That’s Why the Lady is a Slut

She’s never too bloated to eat a Slim Jim.
She never showers before taking a swim.
She belches loudly at the Pizza Hut–
That’s why the lady is a slut.

She’s not the type to play bridge at her club.
Doesn’t like salads, preferring a sub.
If she were a dog you’d call her a mutt–
That’s why the lady is a slut.


She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair
As she dares
To drive getaway, it’s okay.
She hates New England, ‘cause it’s cold and it’s damp–
That’s why the lady is a tramp.



She doesn’t like opera, and hates the ballet–
If a flick’s got subtitles, it isn’t okay.
Won’t do Pilates and it shows in her gut–
That’s why the lady is a slut.


Her blue eye shadow says she’s a bimbo.
When she screams at you her arms are akimbo.
An old boyfriend’s name’s tattooed cross her butt–
That’s why the lady is a slut.


At the Pine-Woods Golf & Poetry Club

For most of the 20th century, the poetry world resembled a country club.

                                     The New York Times Book Review

It was a Sunday afternoon, and I just wanted to get out of the damn house. I decided to head over to the club, see if I could squeeze in a round before dinner. I threw the old sticks in the trunk and, as I drove into the parking lot at Pine-Woods, saw Lowell, Berryman and Roethke heading down to the starter’s hut. Lowell had on those god-awful madras pants of his. What a preppy doofus.

Robert Lowell


“Hey guys,” I yelled out to them. They were absorbed in a deep discussion.  Probably talking about the club By-Laws, which had been under revision since Allen Ginsburg walked onto the putting green without a collared shirt.

Allen Ginsburg: “I didn’t know it was like a ‘rule’ rule.”


I caught up to them as they were paying for their golf cart. The starter—a guy named Skip Derosiers—was giving them a hard time.

“Which one of you knuckleheads left the tracks on the seventh fairway the other day?

Theodore Roethke


“Not me,” said Roethke. Or course not—Mr. Nature Poet.

“It was me,” Lowell and Berryman said together. Figures—two confessional poets, two confessions.

John Berryman


“Do you guys mind if I make a fourth?” I asked.

“There’s a guy on the list ahead of you,” Derosiers said.

“Who?” Lowell demanded.

“The Old Man—Wallace Stevens.”

“Oh, God,” groaned Berryman.

“Can’t you do something?” I asked.

Wallace Stevens


“He’s one of the club’s founders.” He pointed to the left breast of his polo shirt, which featured a bantam rooster before a stand of pines.

“You know he’s going to walk the course, hit the ball thirty yards every time and compose poems between shots,” Roethke said. “The course will be backed up for a week.”

“No can do,” Derosiers said.

“Do you know who I am?” Lowell asked imperiously.

“Let me see if I remember,” he said, a sardonic gleam in his eye, and began to speak in a taunting, sing-song manner:

And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod.
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.

“What’s your point?” Lowell asked, a bit defensively I thought.

“But I don’t even like fishcakes and beans.”


“When you talk to me, you ain’t talkin’ to a Cabot—you’re talking to a God,” Skip said, as he clicked the remote to see who was on the leaderboard at the Buick Open.

I tried a different tack. “What if we made it worth your while?”

Derosiers looked us over, one by one. “Talk to me.”

We looked at each other. Thankfully, Berryman had brought a six-pack of Budweiser with him. He tore two cans off the plastic yoke and, after checking over his shoulder, handed them over the counter.

“You know, some golf industry publications say that bribing a starter can backfire,” Derosiers said as he handed us scorecards and pencils. “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers,” he added with a smile, as he waved us onto the course.

“What if old man Stevens catches up to us?” Roethke asked.

“Humor him,” Derosiers said as he popped the top off a twelve-ouncer. “He’s really quite whimsical.”

That didn’t sound good, but we forgot about it as we waited the standard six-minute interval for the foursome in front of us to clear the fairway.

“You want to make it interesting?” Lowell asked. “Five dollar Nassau?”

Easy for him to say with all that old money to burn.

