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Tags: poetry

Here are those poems which I wish to share. I love jokes, rhymes, and wordplay, and I savor the challenge of fitting ideas into metric verse.

The Man from H.0.P.3.

2020-06-22, 09:32 (updated 2020-06-30)

This poem was inspired by correspondence with the Philosopher of Life, h0p3.

Sundown. My latest letter is complete:
I post it to the madman's house of black.
His call for correspondence thus fulfilled,
White ink on parchment fuligin comes back.

The auto-philosophe greets me with cheer.
He's scoured my tubes; he's scanned my public face.
"Your site's delightful" -- so reads his review.
No lesser turbo-hermit has such grace.

I swear I see him through Eye Number Three:
Thin fingers, stained with e-ink, sweep the keys
That lock him to the ever-growing Book
Of Life, which he attends on hands and knees.

From ones and nones, h0p3 builds a prophesy,
And from his labors may he never tire.
In 2020, Montaigne essays on.
His precomputed smile floats down the wire.

Huge Katana

2020-03-21, 21:54 (updated 2020-06-19)

This is a parody of Leonard Cohen’s famous song “Hallelujah”. When my friend Matt mistook a haiku for such a parody, I knew I had to make it real. Consider this a companion piece to “Hakuna Katana”.

My ancestors all wore the sword
Which I now bear to serve my lord
All spring I fight, when weaker men don't wanna
It goes like this: the stroke, the swish
The spray of blood, the stink of piss
I have no friends besides my huge katana

Huge katana
Huge katana
Huge katana
Huge kata-aaa-ana

From Edo to Hokkaido's shore
The only life I know is war
Each day of my existence is nirvana
A lesser man would lose his head
But I know I'm already dead
And to my son I've willed my huge katana


I've read the Bibles Dutchmen sell
I scoff at Satan, laugh at Hell
I need no foreign Christ, and no Madonna
I don't believe a word they say
My Bible is bushido's way
My only god is called my huge katana


I have no patience for the court
I've never been the courtier sort
I'd rather live life simply, kin to fauna
The finer arts are lost on me
Let others write death poetry
My dying words will be my huge katana


Hakuna Katana

2020-02-25, 16:32 (updated 2020-02-25)

These verses are parodies of the song “Hakuna Matata”, from Disney’s animated film The Lion King. I wrote the first two stanzas on 2018-01-14, and the other two on the publication date above.

Consider this a companion piece to “Huge Katana”.

Hakuna katana: what an elegant blade
Hakuna katana: only Nippon-made
It means bushido, for the rest of your days
Bisect knights with ease
Speak Japanese
Hakuna katana

Hakuna katana: cut down knights from your horse
Hakuna katana: follow honor's course
It means no mercy, and it means no remorse
Your whole life will be
Blade mastery
Hakuna katana

Hakuna katana: train in samurai schools
Hakuna katana: kill impudent fools
It isn't murder if you follow the rules
With a single slash
Turn foes to hash
Hakuna katana

Hakuna katana: fill opponents with dread
Hakuna katana: cut off someone's head
You'll practice living like you're already dead
One day you may be
Like Musashi
Hakuna katana

Strange Squeaking

2020-02-09, 19:57

I stepped outside to take the air, but stopped short when I heard
A squeaking cry, as issues from a wounded, bleeding bird—
Or rather, not from fowl at all, but from an injured bat;
The wingéd mouse, the flying shrew, the aviating rat.

The sound came from the corner of the garden, past the gate.
I went inside to fetch my coat—we've had a chill of late.
Beraimented, I crept along. The batlike wail grew near.
On garden path I crept, until the screeching filled my ear.

And ... what found I? A broken bird? A bat, brought down to ground?
'Twas neither thing that drew me there by way of eerie sound.
I took a knee to do some work. The squealing went away.
No longer will that broken sprinkler keen like dying prey!

