Here are those poems which I wish to share. I love jokes, rhymes, and wordplay, and I savor the challenge of fitting ideas into metric verse.
2020-07-31, 06:52 (updated 2020-08-07)
This is a parody of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, the best-known song by 90s group Neutral Milk Hotel (NMH), feted for their otherworldly sound and surreal lyrics. I apologize to Jeff Mangum, Scott Spillane, Jeremy Barnes, and Julian Koster for perpetrating the following verses.
As always, I encourage you to sing along. A glossary follows.
What a scrumptiously-based mountain liquid I taste Could this be what sex feels like? Must be While I chug, enemies start to flash on the screen In a blink of an eye, they'll be shot by me Sweet caffeine Glug it dry, then use the bottle to go pee And one day we will die, and respawn in the sky Where God's scoreboard will show our K:D But for now, we are young Gaming far from the sun Laying waste to all comers and guzzling freely My mommy Says to turn it off, but all I do is ree-eee-eee-eee! [Spillane horn solo] What a gripping gunfight I've been having tonight On the leaderboard, I made top three I'm in love with my life And my virtual wife Hear the voice that I made for her digitally Love to be In the arms of my handmade waifu daki Now how I crave Mountain Dew How I would stretch my tongue out to Receive what nectar trickles through The mountain valleys, green and cheap Where does it come from? No one knows We dare not question sacred flows Our slurping, burping record shows It's Dew that keeps us on our game [Koster on the singing saw] What a scrumptiously-based mountain liquid I taste As I pick from arrayed weaponry And when we meet on a cloud, we'll sip long and sip loud Fragging noobs in a vicious and masterful spree Can't you see? We gamers live in a society
The promised glossary, for those unaware of certain seedy aspects of gamer and otaku culture:
- a “waifu” is a female anime/manga character which one adores to the exclusion of all others. “Waifu” is transparently a loanword from English “wife”; the male equivalent is husbando.
- a “daki”, short for “dakimakura”, is a person-sized body pillow. These are so commonly adorned with a printed anime character that popular usage of “daki” almost always refers to that kind (commercial examples.)
- “ree” is onomatopoeia for a shrill and irritated cry of rage.
- the adjective “based” (Urban Dictionary) means “cool; admirable; worthy of agreement,” often with the implication that the noun so described is obviously superior to alternatives. This positive usage was coined by rapper Lil B.
- “K:D” stands for “kills:deaths (ratio)”, a basic measure of competence in shooter games.
- “we live in a society” is a variant on a phrase uttered by Seinfeld character George Costanza. Through memetic mutation, it became a slogan for poking fun at gamers who believe themselves to be persecuted by ordinary society. Since online expression flits between irony and sincerity, and so many extreme viewpoints can be encountered on the Web, it’s difficult to know how many people use the phrase seriously.
- finally, while playing real-time games, some people will avoid leaving for the toilet by peeing into soda bottles. Nasty, but … efficient.
2020-07-29, 14:25 (updated 2020-08-06)
This was commissioned by the Fruit Art Project, a group which develops creative projects that incorporate the history and geography of fruit cultivation. When I learned that wild bananas were originally tiny brown nothings, and that the wealth of modern cultivars are the result of intensive human breeding, I imagined what that breeding process would have looked like if it had taken place all at once, under the control of a 21st-century organization.
Our teeny-weeny lumps of brown bananaflesh are worthless. We can't sell these. We need new products, of which we can boast. Our wholesale customers are vicious, money-grubbing, mirthless. If they can't snag consumers, we'll be toast! We of Bananas, Inc must guide development of nanners That grow up larger, sweeter, firmer, easier to store. Big supermarkets only then will deign to fly our banners, Sell patrons our bananas, and buy more. The only object of Bananas, Inc must be succeeding At rising from the red into the moneyed heights of black. Before the breakup of Big Fruit, our brown nanners were leading The market: an advantage we now lack. As one division of a bigger firm, we had the freedom To discount buyers' preferences since no one could compete. Those days are gone. Barbarians are in what was our kingdom, And their bananas are what households eat! I see your faces. Pass this mic, and share your hard-earned lessons. Bananas, Inc. requires a breakthrough in this fiscal year. Please speak your mind. I hereby call an all-hands brainstorm session— Beginning now, and happening right here.