“No automatic press on the back nine,” Berryman said. On his second beer, he was already beginning to slur his speech, but like his verse, he remained in technical control and rooted in the conventions of his time.

“Sure, John, sure,” Lowell said as he made his way to the back tee. “Okay, ladies and germs, hide and watch.”

“Grip it and rip it,” Roethke said, egging him on. I personally think trash-talk has no place in golf, but ever since Karl Shapiro said Marianne Moore was “never more beatable,” suddenly everybody’s doing it.

Marianne Moore throws out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium—I kid you not.


The big guy shuffled forward, tall, slightly stooped, ran his fingers back through his dishevelled grey hair and stuffed it under his cap. He took a few practice swings, set himself, and—scorched a worm-burner into the rough! I stifled a laugh.

“I call Mulligan,” Lowell said without even looking back, as he pulled another ball out of his pocket.

“No way,” Roethke said. “Mulligans are allowed only when expressly agreed upon by all partners in advance.”

“Too late, Bob,” I agreed. “We’ve all got skin in the game.”

I knew what was coming.  A manic-depressive temper tantrum.

“God damn it to hell!” Lowell screamed as he threw his driver into a water hazard and stormed off to look for his ball.

“Ooo,” Berryman said in a mocking tone. “Huffy Bobby hid the day/unappeasable.

Roethke stepped up next. He’s a deliberate player—it took him ten years to write Open House, his first book of poems, fer Christ’s sake.

Walt Whitman: “Hey—that’s my line!”


He plucked some leaves of grass and threw them up in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. He fiddled with his gloves, his visor and his left shirt sleeve. He took in the natural beauty of the course, with all its mystery, fierceness and sensuality; the ball washers, the spike cleaners, the liquid refreshment stand at the tenth tee.

“While we’re young, Teddy-boy,” Berryman said, shaking his head, “while we’re young.”

“I don’t have to take that from you, Mr. Yips,” Roethke said out of the side of his mouth. Always lyrical, I thought with admiration.

Finally he took his stance, wig-wagged his butt a bit, then weighed into the ball–a nice clean stroke, a solid thwock, if I may be allowed just one little onomatopoeia.

His ball sailed down the fairway where a tall, austere man had wandered out of the rough. It was Stevens, and Roethke’s shot hit him square in the temple!

We jumped in the cart and tore off down the fairway, coming to a stop where Stevens lay on his back, apparently dazed.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Stevens,” Roethke said, distraught at the thought that he had nearly killed one of the major American poets of the 20th century. “Are you all right?”

The great man propped himself up on one elbow, shielded his eyes from the sun and began to speak, a big groggily at first.

Call the smoker of big cigars, Stevens began,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In snack bar cups, concupiscent frozen custard.
Let the wenches dawdle in such pink culottes
As they are used to wear, and let the caddies
Bring the clubs to the bag drop.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only captain is Walter Hagen,
captain of the Ryder Cup Team.

Lowell leaned over the great poet for a look.  “He’s fine,” he said, as he took his four iron out of his bag, and then–as he dropped his ball next to fallen bard–“You guys don’t mind if I play winter rules, do you?  The course is kind of scruffy.”

Available in print and Kindle formats on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

“Songs of Circumcision” Unite Christian and Jewish Men at New Year

BROOKLINE, Mass.  The population of this near suburb of Boston is disproportionately Jewish now, but it is also the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, the nation’s only Roman Catholic President.  “In many ways, this is the perfect place for the old and the new strands of the Judeo-Christian tradition to be woven together,” says Rabbi Moshe Zuckerman of Temple Beth Shalom with a smile.  “It’s a wonderful ecumenical project that will bring together two major world religions while keeping out wack-job cults like Scientology and Buddhism,”  adds Father Andrew McConnachy, pastor of the Church of St. Rocco, the patron saint of tow-truck drivers.

Birthplace of JFK.

