Poem #118: “A Zombie’s Argument”

I think this is a fitting poem to end the year… 🙂

A Zombie’s Argument*

It is not my lot in life
to be happy,
to feel unbound joy,
to savor the moment
as if it is all there is—
as if that moment
will never return.

It is not my lot in life
to feel sorrow so deep
it drowns me, so pro-
found it shifts the
molecules of my soul
and changes me

It is not my lot in life
to be wrenched by love
or hate until they con-
sume me, until they
transform me into
something that needs
to shed its skin before
it can live again.

For I am not alive; I am
an automaton, a robot,
a zombie going through
the motions without thought,
without feeling, without

*In the philosophy of mind, a Zombie Argument posits the existence of a parallel world in which every physical action that is happening in our world is happening there—e.g., my typing this sentence and revising it, and you reading it—but the parallel world is inhabited by zombies who lack consciousness. Thus, in the parallel world, the zombie who typed this and the zombie who read this have done exactly the same physical actions as we have here, but that zombie did not have any conscious awareness of the poem. Assuming that you are not a zombie yourself, if you’re interested in finding out more about this, the Wikipedia article “Philosophical zombie” is a good place to start.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

Poems #115-117: “First Bite,” “Tulip,” and “God”

First Bite

The delicate balance
of flavor and aroma
invites the memory
of Grandma’s last
Christmas dinner.

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it is
to pluck
a beautiful
only to watch
it wither

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© 2015, all rights reserved.

Poems #113 and 114: “I Am a ClichĂ©” and “Aura”

I Am a Cliché

Day after day, I sit
in the café and stare
out the window at soft
drizzle or sunshine and
write love poetry to
the waitresses.

Her apron is stained
with coffee and ketchup in
all the right places.

Alas, it never sells,
and I am the proverbial
starving artist—surrounded
by the inviting aroma of half-
eaten meals—with a cold
coffee in my hand.

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She was
the color
of wind
on a calm
clear day.

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Poems #111 and 112: “First Contact” and “Erato’s Kiss”

First Contact

Looking out the viewport,
I see a forest of tiny green
fronds with thin, leafless
stems and featherlike crests
standing silent vigil, as if they
are toy soldiers arranged
for a battle long forgotten—
or about to begin.

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Erato’s Kiss

She wore a gown of raven wings
wrought from broken feathers,
and warbled like the sparrow sings
in bleak and cold December.

Her song befell a troubled man
that dark and dreary midnight,
and left behind a haunting strain
that plagued him through his life.

He called to her—again, again—
longing for an answer,
but she did not return to him
that maiden lost, his sweet Lenore.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

Poem #108: Still Resolute

Still Resolute

Tomorrow brings Thanksgiving Day.
My resolution’s kept.
Five more poems—five more weeks—
is all that there is left.

And then the New Year will begin—
New resolutions made—
Will I make the same again?
Or will I make a change?

I doubt I’ll post much poetry—
It’s been too much a chore;
My fiction has been suffering—
I need to write it more.

So next year I will take a break
from writing poetry,
But now and then I’ll sneak one in—
just you wait and see!

© 2015, all rights reserved.

Poem #105: “Senior Moment”

Another week without much writing, since I spent it working on the reviews and finals for my classes. I have a little more to do on them this week, and then my prep work for the semester will be done. I’ll still have teaching and grading to do, but it shouldn’t be excessive. (The grading will mostly be during the two weeks after Thanksgiving, when they take their finals.) I should have some time for writing between now and then — if I feel like doing it. I didn’t feel like writing last weekend, which is why I worked on the reviews / exams. Now I’m feeling a bit run-down because of it (and my chronic insomnia), so I probably won’t feel like writing until later in the week — if that. Despite this, I revised the beginning of a story and have a good handle on how I’m going to finish it, and I jotted down a few new ideas. So, when I finally get back to writing, I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting started. Hopefully, that will be on Thursday or Friday, which seems to be the pattern I’ve had over the semester.

In the meantime, I had two brevettes accepted by Whispers…. yesterday. They will probably get published next month. I’ll post an update when they do.

Finally, here is the poem for this week — a much longer one than usual:

Senior Moment

I can’t believe
how long it takes
to find my pool

Why did I put it
in the closet?

It’s too early—
10:00 am—and
no one I know is in
the pool hall when
I get there.

I play an hour
before my back
starts to hurt.

Half an hour later
there is a dull throb
in my forearm, as if
it’s forgotten some-
thing important.

Maybe it has?

I pocket ball after
ball—the best I’ve
played in ages—and
finally call it quits
after three hours.

The faint, muffled
scent of fresh sweat
stains rises from my
armpits as I reach
out to pay the bill.

My fingers shake
from fatigue, but I
feel refreshed, alive.

On the way home,
something nags at
the nape of my neck,
worrying it like a half-
remembered, half-
forgotten itch, but it
isn’t until I pull into
the driveway and
see the other cars
that it hits me.

I don’t recognize them.

The dorm house is
a different color.

The boys standing
outside throwing the
football back and forth
are so, so young…

I slowly drive by and
pull up to the stop sign.

I grip the steering wheel
so hard my knuckles almost
bleed, and I sit there so long
that one of the boys runs up
to my car and taps on the
passenger’s side window.

I turn with tears seeping
from my eyes, and press
the button to lower it.

“Hey man,” he says
in a way that only
the young can.

“Are you okay?”

My mouth moves a
few times before I fi-
nally say in a soft, even,
empty tone, “I forgot
I was teaching today.”

He has kind eyes, like
a Born-Again striving
so hard to live up to
His new standards.

Before he can say
anything else, I nudge
the gas pedal and my
car creeps away.

I haven’t played pool
since I graduated college
and started teaching—
there wasn’t time.

It’s midday.

I should be
teaching now.

How could I
have forgotten?

I’m only 43.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

Poem #101: “Reflection”

If my count is right, “Reflection” is the 500th poem that I’ve written (and kept) during 2015. It is a form that I created that is an adaptation of the sonnet. I call it a “sonnettennos” because the first half is a sonnet and the second half is a sonnet in reverse. The rhyme scheme from the first half is inverted in the second half, and the two halves of the poem focus on complementary or opposing ideas. I’ve only written a few of them, so it might be a bit clunky; however, I wanted to write a formal poem to complete my goal for this year, and this form seemed appropriate for the task. Now that I have completed my poetry goal for the year, I plan to focus more on fiction for while. Speaking of which, my short story “Limbo” has just been published by The Corner Club Press, which is available for free online.


It took me twenty years to write a thou-
sand poems. Why? Because the vast major-
ity were formal verse, and learning how
to write them took some time. I probably purged
two hundred of my early ones before
I had five hundred that I kept. The son-
net took a year all by itself. The tor-
ture of its simple rhythmic form—once found—
became a splendid melody, and then
they flowed like rapids from my pen. The more
I wrote the easier they came, and then….
Well, college put a damper on my work.
Although I kept a thousand, there were more,
so why the hell have I been keeping score?

I’m anal. That’s the simple answer. Sure,
the numbers measure what I’ve done, but poor
ones rate the same as masterpieces. Purg-
ing all the worst ones helps. But still…. And then
there’s this year’s poems—some five hundred short
ones—added to the tally. Barely ten
percent are formal rhyming poems bound
by rigid rules and expectations. For
the most part, they are free verse poems, sound
bites, haiku wannabes, imagery, word-
play, mimicry, and moments captured—more,
by far, in three to five lines or a doz-
en words than otherwise. They came in spurts,
like sips of boiling coffee too hot to swallow.

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