April 23, 2010

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!

Filed under: art,William Shakespeare — crcb @ 7:06 am
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This doesn’t count as my poem-of-the-day (after all, the words are Shakespeare’s), but here’s a little something I threw together in honor of the occasion:

Shakespeare in his own words

A self-portrait of Shakespeare, by Carl Bettis

Creative Commons License
Shakestext by Carl Bettis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.


National Poetry Month 2010, Days 19, 20, 21 and 22

Need to catch up on my blogging. Four more poems, including two more pseudonyms. I hope to give all twelve a chance to participate in National Poetry Writing Month. (Thirteen, if you count the one who calls himself “Carl Bettis.”) Also, Earth Day and a slice of childhood.


I offered Miss Lafferty a plum
and a kiss. She declined with
a gesture at her stomach. I asked
Miss Lafferty if she’d like
to smile coldly with me at
this foolish grubby world
that never combs its hair,
but she, guessing a trap,
would not agree. Then
I said how about we help
the Demiurge distribute
appearances to keep
the world’s soul
suffering under chains?
Her head shook but I saw
her lips quirk and I pursued.
We could make an idol
from plastic and epoxy,
write a new scripture, step outside
the laws of matter to turn
a few miracles, water to beer,
franks and peanuts multiplied
at ball games. I’ll die horribly
and you’ll write letters
on my behalf, proclaiming
principles I’d hate, convince
people to celebrate my murder
several times a year, but most
by disowning their lives.
Miss Lafferty smiled
and said, Now that’s a game
I think I could like.

— Wylie Boyle, 4/19/2010


Mechanical Lovers Need Not Be Made of Flesh
(on the DC3025 model robotic companion)

Mechanical lovers need not be made of flesh,
and you can commission the form you desire
without facing prim lips or rolled eyes
(the chortles are saved for the smoking alley
after you leave). Times come when a steady,
studied motion is what kneads you
until the hungry creature is fed and it’s now
for a nap with no one to watch you sleep.
You know it won’t last. They are delicate,
but so malleable you can’t help but test
their flexibility, bend them to the snap,
and then it’s back to the scrap bin.
It’s likely you’ll meet parts again
in those you choose after. There are
some differences from men, though.

— Vivi Groesbeck, 4/18/2010



Behind the house next door
between yard and alley
stood a tiny ruin where
a charred hunk of wood
dangled from a rusting rod
on the remains of a wall.
My sister and I dug up
twisted blobs of metal —
once cutlery perhaps,
but I declared and believed
them genuine silver.
I’ve not been so rich
in a long time.
I never made up
tales of who lived there
or why it burned.
There were four-leaf clovers
to harvest, dandelions
to puff into wishes,
pebbles of broken glass
to sift for gems. I had
a business to run.

— Carl Bettis, 4/21/2010


Homo Erectile Dysfunction

The 40th Earth Day, is it,
and how much good have they done?
Ask the polar bear shrinking
into the sea, ask the collapsed
beehives and the dying bats.
More hawks circle in the city
all the time;
are they driven among us
by hunger? I’m afraid
to go to sleep, afraid
another part of the world will steal
away while I’m not watching:
an ancient line of cats cut off,
a glacier puddled, an island drowned.
Who knew England would be Atlantis,
or that the Genesis flood
was prophecy, not legend?
The human ark’s an outboard,
the deaths of species the chop
and roar in our wake.
So happy Earth Day, I’ve giving you
this recycled card to say
let’s you and me leave.
I hear new continents are forming.
We might learn to like
walking barefoot on trash.

— Carl Bettis, 4/22/2010

April 18, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Days 16, 17 and 18

One haiku (or an attempt thereat), and two more pseudonyms — one writing in response to the other. In keeping with the spirit of haiku, the first one has no title.

under the school’s
iron stairs: a long, bright row
of chewed gum blobs

— Carl Bettis, 4/16/2010



Love is an allergic reaction to loneliness.
Hope is a flower that opens at sunrise,
never at night; its seed is a strong narcotic
that should be administered only in hopeless cases.
Faith is the platonic archetype of a lump of coal.
Poetry is a reverse strip-tease,
fabrics meticulously layered to show
illusions of nakedness.
Memory is a transistor radio with a broken tuner,
stuck between stations, playing Madonna and Mahler.
Loneliness is a child apologizing
for winning at checkers, a sunday school teacher
lighting seance candles, a gentleman
at a roadside fruit stand eating kumquats
and sniffing his fingers.
Love is an allergic reaction to loneliness.

— Isem Goins, 4/7/2010



Faith is an artery that doesn’t know
such a thing as the heart exists,
but pulses anyway.
Hope is the anticipation of pain
from work, from play, from a nip beneath
sweaty sheets, from
the strenuous exercise of desire.
Love is a snow-melt that trickles
into a creek that flows
into a river that rushes
to the sea where all life began
and all streams return.
The wit of despair is a shade-grown weed
that wilts when joy arises.

— Rex Munn, 4/18/2010

April 15, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Days 13, 14 and 15

Only one pseudonymous poem in this batch.

Ten Things Nobody Must Ever Know About Me

One: I like nature.

Two: I listen to Abba.

Three: I voted for Reagan.

Four: I cycle through emotions in alphabetical order.

Five: I can recognize, all told, two
dozen birds, bugs and plants. Mostly
it’s “that green thing, that stingy thing.”

Six: I am immune to endorphins.

Seven: I would betray anyone
to make you like me.

Eight: Most of my friends are imaginary.

Nine: Not my imagination.


