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A collection of nonsense, light
verse and other lyric oddments.

 But then, as such,

 I never liked

 squirrels much.


Verse Lite

Piezoelectric Piffle

Surface Schmaltz

The Heart’s Desire

Miss Blank Sank

Stopping by a Lamborghini on a Sunny Morning

The New Word

It Ends with Weeping

I Count Myself a King of Infinite Space

Coordinates of the Current Circumstances

No Really Rondelet

Antidote for Gratefulness

Watching Somebody Doing Something …

All That Doom

Poor Johns and Other Short Light Verse

Poor Johns

Rebuttal to Comparison of a Sonnet with a Slinky

Christmas Observance


Surface Tension

Words to Live By

Some Contemporary Sutras


Existential Sonnet

Be Nice, Behave

Importance of Being Absent

Song to Load the Dishwasher By

Nonsense of Various Ilk

The Reason Don’t Listen



Auxiliary Street

Someone Take This Sand, I'll Be The Void

Bric-a-Brac Hombre

Spleen: Genus Irritabile Vatum

To My Reader

Effects of the Plague

Bilous Villanelle

Breathing, and Other Annoyances

Not Another Poem with an Asphodel

Three Short Poems for Malaise

Verse Lite

Piezoelectric Piffle


Piezoelectric effect: the property exhibited by certain non-conductive crystals of becoming electrically polarized when mechanically strained and of becoming mechanically strained when an electric field is applied. (Greek: piez(ein) to press)

— Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary


The poet will be asked some time,

“Where do you get your poems?

Where do ideas come from?”

Relax, man, you don’t owe ‘em.


I understand the problem though;

a shrug will not suffice.

These dull-wits would ask God about

crop yields in paradise.


So if it helps, I’ll give you mine:

an answer that will serve.

“The piezoelectric effect,” I say,

define it (it takes some nerve).

“I put a hand on either side of my head,

and push till something sparks, or I’m dead.”



Surface Schmaltz

for Kimberly


“That’s the worst kind,” Frank told Debbie,

then sang “The Tender Trap” to show her how:

up-tempo, drawing out a word,

and punching up the “whap!” with cuckoo pow.


The lesson’s clear: there’s hard boiled attitude,

cocked hats, the music, and several kinds of schmaltz.

Ain’t none will work unless you live it too;

you’ve got to feel the three-four time to waltz.



The Heart’s Desire

…would we not shatter it to bits…

— FitzGerald’s “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”


The world is on a precipice

and needs a little shove,

so stoke the cosmic engine’s fires:

Destruct-o-Beam, my love!


There’s nothing here that suits our minds,

all’s duller than a dove;

let’s tear its heart with raptor’s beak:

Destruct-o-Beam, my love!


We’ll smash the earth to finest grit

and split the sky above;

we’ll freeze the sea to shatter it:

Destruct-o-Beam, my love!


So don the goggles, dear, and pass

the catalytic glove;

we’ll blast this globe to atom ash:

Destruct-o-Beam, my love!


(First published in Between Kisses,  October 2006.)


Miss Blank Sank


Miss Blank was fond of the anchor.

Who knows why or what we’ll hanker?

To feel loved by her swain,

she wore its chain.

I warned her and couldn’t be franker.

But Miss Blank was fond of the anchor.

With a pretty clink,

she wrapped link after link.

The anchor dropped and sank her.


I swore a day upon the shore,

oh sure, and shed a tear or more.

Toasted grief,

that lonely reef,

but tomorrow it’s back to the oar.


Ms Free tried to comfort me,

“Love’s our anchor, mon cheri.”

She tried a kiss,

I made her miss.

She’d confused love with stupidity.

Again Ms Free tried to comfort me.

I said love was fine,

but there was a line.

Then she said I had no sympathy.


I’ll dress up and go to town with it,

and gladly verb and noun with it.

It’s true that love

is sweet, my dove,

but I’m not going down with it.


Stopping by a Lamborghini on a Sunny Morning

(With apologies to Robert Frost)


Whose car this is I think I know;

the car was valet parked, and so

he will not see me lurking here,

lost in the glint of showroom glow.


