Out, (ouch!) brief candle!

I tried to put the candle out
By sticking fingers in my mout’
Then strangling the burning wick,
But failed. It turns out, there’s a trick:
You’re s’posed to lick your fingers, then
Quick-flick the candlewick to win.
I flinched while pinching, waxed my prints,
Then licked again, which made me wince.
My fingers and my tongue now burn,
As does the candle. Won’t I learn?
I should have doused it with my breath.
Now look: I’m late for dusty death!

How To Eat Right

I take delight in eating right;
Three simple rules I follow.
The order’s fixed and can’t be mixed:
I bite.
I chew.
I swallow.

If I should chew before I bite,
My teeth grow dull, my jaw gets tight,
The grinding keeps me up at night,
In misery I wallow.
This sequence keeps me deep asleep:
1) Bite
2) Chew
3) Swallow

I swallowed once before I chewed
And I was one unhappy dude
(Unmasticated foods occlude
Your tracheotic hollow).
I body-slammed my diaphragm
Against the nearest wall–Oh,
Man, the pain! Heed this refrain:
First bite,
Then chew,
Then swallow.

Mnemonic? Yes!
It’s B.C.S.:
B-ite
C-hew
S-wallow

(Submitted to Jingle’s Poetry Potluck: Rules, Regulations & Laws, 23 January 2011)

Why Interesting Memoirs Are So Rare

“Write what you know,” they say. “Write from the heart.”
That’s good advice, though harder done than said.
I worry what could happen if I start
Revealing feelings hidden in my head.
A many-chambered mansion is my mind,
Good memories the furnishings within,
Eclectically collected, each a find
In its own right: A wink, a laugh, a grin…
But under piled smiles, splintered pain
And shards of sorrow may perhaps be hid;
For safety’s sake, I’d rather they remain
Encoffined, stacks of joy upon the lid.
The risk of really writing from the soul:
You’ll dislodge something, and it leaves a hole.

Turkey Toe Jam

A turkey took my toes today,
Just bit them off and ran away!
Well, more flap-waddled, like they do–
Those birds don’t “run” like me and you
(Or you and I). Whichever’s right,
I won’t be running much tonight
And not because I’ll be in bed;
My toes are missing, as I said.
It’s hard to run without your toes
And turkeys know that, I suppose,
‘Cause turkeys’ toes are missing, too.
(That’s why they run the way they do.)
You disagree? Well, I’ll admit
There may be grounds to argue it.
My expertise is incomplete
In re domestic fowl feet.
Semantically, though, I suggest
That turkeys’ “toes” don’t pass the test.
They do use claws to keep their balance,
Bony, quasi-toelike talons,
Foot-phalanges, you could say,
But are they truly toes? No way!
Mostly, toes attach to mammals:
‘Possums, pugs, koalas, camels,
Nutria, coatimundi–
They’ve got toes from here to Sunday!
Amphibeasts can have them, too–
Remember Shakespeare’s witches’ brew
In Act IV, scene 1, of Macbeth?
A frog-toed, prophet’s broth of death!
There are, too, mammals more exotic–
(Airborne) bats or whales (aquatic)–
That the toe truck left behind,
But if you look, I think you’ll find
That birds and reptiles missed the list
Of Things With Toes; they don’t exist.
But, I digress. The salient
Point is, the toes I had have went.
I wonder, was it jealousy
That drove Ol’ Tom to toenap me?
I don’t know why that turkey bird
Bit off my toes. Perhaps he heard
The menu for Thanksgiving’s feast?
It wouldn’t shock me in the least
To learn he bit me in revenge
For that L-tryptophanic binge
When friends and family gathered close
To find out who could eat the most
Hot stuffing, buttered rolls and yams,
Mashed potatoes, spiraled hams,
Berry sauces (mostly cran,
Distinctly shaped to ape the can),
Celery (both stuffed and rooted),
Salads (greened, three-beaned and fruited),
Pickled vegetables galore,
Hearts of artichokes, and more…
And always, last but never least,
The dish that’s most resistance-pieced,
The roasting, basting, tender-tasting,
Lemme-at-it, time’s a-wasting,
King of our Give-Thanksing feast,
The peerless, toeless Turkey Beast.
If that’s his beef, he’s got a point.
That turkey earned a knuckle joint
(Or ten) from my extremities
Pedallic. Pass the gravy, please?

