Archive for poetry

Stealing Words

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , on April 17, 2016 by Mike

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When my parents came to visit a few weeks back, Mom brought a book of poetry we’ve had in the family since I was little. It had been in their stuff all this time and she thought my kids would enjoy it. Just seeing the cover brought back a forgotten memory of a time in grade school when I was given an assignment to write a poem on any subject I wanted. At the time I thought I had nothing important to say and couldn’t think of a single original thing to offer, so I plagiarized an entire poem from the book. This makes me ashamed all these years later, especially since I ended up majoring in Creative Writing and have spent much of my adult life tinkering with words in one way or another. But back then, maybe it was 5th or 6th grade, when I decided to cheat rather than be creative, I figured the subject of the poem would have to be a simple one since I was a kid, and the length should be on the short side since I would need to copy the whole thing word for word. I also knew it couldn’t be a famous poem that the teacher would recognize–I would love to hear my logic on that one, all these years later–written by a poet no one had heard of. Again, my selection process was a joke. I was a little mountain kid with zero knowledge of poetry or poets or what the teacher may know about the subject and could’ve just written something of my own in half the time it took to plot and execute my scam. So I chose a shortish poem about birds written by a dude I’d never heard, copying it verbatim for a grade school assignment, leaving in a few words that I would not have known and themes I would not have grasped. The memory of what happened next is fuzzy but I do recall getting a note back from the teacher saying that she doubted that I was the author of the poem I had turned in, but I can’t remember any punishment. So I’ll share the poem, decades later, and give the proper credit. I know now what I didn’t know then: We all have something to write about.

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with hooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

 

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Lord Alfred Tennyson

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The Brawl on the Wall

Posted in Verse with tags , , , , , , , on February 3, 2016 by Mike

brawl on the wall

In Case You Missed It

Posted in Gags, Verse, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by Mike

Over the past few months I’ve published and posted a number of pieces outside of this blog. I’ve experimented with audio and been lucky to share some of my work through The Good Men Project.

Please click The Good Men Project logo below to find my personal archives, including pieces on running at the local high school, the randomness of having a boring name, and how listlicles capture our interest (and sound like testicles).

And click on the Soundcloud icon to access my menu of audio tracks. There you will find a parody car commercial, lullaby, a number of poems, and a fake stand-up comedy set.

good men project

soundcloud

The Labyrinth

Posted in Family, Verse, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2015 by Mike

Go walk The Labyrinth.

It’s on the lawn of the Laughing Heart Lodge,

just a 10-minute stroll from your house.

Though your heart is seldom laughing these days,

the Labyrinth may bring it some passing amusement.

 

Resist the dirty building or cabin detour.

You don’t need it.

The swig may briefly numb your new reality

but liquor is a deceitful mistress,

picking your pocket while stroking your hair.

 

During your walk to the lodge, you will talk to someone you know,

or meet a stranger, maybe a through-hiker or retreat guest

that you will befriend through your playful sociability.

And you both will need that exchange, a moment that is

reproduced 50 times a day in Hot Springs,

maybe more if you’re walking the streets.

 

The Labyrinth is a spiral stone pathway with a single entry designed

for pedestrians to meander their way to the center.

Of course you could walk right over the rocks and save yourself

some time, high-stepping to the center of the spiral–

but that would be missing the point.

You’re supposed to walk the whole thing.

And there are times when you think,

“Why am I even bothering to do this?”

It does seem pointless.

But it’s like grief: It’s long, painful, sometimes hardly worth the trouble,

with a questionable ending.

Will it even be worth it? What is the payoff?

But you have to do the steps.

You have to make the journey and do the work.

You need to pay attention to the walk and trust

that at the end you will be centered

and somehow more at peace.

 

There’s likely a good description of the Labyrinth in the lodge’s brochure,

a deeper meaning, a more convincing why,

but the fact that someone arranged all those rocks into that dwindling orbit

is reason enough to go mosey down the path.

