Pershing at the Front (by poet Arthur Guiterman) a student recitation favorite…

Back in the day students were required to memorize poems and recite them in class.  For most the process was torture—memorizing a poem from a list of “suggested” poems, working up the nerve to stand up in front of the class for the recitation, and enduring the embarrassment from  snickers of buddies in the audience.

Here’s one that was a favorite of the day, passed around on typewritten and mimeographed “ditto machine” purple-ink copies.     It is appropriate now, among all this false rhetoric about General Pershing, who was a World War I American general, with a long and distinguished reputation as a good, tough cookie among military Historians.

It’s a great poem…rhythm and meter perfect in my book, and well worth reading out loud and all the way through.     Thanks to the folks at holyjoe.org\guiter8.htm for posting it on their site.

Pershing at the Front

      by

Arthur Guiterman

    (1871-1943)

The General came in a new tin hat
To the shell-torn front where the war was at;
With a faithful Aide at his good right hand
He made his way toward No Man’s Land,
And a tough Top Sergeant there they found,
And a Captain, too, to show them round.

Threading the ditch, their heads bent low,
Toward the lines of the watchful foe
They came through the murk and the powder stench
Till the Sergeant whispered, “Third-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “Third-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “Third-line trench!”
And Pershing answered- not in French-
“Yes, I see it. Third-line trench.”

Again they marched with wary tread,
Following on where the Sergeant led
Through the wet and the muck as well,
Till they came to another parallel.
They halted there in the mud and drench,
And the Sergeant whispered, “Second-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “Second-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “Second-line trench!”
And Pershing nodded: “Second-line trench!”

Yet on they went through mire like pitch
Till they came to a fine and spacious ditch
Well camouflaged from planes and Zeps
Where soldiers stood on firing steps
And a Major sat on a wooden bench;
And the Sergeant whispered, “First-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “First-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “First-line trench!”
And Pershing whispered, “Yes, I see.
How far off is the enemy?”
And the faithful Aide he asked, asked he,
“How far off is the enemy?”
And the Captain breathed in a softer key,
“How far off is the enemy?”

The silence lay in heaps and piles
And the Sergeant whispered, “Just three miles.”
And the Captain whispered, “Just three miles.”
And the Aide repeated, “Just three miles.”
“Just three miles!” the General swore,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
And the faithful Aide the message bore,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
And the Captain said in a gentle roar,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
“Whispering for?” the echo rolled;
And the Sergeant whispered, “I have a cold.”

 


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Anne Finds Her Career (originally posted February 2016 )

— I first published this poem here on SOMETIMES in February of 2016.    The plan is to re-post some of my favorites among my 400+ posts since the blog began back in 2011.—

Anne finds her career …

When Anne was a girl, she always wanted to be
a dancer.  To wear flowing gowns and satiny slippers
and be guided as a sylph, lifting in twirls and leaping high,
up in the air with skirts twirling and shoes barely touching the floor,
and feeling the thrill of the collective sigh from the audience.
But as fate would have it, her two left feet, and her lack of graceful
moves — more like those of a duck than a lovely swan, or
even a goose–combined with her brother’s snickers
she stepped on her skirt instead of her shoes
and tripped over her partner’s feet.

So then, when she saw that a new goal was needed
Anne decided that she wanted to be, when she grew older,
a doctor.  To have a white coat, a stethoscope  and thermometer
and peer into ears and down throats of her patients…to quickly discover
what ailed them…and find a cure, and all of the people would just be
astounded when Little Anne became a Doctor!
A wonderful plan!
It would be  a good position, pay plenty of money, and mean
great prestige…and besides, the town needed a Doctor.
It might have been the perfect profession, except…
she fainted dead away at the first drop of blood.

Not to be derailed on her track to gainful employment
Anne thought long and hard to find just the right profession
that would serve both her ambitions and her need for recognition.
“One thing that I can do well,” said Anne, “without  tripping over any feet
while dancing…or to lose my wits and panic when anyone bleeds…

The perfect job for me (why didn’t I think of it sooner?) is to get
pen and paper, and a computer — and spend my life Writing!”
So she wrote and she wrote, books and poems, and tales
about dancers and doctors, and all kinds of things.

