Saturday, August 25, 2012


As much as I want to rail and wail and scream and stomp my blog feet about the women-hating horse crap that headlined the news this week - and has been trending all year - this is not the appropriate forum.

The correct forum would have been The Old Blog, with Country Girl. The nonstop rant-fest I miss every. damn. day. 

But here I want to focus on writing and poetry, and share these lovely things with you.

Poetry is often considered a more acceptable - and let's face it, attractive - way of communicating things we shouldn't discuss in polite company. It also comes in handy when we can't manage to find words of our own to express ourselves.

It's the vehicle of choice for angst-ridden teens who scribble away in spiral-bound notebooks they hide under their beds.

It's the device that helped a domestic violence and rape survivor stand behind a microphone and share her secrets and struggles: "This is my therapy." 

It's how young people express feelings they don't completely understand.
Jack and Jill sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. 

And it is absolutely how many adults express feelings they don't completely understand. I would love to know how many relationships began with someone scrawling Roses are Red/Violets are Blue...  on a Post-It note.

So at the close of this Week of Disgust and Anger, I will express myself using a poem instead of the much clumsier semi-articulate rant.

‘Vagina’ Sonnet - Joan Larkin
Is “vagina” suitable for use
in a sonnet? I don’t suppose so.
A famous poet told me, “Vagina’s ugly.”
Meaning, of course, the sound of it. In poems.
Meanwhile, he inserts his penis frequently
into his verse, calling it, seriously, “My
Penis.” It is short, I know, and dignified.
I mean of course the sound of it. In poems.
This whole thing is unfortunate, but petty,
like my hangup concerning English Dept. memos
headed “Mr./Mrs./Miss”–only a fishbone
in the throat of the revolution–
a waste of brains–to be concerned about
this minor issue of my cunt’s good name.

I probably lost a few of you with that last line but, damn, it was worth it.

Reprinted without permission, and begging forgiveness.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Because I'm Bad, I'm Bad, You Know It

In my tireless search for all things poetically accesible I discovered yesterday was National Bad Poetry Day.

How did I hear about this, but you didn't? You must not follow @PeeWeeHerman.

That's right, Pee-Wee gave it a shout out. And you thought there was nothing left to be learned from the man who taught you to dance on a bar and win any argument. Silly reader.

We could debate what defines bad poetry, but that's like arguing about the definition of Art. If after 95 years we're still disagreeing over an autographed urinal, what hope is there that I can even begin to address good and bad in this blog?

Good is in the eye of the beholder and fundamentally bad poetry has a special place in my heart - because I don't know how to write any other kind.

My first attempt at prose is easily among the worst ever written. But when you are ten years old and staring out the window at a darkening sky - you notice the wind picking up before a storm and birds flying their feathers off trying to get to cover - and a rhyme pops into your head for the first time in your Smurf-centric life, it's startling.

The wind blows
The trees sway
Birds fly
It's nature's way.

Profound, yes? But the important thing, to me, is that I remember exactly where I was, what the sky looked like, how I jumped off the couch and dug through my dad's desk for a pen and paper, and documented my first rhyme-y thought.

Maybe your most vivid childhood memory is of learning to ride a bike or ice skate or hold your breath under water. Two of the most crystal-clear High Definition memories of mine are reading a book, cover-to-cover, on my own for the first time  (Hop on Pop) and writing that poem.

So in honor of National Bad Poetry Day I give you what is considered, by several sources, to be the worst poem ever written.

It's so bad, it's actually likable.

A Tragedy by Theophile Marzials
The barges down in the river flop.
Flop, plop,
Above, beneath.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop...
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop...
And my head shrieks - "Stop"
And my heart shrieks - "Die."...
Ugh! yet I knew - I knew
If a woman is false can a friend by true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end--
My Devil - My "friend."...
So what do I care,
And my head is empty as air -
I can do,
I can dare
(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip, drop.)
I can dare, I can dare!
And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.
Plop, flop,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forgive Me, Father Ted

It's time for a confession.

I know, I know. We've only been at this for a few days and already a soul-bearing, Oprah-worthy confession?

Well, it may not be worthy of The Other Big O but I should come clean about my intentions regarding your son this blog, ma'am.

I'm not an academician, a poet or a literary guru of any stripe.

What I am is a frustrated Word person. I love Words, as evidenced by the unnecessary capitalization of the word, Word.

I love to read them, write them and play games with them. I believe Words With Friends is the single greatest technological contribution to benefit, if not advancement, of mankind since gun powder...or Doritos.

So the primary, selfish purpose of this blog is to force me to write. I am not controlled enough to journal regularly, but what I lack in discipline I make up for in guilt. If I know someone, anyone (Fabs? Amy?) is reading the blog I will feel obligated to write/journal/create. Practice follows obligation and perhaps improvement follows practice.

The other purpose is to spread the gospel about poetry. I swear on my beaten-to-crap copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, poetry can seriously improve your quality of life.

So here is another lovely, pragmatic poem for you.

Oh, go on and read it - it's about bubble wrap.
Who doesn't love bubble wrap?

Cheap Therapy - Geoff Weilert

When a package arrives I quickly open it wide
And hastily remove all the stuff found inside.
I discard all items except the plastic wrapped
That piece with bubbles in which air is trapped

I spread the sheet and look downward with glee.
And with two fingers, I pop one, two, then three.
I feel quite content and my face gets a glow
I pop some more and move on to the next row.

I'm feeling so good I can't think of stopping
As the room fills with the sounds of popping.
Every worry and care and each little trouble
Floats away with the pop of each air bubble.

When I finally reach the end I feel quite mellow
All that popping has made me a contented fellow.
If you are like me, and contentment is a rarity,
Get some bubble wrap; It's cheaper than therapy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pragmatic Poetry

Until two years ago I hated poetry.

Go ahead, admit it: At some point in your relationship with Words you hated it too.

You may still hate it.

Poetry  ::eye roll::
It's pompous.
It's random.
It's artsy.
It's feely.
(Have I mentioned pompous?)
It seems random sometimes.

You once had to deconstruct a poem in Sophomore Lit and you still haven't recovered.

To me, and this is my blog so mine is the only vote that counts, a good poem uses plain language and either tells a story or makes a point. It's relatable, understandable and enjoyable.

It's pragmatic.

I think (see "my blog" above) everyone would enjoy poetry if they could be custom fit to it, like a bespoke suit.

Bespoke poetry. I like it. Copyright Righteous Polka....

If there was some sort of Poetry Configuration Tool on Facebook, where a person could complete a profile and be Matched with a selection of poems that fit his or her taste, everyone would 'discover' poetry.

In a crazy dream, becomes the new Pinterest.
"This is my Sonnet board."

Take it to the masses! Make it easy to understand. Show people that writing a poem can be as clear and concise a way of expressing yourself as Twitter.  Heck, haikus are shorter than Twitter posts. #575

I will tell the (mercifully short) story of what changed my mind about poetry, but not today.

Today, you get a poem.

Salad is Incompatible with Life - Mark R. Slaughter 1999

Yes, my waist is fifty inches -
Big for me because I'm short.
And yes, I like my cheddar cheese
When partnered with a vintage port.

Okay, okay, that double cream
Is always served with pud,
And cake and biscuits with my tea
Are just no bloody good

For my poor hardened arteries
But see my point of view,
Please dear wifey if you please,
A Salad makes me spew!

I'd rather eat a bowl of air
Than crunch away on greens;
Drink water from the toilet bowl
Or nibble on my jeans!

But salad! Are you there?
You know it makes me snappy -
So let me fill my face with grub,
Stay fat, and die young happy!