Poems of the Week

Contra-Conception

by Barbara Loots

“An Indian woman who gave birth to twin girls is believed to be
the oldest person to ever give birth after having the babies
at the age of 73.”—UPI

I’ve cuddled ’em, Auntied ’em
gifted and kissed ’em.
But birthed ’em? Not ever.
And I haven’t missed ’em.
In 2019, I’ll hit 73
with never a yearning,
and motherhood-free.
So Darwin et al
please accept my apologies:
the best of me’s left in
assorted anthologies.

Be Happy

by Julia Griffin

Last month in Texas, twenty-nine
Were shot, but Wayne LaPierre is fine.
To NOAA’s shock, the stormy weather
Missed Alabama altogether.
There’s H2O quite plastic-free
On planet K2-18B. …
Although some news may foster gloom
(The Irish Backstop, algae bloom),
If due attention is applied,
There always is a brighter side:
The Amazon is turning molten;
Still, Donald Trump has sacked John Bolton.

X-Rated

by Nora Jay

“A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. … The man, named as Xavier X, was working as an engineer for TSO, a railway services company based near Paris.
He died at a hotel during a trip to central France in 2013, as a result of what the employer called ‘an extramarital relationship with a perfect stranger’.
The company challenged a decision by the state health insurance provider to regard the death as a workplace accident.
The provider defended its position by insisting that sexual activity was normal, ‘like taking a shower or a meal’.
In its ruling, the Paris appeals court upheld this view.”
—BBC

An engineer named Xavier (known widely as XX)
Was finished by a heart-attack, confounding top execs;
He died upon a business trip, while busy (one might say);
And so his health insurers thought his company should pay.

The company objected (with regrets about his heart)
That in that piece of business his employers had no part;
“’Twas normal!” the insurers urged, “so compensation’s due;”
And France’s top judiciary upheld this point of view:

It was a workplace accident that claimed your employee:
He accidentally succumbed to life’s normality,
And workplace liability applies to normal dangers,
Like taking showers and eating meals and having sex with strangers.

Dating on the Web

by Ruth S. Baker

“‘Ding, dong, it’s time’: dancing tarantulas emerge in droves to mate in western US
—The Guardian

He shuffles, he shimmies, he kicks with each leg
To render true tribute, and also to beg:
For this is the season when arthropods all
Respond to the ardor of Venus’s call,
And every arachnid who thinks he’s a man
Must dance for the ladies and catch as catch can.
In truth, though, the female’s a cultureless lump.
She’ll yawn and chew flies at the artfulest jump,
As if to say “Really?” or even “Yeah, right.”
But if a staunch suitor can muster his might
And conquer her crudeness and absence of class,
He may be successful, and then—O alas …
How loathsome’s the lot of the gentleman spider:
To mate with a savage, and end up inside ’er.

Plethora

by Dan Campion

“Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs had power of 10 billion atomic bombs: study”
—New York Post

You probably could kill the dinosaurs
With just 9 billions’ worth of kilotons.
Our overzealous cosmos never bores:
So many frogs’ eggs, grains of sand, moons, suns—
A plethora of pistils, stamens, spores!
And wayward rocks routine as misplaced guns.

Pervigilead

by Nora Jay

“When I got my hands on a precious copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments a couple of days ago I was surprised by the almost physical hunger I felt to step back into Gilead.”
—The Guardian

Is there a balm in Gilead?
I doubt that that’s the goal:
Each little bleak and chilly ad
Shows balm’s gone far AWOL.

If you can preach like Margaret,
If you out-pray #MeToo,
You are this novel’s targ(r)et;
It’s written just for you:

Handmaids should not be frilly, add:
That’s not their rightful role;
Gloom is the game in Gilead.
Just ask a Hulu poll.

Backwatch

by Jerome Betts

“The spears in my back won’t be from you,
they’ll come from the Spartans.”
Boris Johnson to pro-EU Tories

Among those Spartans on the books,
Your fellow-chancers, Great Proroguer,
Beware of lean and hungry looks
And keep in mind that blood-stained toga.

Crêpe Sue-zette

by Ruth S. Baker

“A deliveryman in New York has been accused of stealing $90,000 worth of cake. David Lliviganay, an employee of Lady M Confections, is said to have smuggled 1,020 of their cakes out of their Long Island City warehouse … [There] was apparently a robust secondary black market for crêpes with little rabbits on them … according to a lawsuit filed by the company.”
—The Guardian

This week the reporters unite to condemn
An ex-employee of the firm Lady M,
Who pinched from it pastries in plenty—by plenty,
I mean, more precisely, 1,020.
A video camera saw him abscond
With mousses, millefeuilles, and crêpes à la ronde,
To name just a few of these wonderful cakes,
Now stamped with a bunny, to guard against fakes.
Who wouldn’t be tempted? These edibles reach
At market a total of 90 bucks each:
For such is their lusciousness, lightness, and lift,
They drive from the mind every notion of thrift.
If offered a Lady M crème, you should nab it:
They’re worth every penny, if just for the rabbit.

A Modena Tomb

by Julia Griffin

after Larkin

“The ‘Lovers of Modena’, a pair of skeletons so called because they were buried hand-in-hand, were both men, researchers have found.”
—The Guardian

Deep in Romagna, two have lain
Say experts, fifteen hundred years.
That’s not unique. What’s special here’s
A feature all can understand:
Though shrunk to bones, the two maintain
The pose of lovers, hand in hand.

They have no faces left to blur
Nor names, those sweethearts under ground;
But lately new research has found
Something surprising: up till then,
We had believed them him and her;
It now it appears they both were men.

So have we understood amiss?
We called it love, but should it be
Two soldiers’ camaraderie?
Were they two brothers? All the powers
Of science teach us only this:
What will survive of us is ours.