Poems of the Week

All Options on the Table Tennis

by Alex Steelsmith

“‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’ Celebrates 50 Years, Just As U.S., China Need It Again”
Newsweek

Whiffledy-whaffledy
Ping-Pong Diplomacy,
started by Nixon and
Chairman Zedong,

needs, as it reaches its
semicentennial,
President Joe to play
Xi Jinping-Pong.

Snaky Pastry

by Julia Griffin

“A Sydney couple received a fright when they discovered a rare venomous snake in a bag of
supermarket lettuce—but recovered and later used the fresh produce in a salad wrap.”

The Guardian

“Mystery tree beast turns out to be croissant”
BBC News

The Polish police got a panicky call:
A brute had been sighted, quite three inches tall,
Concealed in some branches. A lizard at least!
They rushed in with stun guns—confronted the beast—
And found it was pastry. Now Twitter’s awash:
A crested croissant or a brindled brioche?
A greater galette or a clawed clafoutis?
Or was it a bûche-baby high in that tree?
Well, well. At the time, the response it awoke
In viewers was quite the reverse of a joke:
In fact it reduced to comparative failure
A snake in a lettuce in eastern Australia,
Found also this week—not quite deadly, but still
Equipped to make victims exceedingly ill—
Whose finders, a truly phlegmatical bunch,
Just brushed off the leaves and consumed them for lunch.
This incident, leaving aside the display
Of human sangfroid, should inspire us to pray
That Cautious in Krakow, and those of her kidney,
Don’t find themselves shopping for salad in Sydney.

Each to His Own

by Bruce Bennett

“Vasectomies Meet Earth Day in Iowa! … 
Nonprofit and local physician launch first mobile vasectomy clinic
in the US for Earth Day”

PRNewswire

No thanks. I’d like to be there, but I can’t.
To tell the truth, I’d rather plant a plant.

Edinburgh’s Duke

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

“Britain’s Prince Philip, who died … at age 99, was well known for his wit, sharp tongue
and excruciating comments.”

The Washington Post

Escorting Queen Elizabeth, I found
Dontopedalogy impelled my foot.
Its whereabouts in public were renowned:
Not often in my mouth was it not put!
Blabbed I about the Princess Royal’s life:
Unless it farts or gobbles hay, our Anne
Refuses interest! And when a wife
Gets car doors always opened by her man,
His car or else his wife is new, I’d quip!
Such humor was my way to master my
Dislike of pomp … My last trick was to skip
UK-wide hundredth birthday rites, which I
Knew I would hate—and, since I reckoned thus,
Expired before … So I dodged all the fuss!

Hot Diggity Digidog

by Chris O’Carroll

“Long arm of the paw! NYPD uses its $75,000 Digidog to assist with an arrest…”
Daily Mail

When the going gets tough,
Send for Robo-McGruff.
Cheer the best-in-show strut
Of this crime-busting mutt,
AI-hound, cyber-pup.
(And no poop to scoop up!)

Jurassic Snack

by Dan Campion

“Flying giant pterosaurs had longer neck than a giraffe, say experts”
The Guardian

Experts say the darnedest things,
And dino boffins earn their wings
By making claims you can’t conceive,
Then finding bones so you’ll believe.

In this case, CAT scans clearly say
That interlaced trabeculae
On scales that beggar the giraffe
Served pterosaurs as rod and staff

By propping up huge necks, heads, bills
The very thought of which sends chills
Through anyone who’d rather not
Be forced to see their mammal’s lot
As snack food for some sauroid tot.

Playing Ketchup

by Iris Herriot

“Ketchup Shortage Creates New Market for All Your Old Packets”
The Wall Street Journal

The diners spread their cash like paste
When I’m sacheting by:
They’ve not forgotten how I taste—
The Ketchup on the Rye.

Neo Trio

by Ruth S. Baker

“Pentagon confirms leaked photos and video of UFOs are legitimate …
Sue Gough, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, confirmed to CNN that images and footage of a blinking triangular object in the sky, along with other UAPs that were categorized as a ‘sphere’, ‘acorn’ and ‘metallic blimp’, were taken by navy personnel in 2019.”
The Guardian

Far, far away they wheel and veer,
The blimp, the acorn, and the sphere:
No other sights are noted but
The blimp and sphere and oak-tree nut.
They pop up, soaring, turning, too,
FO, AP, and truly U,
Without a hint of creak or limp:
Sphere, acorn, and metallic blimp.

