Robert Schechter—Featured Poet


Love Poem

It’s lucky Shakespeare never knew
a lovely woman quite like you,
since even he, the Avon Bard,
might well have found the task too hard
of mining with his magic pen
the spell you cast on mortal men,
and failing thus, he might have lost
the will to write, which could have cost
the world his Hamlet or his Lear.
I’m glad he didn’t know you, dear.

It’s lucky that Bob Dylan met
Miss Joan Baez, not you, my pet,
who gave him shelter from the storm
but never truly kept him warm,
or else the answer might have blown
not in the wind, but you alone,
and he’d have made a duller rhyme,
“You did not waste my precious time,”
and all his songs would burst with cheer.
I’m glad he didn’t know you, dear.

It’s lucky that the road Frost took
did not afford him one good look
at you, or he’d have quit his pen
and joined the ranks of rhymeless men
who all their lives would never know
the urge to lie down in the snow
or what it’s like to pick and pick
so many apples you grow sick.
You could have ruined a great career.
I’m glad he didn’t know you, dear.

Oh no! I truly think it’s best
that you met me, and not the rest,
since I have nothing on my plate
your beauty would adulterate,
and if it’s me, my love, you choose,
the world has nothing much to lose.
So for the sake of timeless art,
won’t you let me in your heart?
From worthy souls, you should stay clear.
I’m glad they do not know you, dear. 

My Grandmother the Actress

Of the two famous playwrights
who charmed and beguiled her,
Oscar was Wilde
but Thornton was Wilder.

Why Did I Laugh?

(First line by Keats)

Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell.
The coffee I was drinking came back up
And journeyed through my nostrils till it fell
Miraculously back into its cup,
And though my nasal passages were scarred
The silliness of how the coffee spewed
Induced more laughter, only twice as hard.
I never laughed with such great magnitude!

What started this? I can’t recall the joke.
Did it involve a priest? A duck? A fly?
I only know it almost made me choke.
But if I should remember by and by,
I fondly hope that it won’t happen when
I’m drinking coffee from my cup again.

L to Pay

I gave my cash to M through Z,
my checks to A through K,
and now, though I have nothing left,
I still have L to pay.

Elegy for Ferdinand A. Porsche

When Porsche first designed his car, he cleverly employed
The insights he had garnered from the works of Sigmund Freud.
A car, as Porsche understood, was outwardly metallic,
But in the heart of man it was organic flesh, and phallic.
And so he built it long and strong, he built it fast and loud,
To make the rich unmanly man feel powerfully endowed.
Though Freud had said that now and then cigars are just cigars,
Ferdinand, the businessman, knew cars are not just cars.

Thank-You Note

“Thanks for the gift. It didn’t fit.
It had a hole and smelled like shit.
It made me sneeze. It’s poorly made,
a waste of every cent you paid,
unworthy of its box and wrap,
the ultimate in flimsy crap,
and yet I prize it like no other
gift I’ve gotten.
Your Mother.”

Archaic Torso of Barbie

(with apologies to Rilke)

We cannot know the famous plastic face
in which her eyes once swivelled. Still we find
her headless body’s not exactly blind
but seems to peek out from the flimsy lace

in which some girl once dressed her. It’s a fact.
Or else her bosom’s bump would have no charm
and you would not harrumph with such alarm
to see the parts her nether regions lacked.

Or else you would not find it so aesthetic
to contemplate what plainly is synthetic
as if it were a creature that is real,

with all a living creature’s woes and joys.
Or else you would not see her sex appeal.
She’s winking at you. You must change your toys.

The Crossing

(with apologies to Roethke)

I cross the street, and try not to be slow.
I am a chicken with a chicken’s fear.
The farmer ate my mother. Time to go.

We live by running. What is there to know?
They seized my mom and cut her ear to ear.
I cross the street, and try not to be slow.

Of those who guard the hen¬house, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall run swiftly there.
The farmer ate my mother. Time to go.

We yearn to flee; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm and I make quite a pair.
I cross the street, and try not to be slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; but slaughter is not fair.
The farmer ate my mother. Time to go.

This running makes me nervous. I should know.
What roasts my skin is always. And is near.
I cross the street, and try not to be slow.
The farmer ate my mother. Time to go.


Because I could not stop for Gas —
My empty Tank stopped me —
The lane was blocked and people cursed —
Me in my SUV.

I could not drive — despite my haste
And people honked at me
And called me “schmuck” and other words
Of Incivility —

Since then — it feels like Centuries —
I’ve sat here in my car.
Next time I will top off my tank,
Though I’m not going far —


Maybe it’s your voice?
It sounds like squeaky chalk.
When we’re together, all I ask
is that you never talk.

Maybe it’s your nose?
The way you sometimes scrunch it
always makes me stop and think
how much I’d love to punch it.

Maybe it’s your laugh?
I swear I’d pay good money
if I could live inside a world
where nothing struck you funny.

I can’t pinpoint the reason.
There’s something, though, about you
that bothers me and makes me long
to live my life without you.

“Thank-You Note” first appeared, in slightly different form, in Alabama Literary Review; “My Grandmother the Actress” and “L to Pay” in a print edition of Light (Light Quarterly); “Archaic Torso of Barbie” in Measure, after winning the 2016 X.J. Kennedy Parody Award; “Irritation” in The Oldie; “Why Did I Laugh” in The Spectator; “The Crossing” in Villanelles (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series); and “Elegy for Ferdinand A. Porsche” in The Washington Post’s Style Invitational.

Robert Schechter‘s poetry for children has appeared in Highlights, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, The Caterpillar, and numerous anthologies. He also writes adult light verse and translations of poetry from Spanish and other languages.