PLUNGED INTO A NIGHTMARE

Have you ever felt like you were being trolled after making an online purchase?  The Cosmos knows not only what you bought, but a host of other things you might like, based on that choice.  It suggests items to complement or enhance it.  It pops up helpful messages like “Others who bought this item also bought X, Y, and Z.”  This may be tolerable if you’ve purchased something innocuous, like a socket set or a sleeping bag or a case of dog food.  But if it was something of a more personal nature, look out.  It could trail behind you like an embarrassing ribbon
of toilet paper stuck to your heel.  Read and heed this cautionary tale:


BUYER BEWARE

The Squatty Potty© that I bought
as a gag gift for a friend
unleashed a virtual onslaught
of gear for my rear end

A screen popped up before I had
completed my transaction
suggesting, for my favorite lad,
a kit called Master Crapsman©

The link connected in a snap
to a site for Poo-Pourri©
Just spritz the bowl with Trap-a-Crap©
and drop a deuce, scott-free!

They also thought I might enjoy
a box of quilted Shittens©
an ill-conceived commercial ploy
for wet wipes shaped like mittens

I cleared my cookies straightaway
suspecting double-cross
but onward marched the shit parade
like a wave of chocolate sauce

T-shirts with “I pooped today!”
stamped across the chest,
padded seats and chrome bidets
and fiber supplements

Free shipping on a new commode,
a plumbing tour de force
designed to handle outsize loads
in just one flush, of course

I phoned the website to demand
they cork their brown assault
They claimed it was out of their hands
Alas, the system’s fault


But accept this free Emoji Turd
a download for your phone
in case you’re at loss for words
or texting on the throne

I found a clever use for it,
a survey from their end
I awarded them five little shits

and pushed the key to SEND

The last laugh wasn’t mine, I fear
I found myself upstaged,
Joan LIKES the Squatty Potty! smeared
across my FaceBook page

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KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, FOR REAL

A LIST poem is one comprised of a list of things–names, places, items, actions, thoughts, images, etc.  These are a favorite of mine because they’re flexible and fun, and can be written in any form you wish.  The following sonnet is the product of a story:  a year ago, our fridge went kaput.  I chose the new one based solely on the size and versatility of the shelving system in the door.  Why?  Because I am a foodie with an obsession for condiments.  One can never have too many, am I right?

CONDI-MENTALITY

My new refrigerator has a door
with roomy bins like gifts from Heaven sent
designed for jugs of milk and juice and more
but perfect for my hoard of condiments

Ketchup, mayo, salsa, barbecue,
a cache of salad dressings quite absurd,
ginger root and lemongrass in tubes,
Sri Racha, onion jam, and lemon curd

Wasabi, maple mustard, and Dijon
Molé sauce and hoisin, tangy-sweet
Tubs of curry paste and marscarpone,
Capers, kalamatas, pickled beets

The other shelves are barren, I confess
My budget garnished into nothingness

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To see other List Poems on Just Joan 42, click the TAG below:

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!

Independence Day!  Woo hoo!  A paid day off for picnics, parades, and fireworks to celebrate our freedom.  Well, the scraps of it we haven’t traded away in the name of our “safety and security.”  Big Brother’s presence seems kind of comforting, right?  That’s exactly how he gets his foot in the door.  Remember, if he’s looking out for you, he must also have his eye on you.  You and everyone else.  Watch enough cop shows and you will learn what’s possible; they don’t just make all that stuff up, you know.  You could dismiss this whole post, write me off as
a crackpot conspiracy theorist.  It’s your prerogative.  But as they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

THE EYE IN THE SKY

The spy next door that peeks
around her curtain night and day
is not just “being neighborly.”
More likely, CIA.

You know that crackling static
while you wait for the dial tone?
It could be someone listening in,
a wire tap on your phone.

The camera on your monitor
that transmits while you Skype
sees every keystroke that you make,
each password that you type.

Cells and hard drives can’t delete
your comms or browsing history.
The back-up files are always there;
just how remains a mystery.

Tabs are kept on bank accounts
with each transaction logged.
Credit cards know where you shop
and stay alert for fraud.

The black box hiding in your car
stores constant data readings.
It knows if you don’t buckle up
and how fast you were speeding.

ATMs and traffic cams
have facial recognition.
The GPS inside your phone
can ping without permission.

We’re slowly being poisoned
by Big Pharma and Big Ag,
your death marked “undetermined”
as they zip the body bag.

My buddies say I’m paranoid,
and are they right?  You betcha.
These days you gotta watch your back;
this world is out to getcha.

