Author Archives: mbalmain

Poem of the Week 54

People Who Say Yada Yada Yada Should Go to Yaddo Yaddo Yaddo

When I was but a lad O
By the track at Saratoga
Where the Travers is in vogue O
In the shadow of old Yaddo

I went a little mad O
In the movement known as Dada
Writing nada nada nada
In the shadow of old Yaddo.

Till an artist said egad no!
Worse than yada yada yada‘s
Writing nada, nada, nada
In the shadow of old Yaddo.

In the end it wasn’t bad, au
Contraire, I trust in God a
Man can write an awful lotta
Words at Yaddo Yaddo Yaddo.

—Fred Yannantuono

Poem of the Week 53

Clothes Make the Musician

Protégée, dear,
skip the brassiere
and bare your shoulders, toes.
Now hold that deafening pose

and have no fear:
Critics won’t hear
the burblings and mutterings
your bow makes on the naked strings.

—Claudia Gary

Poem of the Week 52

Envy the Dutiful
with a nod to Dana Gioia

Envy the dutiful,
the dogs, the wallflowers,
the prom non-attendees
home at all hours.

Envy the waterboys,
the dweebs and the techies,
the Poindexters born
predestined for wedgies.

The nerds and nerdettes,
the gawky, the scrubs
liked as “just friends,”
the terminal schlubs.

Envy the bookworms,
unhip, ungainly,
the late-blooming Venus
now sought insanely.

Envy the duds
who’ve bided their time.
Envy the day
their stock starts to climb.

—J.D. Smith

Poem of the Week 50


“This movie stands stubbornly alone…”
A.O. Scott, reviewing Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”

A sapling, reaching up, ambitiously
Obscures the Clearview Cinema’s marquee
And ripples green across the title’s rubric.
There’s something there by Hitchcock. Or by Kubrick?
With pink or scarlet flowers it might pose a
Problem, but it’s locust, not mimosa.
Enough is visible for us to see
That we would rather stand and watch the tree.

—Meredith Bergmann

Poem of the Week 49

A Fog of Blurbs

Their plumage is a sheen of words whose meanings are the same—
ubiquitous, too often heard, obnoxious birds, but tame,
their mewling call is pecks of praise without one speck of blame.

The truth goes out the window when the blurbs fly into town:
a mist of joyous tidings, thought essential to renown,
their beaks grow long and longer and are uniformly brown.

–Ed Shacklee

Poem of the Week 48

Marshal Tito

Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s
Dislike of mosquitoes
Was mostly because they disturb ya
Throughout Montenegro and Serbia.

–Dennis Callegari

Poem of the Week 46

Strictures at an Exhibition
pace Mussorgsky

Don’t touch,
Don’t crowd,
Don’t talk too loud,
Don’t push,
Don’t stall,
Don’t hug the wall,
Don’t gawk,
Don’t mope,
Don’t grasp the rope,
Don’t rush,
Don’t glare,
Don’t stop and stare,
Don’t blurt,
Don’t whine,
Don’t break the line,
Don’t slurp,
Don’t chew,
Don’t block the view,
Don’t drift,
Don’t nap,
Don’t take a snap—
All clear?
Then start.
Enjoy the art!

—Dan Campion

Poem of the Week 45

Un Bel Di

Butterflies and moths remember their lives as caterpillars. —Harper’s

I well remember having all those feet.
I learned to walk at quite an early age.
Just one before the other; it was neat.
The trick was not to think; they would engage.

Oh life was lovely, lazy, eating leaves.
Avoiding, if one could, the birds above.
Sometimes a friend was snatched (one weeps, one grieves)
But new ones would appear and, with them, love.

That’s when I met the lissome, furry Katie
And fantasized our legs all wrapped together.
When I grew up I knew she’d be my matey,
Our legs entwined in caterpillar weather.

But she grew up to be a butterfly
And sad to tell you, readers, so did I.

—Edmund Conti

Poem of the Week 44

Call Waiting
Seven million cell phones fall into toilets every year.
—news item

It will not text, it will not ring,
A wet phone won’t do anything
but give you shocks and clog the plumbing
and make you hope no guests are coming.

It does not answer Nature’s call.
Go get another at the mall.

—Joyce La Mers

Poem of the Week 43

Job Proposal for Gavra, Aged Seven, Who Has Been Given a 452-Page Science Almanac

Today, while going to the shops, you told
your dad and me about the tapeworm’s cycle,
how each untested pork chop means survival.
Thrilled to teach, you would not be controlled.
We got the full McCoy: you had the feeding
habits down, the scolex seeking tenure
in the gut’s sweet, fleshy, floral pasture,
the weight loss, faintness and suspicious bleeding.
Next time we’re in a room of lurching bores
discussing stocks or some upcoming show
or what’s gone floating through their private lives,
I’ll pay you fifty bucks for three whole hours
to tell the buggers everything you know
(plus bonus, when the final person leaves).

—Alexandra Oliver

Poem of the Week 42

Concession to my Colleague

I know that you will win in time;
the rising sewage lifts all slime.

—A.M. Juster

Poem of the Week 41

A Paean to Extruded Food

Oh, how I love extruded food!—
shrimp that are minced and then combined
with substances that hold them glued
in perfect curls that fool the mind;
onions ground up and mixed with paste,
squirted and fried in flawless O’s
remotely oniony in taste;
pressurized cheese that smoothly flows
in piping from a metal can,
a cheese with which to write one’s name,
which tastes like no cheese known to man,
shelf-stable, constantly the same.
O triumphs of modernity,
you foodstuffs of eternity!

—Susan McLean

Poem of the Week 40

The Purple Calf
pace Gelett Burgess

I tried to milk a purple calf,
Its moos were sweet and tuneful.
But all I got was half and half—
And half of half a spoonful.

—J. Patrick Lewis

Poem of the Week 39


I haven’t much truck with clairvoyance;
It’s all I can handle, you see,
To deal with the present (at times, not too pleasant),
So, as for what’s next, let it be.

There are those with enhanced intuition,
And others who claim a sixth sense;
They make their predictions, of which most are fictions—
Are we better off?  No offense,

But it seems that a glimpse of the future
Does little to sweeten our cup.
For since we’ve evolved, nothing much has been solved;
Further foretaste might make us give up.

The secret of life is the voyage,
And just how one copes with the journey;
So laugh, love and hearten those lives you take part in,
Until you go out on a gurney.

—Mae Scanlan