Prop Comic

Wearing a plaid flannel shirt and bright orange wig,
My father, who looked a lot like Carrot Top,
Confronted me on stage in the middle of my act
And said enough is enough, he was canceling my allowance.

“Six years in stand-up school, you’re still a prop comic?”
Right then and there, adding to the tension,
An audience member, the dean of a local clown college,
Popped a weasel, my favorite balloon animal.

Poetry Today

“The desire to write poetry is a precious thing. It turns into a need on the one hand and a habit or practice on the other. If we were making a list of reasons to stay alive, and it seems we keep needing to do so, poetry would occupy a cherished place on the list.” —David Lehman, The Best American Poetry 2011

Sadly, what passes for poetry today is nothing more than politically charged chopped-up prose written by and intended for professionally trained poets lacking—among other things—humor, humility, and rhythm.

Politically Charged Chopped-Up Prose

Sadly, what passes for poetry today
is nothing more than politically charged
chopped-up prose

written by and intended for
professionally trained poets
lacking—among other things—
humor, humility, and rhythm.

Jughead

“When we fill the jug, the pouring that fills it flows into the empty jug. The emptiness, the void, is what does the vessel’s holding. The empty space, this nothing of the jug, is what the jug is as the holding vessel.” —Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

“Whether the stone bumps the jug or the jug bumps the stone, it is bad for the jug.” —Carl Sandburg, Harvest Poems: 1910-1960

“Some jugs are bigger than other jugs. All jugs are beautiful.” —The ten-year-old boy alive and well within me

Trauma-Informed Therapy

It’s the tension to release
It’s the burden to unburden

Not the speed, it’s the direction
Not the speed, it’s the direction

It’s a quiet voice that listens
To a body speaking softly

It’s the forest for the trees
An open mind. A field of vision.

Not the speed. The direction.
Not the speed. The direction.

Poetry Might Be Defined

On his podcast in 1934
Stand-up comedian
(And part-time poet) W. H. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed feelings.”

That’s a misprint. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed media”
When he got his master’s degree in mixed media art
From a university with a funny name.
Oxford. I think.

Wrong. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed martial arts”
And he said this at a bar. No.
He wasn’t drinking that night.
Auden only drank ocean spray.

That’s nonsense. I read on a blog
On the internet
That when he was around eleven
Pounds
Auden said

“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed episodes”
To his dad
Who was bipolar
But not when he played
The bassoon.

Wrong again. Auden spoke very little English.
He was raised in America
Having moved there from Britain in 1939
Before the war
Around the age of 32.

Freud’s Blackbird

A young Freud danced
In the shadow of his blackbird.

Freud’s cigar smoke
Ruffled the feathers
Of his blackbird.

When his stethoscope broke
Freud blamed his blackbird.

When he lost his temper
Freud swore like a sailor
And flipped off his blackbird.

No one tested Freud’s patience
More than his blackbird.

Freud’s mother fainted
Once in the presence
Of his blackbird.

All animals are fallible.
Freud was infallible.
Freud loved his blackbird.

Suffering exists. So did Freud.
So does the essence of his blackbird.

One day the sky was blue
But not the whole sky.
Freud looked everywhere
For his missing blackbird.

Proving he wasn’t a magpie
Freud gained the trust
Of his blackbird.

Freud’s blackbird
Sang show tunes.

My therapist said
Don’t overthink it.
I’m Freud’s blackbird.