Quirky Cool Poem (There Be Lions)

Photo courtesy Irum Shahid at Stock.xchnge

I love anything that’s written in an absurd or quirky style, and “Sunt Leones” (translated from Latin: there be lions) certainly meets that criteria.  Following is the now classic poem written by the talented Stevie Smith (1902-1971).

Sunt Leones

The lions who ate the Christians on the sands of the arena
By indulging native appetites played what has now been seen a
Not entirely negligible part
In consolidating at the very start
The position of the Early Christian Church
Initiatory rites are always bloody
And the lions, it appear
 
From contemporary art, made a study
Of dyeing Coliseum sands a ruddy
Liturgically sacrificial hue
And if the Christians felt a little blue
Well people being eaten often do
Theirs was the death, and theirs the crown undying
A state of things which must be satisfying
My point which up to this has been obscure
is that it was the lions who procure
By chewing up blood gristle flesh and bone
The martyrdoms on which the Church has grown
I only write this poem because I thought it rather looked  
As if the part the lions played was being overlooked
By lions’ jaws great benefits and blessings were begotten  
And so our debt to Lionhood must never be forgotten. 

See a list of books by Stevie Smith on amazon.com.
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Funny Thanksgiving Poem — Toupee Souflee

This cute and well-written funny Thanksgiving poem, called The Thanksgiving Toupee Souflee, was created by Terry Lerdall-Fitterer and re-published here with her special permission:

The day had arrived; ’twas exactly one year
since my relatives, (moochers), had Thanksgiving here,
poor Grandpa was already stewed to the gills,
and Grandma–disgusted, was popping pink pills.

The turkey was turning a rich, golden hue
while children were screeching, “There’s nothing to do!”
And memories from last year still had me spell-bound
when inside my stuffing Gran’s dentures were found!

Soon mean Uncle Henry called–fit to be tied,
offended that no one would give him a ride
to this festive occasion–he’s such an old crab,
so he cursed one and all, then he phoned for a cab.

His arrival came soon, not that anyone cared,
the adults began groaning, the children were scared,
then I noticed a change as I hugged him with dread–
he was sporting a rug on the top of his head!

A pie made of pumpkin shot into my view
being used to play catch; out the window it flew,
and I thought for a minute just who was to blame
as my prized candied yams disappeared down the drain.

My husband, the whiner, quick pulled me aside
and bribed me with cash for a place he could hide,
with my baster now loaded and aimed at his butt,
he crawled back to the couch, made a face, then shut-up.

A frog and a hamster decided to play
on the counter by Auntie, preparing souflee
with the aide of old Henry; they both stopped to stare,
then she screamed and he raced from the kitchen–sans hair!

When asked he replied, “Gee, I had it before–
but perhaps in my haste it fell off on the floor.”
So we all made a search, but the hunt was in vain,
now poor Henry had nothing to blanket his brain.

Recalling what Auntie had started to make,
I put the large crock in the oven to bake,
then called for the vultures in voice sugar-sweet,
“Let’s move it, you morons–we’re ready to eat!!”

The turkey was carved when the timer rang out,
Auntie’s dish didn’t raise so I started to doubt
that ingredients used in her famous souflee
would’ve called for an ugly, synthetic toupee.

And lo and behold, as I dug through the dish
all smothered in egg whites–a hairy, Oh Ish!!
These Thanksgiving dinners, My God! I declare…
if it ain’t someone’s dentures, it’s somebody’s hair!

This author’s homepage is still under construction as of now (November ’08), but be sure to bookmark it and check back as she promises to put more of her work up in the weeks to come.

If you liked this post, you might also like this other funny Thanksgiving poem: After Thanksgiving Poem.

Poem: Maya Blue (at Chichen Itza)

Read a fantastic poem over at the online literary journal, Strange Horizons (so you already know I’m going to like the site because it has “strange” in the title – haha).  Anyway, this poem is by Ann K. Schwader, called Maya Blue (at Chichen Itza), and it starts out:

Imperishable blue this bitter sky
that Chaak abandons, brighter day by day
until maize withers. Soon the rain-priests say
someone—or all of us—must go to die.

