Poetry by Don Shook of Fort Worth, Texas The Society November 1, 2012 Poetry 1 Comment Poetry For The Common Man No wonder poetry won’t sell, Since authors write it for themselves; And most of it would fare as well On dark and dusty warehouse shelves. Such work is crammed with metaphor, Emboldened narcissistic pap The poet world claims to adore, While others claim it makes them nap. Fie on this arcane disconnect That is so often justified By poets who try to perfect Some lines that they should try to hide. If comprehension is a chore And meaning hidden far too deep, The poem becomes a crashing bore, A guarantee of sudden sleep. Forget the fact there’s little said That would inspire a second look By readers who will choose instead Selections from another book. So if you want to sell your works Write something less ambiguous, Forget the esoteric perks And make us laugh or cry or cuss. To Have and Hold I’ll have my cake and eat it too, which seems the proper thing to do; for what is cake except to eat? Just having it is not a treat. Now it’s a fact we’re told is true, you can’t have cake and eat it too. But if there is a choice to make, hold on to yours, I’ll eat my cake. Tennyson Tennyson thought it better “to have loved and lost, than…” Well, you know the rest. Of course this begs the question most of us can only guess. Is losing ever really good, or is this just poetic? I know when I have lost at love I’ve always felt pathetic. But when the pangs of my desires make my insides a jumble, I leap beyond the galaxies… Inevitably I tumble. For love is an illusion and a gross exaggeration; when viewed upon the scale of lust it’s just imagination. So if we never love at all what does no effort cost? How could we know the loss of love if we have never lost? But if we love and lose, no pain could rend our teardrops wetter. So thank you, Mr. Tennyson, but words don’t make things better. His Own Petard My buddy Pete and I once found An old firecracker on the ground And felt it had potential we could share. For study hall had just begun And we, at fifteen, thought it fun To saddle our friend Jimmy with a dare. “Come on,” we cried, “just light the fuse. You’d be a chicken to refuse. Not doing it would make you a disgrace.” Now he was not the brightest lad And in the past he had been had, So there was hesitation on his face. For only fifty feet away Our teacher Doyle did rule the day, But she was occupied with some demand. So with a grin Jim grabbed our toy, And lit the fuse with utter joy; Then sparks began to fly from his right hand. Some other students saw the glow As Jimmy sought a place to throw The cracker, knowing Doyle was coming fast. But indecision reared its head And Jimmy felt such frightful dread That he, in frantic panic clutched the blast. Throughout the school the boom was heard As every student got the word About how Jimmy’s fist had just exploded. His blackened fingers opened wide Revealing proof he could not hide, And Doyle, to this new task seemed most devoted. “Jimmy, did you do that?” she said. With teary eyes he shook his head, “No, ma’am,” he uttered meekly and in pain. Astonished she could but reply, “How could you tell me such a lie?” As he in silent pity did remain. She turned and glared at Pete and me, Our inner laughter not to see, As she led Jimmy off with due regard. But when the two were out of sight We laughed aloud with all our might, Proclaiming Jimmy was his own petard. Now from this tale a moral take, And by its message not forsake An axiom that holds you in good stead. If good friends proposition you By daring what you should not do, Just walk away or bop them on the head. The Last Wildflower Spring showers simply did not fall. A hot south wind sustained. And we were captured in the thrall Of summer’s brutal reign. Our number, which had blossomed fair In such a vast array, Began to shrivel in despair, Then die and fall away. And that soft beauty we had brought To this indurate land, Remained but a decaying thought, A mulch by Nature’s hand. Now I alone await the end From which I will not cower; Fragrant and bright, I will not bend. I am the last wildflower. Don Shook, past president of the Fort Worth Poetry Society, was also founder and head of The Actors Company, one of the nation’s leading theater companies. He is a writer, actor, director and producer who has worked with such stars as Dick Clark, Cybil Shepherd, Debbie Reynolds and Betty Buckley. Formerly with NBC in New York, he has performed in theatre, film and television across the country including an opera performance at Carnegie Hall, New York City and five years as a resident performer at Casa Manana Musicals in Fort Worth. He is the author of a recently published novel “Bluehole” and two poetry books, “Sheep Got Teeth” and “Sheep Got Teeth Too”, and was selected as 2009 Senior Poet Laureate of Texas. These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) One Response neal Whitman November 1, 2012 Don, All here good – really good – poems that practice what you preach in “Poetry for the Common Man.” May I add, in total agreement with you, my wish for a bookshop where I can buy what you are selling … The Common Reader Bookshop was established with one aim: to establish a practical relation between Poetry and Public Our specialty is Contemp. Poetry. No Contempt Poetry allowed ___ Amicus poeticae, Neal Whitman Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. 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