Chris O’Carroll


Venerable Measures

Now that the United Kingdom is outside the European Union, it’s reviewing thousands
of EU rules and regulations to see which it should jettison. Among them is the compulsory
use of the metric system of weights and measures. As an EU member state, the U.K.
was required to adopt metrication and sideline what it calls the “imperial system”—
that’s feet and inches, pounds and ounces, pints and gallons.”

How much of what we love or hate
Is hefted by the hundredweight?
What fraction of our flesh and bone
Is calculated by the stone?
These are not questions we demand
You weigh by slug or span by hand,
Nor do we quiz you on the grain,
The fathom, furlong, league, and chain.

Yet let us double and quadruple
Our fandom for the fluid scruple,
And vow as long as we are able
To treasure minim, link, and cable.
The perch, the gill, the barleycorn—
Without them, measure us forlorn.
Slip rigid metric’s decimal grip,
Embrace tradition’s every twip.

Ogden Nash’s “Song of Myself”

When I contemplate writing a poem that celebrates and sings myself,
I run up against a disincentive in the embarrassing rhyme pelf.
(It’s a word for ill-gotten gains, booty, stolen wealth,
Money obtained via some combination of deceit, violence and/or stealth,
And I fear that I might be saddled with a reputation as a plunderer
Of arcane linguistic precincts, a clumsy vocabulary blunderer,
Were I to latch onto this freakish snippet of lexicography
To garnish my Parnassian autobiography.)

Sadly, however, there is of rhymes for myself such a paucity
That I would in the long run have little choice but to fall back upon this
unattractive verbal curiosity.
Once I had contrived to set part of my song in the Canadian city of Guelph
And another chorus at the North Pole in order to incorporate a jolly Christmas
The poem would find itself
Languishing unfinished on a shelf
Until I managed to overcome my acute
Aversion to an obscure term for loot.

Chris O’Carroll has been a Light featured poet and a featured reader at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH—the two highest honors available in poetry today. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. His work appears in New York City Haiku, Extreme Sonnets, Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, among other collections. He has published two books of poems, The Joke’s on Me and Abracadabratude.