Read this entire poem about the Mayan Civilization.  Then tell me what you think!  You can also visit poet Ann K. Schwader’s official site where it looks like you can purchase one of her many books (I like the quote by Joshi on her homepage which talks about Schwader’s  “standing as one of the leading weird poets of our time.”)  She also currently has a hardcover book on amazon.com called Strange Stars & Alien Shadows: The Dark Fiction of Ann K. Schwader.

2008 Summer Olympics: The Short Version – The Games in Rhyme

Are the Summer Olympics taking up too much of your time and digital recording space?  Want to get right to the nitty gritty?  Here are several sports in the 2008 Olympic games, all recapped in 17 words or less.  This is a work in progress; I’ll add more as I watch more Olympics.

2008 Summer Olympics in Verse
by Edie Montgomery-Pool

The big red dragon
From seclusion unfurled
Opening its gates
To embrace the world

Phelps swam eight times
Eight times won gold
The world in awe
Watched history unfold

Olympic gymnastics
A glorious scene
China was fantastic
But nowhere near sixteen

Nastia Liukin
Put to the test
As all-around gymnast
She proved she’s the best

A beaming smile
From balance beam‘s ace
Shawn Johnson nailed it
And took first place

Yelena of Russia
Loved by crowds
Broke another world record
Pole vaulting the clouds

Volleyball‘s queens
Won every heat
Walsh and Misty May
Unfamiliar with defeat

A Jamaican giant
With an appropriate name
Made racing look easy
And Bolted to fame

As baseball and softball
Faded from view
BMX racing
Made its debut

In Tae Kwon Do
A national disgrace
That guy from Cuba
Kicked a ref in the face

In ping pong and diving
Hardly a nation
Could compete with China’s
World domination

James DeGale
Fighter from Britain
The middleweight champ
Despite being bitten

Through ten tough sports
He fought his way
World’s Greatest Athlete:
Bryan Clay

Allstars and small stars
Played as a team
For basketball greatness
And took back the dream

Feeling creative? Add your own verses in the comments section.  To read more of my poetry, visit the Edie Montgomery-Pool poetry section of this blog.

Edit: 8/23/08 Added verse 4, re: Nastia Liukin
Edit: 8/23/08 Added verse 5, re: Shawn Johnson
Edit: 8/23/08 Added verse 8, re: Usain Bolt
Edit: 8/24/08 Added verse 1, re: China
Edit: 8/24/08 Added verse 10, re: Angel Valodia Matos
Edit: 8/24/08 Added verse 12, re: James DeGale
Edit: 8/25/08 Added verse 9, re: baseball, softball, bmx
Edit: 8/25/08 Added verse 13, re: decathlon
Edit: 8/25/08 Added verse 14, re: basketball
Edit: 8/26/08 Added verse 11, re: tabble tennis, diving

Edit: 8/26/08:  This Olympic poem is complete now.  I might tweak a few words here and there in the next few weeks, but I’ve now written about all the topics I wanted to include.  It’s a very old tradition to commemorate the Olympics in poem, dating back to B.C., so it’s my great honor to be a tiny part of that grand tradition. 

_______________

(You may reproduce this poem in part or whole, on or in a website, email, podcast, or broadcast; permission for electronic reproduction is granted on the provision that the website on which the poem is published is not a vanity publisher or a scam poetry contest which requires its “winners” to make a purchase or pay a fee before being published.  You may also reproduce this poem in print material for which net profits do not exceed $1,000.  Author name must be included in any reproductions, and author must be notified whenever this poem is, or parts of this poem are, used.  For all other uses not mentioned here, just ask and I will most likely say yes.) 🙂

A Poem About Poems — Naomi Shihab Nye

Thank you to Amy Sorensen, a.k.a. The English Geek, for bringing this poem to my attention in her post, Why I Love April.  It’s by Naomi Shihab Nye and was written in response to one of the poet’s students asking her to write him a poem:

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Laguna Sunset (A Poem)

So this poem I wrote has been traveling around on a sticky note for quite some time now, and I figured I’d better post it before I lost it.  It’s a Sappho, a vastly underused poetic form that I love for its unique rhythm and that I’m single-handedly trying to make popular again (and when I say “again,” I mean it hasn’t been all that much of a hot topic since literally B.C.).

