Amateur Poet

by Robert W Service

You see that sheaf of slender books
Upon the topmost shelf,
At which no browser ever looks,
Because they’re by . . . myself;
They’re neatly bound in navy blue,
But no one ever heeds;
Their print is clear and candid too,
Yet no one ever reads.

Poor wistful books! How much they cost
To me in time and gold!
I count them now as labour lost,
For none I ever sold;
No copy could I give away,
For all my friends would shrink,
And look at me as if to say:
“What waste of printer’s ink!”

And as I gaze at them on high,
Although my eyes are sad,
I cannot help but breathe a sigh
To think what joy I had –
What ecstasy as I would seek
To make my rhyme come right,
And find at last the phrase unique
Flash fulgent in my sight.

Maybe that rapture was my gain
Far more than cheap success;
So I’ll forget my striving vain,
And blot out bitterness.
Oh records of my radiant youth,
No broken heart I’ll rue,
For all my best of love and truth
Is there, alive in you

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Oh, how wonderful that we now have the internet
where we can share our poems with the world
and it doesn’t cost us a mint!

Diners on My Driveway

Mourning doves, prim and proper,
strut along, poke among the pebbles
for windblown seeds.
Their muffled cooing
mellows the morning air
while a jaunty flicker nearby
jack-hammers ant homes.

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May Doings at Our Place

The tree swallows have been back for several weeks and are busy building their nests now. One pair has found our bathroom exhaust fan vent to their liking again so we’re hearing tiny scratching noises in the cavity. A few mourning doves have returned and I think I’ve seen some wrens in the last couple of days, as well as different warblers and the first goldfinches.

A couple of days ago a small flock of thrushes landed in our yard and have been foraging in our garden and on the driveway ever since. There are three kinds of thrush that come through here: hermit thrush; Swainson’s  thrush; gray-cheeked thrush. These are either Hermit thrush or Swainson’s, but it’s pretty hard to tell from pics in bird books.

They are still scattered around the yard this morning. Such cute birds with their pudgy white tummies, speckled at the throats, white eye rings. They won’t stay around; their nesting grounds are in the pine forests farther north, but I enjoy seeing them passing through every spring and fall.

A United Defense

Blackbirds sound the alarm
warn the neighbors of a robbing
raven who dares drift over, checking
menu offerings in the nests.

Two, three, four parents rally
to the defense, dive-bomb the foe.
No slackers here; from every field
they rise to the cry, on guard
for home and fledglings dear.

The fighter jet swallows soar
into attack mode; even a passing seagull
joins the effort. All together, resistant,
insistent, they chase the marauding foe.

I watched, amazed. What teamwork!
We should be so smart.

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Word Press daily prompt: Collaboration

The Family That Sings Together

Real Singing

by Edgar Guest

You can talk about your music and your operatic airs
and your phonographic record that Caruso’s tenor bears,
but there isn’t any music that such wondrous joy can bring
like the concert when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.

When the suppertime is over and the mother starts to play
some simple little ditty, and our concert’s under way
and I’m happier and richer than some millionaire or king
when I listen to the kiddies and their mother as they sing.

There’s a sweetness most appealing in the trilling of their notes;
it is innocence that’s pouring from their little baby throats,
and I gaze at them enraptured for my joy’s a real thing
every evening when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.

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From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

The Poet in the Park

I posted this story when the Daily Post writing challenge was to write about any topic, but your post must include a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel. And today’s prompt word is pursue, so here’s the tale of a poet pursuing the perfect verse.

I wander through the park on this beautiful morning, making my way to one of my favorite places in the whole world. Oh, good! My favorite bench is free. I like this one where I’m sheltered by the maples overhead. After all, the sun’s rays aren’t good for a person, so we’re told, and at my age I have to be careful.

I set my sunhat on the bench beside me and rummage through my handbag for my pen and notebook. I’m a poet, so I always carry a notebook. I relax and breathe in the inspiration around me. This agreeable spot, surrounded by the plush lawn, is so conducive to the task at hand. I need to write a poem for my blog — so why not do one about this beautiful day.

At the top of the first blank page I write, Ode to a Summer’s Day.

Scratch that. Sounds too cliché. Maybe I should rather start with something like, “I wandered lonely through the park…” I’m not really lonely, though. In fact I’m quite happy to be alone, pursuing my muse.

I hear a rustle, glance down and see a mouse poke its nose out from under a bush. “Wee tim’rous beastie,” I quote. “Your best-laid plans will go sadly awry if you don’t beat it.” The mouse trembles a bit and retreats back into the shrubbery. I return to pursuing a line of thought suitable for this perfect day.

“What is so rare as a day in July?” Hmm… Rings a bell. Has it already been done — or something like it? Anyway, what rhymes with “July”? (I insist my poems rhyme; I find free verse so undisciplined.) Birds fly; awry; my eye. “A day in July gone awry…a bird just dropped in my eye….”  Nope. Scratch that.

