Friday, August 29, 2014

On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

When do we lose our innocence? At ten? Twenty? Never? 
Ask Billy Collins, America's Poet Laureate forever.
Poetry Friday is at Check It Out and the photo is me and a friend, age about six.

On Turning Ten

by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that it is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk thought the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

From THE ART OF DROWNING (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mark Twain indeed!


I enjoyed the Ken Burns biography of Mark Twain on PBS immensely, but didn't care much for his bio of Samuel Clemens. In any event here for POETRY FRIDAY is a Mark Twain poem, complements The Poetry Foundation. And I've thrown in a few Twain quotations, many of which he actually said. Quite a brain that fella Twain!
The Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

"I was born modest. But it didn't last.

To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.

Giving up smoking is easy. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

God's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.

Familiarity breeds contempt — and children."

All quotations verified by Wikiquotes and my Uncle Alex.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Blurb

First, I'd like to thank Becky of Becky's Books for giving my book Poem Depot a rave review on Goodreads. She LOVED LOVED LOVED the book and I love her for that. But now I turn my attention to THE BLURB. Over the years I have been asked to write many blurbs for people, but I must tell you, I don't enjoy it for quite often Blurbee writes God-awful stuff. In any event, although many seek blurbs, and many write blurbs, how many have written an ode to a blurb? None, I venture. Until now.

The Blurb

The blurb's a noun
and not a verb,
except for my
late Uncle Herb,
who loved to blurb,
and blurb,
and blurb.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dink's Song Poem

I love the lyrics of Dink's Song. From Wiki:  "Dink's Song" (sometimes known as "Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley. The song tells the story of a woman deserted by her lover when she needs him the most.
It was repopularized by the film Inside LLewyn Davis, but I like Dylan's best

Farethewell (Dink's Song)

If I had wings like Noah's dove
I'd fly the river to the one I love
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

I had a man, who was long and tall,
Moved his body like a cannon ball.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

'Member one evening, it was drizzling rain
And in my heart I felt an aching pain.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Once I wore my apron low,
Been a-keep' you away from my door.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Now my apron is up to my chin,
You pass my door but you never come in.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Muddy river runs muddy 'n' wild,
You can't care the bloody for my unborn child.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Number nine train ain' done no harm,
Number nine train take my poor baby home.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Fastest man I ever saw
Skid Missouri on the way to Arkansas.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Here's the link to the song:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seattle Sea Hawks

Early this Tuesday morning, while walking to my studio in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, I saw police had stopped all traffic on 9th Avenue? Why? A president? Prime minister? King? Justin Bieber? No. Six busloads of Seattle Seahawks rolled into town for Super Bowl 48. A poem ensued:
Seattle Sea Hawks
Police stopped all traffic, but why?
Six busloads of Seahawks rolled by.
     Their ultimate goal?
     The Great Superbowl,
But I thought that seahawks could fly!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sibert Medal for Parrots Over Puerto Rico!

Parrots Over Puerto Rico, written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth has WON the Sibert Medal!!! A splendid award for a splendid book!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Susan L. Roth's Parrots over Puerto Rico is my choice to win the Caldecott medal this year.
Color, shape, texture, expression, and history all weave a wondrous tale of the lovely island of Puerto Rico! Susan was recently featured in the amazing blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
I love all her books as she is the Queen of collage and a multicultural master.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Poem-Mobiles #3 Best Seller on Amazon's Poetry List

POEM-MOBILES,  my Car-laboration with J. Patrick Lewis, and illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, is now ranked #3 on Amazon Best Sellers in Children's Humorous Poetry list, sandwiched between four Shel Silverstein books. Vroom! Vroom!
The New York Times in a review said, "Lewis and Florian have written witty pithy poems that are funny too."
And Publishers Weekly in a starred review said, " It’s all but sure to have readers dreaming up their own wild contraptions for land, sea, sky, and space."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Poetry Friday.Actually it's Thursday, but by the time you read this it may be Friday.
Or Wednesday. Or Tuesday. But not Monday. Anyway,  
Here's a poem by the late and early Richard Brautigan entitled April 7, 1969.
click image to see bigger

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tree rings photograph by Nicholas Benner

Here's a poem by Raul Guiterrez sent from my old friend and artist Ahuta Markman

Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently

Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
Everyone knows at least one secret language.
When nobody is looking, I can fly.
We are all held together by invisible threads.
Books get lonely too.
Sadness can be eaten.
I will always be there.

Raul Gutierrez

Sherry has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Semicolon.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lost in Translation: As Long As Not!

Below is a BING English translation of a Facebook post in Chinese of my artist FB friend YanLi Lin. I changed  the line breaks (poetic license), and a few punctuations, but every word is verbatim. It must be read aloud with great gusto.
·         YanLi Lin


薪水22K 只要不是我 就沒關係 不用爭去
食物有毒 只要不是我吃到 就沒關係 睜隻險避隻眼
酒駕被撞的人 只要不是我 就沒關係 罵罵就好
這個小島的人 很好利用 很好騙 反正啥都沒關係 只要不是發生到自己身上
可惜 這個道的居民有孩子
他們的孩子 有可能會領22K 會吃有毒的食物 會被背酒駕撞到
不過 因為這是"沒關係小島" 應該沒關係吧See More

As Long As Not!

