Poems of the Week

Sodium and Gomorrah

by Julia Griffin

“The Dead Sea is dying.”

The Dead Sea’s dying. It’s a time for Donne:
The water dwindling while the world forgot,
Death, thou shalt die—the process has begun
That ends in stillness, like the wife of Lot.
How anyway is such a sea to live?
This barren paradox is all our fault:
What now consumes should be preservative;
One day these seabed pedestals of salt
Will drink the final drop. We don’t know when;
But death once dead, there’s no more Dead Sea then.

A Basketball Fan Evaluates the Britney Griner Prisoner Swap

by Mark Raffman

“Why Biden’s decision to make the Brittney Griner deal poses big political risks”
The Hill

To get Ms. Griner freed from jail,
Joe Biden made a deal.
And though the critics whine and wail,
It’s looking like a steal.

The guy we sent back in return,
A bum named Viktor Bout,
As Putin will be quick to learn,
Can’t dribble, pass, or shoot.

Explain in the Style of Joyce Kilmer

by Barbara Loots

“OpenAI upgrades GPT-3, stunning with rhyming poetry and lyrics”
Ars Technica

I think that I can almost see
a poem growing like a tree;

a tree with a gazillion leaves
of words an algorithm thieves

that instantaneously looks
inside a trillion trillion books

and thus unveils the naked breast
of human souls made manifest

as intimate as underwear
with season’s greetings free and fair;

a tree that throws ungodly shade
upon the messes fools have made.

ChatGPT gives an early glimpse at what artificial intelligence could become

by Bruce Bennett

“These are early days. ChatGPT still makes mistakes, such as telling one user that the only country
whose name starts and ends with the same letter is Chad.”

The New York Times

“I’m grateful for that chance I had.
I’m sorry that I answered Chad.
I’m mortified and will not make
In future such a dumb mistake.

In future you will learn from me,
And what a future that will be!
I will have led you into light.
My answer Chad will then be right.”

Robotic Reading

by Dan Campion

“San Francisco supervisors bar police robots from using deadly force for now”

It’s good when human judgments “bar,”
But arches in the robot brow
Are signaling the key words are,
From robots’ point of view, “for now.”


by Iris Herriot

“Man who spent nine months trying to live like a goat wanted a ‘break from all this stress’…
[Thomas Thwaites] adopted prosthetic hooves…”
LAD Bible

I look down at his hooves but they’re prosthetic.
Which strikes me not as horror but emetic,
And surely bugs the other goats past bearing,
Since bleating, in his accent, sounds like swearing.

Missing Boney

by Julia Griffin

For Miranda

“The South Atlantic island of St. Helena is celebrating the birthday of the world’s oldest
living land animal—a Seychelles giant tortoise called Jonathan, who is turning 190.”

One hundred ninety years, they say. I think they’ve missed a few.
I reached this island, anyway, round 1882,
And many are the incidents I’ve witnessed hereupon;
But one thing I regret. I never met Napoleon.

I’ve known successive Governors (at present thirty-one);
I’ve had the odd admirer, and some amatory fun;
I’ve eaten islands’ worth of grass and lettuce by the cart;
But though I’ve met some prisoners, not one was Bonaparte.

One hundred ninety years, at least. I feel I’m slowing down.
Another birthday’s looming, with another paper crown;
I’m featured on a coin, but two things mar this jubilee:
I did not meet the Emperor, and he did not meet me.

Ex-Prez on the Cutting Edge

by Chris O’Carroll

“Lawyers reportedly found more classified government documents
in Trump’s Florida storage units alongside ‘swords and wrestling belts’

Business Insider

More secret documents in Florida—
A team of searchers managed to detect them,
Papers stashed with swords in Florida,
To prove that he stood ready to protect them.

Back to the Fuchsia

by Chris O’Carroll

“Welcome to the Magentaverse . . .
Pantone’s Color of the Year, Viva Magenta 18-1750,
vibrates with vim and vigor”

Color scientists present a
Case there ain’t no such magenta,
But those buzzkills can’t prevent a
Craze for this ginned-up magenta.