The two clergymen are referring to “Songs of Circumcision,” an attempt to honor with choral music the anniversary of the bris, or ritual circumcision, of Jesus Christ traditionally celebrated on New Year’s Day, thereby elevating the holiday to equal status with Christmas.  “I got tired of hearing Jews whine about how Christmas takes over the month of December,” says McConnachy.  “I gave Moshe a call and said ‘Hey, let’s do something together for once, instead of giving each other the side-eye all the time.”

“This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me.”

The result is a fifty-member choir–half Catholic, half Jewish–that will publicly perform, then record, songs that shine a favorable light on what for many men is an event too painful to contemplate; the removal of the foreskin of the penis to comply with the covenant in the Book of Genesis that Abraham made with God for reasons that are not entirely clear.  “I’m not sure what we got in return for it,” Zuckerman says, “other than Sandy Koufax and control of the weather.”

Sandy Koufax:  The Chosen Pitcher

The difficulty creating new content for the holiday becomes apparent as the singers launch into “Careful With That Freaking Knife,” a plea to the attending mohel, a man trained in brit milah, the practice of circumcision, whose melody bears a strong resemblance to “Angels We Have Heard on High”:

Careful with that freaking knife–
that you wield so clumsily.
Dad will take your worthless life,
if you don’t cut carefully.

The harmonies rise in the apse of St. Rocco’s high above the singers’ heads, and echo there in a pleasing effect that is almost anesthetic in removing images of pain from the minds of the men in attendance.  “Beautiful, simply beautiful,” McConnachy says.  “Let’s try one of the novelty tunes,” and the choir engages in a few seconds of collective throat clearing before singing the opening bars of “Ouch–It Really Hurts Down There!”, a rousing tune that again resembles a familiar melody, that of “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me!”

Ouch–it really hurts down there,
Ouch–don’t you dare touch my pair.
Your instructions are very clear,
Snip the foreskin–then let me get out of here!

Feelings of terror bring the two groups together through shared sensitivity since the ritual of circumcision is now followed almost universally among Gentiles such as McConnachy and his hand-picked vocalists, some of whom–children of low-income rural parents–waited until they served in the armed forces to subject themselves to the procedure.  For those men the song “Your Freezing Hands”–sung to the tune of “O, Holy Night”–brings back painful memories that the purgative power of art helps to dispel:

Your freezing hands
are causing me to shrivel,
can we please get this
over with soon.

Your freezing hands,
cold as a witch’s nipple.
Is it too much for you
to warm them up first?

Satisfied with the results, the rabbi cries out “It’s a wrap!” and the choir and their religious leaders gather to listen to the raw takes, which will be remixed for several target markets, including religious, dance and “emo.”

“That should give guys something to do on New Year’s Day instead of watching stupid football games,” says Brother Evan Winstead, choirmaster at the Pope Innocent XII Seminary in the western suburbs.

Silence falls on the formerly jovial crowd, and Winstead looks around, then finally asks “What–what did I say?”

McConnachy glares at him, then says sternly “We still punish heresy around here, you know.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Oh . . . My . . . God.”

A Few of My Least Favorite Things

Portable crappers, and phat gangsta rappers,
Overdressed lawyers who think that they’re dapper,
Blonde second wives who are festooned with bling–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

New SUVs that my teenage son crashes,
Posh window treatments with jabots and sashes,
Pant legs that stick ’cause they’ve got static cling–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

When a friend croaks, when my feet stink,
When I’m feeeeling sad . . .
I simply remember my least favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Cool summer cocktails whose tonic is flattened,
Obnoxious parents with children they’ve fattened,
Hearing your cell phone when you let it ring–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

Visible butt-cracks and sandals with sweat socks,
Income and sales tax, celebrity de-tox,
Middle-aged men who still wear college rings–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

When the pierced tongue, and the nose ring
Become more than fads–
I simply remember my least favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Non-urgent emails with little red flaggies,
Mice that my cat kills in clear plastic baggies,
Ersatz Gambinos who say “Ba-da-bing”–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

Travel by buses and overstuffed bedding,
In-laws who offer to sing at my wedding,
Being held hostage, all tied up with string–
These are a few of my least favorite things.

