April Fools.

Source: Wikipedia

April is the cruelest month, and also National Poetry Month, or maybe it’s the cruelest month because it’s National Poetry Month. I started using poetry in high school. It started light: Poe, a little Shelley here and there, some Dickinson, but it wasn’t long before I was on to the hard stuff: Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Coleridge. I had a teacher who made us read The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams in class and then she spent the next fifty-nine minutes before the bell haranguing us about how this poem was full of deep, mystical symbolism and that we were all too young and uneducated to understand it. and this convinced a lot of my classmates to just say no to poetry, but not me. I was hooked and even became an English major in college and learned that what The Red Wheelbarrow is really about is a red wheelbarrow and some chickens.

Here are some poems I wrote in that previous life.

Ratopolis

“There’s a war going on in our cities…and the rats are winning.”

-from a commercial for a National Geographic special

Rats are winning the war for the city,

Displacing us as they come from below.

While our tactics are softened with pity

Rats are winning the war for the city.

Gassing a poisons aren’t pretty,

But all is fair in this war if we know

Rats are winning the war for the city,

Displacing us as they come from below.

 

Displacing us as they come from below

The rats teach us something we never knew

By steady process, since our brains are slow.

Displacing us as they come from below

The rats whisper to us we are rats too.

Knowing too much disrupts our status quo.

Displacing us as they come from below

The rats teach us something we never knew.

Paranoia

Headed toward home I wonder who monitors all the monitors

That glow in the houses on either side. And where

Are they? In the savannahs and remote jungles,

Where the only electricity comes from seasonal storms

Seen in photographs from a distance, monitors

Are lizards that slink around rocks and over

Trees after small mammals and other easy meals.

They range in size from smaller than your hand

To monsters with five-fingered feet

With claws that could slice off your leg,

And they’ve held dominion over their territory

From time before the first simians scraped sparks

Out of stones. A trespassing baron sat down to rest

Among them. All his minions found was his indigestible glasses

And shoes. Some of these big lizards, although common

Names are hard to pin down, are called basilisks.

In legend basilisks had the power to turn their prey,

Or anyone who caught their eye, no matter how

Casually, into stone. It’s just a legend. Some

Legends are encrusted or crystallized facts,

But not this one. This legend’s safely

In its cage around the next corner licking its lips.

2 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    You’re no fool, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The old saying that it takes one to know one applies here best of all–it means a lot to be told I’m no fool by you, who are certainly no fool either.

      Reply

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