2020-08-06: Today, I noticed and fixed a line in the original where I completely broke the rhyme scheme, without noticing. While rewriting that line and its rhyming one, I noticed confusion in the narrative structure of the last two stanzas. After 46 minutes of poetry, the two stanzas merged into one.
Portland Protest Preparations
I no longer live in Portland, but I know many people there. This was written to bolster the spirits of three good friends who informed me they’d be participating in the ongoing courthouse protests.
My Portland boys, I hear you'll join the protesting tonight. I bring you heptametric stratagems to aid your fight. Kit Emlyn out to feed those comrades who've made their retreat. Twelve spoons, one vat of jam, and gimp-suit butt cheeks on a seat Will draw the right attention to your makeshift chow hall stand, As long as you establish it far back from no-man's land. Construct a trebuchet and launch Drew o'er the courthouse fence To do karate with his lanky limbies. No defense Can best a six-six wingspan hitting backs high, and fronts low. Sir Unger, rather than the naginata you would stow Before most battles, I suggest you pack in field supplies. Once you've dispensed them, as what Charlie labors may arise Reach your attention, go and help where hands are needed most. Render assistance, then slip clean away, a sideline ghost. One final plea: no matter how the federales chafe, You're better whole than injured. All of you, please come home safe.
This poem alludes to real events. Matt Unger loves him a good melee weapon; Drew is a beanpole who knows karate; and, for a final project in performing-arts class, Emlyn wore an assless latex gimp suit and – with spoons and knives taped to his fingers – attempted to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the professor and a dozen classmates.
That’s Right, Voyeur
This is a naughty parody of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, a Beatles classic from the White Album.
I turn on the faucet Warm water starts flowing That's right, voyeur: take a peep! And while I'm disrobing I know what I'm showing That's right, voyeur: take a peep! I don't know why nobody told you How to be bolder in love I don't know how somebody sold you Tickets to watch from above With lathered-up bubbles I'm rubbing my belly That's right, voyeur: take a peep! I'm wiggling and jiggling Like hot sexy jelly That's right, voyeur: take a peep! I don't know why total immersion Triggers perversion in you I don't know how you got this craving But I relish bathing for you I rise from the tub And the droplets start rolling That's right, voyeur: take a peep! I hope that your tongue's out And ceaselessly lolling That's right, voyeur: take a peep!
The Man from H.0.P.3.
2020-06-22, 09:32 (updated 2020-06-30)
Sundown. My latest letter is complete: I post it to the madman's house of black. His call for correspondence thus fulfilled, White ink on parchment fuligin comes back. The auto-philosophe greets me with cheer. He's scoured my tubes; he's scanned my public face. "Your site's delightful" — so reads his review. No lesser turbo-hermit has such grace. I swear I see him through Eye Number Three: Thin fingers, stained with e-ink, sweep the keys That lock him to the ever-growing Book Of Life, which he attends on hands and knees. From ones and nones, h0p3 builds a prophesy, And from his labors may he never tire. In 2020, Montaigne essays on. His precomputed smile floats down the wire.
2020-03-21, 21:54 (updated 2020-08-01)
News: this got picked up for production into a real song!
My ancestors all bore the sword Which I now bear to serve my lord All spring I fight, when weaker men don't wanna It goes like this: the stroke, the swish The spray of blood, the stink of piss I have no friends besides my huge katana Chorus: Huge katana Huge katana Huge katana Huge kata-aaa-ana From Edo to Hokkaido's shore The only life I know is war Each day of my existence is nirvana A lesser man would lose his head But I know I'm already dead And to my son I've willed my huge katana [Chorus] I've read the Bibles Dutchmen sell I scoff at Satan, laugh at Hell I need no foreign Christ, and no Madonna I don't believe a word they say My Bible is bushido's way My only god is called my huge katana [Chorus] I have no patience for the court I've never been the courtier sort I'd rather live life simply, kin to fauna The finer arts are lost on me Let others write death poetry My dying words will be my huge katana [Chorus]
2020-02-25, 16:32 (updated 2020-02-25)
These verses are parodies of the song “Hakuna Matata”, from Disney’s animated film The Lion King. I wrote the first two stanzas on 2018-01-14, and the other two on the publication date above.