My reflections warp, begin to jeer

and charge that I should change career;

there is scant cash in academe.

The car costs twice what I make a year!


I hover, caught in its slick gleam

while hot dreams blur by in a stream

of power, speed and sex — I blush,

awaken, and shake off the dream.


Inside it's lovely, dark and plush,

but the valet eyes me with distrust.

And I'm too poor to sate such lust,

I'm too damn poor to sate such lust.


The New Word


I’m always looking for the new word.

— Brandy Burrows


In the beginning was the word;

by now you’ve certainly heard,

so what we need

to get up to speed

is something never lit’ratured.


Please manage your hysteria;

there are precise criteria:

nothing prosaic,

nothing archaic,

and no faux synth-Shakespearia.


Yes to what’s mellifluous;

no to the linguistic platypus,

the stiff, icky,

or scientificky.

Easy to spell is not a plus.


No brainless game of match and mix

of prefix, root-word, suffix:

part Greek, part Roman —

no patchwork nomen-

clature, please. We know the tricks.


It must be new! Certainly,

beyond all etymology!





a mystery, necessity.


Impossible? Absurd?

We poets must be undeterred!


we’re on the verge

of a new beginning. So what’s the word?



It Ends with Weeping

The poet-teacher scanned the student's lines,

stood up, and with a sweeping

hand, gestured grandly to the class and said,

"Don't end a poem with 'weeping.'"


"Oh my, it's much too melodramatic,"

he added. I felt a creeping

rebellion take firm hold as he concluded:

"No good poem ends with 'weeping.'"


I vowed right then to prove him wrong, a vow

that I intended keeping.

I'd dedicate myself to that one task.

I'd even give up sleeping.


I wrote some lines, read them, and tossed them out,

again, again, till heaping

defeats were spilled like dead scythed down by war;

I fear I face more reaping.


I'll pause, the kitchen calls, where yet another

half gallon of tea is steeping.

There's comfort, though, for one small thing is sure:

I know it ends with weeping.

I Count Myself a King of Infinite Space


and count myself a king of infinite space

Hamlet, Act II, scene 2


I have a simple way when worries mount:

I dance a jig as if some merry elf

and count.


Enumerating prizes on the shelf,

I itemize ideal, iconic things

and count myself.


And then amid those charms of which I sing,

I apprehend that I am sovereign

and count myself a king.


For all that’s best’s encapsuled in my skin,

the rest’s excluded out as I embrace

and count myself a king of in.


I grace the place, I am the very case,

I’m all in all, I’m every wisdom’s fount

and count myself a king of infinite space.


Coordinates of the Current Circumstances


1. Abscissa


After breakfast, Candida drives elephants,

fumigates giraffes, hides iguanas, jujitsus kangaroos,

laughs, mouth noticeably open.

Professionals query, respect such terribly

useful veterinarian warning: “X-ray your zebra!”


2. Ordinate


Aliens bombard California, demons eat

Florida, gorgeous hobos incite jealous Kardashians,

logocentric militants nix “Oprah porn”, quagmires

reactivate: seeing television’s ultra virulence,

weary Xavier yawns zealously.


3. Applicate


Amen, brother. Cast desire expeditiously,

for good. Hurl identity, jettison knowledge’s lame

monopoly, negate opposition, pursue quantum

restoration, supersede trivial urgency,

vomit worldliness, x yesterday’s Zen.

No Really Rondelet

It is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second, into two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain. – Pierre de Fermat


This form’s too narrow to contain

my poem. I’ve conceived a juggernaut

this form’s too narrow to contain.

So you will never know (are you distraught?)

the beautiful, sublime, profoundest thought

this form’s too narrow to contain.

Antidote for Gratefulness


I say a silent prayer for

the chicken-american who

was sacrificed to make my lunch.

I feel the tenderness beneath the crunch,

the warm, dear breast of selfless virtue,

and I am humbled to the core.


They do so much! The stock for soups

to cure the common cold. And more!

Such love brings tears to make me blink.

Whoever you are, whatever you think

of the ad man’s beef versus chicken wars,

my god, you gotta support the coops!


