Know How to Mow

__You want to raise your rates, you say?
__Your crying poor is killing me,
__for what it’s worth.  Just yesterday,
__when you were blithely billing me
__for services you rendered on
__a Saturday two weeks ago
__—the mowing of my splendid lawn—
__you seemed quite prosperous.  I know

you have expenses you can barely bring
yourself to think about, such as the millions
you spend each year to keep your best Brazilians
from leaving your employ, but there’s a thing

or two ….  I hesitate to ride your ass,
considering the pressure that you’re under,
but as a valued customer I wonder,
next week when you arrive to cut my grass,

if you might tell your crew to spare the hoses
left on the lawn, and mow around the roses.



Dear Friend,

New documents have lately come
to my incredulous attention
(from sources I am loath to mention),
which turned my train of thought from some
revisions of the masterwork
my editor—I must confess—
insists are overdue.  And yes,
the photographs where you, berserk
apparently, exposed yourself
from stem to stern are in the file.
Good Lord!  You went the extra mile,
I’d say, which doesn’t help your shelf-
life.  Maybe you should think about
a fresh career where sowing oats
does not occasion losing votes:
resign, before they throw you out
of office.  If you’re any wiser
from counsel I’ve just given you,
then I am sure that you will do
the prudent thing.

______________Your fond advisor,



To the English Priest Who Feared for My Soul Yet Did Not Despair of Me

I’m pleased to tell you that the man you used to know
exists no longer.  Will you be surprised to learn
my life has changed?  No more than several months ago
you would have found me in my customary haunts
advertently attempting to ensure I’d burn
in hell.  But now, as I shall presently explain,
I’ve been reborn.  I’m loath to be the kind that flaunts
the sins he’s since renounced, but let me cite at least
a couple good examples: Once I meted pain
to womenfolk with whom I chose to fornicate;
today, I give them pleasure.  Once I was a beast
devouring every morsel on the table; now
I only eat till I am sated.  Once, the hate
I harbored for my enemies meant instant death;
but lately, out of love and mercy, I allow
them to confess before they die.  As you have taught
me I should do, I pray until I’m out of breath,
then pray some more.  I trust this news is to your liking—
obeying God was not as hard as I had thought.

From Godfrid Haraldsson, your most repentant Viking

First published in Atavic Poetry



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press

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19 Responses

  1. Paul W Erlandson

    Thanks for these, Mr. Anderson.

    The 3rd one reminds me of the song “Great Change Since I’ve Been Born” by the blind Blues/Gospel singer Rev. Gary Davis:

    Things I used to would do I don’t do no more (3x)
    Been a great change since I been born

    Lies I used to would tell I don’t tell no more (3x)
    Been a great change since I been born

    People I used to would hate I don’t hate no more (3x)
    Great change since I been born

    Roads I used to would walk I don’t walk no more(3x)
    Been a great change since I been born

  2. C.B. Anderson

    A couple of maxims apply, Paul:

    Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.


    Sin in haste; repent at leisure. Rev. Davis knew what he was singing about.

  3. Brian Yapko

    C.B., each one of these poems captures a moment in time with tremendous wit and skill. I agree with the others — these are hilarious. Your work is extremely impressive because it is clear that painstaking craft has gone into them which yet seems to disappear into their conversational tone and rhymes that are rigorous yet subtle. Is the proper literary term for this skilled appearance of effortlessness sprezzatura? There is much to admire here. (I especially enjoyed the almost invisible rhyme of “rendered on” with “splendid lawn.” ) Thank you for a fun read and a brilliant primer on how to write poetry.

    • C.B. Anderson

      I never heard of “sprezzatura,” Brian, but I try to keep things simple by writing in clear English sentences. Rhymes like rendered on/splendid lawn are widely available in English, and it’s nice when it’s possible to create a double consonance. Two for the price of one.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Godfrid Haraldsson was one helluva a live-wire Viking. Raiding, plundering, laying waste enemy territory, and politically betraying both friends and relatives when necessary… he was the kind of ally you never turned your back on.

    We need more no-nonsense guys like that today.

    • C.B. Anderson

      As a dedicated Viking, Godfrid did things only one way: His way. In certain respects, we do need more guys like that. If God wants to exact His own judgment, then He will just have to stand in line, like the rest of us. I took this name from a glossary of Viking characters and might have thought it was just a composite personality.

    • C.B. Anderson

      How can you laugh at such misguided character traits, D.P.? You are worse than I am!

  5. David Watt

    C.B., each poem is equally hilarious. What particularly strikes me is that the subject matter varies widely, but the resultant humor is consistent in quality.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    C.B., I had to read these fine poems through twice… once for pure joy and a giggle, and again to fully appreciate the craftmanship. I’m thoroughly impressed!

    • C.B. Anderson

      The third time is the charm, Susan. An ounce of your joy is worth a pound of my craftmanship.


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