Héroe Con Queso

I’m a guy who likes his cheese;
Too bad it clogs my arteries.
Both scientists and docs agree:
“Tastes good” does not mean “good for me.”
Consistently, their studies show
The Dairy Fairy has to go…
But wait! This guy who rides my bus
Just said that cheese is good for us!
He heard it on the “Morning Zoo”
And why would Chainsaw lie to you?
So, that’s great news! The docs were wrong!
It sounded iffy all along:
Objectively, what benefit
Could cheese derive from getting bit?
It has no genes, can’t procreate,
So what’s it care if it gets ate?
Conversely, if it’s just ignored,
Neglected on the cutting board,
Bacteria like E. coli
Will overrun our food supply
Endangering the old, the weak,
The faint of heart, the pale of cheek,
The children… Save the children, please!
You have the power: Eat more cheese.

“One who draws blood for analysis or transfusion”

When I was young and so naive
I thought my hair would never leave
A teacher asked me to create
A list of jobs I wouldn’t hate.
It’s interesting (to me, at least)
That even as my path was greased
To be an Ensign, U.S.N.,
At graduation (I was then
A “youngster” at USNA),
She asked the question anyway.
Could she have known, when posing same,
That I’d drop out? Is she to blame?
Well, no: The choice was mine to quit
And I’ve not once regretted it
(Nor has the Navy, I suspect;
They hadn’t missed me, last I checked).
But, anyway, my point, I think,
Was, even as I toed the brink
Of a career in military
Service, this professor, Mary
Something-Something, asked me to
Write down the jobs I’d like to do.
My list was short, a quarter-pager:
I was then an English major
At an engineering school
Where Shakespeare studies weren’t the rule.
But even so, job number one
Was fighter pilot (still sounds fun).
And after that? As I recall,
There were no Navy jobs at all.
I wasn’t drawn to submarines
Although you’d think I had the genes
Since father, uncle and mom’s dad
Had done what Captain Nemo had.
I never thought to seek my bliss
In Surface Warfare either (this,
By far, is the most well-trod route
Midshipmen take when they get out.)
Marine Corps, SEALS and UDT
Held only slight appeal for me
And that, entirely, was due
To folks who said, “They won’t take you!
(My tendency to be contrary
Doesn’t fit the military
Ethos, so it’s likely best
I opted not to take that test.)
Returning to my teacher’s task,
What jobs did make my list, you ask?
It’s hard to say. All day, I’ve thought
About it, and come up with…nought.
Well, not quite nought: That pilot bit
Was there, I know, but after it
The one thing that was on the list
For certain was phlebotomist.
I kid you not: That June my friend
Bill S. and I had reached the end
Of our finances so we went
To donate plasma in a tent
Set up near some O’ahu beach
Where we received a sawbuck each
For sitting still while “Emily”
Drew fluids from both Bill and me.
His arm was first and all was fine
Until that needle came toward mine…
You never know just what’ll cause ya’
To succumb to sudden nausea.
All at once, my forehead’s sweating.
Next, my vision’s started getting
Hazy and my lips go white.
“Are you okay?” “Sure! I’m alright!”
“Really? If you’re feeling funny–“
“Nope! I’m fine!” (I wanted money.)
So as not to see the bag
Or needle, I stared at the tag
On Emily’s left breast until
It struck me that becoming ill
Was less humiliating than
Her thinking I was Ogle Man
(A counter-culture superdude
Who battled crime by being rude
And reading evil women’s hearts
By staring through their fleshy parts).
I stammered out a question: “Hey,
Excuse me, what’s your nametag say?
Emily — Phlebotomist
I have to ask, I can’t resist,
Is that the word for what you are?
It is? ‘Phlebotomist.’ Bizarre!
That’s got to be a special skill…”
I rambled on and on while Bill
Just stared at me and shook his head.
I should have just thrown up instead.
So, anyway, that’s how the word
Made my career-choice list. Absurd,
I know, but since you felt inclined
To ask– You didn’t?
Never mind.

Rhetorical Affective Disorder: Two Effective Treatments

Affect/Effect: Which works when?
It comes up time and time again
And if you get it wrong, my son,
The grammarrorists will have won!
So, here’s a tip that may affect your
Chance to not effect a lecture:
How you’ll know which word’s on deck’s
By concentrating on context.

An affectation is an act,
Effectively an anti-fact,
That actively affects objects
That bear the affector’s effects.
To affect is to act upon
An object that exists; a non-
Existent object can affect
An extant one in that respect
Though not the other way around:
One can’t affect what can’t be found
As long as why it’s lost is ’cause
It isn’t, won’t be, never was.
If your affection for the thing
That isn’t is sufficient, bring
It into being: To effect
A thing’s existence, just collect
Its requisite ingredients,
Construct it with expedience,
And so invent the thing you lacked,
Effecting an effect, in fact,
On that which was while what was not
Was not the thing your work hath wrought.

An alternate but still effective
Option is to use invective:
First, affect an aspect haughty,
Sneer, then mutter something naughty.

(Submitted to Jingle’s Poetry Potluck: Rules, Regulations & Laws, 24 January 2011)