A Poem I Enjoy

rogersgeorge on January 18th, 2018

Seems everybody is gloomy and pessimistic about the state of our culture. I first ran into this poem more than 50 years ago. (I suppose I ought to add a verse of my own, eh?) I ran into a couple variations of it; I think it dates to the early 1900’s. —Okay, I thought about it. The first two lines are mine. (My granddad was president of the National Livestock Exchange.)

My granddad, with his livestock hogs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad, viewing earth’s worn cogs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in his house of logs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in the Flemish bogs.
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in his old skin togs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
So here’s one thing I have to state –
Those dogs have had a good long wait!

So don’t give up!

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A Poster for your Wall

rogersgeorge on November 7th, 2016

This is for the wall of the room where you do your writing. Here’s the quote:

In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold;
Alike fantastic, if too new, or old:
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
—Alexander Pope

  1. Copy this and paste it into your word processor.
  2. Set the layout to landscape.
  3. It’s poetry, so make it left aligned and the first letter of each line capitalized, if it’s not already set this way.
  4. Select the whole thing and make it as big as you can without messing up the line breaks, and still have a margin of a good inch.
  5. Change it into an old-fashioned serif font that’s easy to read. (You might need to adjust the size again to keep the line breaks from getting messed up.
  6. You can make the attribution line right aligned.
  7. Put a border around it.

Hang it proudly on your wall, and do what it says!

PS: Here’s another one from Mr. Pope that I like:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

A Little Vanity

rogersgeorge on September 13th, 2016

I’ve been working at a remote location lately, so I rented a cheap room to eliminate the long commute. As it happens, the room doesn’t have internet access, and my access from work is somewhat limited. However, I managed to find a place exactly on the way from work to my room, and I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping there to do things like catch up on email and work on this blog. They’ve gotten used to seeing me, and don’t seem to mind that I don’t order a full meal every time I show up. I should add that the place just opened—the guy who runs an Italian restaurant on the other side of town bought a dive and cleaned/classed it up to be a neighborhood tavern with a nautical theme. It’s called Loafers, and it’s on Route 40 in Aberdeen, Maryland.

I decided to write a poem about the place as a thank-you for their hospitality. They liked it, and talked about framing it and hanging it up. Here it is:

Give heed to me, boys,
And I’ll tell you all a tale
Of a tavern in this town
That’s big as a whale!
It used to be a scow,
But now it is a yacht.
It took a lot of work,
But look at what they’ve got!
The grub is pretty good,
And so is the booze.
The only problem now,
Is what you’re gonna choose!
So come on in and sit awhile,
And even bring a friend,
And get a bite to eat and drink.
—And this is the end!

(Naturally I have to include some useful information about writing;) here’s a note about the meter. Think about the meter of a lot of nursery rhymes, such as Old King Cole. You can nod your head to the stressed beats—they’re all the same distance apart in time, but the number of unstressed beats between them varies. That’s the type of meter in this poem. It’s called accentual meter.

I wrote a couple more poems, about two of the staff—a limerick and a double-dactyl—and then another (a ballad) about everyone, but I’m not vain enough to make you endure all four. One poem is enough. But maybe you’re curious. I published them and several others over on allpoetry.com. I go by the name of hairface.

Fish poem

rogersgeorge on May 6th, 2012

1. Last fall I attended the Annapolis Boat show. One outcome of my visit was a subscription to the boating magazine SpinSheet. It’s a pulp with lots of contributions from readers. A recent issue had an article titled something like “Sitting on the dock in the bay.” Notice that that line is a double dactyl with an accent at the end.

2. Recently my brother came to town for a visit. Among other things, he had a good time reciting a poem about a mouse in a bar being ready to take on the cat after drinking some Guinness that had spilled onto the floor.

The tone of my brother’s poem, combined with the title of that article, inspired me to write this poem. Somewhat timidly, I offer it to my discerning readers. Sorry it’s so long. Mixed meter tetrameter, rhymed couplets, mostly.

