Sunday, October 16, 2016

blue hour

a languid young lady named lou
wore a dressing gown of blue
her silver mirror reflected
the scarlet life she had selected

a perfume bottle of green
contrived to complete the scene
she heard a knock on the yellow door
she had passed this way before

her saucy maid entered the room
with an air of impending doom
oh miss lou, she cried
there is a gentleman outside

to say this is very hard
but he is from scotland yard
and it is his unpleasant task
some questions for you to ask

thank you, lily, said lou
i know that your heart is true
leave us now if you please
with this gent i will shoot the breeze

lou greeted her unwelcome guest
with an air that would have impressed
the queens of england and france
if they had been there by chance

the detective’s name was bash
he sported a gray mustache
and without further ado
he delivered this message to lou

madam, i think it best
that you do not resist arrest
i have a charge to relate
approved by a magistrate

that on august twenty-sixth
you were seen in company with
a man named albert bend
who came to an untimely end

and was found with four bullets in his head
unmistakably dead
in an alley behind a chip shop
where his body had been dropped

his previous movements’ history
had remained a mystery
though we searched from south to north
only now has a witness come forth

to fil in the lacunae
of the deceased’s last night and day
as a result of this information
i must ask you to come to the station

of course, replied lou with a drawl
wait a moment while i put on my shawl
for the night has a noticeable chill
but i always cooperate with old bill

outside a car was parked
a black sedan, unmarked
with lou settled in the back seat
it rolled away down the street

evincing no sign of regret
lou lit a cigarette
and watched as the streets unfurled
in the fog enshrouded world

the trip went on and on and on
were they going to drive until dawn?
though she did not break into song
lou knew that something was wrong

this was not the way to the yard
her captors played a strange card
all lou could do was wait
to learn the decree of fate

she felt they were near the river
and indulged in a ladylike shiver
at the sound of a midnight clock
the car pulled up to a dock

life is but a dream
it won’t do to shout or scream
and on that note, my friend
our tale comes to an end

a languid young lady named lou
wore a dressing gown of blue
she never knew what was false or true
and neither do i or you

Saturday, October 15, 2016

the street

andy woke at midnight
and listened to the rain
remembrance of reality
overflowed his brain

betty lived across the hall
she had trouble sleeping
especially when andy
was awake and silent creeping

chandler was the landlord
or maybe the concierge
he had terrible dreams at night
and in daytime terrible urges

danny lived around the corner
in a cardboard box
he had seen and done it all
and was immune to shocks

eddie drove a taxi
up and down the street
he kept his brogans polished
and his fingernails filed neat

frankie was a player
for eternal fame
if coach would only put him in
he could change the game

gilda was a night person
slept but once a week
but did not take it kindly
when called out as a freak

harry was called “the horse”
for lack of imagination
among his fellow tenants
in the chambers of degradation

irma was a “floozie”
a word now obsolete
but she brooked no nonsense
when she walked the street

johnny was the leader
what he said went down
but what good did it do him
when everyone left town

karen wrote a novel
and lost it on the bus
and then went home and hanged herself
without any fuss

larry was a wino
who had once been a preacher
murder was his mama
and hard knocks was his teacher

maggie was a mother
who ran away and hid
she just couldn’t help it
she didn’t like kids

nick was a cowboy
born out of time
if he could have rode with jesse james
it would have been so fine

olive was a poet
her fingers often shook
as she wrote down her secret thoughts
in a

little red notebook

pete was a dreamer
with long and hairy arms
and wished that more women
would appreciate his charms

quigley was a dreamer too
his dreams ran deep
most of his fellow humans
thought he was a creep

ricki was a sleeper
would have liked to sleep all day
but society had taught her
that that was not o k

shirley only wanted
to be left alone
all humans were her siblings
and all the world her home

toni heard voices
in the walls and in the air
inside or outside
they were always there

uncle joe had a mustache
which sometimes did droop
he was not a member
of any organized group

vinnie was a gambler
whose luck had run dry
he sat on the sidewalk
and watched the world go by

wanda was a pushy sort
who aggravated many
and when she counted up her friends
she found she had not any

excuse me for a minute
while i catch my breath
an old friend is calling
and his name is death

oh young people
hear my words
the street is for the people
and the air is for the birds

zeroes on the wheel of life
zeroes in my brain
zeroes are beyond counting
we will meet again

