Category Archives: Poetry

The Ballad of Lab-Made Meat

Plant-based meat...
Is near meat,
Mock meat,
Fake meat, 
Imitation meat...
Something so close to meat
That it might be confused with meat.
But should we call this no-meat mix,
Even if it looks like meat,
And bleeds like meat,
And spatters like meat
And tastes like meat?
Since only real meat needs
The slaughterhouse tools
In the chopchop gloom of the abatoire,
It alone should should be known as meat.
So if no need for the gruesome tools,
Then lab-made meat cannot be meat.
And the real meat men prefer it be known,
As slime or ooze or ick...
Take your pick.

The Dark Yips of Captain Louise

Captain Renfro Louise
Kept the black dog* off his shoulder,
During the gloom of cold-shortened days
With a few pegs of afternoon grog
At the Moaning Raven Tavern...
Wet and slick and dully lit
Like the midnight barracks 
Of sotted marines...
The last place one should be, 
When fighting the dark yips.
But Cap'n Ren had faith
That the next peg, always the next one,
Would put a stake
Through the heart of the black dog...
A pursuit of notable persistence,
And predictable failure,
But one he swore to keep at,
Until nirvana's light shown
At the end of the tunnel.

*Samuel Johnson, and later, Winston Churchill were credited 
 with naming their depressions, "the black dog."

The First Pick Got an Ego Boost, The Last Pick Got a Groan

We peer-selected, random teams
For after-school-day baseball games.
And moral as a courtroom judge,
Made certain all, who came to play,  
Would play.
One captain chose 
And then the other...
The best, of course, were taken first,
The least were last,
Which always was how teams were picked...
Though not, perhaps the fairest way
It was the only way we knew.
And teams, it turned out, balanced well.
Of course, the one who was picked last, 
He batted last,
Because he was the surest out
And played right field,
The place where fewest balls were hit.
And we, unseemly, 
Groaned aloud, when he struck out,
Or dropped a fly...
A blatant hint, we'd all confess,
That he should, after school, play chess.

A Hole in the Net and the Fish Was Free

A farmed salmon
Slipped through a hole in the farm's net
And roamed free for a while...
But lost its nerve and looked for the hole 
To go back to the farm.
It was just about the time for morning roll call
And then breakfast, scattered on the water...
It was pretty humdrum on the farm...
Roll call three times a day
And a feeding frenzy for a share of bland meals.
But, at least, 
There was no brutal swim upstream to spawn,
Through a gauntlet of hungry bears,
Clawing at the water.
    I'm telling you, that is scary.
Plus the farm's water is a tad warmer.
So exchanging bears and cold water
For guaranteed food and warmer water...
Well, it's an easy call.

From Rosencranz-Mollycoddle to Pelican, Gratefully

Ottofranz Pelican, 
Born Ottofranz Rosencranz-Mollycoddle
Spent agitated hours coming to terms
With his original surname.
His progenitors...Gustav Rosencranz
And Trudy Mollycoddle...
Egalitarian idealists...
Hyphenated their surnames,
Aware they'd likely need a more modern name,
But lacked the time to whittle the world's names 
To a singular, distinctive one,
Made harder still, since Mountbattan, 
Churchill and Dos Passos were already taken.
They could, of course, 
Have combined their names into one, 
But neither Rosencoddle nor Mollycranz
Were steps in the right direction.
Ottofranz, meanwhile would have accepted Lipschitz,
Instead of having to endure another minute
As Ottofranz Rosencranz-Mollycoddle.
But fate intervened on a vacation in the Keys,
When a pelican landed on their deck
With a curious grin and a flounder in its beak.
And they knew in a flash,
They'd change their last name to Pelican.

Things as Hot as Grandma’s Soup

My grandmother's soup,
Served near a boil,
Had to be blown on, 
To let the spoon safely
Get close to my mouth.
Like my car's front seat,
Leather, sitting in the sun,
Absorbed so much heat
That I, in a Speedo,
Could not, if not, 
On a towel, sit down.
And blistering sand,
Midday at the beach, 
I, desperate, hot-footed it 
Down to cool water.
    But counter-intuitive,
    Aluminum foil, 
    Covering baked chicken,
    In a Pyrex dish
    Just out of the oven
    Has to be hot...
    So hot you can't touch it...
    But somehow it's not.
    I know that it's true, 
    But I light-touch it anyway,
    Just to make sure.

Wasting Time

What is more a waste of time,
Than wasting time...
Not wanting to hang around a garage,
Waiting for your car to be repaired.
So you walk leisurely,
Buying coffee,
Looking in windows,
Reading your iPhone...
As the charge runs down,
Until it gets to 5%
And you turn it off,
So the garage can call, when the job is done.
But, even unused, the 5% dissipates,
So they can't call you
And you can't call them.
And so you waste more time...
Enough time you hope,
That the repair will be done...
And then walk back
To find, the part they ordered 
Has not yet arrived. 
    It'll be at least another hour.
    We tried to call,
    But you didn't pick up.


Are you sleeping,
He asked with dubious sincerity...
Since I was lying down,
Eyes closed,
Mouth slack,
Breathing shallow,
My book fallen on the floor...
He knew I had nodded off.
But he wanted something,
So he asked again,
This second time louder,
And with a cough...
So I jolted awake.
Then he apologized
For getting me up...
And asked when lunch would be ready.

Idee Fixe…Maybe Not

You get inured to the side of the bed
You've slept on for years...
Your side...
As fixed as the boiling point of water,
As enduring as Genesis. 
But new needs sometimes dictate change...
Perhaps an accommodation to a new lover,
Who can't sleep, if not on your side.
So you let her have it,
Knowing it's a bargain with benefits.
But you're still no friend of change,
Since now you have to turn your head
And sleep on the other ear,
And wake with your other eye, topside now,
To squint at the clock in the morning,
And how your other arm now
Is the arm bent under your head,
And how your lead leg out of bed now
Was the lag leg on the other side...
And until inured anew...
There's trouble, knowing the way to turn
In the dark to the bathroom.
But, still and all,
A change here and there
Can work out well.

Eighty’s the New Sixty…Yeah, Yeah

Old was old, when I was young...
But I've caught up 
To that age now. 
Though, by some curious calculus, 
Factoring in miracles...
Nutritional and medical... 
Old is at least twenty years younger 
Than old was  
Back when I was young. 
And I'm very grateful 
For that good fortune, 
So I hold, growing old, 
As tight as sap, untapped, in a tree, 
And let it drip out,