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.
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