Consider this a companion piece to “Huge Katana”.
Hakuna katana: what an elegant blade Hakuna katana: only Nippon-made It means bushido, for the rest of your days Bisect knights with ease Speak Japanese Hakuna katana Hakuna katana: cut down knights from your horse Hakuna katana: follow honor's course It means no mercy, and it means no remorse Your whole life will be Blade mastery Hakuna katana Hakuna katana: train in samurai schools Hakuna katana: kill impudent fools It isn't murder if you follow the rules With a single slash Turn foes to hash Hakuna katana Hakuna katana: fill opponents with dread Hakuna katana: slice off someone's head You'll practice living like you're already dead One day you may be Like Musashi Hakuna katana
2020-02-09, 19:57 (updated 2020-07-24)
I stepped outside to take the air, but stopped short when I heard A squeaking cry, as issues from a wounded, bleeding bird— Or rather, from no bird at all, but from an injured bat; The wingéd mouse, the flying shrew, the aviating rat. The sound came from the corner of the garden, past the gate. I went inside to fetch my coat—we've had a chill of late. Beraimented, I crept along. The batlike wail grew near. On garden path I crept, until the screeching filled my ear. And ... what found I? A broken bird? A bat, brought down to ground? 'Twas neither thing that drew me there by way of eerie sound. I took a knee to do some work. The squeaking went away. No longer will that broken sprinkler keen like dying prey!
2020-07-24: Only five months after writing this poem did I learn that shrews are in one order of animals, bats in another, and mice and rats in a third. I love line 4, but if I can change it to match biology, I will. In the meantime, please don’t base on any science on this poem.
Hooked on Darjeeling
A parody of the song “Hooked on a Feeling”, originally performed by B.J. Thomas and further popularized by Blue Swede.
Pour a cuppa Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa Pour a, pour a, pour a cuppa One sip of Darjeeling Sparks my fantasy I don't bother trying out Any other tea Finished steeping Board the flavor train West Bengali Worldwide acclaim I ... I'm hooked on Darjeeling That tea-leafy feeling Another cup for me Hooked on Darjeeling Those leaves got me reeling Another cup for me Little insects puncture Veins of growing leaves Causing plants to send out Muscatel terpenes Come on, boiling water Be a friend to me Bring me piquant secrets From those ancient trees Grapelike flavor Puts me on my knees I'm in heaven Filled with ecstasy I ... I'm hooked on Darjeeling That tea-leafy feeling No other drink for me Hooked on Darjeeling Those leaves got me reeling No other drink for me
2020-01-30, 23:38 (updated 2020-03-31)
I rambled through a grid of streets which I thought I knew cold The street lamps turned to will-o-wisps, alluring balls of gold I lost my bearings wandering—I got all turned around But I'm OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound. I got disoriented on the roads I walked of old I took some time to cogitate—I knew I wouldn't fold The path that I was seeking is no longer sought, but found I'm A-OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound. Surveying my surroundings gave my instincts purchase-hold Rearmed with subtle pointers, I grew confidently bold Old landmarks shuffled out to say, "You're on familiar ground" I'm A-OK. I found my way, and now I'm homeward bound.
A Star Wars parody of the classic Dean Martin song “That’s Amore”.