It’s a short poem about Laguna Beach and the area I live in, Orange County, California, otherwise known as “The O.C.”

Laguna Sunset
by Edie Montgomery-Pool

Sun and ocean meet at the dusky seashore
Playing catch with streamers of rainbow ribbons
Every day they dance on the sand together
Children of eons

_______________

I grant permission for this poem to be reprinted in full or in part electronically, provided the following conditions are met: 1) the author’s name is listed; 2) the site on which the poem is published is not a vanity publisher or a scam poetry contest which requires its “winners” to make a purchase or pay a fee before being published. I grant permission for this poem to be reprinted non-electronically (as in, paper) provided the previous two conditions are met, as well as 3) the publication is for either a charitable or non-profit event or organization and 4) no fee is charged for the publication in which the poem appears. A comment notifying me you have used this poem is appreciated but not required.

Untitled Poem

I spent the day with my dad who is very sick.  This is kind of a free-form, journal-like, day-in-the-life type poem.  Not sure what to call it — suggestions?  Let me know if you have any thoughts on the ending, too.

Untitled (for now)
by Edie Montgomery-Pool

I keep thinking of what I’ll do if I find him dead
Which neighbor should I call
Who’s best in an emergency
That’s the way my mind works now
I unlock the two locks on the security screen
And the deadbolt on the front door
      She would always greet me at the door with joy in her face just to see me
I open the door to his room and peek my head in
“Hi, dad. I’m here,” I say.
It startles him
Then he goes back to sleep

      That used to be my room
      The white walls were painted bright red
      And there was a Van Halen poster on the door

But that was forever ago
When mom was alive
When we weren’t broken

      The night she died
      Birds sang
      A sound so cheerful
      It was jarring
      I wondered how it was possible for the world to go on
      When she wasn’t in it anymore
      That was the night the world stopped
      Or forgot to

He’s hungry
Which surprises me
He’s never hungry
Even when he’s not sick

I make him scrambled eggs and toast
      I make the eggs the way she taught me to
Dad is particular about his eggs
      I wish I would have learned more from her when I had the chance
He won’t use the Carrows gift certificates I bought him
Because the cook doesn’t make the eggs right

I lay out the make-shift paper towel placemat
The way he likes it
Two paper towels, attached
But I forget to give him a third paper towel
For a napkin
This is the house of paper towels
      Mom and dad used to buy them in bulk
      And stack them in the hall
      My sister and I would tell them they were weird

He says he likes the eggs
But only eats half of them
It’s hard for him to breathe and eat
It’s hard for him to breathe at all
Then he takes his dishes into the kitchen
And starts to rinse them
I tell him, “I can do that for you.”
I don’t know why he does that when I’m sitting right here.

There is no dishwasher
I wash the dishes in the sink
And dry them with a towel
There is no cable, satellite, or direct tv in this house
There are 20 public television stations
Which are picked up from an antenna on the roof
Six of them are in Spanish
And one is Korean
There is no internet
The house is quiet except for two clocks
Ticking half a beat off from each other
And the strained sounds of him coughing in the bedroom

He wants me to wake him at noon
And take him to the doctor
He says it’s walk-in
I wonder how long we’ll have to wait
This patient is not a patient man
Even under the best of circumstances

I know he’ll fuss at me for my car being dirty
So I go outside and clean my windows
I throw everything from the back seat
Into my trunk
There’s a lot of crap in my trunk
At least it will look somewhat clean from the inside
Maybe I won’t “get in trouble”

It’s 12:15
I watch Perry Mason re-runs
While he takes a shower
The remote control has a rubber band around it
To keep the batteries from falling out
Sometimes the buttons work when I push them
Sometimes they don’t