©Sometimes,2016

Dreaming imaginary Prague, reposted

Dreaming imaginary Prague

 I have never been to Prague, except in daydreams…
but my impressionable mind is easily led
into the magical world of zithers and Gypsies,
of violins singing and wailing in ageless melodies…
music of joy and abandon…or sadness and melancholy.

Put on your hat, my girl, and come along with me…
We will trip the light fantastic (or is it a Fandango?)
whirling, twirling and dancing …and laughing at nothing
as our echoing soles  click and ring among  the cobblestones…
back to the days of fancy and intrigue.

Halcyon days of exquisite youth and passion for it all–
sordid or glorious, respectable or ridiculous–
days when common sense stayed at home amid the quiet
and comfortable over-stuffed chairs…and crackling radio static
never quite able to drown out the strains of an orchestral tune.

Prickles of goose bumps remind of running with n’er-do-wells
and bad influences…those mysterious, exciting  ones that
never existed, masquerading as “ladies” and “gentlemen,”
life’s forbidden (or at least frowned upon) adventures
among the brilliantly dark recesses of shadowy corners.

The mere mention of Prague always brings unseen wonders–
half-vision, half-dream.      There are Ladies in satiny dresses
and impossible shoes…. dancing away the nights, until dawn.
They sway with the music of instruments with no names,
enticing dangerously handsome partners with unknown designs.

But I digress, as is my wont…
the thoughts of romance and mystery subside–
old Prague returns to an idea that lives on
for dreamers…and poets.

©Sometimes, 2016

pondering pastimes

So what should I do this afternoon?

study my Russian lesson?
expand my online  book inventory?
repot a thirsty “Wandering Jew?”

walk in the garden,
read a novel
–write a poem?

I could get lost on google…
visit friends abroad…who probably are sleeping now,
giving their blogs a rest.

sit here and daydream?
fix something for dinner…
clean the garage?

get out my zillions of beads
and all of their appurtenances thereto
to borrow a legal phrase

ah, the latter may be the winner
of my afternoon busywork lottery
with granddaughter birthdays approaching

a tiny bit of skill, strong thread and needles
my treasure trove of baubles and beads…
crystals shining of light of their own

so here I sit, writing a poem
about shiny trinkets and glistening orbs
…inviting a nudge from the beading-muse.

©Sometimes, 2017

 

 

the crisis d’jour

As if it wasn’t near perfect…
now here’s just what was lacking—
a beautiful woman spy
(er…excuse me…lawyer)
of course she has official backing.

The question that begs
to be thoroughly scrutinized:
were these Yankees duped
by nefarious, erstwhile  spies…
or are they just stupid?

 

The leery lady from Lake Erie… a sort of limerick

There was a lady who lived near Lake Erie,
who was cheery and bright
most of the time…
but when she grew weary she soon became leery
of things that go bump in the night.

“You’re a coward,” said her hubby,
(whose name was Howard)
“afraid of a shadow
…or mouse…or a deer.
What would happen if I wasn’t here?”

“Why, I’d get a gun,” said the lady from Erie
“if a faerie or elf or goblin appeared…
I’d get all teary and shoot off its earring!”
“But that would be silly,” said Howard,
“…that only would make it more eerie.”

“I’d rather have it be eerie in Erie,
than down a couple of beers.”
“Well, Dearie, that doesn’t make sense!”
The lady replied with a gleam in her eye:
“I’d rather have Scotch when its eerie in Erie.”

© Sometimes, 2017

a bit of haiku…because I like you

Topsy Turvy
twists and turns happen
each day the world turns tighter,
like a spinning top

©Sometimes, 2017

 

Connections
What can be made of them…
the funny snaps and buttons
…old-fashion Velcro?

©Sometimes, 2017

 

   Join Me
Come and dance with me
across the hills and time streams
let’s echo always!

