Solid Ground

Our greatest philosopher David Hume,
Whose logical doubts leave naught to assume,
Used skeptical arguments he had found
To leave nothing on solid ground
Until a Kant came walking along
And pointed out where David went wrong
With help from a little a priori
The world was just a category.
Years later philosophy’s semantics,
With help from modern mathematics
And Phd.’s from schools called first rate
Could not connect the whole world’s state.
No theory for me would suffice
Till Sophie skated on solid ice.



Real love comes not with Cupid’s arrows
Nor written on golden leaves;
It comes with picks and wheelbarrows,
With sweat and rolled up sleeves.



They glitter and glow like stars
But ones we catch in jars
Won’t shine more, they refuse
Until we turn them loose
Like us or any kid
Won’t shine under a lid.


Pulling Petals

Pulling petals will not tell;
No magic charms nor secret spell,
Nor numbered potion, nor Cupid’s darts
Can ever win those tender hearts.

No words of woe from sonnet’s inventions
Nor most inflamed of love’s intentions,
Whose lofty hopes will often crash,
Can beat a pocket full of cash.


Born in Walton-on-Thames, England in 1945, Clinton Van Inman graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 and is now a retired high school English teacher in Tampa Bay where he lives with his wife, Elba.

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27 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to avoid the use of meter, but if you are, it makes your poetry difficult for me to read.
    There are several simple fixes. If, in “Fireflies”, your second line read “But the ones we catch in jars”, would have synced it to your first line, and you wouldn’t have lost me at the outset.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    I’d say the same about “Pulling Petals.” It would be perfect, metrically, with two fixes:

    Line 3: No numbered potion, nor Love’s darts…

    Line 5: No words of woe from wit’s inventions…

    • clinton inman

      I really like your amendments and I make the change. Thank you very much as I really appreciated it. Clint

  3. James A Tweedie

    Mr. Salemi has asserted in a recent comment on a previous post that, “If you are a really serious poet, you write your poems ONLY FOR YOURSELF, AND FOR NOBODY ELSE.” I believe that if poems are to be shared with others it is, in fact, best if the reader IS taken into consideration; not, of course, as regards the content or form of the poem, but in the smoothness and ease in which it will be read.

    If Mr. Inman had written his delightful, amusing poems only for himself they would have been perfectly fine as they are. Mssrs. Salemi and Tessitore suggest changes that would improve the poem in ways that would not necessarily be more satisfying for Mr. Inman but for themselves. “Please, take us into consideration when you write,” they seem to be saying.

    When I was younger I did, in fact, write poems for my own pleasure (the ones my short author’s bio refers to as being “in drawers.”) Since becoming a part of SCP, however, I have begun to refine and improve my poetry as guided and inspired by more accomplished folks like the two aforementioned Joes. While I take personal satisfaction (and some pride) in advancing my skill, I am equally motivated by the desire to communicate my thoughts to others as clearly and effectively as possible. In this sense, when writing, I nearly always have the reader in mind. If I were still writing only for myself and not posting on this site I do not believe I would have been motivated enough to have improved to the degree I have.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Inman! Write for you own pleasure, of course, but keep some future reader in mind in case you decide to publish or post it later (which I hope you will continue to do).

    Above all, be true to yourself (within the bounds of poetic form) and don’t fall into the trap of trying to please everybody else, for that, of course, is impossible.

    If this is what Mr. Salemi means by his comment then I suppose we are in agreement after all.

    • Joe Tessitore

      If Mr. Inman is writing for himself, then why did he submit his work to this page?

      I think it’s safe for us to assume that he wants us to read it.

    • Roger

      “When Salemi descends to the level of insulting and berating people who choose not to play by his rules, he seems more like a surly playground bully than a teacher worthy of our attention and regard. Unless he’s willing to be more reasonable and civil, what he says will continue to go in one ear and out the other, leaving him with little or no influence on the literary world. And since he claims not to care what anyone else thinks, perhaps what he says and does is part of a self-fulfilling death wish.” — Michael Burch

      • Joe Tessitore

        Insulting and berating?
        He was perfectly reasonable and civil.
        “A self-fulfilling death wish” is anything but!

      • E. V.

        Good evening, Roger. With all due respect, I don’t understand why you are accusing Prof. Salemi of uncivil behavior. Actually, Prof. Salemi is finally doing what I’ve been hoping he’d begin doing; specifically, offering corrections along with his critiques so that we can learn something.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Oh, we’re sooo hurt by what the illiterate failures at Hypertext have to say… Such masters of the insult!

        Keep in mind, Hypertext has absolutely no other way of attracting readership, having shifted from literature to defamation.

        They have even come on this venue to invite third-rate greeting card sentimentalists to write for them.

      • B. Surlee Adwice

        I may be wrong, but it seems like Mr. Burch resorts to “insulting and berating people” too, as in his lively Keystone Scops hit-piece.

    • clinton inman

      Thanks, the editors made changes but I kept them as they were. Thanks again for your comments. Clint

  4. Sally Cook

    Dear Mr. Van Inman —

    As always, Dr. Salemi weighs in with helpful words, and Mr. Tessitore as well. As for me, I very much like and respond first to your spirit of fun.