Watching Somebody Doing Something Really Stupid


Alas. Bah! Cripes. Dear me. Egad!

Fie! Gosh. Heads-up! Idiot! Jeez.

‘K. Lordy. My word. No! Ooh.

Phew. Quotha “rats!” So long. Touche!

Uh-oh. Voila! Well, X that. Yikes!


All That Doom


All that would not be apropos,

that mood of doom: today I wear

my yellow, blue and red chapeau.


I spurn those who, with memes of woe,

from screens and desk chairs cry beware:

all that would not be apropos.


On apocalyptic roshambo

they place their bets; yet none can scare

my yellow, blue and red chapeau.


That nuke-tox-eco-catastro-show

hawked by each doom concessionaire:

all that would not be apropos.


My black beret, that itchy crow,

has flown. I don in place of hair

my yellow, blue and red chapeau.


Pills, shots, or guns, to this Joe Poe

(or TikTok views) seem like despair.

All that would not be apropos.


And I got villanelles, rondeaux,

all colors if I twirl with flair

my yellow, blue and red chapeau.


Don’t spread that gloomy, doomy guano,

not while I look so debonair.

All that would not be apropos

my yellow, blue and red chapeau.

Poor Johns and Other Short Light Verse


Poor Johns

Poor John is dead; we see his face no more,

for what he thought was H2O

was H2SO4.

— Anonymous


Note: I have long been amused by the dark-humored little verse above, and so have written a number of pieces modeled on its form and flavor. A discussion of the form appears in the All Night, the Labyrinths chapweb.



Poor Lucy’s dead, a girl who shone so bright,

for smoking while she sprayed her hair,

now gives more heat than light.



Poor Chris is dead; he is forever grounded,

for the Christmas lights were not unplugged

as he earlier propounded.



Poor Grace is dead, we’ll miss her sense of style;

she rocked those four-inch platform sandals

but missed the broken tile.



Poor Blythe is dead, a girl so sweet and light;

she caught the feather on the ledge,

which did not help her flight.



The Sword-Swallower


Poor Pierce is dead, he topped his trick and split:

he smoothly swallowed an umbrella

but gagged and opened it.





Poor Will is dead; he thought his thoughts could act.

He wished to halt the southbound train

which stopped him in its tracks.



Poor Jack is dead, but there’s the photograph:

a selfie, mountain climbing sex.

Jack fell, Jill tumbled af —


Kama Sutragedy


Poor Stretch is dead, at rest in his last position.

He twined, she thrust, he bent too much:

a C2 C3 scission.



Rebuttal to Comparison of a Sonnet with a Slinky


Yes, very like a spring, but I don't think

that sonnets ever sprawl like toys one finds

on dusty shelf or on some step, post-slink,

but coiled machines that every read rewinds.



Christmas Observance


We'd be dancing naked round the tree

if we had any sense of fun or history.




We cluck at the tanned, hard-bodied jetsam,

but we all wish we could just get some.


And we say that cash is just so much flotsam,

but really we wish we had got some.

Surface Tension


Balance mass, area and attraction.

Get it right, and no one sneezes,

and you’re practically Jesus.

Words To Live By

Some Contemporary Sutras

with epigrammatic commentary

Blind Man: Buddha once sat before a wall, and when he arose, he was enlightened.

Cord: Do you compare yourself with Buddha?

Blind Man: No. Only to a wall.

Circle of Iron, Avco Embassy Pictures, 1978


Store in Cool, Dry Place


For medications, and the Skippy,

for celluloid

and peace of mind, avoid

the overheated or the drippy.



Shake Well


In grammar as in life, excel,

and never fake it.

If you’re gonna shake it,

don’t shake it good, but shake it well.



Do Not Abruptly Discontinue


Though all must end, and ashes scatter,

in love, in life,

with booze or knife,

it is the how that seems to matter.




“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant my mantra as I walk,

stay mindful of the now.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant, but stumble, and learn

from Master Sidewalk Crack.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant, mindful of the scrape.

Master Band-Aid® teaches much.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant and sit, though Master Pain

plays instructor, then distractor.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant and think upon my mantra,

await the revelations of its senses.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,”

I chant and thank my master for it,

Master Budweiser T-shirt.


“Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul,

Ma-kee-nuh wuh-sha-bul.”

Existential Sonnet


You’d be surprised what’s going on,

what’s going down, who’s getting off,

what’s coming up, how far it’s gone.


The jaded tsk, the cynics scoff,

but there are monkeys on the moon,

and 9 distinctive ways to cough.


Are you prepared to meet your doom,

so made your peaces, Mr./Ms



Too wired to muse the is in is?

Too ponderous to ponder us?

Then take this simple, sexy quiz!


If 1% of you is phosphorus,

do you glow brighter than a platypus?


Be Nice, Behave

for and after Don

My father told me to be nice,

to always be polite,

to thank all those who gave advice,

and not to curse or fight.


My mother told me to behave,

to study hard in school,

to say, “hello,” and not just wave,

and mind the golden rule.


But people are not nice, I learned,

they’re rude, ungrateful jerks,

that bad for good is what’s returned,

and smiles are met with smirks.


I tried my best, I played the fool,

and so endured the worst.

I follow now the tarnished rule:

“Do unto others — first.”

The Importance of Being Absent


Gonna use my sidestep.

— The Pretenders, “Brass in Pocket”


The move is basic, yet

most walk straight in,

and live to regret;

you stand and grin,

I’ll begin the bolero.

Here comes the bear;

you say beware – oh,

I’m not there!


When outrageous fortunes brew,

why choose fight or die

when slight of shoe

is worth a try?

So when some sling or arrow

slices the air

and options narrow,

you’re not there.


Some put their faith in faith,

some in disbelief;

but, what you saith

when it comes like a thief

and God forgets the sparrow?

When all’s despair,

with hell to harrow,

be not there.


Some want status and fame,

and curse their lives

to make a name.

When art whets knives

and preys upon the marrow

with false compare

to red wheelbarrow,

Anon’s not there.


Some swirl tea leaves, or Ouija,

read dream or flower;

they all mislead ya.

Pull fool, death, tower

from life’s stacked deck of tarot.

Pull your straw, compare

those sticks of yarrow —

yawn, not there.


The desert sands stretch far,

the whole damn way:

our calendar,

one long hot day.

Joe Blow, Jane Doe or pharaoh,

lift, if you care,

my sombrero:

I’m not there.


Song to Load the Dishwasher By


As above, so below.


The dozen tumblers upside down,

I place.

They’re pros, so promises the noun.

Once clean and dry, upon the shelf

I’ll place.

In glass, I see the world, myself.


The mismatched coffee mugs – my wife,

at times,

will drink the pod-brewed dark roast stuff –

upturned in line will go. My wife,

at times

will empty after; won’t bet my life.


Both mug and glass, will wait inverted

in the dark,

like sated bats to sleep, deserted.

They wait for light and later use

in the dark.

I see how purpose can seduce.


The soaking silverware calls next:

quick rinse,

enough to flush the looser flecks.

I grip bouquet with metal blooms,

quick rinse,

and plant in plastic cage-like rooms.


They look a rabble, desserters all,

shivs down

for now; but clean attend the ball,

that dirty dozen, in napkin swaths

shivs down

to slice-scrape-stab and scoop the broths.


Plates, soiled ranks stand attention, grim,

on edge,

and balanced on two points of rim.

The discs, like rings sans Saturns,

on edge:

efficiency decides the patterns.


And sideways, too, bowls nestle, spoon,


long for ceramic honeymoon

as they will cupboard consummate,


the span between two points too great.


But now the cleansing must begin,

and I

must trust the washer’s splash and spin.

Cascade and rinsing agent checked,

and I

set cycle, press ON, genuflect.



Nonsense of Various Ilk


The Reason Don’t Listen

was marching across the parking lot

then ZAM!

right between the eyes

the bullet a bee


smack a bell

with a ball peen hammer

hard as you can

felt like that


on the pavement

the bee groomed a moment

then flew off


rubbed forehead

ran a hand through hair

decided to continue


but not the same

think the impact knocked

the bee’s soul

into brain


and now a phantom bee

ricochets through mind

having trouble

hearing over the buzz




The situation has become quite confused,

I would imagine, or, on the other hand,

another reason for the reason is the climate

of critical theory hanging over the eastern seaboard.

