Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Song for W. H. A.

My old tin shack, my Fleetwood Mac,
My panjandrum, my piston,
My dog with fleas, my fragrant cheese,
My darling Doctor Wystan:
How do you play your merry way
Through summer's chilly flurries --
An average joe with lots of dough,
A wag that never worries?

My flaxen lad, my Breaking Bad,
My drunken monkish teacher,
My killer whale, my nightingale,
My Creature Double Feature,
Who gave you skill to smite the shrill,
The shouting heckling fellows?
Who gave you brains to shake the pains
Inflicted by the jealous?

My wrinkled souse, my brick outhouse,

My vim-and-vigorous vicar,
My shining mind, my sage so kind,
My fop, my field-goal-kicker,
For all the times I've sung your rhymes
I wish I had a shilling --
I’d sell your strophes (priceless trophies!)
And really make a killing.

My dirty look, my neat notebook,

My reverend confessor,
My Anglophone, my funny bone,
My playmate and professor,
My dream police, my masterpiece,
Who's half as good as you?
My autumn day, golden and gay!
My lovable Wystan Hugh!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Skeltonics for Auden

Wystan Auden,
Dry and sodden,
Grand and bawdy,
Classy, tawdry,
Simple, vexing,
Plain, perplexing,
Old-school trailblaze:
Strengthen our frail days!

For us please pray,
Dear W. H. A.;
We're making a mess
With great success;
We scar the planet
And quite unman it;
We've lost our grammar,
Now grunt and stammer.
Our decade's music
Surely makes you sick.
As for our poems,
Where shall we throw 'em?

O most sage ghost!
Silence our boast;
Temper our pride,
Rebuke the snide,
Reduce the cynic
To pretty panic.
Grant metanoia
To lush and lawyer,
And take from politicians
Delusions of omniscience.

New Year's Eve: Revised Version

A few revisions have been made to my December 2011 poem. Still working on it!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


The coarse-wing'd fly
Zips furiously among my books,
And does not shrivel at my dirty looks
Or drop to the rug and die.

Next to the lamp,
He slam-dances in the bright light;
Perhaps it isn't energy but fright
Of a life-crushing THUMP.

Fresh out of Raid,
I try Lysoling him to death
And chase him till I'm almost out of breath.
No, this one's not afraid.

Ah, leave him be:
It's time for coffee (half past three!).
I'll drink it in the kitchen so the bug
Won't dive into my mug.

You would presume
He'd get tired, the son-of-a-gun!
But round he goes, having his manic fun
In what was once my room.

Monday, September 30, 2013

John Berryman

Last night I read myself to sleep
With John Berryman's "Opus Dei"
("A layman's winter mock-up," as he called it,
Of the Liturgy of the Hours).
I didn't know the man, of course.
He died when I was still a baby.
But speaking as a reader
And as a human being,
I wish he had stuck around,
Not taken that drastic final leap
Onto the icy Minneapolis riverbank.
He'd've written (who knows?) a hundred more Dream Songs,
And a dozen more Addresses to the Lord.
He would have attended Holy Mass,
And snarled perhaps at the dippy homilies.
He'd've been a dad to his young daughter
And a husband to his young wife.
He'd've been open to surprises,
To the pleasant startlements, the bright felicities,
To the unforeseeable turn-arounds,
To the small graces that sustain us
On even the worst of days.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birthday poem

You are nine years old
Inventive and spontaneous
As wise as the ageless stars
As brilliant as the August sun
As rambunctious as thunder

For nine years you have blessed
Your family and friends with joy and wit
You have delighted the earth with dancing
You have graced the forest lakes with peace
You have greeted the rising sun with poetry

You are nine years old today
Painters and sculptors celebrate your moment
And captains of industry renounce all greed
And politicians stop their bickering
And weatherpeople applaud your laughter
And cosmonauts salute your youthful smile

Have a big slice of happiness today
Because you are turning nine
You are the world's only you
You are one in seven billion one-hundred million
You are as awesome as the waves of the Atlantic

You are shining through the fascinating world
As a single celestial candle giving light

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ghazal in July

Turn your hands to mischief in July!
Dive into books for sweet relief in July.

Summer steals the blossoms of the spring;
Joy will come to gradual grief in July.

Lighting strikes the tree in front of the church;
Behold, the cleft oak's brown leaf in July.

A friendly bus-driver greets his passengers
With "ma'am" or "buddy" or "sir" or "chief" in July.

