Poems of the Week

Wasp Waste

by Julia Griffin

“Scientists identify rain of molten iron on distant exoplanet
Conditions on Wasp-76b in Pisces include temperatures of 2,400C and 10,000mph winds”
The Guardian

The exoplanet Wasp in Pisces
Subsists despite unending crises:
It’s hard to keep an even keel
At near the melting-point of steel,
And even heroes’ hearts might cower
With winds 10,000 miles per hour.
The place can furthermore rely on
Incessant rain of molten iron.
All this might serve as a directive
To keep our problems in perspective.

The Dow of Don

by David Hedges

I feel I’m wedded to the Bride
Of Frankenstein. My honeymoon
Is like a roller-coaster ride,
A bruising bouncy-bounce inside
A runaway hot-air balloon

Inflated only by the steam
I vent at those who disagree
With how I’m running my regime,
Those Never Trumps of academe,
Those Faux News chumps who squeal with glee

And fill the mainstream air with lies,
Those double-dealing Democrats
Who demonize free enterprise
And block my hard-earned Nobel Prize—
Greta and her snot-nosed brats.

I send my flyboys off to battle
To let the world know I’m in charge.
I grind the bones of those who tattle;
There’s not a cage that I can’t rattle.
My hands and other things are large.

So here this virus comes by stealth
And puts my Wall Street claims in doubt.
I say to hell with public health,
I’m more concerned with private wealth.
Vlad’s not about to bail me out.

In fact, he’s driving down the price
Of crude oil right before I stand
For re-election. That’s not nice!
I can’t afford to roll the dice.
This thing is getting out of hand.

Contagious Conspiracy

by Chris O’Carroll

“… Mr Trump’s fears about the virus have led him to tell aides he is afraid journalists might try to contract coronavirus so they can infect him on Air Force One.”
—The Independent

The Democrats want millions dead,
According to his son.
He fears the press might settle for
(On Air Force One) just one.


by Ruth S. Baker

“[P]ig starts farm fire by excreting pedometer …
The North Yorkshire fire and rescue service said the fire was caused by ‘nature taking its course’
and copper from the pedometer battery reacting with dry hay and the pigpen’s contents.
The pedometer was being used to prove the animal was free range
and had been taken off one of its fellow pigs.
No animals were harmed as a result of the fire.” 
The Guardian

According to North Yorkshire’s rescue force,
The fire was caused when nature took its course:
Pedometers, it seems, light up like cigs
When defecated by unwary pigs.

Although the beast met no impediment
While voiding pedometric excrement,
It proved that ranging freely may be trouble,
And that pedometers are execrable.

The Canceled Tourist

by Gail White

I was dreaming of gelato.
“More sambuca!” was my motto.
Now, because of travel strictures
I’ve torn up my passport pictures—
Tiramisu, how I’ll miss you—
Italy’s shut down.

Deeply I deplore the menace
of a virus haunting Venice,
and the thought of shuttered Florence
fills me with a deep abhorrence.
Influenza stalks Pienza,
once my favorite town.

Every canceled Tuscan city
adds to my extreme self-pity,
as from Rome to Lampedusa
all the country is chiusa.*
Now I mope and have no hope.
I cannot cope
When Italy shuts down.


The Pandemic’s Progress

by Jerome Betts

“Disneyland has closed parks in
California, Florida and Paris.”
—The Guardian

Yes, Pluto’s not all there, poor mutt,
His wits, like Goofy’s, on the roam.
Old Bambi’s useless come the rut
While Snow White’s in a nursing home.

The mouse can hardly raise a squeak
And Donald D. is far from spry,
His apoplectic pride and pique
Long lost to Anno Domini.

The call is now “Self-isolate!
C-virus most endangers those
Surviving past their sell-by date”
So even Disney’s world must close.

The Convincer

by Dan Campion

“NBA Suspends Season Until Further Notice…”
Sports Illustrated

When nursing homes must be locked down
And schools are closed, and ports,
The markets tank, health experts frown,
The rich flock to resorts,

The nation blinks. When does it groan?
When illness hammers sports.
That’s when there’s woe on every phone:
No crowds can fill the courts,

And frantic fans must stay at home!
The land’s grabbed by the shorts.
The crisis hits each field and dome.
A bug is killing SPORTS!

The president must ask for calm
And bailouts of all sorts:
The nation needs the sovereign’s balm.
Alas, it lacks for sports.

For Corona at the Writers’ Conference

by Steve Taylor

For once the poetry feels dangerous.
The readers hesitate to handle it,
and if they pick it up, they feel a nervous
urge to wash, fearing what the words transmit.
For once all conversations have an edge
even ambitious groveling cannot dull.
No need for sucking up or trying to wedge
oneself into a more exclusive circle.
Behind our masks, we seem anonymous,
as if we now hate to be recognized,
and posturing becomes more obvious
when focused on each other’s shifty eyes.
You’ve made us more alert to eye rolls
and made us wish, for once, not to go viral.

Sealed Off

by Nora Jay

“Max von Sydow, star of The Seventh Seal …, dies aged 90 …
He also brought immense presence and gravity to roles such as Jesus Christ
in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), a doomed priest in William Friedkin’s
The Exorcist, and an intellectually snobbish artist in Woody Allen’s
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).”
—The Guardian

Let us this week remember Max von Sydow,
Who brought the gravity that fits a credo
To roles like Jesus Christ, an Exorcister,
And Hannah’s in-law-loving Sister’s Mister.
His game of chess with Death was gravely splendid.
This has identically now re-ended.

Farewell to the Dancing Marquess

by Julia Griffin

“A diamond tiara that once belonged to one of Britain’s most extravagant aristocrats
is up for sale on Saturday at a prestigious European art fair.
The Anglesey Tiara was at one time owned by Henry Cyril Paget—fifth Marquess of Anglesey.…
The fourth marquess left the 20-something Paget an estate worth £535,000—
equivalent to about £60m today. …

[He] became known as ‘The Dancing Marquess’ by the newspaper gossip sheets. …
[I]n the space of just over five years, [he] had blown the lot, been declared bankrupt,
and died from complications of tuberculosis in Monte Carlo.

He told a French journalist: ‘In six years, I have run through that fortune, just how—I could not tell you.’ …
He was just 29.”
—BBC News

He had a fleet of poodles;
His motors ran on scent;
Of jewels, he had oodles,
Draped over him like noodles.
Who knew how much he spent?

Not he. His self-aimed bounty
Might daily have financed
The budget of a county;
He let it mount and mount. He
Dropped diamonds as he danced.

Man spends, the bank disposes;
He crashed at twenty-nine,
And died (tuberculosis).
His kin came in with hoses,
Purell, and turpentine,

And set to work. Embittered?
They must have felt bereft;
They’d lost the wealth he’d frittered
On all that barked and glittered.
So no real trace is left;

But you who sense romance in
The shades of Anglesey
Might glimpse, if you should glance in,
The twinkle of a dance in
A marquessal marquee.