By Ken Gosse
Follow the Foot
an ekphrastic poem about an accidental selfie of my foot
Whose toes are those which I suppose will tread the tread where each step rose beneath the carpet on each stair, well-worn although not yet thread-bare? The foot itself shows signs of age while still demanding to engage its creaking knee twixt calf and thigh, and hips that moan and groan a sigh which once swayed to a lullaby while holding children to its chest (men’s hips are not where infants rest nor do we call men’s chest a breast or bosom, quite unlike the best— a mother’s—where life first was blessed). At seventy, the foot malingers as do aching, stiffened fingers, pondering the steps it takes to sally forth, not leaving aches and pains behind (which brings to mind a source of comfort, oft maligned, and yet, a very favored part, a place where we may rest this cart of skin and bone with ancient marrow, bruised and bent, though once an arrow straight and true, shot through and through the days and nights which we one knew; but each of those would take their toll— our rocks no longer seem to roll but gather moss upon the way while hips no longer schwing and play). The music, once loud in our ears more muted now; our parents’ fears that we abused ourselves with sound that rattled buildings, shook the ground, would one day prove its damage done long after raving lost its fun. Our eyes now blurred, our vision dimmed, our graying hair less often trimmed has also grayed in netherlands which once could keep up with demands of nature’s call—but worst of all, it now seems that our wherewithal has lessened, so we rise at night too often to relieve our plight. Yet lo! My foot upon the stair knows where to go and takes me there.
based on Lewis Carroll’s poem about these characters in “Through the Looking-Glass”
Walruses and carpenters oft’ gather in the plural; they like to wander tête-à-tête on urban paths or rural, their minds agog in deepest fog with thoughts that are aswirl, attempting to untangle them, their mysteries unfurl. Deep thoughts need food. By hunger cued, they’d soon invite some friends to dine with them (as their repast) before their visit ends and oysters were their favorite treat along a beach that wends— but first they’d promise, post-dessert, that they would make amends. Both heard them plead but disagreed with oysters who said “Please, release our hands; deep in the sands our minds will be at ease.” Instead, pretending they can’t hear, in jest, they’d cough and sneeze as fragrance of their tiny friends perfumed the ocean breeze. When comes the night, sun still shines bright but oysters there are none. They’d done their best—’twas time to rest until digestion’s done. All walruses and carpenters in pairs enjoy this fun when on each morrow, without sorrow, pondering’s begun.
My Point Not Taken
a parody of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”
Two thoughts emerged—mine judged no good, the boss was sorry I was loath. With egg on face, eternity stood as I rooted in place as best I could like a weed or disdained undergrowth. I silently shouted, “This isn’t fair!” but lacked a pike to stake my claim. He called another to his lair— my welcome being worn out there, I sought my cube in dismal shame. Quick change from gray, that doleful day would turn to deepest, darkest black, for just one choice before me lay: He knocked all pondering out of play by saying, “Take five. Don’t come back!” Memories fading by and by may muffle sounds of slamming fence. Somewhere men laugh; I only cry. Somewhere kids shout; I only sigh. I left with undue diffidence.
The Price of a Perch
In politics public you’ll often be smirched by doing to others, those more highly perched, as well as those who simply don’t share your view, for all must be wrong if they don’t sing your song. That’s how the game’s played—the old rules belayed using ropes that have splayed far apart from the start, and blasting-cap jelly, the kind Machiavelli refined for the world, where banners unfurled to fight one-and-all, hoping others would fall. They’re still used today to advance in the fray, and so, if you’re stung and you’re brutally flung from the ramparts so high which assailed passers-by just remember, the ground where your body is found is the place where you started before you departed to play and besmirch, leaving you in the lurch.
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.