Poems of the Week

The Oyster Through the Looking Glass

by Julia Griffin

For Jack, the Walrus Muse, with apologies to Lewis Carroll

“[M]eet Jill, Australia’s heaviest oyster… [which] now weighs more than 3kg and is about to enter the record books.”
The Guardian

The Walrus and the Carpenter,
Renowned for charm and skill,
Were luring guileless oysters out
With great success until
They found themselves encountering
A giant known as Jill.

“O mammals!” said this prodigy,
“How nice to see you here!
How healthy, large, and fresh you look!
My children, push me near—
I have, like many of our kind,
Myopia, I fear.”

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Stood frozen, side by side,
Renouncing silently a plan
They wished they’d never tried.
And saw too late that massive shell
Gape very, very wide …

“O Walrus!” grinned the oysterbed,
“O Carpenter! come, come:
Where are your bread and butter now?
Your vinegar? What, dumb?”
And all the answer was a belch
And deep, molluscan “Yum!”

Driven to Cheat

(a quadruple dactyl*)

by Alex Steelsmith

“[A] dummy passenger… earned several citations for a carpool lane driver… [An officer] discovered
something unusual about the sole passenger. ‘The [plastic] goatee was sharp… just a little too sharp.’”


Higgledy-piggledy, jiggery-pokery,
someone who drove with a counterfeit passenger
gave the legitimate, principled drivers who
honestly carpool a reason to carp.

Reading the story, we notice a curious
semi-ironical interrelationship;
though the duplicitous driver undoubtedly
looked like a dummy, the dummy looked sharp.

* For more on this new verse form and other variations on the double dactyl, click here.

Kilty As Charged

by Stephen Gold

“Woman ‘defrauded US company to buy Scottish kilt and gift cards’.”
The Times

She took the cash, then made a dash
For Scotland’s chilly clime
(Allegedly, although her plea
Is there has been no crime).

The moral’s clear, so listen here:
When thievery’s asserted,
Don’t don the kilt, it may prove guilt—
Our laws must not be skirted.


by Steven Kent

“Rishi Sunak to face pressure to shift right after disastrous election results”
The Guardian

(To the tune of Toni Basil’s “Mickey“)

Oh Rishi, you’re so fine,
You’re so fine—now toe the line.
Hey Rishi! Hey Rishi! (Repeat)

You think you run the show, you live at Number 10—
We tell you what to do, we tell you where and when,
And if you mess around we’ll fill your seat again, Rishi.

See, hopefuls come and go, and we don’t really care;
In Commons, on the street–we find ’em everywhere.
An empty suit like you is easy to prepare, Rishi.

Oh Rishi, better do our bidding, can’t you see,
Or wind up like Teresa May, a bitter old MP.
Show independence, and we’ll quickly set you free—
We want you, Rishi,
Oh yes it’s true, Rishi, true, Rishi—
We’re watching you, Rishi!

Election’s dead ahead—just call it, Rishi, please.
The Party isn’t well; we’re down upon on our knees,
But we believe the cure is more of the disease, Rishi.

So can you be a man? And can you make a fuss?
We’ve got a pair of traits that matter most to us:
A heart of ice and balls like Braverman or Truss, Rishi.

Oh Rishi, understand we want you in this fight–
As Labour goes to celebrate a very winning night,
You’re gonna drag the Tories further to the Right.
We need you Rishi,
You know it’s true, Rishi, true, Rishi—
Will you come through, Rishi?

Oh Rishi, you’re so fine,
You’re so fine, but stay in line,
Hey Rishi! Hey Rishi! (Repeat)

Pier Pressure

by Ruth S. Baker

“More than 1,000 sea lions have gathered at San Francisco’s Pier 39 this spring, the largest herd in at least 15 years. …
displaying themselves to the thousands of tourists who pass by the area each day.”

The Guardian

Across that luckiest of piers
Sea lions lie in stacks,
With tails on tails and snouts in ears,
And abdomens on backs.