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU ORANGES…

This week, I’m taking a detour from Form Street onto Rhyme Avenue.  Where that ends, we’ll follow the road less traveled, an unpaved trail called Oblique Lane.  Anyone who regularly writes rhymed poetry will wind up here sooner or later.  Oblique is an umbrella-term for rhyme that is close but not exact.  You might also hear it called slant rhyme, lazy rhyme, imperfect rhyme, half rhyme, near rhyme, off rhyme, or even assonant rhyme, phrases loaded with enough sorry connotations to make your best option sound like trailer trash.  Don’t let that scare you.  Oblique rhymes possess a jury-rigged cleverness that springs out and surprises the reader, a feat that turns predictable verse green (or maybe orange?) with envy.  The best excuse for using an oblique is the lack of a perfect rhyme, but who needs an excuse?  I adore them and encourage you to slide them into your poetry whenever and wherever you wish.  In that spirit, I’ve composed a LAI, an edgy attempt to prove that whoever said “nothing rhymes with orange” was only half right:

IMPERFECTLY PERFECT

End-words like orange
offer a challenge
quite unique
Rhyme must be foraged,
an assonant change
in technique
A lazy, half-knowledge
slanted in homage
to Oblique

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EL-EM-EN-OH-PEE!

ABECEDARIAN is an ancient poetic form based on alphabetical order. Generally, the first line begins with the first letter of the alphabet and subsequent lines begin with successive letters until the final letter is reached.  My friend Chevvy wrote a really impressive one last spring; click HERE to read it.  Mine is a simple list compiled from the pages of my gratitude journal.  Try one!  What inspires YOU?

abc-2

INSPIRATION A TO Z

Autumn, Apple Butter, Aurora Borealis
Blizzards, Baby animals, Baking cookies
Cloud formations, Candles in windows
Dandelion puffs, Dreams remembered
Earth and Echoes and Earflaps on hats
Farm markets, Fireflies, Freckled Faces
God, Gratitude, Guacamole with chips
Handwritten letters and Happy endings
Inner vision, Imagination, and Insanity
Jazz saxophones, Java, and Journaling
Karma coming full circle, playing Kazoo
Libraries, Life Lessons, and Loving arms
Muses, Memory, the Moon when it’s full
Nature, Naptime, and a New Notebook
Orchid blossoms, Oldsters with attitude
Pet antics, Prompts, and Practical jokes
Quiet mornings, Quilts stitched by hand
Rainbows and Random Acts of Kindness
Serendipity, Syncopation, Street Music
Teachers, Time alone, Thunderstorms
Underdog victories and Ugly Umbrellas
Volkswagen Busses that go Vroooom!
Wonder, Wood smoke, Window seats
X on a treasure map, XXX’s and OOO’s
Yoga in motion, Yakking with my sister
Zinnias flanking the Zigzag path of life

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MORE AAACKS THAN BILL THE CAT!

A great place to utilize poetry is in writing SONG LYRICS, our Tower Group assignment for the next meeting.  My answer to the challenge is a simple limerick series (like last week) with a refrain.  More Trump bashing?  You betcha.  If “the Donald” wants us to quit roasting him,
he needs to stop pouring gasoline on the fire.  “When you put it that way, it sounds like a pack of blatant, stupid lies,” someone remarked.  Umm, yeah.  That’s pretty much the definition of “alternative facts.”

donald-1

JUST OUT OF BRAIN-WASHINGTON
(From Trump’s Lips to Your Ears)

Refrain:
Believe in alternative facts
Whoopee for alternative facts!
Put the truth on the shelf
and keep telling yourself
“I believe in alternative facts”

Believe in alternative facts
All you need is alternative facts
Disregard honesty
and repeat after me
“I believe in alternative facts”

Verses:
My inaugural crowd was so vast,
it’s sure to remain unsurpassed
That people would think
a few marchers in pink
had outdone us, that leaves me aghast
(Refrain)

My cabinet’s filling up fast
and seats for advisory staff
A fluke that their owners
are generous donors
who stuffed my campaign’s Super-PAC
(Refrain)

The intrusion by Soviet hacks
to manipulate votes that were cast
was nothing but rumor,
a scheming maneuver,
pioneered by irate Democrats
(Refrain)

Shut up with the yakkity-yaks
about showing returns from my tax
The public and press
couldn’t care any less
so forget it, that’s all in the past
(Refrain)

Bowling Green coverage was lax,
but now that we’ve issued the facts
the Circuit Court Judge
who wouldn’t be budged
will be bringing my Muslim ban back
(Refrain)

Vetting in the aftermath,
based on dozens of terrorist acts,
will bar Yemen and Syria,
Somalia and Libya,
Sudan and Iran and Iraq
(Refrain)

I’ll repeal the ObamaCare Act
toss that nonsense into the trash
The poor and oppressed
will have open access
to the privatized plan we’ll enact
(Refrain)

The Mexican Wall is on track
and they’ll pay for it all, so relax
An astute business man,
I have things well in hand
Under sanctions, Nieto will crack
(Refrain)

Ignore all the Standing Rock whacks
set on blocking the pipeline contract
Army Corps engineers
say there’s nothing to fear
There’ll be no ecologic impact
(Refrain)

And by the way,

Ivanka did not get the axe
At Nordstrom’s, she’s selling like crack
So don’t wait to peruse
her fine jewelry and shoes;
they’re flying right off of the racks!
(Refrain)

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TOO LATE TO BE GREAT AGAIN?

