RHYMES AT RANDOM

In a comment to my last post (CERF’S UP), I raised the possibility of re-publishing several of my poetic baubles from THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE. Generous soul that I am, suppose I add a bonus of bangles and beads to the baubles….for man does not live by words alone, but with the inspiration of Blyth spirit beautifully begetting beguiling music, without which our Kismet (fate) would be drab indeed:

Yes, my friends, I have rhymes — or, conversely, should I say….

And now, having strung my lead-in out this far / I wish upon a wishing star / to make appear my Random rhymes / from the pages of bygone times. / These rhymes abode in poems four / nothing less and nothing more / but not having used up all my string / I’ll save one of the poems for my next post-ing:

LOVER BOY

Narcissus was too perfect for sex or pelf —
He longed only to gaze in love at himself….
The moral of which is that, even in myths,
Too much reflection may be your nemesis.

THE BOOK OF WISDOM

Thou shalt not commit adultery;
Nor shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s spouse.
Shouldst thou succumbeth to temptation,
Thou shalt not do it in thy neighbor’s house.

CONCEIVABLY, THE COMPLEAT HISTORY OF HUMAN SEX

Adam and Eve,
I believe,
Were the start of it.

Everyone since,
I’m convinced,
Played a part in it.

NOTE: Ann Blyth, who played Marsinah (daughter of The Poet, played by Howard Keel) in the film version of Kismet, is one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

 

 

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CERF’S UP

In his comment to 20/20 BEHINDSIGHT (my May 20 post which contained a look back at TWENTY QUESTIONS), long-time blog buddy Don Frankel mentioned WHAT’S MY LINE? (another old TV game show). It so happens that one of the regulars on that show, humor writer and publisher (co-founder of RANDOM HOUSE) Bennett Cerf had chosen the 25th of May (1898) to be born; thus, today I honor his birthday by posting a selection of favorite Cerf puns and quotes (and high time I returned the favor, considering that lo, some twenty-plus years ago, RANDOM HOUSE published several of my poems in THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE).

But first, let’s take a look back at one of the WHAT’S MY LINE? programs from the same year as the TWENTY QUESTIONS clip shown in my previous post:

There is little question, I think you’ll agree, that WHAT’S MY LINE? was a step up in class compared to TWENTY QUESTIONS…..so it’s time to hit the Cerf (as beach bums refer to the swells) and ride the wave….to wit:

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

The confused young man couldn’t decide whether to marry Kathryn or Edith. Try as he might, he just could not make up his mind. Unwilling to give up either, he strung them along far too long. This indecision continued until both women tired of the situation and left him for good. Moral of the story: You can’t have your Kate and Edith too.

Then there was the young female comic who was promised good roles in a hit TV show. All she had to do was divide her favors between the star and the producer. But it was just a sham; she never got any air time at all. You might even say she was….shared skit less.

There once was a student named Bessor
Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small
He knew nothing at all
And today he’s a college professor.

The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.

I shouldn’t be surprised  — it was four against one.

And on that note, I bid thee a fond fare well.

 

 

 

THIS POST IS FOR THE BURNS

My last post was published on the birthday (Jan. 20, 1896) of GEORGE BURNS. This post is being published on the birthday (Jan. 25, 1759) of ROBERT BURNS. The former lived to the ripe old age of 100, the latter to age 37; a punster might say (0f the disparity) that they Burns the candle at both ends (of course, I would never say such a thing).

Some of you no doubt remember George Burns as God in the 1977 hit film OH, GOD!, and as the Academy Award winning Best Supporting Actor in THE SUNSHINE BOYS (1975), but we geezers best recall him as straight man to wife Gracie Allen in the comedy team of BURNS AND ALLEN. After she died in 1964, he immersed himself in work, remaining active for another three decades in TV, movies, and as author of ten books.

Here are Burns & Allen with Fred Astaire in two fun scenes from DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937):

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/374102/Damsel-In-Distress-A-Movie-Clip-Stiff-Upper-Lip.html

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Many of you probably do not remember ROBERT BURNS (aka RABBIE BURNS). Even I, ancient as I am, do not recall him. But history tells us he was known as the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire (Scotland), and as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Regarded as the National Poet of Scotland, in 2009 the Scottish public voted him the Greatest Scot, evidently as a belated promotion from Great Scot! Among his best known poems are “Auld Lang Syne,” “A Red, Red Rose” and “To A Mouse” (said to have been written when he accidently destroyed a mouse nest while plowing a field). I suspect the mouse would have preferred if Burns had restored the nest, but nonetheless, the poem was a mice gesture.

In closing, it might be nice to see what the Burns boys had to say in their own words (George’s quotes are in italics, followed by Robert’s in what I take to be post-Old English):

Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Nice to be here? At my age, it’s nice to be anywhere. (Tell me about it!)

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up, and finally, you forget to pull it down. (Don’t tell me about it.)

When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.

It takes only one drink to get me drunk. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the 13th or 14th.

Oh wad some power the giftie gie us / To see ourselves as others see us!

Gie me ae spark o’ Nature’s fire, / That’s a’ the learning I desire.

An’ there began a lang digression / About the lords o’ the creation.

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, / O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

The best laid plans o’ mice and men Gang aft a-gley.

THIS POST IS FOR THE BIRDS

January 5 is National Bird Day, a day to…. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman (alias Clark Kent, alias George Reeves)! What’s more, January 5 is Reeves’ birdday — er, birthday! Of such happy ‘coincidences,’ ideas for posts are born.