    In that spirit, I cannot dismiss the palindromic aspects of your wife’s name — no doubt you recall “Able was I ere I saw Elba.”

    Would an appropriate response on meeting her have been “Madam, I’m Adam? ”

    Let’s see more.

    • clinton inman

      Here was the original before editors ripped it:

      They glitter and glow like stars
      But the ones we catch and place in jars
      Will not shine as if to refuse
      Until we open the lid and turn them loose
      But just like us whether fly or kid
      No light shines under glass or lid.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Mr. Tweedie —

    No, not “take us into consideration.”

    What I am saying is “Take into consideration the tradition in which you have chosen to write.”

    If you have chosen to write in a fixed form, or in an established meter, you need to follow the conventions of the same. When you don’t, your work is fair game for critique by readers. All I was doing was pointing out two places in the poem where Van Inman had not followed the expected pattern of the form he was working in.

    • James A. Tweedie

      I suppose I am making too fine a point of this, and the nuance (if there is any) is probably too subtle to matter. Over and out!

  6. Michael Dashiell

    All 4 poems were witty and charming, fun to read. If I remember correctly Hume said God can’t be both benevolent and omnipotent. If he can’t stop the devil, he’s not omnipotent. If he’s omnipotent he can stop the devil, but if he doesn’t he’s not benevolent.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      If Hume said that, he was anticipated by the older German philosopher Leibniz, who called the issue “the Theodicy Problem.” It its simplest form, this is the question “If God is All-Powerful and All-Good, why does He permit evil?” There are plenty of good answers to the question in patristic and scholastic writers, but Leibniz apparently ignored them.

      Hume is better known for his much more significant “guillotine” or “chopping block,” which states that it is impermissible to derive an “ought” statement from an “is” statement. This intellectual “guillotine” is VERY important, because it totally undercuts the moralizing tyranny of political ideologies that insist on dictating proper behavior on the basis of so-called “factual” statements about reality.

      • Michael Dashiell

        Is “ought” also “should”? So many statements claim a man or group should believe or act in a certain way but the “should” is often a personal need or viewpoint. It enjoys little or no objective verification, but satisfies the speaker.

  7. E. V.

    SCP has taught me the importance of keeping a dictionary handy. I’ve learned so many new words from my fellow poets. Regarding Solid Ground, who’s Sophie? I loved the imagery and meaning behind Fireflies. Also, regarding the critiques, by heeding Prof. Salemi’s advice, you’ll have the opportunity to become an even better poet.

    • James A. Tweedie


      Sophie? Perhaps “Sophia” the Greek word for “wisdom.” Often personified. It is part of the word “philosophy” which means, of course, “(the) love of wisdom.” The word Sophia is of particular interest in the Jewish and Christian traditions where Wisdom personified appears in the book of Proverbs and elsewhere (the books of Proverbs, Job, several psalms, Ecclesiastes Song of Solomon and, in the Apochrapha, the Book ok Widom and Sirach, are referred to as “Wisdom Literature” by Bible scholars). Jesus made reference to Wisdom personified in Matthew 11:19. The famous Byzantine church which still stands in modern Istanbul is known as Haggia Sophia, or “Holy Wisdom” whichbis considered an attribute if God made accessible to the world by the Holy Spirit. Because the Greek noun Sophia is one of the few biblical/theological attributes of God which is a feminine case, when it is personified it is personified as a woman (as was also true of Athena as the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology).

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    To Michael Dashiell —

    Yes, the operative word could be “ought” or “should” or “must.” or whatever other term suggests a moral imperative based on the speaker’s wishes or hopes. A fact can’t be used to defend or promote what is only a personal hope.

    When I was taught about Hume’s guillotine in my Jesuit college, the priests gave the following examples of arguments that were vulnerable to being “chopped” by it:

    1. First “is” statement: “I’m a young and attractive woman!” (possibly factual).

    2. Second “ought” statement: “Therefore I ought to have a boyfriend!” (simple desire)

    There is no valid causal connection at all between these two statements, other than the speaker’s desire for a boyfriend. There could be dozens of reasons why she has no boyfriend, and being young and attractive contains no logically intrinsic condition that guarantees getting one.

    Another one goes like this:

    1. First “is” statement: “All human beings are of equal value!” (possibly factual, but debatable).

    2. Second “ought” statement: “Therefore they should all have equal political rights!” (simple desire).

    Again, no valid causal connection. All horses need food, but does that mean they should all be fed like thoroughbreds?

    If you listen closely to what people around you say, you’ll begin to notice that most persons are completely clueless on this point. They have been trained to think because a certain thing is true, a personal wish or desire of their own should be fulfilled. And when it isn’t, they feel victimized.

    • Michael Dashiell

      Thank you Mr. Salemi, your insights were lucid and well stated. As for Leibniz, his declaration that we live in the best of all possible worlds, most people today would find ludicrous or dead wrong. I’m not so cynical: if there were no negative forces at work, humanity would have no enemies to fight, no problems to solve, thus we’d only stagnate and suffer dire boredom and finally wither away from apathy.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Leibniz’s opinion was echoed by Alexander Pope in his “Essay on Man,” where he said “Whatever is, is right.”

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