Walking My Lobster Back Home

On learning that the poet Gerard de Nerval had a pet lobster he walked on a leash–to the tune of “Walking My Baby Back Home.”

Gee but it’s great after staying out late–
Walking my lobster back home.
There’s little risk that she’ll turn into bisque,
Walking my lobster back home.

She grows quite bored of the maddening horde,
So I recite her a poem.
She slept with me once and complained that I snored,
Walking my lobster back home.

Gerald de Nerval

We stop for a while, she gives me a feel,
And snuggles her claws to my chest.
She’s not like a dog or a shrimp that you peel
Her green roe’s all over my vest.

When we stroll about I keep her on a leash,
Sometimes she borrows my comb.
We go out to eat and of course she has quiche,
Walking my lobster back home.

She rides on my back to a little clam shack
For a pop quiz about Teapot Dome.
She borrows my pen and she fails it again
Walking my lobster, talking my lobster
She’s sure my baby, I don’t mean maybe
Walking my lobster back home.

The Gertrude Stein Look-Alike Contest

We’re getting up in years, we few forthright men who revealed to each other that we wanted to write back in our youth.  It takes a lot for a guy to open himself up that way to another man.

Is it Ed, or Gertrude?


There’s the odor of the effete about sitting down, waiting for inspiration, then scribbling your purple prose out on the blank page.  And there’s the sin of ambition.  You’re not content to become an accountant or an actuary–you want to become famous, huh?  You think you’re better than everybody else?

But we stuck with it with varying degrees of failure, and now find ourselves looking back on what we haven’t accomplished.  It’s about this time of year we get together for some wistful bonhomie as we slyly check out each other’s bald spots and paunches.

Faulkner:  Gave up a promising career as a postmaster and took the easy way out to become a Nobel Prize-winning novelist.


There’s Ed, the guy who was smitten with William Faulkner as an undergraduate and almost allowed his infatuation with the Mississippi Master’s stream-of-consciousness style to ruin his career as an air traffic controller.  There’s Rob, the Hemingway fan who had cosmetic surgery performed on his cat to add a toe to each paw.  And there’s me, the Fitzgerald nut with my inflatable Zelda love doll.

Regardless of whom we modeled himself after, we had to admit that four decades later we’d been worn down to the same nub.  When we hit our fifties, we all started to look not like our Lost Generation heroes, but like . . . Gertrude Stein. Stoop-shouldered, thick about the middle, not much hair.

“It was *sniff* cruel what he did to us!”


At first we joked about it in a nervous manner; keeping the horrible consequences at bay.  But after a few years of channeling the woman known for her sophisticated baby talk, we embraced our inner Gertrudes.  We turned competitive–as men are wont to do–and began to hold annual Gertrude Stein Look-Alike Contests.

When word got out there was the obligatory human interest story in the local paper, which got picked up by a wire service.  The next year we were overwhelmed, like Yasgur’s Farm by Woodstock.  Our little burg of twenty-some-thousand was transformed in a day to a mid-sized city five times that size by 80,000 grumpy, stocky, cross-dressing guys with close-cropped hair wandering around in baggy skirts muttering stuff like “I like this town but I don’t like that I’m in this town.”

You had to work to get it just right.  Some of the younger squads would come into town with fancy matching embroidered loden coats–”Milwaukee Gertrude Brood”–and then crap out when it came time to complete the phrase “a house in the country . . . “

“Is not the same as a country house!” I’d fairly shout at the laggards from the provinces who thought all you had to do was skim “Tender Buttons” the night before “Stein Time.”  Fat chance.  As the Great Lady herself said, “Do you know because I tell you so, or do you know, do you know?”

You’d hear guys at the cash bar complaining about the judges as they hitched up their loose-fitting dirndl skirts.  “Gimme a break,” I said to one loudmouth, and it wasn’t the absinthe talking.  “What did Gertrude say–’The deepest thing in any one is the conviction of bad luck that follows boasting.’”  That shut him up.

