Bruce McGuffin



These are the shorts that embarrass my children,
the legs are too short and the front is too stained.
The waist is fantastic—it’s made of elastic,
but the best part is watching my children look pained.

Épée Bout

I’m old and I’m slow but left-handed and cunning.
I know that this kid’s gonna come at me running,
so maybe, just maybe, I’ll carry this bout
if I wait for attacks then I stick my arm out.

I don’t like this kid that I’m fencing at all.
He’s fast and he’s cocky, he’s also too tall.
Here he comes, quick extend, double touch, that’s okay.
I’ve still got four chances, this could go my way.

The kid’s a slow study, he doesn’t change much as
he keeps on attacking and gets double touches.
For all of his flèching and lunging, the score
hasn’t changed in three rounds now, we’re tied at four-four.

Here he comes just like last time. One more double touch?
One single, no red light, would that be too much?
He lunges, I back up, extend and green light!
Did I say I don’t like him? This kid is all right.

The Tenor Man

The Tenor Man blows
what the Tenor Man knows
And nobody knows but he
If he’s playing it right,
If he’s playing it wrong,
As long as he follows the key.

He rearranges
the old chord changes.
He blows them soft then hard.
If you like what he plays
It’s the magic of jazz.
If not, it’s avant-garde.

Many years ago his high school English teacher warned Bruce McGuffin to avoid writing humor, but he does it anyway. When he’s not writing light poetry, he plays with radios in a university-run research center near Boston.