— Carl Bettis, 4/13/2010


A Curse Upon Them

May all the drawers in their houses stick.
May their dogs shed clumps, their trees
drop thigh-thick limbs on their cars,
their cats cough wet tumbleweeds.
May their shoes pinch and their pants chafe.
May they be allergic to rain.
May mad geese attack them, butterflies
flee them, bees despise them,
mosquitoes stalk them.
Those who climb by luck and steal the ladder,
those who fish for men from boats they don’t steer,
and turn to chum those they don’t devour.
May they always stay sober.
May they live forever.

— J.J. Pearse, 4/14/2010



There comes a point in your life
when have more days behind you
than before, and another when
you have more friends among the
dead than the living. Some of
those days sit waiting for you
to clean up their mess, some of
those friends still
expect your call.

— Carl Bettis, 4/15/2010

April 12, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Days 11 and 12

A spring poem and a found/assembled poem.

Seige Mentality

Forsythia, tulip, japanese maple,
dandelion, lilac, dwarf pear:
bright colors of the enemy.
The fresh breeze swarms with bullets aimed
at my sinuses, and the golden sun
is no friend to my skin.
But sometimes you weary of skulking, sometimes
you have to dare the world to do its —
no, not worst, not near.
It’s just hay fever, not war.
The elements don’t care if I cower,
Nature holds no malice.
No forgiveness, either. Later
or sooner, something will bring me down
for good. And there’s an end
to yellow, red, purple, white,
sun and moon, night and day, pollen-smeared windshields,
ants in the sugar bowl, spiders in slippers,
sunburn, fleabite, mosquito welt;
and since I’m not ready to lose them,
it’s a good day for a walk.

— Carl Bettis, 4/11/2010


Dialogues overheard in the audience before a Ted Kooser reading

That guy over there? He has a thing for me. So does she.
— Let me have whichever one you don’t want.

Ted Hoosier’s one of my favorite poets.
— Did you know he was married to Sylvia Plath?

I heard the earth’s magnetic field is going to flip.
— What will that do?
Electricity’s going to run backwards.

People need art. I mean need, like, to survive.
— It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure.

He’s not from Kansas? I thought he was from Kansas.
— Well, his poetry is.

— Carl Bettis, 4/12/2010

April 11, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Day 10

Another pseudonymous poem. This is about as much sense as this guy ever makes.

the little people

then the foreign poet
grew angry
with his mistress
the very snowflakes fell
in silence and shame
rimmed with red

we become so small
in the fashionable hours
of the small morning
when we give angels
a monopoly on
the city haunted
by abandoned streetlights
without halos
on the river
i saw smoke settle
so i came back

be here with us
but be wary of three cards
falling at once
they mean trouble
they mean it’s time to go
i know i used to be irish
that was when she liked me
and bits of straw in her hair

don’t dare say it
the little people
don’t impress you
but they keep you
in silk collars
they feed you milk
they give you horns

be careful
when i sing
dancing bears
fall silent
i grow deaf
when midnight comes
for the solemnity of it
when my hearing comes back
from hunting secrets
i’ll carry you far from here
back to my homeland
to live on moss and darkness
until you grow my wings

— Basil Cartryte, 4/10/2010

April 10, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Day 9

I haven’t written today’s poem yet, but here’s yesterday’s.

Scubby Malone and the Shady Client

I was sitting in my office pouring new sawdust
into my heart when she walked in. Her legs
had carried her places nice people don’t go,
you could tell that. She had a worn-down beauty
mostly hidden under the grime of years, like
a Byzantine coin from the era of Basil the First.
I hear you solve mysteries, she said. Can you tell
me who I am? Amnesia, I asked, or existential dementia?
I haven’t forgotten, she said, but you have. We were married once
or twice, back when your shirts and laughter were loud,
and you didn’t care how bad you sang. Twelve is awful young
to be sentenced to wedlock, I said. Drop the wisecracks,
she said. What happened to us? I’ll look into it, I said. Two hundred
a day, first week up front. Where do you want me to start?
She dropped a wad of new bills on my desk, said
I want you to dance.

— Carl Bettis, 4/9/2010

April 8, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Days 6, 7 and 8

I’ve been making the time to write a poem every day, but I haven’t made time to blog. Here are the most recent three, two of them by pseudonyms I sometimes use.

Fool Me Seven Times…

And the air smelled like his sweat,
the bedroom listened for him to come back,
in the kitchen spoons and cups waited
for his touch. Fresh air and the green
stains creeping back over the ground
fooled me again. It’s good
someone continues his work.
Murmurs and nods and continual
acquiescence: he spent his clenched life
loosening all the tension from mine,
until even the walls hung slack.
And I took that for peace.
A spider repairs her web in the window.
— Dita Kroll, 4/6/2010


The Hero

One cannot remember a great man alone.
Confused from killing, confused
from counting his loot, confused
from sex with how many women,
he couldn’t always remember himself.
We gave our shops, our homes, our children
to purchase these legends we share
over cold beans under no roof.
Even now, he looks down on us
from the stars, and smiles.
I tell you, it was worth it.
Now you tell me.
— Carl Bettis, 4/7/2010


How the Demaba of Lemuria Pass Their Time

we live on the beach where it always rains
debris of machines homes forests bodies
working together or apart we pick through
and assemble what seems to fit
then leave the saved and discarded
alike to the tide
— Rameshi, 4/8/2008

April 5, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Day 5

And Basement Cat Laughs

I can haz hot dog,
cheezeburger, and epic fail
at getting work done.

— Carl Bettis, 4/5/2010

Not really a haiku, more an epigram. If you want to learn why this isn’t a haiku, a good starting point is

April 4, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Day 4


Hell is an endless open mic.
The poems are full of feces, fetuses and alliteration.
It’s not your turn yet.

— Carl Bettis, 4/4/2010

(NOTE: This is not a reference the World’s Longest Poetry Reading. I would gladly stay for all 120 hours of that event, if I could.)

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