April 30, 2009

Poems for April 26th – April 30th, 2009

Another heteronymous work for April 26th; I believe the author has been influenced by Mayakovsky and/or Frank O’Hara.


I bumped into God this morning.
It was quite an honor; he doesn’t often
meet someone like Me, and he was rather
bashful about it. “What do You think
of my creation?” he asked. “Not bad
for a first effort,” I replied,
“but it’s cramped, and the duct tape shows.
Giraffe, koala, penguin? These were not
considered designs. You rushed it out,
didn’t you? Too much in love
with your vision to wait on judgment —
I’ve been there.” “I don’t revise,”
he said, “I’d rather go on
to something else. Remove the flaws,
remove the character. My worlds
might not be polished, but they’re honest.”
He went on, “You know I like Your work,
but the devil’s in the details. You could
lose Your grip now and then, bang
something out in white heat, unleash
a plague on the page, turn it loose
and watch it to find out who You are.”
“I’ll give it a go,” I said, “what’s
the worst that can happen?” “Believe me,”
said God, “You don’t want to know.”

–Rex Mann


April 27th: few men, I think, are flattered to be the subject of one of Mary’s love poems.

To Her Would-Be

You think you can look through my eyes
to spy on my soul, naked in her home.
No light shines in here; whatever
you think you see is a reflection.
No wonder you’re caught in that stare
and don’t even want to escape.
You have the wrong myth: you’re no Amor,
and me — I’m a quiet pool.

–Mary Contrail


Ah, memories… how they scar! The poem for April 28th:

Six Hundred Sundays

I remember church when I was little —
a country church, a country faith —
lugubrious hosannas hobbled through air
thick with stale sweat and sweet perfume
(a capella because Paul neither fiddled nor picked) —
unsalted crackers and grape juice communion
as if children played at church, forbidden
grown-up bread and wine — sermons
not leavened with a pinch of wonder —
and after, we kids would congregate
at the fence of the neighboring farm,
and if God was in a good mood
a horse or cow would be grazing,
or we’d find a garden snake to chase.

–Carl Bettis


The poem for April 29th:

The Glum Dane

It was Ophelia drove Hamlet mad,
clinging to him like a wet shirt.
That black-clad, ghost-seeking,
verse-spouting gloom-sayer
held his sadness up like a torch
and is rumored to have committed a goatee,
but he would have turned out a mere
coffee-swilling scribbler of hack plays
if she hadn’t kept babbling on about flowers
in that passive-aggressive, you-know-what-I-mean
sort of way. Anyone would have snapped.
That’s why Hamlet (the play) bears
such an important message for today’s youth:
cheerleaders should never date goths,
it always ends in a massacre.

–Carl Bettis


And finally, we end National Poetry Month not with a bang, but a…


the river
      because it was
        drunk with
                too much rain
         fell out of bed;
   it had been sleeping on
   jutting fossil tusks.
  I didn't mind
         the reek of his cheating
                    the childish lies
             or the stares when our card
was declined at the store
              he had ways
                  to make up for all that
                          but he would never
              fight back, just
                          stutter, apologize
                          with spilling eyes
                 then one day he slipped
and called me Mom

–Dita Kroll


April 26, 2009

Poems for April 23rd – April 25th, 2009

All by heteronyms this time, all making their first public appearances (if you don’t count the renga previously posted here).

In the April 23rd poem, by Adam Ives, the author seems to use “dream” as a transitive verb.

Spring Falls: a Minimalist Sestina







Spring controls;
desire falls;
dream sin.

–Adam Ives


In Jack Pearse’s April 24th poem, I suspect the title is a reference to The Hours — the working title for Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, not the Nicole Kidman movie.

The Minutes

i breath in

late project night car
repair conference call basketball
practice chat girl scout
browser cookies 50 hour
software tweak data patch
coffee source word meeting
data minutes throb sinus
throb sinus throb

, out.

–Jack Pearse


Knowing what I do of the author, I’m sure the April 25th poem is autobiographical. Dita is not given to fiction.

Slow Storm

Clouds flare to the north.
Thunder is slow to arrive.
I watch jagged green lines
on the monitors, touch
her cold hand, wish I knew
how to read the signs.

–Dita Kroll

April 23, 2009

Poems for April 20th, 21st and 22nd, 2009

Playing catch-up again.Class warfare from a heteronym, a pro-alienation poem, and comparing comparisons.

April 20th:Class warfare? They started it.

Poverty and Plenty

In God we Trust, but when banks totter,
faith’s securities lose some interest.

Sparrows don’t file timesheets,
lilies don’t write progress reports —
but then, their rain isn’t metered

If the rich could buy the sun,
roofers would be pale.

