Category Archives: Poems

Sam McGee, Weather Denier

Header Photo “Snowman on frozen lake” by Petritap – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Of course there are noisy climate change deniers who refuse to accept scientific research because it conflicts with their closely held political beliefs.

That’s almost understandable.

But what I can’t comprehend is the much more commonplace lunacy of daily weather denial.

A good winter storm reveals it, especially in more tightly packed urban locations. Some people downtown believe they don’t have to put on anything special to be outside because they’re only going to be exposed for a short time.

And besides, heavy clothes worn in layers just don’t look that nice. But I think inadequately dressed office workers look silly shivering as they wait to cross the street.

When I mentioned this pet peeve of mine to Trail Baboon’s sing-song poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler, he said he also has a certain peeve that pesters him – presumptuous people who rip off the work of other poets merely to get a laugh.

And right after saying that, he presented me with his latest opus, which included an insincere note of apology to Robert W. Service and The Cremation of Sam McGee.

There are fashions worn in a winter storm
that would otherwise seem gauche.
Everybody knows layering your clothes
is a common sense approach.
Even dilletantes in fine restaurants
will adjust to a degree.
For a little while they’ll abandon style
if their name’s not Sam McGee.

All Sam’s garb was sheer and he wouldn’t hear
of a parka or a fleece.
If a shirt or gown had an ounce of down
his frustration would increase.
“It feels very wrong and takes far too long
to suit up for cold or sleet.”
“And besides,” he’d wink, “there’s no risk, I think.”
“I’m just gonna cross the street.”

Right across the way sat a mad buffet
called “The Sacrificial Goat.”
It was hip and loud and it drew a crowd
that opposed the winter coat.
They disdained its buik and they’d tend to sulk
if harsh weather was foretold.
Putting on their things, they’d assume it’s Spring.
‘Cause it’s cool to not seem cold.

So off Sam would skirt in a polo shirt
with Bermuda shorts below
Into two degrees with his naked knees
and flip-flops, to face the snow.
“Winter air feels fresh on my naked flesh!”
he declared. “It’s strength of will.”
“And what’s more,” he spat, “I don’t need a hat,”
as he stepped into the chill.

Quite against Sam’s plan the snowflakes began
to collect between his toes.
And those flopping flips, ‘midst their many slips
became rigid when they froze.
Trying to be brave, Sam’s blue eyes turned grave.
As streetward, on he pressed.
At the crosswalk light, his mouth thin and tight
He tried not to seem distressed.

In the urban grind one will often find
that delay is the routine.
And slow went the time at that corner sign
with Sam blocked by traffic’s stream.
Then a passing truck’s plume of slushy muck
sealed the frosty fate Sam faced.
For his flops got iced and nothing sufficed
to dislodge a man encased.

With each frigid blast nature built a cast
that enveloped Sam, complete.
It was clear and slick and six inches thick
from his head down to his feet.
Looking through the shell one could clearly tell
that his face showed some regret.
A wardrobe reform could have kept him warm.
but he’s not been thawed out yet.

In December’s pale, teachers tell the tale
of the legend Sam became
Heading off to play on a chilly day
All the children learn his name.
Don’t go out of doors with just summer drawers
against winter’s nasty breeze.
you could be marooned in a white cocoon
like the ice man, Sam Mcgee.


Are you (or have you ever been) a weather denier?

Hoodwinked!

One easy way to explain the incongruities of a complicated and often disappointing world is that nefarious “others” are furiously working behind the scenes to conceal what is truly going on.

But I’ve always had a problem accepting conspiracy theories that describe a vast fraud perpetrated on millions of people by a secret cadre of powerful deceivers. It’s not that I have more faith in people than your typical climate change denier – rather quite the opposite.

More than the faked Moon landing, the shooter on the grassy knoll, or the recovery of alien remains at Roswell, I completely believe in the inability of humans to keep their mouths shut, especially when they’ve got a really juicy story to tell.

Elaborate conspiracies must eventually come to light whenever people are involved, which is always.

And now a physicist has produced a paper that uses mathematics to show how unlikely it is that conspiracies can remain hidden.

According to David Robert Grimes, it would take about five years for the bitter truth to come seeping out of mixed bag of plotters.

If you’re skeptical, take a look at this small section of the paper that explains the research.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 at 8.18.48 PM

I have no idea what any of that says, but those are some convincing looking equations. How can I NOT believe something so clearly mathematical? Get a load of those numbers and symbols! Because I find them baffling, I know they must be true.

When I mentioned all this to Trail Baboon’s Singsong Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler, he quietly informed me that a major pharmaceutical company had already printed his poem about this very subject in secret code embedded in the side effect warning that accompanies a major anti-flatulence drug.

I like to think I’m pretty smart, and my friend Ted is stupider.
I say this ’cause he’s quite convinced the president’s from Jupiter.

