Poets Cornered

I was recently interviewed by Paul Szlosek for his blog: The International Imaginarium for Word & Verse. Paul is an American author (Paul’s Poetry Playgroundhttps://playground.poetry.blog) and photographer (Paul’s Wonderful Word of Color https://thewonderfulworldofcolor77109243.wordpress.com) who stumbled across my poetry and wanted to chat about it.

The photo used in the article was snapped by one of my students waaaaaaaaaay back in 2007 when I was teaching at a university in Ukraine. It’s all about the shirt.

Anyway, here’s the link:

https://internationalimaginarium.blogspot.com/2022/07/the-international-imaginarium-for-word.html

Mass Hysteria

In Physics, nothingness has weight

Which leads to some disquiet

Among the more dense who debate:

So, why then do we diet?

You Can’t Be Sirius

Image result for Martian microbe funny

The push is on to get to Mars
Because down here we’ve blown it
I’m just not sure if Mars is ours
For who’s to say we own it?
Maybe its own inhabitants
Will greet us when we cruise in
In tiny, shiny disco pants
And shout We’re all called Susan!
We’ll tell them all about the Earth
Its sky, its seas, the land
How right from birth we know the worth
Of taking someone’s hand
Of running jumps into a lake
To beat the summer heat
And hopes that Grandma’s gonna bake
Our favourite thing to eat
The satisfaction we derive
From finding the right gift
And pulling over when we drive
To give a friend a lift
Why monkeys make us laugh out loud
While spiders make us shriek
How lovers can tune out a crowd
When dancing cheek to cheek.
Of course, they’ll think us all absurd
Forsaking paradise
But why come here? Haven’t you heard?
We’ve only rocks and ice!

Dumbfounded we would roam so far
They’ll note down in their book:
Good Lord, these Earthlings really are as stupid as they look…

Much Ado

Hmmmmm... If my calculations are correct....Nah, I've got nothing. - Set  Phasers to LOL - sci fi fantasy

If you’re flat broke it’s said you’ve got

A fair amount of diddly-squat

And maybe more because this means

You also own a hill of beans

Which may forestall the need to beg

When added to your great goose egg

Combined with zero, zip and zilch

With all of this why would one filch?

Because if you give it more thought…

When you’ve got nought, there’s lots you’ve got

Constellation Prize

The figure on the mountain knew
Far higher than the eagle flew
Beyond the sun and past the light
Were men who crossed the sky by night.
Soon after dusk their fires appeared
Then slowly, once a course was steered
Their caravan set out en masse
To make its empyreal pass.


Like beasts migrating on the plains
Like swarms that form to greet the rains
He found no word for the amount
Of travelers he sought to count.
A gallery would pass him by
Whose outlines seemed to signify
Proud emblems of a noble clan
Led by an even a greater man.


The bearing, always east to west
Suggested they were on a quest
Or maybe searching for a door
They’d passed through in a time before.
Each night the figure danced and prayed
Around the fire he had made
In hope his kin might see its glow
And teach him all he wished to know.


Then with the last beat from his breast
Great Spirit granted this request
And drew his outline in the sky
That men as he should never die

Mother of Invention

At Cana, water turned to wine

Delighting all the guests

And showed the world The Great Divine

Considers all requests.

Although some question Was it prayer?

Or did a son discover

The force behind a mother’s glare

Is unlike any other?

Ante Establishment

Randomly flicking through the TV channels I happened upon a show called Child Genius, a programme whose aim is to discover which children in Britain have never been allowed to climb a tree, drink Fanta and make friends their own age. Contestants range in age from 8 – 12 in Earth years and from what I gather there are only two eligibility requirements: they must dress like Puritans and manage their own hedge fund. As for the parents, alas, there are no rules otherwise these same kids would be attending birthday parties and dancing to K-pop.

One distinctive family comprised Calliope (the child genius), Octavia (her overbearing mother), Peregrine (her hipster father) and 4 year-old twin brothers, as yet unnamed.

“We’re waiting for a Labour government first because then the whole ordeal will be less traumatic for them,” Peregrine explained.

“Watch out for the fat one – he’s a biter. He ate three of the gerbils in my control group,” Calliope warned. “Octavia, it’s 3 o’clock.”

Interviewer: What happens at 3 o’clock?

“I give Calliope her feed.”

Interviewer: Her what?

“She’s still on breast milk,” Octavia stated matter-of-factly, now fumbling underneath her burka. “Excuse me for a minute. I’m afraid these are more form over function.”

Interviewer: I was going to ask you about that, actually. Isn’t that a Peperami in your bag?

“Oh, I’m not Muslim,” she grimaced. “I don’t even believe in God. It’s more of a statement.”

Interviewer: Got it, but getting back to the feed: are you telling us that Calliope has lived on nothing but breast milk since she was born?

“Oh, no. I add my own juices to it as well.”

[viewers stopped eating at this point]

Interviewer: Please, God, tell me we’re talking about lemon grass.

“I have a juicer for vegetables and fruit,” Octavia confirmed, “but I also have all their placentas in the freez-“”

It was a shame really because Calliope seemed like a nice kid who wasn’t bothered whether or not she won Child Genius. Octavia, however, was on a mission. After years of subjecting her first born to stem cell shakes and hyperbaric chambers, this TV programme would vindicate her once and for all. After all, it wasn’t about the children; she was the true genius and, by her own calculations, Calliope only needed to make it to Week 4 before TV producers and the viewing public realized this. After that it would be book deals, speaking tours and Oprah.

Interviewer: Calliope, do you have any regrets about coming onto the progreamme? Did you ask to come on it?

“To be honest, I’d rather be doing something else,” she wrinkled her nose.

Interviewer: Playing with your gerbils?

“Gambling online. Every minute I’m in this stupid studio I’m losing money.”

Interviewer: I beg your pardon?

“My game’s Poker. Last night I was about to beat the bubble until my Aces got cracked. I ended up folding faster than Superman on wash day. I looked like a total fish,” she rolled her eyes.

Interviewer: Uh, okay. So you won’t be going to Oxford then?

“Oh, I’ll be going to Oxford,” she arched an eyebrow, “but it won’t be Flash Cards I’ll be playing with, if you catch my drift.”

Interviewer: How will you balance gambling with your studies? And is it even legal? You’re too young to gamble, aren’t you?

Calliope discreetly opened her Frozen II pencil case to reveal a wad of crisp one-hundred dollar bills. Drawing one out, she folded it expertly with one hand until she’d fashioned a small fish, which she handed to me.

“Why don’t you go buy yourself something pretty and leave the legal stuff to me? After all, who’s the genius here?” she asked, morphing from Girl Guide to Al Capone before my eyes.

Interviewer: What about your mother’s plans for you?

“Octavia’s seeking validation but it can’t come through me. Her insecurities stem from a lifetime’s inability to rise above her own mediocrity. The whole breastfeeding thing’s a manifestation of it: she believes she’s passing on matriarchal wisdom when she pumps that junk which, for the record, I pour straight down the drain. I prefer a single malt – it keeps me clear-headed.”

Interviewer: Won’t she be disappointed though?

“When isn’t she? Look, do you want me to wrap this up nice and neatly for your viewers at home? Give them my take on life?”

Interviewer: Please, do.

“Okay, here we go… in life, you need to play the hand you’re dealt. If you don’t like the dealer, switch tables and if you don’t like the odds, switch games. Then again…” she said coyly, throwing a piece of popcorn into the air and catching it in her mouth, “I’m just a kid, so what do I know?”