Category Archives: Poems

Similar Simians Self-Select

Here’s how influential baboons can be – they have digital natives questioning the value of social media.

A recent study of baboon behavior found that baboons like to hang out with their own personality types.  Those identified as bold tended to hang out with like-minded baboons, while the meek ones prefer the company of their own sort.

As a result,  groups remain socially isolated and new information tends to stay within the group that discovered it.

Sound familiar?

No, not to me either.  No one in my circle cares much for animal studies.  Even if the creatures aren’t harmed, we tend to agree that they have a right to privacy.

But Trail Baboon poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler, who, frankly, is not one of us, found the report inspiring.  So he penned the following few lines of deathless verse:

Those bold baboons are reckless beasts
They’re wild and fast and free.
So when I want to socialize,
they’re not my cup of tea.

I much prefer the timid ones.
Baboons who are demure.
If thoughtful and considerate,
I’ll hang with them for sure.

And when we convene a confab
to trade news and give reports,
we will screen for type and temperament
to weed out the wrong sorts.

So that when we all are gathered
we’ll stay focused, we’ll be tame.
All our thoughts and inspirations
will be pretty much the same.

Where do you get new ideas?

Pipeline Poem Worsens Word Spill

Header image by Robin Drayton

The news is full of  multiple pipeline projects as protesters try to have their say and slow moving regulatory processes grind on.

Constructing such things is a costly marathon for proponents and opposing them takes time, organization and stamina. Casual observers are sometimes at a loss to know which side should prevail.

The vast number of words generated in any major pipeline fight gush from multiple sources and flood the terrain with claims and counter-claims.

To help sort it out, I commissioned a relevant poetical work from Trail Baboon’s Poet Laureate, Schuyler Tyler Wyler, a well-known literary thief.

At first, STW refused the commission because, he said, “Nothing original can come from it” and “These pipeline battles always end the same way.”

But of course nothing original ever comes from a Schuyler Tyler Wyler poem.

After I showed him the money that could quickly be made, STW said (true to form) that he would do it if he could be allowed to dig another well known poem out of the deepest reaches of our shared language reserves, refine it to remove all the art, beauty and originality, and then ship it directly to me as quickly as possible with his own brand attached for immediate payment.

Because I was desperate and out of time to come up with a post for today, I agreed, even though I knew the result could be a horrible explosion or simply a foul, long-lasting mess.

Sorry, once again, Robert Frost.

Two pipelines converged in my neighborhood,
And sorry I could not protest both
and be one activist, long I stood
Bemoaning one as much as I could
For contents which I use, and loathe.

Then hating the other to be fair.
For though I’d use it just the same
a spill from it would sew despair,
and consequently foul the air
while no one would accept the blame.

Such strong objections did I raise
to both, that from my dual attack
each paused in the approval phase
and judges issued legal stays
while regulators walked them back.

But only for a moment, though
then did it all just recommence.
A lawyer’s herd did overthrow
my arguments, with piles of dough.
And that has made all the difference.

What have you spilled?

Less Air Apparent

Header photo by Frankileon from Flickr

I asked Trail Baboon poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler to craft an ode to sports figures who, more probably than not, cheat.

Of course he wanted to know who I was talking about.

“No one in particular,” I said.  “But everyone, sort of.”

Naturally he wanted to know what sort of poem he should write, which was a funny question because STW only writes one kind of poem.

“Just give me some immortal lines that deal with taking advantage of a situation and lying about it afterwards, ” I told him.  “If it means you have to steal someone else’s poem,  just don’t tell me about it.”

Within the hour, he had produced this:

If you can grip footballs when all about you
With jealous stares are criticizing you.
If you commit such fouls that tall men doubt you,
And call your claims of innocence, “Untrue”;
If you’re a pitcher who is fond of scuffing
Or muscled batter – super steroid size.
Or a striker –  injured?  No, but bluffing!
Who fakes so well he even cries:

If you can bet on games and not have fans desert you,
Or ride the Alps while chemically enhanced,
And still the masses want to wear a shirt you
signed and wore while pedaling through France.
If scandals sprout around you, and get covered,
just pray your own malfeasance never shows.
There is a chance your sins won’t be discovered.
But – if it is – Hey, welcome to … the pros!

I told STW this was such a blatant ripoff of Rudyard Kipling it was an embarrassment and even I couldn’t look the other way. “What is more”, I said, “you didn’t even steal the whole thing. If this lousy poem was a football, it would be deflated by about half.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “I’m an artist. Where’s my money?”

How far should rules be allowed to bend?

Control Issues

In today’s hyperactive social media environment, it does not take long for good reputations to get ruined by a bit of breathless over-reaction to common problems.

A quick tweet, a tossed-off Facebook post, a carelessly shared You Tube video, or a thoughtless headline might be all it takes to permanently shame a good citizen.

Or a starlet.

Or a spacecraft.

Yesterday’s New York Times headline, “Russian Space Station Cargo Ship Is Said to Be Out of Control“, smacks of the same type of discriminatory treatment given to a string of young, boisterous female celebrities, all of whom were declared, at one time, officially O.O.C.

