Often in Error, Never in Doubt

(for Donald Trump)

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

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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

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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.)

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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

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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)

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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.

The Art of Verse, a Progress

devilWe didn’t talk funny once upon a time
The way the kids do now
We spoke in even meter, perfect rhyme,
Made sense to sentence bow.

We knew a careless word might be the bell
That rang a god awake –
To what end, none could ever quite foretell;
A chance, then, not to take.

But careless we grew
and after a time, unsure what to do
or say, how, or to who
And latterly the language is grown askew.

And now, look. The gods awoke, all right,
and drank and danced and sang.
The gods went out, stayed out all night
wouldn’t go back to where they came.

They’re out carousing now no doubt.
Oh hell, oh where’ve they gone?

And what have we to say for ourselves
anymore? Nothing, and more
nothing, the Devil’s taken the words,

Oh what were we talking about again?
Oh when did we lose track?
It’s too late to take care,
We’ve gained something
and we can’t get it back.

 

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That pencil

8423788446_35d3415eb0_z_d
that pencil

was decisive as an arrow once
but soon I noticed
it was always a little short of sharp

but maybe
but who can say
anyway I persevered

and every scratch of the way
there was that pencil
unsharp ever
barely shy of blunt at times

anyway I persevered

now look at it
all chewed up like an argument
nobody won

 

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