.

The vowels are weird. They haven’t got a clue

about the way they are supposed to sound.

An I is E and A is awful. Flat

and blah. And as for how an O or U

is spoken, well not one of you would understand

the way they worked or sounded. You would need

a Babel fish implanted in your ear,

and even then you’d probably be lost.

It’s fortunate you’re living now not then.

That cataclysm’s over. Probably

you needn’t worry how the letters sound

right now, and who cares how they sounded then?

I think you’re all asleep. I’m outa here.

Compassionate Justice

It’s all the fault of caterpillars in

Brazil. If only we could wipe them out

there’d never be another butterfly

who’d flap its wings disturbing everything.

A hurricane in Maine? You know the cause.

A butterfly along the Amazon

decided it would give an extra flap

before it settled on a flower to eat.

The quake in China? Yep. A butterfly’s

the cause. It must have landed extra hard.

Religious strife. You’ve lost your job. The wars.

If only we could kill that butterfly

then all the problems in the world would end.

We’d have to be compassionate of course.

And if you think it’s cruel, it’s not as cruel

as cutting off its wings. We’d be humane.

But after all, it is a murderer.

So if we murdered it it would be right,

and it would surely get what it deserved.

So kill them all because we can’t be sure

exactly who is causing all the world’s ills.

Peach Leaves

A green I mixed a couple years ago

(I think it has a touch of yellow, red,

and maybe just a little bit of brown);

and over that a muddy, yellow glaze,

and over that a thinned out ugly brown.

The leaves are done. It really shouldn’t work.

I only know it does. An ugly mix

of colors that I ought to throw away

and peach leaves glow. The watercolor’s done.

I wish that everything would work as well.

You’ve got a neighbor that you really hate?

Well mix him with the eyesore down the street.

And the result? A sculpture garden grows.

It doesn’t matter if it’s gardening,

lasagna, or a television show.

The trick is always in the mix and how

the parts are mixed together. Do it wrong

and all you’ve got is just a muddy mess.

But just for now I think I got it right.

Snickerdoodles

A low fat snickerdoodle’s worth a try.

There only is a single gram of fat

in every cookie says the recipe.

But cream of tartar, what the heck is that?

“Scrapings from the barrel when making wine” . . .

at least so Google says. And I’m supposed

to put it in my cookie dough? It sounds

like Russian horsemen on the steppes

attacking villagers and pillaging.

The cupboard’s bare of anything like that.

But baking powder can be used instead.

The villagers are safe. Great. Everything

I need for snickerdoodles is right here.

“Put sugar, softened butter in a bowl”

Does that mean leave the butter in the sun

or can I nuke it in the microwave?

It would be nice to have a recipe

that was precise, that said exactly what

was wanted here. Am I in India

and making ghee? Is soft in Iceland just

the same as soft would be in Borneo?

“And mix. Then add the flour and the rest,

and mix again. Refrigerate the mess.”

I’ve got it. Cookies will be served for lunch.