I was dozing on the pier in the Chesapeake bay
When a great big fish swam up my way.
And then the fish spoke and I really awoke!
What I tell you is true, this is no joke.
Said the fish to me, “I’ll grant you a wish
If you grant me a boon—to this poor old fish.”
Amazed though I was to speak to a fish,
I asked him “Sir, what is your wish?”
And then that fish, he winked at me.
“I’ve heard about coffee, you see,” said he
“If you could bring me a taste that I could try,
Then I would be happy, before I die.”
I pondered a while his dilemma true:
The sea would ruin the finest brew.
I thought some more and then I knew a way!
“Just bide right here and stay in the bay.”
I ran to the coffee shop of my choice,
And announced to Emma in a confident voice,
“I need a special coffee brewed today,
So would you kindly make it just my way?”
She knew her trade, this barista fair,
But she looked at me askance as she tossed her hair.
“I know your tricks, you homely man,
You ask for something hard ’cause you think you can;
But I like a challenge, so fire away.”
And she began my special brew that day.
She ground those coffee beans so fine,
They turned to dust in almost no time.
Then she pressed them flat on a little tray.
“That flat enough for your taste today?”
She asked with her eyebrow raised halfway.
“Looks good to me,” I said with glee,
“Now one more step I need from thee.
Just wrap it in your finest pastry dough,
And into the oven now it must go,
To brown that flakey dough just so.”
She took it from the oven when it was done,
Saying, “Here’s your coffee-hiding bun.”
I took the little scone out to the pier
And called to the fish “I have it here!”
Pop this in your mouth and hold it still.
When the pastry melts, you’ll get the thrill
Of the taste of the very best coffee mill.”
So he took it in his mouth and held it a while,
Then his face broke out in a great big smile!
“A taysht define I dho deglaire!”
He said as he flipped his tail in the air.
He savored it a while, then swallowed it down,
Then he looked at me and he looked at the town.
“I made a promise that I must keep
Before I return to the briny deep.
What is your wish, my clever man?
I’ll do it for you, friend, if ever I can.”
I knew right away what I wanted him to do.
“I hope this isn’t too hard for you:
I’ve always been homely, so I would wish
That you make me ever so handsome, dear fish.”
“I’ll make you like the handsomest thing I’ve seen
In all the places that I ever have been.
‘Tis easy to do.” He gave his tail a swish
And turned me into—a great big fish!

Postscript: I had planned to take this to the coffeehouse in the poem, down in the historic district in Annapolis, and read it unannounced, in  the hearing of all the customers and the staff, one of whom is Emma. The day ahead of this planned performance, I was having a snack at a restaurant and doing some reading. I realized that the background music they played at the coffeehouse would interfere with my extemporaneous performance. Alas, Emma would never hear my poem, and neither would the customers. As I left the restaurant where I had been reading, whom should I run into but Emma! I let her read the poem and she laughed several times as she read it. She said she liked it. Life is good.

A silly poem or two

rogersgeorge on April 5th, 2012

Fred Langa, a techie whose material I read assiduously, recently posted a link to a humorous drawing. Here’s the link to Fred’s blog, which has a link to the drawing, but don’t click it until you finish my post. The title on Fred’s post was a short version of the picture’s caption (which has nothing to do with my post), and the title was metrical in a manner that reminded me of a poem. Here’s the title:

The bedside lamp flew away in a huff.

The name of this kind of meter slips my mind at the moment, but it’s an old way of writing poetry. We see it in the nursery rhyme Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Pease Porridge Hot. It consists of evenly spaced accents with a varying number of unaccented syllables between the accented syllables. Try it on that title, and you’ll get four evenly spaced accents. Now to the poem it reminded me of:

Way down yonder not so very far off
A jaybird died of the whooping cough.
He whooped so hard of that whooping cough
That he whooped his head and his tail clean off!

The poem is supposed to be recited with some complicated hand motions what would be difficult to describe. The motions  are best demonstrated, and they make a good activity to warm up a crowd. Write me and I’ll tell you how to do them.

Now I have a confession to make. The title about the bedside lamp didn’t remind me of the jaybird poem right away. After all, all I saw was the title. I saw “bedside” and “huff” and my mind went in its own direction. I immediately thought up a poem rather different from the theme of the humorous drawing. I capitalized to help you see the accented syllables.

the Bedside Lamp flew aWay in a Huff
he Said, “I’ve Seen eNough of this Stuff.”
I’ll Come back in the Morning when the Day is Bright;
I Care not What you guys Do all Night.

(I admit it, I’m bad.) Now I invite You to write a Funny old Poem.