After his shower
He breathes like he just ran a marathon
Twenty minutes later
His breathing is just as intense
There is no relief for him
      “Forty-one percent,” my sister said
      That’s the capacity at which his lungs work
      When he’s “well”
I drive him to the doctor
And drop him at the door while I find a parking spot
He doesn’t say anything about how dirty my car is
I’m not sure if the window thing worked
Or if he’s just too sick to notice

In the waiting room
Judge Judy is on TV
I text my sister with updates on dad’s condition
And download new themes for my Pocket PC
And show them to dad
I change my background photo
A fluffy white kitten surrounded by billows of pink yarn
He is unimpressed

I think it’s gross when people blow their nose in public
A large man in the lobby and a small woman behind the reception desk
Are both doing just that
Dad’s name is called; he asks me if I’m coming in with him
I say, “Sure.”

The cushion on the examining table
Is frayed in several places
The stuffing sticks out through a network of cracks
The cabinets are scuffed with quick black lines
A brownish orange streak discolors the wall beneath the soap dispenser
And splats of dark brown something stain the ceiling tiles in random patterns
It’s bordering on ghetto
When I point this out to dad, he just says, “Times are hard.”

The physician’s assistant has the same name as my mom
She asks dad what color his phlegm is
He says, “Sometimes gray, sometimes clear.”
This is far more detail than I would like to know
Everyone seems to want to direct their questions to me
Which bothers me
Just because someone is old
Doesn’t mean they’re an idiot
He’s perfectly capable of answering questions about himself

They give him some pills to take
And send him to the hospital next door
      Where mom used to work
For his second set of chest x-rays this month
He’s tired and I ask him if he wants to do the x-rays tomorrow
But he just wants to get them over with
As we’re walking out, the woman with my mom’s name pulls me aside
And asks if I call him every day
I say I tried to but he got mad at me
I say I’ll start doing it again anyway
This makes me uncomfortable, too
These secret conversations

We go next door
      There’s the gift shop where I stood behind the shelves and couldn’t stop crying
All the ladies at the front know him because of mom
They’re all very nice to him
They ask him their questions directly
      Down there is the chapel where we held a service for her
He has to sign and initial three different forms
In a dozen different places
I wait while he’s x-rayed
      There’s the hallway I used to walk down to see her in the last days of her life
An old man in the lobby
Writes something in a spiral notebook
Pausing a lot and looking thoughtful
I wonder if he is a poet
He’s wearing a beret (I’m not making this up)
I think how funny it is for a poet
To wear a beret
Or anyone for that matter
It is a silly hat
      I should have gone back to the hospital that night she called after I left
      When she was scared, and sad, and alone

Back home
Dad sits in the sun in the backyard drinking 7-Up
I want to sit beside him and eat sunflower seeds
But there’s only one chair
“Go get the folding chair from your mom’s room,” he says
It’s still my mom’s room
Her glasses are still in the drawer where she left them
      There’s the bed where she died
Those are the curtains she picked out

The grass is thick and cushiony
I walk through it barefoot
The miniature orange tree gives off
A sweet, heavy scent
I inhale deeply to take it all in
The fruit hasn’t been picked and is starting to whither

      This is the yard where dad would grow
      Glorious gardens of lettuce and tomatoes
      Where my sister and I pulled carrots from the ground
      And washed them under the faucet on the side of the house
      So we wouldn’t have to stop playing to come in and eat
      That’s the walkway that was covered with a pumpkin patch
      Where my dad planted and tended things and was strong
      Where he toiled under the sun and turned brown
      And never weakened

I sit with him and listen to the birds
I remark how loud they always are here
As opposed to other houses
He takes his pill and goes to bed
Before I can get him to eat something

My sister calls
We are both mildly annoyed with each other
Because neither one of his can be with him tomorrow during the day
I have to work
She has the kids
But perhaps we are more annoyed with God or the world
Or at least I am

I mop his floors
And drive home
In the car, I listen to The Doors
The sun is not quite setting
The light recedes into yesterday
And shadows stretch out across the road behind me and before me