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

Piezoelectric Piffle

Surface Schmaltz

The Heart’s Desire

Stopping by a Lamborghini on a Sunny Morning

The New Word

Be Nice, Behave

Some Contemporary Sutras

Instructions

Existential Sonnet

Praise the Lord and Pass the Remote Control

It Ends with Weeping

Poor Johns

Rebuttal to Comparison of a Sonnet with a Slinky

Christmas Observance

Disparagement

I Count Myself a King of Infinite Space

Coordinates of the Current Circumstances

Antidote for Gratefulness

Watching Somebody Doing Something Really Stupid

The Reason Don’t Listen

Tidings

Vestibular

Auxiliary Street

Someone Take This Sand, I'll Be The Void

To My Reader

Effects of the Plague

Bilous Villanelle

Not Another Poem with an Asphodel

Three Short Poems for Malaise

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.)

 

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!

poetry!

philosophy!

prophecy!

sublimity!:

a mystery, necessity.

 

Impossible? Absurd?

We poets must be undeterred!

Demiurge,

we’re on the verge

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

 

 

Be Nice, Behave

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.”

 

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.

 

Instructions

 

“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

Gotplasmatvinmybedroom?

 

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?

 

Praise the Lord and Pass the Remote Control

An angel's popping the seals on the doomsday scroll,

And Brokaw's talking 'bout the Judgment Day.

Well praise the Lord and pass the remote control.

 

The Four Horsemen tally the mounting toll

For the nightly news; Rather recaps: "By the way,

An angel's popping the seals on the doomsday scroll."

 

And Springer’s got a scoop, he's sold his soul,

to get the Whore of Babylon in lingerie.

Well praise the Lord and pass the remote control.

 

A dragon's just escaped from a sulfurous hole

And hovering above that media fray,

An angel's popping the seals on the doomsday scroll.

 

Satan and Michael clash from pole to pole,

ESPN's got the play-by-play.

Well praise the Lord and pass the remote control.

 

Locusts are swarming around the popcorn bowl,

And a friend of mine just called me up to say,

"An angel's popping the seals on the doomsday scroll."

Well praise the Lord and pass the remote control.

 

(First published in Harp-Strings,  Winter 1998.)

 

 

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.

 

 

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 will appear 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.

 

 

Psycho-kinesis

 

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

He wished to halt the southbound train

which stopped him in its tracks.

 

 

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.

 

 

Disparagement

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.

 

Nonsense of Various Ilk

 

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.

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!

Zap.

 

 

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

 

 

Tidings

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.

 

 

Vestibular

 

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.

 

 

 

Spleen: Genus Irratibile 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.

 

Hepatosplenomegaly:

‘sthat why today I play at verse

unenthusiastically?

 

I looked it up digitally,

so I know what to tell the nurse:

hepatosplenomegaly.

 

I think and feel and breathe dully;

I read and write and even curse

unenthusiastically.

 

I get a check-up annually,

yet on the phone the doc’s real terse:

“Hepatosplenomegaly?”

 

Epitaph? I try to rally.

One by one, thoughts yawn, disperse,

unethusiastically.

 

So on my stone, pathetically,

someone will scrawl, while in the hearse,

“HEPATOSPLENOMEGALY”

unenthusiastically.

 

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.

© 1990-2019 Joel Lamore