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

a king

adapted from the akkadian

a mighty army took the field
to no opponent did it yield
a king rode forth with upraised sword
urging on his thundering horde

cities fell like windblown flowers
nations knew their final hours
empires heard, from sea to shore
the laughter of the god of war

the victor king, whose name is lost
his enemies’ last defenses crossed
he buried them in burning waves
and made their kings and queens his slaves

upon the conquered lands laid waste
towers and castles he now placed
and monuments to his own fame
as eternal glory he did claim

philosophers rushed to his throne
sculptors etched his face in stone
artists painted him for the ages
scribes with his story filled up pages

of all the lackeys at his call
the poets had least shame of all
and sung and scripted the monarch’s praise
in endless verses all his days

eventually the great king passed
assured his memory would last
inscribed in stone, and words, and song
in archives vast, and towers strong

the years went by, then centuries
as swiftly as a summer breeze
new kings rose up, to glories new
demanding each of fame his due

our king was lost beyond time’s mist
as history’s unending list
of mighty heroes onward scrolled
and tales of him no more were told

jackals prowled, and pilgrims stumbled
through his palaces as they crumbled
the ruins fell beneath earth’s crust
and all the poems turned to dust

Thursday, May 19, 2016

the party

your friends are at the party, the ones you’ve known for years
they’ve shared your joys and triumphs, laughter and tears
they see you coming, and turn on the charm
and welcome you with open mouths and clutching arms

there’s plenty of potato chips, and plenty of booze
and they can’t wait to tell you the news
who fell out with who, and who fell down the stairs
and who in sad circumstances was caught unawares

the fox is in the henhouse, the train has left the station
life is a chronicle of degradation
and though the shocking chronicle never ends
it’s all right, because we are all friends

outside the wind begins to howl, the rain begins to patter
and everything you hear starts to not matter
there’s nothing left to say, and who wants to think?
you happily accept another drink

you look up and the party’s almost done
everybody has had enough fun
you notice time has left its nasty traces
on all the old familiar faces

who are these people anyway, and who are you?
they are your companions, tried and true
your shoulders sag, your shoes begin to scrape
and all you want is to escape

outside you are welcomed by the wind and rain
it’s over - until duty calls again
safe inside your clothes you are nice and warm
out of the fog appears a shuffling form

she wheels her vehicle along
mumbling a sort of little song
the cart is filled with plastic bags
and adorned with little american flags

how fortunate you are
to have your locked upholstered car
you have your i d, safe and dry
and can look authority in the eye

you have your friends, your registered name
your knowledge of how to play the game
no use to cry, no use to moan
and yet like her - you are alone

Friday, May 13, 2016

pals and booze: a fragment

the original concept of the pal
is lost in the mists of time
but i summon it, o muse
to invigorate my rhyme

let women, priests, and bureaucrats
judges, jailers, and fat cats
look down their long and pointed noses
true pals will always come up roses

the only thing better, i confess
is pure delirious drunkenness
but what are pals, in song or story
but those who share in liquor’s glory?

oceans ebb and flow
empires come and go
some win, some lose, but only booze
will light life’s brightest fuse

and when bright dawn comes pitiless
to sneer at night’s now lost excess
consider that the coming end
may be your best and final friend

Friday, April 22, 2016

not that

morrison happened to be at the f—— — — club when the unfortunate dustup occurred between caldwell and burnaby, and after a few meaningful glances from the other members who were present, he attempted to negotiate a truce between them.

caldwell assumed his usual air of slightly self-satisfied indifference, as if to say, “come now, is this really worth arguing about?” - his habitual pose after deliberately provoking someone in his sly way.

but what, really, could good old morrison do? after listening to both sides, he cleared his throat snd addressed burnaby -

“well, old fellow, i agree that caldwell here could have been a little more tactful - i might even venture to say, a bit more gentlemanly in the way he expressed himself - but after all, we are not children here, to cry about hurt feelings, eh? i suppose one member of the f———— club can express himself in a forthright fashion to another member, can he not? and on any subject he pleases, eh?”

“but not about that!” burnaby cried wrathfully. “not that!”

and despite’s morrison’s effort to restrain him, he rushed out the door, down the stairs and into the street, where a steady rain was falling.

poor jeffsworth had to be despatched after him, to give him his hat and umbrella.

although the incident was never spoken of, the feeling of good fellowship at the f—— — — club had been irretrievably punctured, and the club began its slow decline.

sometimes, on rainy afternoons, i can still hear burnaby crying - “not that! not that!”

Monday, April 18, 2016


call me a carnivore, call me a bum
but everything is yum yum yum
my shoes are scuffed and my suit is not neat
but everybody needs something to eat

as earthly creatures walk through dust
and to survive do what they must
to get the energy to move their feet
some are eaten that others may eat

oh how my senses quicken
at the thought of deep fried chicken
and how my soul doth quake
at the dream of a thick steak

o vegetarians so solemn
i just take’em as i swallow’em
and prelapsarians so stern
please let me take my turn

with philosophers and fools
at the banquet of molecules
some called living, and some not
some ice cold, some piping hot

i shove them down my throat
with a half-remembered quote
from a suave gourmet who stated
that all to be devoured are fated

the universe is one big mouth
draining its glass from north to south
chewing itself from east to west
without rest

so let the hot sauce burn
for some day your own turn
at the celestial barbecue
will come due