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How We Picked Your Name

lincolnThis is a poem explain­ing why we named our son Lin­coln. I wrote it shortly before he was born. Although we’d already cho­sen the name, there was still time to change our minds, but after I wrote this poem I real­ized there was no turn­ing back.

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The Cross­ing


sadchickenWhy is this chicken so upset? Does it have any­thing to do with his rea­sons for cross­ing the road? I’m still work­ing on which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I do believe I’ve fig­ured out why the chicken was so eager to get to the other side. Inspired by Theodore Roethke’s vil­lanelle, “The Wak­ing,” my vil­lanelle and Roethke’s both appear in the excel­lent Everyman’s Library anthol­ogy, Vil­lanelles, edited by Annie Finch and Marie-​Elizabeth Mali.

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Lit­er­ary Anecdote

DylanThomasSome of the details in this story about Dylan Thomas may have been made up, but I stand by it nonethe­less.

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Trans­ves­tite Sonnet

montypythonThe day I tried on your brassiere you laughed …

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My Part in the Scandal


EnronBack in the good old days, peo­ple caught up in scan­dals would use paper shred­ders to destroy the evi­dence, and there’d be no pesky back-​up files to ruin the cover-​up. This poem was writ­ten back then.

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Love Poem

william-shakespeare
The poet expresses his relief that the woman he loves never met Shake­speare, Bob Dylan, or Robert Frost.

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Affi­davit

legaldocThis is a legally bind­ing poem writ­ten on the occa­sion of my son’s sec­ond birth­day, though it would have applied equally well to any of his birth­days.

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Frac­tured Frost

Robert FrostRobert Frost was a great poet, but he did have a ten­dency to go on and on. I have taken the lib­erty of con­dens­ing some of his more famous poems to lim­er­ick length.

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The Web Is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth - Project Gutenberg eText 12933The fel­low to the left is William Wordsworth, the author of the famous son­net, “The World Is Too Much With Us,” the only poem I was ever made to mem­o­rize in high school. My own poem is either revenge or a trib­ute, I’m not sure.

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Flow­ers

kilmerJoyce Kilmer’s “Trees” is one of the most famous poems in the Eng­lish lan­guage, one that crit­ics love to hate but also love to quote. Though it is often called a bad poem, I’ve always felt it isn’t bad enough. And so I have rewrit­ten it to fix that prob­lem.

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Victor’s Secret

victors-secretEvery­one always said Vic­tor was a lucky guy, fab­u­lously wealthy with a beau­ti­ful young bride. But Vic­tor claims he worked hard for every­thing he’s got. Now, if the gov­ern­ment and angry par­ents would just stay out of his way …

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Great Poems Made Small

keatsJohn Keats, pic­tured at the left, is just one of the poetic geniuses whose wordi­ness makes the Nor­ton Anthol­ogy so thick and unwieldy. Wordsworth, Shake­speare, Shel­ley, Ten­nyson, Homer, Eliz­a­beth Brown­ing, and Bishop are equally guilty. Not to worry. I have done some­thing about it. Now, thanks to my efforts, you can read many of their great poems in lim­er­ick form.

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Three Lit­tle Poems

threeHere are three four-​line poems that appeared in Light Quar­terly: “My Grand­mother, the Actress,” “L to Pay,” and “The Opti­mist,” which is my short­est poem (just eight words, not count­ing the title).

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Winter’s Tale

snowflakeThe Spec­ta­tor is a weekly British mag­a­zine founded in 1828. Every week it unveils a new humor com­pe­ti­tion. This poem of mine was one of the win­ners of a com­pe­ti­tion call­ing for winter-​themed non­sense poems. (I’d be more flat­tered to have won were it not for pre­vi­ous mea­sures of their lit­er­ary taste, which include their 1853 review of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House declar­ing that Dick­ens amuses his read­ers “with­out pro­foundly affect­ing their intel­lects or deeply stir­ring their emo­tions.” As if that’s a bad thing!

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Start­ing

ashessparkNot light, but light-​hearted, this poem is about “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.“

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The Tattooist’s Tale

tattooA cau­tion­ary tale about love and indeli­ble ink.

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