Hooked on Darjeeling

2020-01-31, 23:22

A parody of the song “Hooked on a Feeling”, originally performed by B.J. Thomas and further popularized by Blue Swede.

Pour a cuppa
Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa
Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa
Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa

One sip of Darjeeling
Sparks my fantasy
I don't bother trying out
Any other tea

Finished steeping
Board the flavor train
West Bengali
Worldwide acclaim

I ... I'm hooked on Darjeeling
That tea-leafy feeling
Another cup for me

Hooked on Darjeeling
Those leaves got me reeling
Another cup for me

Little insects puncture
Veins of growing leaves
Causing plants to send out
Muscatel terpenes

Come on, boiling water
Be a friend to me
Bring me piquant secrets
From those ancient trees

Grapelike flavor
Puts me on my knees
I'm in heaven
Filled with ecstasy

I ... I'm hooked on Darjeeling
That tea-leafy feeling
No other drink for me

Hooked on Darjeeling
Those leaves got me reeling
No other drink for me

Night Walk

2020-01-30, 23:38 (updated 2020-03-31)

I rambled through a grid of streets which I thought I knew cold
The street lamps turned to will-o-wisps, alluring balls of gold
I lost my bearings wandering—I got all turned around
But I'm OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound.

I got disoriented on the roads I walked of old
I took some time to cogitate--I knew I wouldn't fold
The path that I was seeking is no longer sought, but found
I'm A-OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound.

Surveying my surroundings gave my instincts purchase-hold
Rearmed with subtle pointers, I grew confidently bold
Old landmarks shuffled out to say, "You're on familiar ground"
I'm A-OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound.

That’s Podracing

2020-01-27, 22:29

A Star Wars parody of the classic Dean Martin song “That’s Amore”.

When you pull a tight spin
Without losing your grin—
That's podracing

When the chance cubes are rolled
And you have to be bold—
That's podracing

Racers bring
(Bring a ling a ling, bring a ling a ling)
Pods together in battle
Watto squirms
(Squirmy lurmy lurm, squirmy lurmy lurm)
Only Shmi left as chattel

When you feel in command
Soaring over the sand—
That's podracing

When a man screams "poodoo!"
As he cedes ground to you—
That's podracing

When foes swear in Huttese
As you place first with ease—
That's podracing

When announcers go wild:
"Anakin, the slave child!"—
That's podracing

Racers bring
(Bring a ling a ling, bring a ling a ling)
Pods together in battle
Watto squirms
(Squirmy lurmy lurm, squirmy lurmy lurm)
Only Shmi left as chattel


2019-12-23, 14:55 (updated 2020-03-23)

Were I King Ahasuerus
    Then never would I see
        A Haman full of hate.
        My kingdom's Jews, their fate,
    Would never safer be—
Were I King Ahasuerus.

Were I King Ahasuerus
    No outside threat would scare us.
        With Mordecai at hand,
        The wisest in the land,
    We'd have him to prepare us—
Were I King Ahasuerus.

Were I King Ahasuerus
    I'd toss out old Vashti
        With bigger dreams than britches.
        What's with these ancient bitches?
    A diff'rent wife for me—
Were I King Ahasuerus.

Were I King Ahasuerus
    To fortune I could bear us.
        One people, marked forever:
        A Jewish race, together.
    To this compact I'd swear us—
Were I King Ahasuerus.

Missing the Moment

2019-12-27, 22:17

I sit down to produce a jot of verse—
I stand up, and I pace around the room.
What might have been a banger will get worse
The more I pace. To hesitate spells doom.

For any work which takes a focused mind—
And poetry is surely in that group—
Ideas must flow all at once, I find,
Or else I'll lose myself: caught in a loop

Of thinking, and rethinking, and—oh, fuck!
I've dropped the thread entirely by now.
That's what I get for pacing: a big suck;
The glimmer of a topic, but no "pow!"