The Presidential Inauguration is less than three weeks away.  Soon, a bigoted sociopath sporting a fake tan and bad toupee (not to mention, the most feckless cabinet in history) will be running our country.  How have we strayed so hopelessly off course, so far from our forefathers’ vision?  I mourn the America of my childhood, to which I pledged my allegiance with my hand over my heart – a land of hope that promised liberty and justice for ALL.  The piece below is an ELEGY, a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, usually a funeral song or a lament for the dead.  To ramp up the difficulty factor and kill two poetic forms with one stone, it also meets the exacting criteria of a VILLANELLE.

flag-2

STAR-SPANGLED ELEGY

America, what has become of thee?
One man, one vote our motto, yet we mock it
where money silences democracy

Test scores measure kids’ proficiency
while teaching them to think not on the docket
America, what has become of thee?

In fear, we forfeit civil liberties,
abide elected hands in corporate pockets
and money silences democracy

A wall, our immigration policy
Just slam the door on foreigners and lock it!
America, what has become of thee?

The war machine rolls on eternally,
its Big Wheels churning suffering into profit,
the money silencing democracy

Yet, mired in patriotic fantasy,
we raise our fists to any who would knock it
America, what has become of thee?
where money silences democracy

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HAVE THYSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS!

Shakespeare I am not, but I’ll take a stab (Et tu, Brute?) at a Christmas Sonnet.  With a rhyme scheme of abab-cdcd-efef-gg and an iambic pentameter beat that gathers momentum as it rolls toward the finish, this poem is my reflection on the ways we do – and don’t – spend the holiday season.  May each of you be blessed today with peace, rest, Alka-Seltzer, Epsom salts, a cozy afghan, and some time for yourself.

christmas-rush
CHRISTMAS RUSH

Shopping with my belly full of turkey,
its bony carcass cooling in the roaster
Tryptophan has left me less than perky
but deals abound on TV sets and toasters
Stringing up the lights, the ladder rocking,
trying to outshine the neighbors’ twinkle
Putting up the tree and hanging stockings
Icing homemade cookies, adding sprinkles
Stuffing one-rate packages to bursting
Typing out my annual newsletter
Racing to the postal counter, first thing,
and waiting in the snaking line forever
Until the twenty-fifth, it’s GO, GO, GO!
No time to sit and simply watch it snow

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LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Even the tiniest ray of light shines brighter at this time of year, as the approach of Winter Solstice casts a long, deep shadow over the earth.

A few of my favorite winter things are featured in this KYRIELLE.  A Kyrielle is a poem comprised of two or more quatrains that follow a rhyme scheme (aabb, abab, aaab, abcb, etc).  Each line contains eight syllables.  The final line of each quatrain is, in whole or part, a refrain.

cardinals-a-lot

BRIGHT SPOTS

Hardwood logs in stoves for heating
Flames revived from winking embers
Chill and darkness swift retreating
Crackling warmth in dark December

Cats in sunny windows preening
Cactus blooms in fuchsia splendor
Wreath and garland evergreening
Signs of life in dark December

Downy snow the brown earth meeting
coating branches stark and slender
Cardinals zipping down and feeding
Red and white in dark December

Silver cards and golden greetings
by the smiling postman tendered
Carolers house to house proceeding
Joyful verse in dark December

Laden tables from the fleeting
days of autumn’s harvest rendered
Words of thanks the feast completing
Bounty shared in dark December

Random acts of kindness speeding
to the low and unremembered
Rippling forth, and hence repeating
Shining hope in dark December

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HOW DO I LOVE THEE, BIRTHDAY BOY?

cake

Earlier this month, my husband turned the big 5-2.  When my plans to procure a German chocolate cake from a local bakery fell through, I dug out the recipe I’ve used in past years and read it over, jotting down a list of ingredients I’d need to purchase.  By the end, I realized two things:   1) baking this cake from scratch is a pain in the bananas, and 2) there is only one person in the world for whom I would do it.  Soon afterward, this Ghazal poem came spilling out, almost word for word:

GERMAN CHOCOLATE LOVE

I wanted to make something great for you
The world’s finest birthday cake, for you

I’d preheat the oven, line three pans with
parchment as the recipe dictates, for you

I’d cook the icing, caramelizing butter and
sugar, stirring at a constant rate, for you

I’d chop baking chocolate, melt and mix it
smooth, four large eggs separate, for you

I’d beat the batter slowly, small amounts
of flour and buttermilk alternate, for you

I’d whip the egg whites and fold them in,
Pour evenly into the pans to bake, for you

I’d watch carefully, and halfway through,
each pan’s position I would rotate, for you

I’d pull the layers at exact doneness, cool,
then freeze, the icing refrigerate, for you

I’d assemble the cake with an artist’s flair
Thick icing, all the layers straight, for you

I’d adorn it with candles, light ‘em up, and
sing!  Grab some forks and plates, for you

I’d do it all again on birthday fifty-three,
four, five, six, seven, eight… just for you

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