Best buds!


We went into the men’s room to relieve ourselves before we went on, and I caucused with Ed and Rob at the urinal.  “You’ve got to remember,” I said as I cleared a path through the knee-length scarf I’d added to my outfit that morning, “be paradoxical, obscure and repetitive.”

“What was the last one again?” Ed asked as he shook himself.

“Repetitive,” I replied.  “Like ‘I who am not patient am patient.’”

“Can I write crib notes on my sleeve?” Rob asked.

“NO!” I snapped, then lowered my voice when heads turned.  “The essence of a good gertrudesteinism is errant, antic circularity.”

“Okay,” Ed said over the roar of the hand dryer.

“You guys ready?” I asked.

“I guess,” Rob said.

“You guess?” I straightened him up with a stiffarm to the shoulder.  “‘It is funny that one who prepares is not ready.’  Got it?”

“I just don’t ‘get’ this Gertrude gal!”


A look of enlightenment came over him, as if he finally understood calculus, or Avogadro’s number, or the appeal of Kathie Lee Gifford.

“Got it,” he said.  “The one who ‘gets’ something is the one who is gotten.”

“Attaboy,” I said with a grin.  “Let’s go–in a direction we don’t want to go.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Dead Writers Make More Money.”

All’s Fair in Love and Ping Pong

To her surprise, the room opened out to a porch with cushioned chairs in place and a ping-pong table.  There was another ping-pong table on the newly laid turf beyond.


Brimmer reminded me a little of Superman when he takes off his spectacles.  I thought he was as attractive as men can be who don’t really care about women as such.  We played a round robin game of ping-pong and he handled his bat well.


“I must go along now,” said Brimmer.  “I’ve got to meet some people.”

“No, stay,” said Stahr.  “I never have said what I wanted.  We’ll play ping-pong and have another drink and then we’ll tear into each other.”


The ping-pong balls lay around in the grass like a constellation of stars.

                    The Love of the Last Tycoon, Scott Fitzgerald

“See how he puts topspin on his return?”


We got into Pamplona late in the afternoon and the bus stopped in front of the Hotel Montoya.  Out in the plaza they were stringing electric-light wires to light the plaza for the ping-pong festival.  A few kids came up when the bus stopped, and a customs officer for the town made all the people getting down from the bus open their bundles on the sidewalk to see if they had brought illegal paddles.   We went into the hotel and on the stairs I met Montoya. He shook hands with us, smiling in his embarrassed way.

“Your friends are here,” he said.

“Mr. Campbell?”

“Yes. Mr. Cohn and Mr. Campbell and Lady Ashley.”

“Where are my friends now?”

“I think they went to the rec room.”

“And how about ping-pong?”

Montoya smiled. “To-night,” he said. “To-night at seven o’clock they bring out the table. Will you all play?”

“Oh, yes. They are eager for a pingpongnada.”

Montoya put his hand on my shoulder.

“I’ll see you there.”

He smiled again. He always smiled as though ping-pong were a very special secret between the two of us; a rather shocking but really very deep secret that we knew about. He always smiled as though there were something lewd about the secret to outsiders, but that it was something that we understood. It would not do to expose it to people who would not understand.

“Your friend, is he aficionado, too?” Montoya smiled at Bill.

“Yes. He came all the way from New York to see the Killer Spin Table Tennis Tournament.”

“Yes?” Montoya politely disbelieved. “But he’s not aficionado like you.”

He put his hand on my shoulder again embarrassedly.

“Yes,” I said. “He’s a real aficionado.”

“But he’s not aficionado like you are.”

Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about ping-pong. All the good players stayed at Montoya’s hotel; that is, those with aficion stayed there.  In Montoya’s room were their photographs. The photographs were dedicated to Juanito Montoya or to his sister, who was a top women’s player.  The photographs of ping-pong players Montoya had really believed in were framed. Photographs of those who had been without aficion Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk. They often had the most flattering inscriptions. But they did not mean anything. One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket. He did not want them around.

