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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BEYOND PING-PONG-PANTOOKAS

When we think of poetry, we think of rhyme.  Of course, poems need not rhyme, but it’s a connection our brains have been programmed to make, starting with Jack and Jill, Patty Cakes, and The Wheels on the Bus, and continuing through the classic poetry we read in high school.  That said, it seems strange that today’s editors rebuff rhymed poetry, regarding it as juvenile or unsophisticated; some magazines explicitly request that rhymed verse not be submitted.  Because serious poets shouldn’t sound like Dr. Seuss or the inside of a Hallmark card, right?  But skillfully executed rhyme shows mastery of both the art and craft of poetry.  Think Shakespeare, whose sonnets would not be nearly as compelling if they did not rhyme.  (Nor would they be sonnets, for that matter.)  Free verse may allow you to say precisely what you wish, but using words already in your lexicon to express yourself doesn’t force you to stretch, learn, grow.  Throw in a rhyme scheme, however, and a poem becomes a puzzle, one that compels the writer to seek out new words or reconstruct his lines.  All I am saying, is give rhyme a chance.

RHYME: JAM IT OR SLAM IT?

It seems, at this time, that a new paradigm
regards free verse as the height of sublime
a and b past their prime, worth nary a dime
Editors snub, wash their hands of the crime

Pained, drained by a scheme’s ball-n-chain
how well can a writer’s voice be retained?
He’ll soon ascertain if he retrains his brain,
he could gain one insane lexiconic domain

Rhyme may prove hairier, thornier, scarier
but get off your derriere, break the barrier
Consult a thesaurus, your synonym carrier
harvest fresh words, the more the merrier

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CAN-NOODLING WITH PARODY

A PARODY is a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.  In the following parody of Charles Kingsley’s famous poem Young and Old, I have made every effort to mimic the flavor of the original piece:  the discourse on opposites, the finished length, the galloping cadence, the unusual rhyme scheme.  “Don” is,
of course, a narcissistic president more concerned about his dessert than the plight of the refugees in…  uh… whichever country he just bombed.  Don’t be a Don, folks.  If you have food on your table, give thanks.  If you have extra, graciously share it with your neighbor.

THE TOP AND THE BOTTOM

When every meal is fine, Don
all lobster tails and steak
Paired with the perfect wine, Don
and gorgeous chocolate cake
Then raise your glass to wealth, Don
A toast to billionaires!
Indulge your precious self, Don
Reach for your silverware

But don’t forget the ones, Don
whose budgets barely stretch
They make their grocery runs, Don
the day they get their checks
All beans and rice and staple foods
for soups and casseroles
Yet bow their heads in gratitude
to He who fills their bowls

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COLLATERAL DAMAGE

This week’s form is the LAI (lay).  French in origin, a Lai has nine lines and two rhymes that follow this pattern:  aab aab aab.  Lines with an “a” rhyme have five syllables and those with a “b” rhyme have two.  Mine (below) is also an elegy, mourning the loss of a beloved friend.

For decades, we’ve walked our dogs down a long lane between tracts
of farmland, enjoying the seasonal beauty of an iconic oak on the path.  This year, it emerged from spring rickety and leafless, likely a victim of agricultural pesticides.  It puzzles me that farmers, men who depend on the soil for their livelihood, are so flippant about their use of chemicals.  Without wildflowers and weeds for food, populations of bees and other pollinators continue to wane.  Stately trees are written off as collateral damage.  What do you suppose eating tainted crops does to humans?  Clue:  a hundred years ago, your chance of getting cancer was 1 in 33; today, it’s nearly 1 in 3!  Please, please, please, THINK about what you put in your mouth.  Choose ORGANIC and support farmers who care.

CASUAL-TREE

Lifeless old oak
your shriveled roots poke,
forlorn,
between farm fields soaked
with poisons to choke
weed and thorn
What foolhardy folk
would trade this grand bloke
for corn?

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NINE… EIGHT… SEVEN… SIX…

The NONET is a poetic form based on nines.  There are nine lines.  The first line has nine syllables.  Each successive line has one fewer, a sort
of “countdown” to the finish.  I chose to repeat the Earth Day theme because, well, it bears repeating.  Scientists know global warming has put our planet in a precarious position.  She is teetering on the brink of a meltdown and when she goes, we all go.  That seems reason enough to get your head out of Uranus, educate yourself on the many simple, Earth-friendly habits in your power, and start putting them in practice.

EARTH’S ULTIMATUM: LIVE “GREEN” OR DIE
Stripped of fossil fuels and rainforests,
feverish with greenhouse gasses,
knee-deep in melting ice caps,
rocked by violent storms,
choked on pollutants,
Earth draws a line
and dares us
to cross
it

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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.”

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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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IMPEACHMENT RHYMES WITH ORANGE #ALTFACT

This week on JustJoan42, we welcome our old friend, the LIMERICK.
A limerick is a five-line form with a waltzing beat that often involves bawdy humor.  The first, second, and fifth lines contain seven to ten syllables, rhyme with each other, and conform to the same rhythmic pattern.  The third and fourth lines are shorter, rhyme with each other, and have the same rhythm.  Perhaps the most famous one begins this way:  “There once was a man from Nantucket…”  Google it if you’re unfamiliar.  WARNING: this poem is political.  Believers in alternative facts may wish to put their fingers in their ears and hum until it’s over.

red-button-2

OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATE

I’m sure Bernie didn’t envision
his campaign would end in recision
His bump from the race
left us in a bad place:
Trump or Clinton, a dismal decision

I held out until the last minute
amid warnings Donald might win it
The odds seemed remote
but I cast my blue vote
To be honest, my heart wasn’t in it

I paled as Ohio turned red,
fighting panic as westward it spread
I threw up a prayer
for the country’s welfare
and uneasily tossed in my bed

I woke the next morning unrested
Seems popular vote had been bested
Why do we acknowledge
the electoral college?
Red’s so-called win hotly contested

Despite opposition’s outrage,
the U.S. became Donald’s stage
Teamed up with Bannon,
another loose cannon,
he’s gone on a reckless rampage

His cronies warm cabinet seats
Detractors are out on the streets
He pokes other nations
and threatens relations
with his inappropriate Tweets

Senators, please take a stand
and impeach this tyrannical man!
Before it’s too late,
pry our nuclear fate
from the grasp of his miniscule hands

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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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