The Ghost Machine / The first course

The Ghost Machine
The first course

He sat on the plate blinking slowly. He was surrounded by what appeared to be chunks of some kind of shiny plastic, until he moved, and it became clear as the frogs arms flayed and tried to escape the plate, that the frogs lower body had been removed. The upper torso of the frog was now sitting on a plate surrounded by his organs, while a young woman ate his raw beating heart.
Of course that couldn’t be real. How can you pull apart and plate a frog before the heart stops beating and it stops blinking? And if you could, why would anyone do that? How would you convince anyone to eat that?
That is what you tell yourself as you continue to scroll down your Facebook feed, past the latest and most fashionable people and trends and opinions and wars and fears and disasters and on and on you scroll into a fog of sleep and the idle busyness of ambition. Past all the recipes, and all the tribulations and accomplishments of the world until you find some inspirational quote to post, so that everyone knows how wise and funny you are…

At least that is how it is supposed to work, but somewhere in the back of your mind the frog is still blinking slowly, and you can never quite forget asking yourself why?

Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Dulce Et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll


By Lewis Carroll 

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

How to write a poem in 12 simple steps

Picture of journal with empty pages

The Definitive Guide

Step 1.  Put on “Kind of blue” by Miles Davis
Step 2.  Enter a euphoric state of confusion induced by an irresponsibly excessive amount of grandiose hyperbole, Irish coffee and bongos.
Step 3.  Frantically soliloquise a phonetic discharge of sensations, emotions, compulsive obsessions, delusions, allusions, disillusions, open letters and names for your future cats.
Step 4.  Write the first draft while staring out a window catatonicly for at least 4 hours.
Step 5.  Let it rest knowing this is the greatest poem ever written since “Riot.”
Step 6.  The next day, re-read your masterpiece and realize it’s terrible. You will never be Gwendolyn Brooks, and everyone will think you are insane.
Step 7.  Buy chocolate! Chocolate understands. Let the wave of unfulfilled vision wash over you as you contemplate a life as a Munk in Tibet.
Step 8.  Lighten up! The world does not need another Gwendolyn Brooks, she already did it perfectly. The world needs your voice.  And if it doesn’t ….. fuckem.   And by the way everyone already knows you’re insane and your friends are OK with it.
Step 9.  Write second draft just in time for the open mic at the electric brew.
Step 10.  Still picking your poem apart write a third draft and fall asleep listening to T.S. Eliot read “The Waste Land.”
Step 11.  Wakeup in the middle of the night and write two new lines before slipping back to that dream where Cloris Leachman is teaching you how to grow vegetarian bacon in an aquarium.
Step 12.  Write each line down on a note card so you can read/rewrite, read/rewrite, read/rewrite about 20x each until you are finally able to write the final draft.

And breath. It is done.
Wasn’t that simple

A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within A Dream

By Edgar Allan Poe


Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow–
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

This poem is not about you

This poem is about running full out on the beach
This poem is about splashing in the surf, and kicking up sand
This poem is about the smell of the sea air just before it rains

This poem is not about you
This poem is about smiling for no reason
This poem is singing “Barracuda” at the top its lungs
This poem does not care about rejection
This poem threw out all its regrets like an old toothbrush
This poem is not about who was right and who was wrong
This poem is not about you
This poem is running into the future
Arms pumping
Lungs exhaling
This poems head is in the clouds
This poem is throwing its regrets like shells as far into the sea as it can
This poem is watching the sun set and the surf roll in
This poem doesn’t care if you
“Please read and tell me what you think”
“What do you know about poetry anyway?”
This poem is not about you
This poem is not about losing and failure
This poem is not stopping at set backs and closed doors
This poem is not waiting for a text
This poem cut all its hair off and doesn’t care if anyone likes it
This poem does not even want to rhyme
This poem is watching the stars come out like spinning swirling diamonds
This poem is letting the past melt away
This poems cup is running over with joy beyond understanding 
This poem is about that high you feel when time stops and you stop trying to get ahead
you won’t get it
This poem is not about you
This poem is running full out 
This poem is not looking back
This poem is not about you
This poem is not about fear and self loathing
This poem is not asking your permission 
This poem is doesn’t care about your opinion 
This poem is sticking its head out the window on the way home
This poem is laughing obnoxiously
This poem is getting carried away
This poem refuses to be silent
This poem will never forget you
This poem is not about you

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

National Poetry Month

April is national poetry month. The month many poets torture themselves attempting to write a poem a day even at the expense of neglecting family, friends and cats. Here is one more stripe to bare. A classic poem you probably put on a to read list, but haven’t quite gotten around to yet. Good luck April martyr poets. Many of us won’t make it, but that is okay, because nobody will notice while the Kardashians are in power

Do not go gentle into that good night  by Dylan Thomas