Daniel Galef


Donne to Death

After Holy Sonnet X

Said Donne, to Death: “Sir, be not proud!”
Said Death, to Donne: “I’m not.
I wear no mantle but a shroud,
no fine perfume but rot.”

Said Donne to Death, “Pray, do not lust.”
Said Death, “I never covet;
thy flesh is putrid—soon, but dust.
How mad that mortals love it.”

Said Donne to Death, “Nor be a sloth!”
“I have been called ‘like sleep’ . . .
but night and day are of one cloth;
the likeness isn’t deep.”

Said Donne to Death, “Don’t be a glutton.”
“The shepherd beckons in
his lambs, but others eat the mutton.
Besides—I’m rather thin.”

Said Donne, “But art thou waxing wrath?”
Said Death, “You can’t be serious!
(And nor can I.) No anger hath
this face. Look—I’m delirious.”

“Nor envy, greed—”
“Such sins, alas,
I cannot comprehend,
for all (when all has come to pass)
becomes mine . . . in the end.”

Don’t Put My Slaughter on the Page

(To the tune of Noel Coward’s song “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage,”
also known as “Mrs. Worthington.”)

Don’t put my slaughter on the page, Post of Washington,
Don’t put my slaughter on the page.
Those reports were confidential,
So I hardly think that’s fair.
Is it really all that essential
Who killed whom, or why, or where?

Why, don’t you know…
Discretion is quite valorous;
Is Charlie Red your pal, or us?
Can’t you just – not engage?

Desist and cease, Post of Washington,
Pleese, Post of Washington,
Don’t put my slaughter on the page!

As for reprisals . . . dear Post of Washington, in some regimes would be quite harsh indeed:
Beneath your byline,
My line:
Do you want to get jumped and slugged?
Snatched by my spooks and drugged?
Believe me, every press room’s bugged.

It’s not a muzzle, dear Post of Washington; in canine terms, more like a “lead.”
Said our Dr. Kissinger:
“Don’t shuht the missinger,”
But you kooks and your “voice”
May leave me no choice
So some leak is getting plugged.

Don’t put my slaughter on the page, Post of Washington,
Don’t put my slaughter on the page.
Modern combat is complicated
And atrocities occur.
So we poked into Laos—
You can’t play cat and mouse
And never ruffle fur.

All right, we knew,
Knew all along the cause was lost,
And kept it up, despite the cost
(Which we won’t deign to gauge!).

I’m no crook, Post of Washington,
Look, Post of Washington—
Don’t put my slaughter on the page!

Daniel Galef‘s first book, Imaginary Sonnets (Word Galaxy/Able Muse Press, 2023), is a collection of persona poems from the point of view of different historical figures and literary characters, with a healthy heaping helping of light verse in the mix, including poems first published in Light (and one that Light said no to). Subjects include the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides of Elea and Doris Day (one poem), Casey of “Casey at the Bat,” a new-and-improved breakfast taco, and that woman who painted over the Jesus mural in Spain a few years ago. Available for purchase wherever sonnets are sold.