Two bourgeoisie, over beer, brag
of their proletarian roots. The true
working class, sirs, doesn’t long to be.

The lean dog has as many fleas
as the fat, but they bite harder.

–Isem Goins


April 21st:it’s too long, and hammers the point in too many times, and it’s not a very original point.

Yes, But Alienated From What?

“This world is not my home” — Albert E. Brumley (hymn lyrics)

“I’ve had troubling dreams.
In this one, it seems I travel through a world
where everything suffers, but not all rejoice;
where desire is a thirst, not a river;
where creature eats creature and is eaten,
but none gives itself gladly;
where to add is to divide,
and one and one make two, not one;
where a battle to the death is final,
and fought in hatred and fear;
where space is full of things without life
or character, horribly named inanimate
objects; where one person makes another
into a small stone for use
in wall, weapon or trinket,
or to be thrown away;
where sorrow, anger, love and mirth
are not many colors in a single shirt;
where people haunt the lives they’re given
without creating their own, and don’t hear themselves
cry over themselves, as I cried
over my bed tonight,
calling me back.’

–Carl Bettis


April 22nd: a bit too abstract.

Apple, to Orange

When you say something or some-
one is “beyond compare,” aren’t
you comparing her, him or
it to all those others who —
to turn the phrase around — “can’t
compare to” your beloved?
Sui generis
is my
favorite genre, but it’s a
crowded one, a bulging sack:
it can’t hold everything we
cram into it, something will
fall out — there it goes now — oh,
it’s you.

–Carl Bettis

April 20, 2009

Poems for April 18th and 19th, 2009

The poem for April 18th is a true story. I haven’t knowingly embellished anything, but who knows what tricks memory can play? Not that factuality matters in poetry.

One Regret of Many

At a bus stop almost thirty years ago,
before sunrise, the sky not yet blanching.
The other person there, an old woman —
old to me, at least, green as I was then —
gray hair, white teeth, dark glasses, white cane,
a red scar across her throat, puckered and stitched.
“They couldn’t help me at the police station,”
she chanted, then laughed rhythmically,
“so I took my problem to the United Nations”–
again that amphibrachic chortle.
I stood silent, hoping she’d think herself
alone, and listened to her rhymed rambles.
I was afraid she’d take off her shades to show
gashed eyes, empty sockets or I don’t know what.
My bus came, and she stayed behind.
Five minutes later, it could have been a dream.
But she wasn’t. Likely nothing I might have said
would help her, but I’m sure, now, she knew
somebody was there, and she was alone.

–Carl Bettis


The April 19th poem is an ars poetica and a credo. (Pretty slight thing to bear that much weight, but it’s all I have.)

Matter of Faith

Time was, workman and craftsman could take
their centuries to raise a cathedral,
sure they’d see it finished — death no more
than a rainy day’s interruption —
and certain they’d be well paid. I can’t build
on their schedule, and their coin
is useless to me, but I can add
my stone carefully nonetheless,
and be satisfied with my service
if it’s home only to spider and mouse.

–Carl Bettis

April 18, 2009

Poems for April 16th and 17th, 2009

The April 16th poem is about the god of low self-esteem. For April 17th, a haiku-like thingie.


Abosh, the god of low self-esteem, hates his name.
The most famous legend concerning him tells how he spied
Princess Zephyr, loveliest of women,
strolling in a garden, and at once lost
his immortal heart to her. Disguised
as a young man, he descended
and stood around, pretended to study the roses,
and hoped she would notice him. She didn’t.
Hence, Abosh is the patron of secret loves–
and of the openly cheated-on, but that’s another story.
His altar is a doormat, where followers leave
second-hand clothes, leftovers, whatever
they were getting rid of anyway.
Hymns and prayers make him fidget:
he already feels more like a fraud
than a god. His devotees strike their heads
and chant “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
They hope, after death, for a spot
somewhere near Paradise, where now and then
they might smell the nectar and overhear
the blessed rejoice–
if that’s not too much trouble.

–Carl Bettis


old man’s funeral.
a balloon in the rafters
says “Happy Birthday!”

–Carl Bettis

April 16, 2009

Poems for April 12th – 15th, 2009

The poem for April 12th comes from a heteronym. Isem, even more than most of the group, tends to be didactic.


Change your mind, change the universe.
All the future waits on you,
on him, on her, on me, on them,
girls jumping rope and old men at checkers,
the mosquito and the bat and which one wins,
the hummingbird hovering between flower and feeder.
We all lose perspective sometimes.
The teenage boy whose heart hammers
in his ears, metal of adrenalin in his mouth,
sweaty, short of breath, fearful of his sanity–
his life– if she says no or laughs,
has not lost his. Only later, older
and worn out with meaning,
he’ll convince himself
that many things don’t matter.

