At the Bridge

I can smell your frail hope, little goat
Just as clear and strong and pungent
As the tantalizing odor of your fear

They’re quite alike
These two fine scents
Sweet and tangy
Toothsome and rich

Like juicy mutton roasting, charring
Over crackling, reaching flames

But the aftertaste
So scrumptious
Deep and secret in the throat

That’s how you know
That’s how you recognize the savor
Born in some peculiar corner
Of the soul

And I, little goat
I love fear the very best

And it’s terror most exquisite
That I cherish in the darkest folds
And crannies of my
Prune-dry, shriveled heart

So now you’ve met the troll
Now it’s time to pay the toll

I see you quivering up there
One tiny hoof a-tap-tap-tapping
On the closest creaky floorboard
Of my bridge

I see your soft chin-hair convulsing
Like itty-bitty mousie in his trap
Sorry, broken-backed and scared

And oh so scared
And oh so scared

But you know
You mustn’t cross my bridge
Oh no, you’ll never budge
Until I’m satisfied

Are you ready, little goat?
Ripe to settle your wee debt?

Then come on now
Come on quick
Come on under with the troll
Come and see me down below

Bottom’s Death

The poetry prompt was to write a poem using only the words of one character in one scene or speech in a Shakespeare play. So I decided to write one using Bottom’s speech after he wakes up, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV, Scene I. I wanted to try and write him a death speech – before falling asleep, so to speak, rather than after waking up – and it’s an older, wiser, humbler Bottom, and in proper iambic pentameter (because he’s a serious character now). Here it is.

Bottom’s Death

If Bottom’s cue is next: to be no more
And sing an answer to God’s gracious flute
This ass, this fool will be a man and go
His eye hath seen, his ear hath heard the call

But when this play of life is at an end
Will I expound it more, this dream I had?
My ballad, peradventure, hath no heart
My tongue, asleep, can offer no report

My life hath stolen hence – no vision comes
No more shall mender make a patched me
Methought I was a duke; I am a man
I shall conceive of death, and her fair hand

geek chic

geek chic
the nerd mystique
this t-shirt highlights my physique
and every day of every week
(six months now, in my current streak)
my shirt drawer opens and i seek
a different icon (so to speak)
to demonstrate my fan technique
they’re never bought in a boutique
but they are laundered (else, they’ll reek!)
they often feature snark and cheek
at times, political critique
but don’t you dare call me a freak!
for i am mighty, though i’m meek
i have a voice that’s quite unique
and i express it through
geek chic

The Damming of Sauquoit Creek

On the day the word came down
The people all just stood and stared
The time has come to make a change
The politician said

It’s been a long time coming, and
We know there will be sacrifice
But it will all be worth it when
The power starts to flow

The dam went up; the waters came
And Willowvale went under, just like
Chadwicks and Washington Mills
And large parts of Sauquoit

Some people wept, but still, they knew
That they’d all voted in this guy
And hey, WE have the power now
To bend and redirect

It’s a matter of power
And what’s the harm to drown
A handful of insignificant
Working-class towns?

maniac wind

when the maniac wind blew in
her habitat was unprepared
she’d had no time nor fragile chance
to adapt to chaos, chill, and din

when the maniac wind moved in
all she could do was stand and watch
amid the pieces of her world
as wildness whisked them all away

when the maniac wind dug in
she felt like a naked mannequin
deprived of covering, home, or dime
devoured by gale’s rapacious maw

when the maniac wind blew up
its riotous intensity
broke down its own integrity
its violence turned upon itself

when the maniac wind blew out
she whispered softly in its ear
it curled up in complacency
she put that tempest in a paper cup

“What do you mean, declined?”

“What do you mean, declined?”

I blinked uncomprehendingly
At the Caucasian woman
40-something
Kind, and yet detached
Who did not want
To place a stumbling block
Between me and my purchase of

A splendid painting
(Done on cloth
In pure traditional technique)
Of gracious Bodhisattva Tara
Precious Buddha of right action
That I longed to bring back home
And hang upon my bedroom wall

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said
Do you perhaps have
Any other payment method?”

“Uh, of course, hang on”
And so
I fished out my bank debit card
Procured the thangka and
Went blithely on with my retreat
(Receiving teachings from
H.H. The Dalai Lama!)

It wasn’t till I got back home
And logged on to my credit cards
And bank accounts
And did the math
I realized just what I’d done

In retrospect
(With psychiatric input)
We looked back on that hot summer
As the time I had
My first full manic episode

And I’d spent nearly every penny
That we had
(And thank-you to the
Miracle of credit cards
I’d also spent
Near every cent
We didn’t have)

The summer
And the years we spent
Exhuming our financial state
Remodeled my relationship
With money

It’s not that I won’t let it go
(It goes as freely as it comes
And both of those will vary)

It’s more that where and how it goes
Are things that I will monitor with
Lots
And lots
Of care

Curiosity Killed Moriarty

And did I tell you curiosity
Killed poor Moriarty?
Did you wonder who he was?
Or did you think of how he died?
Did you suppose he was a kitten
Or assume he was a nemesis?
Or say, did it occur to you
That maybe (only maybe)
Moriarty could be both at once
If he sincerely tried?

Well let me tell you how inquisitive
Little Moriarty
Met his melancholy ending
In a melancholy place
And how his death defeated someone
Who considered him her nemesis
Despite the fact that he was just
A tiny little kitty
With a tiny little scrunched-up little
Kitty catty face

Young Shirley Homer never thought when she
Took home Moriarty
That this tiny tabby cat
Could hold a nemesis inside
But well, it didn’t take him long
To demonstrate he was her nemesis
A nemesis who never stopped
Destroying all her knitting
‘Til she knew she must completely give up
Knitting (and she cried)

So Shirley wiped her eyes and said, the game’s
Afoot now, Moriarty!
I’m not going to be beaten
By a tiny tabby cat
And so she tried 100 hobbies
And each one she tried, he decimated
Painstakingly decimated
It was quite depressing
I won’t lie – poor Shirley got a tad
Despondent about that

And then the day came when the final straw
Fell on Moriarty
Shirley’d given up on crafts
But she loved cooking still, at least
She had a massive pot of gumbo
Boiling bubbling on the stove top
Moriarty poked his head in
Then of course completely fell in
Shirley never did another hobby
And the little beast…

Well the Napoleon of muddles
Fiendish cat called Moriarty
Curiosity had killed him so
He had just eight more lives 😸

For Owen Wesley Bulanow

Keep on looking around
Bright and welcoming Owen
Hold on to that hope
As you range far and wide
Keep on seeing this world
And the people around you
With the joyful embrace
That’s so clear in your eyes

I can’t promise that people
Or universe, either
Will always reward
Your inquisitive trust
But keep bringing it, Owen
Your glad curiosity
Gives you the power
To change worlds and hearts

(And if someday you think
Well, this sounds hyperbolic
Where’s evidence for
This potential to change?
I submit: tiny Owen’s
The one who persuaded
My skittish wife Tina
To enjoy holding babes)