Friday, December 9, 2016


In the midst of critical downturns lately, I began creating some light verse called The Everyday Journal, poems lighter in content than most of the poetry I write. I also re-acquainted myself with the King of Light Verse, Ogden Nash, beginning with breakfast non-rhymes (in contrast to Nash's penchant for rhyming) and concluding with the second cup of coffee.

I had fun unwinding with light verse, and this morning I re-read a few Nash poems for inspiration. Nash, by the way, began making up his droll rhymes at age six and often crafted his own words when rhyming words didn't suffice for his comical verse. He dropped out of Harvard after one year and went to New York a few years later to sell bonds, but admitted that in two years he sold only one bond to his godmother.

Nash then began writing ads for streetcars and later spent three months working on the editorial staff for The New Yorker. After he married Frances Leonard, his fortunes began to pick up, and he published his first collection of poetry, Hard Lines, which brought him national attention. In his spare time, Nash appeared on radio comedy shows, but he was also respected by the literary crowd who wrote and critiqued more serious poetry. Theatre-goers may remember Nash's lyrics from the Broadway musical, One Touch of Venus.

The verse by Nash that I read this morning is entitled "The Anatomy of Happiness," and was longer than his usual snippets ("Candy is dandy/but liquor is quicker"). The long piece of verse spoke to my condition: "...Miracles don't happen every day,/But here's hoping they may,/Because then everybody would be happy except the people who pride themselves on creating their own happiness who as soon as they see everybody who didn't create their own happiness become happy they would probably grieve over sharing their own heretofore private sublimity,/A condition which I could face with equanimity."

An example of one of my non-rhyming poems from The Everyday Journal regarding the efficacy of chaos:


At lunch, she plays a podcast --
how chaos begets creativity,
"I have a dream," the spontaneous result,
a Civil Rights speech
carefully prepared and thrust aside
as Martin Luther King takes in
his people's heartbreak and struggle
and goes off line,
one of the finest pieces of rhetoric
delivered about the light of freedom,
eloquence born in chaos.

This broadcast plays while I am eating
black-eyed peas and rice,
digesting a poor man's fare
to be in touch with struggle,
rain still falling, puddling the yard.
The day is gray and unsettled enough
to engender creativity
in lieu of reading Trump's Tweets,
which bring up visions of him playing
an old army bugle, flatulent notes rising
on the threat of a massive flash flood.

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