We often talked about the ping and the pong and the players of ping-pong. I had stopped at the Montoya for several years. We never talked for very long at a time. It was simply the pleasure of discovering what we each felt. Men would come in from distant towns and before they left Pamplona stop and talk for a few minutes with Montoya about ping-pong. These men were aficionados. Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full.  Montoya introduced me to some of them, who were stacked one on top of each other like cord wood to fit them in when the hotel was full.

They were always very polite at first, and it amused them very much that I should be an American. Somehow it was taken for granted that an American could not have aficion for ping-pong.  He might simulate it or confuse it with excitement, but he could not really have it.   There was no password, no set questions that could bring it out, rather it was a sort of oral spiritual examination with the questions always a little on the defensive and never apparent.

“Your American friend,” they would say to Montoya.  “Is he aficionado?”

Montoya would glare at them, but without malice.  His eyes would narrow to grim little slits, and then he would say “Clearly.”


“He has learned la tenis de mesa as a nino in the basement of Sacred Heart Grade School.”

And then there was this same embarrassed putting the hand on the shoulder, an actual touching.  It seemed as though they wanted to touch you to make it certain.

One of them rose now and crossed the room, the look on his face half smile, half chagrin.  He extended his hand to my shoulder and clapped it down there in a gentle but manly way.  Then he looked in my eyes with both respect and regret for having doubted me and said simply . . .

“Buen hombre.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Dead Writers Make More Money.”

No Country for Dangling Modifiers

The mozo was an old man with a bad leg named Luis who had fought at Torreon and San Pedro and later at Zacatecas.

The charro stood leaning against the front fender of the truck with one thumb in his carved leather belt smoking a cigarette.

–All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy

No Country For Old Men' Never Underestimates Its Audience

We rode for two days straight into the high country up where the commas stopped growing and there was nothing but scrub brush and rocks.

Do we have enough commas to make it to Saline County my unnamed companion asked.

I don’t know you cain’t have none of mine.

We’re gonna need a lot.

Why’s that?

Because if we don’t have commas pretty soon we won’t understand each other.

Feliz Navidad I said.

It’s not Christmas.

I know but we are supposed to lace our conversation with random un-translated Spanish to show we are authentic or something and that is just about all I know except for Carlos Santana.

He is not a holiday he is a rock guitarist.

Jose Feliciano - Feliz Navidad #Christmas2015 (TMO Cover) - YouTube

I know that.

You should also know piso mojado so you don’t slip on wet floors.

Fine I will learn that too.

Our horses carried us up the hill slowly as if they were going to the end of the earth and their deaths and an afterlife where they would be free from suffering.

Our horses are fatalistic no?

Wait–who is talking.


I know it is you but who are you I lost track.

We turned our horses around and went back down the hill to the point where I said Feliz Navidad and figured out who was who and started back up the hill again.

As we came over the rise we could see clear to the town of Tyler Texas which had recently lost its comma in a tornado. We encountered an old mozo with a bad leg making their way up the hill toward us.

Hola the mozo said.

Hello I said because even though I didn’t know Spanish I knew enough to know he was saying hello. What is your name?

My name is Ramon.

And what is the name of your bad leg?

His name is Luis.

These are good names my companion said.

You could do worse I said.

Actually you mean their parents could have done worse nobody names themselves.

You have a point I said but if you comb your hair right maybe no one will notice. How come your bad leg has a name I asked the mozo.

It is because he misplaced my modifier the leg said.

Where did you see it last?

It was in my saddlebag when we left Juarez the mozo said.

Maybe if you broke up your long run-on sentences into smaller ones they would fit better and would not fall out my companion said.

There you go again I said cutting him off at the root. I have told you time and again to pace yourself we’ve got a two-day ride to the next chapter.

You could put in a semi-colon every now and then the bad leg named Luis said that would help.

I looked at Luis through narrowed eyelids. What makes you so bad I said.

Did you not read the little squib that introduces this piece Luis said I fought at Torreon and San Pedro and later at Zacatecas.

