Poems of the Week

The Ballad of Wally the Walrus

by Julia Griffin

“Life coach sent in to calm Wally wars on Scilly isles …
Lizzi Larbalestier specialises in helping her clients develop ‘compassion for yourselves,
others and the planet’ … [She] was flown in … to keep the peace between Wally the Walrus
and some rather irate boatmen
The Sunday Times

“Pontoon built to help Wally the walrus rest”
BBC News

For Jack, with apologies to Cab Calloway

Folks, here’s a story ’bout Wally the Walrus:
He had a face quite dour and dol’rous;
He was a rubbery, blubbery male,
And he crashed on boats with the weight of a whale.

Ho-dee ho-dee ho
Ho-dee ho-dee ho
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi
Hey-dee hey
Hey-dee hey
Whoah
Whoah

He messed around near the Isles of Scilly
(It felt like home though not so chilly):
He boarded all the boats he found
’Cause he just loved throwing his weight around.

Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi [etc.]

Soon the boatmen, turning testier,
Called a lady called Larbalestier,
An arbitrator who taught compassion,
To stop poor Wal from fish-boat-crashin’.

Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi [etc.]

She didn’t offer him gold or palaces,
She didn’t bother with psychoanalysis,
She gave that walrus his own pontoon,
Which saved his hide from a sharp harpoon.

Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi [etc.]

The Great Masters 2.0

by Steven Kent

“‘We Don’t Need Another Michelangelo’: In Italy, It’s Robots’ Turn to Sculpt”
The New York Times

Take note, young sculptors, Venice to Milan—
Your genius and your skill are no more needed,
For these machines work harder than you can
And don’t complain when they get superseded.

They may not have a vision, style, or grace
Or any other trait that art requires,
But we can fit a dozen in one space
And run them round the clock—how this inspires!

And who’s to say a hundred years from now
(For those of us who might be down-the-roaders)
That we’ll recall what art was anyhow—
By that point all the “artists” will be coders.

Spalacious

by Iris Herriot

“Billionaires fight over what is actual outer space”
CNBC

“Actual outer space”? Here’s NASA, Jeff:
Where rich men scream and everyone is deaf.

Ad Astra, Add Alpha

by Alex Steelsmith

“Billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group… became the first person to reach space using his own ship in this historical space race, beating Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.”
Fossbytes

“Sic itur ad astra.” (“Thus one journeys to the stars.”)
—Virgil, the Aeneid, book IX

Whammily bammily
Branson the billionaire
had to be first, as he’ll
surely explain:

“Riding my rocket felt
predestinational;
sorry, boys—space is a
Virgin domain.”

All Cut Up

by Nora Jay

“Ritz leaves internet ‘speechless’ after explaining reason behind cracker shape”
Fox News

The toothsome crackers known as Ritz
Are shaped for slicing cheese to bits,
Or so the Web has just divulged.
The eyes of countless foodies bulged
With shock and serious distress:
A trait ascribed to prettiness
Was really a serrated tease
Designed for brutalizing cheese!
Though some might groan and others screech,
The Internet was robbed of speech,
Which, little though this tale befits,
Should win some amnesty for Ritz.

Seafood with Whine

by David Southward

“I’m sorry, we’re out of the crab,”
our waiter is quick to explain.
With fishermen stranded by Covid,
crustaceans are hard to obtain—

and restaurants chafe at the pinch
of an irony taken too far:
now that their dishes aren’t crabby,
the diners who order them are!

The God Revealed

by Julia Griffin

“‘Neptune’ appears in the waves during storm in Newhaven”
BBC News

Neptune himself appearing in the storm?
Few ever hoped for it—the god ascending,
Divine locks pluming out, a spectral swarm,
His whole head thrusting upwards, daylight bending
Around the wild white undulating form,
Through grief, some say, at never comprehending
A god’s gift, always soaring, always ending.