When you pull a tight spin Without losing your grin— That's podracing When the chance cubes are rolled And you have to be bold— That's podracing Racers bring (Bring a ling a ling, bring a ling a ling) Pods together in battle Watto squirms (Squirmy lurmy lurm, squirmy lurmy lurm) Only Shmi left as chattel When you feel in command Soaring over the sand— That's podracing When a man screams "poodoo!" As he cedes ground to you— That's podracing When foes swear in Huttese As you place first with ease— That's podracing When announcers go wild: "Anakin, the slave child!"— That's podracing Racers bring (Bring a ling a ling, bring a ling a ling) Pods together in battle Watto squirms (Squirmy lurmy lurm, squirmy lurmy lurm) Only Shmi left as chattel
2019-12-23, 14:55 (updated 2020-03-23)
Were I King Ahasuerus Then never would I see A Haman full of hate. My kingdom's Jews, their fate, Would never safer be— Were I King Ahasuerus. Were I King Ahasuerus No outside threat would scare us. With Mordecai at hand, The wisest in the land, We'd have him to prepare us— Were I King Ahasuerus. Were I King Ahasuerus I'd toss out old Vashti With bigger dreams than britches. What's with these ancient bitches? A diff'rent wife for me— Were I King Ahasuerus. Were I King Ahasuerus To fortune I could bear us. One people, marked forever: A Jewish race, together. To this compact I'd swear us— Were I King Ahasuerus.
Missing the Moment
I sit down to produce a jot of verse— I stand up, and I pace around the room. What might have been a banger will get worse The more I pace. To hesitate spells doom. For any work which takes a focused mind— And poetry is surely in that group— Ideas must flow all at once, I find, Or else I'll lose myself: caught in a loop Of thinking, and rethinking, and—oh, fuck! I've dropped the thread entirely by now. That's what I get for pacing: a big suck; The glimmer of a topic, but no "pow!" One saving grace: there is no Poem Boss. When I screw up, it's no-one else's loss.
2019-12-04, 13:30 (updated 2020-01-29)
My milkshake is a peanut-butter treat With chocolate, too, appearing in the mix A glass so large, so sickeningly sweet That I need less than half to get my fix I'm in a diner with a weighty tome Great English Poems, edited by Briggs Across the table, Adam looks at home With Murakami, and with coffee swigs There comes a sudden motion from below As Adam lays a tickle on my knee I counter-jest, exclaiming, "Nandato!" Which Adam laughs at oh-so-heartily It's Wednesday. We have nothing much to do. The skies change from a rainy gray to blue.
Poems for Friendship Villagers
Half a dozen friends of mine live in a group house called Friendship Village. The first time I hung out with them as a group, I wrote a Chinese poem for them all to express my gratitude at meeting such lovely new friends.
About a year later, after a joyous night of homemade pizza at Friendship Village, I decided to write poems for each of them. A week later my project was complete. I hand-wrote the poems on cards, and delivered them at Ian’s going-away party on 2019-06-13.
Sneaking round the house at night The prankster man comes giggling Laughing to himself with all Ten fingers splayed and wiggling Reaching into every cranny (Not a man for strictures) You won't see him come or go But you will find his pictures
To me you come off as the coolest housemate Can it be true that you're the illest villager? Skate on home, then rouse up that guitar rumpus "Cool" is too weak: from now on you're a chillager
Guaranteed to brighten up my day-J Hugs me when I go off on my way-J Emits every color except gray-J Friendship Village saint? I vote for AJ
Hand-painted Wholesome winter scenes on Christmas cards. How? How does Someone come to wield such Skill at arts? Long, hard work And a smile for all the "Not-quite-rights." No other Way to learn to paint such Winter sights.
A cottage on a hill A flower patch A tree of fruit A mound of herbs A bunch of beans A pile of plerp A bag of blegg A tin of twomp A sack of snoob And a sign out front, big-lettered: WITCHY WONDERS "CHAOS, MADE TO ORDER"
I tried and tried, but couldn’t come up with a poem for Fedora. Instead, I made for her a bite-size videogame called Fedoradventure, which you can play online. Though not a poem, Fedoradventure still belongs to the Friendship Village series.
2019-11-03, 12:35 (updated 2020-07-24)
A parody of William Blake’s “The Tyger”.