One saving grace: there is no Poem Boss.
When I screw up, it's no-one else's loss.

Milkshake Sonnet

2019-12-04, 13:30 (updated 2020-01-29)

My milkshake is a peanut-butter treat
With chocolate, too, appearing in the mix
A glass so large, so sickeningly sweet
That I need less than half to get my fix

I'm in a diner with a weighty tome
Great English Poems, edited by Briggs
Across the table, Adam looks at home
With Murakami, and with coffee swigs

There comes a sudden motion from below
As Adam lays a tickle on my knee
I counter-jest, exclaiming, "Nandato!"
Which Adam laughs at oh-so-heartily

It's Wednesday. We have nothing much to do.
The skies change from a rainy gray to blue.

Poems for Friendship Villagers

Half a dozen friends of mine live in a group house called Friendship Village. The first time I hung out with them as a group, I wrote a Chinese poem for them all to express my gratitude at meeting such lovely new friends.

About a year later, after a joyous night of homemade pizza at Friendship Village, I decided to write poems for each of them. A week later my project was complete. I hand-wrote the poems on cards, and delivered them at Ian’s going-away party on 2019-06-13.


2019-06-13, 12:34

Part of the Friendship Village series.

Sneaking round the house at night
The prankster man comes giggling
Laughing to himself with all
Ten fingers splayed and wiggling

Reaching into every cranny
(Not a man for strictures)
You won't see him come or go
But you will find his pictures


2019-06-13, 12:34

Part of the Friendship Village series.

To me you come off as the coolest housemate
Can it be true that you're the illest villager?
Skate on home, then rouse up that guitar rumpus
"Cool" is too weak: from now on you're a chillager


2019-06-13, 12:34

Part of the Friendship Village series.

Guaranteed to brighten up my day-J
Hugs me when I go off on my way-J
Emits every color except gray-J
Friendship Village saint? I vote for AJ


2019-06-13, 12:34

Part of the Friendship Village series.

Wholesome winter scenes on
Christmas cards.
How? How does
Someone come to wield such
Skill at arts?
Long, hard work
And a smile for all the
No other
Way to learn to paint such
Winter sights.


2019-06-13, 12:34

Part of the Friendship Village series.

A cottage on a hill
A flower patch
A tree of fruit
A mound of herbs
A bunch of beans
A pile of plerp
A bag of blegg
A tin of twomp
A sack of snoob
And a sign out front, big-lettered:


2019-06-13, 12:34

I tried and tried, but couldn’t come up with a poem for Fedora. Instead, I made for her a bite-size videogame called Fedoradventure, which you can play online. Though not a poem, Fedoradventure still belongs to the Friendship Village series.

The Bunghole

2019-11-03, 12:35

A parody of William Blake’s “The Tyger”.

Bunghole! Bunghole! Clenching tight
On the toilet, in the night
Curse you, bowels! Set me free!
Has my poo no place to be?

In a distant land of glee
Somewhere constipation-free
Man may poo most joyfully
He knows not of agony

He knows not the price we pay
Pants round ankles, there to stay
As we grunt and swear and pray
Pooing in a toilsome way

For what reason, in God's grace,
Did He make man squat in place?
Wasting time without his say
On a poo's extended stay?

What immortal hand on high
Moved to make our poo so dry?
Whither Bunghole and his fee?
Whither constipationry?

Bunghole! Bunghole! Clenching tight
On the toilet, in the night
Curse you, bowels! I don't see
What I've ever done to thee!

A Gift for Gadi

2019-01-25, 18:45

I once traveled in a touring group guided by an amicable man named Gadi. When the group played Secret Santa and I received his name as my beneficiary, I decided to write him a poem.

Please excuse any awkwardness in the pseudo-literary Chinese. The gift was completed in a hurry, for a non-Chinese-speaking audience, so I judged rhyming more important than phrase construction.

