Oh lovely to be Wystan Hugh Auden!

Oh lovely to be Wystan Hugh Auden!
And the things you would say
Would be ever so gay—
………. Yet ironically double
………. So to cause just the proper amount of trouble—
So the ladies would blush and blurt out—Oh, you, Auden!

How profound to be Wystan Hugh Auden!
In the last rays of empire basking
And in general knowing, not asking:
……….Twitting fascists abroad,
……….And the bourgeois at home, and naturally God—
While Oxonians murmur: So true, Auden!

What a gas to be Wystan Hugh Auden!
When addressing the body,
Not to be politic, but be bawdy:
……….Though learned, colloquial—
Serious by turns, and then by turns joquial—
With a sly hint of: You too? Me too, Auden!



Image: Auden1970byPeter, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license by TorontoPeter, edited and colorized in GIMP by yours truly.

The Obvious Will Never Lose Its Power to Persuade


A dog lying in the sun
looks very wise.
Of course that is only the sun
making her narrow her eyes.

No, it is not the appearance of wisdom
that makes a dog wise:
it’s the fact that she lies
in the sun.


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How to use an otter to negotiate


Otter_Steve_Slocomb_6178538861_3979396802_zHow to use an otter to negotiate
Is to turn it loose in the room
Among the lawyers and business types
Trusting its liquid eyes and old-woman whiskers
To get us to a place where everyone is happy

While knowing they all know you know
Otters live by their wits
And teeth and claws
Are fiercely territorial
Defend their young to the death
Only sometimes mate for life

But prefer loafing in the waves
If only everyone could get along


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Often in Error, Never in Doubt

John Skelton

John Skelton
put his hat of felt on
put his pants and belt on
and his shoes of leather
meet for any weather.
His outfit put together
no hesitation whether
he should go outside—
Aye! I shall! He cried!
And with furious stride
went out through the wide
open front door.
Never yet before
had traveler set out
with fewer pangs of doubt
and such a shout!


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The Joiner Had a Vision of God’s Glory

Ice Crystals Escaping3131547281_9a1f8ef3af_o

Tell how you came to drudge in my kitchen
you child of the sheltering sky.
Who were your people?
Where did you get that hair, those blue eyes?
And that we’ll all of us be worms’-meat one day—
is that why you scoff at us?

The wildflowers were abashed
when the fountain burst from frozen ground
and the ice formed complicated branches
as if to demonstrate how much remained to be done.
They have scattered to the far fields,
and now must be counted again.

The roofer practices his trade,
he grows strong off his need for others.
The reseller of goods heard the drone of the chanting,
and the night grew pale.
The conference of geologists has been disbanded:
the earth is strong enough without them.


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U, u: Unassuming Unicorns

Unicorns all kinds.jpg

The unassuming unicorns united underground
Upthrusting their umbrellas with an ululating sound;
Their umbrage unassuaged, they undertook an upward run
Emerging all unbidden underneath an umber sun.


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All Quiet for the Queen (a prequel)

(Being an account of the Peculiar Events leading up to the Monstrous and Notorious Tragedy of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds who were martyred by being baked into a pie; and of the Warning previously issued to all Fowl within the Royal Earshot, which these aforementioned Blackbirds roundly ignored, to their own Detriment and Ultimate Demise; written by one, Witness to the Aforesaid Events.)


Go quietly, quietly! Quell every sound,
You geese in the air and you quails on the ground!

You ducks with your querulous ducklings in tow,
You may go as you like; only quietly go.

No quacking; no quarreling; quash every cry;
Not a chirp from you blackbirds who quarter the sky!
The queen is asleep:
If you cease not to peep
She’ll awake and demand you be baked in a pie!


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For Ambrose Bierce on his birthday


The only death I want is one
that maybe never really happens
like yours Mr. Bierce
the one you maybe had
after you disappeared
into the Mexican desert
or that you maybe didn’t have
because nobody ever saw you die
so maybe.

You know what I mean?

The death I want is that kind
a little bit like hope
and a little bit like a shrug
and which never provably happened
so there’s always that chance.

You know what I mean.

Which is just to say
happy hundred-and-seventy-fourth
if you’re still out there
you crabby old bastard.


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The Poet’s Progress (from the Old English)


Word-whip went under world-hearth
Worm-pullers gave turf-warnings
Traveled he the truck-river
Till body-boats grew blistered
Yeast-sweat he yearned for
Work-markers sore missed.


Free translation:

The poet went out on a sunny day.
Birds were singing.
He walked down the street
Until his feet were sore.
He wanted a beer,
But had no money.

Blame NaPoWriMo.net, whence I was urged to write “a kenning poem. Kennings were riddle-like metaphors used in the Norse sagas; basically, ways of calling something not by its actual name, but by a sort of off-kilter description.”

Image: Beer Cap, by Jim Titulaer,  published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.