Or, if we’re simply counting heads,
There’s tourists by the ton,
Outnumbering those pinnipeds
By more than two to one.

Eye Rhyme

by Steven Urquhart Bell

“Doctor explains how your eyes can hold clues to your overall health”
The Independent

I show you blow-up pictures from a menu,
And if your peepers instantly go wide
At fish and chips or fries and quarter-pounders,
I might conclude that time’s not on your side.

The Sword and the Mirror

by Eddie Aderne

“[I]n late 2022, a giant iron sword and a bronze mirror were unearthed from [the Tomio Maruyama burial mound
in the city of Nara] which date back to the late fourth century. … The discovery has raised questions among
archeologists. The sword, at more than 2 meters, is too long to be used as a weapon, so why was it made? And why
is the mirror shaped [uniquely] like a shield? Perhaps most importantly, who are the two people interred at the site?
The Japan Times

Can bodily pride be shielded and stored
In a mirror of old Japan?
Can courage be put in an iron sword
Exceeding the length of a man?

Who lay so long in the burial mound
Where the sword and the mirror lie?
Two mighty ministers, far renowned?
A lord and his samurai?

Or was it a single man, in state,
With a sword no other could wield,
And a single woman, his match, his mate,
With a mirror the shape of a shield?

Never Say Dye

by Simon MacCulloch

“Is it time to ban gender reveal parties? The death of a pigeon recently forced the RSPCA
to warn parents-to-be to stop dying [sic] birds pink”


A leap in human wisdom’s sum!
We’ve learnt that dyeing birds is dumb.
Be bold, and dare to hope as well
That headline writers learn to spell.

Pride of the Academy

by Julia Griffin

For Maria; without permission

“Researchers this week claimed to have found the final resting place of [Plato], a patch in the garden
of his Athens Academy, after scanning [with broadband infrared light] an ancient papyrus scroll
from the library of a Herculaneum villa that was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.”
The Guardian

We’ve traced him, then: close to the Muses’ shrine,
Inside a private garden—with his friends,
But not quite of them. A recovered line
From a long-scorched papyrus scroll extends
Our knowledge: it’s a method (Plato’s word)
None of those Old Academicians could
Have dreamed. With nothing to be disinterred,
This can’t affect him now, for bad or good.
Here once his pupils mourned: Demetrius,
Erastus, Aristotle, the cross-dressed
Axiotheia; did they weep and fuss?
Or did they, following his old behest,
Focus their minds on vital matters—not
The body but beyond: *Then what? Then what ..?*

A Huge Suckcess

by Alex Steelsmith

“The ‘world’s largest’ vacuum to suck climate pollution out of the air just opened… a technology designed to…
strip out the carbon using chemicals [and] transport the carbon underground where it will be
naturally transformed… [in a] sequestration process.”


Merrily, merrily,
modern technology
comes to the rescue like
never before,

thanks to a supersized
vacuum that nature will
never abhor.


by Steven Kent

“[National Enquirer Publisher] David Pecker… wrapped up his testimony on Friday afternoon after cross-
examination by Trump’s legal team. … Pecker said he had agreed to help Trump keep bad stories out of the news. …
He said explicitly, and repeatedly, that he had been doing so to help Trump’s election chances.”

The Guardian

Though Trump tries to stay in a bubble,
His woes in the world seem to double:
The judge is quite sore,
And it’s clear that once more
Donald’s Pecker has got him in trouble.

Bad Sign

by Marshall Begel

“Tom Brady accused of ruining collectibles with shoddy autograph…”
USA Today

We’ve come, Mr. Brady, enamored and humble.
But frankly, you’ve given us cause to call, “Fumble!”

Behind every scrimmage, we fans had your back—
We’d curse any ref who permitted a sack.
Each Super Bowl win made us proud and elated.
We never suspected those balls were deflated.
Though Patriot boosters for twenty-odd years,
We rooted (discreetly) for your Buccaneers.

The fans have delivered you stature and fame—
The least you could do is to WRITE YOUR DAMN NAME!