Bunghole! Bunghole! Clenching tight, On the toilet, in the night. Curse you, bowels! Set me free! Has my poo no place to be? In a distant land of glee— Somewhere constipation-free— Man may poo most joyfully. He knows not of agony. He knows not the price we pay: Pants 'round ankles, we inveigh, Grunting, swearing, moved to pray, Pooing in a toilsome way. For what reason, in God's grace, Did He make man squat in place, Wasting time, without a say, On a poo's extended stay? What immortal hand on high Moved to make our poo so dry? Whither Bunghole and his fee? Whither constipationry? Bunghole! Bunghole! Clenching tight, On the toilet, in the night. Curse you, bowels! I don't see What I've ever done to thee!
A Gift for Gadi
I once traveled in a touring group guided by an amicable man named Gadi. When the group played Secret Santa and I received his name as my beneficiary, I decided to write him a poem.
Please excuse any awkwardness in the pseudo-literary Chinese. The gift was completed in a hurry, for a non-Chinese-speaking audience, so I judged rhyming more important than phrase construction.
Gadi Gadi Gadi 我队队长 样子很帅 哥们超爽 人才之峰 留一大胡 教人何为 天天为酷
Gadi Gadi Gadi Captain of our team. His style is way fresh, This Chiller Supreme. Of eminent talents And big-bearded too, He teaches all people His everyday cool.
The Peerless Drongo
While traveling on the group tour which inspired “A Gift for Gadi”, a friend and I spent a day stumbling around a foreign marketplace, our bellies stuffed and our eyes wide. We were totally out of place – yet we were at ease. I invented a word to describe the feeling of wandering aimlessly without a care: “roaming around like a couple of drongos.”
The word “drongo” doesn’t have a pithy definition, but this poem (and its companion, “Drongo Explained”) should help you get the idea. A hedonist, a bon vivant, a fish out of water, an artist, a scrounger, a drifter, or a jester might all be drongos.
He's cheerfully strolling Devoid-of-all-goaling Gracelessly fearless, our witless fellow Down the street ambling Unhurried rambling To none beholden, the peerless drongo! Pausing to peer as the Ladies draw near is he Finding no shame in production of drool With lust for the stocking The drongo comes knocking No need of motley has this kind of fool Wanton debauchery Lewd side-eye watchery 'Round the whole world in his bumbling flow Snorting and snootling Fecklessly frootling To none beholden, the peerless drongo! Cheapest of epicures Drinker of every beer's Last golden drops in the bottle at hand Market stall prowlery Flavor night-owlery Led by his stomach all over the land Faced with this nobody Go with the flow, buddy When you come near him you're certain to know Share what you have today Soon he'll be on his way To none beholden, the peerless drongo!
[I am aware that not all speakers of English pronounce “epicure” /'ɛpɪkiɹ/, rhyming with “beer” /'biɹ/, as I have rhymed them here.]
2020-01-29, 23:33 (updated 2020-03-23)
While corresponding with Kicks Condor, I realized I didn’t have a snappy, instantly-recognizable definition for a drongo. To fill that need, I began this poem in December 2019, edited and extended it over the next couple months, and pronounced it finished on 2020-01-29, around 23:33.
A drongo is a hooligan, A whirlywind, a fool, A tonguer of adventure's taste, A seeker of the cool. With merry eyes he seeks a prize— He's not so sure it's real— By keeping ever on the move He turns all woe to weal. The drongo's madman tendencies Are rarely well-controlled. To pyrite one may see him cling, Convinced it's good as gold. First going hard, then going fast, Then going 'round again, Is perfect drongo conduct, which The drongo finds urbane. To drongo is to wander through A landscape from the past, With no plan but to savor it— Then toast it, at the last. A drongo has nowhere to be Before his chosen hour. Though time may threaten him with snares, He's far beyond its pow'r. If drongos call out, "Nine o'clock!" They never mean the time: They're pointing out a pretty girl Who's standing at your nine. Should you insist that's boorish — fine! Renounce it, if you choose. A drongo's way is his alone, And his alone to lose. You can become a drongo — if It's true you have no lack Of love for wild abandon, and Distaste for looking back. For starters, ramble-shamble romp To anywhere you please. You'll know the other drongos when They join you in your ease.
Hayley and Her Boy Toy
One of my two favorites of the poems I wrote for my former roommate, Hayley. The other favorite is “Goodbye, Hayley”.