Trail Baboon Sing-song poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler insisted that I give him a moment to come to the defense of the poor, maligned Progress 59 capsule with a few lines of soon-to-be-forgotten verse.

 

One cannot be a star today without a robust hide.
And for anyone who reaches high, expect a rocky ride.
But as long as I’ve got pitch and yaw, a cargo, and a goal.
It’s unfair to try to shame me with that trope – “out of control.”

While it’s true I’m not mature, (this is the first time I have flown)
I’m more stable and more focused than that wingnut, Lindsay Lohan.
I admit our mission so far hasn’t made the throngs admire us,
But I’m not as O.O.C. as that sad train wreck, Miley Cyrus.

I may tumble out of orbit very soon, it now appears.
But I won’t completely self-destruct like gaudy Britney Spears.
So I don’t feel like a failure, though I’m sinking by degrees.
I will simply resupply a patch of Earth that lacks debris.

What’s the worst thing that’s been said about you?

Rough Landing Haiku

Space travel fans and recyclers are full of admiration for the people at Space-X, who come closer with each attempt to doing something the throw-away generation of the ’60’s didn’t even consider. They’re trying to create a rocket booster that can carry a vehicle to orbit, and then land, vertically, the same way it took off.

To allow some room for error, they built a barge that can float out in the ocean, away from population centers. Smart, but problematic, as it creates a somewhat unsteady surface.

This last time they came quite close to making it work.

I love the slow yielding to gravity at the end, as it gradually becomes clear we are not going to remain vertical.

The fall takes about 7 seconds – just long enough to read three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables.

if there is no land
just a barge in the ocean
there is no landing

falling down to earth,
a job anything can do,
gets tricky at last

hold the platform still
and I will stick the dismount
at some other time

practice makes perfect
but first some big explosions
for entertainment

Space X says next time, they’ll try to do the landing where there is actually some land.

When has practice made perfect for you?

Forest Hospitality Crisis Deepens

Today we hear from Bart, a bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I live in the woods so I know all about the natural patterns.

Summer dies, the leaves fall, the snow flies, and the bears hunker down. Then the sun warms, the snow melts, the bears wake up and the people go a little bit nuts.

This is the time when all the annual warnings come out about securing things that smell tasty because the dreaded bears are coming out of hibernation and they’re hungry but there’s no food for them, so you’d better make sure there’s no charred chunks burned onto the grate of the gas grill.

Which is too bad, because I sure likes to do me some charred chunk gas grill grate grazing. My heart sinks when I climb up on a deck in the dead of night, carefully make my way to the cook top, and lift the lid only to see that someone has been busy with a wire brush and the 409.

And articles like this one are so alarmist – as if the worst thing that can happen is that a bear will lick the Weber or tip over your smelly old garbage. Let me tell you – having a bit of your trash strewn about is not the worst thing that can happen on a windy April morning.

What’s sadder is the way this paranoia makes you behave.

I’ve heard tell of “Minnesota Nice,” but I’ve sure never seen it. Especially not in Spring. Even though you make such a big deal of being so friendly and welcoming to the unfortunate victims of bad luck with poems like “The New Colossus,” which I read online and liked a lot:

“Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’m guessing Emma Lazarus would turn over in her grave if she saw the way you’ve decided to treat your hungry, huddled bears. As far as I’m concerned, this is what I hear when I try to re-enter society every April.

I’ve seen that bear before.
His famished stomach churning to eat free.
Your wretched refuse is his grocery store!
Pizza, or maybe a toaster pastry?
Let the poor bastard have an apple core!

But who am I kidding? I know everything in the pantry is in lock-down. That’s why I snuck in and snitched a whole box of Twinkies from Ranger Station last summer when they were all distracted trying to get a stray deer out of the DNR gift shop.

Those things never go bad!

The Twinkies, I mean.  Deer are bad to the bone!

Your pal,
Bart

I’m impressed with Bart’s ability to quote from a poem that adorns the Statue of Liberty, but I am relatively certain he will not make it through the spring on a Twinkies-only diet.  I hope he finds something nourishing, and soon!

Where have you found inspirational words to live by?

A Long Trip Worth A Short Rhyme

We all know migratory birds accomplish amazing feats, but none are more incredible than this latest news about the Blackpoll Warbler.

That a fluffy bird “the size of a tennis ball” can make it from Massachusetts to Venezuela is inspiring – at least I hoped it would be for Trail Baboon’s Sing-Song Poet Laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler.

When I asked him to pen a few lines about exhaustion and depleted things, he was already at work on it, having received word via social media that there was a bird story in the news.

The songbird’s strength is in his throat,
the better for to sing with.
He’s not designed to swim or float.
It’s music he takes wing with.

His scrawny stubs flap extra fast
when he flies o’er the ocean.
We don’t expect his trip to last
with such a frantic motion.

For three long days he pushes south.
Until the trip’s completed.
At last a sound escapes his beak.
“R my arms tired,” he tweeted.

What wears you out?