A Gift for Gadi, Original
Gadi Gadi Gadi


A Gift for Gadi, Rough English Translation

Gadi Gadi Gadi
Captain of our team.
His style is way fresh,
This Chiller Supreme.

Of eminent talents
And big-bearded too,
He teaches all people
His everyday cool.

The Peerless Drongo

2019-10-14, 20:11

While traveling on the group tour which inspired “A Gift for Gadi”, a friend and I spent a day stumbling around a foreign marketplace, our bellies stuffed and our eyes wide. We were totally out of place – yet we were at ease. I invented a word to describe the feeling of wandering aimlessly without a care: “roaming around like a couple of drongos.”

The word “drongo” doesn’t have a pithy definition, but this poem (and its companion, “Drongo Explained”) should help you get the idea. A hedonist, a bon vivant, a fish out of water, an artist, a scrounger, a drifter, or a jester might all be drongos.

He's cheerfully strolling
Gracelessly fearless, our witless fellow

Down the street ambling
Unhurried rambling
To none beholden, the peerless drongo!

Pausing to peer as the
Ladies draw near is he
Finding no shame in production of drool

With lust for the stocking
The drongo comes knocking
No need of motley has this kind of fool

Wanton debauchery
Lewd side-eye watchery
'Round the whole world in his bumbling flow

Snorting and snootling
Fecklessly frootling
To none beholden, the peerless drongo!

Cheapest of epicures
Drinker of every beer's
Last golden drops in the bottle at hand

Market stall prowlery
Flavor night-owlery
Led by his stomach all over the land

Faced with this nobody
Go with the flow, buddy
When you come near him you're certain to know

Share what you have today
Soon he'll be on his way
To none beholden, the peerless drongo!

[I am aware that not all speakers of English pronounce “epicure” /'ɛpɪkiɹ/, rhyming with “beer” /'biɹ/, as I have rhymed them here.]

Drongo Explained

2020-01-29, 23:33 (updated 2020-03-23)

While corresponding with Kicks Condor, I realized I didn’t have a snappy, instantly-recognizable definition for a drongo. To fill that need, I began this poem in December 2019, edited and extended it over the next couple months, and pronounced it finished on 2020-01-29, around 23:33.

A drongo is a hooligan,
A whirlywind, a fool,
A tonguer of adventure's taste,
A seeker of the cool.

With merry eyes he seeks a prize—
He's not so sure it's real—
By keeping ever on the move
He turns all woe to weal.

The drongo's madman tendencies
Are rarely well-controlled.
To pyrite one may see him cling,
Convinced it's good as gold.

First going hard, then going fast,
Then going 'round again,
Is perfect drongo conduct, which
The drongo finds urbane.

To drongo is to wander through
A landscape from the past,
With no plan but to savor it—
Then toast it, at the last.

A drongo has nowhere to be
Before his chosen hour.
Though time may threaten him with snares,
He's far beyond its pow'r.

If drongos call out, "Nine o'clock!"
They never mean the time:
They're pointing out a pretty girl
Who's standing at your nine.

Should you insist that's boorish — fine!
Renounce it, if you choose.
A drongo's way is his alone,
And his alone to lose.

You can become a drongo — if
It's true you have no lack
Of love for wild abandon, and
Distaste for looking back.

For starters, ramble-shamble romp
To anywhere you please.
You'll know the other drongos when
They join you in your ease.

Hayley and Her Boy Toy

2019-03-05, 12:34

One of my two favorites of the poems I wrote for my former roommate, Hayley. The other favorite is “Goodbye, Hayley”.

Hayley and her boy toy
In the night they giggle
Fingers go exploring
Interlocked they wiggle
Fingertip on her hip
Tracing out a squiggle
This is love, no doubting
Not even a niggle

Goodbye, Hayley

2019-09-20, 12:34

Hayley, AKA “Blue” or “Bloo,” was my roommate (or “shmoom-mate”) from September 2018 to September 2019. I started composing poems shortly before I moved in with her, and soon found that life in close quarters provided many poetic inspirations. This is one of my two favorites from this period; the other is “Hayley and her boy toy”.

