Once Upon a Cold Floor
Brr, brr, bare feet,
Would you like some wool?
Yes, please, yes, please,
Three drawers full —
One for the winter
And one for the spring
And one for those autumn days
With leaves in the wind.
[completed 17/18 August 1991]
This is an obvious play on "Baa, baa, black sheep". The meter and rhyming pattern match that nursery rhyme fairly well, including the near rhyme at the end. This near rhyme was added later (18 September 1992) with the change to "with leaves in the wind" from "of which poets sing". Such was a significant improvement not only in matching the near rhyme but in replacing a trite and somewhat "high style" phrase with a more common one and adding the chilly feeling of wind-blown leaves. The title was also devised at this time (previously the first line served as a title); this title links the childhood nature of the nursery rhyme with that of "once upon a time" stories and reinforces the subject of cold feet.
I am somewhat pleased with this writing since it is fully playful, matches the nursery rhyme well, and has a consistent focus on the subject.
The Woman Is a Bitch!
"She is a bitch!" the man declared,
"Her whining irritates my ear.
Her bark's so fierce that I must fear
Her bite each time her bark is aired.
"Her howls declare the lunar phase;
Her growls come out for even less
And show the world the savageness
Of teeth that shine in anger's blaze."
I knew that she must not be spared:
"She is a bitch; that is quite clear,
For she defends what she holds dear —
It is for friends her teeth are bared.
"Her doggish warmth can quite amaze,
As does her puppy playfulness,
But loyalty, I must confess,
Is that which mostly wins my praise.
"With feline friends it seems a switch,
And 'dog eat dog' is not her bit;
This lassie lackens nae a wit,
And yet she truly is a bitch."
[essentially completed 30 July 1992]
As a play on the complaint that a woman is a bitch, this seems a somewhat fun writing. The common associations with dogs are used in the complaint and the defense. (Yes, this is another example of defending the honor of a lady.) The defense takes the not uncommon tactic of turning an insult into a complement by a literal interpretation and slight change of perspective.
The abab rhyming pattern with a and b having a significant sound relationship, especially visually with "ear" and "a[i]red". Rhyming the first and second stanzas of the accusation with the first and second stanzas of the defense (third and four of the writing) reinforces the sense of point/counterpoint, and the use of near rhyme in the last stanza, almost transforming it to couplets, increases its forcefulness as an argument's conclusion.
A few changes were made from the original form. On 31 July/1 August 1992, "lackens" was substituted for "lacks"; although I cannot now find any indication that such has any Scottish/Gaelic association, it does feel right. On 31 May 1996, "it seems a switch" replaced "she's more a witch". This was motivated both as a Christian clean-up and as a possibly more accessible meaning; cats as witches' familiars might be a slightly less common conception than dogs and cats not getting along.
(In case it is not obvious, "Her howls declare the lunar phase" is a reference to mood swings associated with the menstrual cycle.)
As a playful verse work with some serious statements, I am not particularly disappointed with this writing. I am also pleased that I was willing to make a change not only a year after completion but again almost five years after completion.
I think you're rather silly —
"That's why I wear a crown."
"Because no one will believe you
While I wear this golden halo —
Yes, that's why I wear a crown."
[completed in first half of 1993]
Even as perhaps the silliest of the writings on this page, it does have some content — a warning about absolute trust of those in authority. The idea is clearly inspired by the crown (corona) of a daffodil and associating this with the highest authority in the land (the President in the United States). That a leader can openly be considered silly seems both a benefit of a democratic society and a way that the force of accusations of folly can be blunted — if anyone can call the leader a fool, some will with little justification, so the weight of the accusation is diminished.
The conclusion tends toward the discouraging; one would think that I tend to be depressed!
A Gift to God
I wandered through the darkened wood
and thought of giving something good
with mercy, patience, justice, and
humility — my love's command.
I vowed to offer what I should.
"Tahoo? Tahoo?" then asked the wood.
In irritation I replied,
"To whom!" and there my giving died.
[completed 16 July 1994]
This is another work that mixes the silly with the serious, having idealistic and tragic aspects. Even at the time of writing I was not so far gone that I would actually correct an owl's hoot for supposed grammar, yet it speaks a truth about me (and probably others) that even noble intentions can be crushed by trivial disturbances. Again the conclusion is depressing. Every one of the aspects is broken: mercy because the offense against grammar is not forgiven, patience because irritation brought a quick response, justice because the response was quite disproportionate to the offense, and humility because the protagonist exalts himself by exalting his own standards as so important. While I have become more tolerant of grammatical variation, mostly from recognizing that language is dynamic and consensual, there are other areas where I would place my standards above true standards and even when applying true standards easily ignore mercy, patience, and justice. (Admittedly, as a more passive person, most of my injustice is from inaction.)