Humidity in Boston's like New Orleans.
It's tropical beyond belief in July.

Mayhem down in Mudville! Kids line up
For mighty Casey's autograph in July.

Vexed by demagogic politicians
And by bad news, I need a laugh in July.

Only a lunkhead or a puritan
Would dream of switching to decaf in July.

I can't wait till the cool nights of October:
Let's write hot weather's epitaph in July!

I stick the New Balance in my open mouth
Committing another verbal gaffe in July.

The weather's awesome up in Reykjavik.
Did Reagan once meet Gorbachev in July?

I need a meat locker's chill in my bedroom.
My AC's never turned off in July.

Neo-formalists start to get eccentric
And read Creeley and Levertov in July.

Wystan Auden, tell us the truth about love:
Some like a tough to treat 'em rough in July!

A noble month, the month of my baptism:
Who would dare to sneer or scoff at July?

Still, the weather gets a trifle sultry.
You really can't be frozen stiff in July.

Thomas, you should really change your name
To an unpronounceable hieroglyph in July.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Awake at Four

I sit, drink coffee, greet the rising sun,
Compel myself to venture poetry,
And write my hymns of praise to Arlington.

Awake at four? I'm not the only one.
Insomniacs adore the bright TV.
I sit, drink coffee, greet the rising sun.

I can't wait till the heat of summer's done.
I need a room chilled by a strong AC.
I write my hymns of praise to Arlington.

I sing songs from the '80s, just for fun!
"The Safety Dance" and "Synchronicity" ...
I sit, drink coffee, greet the rising sun.

If I were slim, I'd try a morning run,
But sedentary at two seventy,
I write my hymns of praise to Arlington.

No "Bright Star" this, and no Endymion:
No Keatsian eloquence from the likes of me!
I sit, drink coffee, greet the rising sun,
And write my hymns of praise to Arlington.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Yesterday Once More

The Evening Globe announces the demise
Of phone booths, 45s, and discothèques.
A Pan Am jet descends the friendly skies
And eases into Logan. Dynamite wrecks
The Hotel Madison, once bright beside
The ratty Boston Garden, Causeway Street.
Crowds of highschoolers jam themselves inside
Arborway's trolley in the late spring heat.

At Barney's Bar & Grill (a block from home)
I hoist a Schaefer or a Löwenbräu.
Pope Paul VI says a High Mass in Rome;
Don Kent’s forecast on ‘BZ tells me how
Time's crafty hand will snatch away and steal
My youth and the Revere Beach ferris wheel.

Monday, April 29, 2013

This Bird Has Flown

J'ay perdu ma tourterelle.
Est-ce point elle que j'oy?
Je veux aller après elle.
Jean Passerat, 1606

I have lost my soul's delight,
Sweet songbird, dark nightingale:
I would follow her in flight.

She has flown into the night.
Still I search, to no avail.
I have lost my soul's delight.

O true beauty benedight!
Without her, my strength grows frail.
I would follow her in flight.

Now I see the cold sad sight
Of stars above me, and I wail:
I have lost my soul's delight.

Sleepless till the dawn's faint light
Slowly turns the sky quite pale,
I would follow her in flight.

Heaven's splendour, once so bright,
Now appears wretched and stale.
I have lost my soul's delight;
I would follow her in flight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Birds of Mrs Álvarez

I hear the birds of Mrs Álvarez
Chattering in Apartment 802:
Who can make out what their glad language says?

They live in cages, not in winter trees:
Have they green plumage, streaked with red and blue?
I hear the birds of Mrs Álvarez

Cheering the cloudiest of Saturdays
With speech that's pure and beautiful and true.
Who can discern what their light logic says?

And every time this blithe concerto plays,
I start to smile, almost as if on cue!
I hear the birds of Mrs Álvarez

Weave a spontaneous train of sound that strays
Through realms of wonder and makes all things new!
Who can tell me what this quick music says?

Their song has force beyond all prophecies --
An avian oracle and her retinue!
I hear the birds of Mrs Álvarez:
Who can make out what their glad language says?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


"Is not so bad. Is just like home!" So say
my grey-haired Russian neighbours, Gleb and Anna,
on bright and icy single-digit days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Vesperal hesitation. Pausing at dusk,
allowing wordlessness to get in edgewise,
the silence that is greater than ourselves.

68th Letter to a Poet

Awake till three, I tried reading Allen Ginsberg but overdosed on his naughty-boy language: baldpate sophomore. I nodded off to TV jaz...