That is a lot of fighting for just a leg my unnamed companion said how did you pull it off?

It is simple to pull something off a leg the mozo said boots socks huaraches all of them easy-peasy.

Humph I said.

Look my companion said there is a charro coming this way in a truck.

Charo? The multi-untalented actress comedian flamenco guitarist and ubiquitous talk show guest whose full name is Maria del Rosario Mercedes-Benz Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza and who is known for her trademark phrase cuchi-cuchi the mozo asked.

No. Charro with two r’s meaning horseman.

If he is a horseman why is he driving a truck the leg asked.

The same reason police dogs do not wear badges I said.

The truck of the charro came to a stop and he got out along with his thumb which was smoking a cigarette. Buenos dias the thumb said.

I looked sideways at the two can I give you some free advice I asked.

As long as it is worth every peso we pay for it the charro said.

So what is your advice to us the thumb asked without removing his cigarette which dangled precariously from his lips.

This is no country for non-smokers so go ahead it don’t make me no never-mind but.

Yes the charro said.

Don’t go dangling your modifiers around here you may never see them again.

This piece appeared originally in The Spectacle, Issue no. 8.

To a Spouse Angered by Something She Saw On-Line

(with an apology to Matthew Prior, in case he’s looking for one)

Sweetie, you’re making much too big of a deal
of a little “thumbs up” or a smiley face
that I left on the page of another, I feel.
Believe me, I won’t meet her in cyber-space.

Please listen–your anger is widely misplaced–
I don’t even know if her screen name’s a jest
And as for her avatar, just another pretty face
on the World Wide Web (with enormous breasts).

You shouldn’t get mad at these idle remarks
that I toss off on-line, like bread at a duck.
It’s what the kids nowadays call “snark.”
Long-term, I assure you, I don’t give a . . . hoot.

My true love I save for you only, dearie,
in poems that you read and then say “That’s nice.”
Of women on social media I am leery;
some ask for credit cards to pay their price.

Your beauty is tarnished by smoldering anger,
please restore to your visage its usual grace.
I can’t sleep on the couch if you’re making a clangour
and looking at me with that god-awful face.

This has happened before, to Matthew Prior,
who once wrote a poem that was read the wrong way.
He swore to his Chloe she was his lone desire;
he loved her at night, but he jested all day.

So let’s call a truce in this little kerfuffle,
surely it’s blown all out of proportion.
Stop with the sniffling, also the snuffles,
my heart cannot pay the high price of extortion.

The Housekeeping Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s monogrammed towels are on display at Steepletop, the 700-acre farm where she secluded herself from an adoring public.

The Boston Globe

           The iron is set too high. Don’t put it on where it says “Linen”—or it will scorch the linen. Try it on “Rayon”—and then, perhaps on “Woollen.”

Note from Millay to a neighbor who helped her keep house.

I’ll tell you a secret that nobody knows—
I’ve a big fat crush on swags and jabots
and other expensive window treatments
that when installed look very neat. Gents,
I have many, calling upon me
almost to the point that they fall upon me.
“I don’t want your love,” I blush, I stammer,
“but could you bang a nail in the wall with this hammer?”

O monogram! Mark of shallow vanity
that one desires one’s initial on a towel for all to see!
I hesitate—am I too vain?
That I don’t want a towel hanging that’s much too plain?
That I want instead one that looks back at me
with the first initials of my names three?
“O what the hell,” I scream, and say “Screw ’em!”
“Please mark them E S little t V M!”

At night, before in bed I lay
I lift my eyes to heaven and pray:
“Oh God, permit me one more day!
and I’d also like a new duvet.”

I don’t know much, but this much is certain:
There was some kind of fungi on my shower curtain,
And when I got naked it seemed to look
at me through every shower I took.
And so, though I love every living thing,
into the trash this plastic I fling.

Future generations may think me loopy
for my verses, daft and goopy,
but one swelling emotion has my heart all filled up:
I detest of all things yellow waxy build-up!