He claims it’s all a massive hoax cooked up by some Hawaiian
who encountered aliens one night when they’d just dropped their guy in

to destabilize the country that would make the biggest fuss
over plans they had to subjugate the populace – that’s us!

So this guy from outer space – he needed many, many cronies
to become the president. He built a phalanx full of phonies

to support a story good enough to make him seem for real.
There are many, many people implicated. It’s surreal

how no one has spoken up about it yet, except for Ted.
Who has made me swear to secrecy – or else I’ll wind up …

Can you keep a secret?

A Curse, of Course

Even for non-football fans, the agony of the Minnesota Vikings faithful was palpable yesterday and no one was isolated from the anguish. It was all around us.

This is part of the entertainment and social value of sports – big losses create a drive to make sense of suffering that ultimately leads rational people to the “it’s only a game” explanation. Irrational people, however, will continue to search for a reason to explain why their fondest wishes stubbornly refuse to come true.

This is where a curse comes in handy. The Chicago Cubs still have the Curse of the Billy Goat to fall back on when their team disappoints. The Boston Red Sox had a long run justifying their misery with the Curse of the Bambino. But if there is no curse, you have to make one up so the world can feel logical and orderly again.

All I know is this – Trail Baboon sing-song poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler retreated to his garret immediately after Sunday’s game with a plate of hot wings that were picked totally clean by the time he emerged with his latest lame ditty:

When the team that you follow is hapless
and each year it appears to get worse,
you’ll feel lost like a traveler who’s map-less
’til you’ve found a believable curse.

A good curse can make sense of the losing.
With a curse there’s a way to explain
why the squandering squad of your choosing,
fails again and again and again.

“We were cursed by a player we traded.”
“There’s this powerful spell gypsies wrote.”
“It’s the vengeance of teams we berated.”
“We were hexed by a mystical goat.”

“There’s a burial mound in our end zone.”
“Once a shaman was carded for beer.”
“Voodoo dolls wear our uniforms – hand sewn!”
“Our team mascot insulted a seer.”

If the fans become flustered and frantic
and their trophy dreams ride in a hearse
the futility gets more romantic
When they’ve found a believable curse.

Have you ever been on either end of a curse?

What Rhymes With Affluenza?

Header image from free Photobank www.tOrange.us / CC by 4.0

Around water coolers everywhere, the strange tale of the “Affluenza Teen” is all the rage right now.

Ethan Couch, while still a minor, sought to evade responsibility for causing four deaths while driving drunk by using the defense that his pampered upbringing left him unable to tell the difference between right and wrong.

He managed to avoid jail time with an extended probation, but when it began to look like he would be prosecuted for violating the terms of the probation, Ethan and his mother fled to Mexico.

Yesterday, Tonya Couch was returned to the U.S.  Ethan has appealed his extradition and will remain in Mexico a while longer while authorities work out the details.

He will most certainly be returned, to much fanfare and derision.

When Trail Baboon singsong poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler learned of this  sad (but uniquely American) story, he thought the topic was weighty enough to be worth at least three limericks.

I
Affluenza is quite a disease.
When you’ve got it, you do what you please.
but the symptoms ain’t bad
if your mom and your dad
keep on paying the lawyers their fees.

II
A pampered young man and his mum,
were so careless and reckless and dumb.
they made national news
which essentially proves
too much cake makes a good child a crumb.

III
A young Texan explained, in his view,
He was over-indulged as he grew.
The disease that he got
made him easy to spot.
As the guy with the privileged flu.

What’s YOUR excuse?

Solstice Claus is Coming

Today is the day of the Winter Solstice, the moment in the calendar year when the northern hemisphere reaches its most light-starved point. For those who care about such things, the nadir happens at 10:49 pm local time, and then we begin the long slog back towards summer’s warmth.

Trail Baboon singsong poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler has been shivering in his garret pondering the importance of this astronomical moment, and how it is so completely overshadowed by other things.

Some say that Santa can’t be real
in thought or deed or word.
Because no one can go everywhere
in one night. That’s absurd.

Even if he’s supersonic.
Even if he’s extra quick.
There’s no way that any human dude
could do the Santa trick.

And it’s more than just logistics
There’s another glaring flaw.
It’s that Santa, in one moment
can bring joy and warmth and awe

to each person that he meets
as he completes his yearly rounds.
At the risk of understatement
that is tougher than it sounds.

Is it possible, however?
I don’t see it being done,
unless somehow we’ve conflated
Jolly Santa and the Sun.

As if two old songs collided
in their wholly separate lives
and then merged into a hybrid
by the Beatles and Burl Ives.

For he sees you when you’re sleeping
Little Darlin’, stay awake.
Been a long cold lonely winter.
Here he comes, make no mistake.