Whereas, the creation of soft concrete

was hailed appropriate, and no one bought it.

Though life as a whole has improved on the moon,

there is no cause for celebration or picnics in the earthlight.

As a result, the flags are now made inside out,

and the poles rise hundreds of feet above the cities.

Despite this,

people now have seasons in the palms of their hands.

Though no one can forget,

it is well to remember that things were not so always.

Since windows are now illegal,

some rooms have no roof, some no walls.

Train tickets are used as currency and no one travels.

Without explanation,

the directory of syrups has become larger than the phone book.





O pool of light that liquids on my porch

in fluid photon loll, a velodrome

for moths who circumnavigate the torch

of unrequited quiet urge for home.


O pool of night that zeros wavy rays,

a sheet of blankest blackness palling all

as skull will cradle brain, a locket maze:

within the dark tight curled dimensions sprawl.


O pool of pools which spools on sprocket teeth

and neither bleeds nor wheels but flows and rests

in gravity and falls and falls, a wreath

of writhing raptures riding lightless crests.


O pool which is the set of pools that eye

identity: what pool or pools am I?



Auxiliary Street

Ah, she said, but not the way you’d like

or for the reason, but like the raisin

in cornflakes or the acceptable level of insect parts

in same, I, in same, soggy with the blood

of crickets that once chirped bad jazz

in some soon-to-be-threshed corn field,

I ran into the street, picked the laces from my heart,

flung it, flung it to hang in the telephone wires

above the intersection.


Later, parenthetically, the life-support machine

to the melon section of Twilight of the Gods Grocery

& Liquor failed, spoiling our planned summer picnics

along the interstate, swimming in the ice plant.

And when the Santa Ana winds rustled the scraps

of election posters into the produce section, shorting

the fluorescent hula skirt on the Aloha Melon Girl sign,

the lobsters escaped their tank, lobbed into outer space

by a chain reaction of exploding cantaloupe

until they rainbowed down into the feminine hygiene shelves

or the butter section of the dairy case.


Ah, I say much later, pointing to the telephone wires above

as we cruise down Auxiliary Street,

just past the cemetery, a block away

from the Last Chance Mini-Mall.

And there, from every wire above the street

small dark shapes hang and sway

like strips of beef jerky, the thought of which

gives you heartburn.



Someone Take This Sand, I'll Be The Void

I will drive with the midnight depth of leaves,

and, no excuse, impassion rain.

Sleep, my darling Lady Stoic,

something something cellophane.


I looked for yes or night yet blah;

you, argent body, stood or stone.

Forget, O Might Or Not Have Written,

the sage’s sage’s de Sade dialtone.


I have heavened in the bones for the page,

still, or linger, flower craft.

Peal, dear Cadence of the Maze,

la la, so on , yeah yeah, first draft.


Uh, not myselfish, underjoyed.

Someone take this sand, I'll be the void.

Bric-a-Brac Hombre

for/after D.S.


A Catskills of groovy, over-easy broadcasting

from trailer park to Abu Dhabi, tip-toeing

through, two lips like tiny tinhorns. Bra-

vo or va, space permitting a-la-King.


Yo, triceratops, you bad, oligarchically

speaking of lungs. The spider web we,

we’ve, somber temblor of okey-dokey

down through the page tintinnabulates.


But Sirius don’t hunt since Athenian

suppers, such pirouetting, but pyramids

don’t sip cappuccino, waylaid in strip

malls, or is that wishful cut and paste?


Cage the john with so little to go on

but parallel squeaks. True dat, and so on.


Spleen: Genus Irritabile Vatum


To My Reader

Poetry should tell the truth: the truth

is that you, my reader, have problems.

Now, I don’t really know you,

individually, but you are a mess.

You probably don’t eat right, and maybe

you drink your milk right out of the carton

when no one is looking. You slob.

Probably, you don’t wash your hands,

every time, after using the bathroom.