Hayley and her boy toy In the night they giggle Fingers go exploring Interlocked they wiggle Fingertip on her hip Tracing out a squiggle This is love, no doubting Not even a niggle
Hayley, AKA “Blue” or “Bloo,” was my roommate (or “shmoom-mate”) from September 2018 to September 2019. I started composing poems shortly before I moved in with her, and soon found that life in close quarters provided many poetic inspirations. This is one of my two favorites from this period; the other is “Hayley and her boy toy”.
I was delighted that you called me mellow I'm certain that you count as mellow too I testify to you that this Max fellow Will just as certainly be missing Bloo Our shmoomery is done but not forgotten When thinking of me please don't hang your head We shan't forget each other 'til we're rotten No need to eulogize before we're dead If by some chance to SoCal comes a Hayley In Snoop's hometown you know you have a pal Transmitting good cheer to you on the daily What's left to say? You rule! Go get 'em, gal!
Stanza Written Above a Ridge
Part of the 2019 Weeklong Wine Country Poetry Fight. Written while hiking in Austin Hills State Recreation Area, in response to a challenge from Chris Stasse: “in five minutes, write a poem on what you see before you.”
The north wind rises Descends onto the ridge Meets both trees And swirls away
After I read this aloud, Chris said it reminded him of descriptions of nature from the poet Wang Wei [王维].
2020-01-30, 00:35 (updated 2020-03-23)
A horrifically stupid parody of William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”. Mostly finished by 2019-12-23, but only revised and posted at 00:35 on 2020-01-30.
I read of Wordsworth's daffodils To set my mind a-wandering, That loyal hound! It carried back A silly thought, no somber thing: "Although I cherish daffodils, They're far outstripped by laughodils." The laughodil's a precious plant: It isn't sold in any store. If giggling is what you want, Ask those who scour the forest floor (Though when a laughodil they find, They're loath to part, as with gold mined.) When seekers bargain, pay their fee, Or flowerless you will return. Once back: be careful! For, you see, The cooking method's hard to learn. But if you only persevere The hour of laughter will be near. With juice of laughodil in hand, Take just one sip — not one sip more! A single sip will bring you glee, But two means pain forevermore. Be off with you. For all it's worth, I hope you find that mystic mirth.
Two Thirds of a Sonnet for Chance
Written in response to something nice that Chance, a new friend, said to me. This is “two thirds” of a sonnet because a real sonnet needs a third four-line verse before the ending couplet.
Has it occurred to you that you deserve To be called not just chill, but chill supreme? I have a softness in my heart for those Who follow through—who realize the dream Of living in a world where effort's fruits Are by most sincere comments justly met Much thanks, for 'tis upon my horn you toot Exchanging digits was a winning bet A sonnet, or two thirds of one, for thee With gratitude from You-Know-Who and me
Poem for Cameron and Felix
Written late at night, after getting to know these two fellows at a meetup. If you join the second and third lines in each stanza, the meter becomes iambic tetrameter (save for the line beginning “Knowledge”, which must be read as a trochee.)
Tonight I've met a pair of men Whom I hope I may Call new friends Two buds, pointed at PhDs Knowledge sets both their Means and ends Two dudes, united by one car Stick-shift - they're off! in Homeward flight Let's meet again, cognition crew To pass another Pleasant night
After the Farewell Lunch
Shortly before moving away from Portland, I got the chance to have a farewell lunch with Professor Hyong Rhew, one of just three or four people whom I call “my most beloved teachers.” Also present was my long-time friend Chris Stasse, whom I similarly call one of “my most beloved friends.”
This poem commemorates the mischievous post-prandial activities of that day. I believe this is the first poem I’ve written for Chris; it probably won’t be the last.
最后一杯 干了之后 老师告别 哥俩要走 笑着回家 大麻便抽 疯狂假想 做双朋友
A loose translation, 2019-12-20, 11:41:01-0800:
One last cup Drained The teacher bids goodbye The two boys Leave Laughing all the way home "Big Hemp" is Smoked Wild fancies take flight Such is a pair of friends!