Your Future King

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

“Prince Charles says cheap food and industrial farming are ruining the planet”
The Washington Post

Your future king is on the radio,
Objecting to cheap monoculture fare:
Unless you eat organic food, there’s no
Redemption for the planet we all share—
Forget that I own more of it than you! …
Unfettered large-scale farming industry
Tears down the web of rural life I knew,
Upsetting nature’s ways. The heart will be
Ripped out of Britain’s countryside if your
Eccentric-farmer types go out of biz,
Knee-deep in what makes agriculture pure …
I‘ve waited eons to succeed mum Liz—
Now I’m concerned that if Big Ag ordain,
Great Britain won’t be worth the wait to reign!

Keeping a Breast of Gillian Anderson

by Paul Lander

“Gillian Anderson says she’s had it with bras…”
CNN

Gillian, go braless?
True, no bra ever again.
So, Triple X Files?

Named Days

by Bruce Bennett

“Need an excuse to give your family a little extra
love? Well, mark your calendars and celebrate
National Gorgeous Grandma Day, National
Cousins Day, National Aunt and Uncle Day,
and National Parents’ Day over the next week!”
—from National Today, the internet’s #1
authority on holidays

Hey, Gorgeous Grandma, here’s your day.
Hey, Cousin, here’s yours too.
Just climb aboard! We’ll find a way
to name a day for you!

What’s that? You think it’s all a con?
You claim it’s just a ploy?
What kind of downer are you on?
Why turn your back on joy?

Why miss the chance to celebrate
what everyone can share?
You pick the time. You pick the date.
So what if no one’s there?

Go on. Express your spite, your doubt,
your anti-social dudgeon.
But know. We have your day picked out.
The Day of the Curmudgeon.

O Fortuna di Mario

by Dan Campion

“Mamma Mia! Super Mario 64 Is The First Video Game To Sell For More Than $1 Million”
NPR

A one point five-six million bid,
A record in the trade,
Has snagged a game with pristine lid
That never will be played,

Or if it is, whose value will
Plumb Mario’s domain:
Swirl round its droll collectible,
Then spiral down the drain.

From the Particular to the General

By Alex Steelsmith

“Workers remove the monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville…”

Charlottesville monuments also include The Aviator statue commemorating a World War I hero,
the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, and others.

Bronzily gonzily
Charlottesville monuments
needn’t all vanish, as
some may still be

scandal-impervious—
speaking, that is, of a
certain few only, not
generallee.

Une Exagération

by Eddie Aderne

“Five years ago, Jeanne Pouchain was declared dead by a French court. …
Pouchain has spent more than three and a half years engaged in an existential battle to prove
to the French authorities … that she is very much alive.”
The Guardian

The final judgement of the court
Declares Madame Pouchain is morte;
An unexceptionable lot
If it were true, but it is not.
For three long years she’s vainly tried
To demonstrate she has not died:
This claim cannot be reconciled
With forms and papers signed and filed.
Like anybody not alive,
She cannot travel, work, or drive,
And people who do not exist
Are stricken from the pension list.
Thus Madame P., like Joseph K.
Throughout The Trial (or Le Procès),
Is dwelling in un vrai cauchemar,
With compensations few and far;
The case is irksome to the max.
Though death, it’s true, remits all tax,
And with no carte d’identité,
She lacks, besides, the means to pay,
Yet still the brave Madame Pouchain
Indominably fights her coin;
There’s really little to be said
For being animately dead.

A Tale of Two Drugs

by Chris O’Carroll

“Michael Andrew, an Olympic gold medal favorite, says he won’t be vaccinated for Tokyo”
Yahoo News

“Sha’Carri Richardson will miss Tokyo Olympics in wake of suspension over marijuana test”
Independent

The swimmer bound for Tokyo
Says, “No vaccine for me.”
The runner didn’t make the team
Because of THC.

While I would share Sha’Carri’s weed
With equanimity,
I think I’d rather not inhale
In Mike’s vicinity.

The High Cost of Being Late

by Alex Steelsmith

According to a July 2 AP report, “A Massachusetts man has returned long overdue books
that were checked out in the 1920s and 1930s to the Somerville Public Library…
(He) will not be charged late fees as the library stopped charging the fees as of July 1.”

Higgledy-priggledy,
Somerville Library
stood to make thousands in
late fees, but wait—

thanks to their very own
library-mandated
edict, they found they were
one day too late.