I Just Don’t Get Poetry

“Above all, the listener should be able to understand the poem…, not be forced to unravel a complicated, self-indulgent puzzle. Offer your art up to the whole world, not just an elite few.”
— Lucinda Williams

Obscure, impenetrable
Some poems resemble
The unknowable.
Is it any wonder
That you will hear
Over and over,
“I just don’t
Get poetry.
Give me a novel,
Or a short story.”?
It’s a pity.
The ancient genre
Was intended to be clear,
Easily memorized
And remembered
For years.
Even free verse
Is easily recalled
If it tells a story —
Brief, short and sweet,
To the point, concise,
Succinct, crisp, pithy,
Incisive, trenchant,
Laconic, elliptical
And terse verse.

For the Love of Stories

My dad used to listen to WMBI radio Chicago after he had become a Christian.
It is the radio network of the Moody Bible Institute. Of all the programs,
his favorite was a children’s story hour featuring a person named Aunt Teresa.

She would say something like, “Hi, Boys and girls. I’m your Aunt Teresa and
I’m here to tell you a story. Boys and girls all over the world love stories,
any kind of story and I, Aunt Teresa tell them the right kind of stories.”

I can’t remember what kind of stories Aunt Teresa told, but I am sure they
were the right kind, according to WMBI and the Moody Bible Institute.

What strikes me is the universality of Aunt Teresa’s claim.

Yes, boys and girls all over the world love stories, and not just boys and girls
but men and women, too, like my dad who loved listening to Aunt Teresa’s stories.

Tell a story, like this short one from my childhood and somehow readers will be able to relate and appreciate that my dad liked to listen to Aunt Teresa and the fact that she loved to tell stories to boys and girls all over the world — the right kind of stories, whatever that meant and according to my dad, they were the right kind for him because he kept on listening.

VCRs (Other Gadgets) and Mental Health

The detective on the murder
mystery and her boss dis-
cussed a suspicious VCR

(the series is dated) in a
murder case and the detect-
ive said she doesn’t have a

VCR for her health, because
once you have a gadget, you
give away some of yourself

to the device. You become
addicted to your VCR and
you can’t get good movies

because they are out so you
watch lousy movies and there
goes your mind and on and

on and on….The detective
was onto something. The
episode is to be continued.

I’ll have to watch because
it has life lessons to learn
and won’t damage my health,


At the End of the Day*

Elvis referred to  Little Elvis,
a family member down his body

half way. The priest referred to
the Little Ego Self and it is at

the heart at the start of day.
We need Little Elvis and Little

Ella and we all have our Little
Ego Self, which is important

in forming Ed and Ann and
Don and Pam, but these little

ones can get in the way when
we expect them to be the only

way. They need to get out of
the way, or they will scream

bloody murder — me, me, me
all the way. When the only way

is to be found in the Beyond
Ego We and Thee, and then

we will know as we have been
known at the end of the day.

*idea from thoughts by Tilden
Edwards at Richard Rohr’s
Daily Meditation

Something There Is….

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” — Robert Frost.
“Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility.” — St. Paul.
“Fear Not.” — Jesus.
“Build the wall.” — Donald Trump and sixty million angry, scared
Americans (most of them white, evangelical “Bible Believin'”Christians
who must not read poetry or the Bible).

Good Things Come in Threes

All three
(the Poetry
the Writer’s Almanac,
and Poem of the Day)
featured e.e. cummings’
poem [little tree] —
you’ll stand in the window
for everyone to see

on this day,
Christmas day
the same day
as the day
of my wife’s
Happy Birthday,
so beautiful to see.
It was serendipity
and maybe
synchronicity —
a beautiful poem
and beautiful woman,
a beautiful birthday —
all three.

Stopping By a Greasy Spoon On a Snowy Morning

It is soon to be the time of year
for promises to keep
and miles to go before
I sleep,
(Sorry Mr. Frost],
and at breakfast, here I am
in a diner ever-so-greasy
with buttery grits,
eggs over easy,
Kentucky ham
and red-eye gravy
feeling guilty
while I say, “Oh, maybe
I’ll start in the new year.
It’s then I’m giving
up calorie laden, micro-brewed beer.
I look around and what do I see?
(not twelve reindeer)
A lot of really fat people
all younger than (ungrammatical) me.
No maybe’s maybe
to be for me.
I’m starting that diet before
the end of January.
I’ll start soon,
I promise myself.
If not then, then certainly
by mid-February.
As Mr. Frost wrote,
“I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep.”

Ashes in the Wind

He isn’t to be inurned
when the time comes,
his final freedom earned.
Take those ashes and,
in the dunes,
toss them to the wind.
Sing him a silent tune.
Think of him as he had been,
faults and all the good
known by some,
by others misunderstood;
he was what he was
and now he is what he is —
ashes in the wind —
gone the good,
gone the sin.
What he is…is
what God named him.