 

I walked over with the kids and they both took the shortcut–

they stepped right over the stones in a beeline to the middle,

bored with the long circular stroll, unimpressed with the design

and unaware of any underlying point.

 

They are new to all this–just beginning their own walks–

and it’s impossible to guess where their paths will lead them.

And I know we both want to watch them

find their way as long as we can.

All we can do is go until we stop

and encourage each other’s shaky progress.

I still toast our efforts.

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Oh, The Ways I Could Go

Posted in Gags, Verse, Writing with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2015 by Mike

This is for all of the people that ponder their own demise –

and why not reflect on it while paying homage to the great Dr. Seuss?

ways i could go

Am I the only one to stop and dwell

on how I’ll die and if I fell

and where it was and who could see

and if the end was on TV?

A shark could bite me right in half

or I could O.D. in the bath–

or freeze to death while stuck outside

or get derailed on a subway ride.

Or I could burn up in a crash

or get compacted with the trash–

a falling tree could squish me flat,

or catch a virus from a rat.

Terrorists could blow me up

or dump some poison in my cup;

my flight to Rome may get shot down–

I may get stabbed to death downtown.

Or I could just fall down some stairs.

A random man would find me there–

he’d lean in close and check for life.

Authorities would call my wife.

I could get run over, choke on steak,

or drown like Jason in Crystal Lake.

A lightning bolt, malignant tumor,

a crazed colleague with no sense of humor.

Or maybe I’ll just fall down dead.

That’s the scene stuck in my head.

Just like that, my heart will stop–

no real sign and there I’ll drop.

I hope if that’s the way I go

that everyone will always know

the last thing that I ever did

was something fit to tell my kids.

Not reading smut or driving drunk

or with a strange man in a trunk–

no time to squirm or sugar coat

or write “you caught me” on a note.

The Third Thing

Posted in Verse with tags , , , , , , on March 3, 2015 by Mike

Why can’t I ever remember the third thing in a series?

My wife told me to bring three things

to the party and I can’t remember the third thing.

I was supposed to bring the diaper bag,

the USB-speakers,

and the blaahhh.

What was it? What the hell?

I can never remember.

 

Where does it go?

Must be a problem with my input network.

The information receptors are only running

at 40% functionality since those mental resources

are being routed to more important

tasks like remembering passwords and kids’ birth dates.

Or maybe it’s a faulty filing system in my head.

The misfiring floret of neurons is like a file clerk

that has died at his desk

and his assignments have piled up in disarray

and no one’s coming behind him

to put everything where it belongs.

I’m a malfunctioning Task Machine,

the Vonnegutian 3000 way past its warranty.

 

Two things are fine. Three things are just too much.

Crosby, Stills and hhmmm

Earth, Wind and guuuh

Maybe it’s ADD or an early sign of dementia?

Or maybe remembering two things is good enough

and my brain is automatically

sorting the items and putting the least important

thing at the end.

 

But in the wee hours, the third thing comes dancing

across the stage in my mind with jazz hands–

Here I am!! How could you forget?

It’s me, the new camera! Of course you need me at the party, dummy.

Then it gloats and I feel stupid and shown up

by a harmless piece of data.

 

I hope the third thing is never so important

that its omission is life or death–

never a time when I’m engulfed in flame

and I stop

and drop

and

squint blankly up into space,

waiting for the connection

that never comes.

 
https://soundcloud.com/mikeorthej/the-third-thing

 

Thing No 3

Rock and Roll: The Famous Child Wrestlers

Posted in Family, Toons, Verse, Writing with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2015 by Mike

While playing with the kids this morning, I called him Rock and her Roll and pretended they were a ferocious wrestling duo each with a signature move that tied in their names. I thought it would make a fun story and set off to conceive, write, illustrate, and post an idea in the same day. Foster, my 6-year old son and colorist, was the inspiration for Rock. Nearly 3-year old Alice Wren personifies Roll. This exercise was supposed to show me that I can actually complete a creative project if I commit to it fully–plus, it was cold out and staying inside provided ample time for arts and crafts.

 

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