No doubt you are too young to remember George Reeves as Superman in the early 1950’s TV series, The Adventures of SUPERMAN. These many years later, the above Intro-clip seems either unintentionally laughable or laughably camp, but the series was highly popular and made Reeves a national celebrity. Unlike Superman, however, the actor wasn’t made of steel and self-destructed (took his own life) in 1959 at the age of 45.

So much for the coupling of the birds and the Reeves. Bee-lieve me, the rest of this post is strictly for the birds.

BIRDS OF A TETHER

Chancing to glance out my kitchen window
one early spring morning, I notice two robins
in the yard battling over the prize one of them
has extracted from the ground. Having always
thought of robins as harmonious birds, I watch,
fascinated, as the feathered fiends engage in a
furious tug of worm to claim (you would think)
the last night crawler on the face of the earth.

Finally, one of the orange-breasted warriors prevails,
and down the hatch goes the winner’s breakfast.
I don’t know if the victor was the one who found
the worm first. All I know is the ill-fated victim was
the one who didn’t have much choice in the matter.

But let us not end on a downer. Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap; they sing and tweet. So let’s all sing like the birdies sing:

Yes, my friends, there was a once-upon-a-time when tweets were carefree, joyful and strictly for the birds/bird lovers. What has this world come to? Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet!

HAIKU AUTUMN \ AFTERWORDS

SHORTFALL

The days early down….
winter nears by degrees….no
wonder….November

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BELITTLE SHORT DAYS? NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS

Oh the days dwindle down/To a precious few…./September…./November….
And these few precious days/I’ll spend with you/These precious days/I’ll spend with
you
–Maxwell Anderson, lyricist

….and they lived….happily ever after….once upon a time….once in every lifetime….

bridge-of-dreams-near-danville-oh

 

 

 

 

 

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEASON

 

In the unscheduled post which appeared here on my birthday (October 18th), my youngest daughter let the cat out of the bag — her old dog of a dad had just turned certifiably ancient, though I didn’t feel more than a day older than I did on October 17 as a young pup of 79. More’s the pity. Some say age is only a number….but it goes without saying that October is autumn. Yes, if you look at the calendar, September and November lay claim to autumn as well, but let’s be clear — nobody does autumn as well as October. So this will be a post of poems and quotes about aging and autumn, in that order (age before beauty).

AGE DEPLORE(s) BEAUTY

What passed for time
Before time was invented?
Before there was time,
How was time prevented?

If time had a beginning,
When did time start?
When it’s time that time end,
How will time depart?

Why are there times
When time frustrates and vexes….
And last, why must time
Do its thing to the sexes?

THE BIG FIX

While passing through,
I noticed that
this world is too much.
What big teeth it has.
What big eyes you need.
What big talk is heard.
Speak to me.
But not big.

I OF THE BE OLDER

If you think
I take life
too seriously you

are either

a night and
day younger than
I am or

I do.

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I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. –L.M. Montgomery

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves;
we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.
–Humbert Wolfe

Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day. –Shira Tamir

The tints of autumn … a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter frost. –John Greenleaf Whittier

For anyone who lives in the oak-and-maple area of New England, there is a perennial temptation to plunge into a purple sea of adjectives about October. –Hal Borland  

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. –Albert Camus

Spring is too rainy and summer’s too hot;
fall is soon over and winter is not.
–Evan Esar

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. –George Eliot

Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. –Langston Hughes

Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt. –William Allingham

NOTE: There have been many recordings of AUTUMN LEAVES over the years; I chose the French chanteuse Edith Piaf’s version because it was originally a 1945 French song titled “Les Feuilles Mortes”  (“The Dead Leaves”), and because October (1963) is the month Edith Piaf died and drifted by the window.

 

 

 

 

NONE LINERS TO ONE LINERS

Because my last post (TITLES FOR BARE NAKED POEMS) featured ‘no-line’ poems, which some readers might consider devoid of substance, I will try to wrecktify that air with a whole caboodle of one-line poems for you nit-pickers who insist that poems should have words — followed (in a spirit of munificence) by a bonus kit of one-line quotes, just for the tell of it. Now, far be it from me to make threats, but be forewarned: if this post isn’t enough to placate your unreasonable expectations, I may have to up the ante next time with a post of two-line poems….and you wouldn’t want that two happen, would you?

POET AT WORK

Have an angst day.

A VERY SHORT, PASSIONATE POEM

Would I lie to you?

WE LIVE IN IGNORANCE

Who knows why?

GOD ONLY KNOWS

So….I suppose.

DEER HUNTER TRIES SHOTGUN

Anything for a buck.

BLUE NOSE STUMBLES UPON RED-LIGHT DISTRICT

Whores!

DEAF SQUAD SEARCHES HENHOUSE

Nobody hear but us chickens.

TEMPUS FUGIT

Please excuse it.

MOLEHILLS AS MOUNTAINS

What’s up with that?

GREAT POEMS NEED GREAT READERS

Sign here ______________________

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There are two ways of disliking poetry: one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope. –Oscar Wilde

I like to think of poetry as statements made on the way to the grave. –Dylan Thomas

All that is worth remembering of life is the poetry of it. –William Hazlitt

Poetry is what Milton saw when he went blind. –Don Marquis

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. –Robert Frost

You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you. –Joseph Joubert

Poetry is a gift; maybe that’s why you can’t sell it. –Evan Esar

In a poem, the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind. –Marianne Moore

Once in a while I meet someone who has read me; it did him good — I mean it served him right. –Robert Frost

What stimulates me to write a poem is that I have got something inside me that I want to get rid of — it is almost a kind of defecation. –T. S. Eliot

Gotta go.