This world has a called
"has nothing of small island"
Small island?
Shang of people!
salary 22K
As long as not!
I on has nothing without race to food toxic
As long as not!
I eat to on has nothing
open only insurance avoidance
Only eye wine driving is hit of people
As long as not!
I on has nothing
called called
on good this small island of people
is good using
is good lie anyway
what are
Has nothing
As long as not!
Occurred to themselves
Body unfortunately
This road of residents
Has children
They of children
has may will led
Will eat toxic of food
Will is back
Wine driving hit.
But because this is
"has nothing small island"
Should has nothing!

Friday, June 14, 2013


                                          photo by Cartier Bresson
I've never been to Austin,
Boston, or Atlanta.
I've never been to Paris,
But rest assured I plan ta.

Poetry Friday at Reflections at the Teche

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Today is the birthday of the immortal Allen Ginsberg, born June 3, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey. Here on YOUTUBE you can watch and listen to him recite Father Death Blues while playing his harmonium. When asked, he said that this is the piece that he wanted to be remembered by. His father Louis Ginsberg was a published poet and high school teacher. His mother Naomi was delusional but inspired some of his greatest poems, such as HOWL.

Father Death Blues

Hey Father Death, I'm flying home
Hey poor man, you're all alone
Hey old daddy, I know where I'm going

Father Death, Don't cry any more
Mama's there, underneath the floor
Brother Death, please mind the store

Old Aunty Death Don't hide your bones
Old Uncle Death I hear your groans
O Sister Death how sweet your moans

O Children Deaths go breathe your breaths
Sobbing breasts'll ease your Deaths
Pain is gone, tears take the rest

Genius Death your art is done
Lover Death your body's gone
Father Death I'm coming home

Guru Death your words are true
Teacher Death I do thank you
For inspiring me to sing this Blues

Buddha Death, I wake with you
Dharma Death, your mind is new
Sangha Death, we'll work it through

Suffering is what was born
Ignorance made me forlorn
Tearful truths I cannot scorn

Father Breath once more farewell
Birth you gave was no thing ill
My heart is still, as time will tell. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Samuel Beckett reads from "Watt"

You can listen here to a rare recording of Beckett reading two poems from his novel Watt (see link below).

From the 4th addenda, later published as “Tailpiece” in Collected Poems, 1930-1978:

who may tell the tale
of the old man?

weigh absence in a scale?
mete want with a span?
the sum assess
of the world’s woes?
in words enclose?

From the 23rd addenda:

Watt will not
abate one jot
but of what
of the coming to
of the being at
of the going from
Knott’s habitat
of the long way
of the short stay
of the going back home
the way he had come
of the empty heart
of the empty hands
of the dim mind wayfaring
through barren lands
of a flame with dark winds
hedged about
going out
gone out
of the empty heart
of the empty hands
of the dark mind stumbling
through barren lands
that is of what
Watt will not
abate one jot

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Mirth Day

In honor of Earth Day, 2013, here is "Baobab" from Poetrees, art and poem copyright 2011 by Douglas Florian
Jug tree.
Hug tree.
Down tree.
Vat tree.
Fat tree.
Bottle tree.
Brown tree.
Double tree.
Bubble tree.
Girth tree.
Earth tree.

Friday, March 29, 2013

[in Just-] Just in time

By E. E. Cummings 1894–1962
in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan whistles

Friday, February 15, 2013



by Emily Brontë

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New York Public Library 100 Best Titles of the Year

The New York Public Library has selected Shiver Me Timbers for its 100 Best Titles of the Year Look under Poetry. Click on the arrrrrrt above to see it BIG.  Art Copyright 2012 by Robert Neubecker

Friday, November 23, 2012

Today on Black Friday /Poetry Friday I'm posting a Dorothy Parker poem. Parker, known for her dark sardonic wit, and lemon meringue pie, famously said, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

Comment  by Dorothy Parker

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong.
And I am Marie of Roumania

Friday, October 5, 2012

‘Early to bed’

Early to bed and early to rise:
If that would make me wealthy and wise
I’d rise at daybreak, cold or hot,
And go back to bed at once. Why not?

I had to awaken early today to fix the car.
Meanwhile the gracious Jama over at Jama's Alphabet Soup has me Shiver Me Timbers hoisted up the flagpole.
And Poetry Friday is hosted over at Laura Salas.
Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Shel Silverstein (with Johnny Cash)!

Shel Silverstein (link above) sings and upstages Johnny Cash on The Johnny Cash Show, with two  songs about fathers

Happy Birthday, Sheldon!