By Ken Gosse

A Rough Gem

I’d be a diamond in the rough
if I were made of firmer stuff,
but, in fact, I’m rather mellow,
somewhat jigglier than Jell-O,
therefore pressure doesn’t bake me,
there’s no way that it can make me
sharper than a razor’s edge
(for you can’t hone a French brie wedge)
so even if I huff and puff
my poems still are filled with fluff—
the kind that tickles in your ear
when you pretend that you can’t hear.

I’m sure I’ll never write in stone
and my experience has shown
my light verse often needs a diet
long before the readers try it;
so I hem and haw and sneeze
as if, somehow, this might help ease
the way I tweak a word or phrase
to find the best, to help amaze;
but after all, I’m only me,
unlike the poet I might be
if I could sparkle in the light,
unfazed by my own kryptonite.

Writing in a Nashural Style

It doesn’t come easy, this Ogdenish hash;
it’s a challenge to write when your sight is on Nash.
It takes time and focus to find a rhyme’s locus—
not voodoo or magic, not hocus or pokus—
but if you pursue it, don’t do it at home, for your results may vary widely because wisdom
   changes disproportionately with the inverse of age,
a fact which is well-known to every wise sage,
and the sooner the better you allow yourself to scratch your itch and soothe its twitch, should
   ever this effrontery become the rage
(regrettably, though, it might be your last page),
and be sure to remember, you must treat the rash
or you’re likely to find that you only write trash.

ket-sul-koe-At-lus North-row-pie

And now we can see, from days gone-by,
Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

A pterosaur, not dinosaur:
we don’t know whether they could soar
or whether they could sing or roar,
nor if they knew of what’s in store—
extinction, eons long before
we found their bones among the stones
in buried prehistoric zones
where paleo-ontologists
dug up their myst’ries in the mists
of worlds long-gone, where they passed on
before the start of man’s late dawn
and though we’ve added some décor,
we guess at fashions which they wore—
a preolithic demonstration;
runway of imagination.

Whether stealth or admiration
(or perhaps amalgamation—
camouflage and decoration)
was the style of the day,
as evolution made its way
it kept their weaknesses at bay
until, for some uncertain reason
all their ilk went out of season.

Did their eggs become too small
to hold those wings and beak and all,
or maybe they ran out of room
to fly and sail and spy and zoom
upon the prey beneath their wings—
small dinosaurettes, fish, and things?
(An alamosaurus was too large;
about the size of Noah’s barge.)

But, at last, they met their doom
and evidence implies the gloom
of disappearance had its cause
in interstellar grand faux pas
when meteors and asteroids
would buzz the Earth from outer voids
thus causing the K-T event
which very few lived to lament:
Cretaceous-Tertiary end
whence many creatures would not wend—
and yet, to us, Earth gave rebirth
to creatures of enormous girth.

Father William’s Brother

“You are old, brother William,” his sibling said,
“And your pate has lost all of its hair.
You look right-side up when you stand or your head
Since your cheeks at both ends are quite bare.”

“In our youth,” brother William responded in kind,
“You attempted to injure my brain.
Once tied upside-down you asked whether I’d mind
If you batted my pate with a cane.”

“You’re so old,” said his brother, “and somewhat like mother,
“You’re wider now than you are tall.
You roll down the stairs, bouncing one to another—
A nice way to cushion your fall.”

“In our youth,” said old Will as he shook like a jelly,
“I kept very limber, indeed:
By supping the fat from a broth of pig’s belly,
My joints found my sinews agreed.”

“You’re so old,” said his brother, “you’ve lost all your teeth,
And your dentures are made out of pine,
Yet you ate a roast pig and the coals underneath,
Then you used them to uncork the wine.”

“In our youth,” spouted he, “a substantial degree
Of my speaking was wasted on you,
But that strengthened my jaw and was good guarantee
That my bite would be one you’d eschew.”

“You’re so old,” said his brother, now wheezing a bit,
“That your cataracts hinder your vision,
Yet still you see through me and you keep a sharp wit
Which you whet with the sharpest derision.”

“I have taught you enough all these years, though you’re gruff
And to me you have never been kind.
But beware! Since I can’t teach a mind full of fluff,
I must kick sense into your behind!”

He Offered Flies, Not Lies

He said, “Fair lady, I’m a prince,”
and it took little to convince
the lass, who lived beside a swamp,
that she’d enjoy the wondrous pomp
which would be hers, close by his side,
if one small kiss were not denied.

His lips so thin, his froggy grin,
their transformation would begin
then in like skin they could abide
and at his court she’d be his bride
where he would rule and they would romp
with other nobles in his swamp.

Her eyes agog, mind filled with fog
as through the murky bog she’d slog;
enraptured dancer without answer
to the spell of this romancer.
She became his frog queen since
they crowned him king who once was prince.

Ken Gosse usually writes short, rhymed verse using whimsy and humor in traditional meters. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, since then in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News Online, Sparks of Calliope and others. Raised in the Chicago, Illinois, suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years

2 thoughts on “A Rough Gem and Other Poems

  1. Who says that people don’t read long poems. The poem should not be judged by it’s length. I have enjoyed each poems and whether short ,medium or long never occurred in my mind. Thank you Academy of Heart and Mind for giving space to all kinds of poetry .🙏🙏🙏🙏

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  2. Thank you, sshssein77 (I found your name in myaestheticism; please pardon me for not using it here). I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them, but even more pleased that you credited The Academy of the Heart and Mind for sharing a wonderful variety of poetry. They have been very encouraging and their responses to any of my concerns have been quick and positive.

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