Max Gutmann


Villaintine’s Day

It’s horrible and rather stupid
To hold each year a day for Cupid
Whose claim to fame is shooting folks,
Aggression none of them provokes.
Is this behavior to condone?
We have no day for Al Capone.
No holidays are lavished on
John Dillinger or Ghengis Kahn.
We don’t exalt the memories
Of vicious monsters such as these.
Would we have changed our attitude
If they had been in flight and nude?

Spring Villanelle

Plants flower, swallows sing, and bunnies boff.
All nature gleams with joy. But time’s a sprinter.
When spring arrives, can winter be far off?

Take care. The festive glass from which you quaff–
at least half empty–soon will freeze and splinter,
though tulips bloom, swifts fly, and bunnies boff.

I glance away, then clear my throat and cough
to see you celebrating spring, that minter
of tender babes whose end is not far off.

You’ll soon require that heavy coat you doff,
eyes glinting so. Each year I see that glint err
as pansies flare, doves coo, and bunnies boff.

A peak makes more acute the coming trough.
Life’s script is not by Disney; it’s by Pinter:
one knows a heavy pause is not far off.

This bitter wisdom’s scorned, but, though you scoff,
each spring remains a harbinger of winter.
The primrose shines, wrens chirp, and bunnies boff,
all certain signs that winter’s not far off.

Chekhov’s Gun

Mr. Chekhov remarked, “Say a gun
Has been mentioned or shown in act one.
If the end of the play
Is soon coming your way,
And it hasn’t been fired yet, run.”

Max Gutmann has contributed to dozens of publications, including Lighten Up OnlineNew StatesmanThe SpectatorCricket, and Light. His plays have appeared throughout the U.S. and have been well-reviewed (see His book There Was a Young Girl from Verona sold several copies.