–Isem Goins


The April 13th poem is by Basil, who fancies himself avant garde. To be honest, I don’t care for much of his work. This one seems like he gathered a pile of random words and added connective tissue.

Not Entirely Numerous

in the drizzle of sun the mind leaps & splashes,
both on this side of the flood, where shadows
are folded away like napkins, & in the dark mirror.
but the passing flocks of ponds on high,
the prairie grass that moshes with storm & scythe,
the sparks that spray from earth
every time a shovel turns,
these are gone from you. night mailed its letters,
& you read them. its headlights stared
down the day, & apollo crept off in shame.
i shade my eyes & shrink into my pores.
the sun is warm but impersonal,
like a glowing vacuum tube,
like an angry mother’s breast,
like me.

–Basil Cartryte


Two poems for April 14th. The only way to cleanse my mental palate of the foul aftertaste of yesterday’s poem was to cook up one that’s even worse (and introduce it with a clumsy extended metaphor):

National Poetry Month Poem-a-Day Marathon, Work #14

I’ve hit the wall–
I’ll rhyme that with all,
then do worse
with a stale rhyme on verse.
An inversion I’ll add,
just to be bad,
and with a twist I’ll end,
if I can think of one that’s lame enough.

–Carl Bettis

And now for something completely different… by Rameshi.

In Utopia

“How much is bus fare?”

“May we consider you exotic?”

“I know it sucks, but I like that painting.”

“Dear farmer, we thank thee for this food.
(Put out a bowl of corn for the chicken’s soul, honey.)”

“Every Saturday, she does a free strip show at the retirement home. He does his on Thursdays.”

“Yes, we’re still confused, frustrated and needy.”

“My accent is charming!”

“I saw the most amazing thing, a butterfly with clouds overhead.”

“He doesn’t work here anymore. He never dreamed of escape.”

“Everybody move over one life. No, counter-clockwise.”

“I can’t watch the Superbowl, Madame Zimbroska’s calling up Byron.”

“My mother died getting this photo. The framing’s a little off.”

“It’s the house with the lawn.”

“What the hell are ‘pastels’?”

“Another martini before you go to work?”

“Thank God I’m the stupidest one here!”

“The stairs are out. You’ll have to use the rope.”

“Those are dangerous words.”



And finally, for April 15th, another by Basil — but I like this one a bit better than his last. More stream-of-consciousness than grab-bag.

Nosebleed, Already Drying

Rebel against time, he thought carefully,
cheerfully, and one half
that the drunks were getting candied. Dandy
sprigs of regret wilted in their tumblers. Tumblers
of the spirit, moral gymnasts, limbic Houdinis, they
twisted around the                 and wriggled loose from their deeds.
A fine band of embittered brothers they were,
fearful that others would breathe their air,
which had to last them through the past.
One spoke to angels who didn’t hear.
One harkened to voices in the wind
and the whirr of fan blades and the whine of his nerves.
The nurse brought wine and bread
and the self-bred saint plucked his lust from its socket
and stowed it in his pocket.
Rossetti, Rossini and Pere Loti
assumed the position and OM’d many a padre betwixt cup and home.

Writ by this hand of its own will,
the ring finger alone dissenting,
in the ear of our chord, two sows and swine.

–Basil Cartryte

April 12, 2009

Poem for April 11, 2009 – looking for keys

A net renga by me and a handful of heteronyms. I’m afraid I have to post this one as a graphic.

looking for keys, a net renga

looking for keys, a net renga

April 11, 2009

Poems for April 8th, 9th and 10th, 2009

For April 8th, a short solo renga. I use a very liberal, westernized set of rules for writing renga. Even so, this might not qualify. The first stanza is supposed to be a haiku: I don’t count syllables for haiku, but I do try to avoid simile and metaphor. If the second line doesn’t break that rule, it comes awfully close.

rise to feed

spring evening’s rain
pecks at the lake
fish rise to feed

we made out by the soft
light of the t.v.

she liked it dirty,
the bronze of her sculptures,
stained by life

he’s come from first confession
to first liver spot

yes, i burned ants.
i’m ashamed, but miss
that crackle, that smell.

paperwork from my old job
–into the bonfire!

