I posted a few of these poems last year, but I'm fond enough them that I figure they deserve to be read again. We'll start with my favorite, which I came up with when our assignment was to write a prayer. In addition to being a fun jab at the mingling of commercialism with religion at Christmas time, if you look closely you'll see that I count down the 12 days of Christmas in an unusually clever way.
FOR CHRISTMAS, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME
Dear Santa, I can't sleep. The clock on my nightstand shows a pair of twelves.
It's Christmas Day. Noel. Even now you're speeding home to your wife and your elves,
But you see all, you know all, and I ask that you listen to my prayer.
You've been in every house tonight, but when I go downstairs I fear I'll find no presents there.
If that's the case, I beg you to change your course, make your sleigh turn around
And come back. Let Christmas Eve now get a redo, and with it a profound
Change in your philosophy. Let "naughty and nice" become six of one,
Half a dozen of the other. For if I've learned anything in my short span
On this earth, it's that mercy should be the hallmark of our species, not justice.
Win souls with reexamined doctrine--we ought to receive gifts at Christmas
Not by works, but by belief. Some say faith without works is dead, but don't listenTo that. I believe in you, Santa. So...can I get an iPhone? Amen.
(As I pointed out the first time I shared this on my blog, I was shocked to find that none of my classmates had ever heard the expression "six of one, half a dozen of the other." Crazy.)
THE FINAL BELL: TO EDNA FROM SEYMOUR
[The assignment: write an accentual poem (each line has the same number of accents). I actually blew that a little bit, but I did still come up with this tribute to Edna Krabappel, shortly after the death of actress Marcia Wallace, who voiced Edna for over 20 years on The Simpsons.]
Oh, Edna. I can't believe you're gone.
A sub stands at the chalkboard in your class
But you can never be replaced. Never
Again will I see your trusty green sweater,
Or hear your trademark "Ha!" I've loved you
Since our first moment of intimacy
In Martin's playhouse. I could have had you forever,
Could have married you, but I got cold feet.
Since then, I watched you with other men--
Comic Book Guy, Ned Flanders, even
The drummer from Aerosmith. Each new beau
Shattered my hopes anew. Yet I still hoped
For a reunion, and I believed I had
All the time in the world. Time operates
Differently in Springfield. You seemed ageless,As if you'd been teaching Bart Simpson
For decades. I thought you'd always be here
But now you're gone forever. Oh, Edna,
I can't handle Mother being the only
Woman in my life again. Please come back
To me. Take a field trip from heaven.
I'm sure God will sign the permission slip.
JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
[The assignment: write a poem in which at least 75% of the lines are enjambed. Also, we were given the choice of a few lines from famous poems as a jumping off point; I selected the "etherized upon the table" line from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," one of my all-time favorites.]
The slab of beef lies cold on the countertop
Like a patient etherized
Upon a table. I poke it, prod it, and with my scalpel
Trim away the fat.
Each incision makes my patient
A little healthier. I take spices—my medicines—
And apply them to the lifeless meat. I rub them in
Knowing that they will help enliven the slab, make it dance
On taste buds.
Next comes the mallet. Some may call my methods
Unorthodox, but by smashing the meat, breaking it down, I know
I'm helping it reach its full potential, like a sculptor
Hammering at a mass of marble. Any wounds caused by the tenderization
Will be cauterized by the heat, the flames
Of the oven, and my patient will emerge
Unscathed, like the three Hebrew children
In the Babylonian furnace. Like them, the slab
Was not only unharmed, but it smells
Better than ever too.
Post-op, the patient is taken
To a countertop recovery room to rest.
The loved ones have arrived, anxious to know
If the operation was a success. Meanwhile, they nurse
Their drinks. In neighboring wings
The coroner wraps cor'ned beef
In plastic to send it home with families,
Newborns are bottle-fed in the veal ward,
And billing agents calculate amounts due
By the pound. But the real meat and potatoes
Of this facility is where I ply my skills.
I scrub up, change
Out of my red-stained smock, and announce
To the visitors that the patient's temperature
Has stabilized. The meat has been fully
Cured. Health and happiness are more rare
Than we would like, but in this case the job was
(There was even a bonus Old Testament reference in that one!)
[The assignment: write a poem that rhymes. No other instructions, as it was the first assignment of our poetry unit. This is the revised version I turned in with my final portfolio; the original, shorter version is included in the post I link to above. I'm not sure which version I prefer.]
It shouldn't be this big a deal,
Considering how long we've dated.
But she says "You know how I feel;
Putting labels on things is overrated."
At times she’ll let me steal
A kiss, and when that happens I’m elated.
I’m tempted to buy a ring and kneel
But I worry that she’s just too jaded
To say yes. So we’re just spinning wheels
While our "coupling" remains unconsummated.
I make my eloquent appeals,
And yet she says "It's best we waited."
I cannot wait. Though I know that she'll
Be beyond annoyed--oh, she will hate it--
I have this impulse to reveal
Something; it won't subside, it must be sated.
If it's not on Facebook it's not real--
My relationship status? "It's complicated."
STOP THE PRESSES
[The assignment: write an 8-line poem. The astute among you will notice that this poem is longer than 8 lines; again, this is a revised version I turned in as part of my final portfolio. The original work is almost identical to the first two stanzas shown here.]
Did you hear? The guy from Maroon 5
And The Voice--yeah, Adam Levine--
Is now the sexiest man alive?
At least, so says People Magazine.
Somehow they managed to overlook me
Yet again. I don't mean to nag or
Complain, but if they'd watch me they'd see
He's not the only one with moves like Jagger.
Can't fret too much, though, there's still the TIME
"Person of the Year." I like my chances.
Hold on, what's this? A greater crime--
They've given the title to Pope Francis!
Beat out by a rockstar and a pope
These editors are bent on japes.
But I'm not beat yet, there's still hope--
Is there a mag devoted to sour grapes?
[The assignment: write an aubade.]
Traces of natural light sift through the blinds, mingling
With the artificial glow of the laptop monitor.
The mixture is sufficient to rouse me
From my unplanned power nap. I raise
My head from the keyboard and look
At the screen--b bnvnhjnhj bn jnhhhhhhhhh. Darn.
No infinite simian Shakespeare magic
Working in my favor tonight. My conscious mind
Is a better writer than my unconscious--but just
Barely. Still only on page four of ten.
I sip my blood-red Mountain Dew, and realize
My lifestyle has become sub-vampiric--
They at least get to retire when the sun rises.
I sink my teeth back into my writing,
This English term paper that seems as if
It will never reach a terminus. I crank out
Sentence after sentence, yet the end
Remains in shadows, and I wonder
If Frost was also a procrastinating college student,
For dawn has come and yet it feels like
I still have miles to go before I sleep.
(The gibberish in line 6 is the result I got by actually smashing the keyboard with my head. I'm all about authenticity.)
I think the last two pieces are tied for 2nd place in my mind, though I like them all at least a little. Which is your favorite? (Or least favorite, I suppose, if you want to be that way.) After you let me know in the comments, get to work on reading those Psalms. You only need to read 25 Psalms for each of the poems I included here to complete the book!