Queen’s Mate

by Julia Griffin

“Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, dies aged 99”
The Guardian

A Queen of England ends her life alone.
High ceremony does its best to hide
The aging woman on the ageless throne.

Her deepest griefs can never be her own,
And yet, for all the public pomp and pride,
A Queen of England ends her life alone.

The only monarch most of us have known,
She plays her part, whatever loss betide
The aging woman on the ageless throne.

They grew together as old trees have grown,
The consort and the seven-decade bride:
A Queen of England ends her life alone.

We trust her now to mourn but not to moan;
We might behold too clearly, if she cried,
The aging woman on the ageless throne.

What do we make of her? Not flesh and bone;
And yet we sense how much of her has died,
This aged woman on her ageless throne.
A Queen of England ends her life alone.

The Old Man and the Legasea

by Alex Steelsmith

“We saw the poisonous, toxic nature of Hemingway’s self-created myth… racism, intolerable anti-Semitism, bad treatment of wives, a toxic environment for kids at times and unnecessary cruelty
to friends…”
—Ken Burns, on the new Burns/Novick documentary, Hemingway

Smashity bashity,
Ernest M. Hemingway
might be abashed if he
knew that we learned

all of his weaknesses
documentarily—
or would he Ernestly
feel he’d been Burned?

A Nuance of Muons

by Barbara Loots

“Tiny particles called muons aren’t quite doing what is expected of them in two different long-running
experiments in the United States and Europe. The confounding results—if proven right—reveal major
problems with the rulebook physicists use to describe and understand how the universe works at the
subatomic level.”

AP

Some misbehaving muons have the physicists concerned:
the Standard Model may not be the end of what we’ve learned.

Higgs boson made a power play to claim the name of God,
but muon doings indicate an outcome rather odd.

Humanity’s predicament may go from bad to worse:
the nuance of the muons could upend the universe.

The Eye of the Beholden

by Nora Jay

“Miss Papua New Guinea stripped of her crown for TikTok twerking video”
—The Guardian

“Mrs. Sri Lanka beauty pageant winner stripped of her new crown by previous year’s winner onstage …
[S]he claimed the rules disqualified the winning woman for being divorced.”
—Global News

This week, two queens were unendorsed
While global watchers raged, or smirked:
Sri Lanka’s belle was called “divorced”;
Miss Papua New Guinea twerked.

Concerned to make the wording fit,
The judges did their best, no doubt:
They told Madame Sri Lanka: “Split!”
They told Miss PNG: “Butt Out!”

Art in Seoul

by Julia Griffin

“SEOUL, South Korea—An art piece by an American graffiti artist showcased in South Korea was damaged by a couple in their 20s who thought the sets of paint and brushes laid in front of the artwork was for spectators’ use.”
ABC News

Yielding to the cans’ and brushes’
Almost audible entreaty,
Two Koreans, now all blushes,
Have graffitied the graffiti.

On a canvas which suggested
Spiders tramping in galoshes,
This young pair, now fallen-crested,
Placed their uninvited sploshes.

The results, though quite inventive,
They have charmed precisely none with.
Painters, make this your incentive:
Tidy up the paints you’re done with.

Discontentacle

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

“Australia: Geologist beaten up by ‘angriest octopus’ on beach”
BBC

Down under, he who underestimates
Invertebrate intelligence may learn
Shy octopuses’ antisocial traits
Can leave him nursing welts that sting and burn! …
Off beaches you should stay if you can’t read
No-Paparazzi signs in mollusk-speak:
To film a bashful octopus you need
Express permission, or you’ll rue each streak
Neurotic arms deposit on your skin
To warn you not to post your videos—
And if you do, its discontented kin
Come back for you next year to strike more blows! …
Lest suction-disk-on-tentacle red welts
Erupt again, don’t post your film … or else!

Railroaded

by Alex Steelsmith

“Xi Jinping… mourned for the compatriots killed Friday in a train derailment in Taiwan and sent his sincere condolences on Saturday to the families…”
China Daily

“The American military is warning that China is probably accelerating its timetable for capturing control of Taiwan, the island democracy…”
AP News

Tragedy strategy
President Xi Jinping,
offering sympathy,
doesn’t hold back,

though his ambition to
unsympathetically
crush their democracy’s
staying on track.