All the kids in girl and boyland
will be hoping they can spy
something red and round and plump
that’s arcing low across the sky.

You’re already on his list
to get a gift of cheer and light.
If you’re nice or if you’re naughty,
doesn’t matter, it’s all right.

Who is coming to visit you this Christmas?

what am i saying

Header image of epic poet Homer is from Homer and His Guide, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905), portraying Homer on Mount Ida, beset by dogs and guided by the goat herder Glaucus.   This image is in the public domain

Today’s post comes from tim

at concerts by daughters singing songs of the season
wondering if Muslims and Jews see the reason
that Donald is finding what Adolph would find
that solutions are easy if you disregard humankind

more dead in 5 weeks caused by hand guns it’s true
than have died due to terrorist since 2002
the NRA lobby owns the congressmen souls
with contributions gleaned from assault weapon holes

this ho ho ho season needs a bit of rethinking
while claiming peace love and unity what are they drinking
the world is messed up circa 2015
we’re right and were left but theres no in between

Americas crying out for a solution that works
get the others to think like me the stupid old jerks
it may be the most interesting of election
and cause centrist minds to rely on reflection

even if Hillary isn’t your lead pipe cinch
if the choice is tea party she’ll do in a pinch
Donald  Ben Ted and Marco have the pundits all pacing
troubled times we live in and the problems were facing

when news is for revenue instead of for knowledge
presented for grade school instead of for college
capitalizing on fears of the ignorant masses
looking through blinders not  rose colored glasses

the doors swinging open for change to occur
fixing problems by voting for him or for her
it’s never been easy being a tightrope dancer
can we put aside bickering and work toward an answer

the news is the thing that repeats in our ear
it’s driven by rating  points soars when it’s fear
how about working to find answers to whys
instead of the posture that points fingers and cries

I hope we find closure with the best woman or best man
poor republican candidates becoming inside out yes men
or Donald who seems to enjoy shock value tactics
making political gymnasts do poll response back flips

the front page of world papers as the USA pigs
haven’t been seen since w left after he finished his gig
Donald Ben Ted or Mario all are so lame
Hillary should take it with match set and game

republicans stop while for whom the bell tolls
when decision popularity is measured in polls
the worlds a mess and Fox News a main reason
we all hate it again when its campaign news season

instead of 8 minutes before weather and sports
news has become cancer prime time with warts
the world is connected with social media dude
so get used to the idea of politically rude

Obama found out and Hillary will too
that an agendaed opponent hopes that you get screwed
they’ll do what they can to make straight lines go curving
then site your inaction as why they’re deserving

I think Donald Ben Ted and Marco will rewrite the Way
Americans view the right to vote on this day
it’s no longer a privilege that makes you feel proud
it makes you resort to a whimpering sound

I hope the world heals, be a shame if it doesn’t
the possible wonderful mess that just simply wasn’t
here’s hoping that holiday cheer will promote
the view that a pleasant feeling will emote

if only we try to let concern stay on track
and stop trying to heap ugly stuff on your back
if hatred and fear are the topics we lead with
it’s sadness and division we can be guaranteed with

look to the people who want to make good
on the promise to their kids hat life will be good
the golden rule spoken is all that need to be said
peace on earth to your fellow man now go to bed

Brain Sex Science

I was delighted to learn last week that after scientists conducted a close examination of the one sexual body part no one obsesses over, it was concluded that human brains are not distinctly male or female.

That’s right  – no real difference.  Both sexes come to the dance with the same basic between-the-ears equipment.

When I revealed this to Trail Baboon sing-song poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler, he swept out of the room with no comment and tromped up the stairs to his tiny garrett.

I couldn’t tell if he was hurt, angry or inspired.  Until he appeared several hours later with this:

A research shelf is where they sat.
The bottled brains of May and Matt.
Who once, in life, met in a bar.
Now side-by-side, each in a jar.

Their first encounter didn’t last –
an opportunity both passed.
But in the lab, a perfect date.
Paired up by color, size and weight.

The lab assistants, on a whim,
located hair for she and him.
On the containers, fitted snug,
A girly wig. A manly rug.

The hair was fluffed and teased and plump.
They called them “Marilyn” and “Trump”
And everyone enjoyed the laughs
of brain jar hairstyles, over glass.

But years went by as well they must
The jars and wigs collected dust
Experiments were rather rare
for brains floating beneath fake hair

Until the lids came off one day.
They lifted out both Matt and May
and placed them in sink to drain.
That’s a big deal for an old brain.

With samples taken, back they went.
To their containers, both were sent.
Except no one had thought to ask
which brain belonged inside which flask.

But still they float inside their jars.
Which brain is Venus, and which Mars
has not been proven to this day –
without the wig and the toupee. 

Describe your favorite headgear.