The question of who is the true target of this gift is a worthy question. Is this gift for the honor of a lady love or an attempt to win her affection? The title answers that, but the romantic content of much of my writings and of my heart may hint that the answer is not obvious. Is the gift only outwardly to God with an inward motivation of gaining more honor for myself? Again, this is not a trivial question to answer, especially as one is meant to rejoice in and be encouraged by the reward for sacrifice. In this case the child can only present the broken gift to his father and say "I am sorry, father, that I broke the gift I was making." and with the faith of child "Can you fix it?"
In terms of form, the iambic terameter and quatrains of two couplets fit the light tone. The emphasis on humility, accomplished by being the first word of a line and the strong tension of ending a line with "and", is pleasant.
A Different View of Love
An acrobat with leggy grace,
you race and dance the finest line.
I ask if you would like to dine;
to wine I'd melt in your embrace.
I view you with myopic eyes,
each spies with love your grander form.
So huge, and hale beyond the norm,
you warm my heart with your great size.
Your female frame is sound and sure,
enduring what would kill most men.
It's said your strength's near that of ten,
so then is it your heart is pure?
I think you are not black within —
your skin is black enough for both!
So lovely dark, I swear my oath.
Betrothal could not be a sin!
You now embrace me from above,
and of your lips I have no fear.
Arachne, love, my end is near.
My dear, I am consumed by love.
[completed 26 July 1994]
It is not clear to me when the reader will realize that this is speaking of copulation between a male and female spider, I would not be surprised if some would not recognize this even with the closing use of "Arachne". "leggy grace" refers to the numerous (eight) legs and the seeming grace of a spider's movement, "race" references the seeming speed of a spider's movement, the "line" is a string of a spider web, "to dine" refers to the not rare eating of male spiders by female spiders (and plays with the idea of a dinner date), "to wine I'd melt" refers to the dissolving action of spider venom, "myopic" refers to the spider's poor distance vision, "grander form" et al. refers to female spiders being larger than male spiders, "strength's near that of ten,/so then is it your heart is pure?" refers to the heroic concept of having great strength because of purity of heart and the size-related superhuman strength of spiders, and "skin is black" is another common aspect of spiders. Arachne is the name of a weaver from Greek Mythology who was turned into a spider; spiders are called arachnids.
Although more sexual and oddly sexual than usual for my writings and clearly distanced from human sexuality (not that female spiders typically eat their mates, not even Black Widow spiders), there seem to be aspects of myself included. My passivity and attraction to (honorable) sacrifice would fit aspects of the verse. The assumption that feminine beauty correlates with feminine virtue is also present in both myself and this writing. Even the durability aspect—beyond any association with power that facilitates passivity/submissiveness—may also be attractive to me (like it is to the male spider) because such reduces guilt from my inability to defend the lady, though I would seem to prefer a fantasy where the very purity/beauty of the lady provides this invulnerability ("nothing can smite thee but wondrous light").
In form, the abba rhyme scheme seems to enhance the sense of embracing and, in the last stanza, the weaker (being less proximate) and yet more final completion (from being at the end of a stanza and completing an expectation that was pending longer) of the a-a rhyme seems to present a final sigh as the male spider expires.
While the overall quality is not exception even by the standards of my writings, it does seem to be somewhat amusing (e.g., the play on "consumed by love") and that seems enough for a bit of light verse.
Some Words to the Bread Mold in the Kitchen
I do not mind an uninvited guest.
I share my bread with you full willingly.
Yet your boorish behavior has me vexed;
so earnestly I plead that you would be
a little more mature and eat the rest
of that one piece before you start the next.
[completed 21 November 1994]
This short piece was inspired by a comment from a friend (Thomas Payerle, leading human behind the Society for the Promotion of REspect for Microorganisms). This external inspiration probably explains why it is (likely) the purest in silliness with perhaps the least of my own sentiments exposed.
The abcbac rhyming pattern, with a and c being near-rhymes, adds to the quirkiness of the verse. By almost but not fully satisfying the expected rhyming of "guest", the "vexed" is both emphasized (by the [near] rhyme) and agitated by the lack of true rhyme. The remainder of the lines end in completing rhymes perhaps providing a sense of forcefulness (matching the use of earnest pleading) and some hint of reconciliation. The weakness/inexactness of the last line's rhyme may offer a sense of concession ("I know I can't do much about your behavior") and a sense of waiting for a response (like the change of pitch at the end of a question). The merging of final consonant sounds between b (especially in the immediately preceding line) and c (from line 3) may hint at agreement, a compromise that is not ideal for either party but is satisfactory (satisfying the expected rhymes but not exactly) for both parties.