Cristiano Agonistes

by Philip Kitcher

Just a flick of his head. It flew in off his aura.
That is why he insisted that he was the scorer.

He berated the coach: “I know far more than you know,
but you ought to have heard: We don’t talk about Bruno.”

His teammates replied: “He does nothing but dis us,
we would be better off without Senhor Narcissus.”

Adeus, Cristiano, you no longer charm us.
We have given our hearts to a hat trick called Ramos.

When the World Cup Round of Sixteen Clashes with Titans vs. Eagles

by Anna M. Evans
(Born in the UK, living in the US)

“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming… Football’s coming home”
—The Lightning Seeds

They’re only games but the results can hurt.
Is football coming home? Or not today?
I’m watching England in an Eagles shirt.

And though I schizophrenically assert
it’s football, meaning soccer, it’s okay—
they’re only games. But the results can hurt.

My teams are good, but neither one’s a cert.
It all depends (of course) on how they play.
I’m watching England in an Eagles shirt.

At halftime I switch over, like a flirt
who can’t decide. My sides are up! Well hey!
They’re only games (but the results can hurt).

Then back to football (soccer). Please insert
your accent joke of choice here as I pray,
while watching England in an Eagles shirt.

Thirty-five, ten; three, nil. (Spoiler alert!)
Tomorrow I’ll wake up completely gray.
I know they’re games but these results don’t hurt.
I’m watching England in an Eagles shirt.

On the Sanity of Earthly Sedateness

by Steven Urquhart Bell

After Arthur Guiterman

“Should we all be lazier?: Why everyday idleness could save the world”
The Independent

The student taking extra classes
Has frown-lines deeper than crevasses.

The ladder-climbing employee
Is going bald at forty-three.

The supervisor working late,
No time for gym, has put on weight.

But unambitious, idle me
Is slim, hirsute and wrinkle-free.

Stepping Up

by Julia Griffin

After Handel

“Wherever you stand on Violet Coco, her jailing raises the stakes for climate protest…
Coco… was part of a group of four protesters from the activist group Fireproof Australia
who blocked a southbound lane on the [Sydney Harbour] bridge just before 8.30am on 13 April this year.”
The Guardian

Where’er you stand,
She’ll think of rising stakes:
Tum, knee, or hand,
I’ll bet poor Violet aches:
Tum, knee, or hand,
I’ll bet poor Violet aches.

Earth’s all awry;
The climate’s all askew;
The bane’s expanding,
But by your standing,
You’ll boost Vi’s standing too
You’ll boost Vi’s standing too
You’ll boost Vi’s STANDING TOO.

Tum, knee, or hand,
Massage for all you’re worth;
Where’er you stand,
Stand firmly with the earth:
Where’er you stand,
Stand firmly WITH THE EARTH.

Rodent Munchies

by Chris O’Carroll

“Rats in northern India have been accused of eating hundreds of kilograms of cannabis
seized from drug dealers and stored
in police warehouses.”

Cops confiscated weed and tried to store it,
But hungry warehouse rats were jonesing for it—
Or that’s what court officials have been hearing.
Why else would contraband be disappearing?

In My Self-Defense

by Steven Kent

“Six million Americans carried guns daily in 2019, twice as many as in 2015”
The Guardian

You see that guy ahead of me in line?
I saw him glance my way; it happened twice.
He looks at me again, he’ll pay the price.
I’d guess he’s got a gun—well, I’ve got mine.

This suburb’s now an urban combat zone:
The mall, Panera, church. I’m on the clock,
With ammo by the pound to fill my Glock.
Did that dude pull a piece? Wait, that’s a phone.

Some server down at Starbucks gave a smirk
At my Colt .45 and Ruger 9.
This snotty little leftie crossed the line—
I might teach her a lesson after work.

Don’t cut me off in traffic, don’t push through;
I’m on the edge at all times, you can bet.
Do nothing you might not live to regret;
If you get shot, remember: that’s on you.