© Sometimes, 2017

 

light
a sliver of moonbeam
winks warmly in the night sky
…brightens dim places

© Sometimes, 2017

 

inheritance
hair of yellow sunshine
flowing gently in the breeze
reminds of Vikings

© Sometimes, 2017

 

Contemplating the Overhead

(Originally published in Sometimes, 2016)

Who has never stared at a ceiling,
stark and unobtrusive, high above.
Waiting on the examination table,
A pattern of plaster, geometric or concentric
or randomness in tile squares…
in the eye unique to the beholder:
Faces and road maps, decorative design..
Dozing off while waiting for
examination of unseen mysteries,
matters of distracted concern
existing anonymously within
a rounded belly, something enlarged,
a broken bone peeking shyly out
to see air and light… foreign and out-of-place.
To contemplate anomalies without purpose,
pictures not there—right before our eyes.
Improbable, impossible creatures,
staring down on the same…unknown,
unrecognized, without meaning…
open for inspection under the sheet
or the silly inadequate gown.
The very distraction of these glyphs
on the ceiling have reason after all—
to occupy and entertain
a mind with nothing else to do
but wait and wonder, as patterns emerge
a mundane excursion into the
feeling that this may be— The Truth After All…

© Sometimes, 2016

the dance of the miscreants, a fairy-tale?

… and all of the miscreants danced in a ring
singing and clapping and everything.

Chicken Little handed out cups with holes in the bottoms…
and urged everyone to please help themselves.

Uncle Paul smirked and grinned, and dreamed
when he slept, of clever tricks and double crosses.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, sent out engraved linen notes
that read: “Be here or else—but mind what you say.”

The Ice Queen giggled and tried to look cool,
as she whispered to the boss “you’re starting to melt.”

The King beamed and preened to adoring crowds
who cheered as he told them: “You all are invisible to me!”

The Witch of the Beltway cackled with glee:
“Listen to me!   What do I say?  What do I mean?”

…and the Tall Man looked down on everyone
until he tripped and came crashing down…

Topsy Turvey turned and spun… telling tales and amazing everyone.
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”

Mr. Dowdy Pudding frumped and preened,
beady eyes glistening with malice and mildew.

It’s all a cruel joke intended to wound—impossible tricks every day:
the Media chatters and makes up titillating tales.

The Wise Women lecture and try to make sense
while the Old White Men tell them “sit down and shut up.”

The Lawyers, in turn get their say…don’t let facts in the way!
Believe nothing you hear—nor even what you say!

…and all of the miscreants danced in a ring
singing and clapping and everything.

©Sometimes, 2017

 

clouds and memories, a poem

jet trails2

Draw me gently to your chest
my heart will linger there;
across the ages, along time’s trails,
the memories ever return.

Wait for me!—oh, wait for me!
the plaintive echo pleads.
When least expected, awakening
to memories in words of a poem.

Oh tell me—where do they dwell?
Among the dreams and reveries
apart from the wrack of reality
forever a blend of torture and joy.

©Sometimes, 2017

to die in satin…reposted entry from 2016

This poem I wrote last year seems an appropriate companion with one I published this morning.  I love Wordles, and MLMM always is one of my favorite sites.   Thanks again MLMM!

This is a Wordle for Special Edition “Touch” MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie, August 29, 2016 Challenge.   https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/wordle-special-addition-touch-august-29th-2016/#respond
This is not my usual fare, but here is the short vignette that I wrote using many, if not all, of the Wordle words given for the challenge.

to die in Satin…

Feverish now, thrashing among sodden sheets
grown bristly and coarse, soaked with salty tears
in a tangible horror of torturous linen…
no smoothing touch of pumice could relieve,
to sharply barbed cloth…once satiny to the touch…
The dying man’s angular body wracked with agony,
viscous sweat turning waxy his once swarthy skin
as rigidity overcame and replaced malleability.
“Oh!  Let me die!” he entreated those who
could do nothing else.

©Sometimes, 2016

a penny’s worth of death, a poem MindLoveMisery’s Wordle # 166

 

Here is my Wordle, using the dozen words provided in the  MindLoveMisery’s  excerise published June 17, 2015.

 

a penny worth of death

A gun, dark and dreadful,
cold steel caressing the unwilling hand
seductive music of silence and pain…
among bloody ravages of the plague
as dancing creatures
defy the promise of the Tarot foretelling the kiss
that comes forth—
levitating, tentatively echoing
the sparking retort of the pistol’s release
of a penny’s worth of death.

©Sometimes, 2017