“Antaeus, the son of Terra, the Earth, was a mighty giant and wrestler, whose strength was invincible so long as he remained in contact with his mother Earth.” Bulfinch’s mythology

Blessed Gaea, Mother Earth,
Brought us forth—gave us birth.
If we’re wise, we’ll realize
Where a vital tie yet lies.
Held and cherished by the land,
Healed and nourished by Her hand,
We’ll survive and thrive, not fail—
Strive with gods and still prevail.

Some folks seek to flee our planet—
Go to Mars. They even plan it.
They’ll construct new rocket ships,
All controlled by quantum chips.
And they’ll build a Martian post—
Earth away from Earth almost.
There we’ll see the apogee
Of their proud technology.
In their engineers they’ll trust.
No, a seal won’t ever bust,
Leaving them to fight for breath
As they slowly choke to death.
Species’ odds, they claim, improve
When the life-forms always move.
Once we’ve trashed our starter home,
There’s a universe to roam.

Focus now, though, on what’s right—
More on keeping, less on flight.
When you have that cool plan B,
There’s less sense of urgency.
Down-to-earth advice: Stay planted—
Rooted in this world we’re granted.
Ground your aims in sacred duty:
Care for Earth and save Her beauty.
Let us be and play and toil
In communion with the soil,
Dwelling here upon Earth’s crust,
Content to go from dust to dust.



Wm. Walters is a professor of English and linguistics at Rock Valley College, in Rockford, IL. His poems have appeared in literary magazines such as Chiron Review, Foliate Oak, and The Recusant and in the Cowboy Poetry Press poetry/fiction anthology Unbridled II.

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6 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    W.W., for the most part, your metrical plan looks like catalectic trochaic trimeter, but you are inconsistent. Yes, the poem is amusing, but was it your intention to write light verse? As a professor of English and linguistics, you should exert better control over your prosodic praxis.

    • Wm. Walters


      Thanks for the critical comment. You’re right. Admittedly, this poem isn’t perfectly nice and tight: there’s a little too much hypercatalexis and adding in of grace notes in the effort to keep the song going. But, even with its technical compromises, the poem was a fun one to write, and I hope at least a few people have fun reading it.

      Yes, I’m pretty much always trying to write light verse—even when making a serious point. In fact, I’m probably most playful when I’m the most serious. For me, poetry is language at play, and a poem is a playground for words. I greatly enjoy going to that place where poems happen and seeing what words show up and discovering what games they want to play. Yes, the games often have rules—not always though—but you don’t want to referee so rigidly that you ruin the fun. You have to let the players play. Just like the basketball ref won’t necessarily call travelling when a player takes an extra step on the way in for a big slam dunk, I’m not going to let an extra beat prevent some words from making up a fun line. The distich with apogee and technology, for instance, doesn’t scan consistently with most of the others, and I thought about cutting it out. But apogee, with its etymology, was begging to be included in this poem, and the rhyme, or at least near-rhyme, was enough fun that I wasn’t going to say no.

      There are plenty of other places–and I’m sure you noticed them–where I wasn’t strict enough and nervous enough about absolute regularity to please the real poets and critics, but I just don’t care to be that controlling.

      • C.B. Anderson

        W.W., I like your approach to things. I would never insist that a poet be strict about meter and such things unless his or her intent to do so was obvious. There is an art to writing good light verse, which, although I’ve published a number of pieces in Light, Lighten Up Online, Bumbershoot & Better Than Starbucks, which I haven’t quite mastered. I do know this: the more strictly formal your work is, the funnier it will be, because light verse mocks so-called serious verse. The more serious your points, the funnier they will be under the lamplight of light verse, if you handle them well. If poetry isn’t fun to read, then most people will stop reading it.

  2. James A. Tweedie

    C.B., in his inimitable way, is right, of course, but so are you, as the poet, to write this informal, sprawling verse anyway you want. Personally, I enjoyed your brand of humor as a refreshing change of pace. My last submission was strictly formal and serious. My next will be a mix of formal and light-hearted funny. I hope I can match the breeziness of

    When you have that cool plan B,
    There’s less sense of urgency.

    Breezy. Very breezy, indeed!

    • James A. Tweedie

      Sorry, C.B., the link seems to point to a personal email account to which I am not authorized to enter. Whatever it is, I probably wish that I had written it, too.


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