I gaze at the treetops above me. Oh, to be a tree top, caressing the sky, I write, then ponder the phrase. Now that has potential! And I may be able to work July in here after all.

I look down and see a cat nosing around by the bush. See there, mouse. Aren’t you glad I saved your bacon? If I hadn’t scared you, you’d have ventured out and been toast.

“SCAT!” I say to the cat, stamping my foot. It appears well enough fed already and besides, I detest the sights and sounds of slaughter. Unaesthetic—not conducive to producing pleasant poems.

I hear a “throb, throb, throb” coming down the path toward me and look up. Ah, some ‘band in a box’ escorted by two teenage girls. I frown, hoping they are only passing by and will do so promptly.

No such luck! They leave the path and stroll out on the lawn not far from me. One of them shouts at the other, “Here’s a neat spot. Let’s stretch out here.”

Oh, brother! It would be neat if you’d shut off that radio. I feel my bench vibrate from the deep bass throbs and I write in my book, “Thunder rolls across the sky; the earth trembles. The powers that be are shaken.”

They unroll two beach towels and, baring as much as legally can be, they stretch out. Exposing their bodies to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, not to mention the leers and comments of males passing by. And loving every minute of it.

Well, since I can no longer meditate on the stillness of this beautiful day, perhaps I could go get some lunch while they and their boom-box occupy this spot. There’s a neat little Bistro on LaMontagne Avenue that serves an excellent bowl of Vichyssoise, my favorite soup, together with herbed croutons. Perfect for a hot day, together with thé glacé. Which is iced tea, but I prefer the French ambience.

Perhaps I’ll stop by the Library after to brush up on Emily Dickinson. She might have something inspiring to say about a summer day. Hopefully when I get back the girls will have fried and gone.

As I walk away a picture flashes in my mind. I smile as I think back to the sunny summer days of my teens, when my friends and I spent hours browning ourselves in the warm sun. Neither we nor our mothers had ever heard of dangerous ultraviolet rays back then.

Forget the ode to a summer day. Over lunch I’m going to compose a poem about the joys of youth.

My thoughts go back to those two teenage girls and I wonder what their names are and where they live? Do they have a concerned mother like I had? Has anyone told them about ultraviolet rays and skin cancer? Has someone explained to them that there are sharks in the pool of Life, that you need to protect yourself in more ways than one? Do they know where they’re going in life and how to get there?

Really, I’m sure they didn’t mean to disturb my musings. Will they just think me a nosy old busy-body if I try visiting with them?

I turn around and make my way back to my favorite bench, pausing to nod and say “Hello” to them as I pass. Lunch can wait; the Vichyssoise won’t get any colder

Christine G — Reposted from July 2014

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The Way of a Wife

by Edgar Guest

She wasn’t hungry, so she said.
A salad and a cup of tea
was all she felt that she could eat,
but it was different with me.
“I’m rather hungry,” I replied.
“If you don’t mind, I think I’ll take
some oysters to begin with
and a good old-fashioned sirloin steak.”

Now wives are curious in this—
to make the statement blunt and straight—
there’s nothing tempts their appetites
like food upon another’s plate.
And when those oysters six appeared
she looked at them and said to me,
“Just let me try one, will you, dear?”
And right away she swallowed three.

On came the steak and promptly she
exclaimed, “Oh my that looks so good!
I think I’d like a bit of it.”
(The game is one I understood.)
I cut her off a healthy piece
and never whimpered when she said,
“Now just a few potatoes, dear,”
and also, “Let me share your bread.”

She wasn’t hungry! She’d refused
the food I had been glad to buy,
but on the meal which came for me
I know she turned a hungry eye.
She never cares for much to eat,
she’s dainty in her choice, I’ll state,
but she gets ravenous enough
to eat whatever’s on my plate.

From his book Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Word Press daily prompt: Better

The Old, Old Story

by Edgar Guest

I have no wish to rail at fate,
and vow that I’m unfairly treated;
I do not give vent to my hate
because at times I am defeated.
Life has its ups and downs, I know,
But tell me why should people say
whenever after fish I go:
“You should have been here yesterday”?

It is my luck always to strike
a day when there is nothing doing,
when neither perch nor bass nor pike
my bated hooks will come a-wooing.
Must I a day late always be?
When not a nibble comes my way
must someone always say to me,
“We caught a bunch here yesterday”?

I am not prone to discontent,
nor over-zealous now to climb;
if victory is not yet meant
for me I’ll calmly bide my time.
but I should like just once to go
out fishing on some lake or bay
and not have someone mutter: “Oh,
you should have been here yesterday!”

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
c. 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Word Press daily prompt: none