–Carl Bettis


I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of alienation poems. Maybe someday I’ll stop writing them. Not just yet, though. Here’s my April 9th poem:


he has dried his heart into jerky
he chews it for flavor but doesn’t swallow
he used to be an important man in his life
one night he left himself at work
next morning he was gone
he is thoroughly documented
he carries both requirements and design on a thumb drive
he can be reconstructed whenever it would be useful
so far he hasn’t had the need
if his wife has noticed he’s missing she hasn’t said anything
last week he went to church
God wasn’t there either
and hey if it doesn’t bother Him…

–Carl Bettis

(On an unrelated note, judging by my recent compositions, I seem to be fixated on dried foods lately.)


April 10th: speaking of alienation…

To The Alien

“Human: the animal that makes boxes.” –Isem Goins

I was born on Earth. My species–
we make boxes. I lived there in a box
that was sectioned into smaller boxes,
worked in a box, kept my shorts and socks
in sliding boxes, watched a box for pleasure.
Our cities: boxes stacked, nested, crowded, sprawled,
filled with people riding in boxes, eating from boxes.
We build boxes for our children, our elders,
our sick, our gods. “Outside the box”
is a magical phrase to us, a box of words
that contains escape, air, creation.
Outside is the Earth, which isn’t useful
if you need to hold or carry your stuff.
I was born there.

–Carl Bettis

April 8, 2009

Poems for April 6th and 7th, 2009

The poem for April 6th was “seeded” with a word picked at random, which suggested a Bible verse:


Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. –Matthew 13:44

Treasures are the swag of adventures,
what pirates and dragon-slayers have;
spoil and booty aren’t for the likes of me.
Dividends don’t smell of seaspray,
no glamor clings to a bank statement,
and legends don’t follow a 401(k), however cursed.
My wealth is a bodyguard, not a trophy,
and though it’s small, I hope it’s a David at need.
I’m not rich much anymore, not like when I was young:
my goods have spoiled me.
So tell me, Jesus, haven’t I paid the great price
for this burden, yea, all that I am?
Can I get through that needle now?

–Carl Bettis


The poem for April 7th is a pantoum (if I’ve remembered the form correctly):

April Freeze

The year’s been moody:
bud, snow; blossom, freeze.
I’m just getting started on life–
bald shins and shaky hands.

Bud, snow; blossom, freeze;
the daffodils died young.
Bald shins and shaky hands,
what will they become?

The daffodils died young,
spring’s first fly came early.
What will they become,
dreams that dried on the branch?

Spring’s first fly came early,
sure of summer but hungry now.
Dreams that dried on the branch?
Still sweet, still waiting for me.

Sure of summer but hungry now,
I’m just getting started on life.
Still sweet, still waiting for me,
the year’s been moody.

–Carl Bettis

April 6, 2009

Poems for April 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2009

I’ve been writing, I just haven’t been posting, so now it’s time to play catch-up.

April 3rd’s poem is completely self-indulgent:

She Who Draws

Kasner Codex 189b, recovered (in very bad condition) from the ruins of Mu by the tragic Trelayne expedition. If Vanderkrup’s admittedly controversial Akashic Chronometry is correct, this manuscript would date from about 19,000 B.C.E. Translated by Dr. Philip Pasquin and Dr. Louise Eddersen.

… who without yielding to his … created woman.
… is that. Like a … green, and covered in [goat?] skin, gave crafty pleasures.
One [deluded/deluding] by words, one [seduced/seducing] by syllables will …
man [who stands] at morning’s gate to gather night’s …
” … not today,” a home with a cracked roof … many colors,
few people. But she who draws the keta-ab*, whose pen is the vlaveliod*
… attention … nipples … whose coffins strip the sun of light.
Resurrected, the sacrificed generation … spontaneous survival.
Spirits who plumb the human … among us, eating, loving, and unknown,
children trapped in virtue [and] lost in caverns of [rage?] …

* meaning unknown

–Carl Bettis


The poem for April 4th was written under the influence of Lunesta:

Spring, Evening, Love

Beware spring: the returning bird, the greening oak
are not you, nor fables of you.
You will not come again.

Beware this evening: the wind you feel
does not touch you, there’s no music in the frog’s
cry for sex. The song you hear is yours.

Beware love: it will dissolve the skin
that keeps you outside and the world safely in.
Breach that wall and be surrounded, outnumbered, taken.

–Carl Bettis


Finally, I can’t fully reproduce the poem for April 5th. The poem is only half of the poem. A drawing is the other half. (I might scan it in eventually.)

the soul guards its own purity

this man constructed his room
as all do from remains
of the egg
from which he hatched
saved for years because what if
the sun’s too dirty and the moon’s a voyeur
everyone needs to keep a non-being handy
enough never to use

–Carl Bettis

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