I was delighted that you called me mellow
I'm certain that you count as mellow too
I testify to you that this Max fellow
Will just as certainly be missing Bloo

Our shmoomery is done but not forgotten
When thinking of me please don't hang your head
We shan't forget each other 'til we're rotten
No need to eulogize before we're dead

If by some chance to SoCal comes a Hayley
In Snoop's hometown you know you have a pal
Transmitting good cheer to you on the daily
What's left to say? You rule! Go get 'em, gal!

Stanza Written Above a Ridge

2019-12-14, 13:30

Part of the 2019 Weeklong Wine Country Poetry Fight. Written while hiking in Austin Hills State Recreation Area, in response to a challenge from Chris Stasse: “in five minutes, write a poem on what you see before you.”

The north wind rises
Descends onto the ridge
Meets both trees
And swirls away

After I read this aloud, Chris said it reminded him of descriptions of nature from the poet Wang Wei [王维].


2020-01-30, 00:35 (updated 2020-03-23)

A horrifically stupid parody of William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”. Mostly finished by 2019-12-23, but only revised and posted at 00:35 on 2020-01-30.

I read of Wordsworth's daffodils
To set my mind a-wandering,
That loyal hound! It carried back
A silly thought, no somber thing:
    "Although I cherish daffodils,
    They're far outstripped by laughodils."

The laughodil's a precious plant:
It isn't sold in any store.
If giggling is what you want,
Ask those who scour the forest floor
    (Though when a laughodil they find,
    They're loath to part, as with gold mined.)

When seekers bargain, pay their fee,
Or flowerless you will return.
Once back: be careful! For, you see,
The cooking method's hard to learn.
    But if you only persevere
    The hour of laughter will be near.

With juice of laughodil in hand,
Take just one sip — not one sip more!
A single sip will bring you glee,
But two means pain forevermore.
    Be off with you. For all it's worth,
    I hope you find that mystic mirth.

Two Thirds of a Sonnet for Chance

2019-10-13, 22:59

Written in response to something nice that Chance, a new friend, said to me. This is “two thirds” of a sonnet because a real sonnet needs a third four-line verse before the ending couplet.

Has it occurred to you that you deserve
To be called not just chill, but chill supreme?
I have a softness in my heart for those
Who follow through—who realize the dream

Of living in a world where effort's fruits
Are by most sincere comments justly met
Much thanks, for 'tis upon my horn you toot
Exchanging digits was a winning bet

A sonnet, or two thirds of one, for thee
With gratitude from You-Know-Who and me

Poem for Cameron and Felix

2019-10-12, 00:41

Written late at night, after getting to know these two fellows at a meetup. If you join the second and third lines in each stanza, the meter becomes iambic tetrameter (save for the line beginning “Knowledge”, which must be read as a trochee.)

Tonight I've met a pair of men
Whom I hope I may
Call new friends

Two buds, pointed at PhDs
Knowledge sets both their
Means and ends

Two dudes, united by one car
Stick-shift - they're off! in
Homeward flight

Let's meet again, cognition crew
To pass another
Pleasant night

After the Farewell Lunch

2019-08-20, 19:00

Shortly before moving away from Portland, I got the chance to have a farewell lunch with Professor Hyong Rhew, one of just three or four people whom I call “my most beloved teachers.” Also present was my long-time friend Chris Stasse, whom I similarly call one of “my most beloved friends.”

This poem commemorates the mischievous post-prandial activities of that day. I believe this is the first poem I’ve written for Chris; it probably won’t be the last.


A loose translation, 2019-12-20, 11:41:01-0800:

One last cup
The teacher bids goodbye

The two boys
Laughing all the way home

"Big Hemp" is
Wild fancies take flight

Such is a pair of friends!