Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rhymes with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Day 14 of the Obama Presidency, and my government-issued unicorn still hasn't arrived.

I know, he has a lot to do, what with restoring the Constitution and achieving world peace and enacting job stimulus and all.  

But think about this for job stimulus:  UniCorps, a sort of domestic peace corps, employed to clean the poop from all our brand-new unicorns out of the streets.  

Really brings new meaning to the phrase make work project.  And since unicorns poop gold nuggets, the economy will go from in the dumps to propelled by dumps in no time at all.

So what has been slipping through my mail slot, if not gold-pooping, government-issued unicorns?  

Poems!  Yes, I have signed up for a Poetry Pyramid Scheme.   Or, as those of you who were paying a little too much attention during 11th grade English class might think of it, iambway.

But it's not all just sitting around waiting for the mailwoman (speaking of job stimulus, there's a title which sounds very trans-trans; at least it's less apocalyptic than calling the carrier a post-person).  If you want to be part of Ponzi poetry, you have to pen the poems too.

Which I have thus far done in several manic moments.  I'll spare you the first result, a rant against cancer and the ironic timing with which it killed off my friend Gloria, who was a professor of Africana history, the day before a certain unicornilicious president took office.

It's not a bad poem, but this is after all a humor blog. So here's some of the more light-hearted verse I've dashed off.

Genetic Indisposition
In my family
having kids
is like a disease
that skips generations

Well, I thought that was funny.  Of course, in my family, killing off the relatives can also be funny.

And speaking of dark humor, here's another ditty:

The Patient Rooms
When I ride my bike
past the Alzheimer
care facility,
I wonder
about the mementos
lining the windows
of the patient rooms.
I sense I'm not the only one.

My squeeze the Cheez said those were both kind of depressing.  But the Canadians have no sense of humor.  Or, as they would put it, that's humour, and it's not funny.

Of course, some people believe poetry should be more obscure, less narrative.  

For those of you who have been diligently reading this blog for a year, just hoping for an obscure, less narrative poem, today is your lucky day!

Philology Recapitulates Poetry
Donka Minkova,
world's leading
export on the

That's an A-B-C-B-A rhyme scheme, if you pronounce the as thÉ™ (those of you too prosaic to enjoy the obscurity of poetry can read up on my obsession with Donka Minkova elsewhere).

But clearly my best postcard-poetry product so far was the truly inspired verse. 

Inspired by me thinking what the hell shall I wrote a poem about now, then looking out the window and writing about the first thing I saw.

Walloon at Walgreen's
Nobody loves the
neon-lit drugstore
more than the
Belgian immigrant
next door.

Okay, so I admit, my efforts so far are more chapstick than chapbook.  But at least I am reading great poetry, if not writing it.

And not just reading it, I am teaching it.  In the perfect course:   fantastic topic (Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the invention of an American poetic voice), motivated students, glamorous setting, and no grading.  

The very antipode of academia, to use a word I had to look up when I came across it in Song of Myself.  (If there really is an afterlife, I can only hope that somewhere my friend Gloria is teaching such a class herself; after years as a department chair, she earned it). 

Yes, it is nice to dwell in the highbrow world of literature.  Which for me means obsessing about the shopping mall and singing the Gilligan's Island theme song.  Both of which I managed to cover in the first class meeting.

By the second class meeting, which was last night, we had moved on to Dr. Seuss.

Portland does seem ripe for a Green Eggs and Ham parody

I am Sam.
I am in a 
political jam.

I did not do Beau here or there.
I did not do Beau anywhere.

Well, I guess I kissed him in the john,
But only in the john with clothes on.

I did not do Beau when a minor!
I did not do Beau dressed as a Shriner!

Okay, so maybe that isn't exactly Whitman's Calamus.  

I guess it's less poetic when there is an entire media frenzy documenting who you've soused with spray.

But the real reason my poetry is so wanting may be that I've never taken a poetry-writing class.  Which is hardly my fault.  When I was in graduate school, the department's poetry professor was also the department's most egregious sexual harasser (although academia being what it is, he had plenty of competition for the title).   

In addition to teaching poetry and sexually harassing every female under the age of his-own-age-minus-twenty-years (which on the campus of a large public university gives the aging professor an awful lot to do), his job duties included judging the annual poetry prize.  One year I considered making an anonymous entry, entitled Do All Great Poets Sleep With Their Students?  

The original is, alas, lost to posterity, but I think I can whip up something that will give you the basic gist:

Do all great poets sleep with their students?
Is the genus of genius
such a drive undeniable?
O how the pen is 
a tool to be reckoned with!
And what is spilled 
upon pages, unto the ages?
When gripped by the muse,
what doth the poet grip and use?

It's no small feat to coerce
true genius in verse
When he goes about it
he needs sexual outlet.

Tis a measure of talent
to be so carnally spent.

So do all great poets sleep with their students?
Or only the mediocre ones?

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