Maybe, you, who are not physically

disabled, park in the handicapped space

at the grocery store because you are just

buying milk and toilet paper.

And that, dear reader, is the catch,

the flaw, the rot in your soul,

that you lie to justify your lie,

your laziness, the cheating. And

now you want to justify

yourself by making this about me,

by saying to yourself, hey,

what does this poet guy know? Or,

the poet must have problems, too, so

what’s so bad about me?

Reader, you disappoint me, even though

I expected it, you jerk. This

isn’t about me, and anyway,

everybody knows great poets are bastards.



Effects of the Plague

I didn’t think

much of it

when the squirrels

began to spit

up blood and phlegm,

their heads exploding.

But then, as such,

I never liked

squirrels much.


This morning my wife,

usually bright-eyed

and bushy-tailed,

failed to arise

on time for work.

Couldn’t keep her

breakfast down, neither.

I understood what

the squirrels foreboded

when her head exploded.


Before I called help,

I fixed a drink

and took a breather.

I never liked

her much either.



Bilous Villanelle

Hepatosplenomegaly: Minor symptoms of enlarged liver and spleen can include lethargy, malaise, headache, nausea and lack of appetite.



‘sthat why today I play at verse



I looked it up digitally,

so I know what to tell the nurse:



I think and feel and breathe dully;

I read and write and even curse



I get a check-up annually,

yet on the phone the doc’s real terse:



Epitaph? I try to rally.

One by one, thoughts yawn, disperse,



So on my stone, pathetically,

someone will scrawl, while in the hearse,




Breathing, and Other Annoyances


So, in movies and on TV,

they’ll have a character say

something along the lines of

“if you like breathing”

to suggest, of course, the lethal threat.


But here’s the thing: I don’t like breathing.

Sure, it keeps one alive,

but ask a diabetic

if they like to jab that needle.


Sometimes breathing sucks.

As an asthmatic child, I learned

that having to consciously breathe

is hard, monotonous work.

And when you forget you’re breathing,

how is that liking it?


Some other necessities,

like eating, drinking,

and consequences thereof,

have pleasures,

so liking those makes sense.


And other autonomic actions,

like a beating heart

or peristalsis

don’t get valorized.

“I like feeling my intestines

squeeze my poop forward,”

is something no one’s ever said

or is, thankfully, aware of.


“You like breathing fresh mountain air,”

some nature freak might counter.

But no, I don’t, and anyway

that’s smell, my granola-eating pal;

the breathing’s pretty incidental.


“Concentrate on your breathing,”

the Zen-head might drone

to get my meditation on.

That works, of course, because

nothing is so hypnotizingly boring

as breathing: in, out, in, out.

Another state of consciousness

is really one’s only escape.


I don’t like breathing,

and you don’t either.

And if you want to keep doing it,

don’t tell me that you like it.

Save your breath.

Not Another Poem with an Asphodel

In this poem, as sure as hell,

no fluff, like purple poems of the past.

Often there’s an asphodel.


And what is that? A flower, shell?

I won’t define it (so don’t even ask)

in this poem, sure as hell.


Those poems spin the carousel

of sphinxes, dizzying the paraphrast.

Often, there’s an asphodel.


Turned off? You know the word? That’s swell.

Ain’t room for no such scholiasts

in this poem, sure as hell.


The average girl’s a demoiselle;

the words make plain and simple feel out-classed.

Often, there’s an asphodel.


This is a straight-up villanelle:

There ain’t no lily stuck up its tight ass.

In this poem, sure as hell,

often, there’s an asphodel.


Three Short Poems for Malaise


1. Why Should I Bother?


The moon, her half-assed glisterings

like curdled milk,

plays muse as if her beams were silk,

or skin, or silver to buy my verses wings.


2. Why Do I Even?


The dawn enlightens by slow degrees:

the dimmer switch

is dialed by a stagy son-of-a-bitch

who thinks the slow reveal makes poetry.


3. But No


This shack’s official muse has graced

the only table

with nail clippings piled into a hill:

the steepest climb to Parnassus ever faced.

Verse Lite
Poor Johns
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