Category Archives: Poems

The Flooding Room Scenario

A new projection suggests that if carbon emissions continue unabated, massive ice melt and expanding oceans will threaten coastal communities on a global scale.  I’ve you’ve been paying attention to this, the advent of a new  prediction that there is a huge climate calamity on the way is something that could have totally been predicted.

The relentlessly regular release of dire news into our environment makes me think of that Hollywood movie scenario where the heroes are trapped in a sealed room that is slowly but inexorably filling with water.

When I mentioned this to Trail Baboon’s resident poet, the relentlessly rhyming but terrifyingly simplistic Tyler Schuyler Wyler, he immediately retreated to his frosty garret. Within hours he had calved off a chunk of doggerel so massive, it could support its own family of penguins.

The doorway clicked shut. There was no pathway out
For the windowless chamber was small.
With a single intrusion. A lone data spout
trickled estimates out of the wall.

Global temperature readings dripped into the room,
Dire missives of gases and soot.
As more studies leaked out of this pipeline of doom
I began to think we were kaput.

There was rapid decay in a glacial ice sheet.
caused by currents a fraction too warm.
As the science gushed in I was swept off my feet,
treading data in silent alarm.

As I floated and flailed in this wave of research
it rose quickly with every new proof.
Not a foothold or ledge. Not a grab bar or perch.
Just my head, and hot air, and the roof.

How I prayed for a hatch or a door or a drain.
A release valve to lessen the flood
of alarming insights swirling around in my brain
of a someday submerged neighborhood.

So the moral is “think harder while you can choose
to do things that will lessen the tide.”
Don’t get trapped in a room filling up with bad news
That you wish that you were not inside.

How do you manage your intake of discouraging news?

Revelers Beware!

Today’s high temperature in the Twin Cities is expected to hit the mid-60’s.

A seasonal giddiness warning has been issued, effective all day and doubly so during happy hour.  We are on a 24 hour recklessness watch.

Gloomy realists will note that when Spring arrives, the dividing line is usually not drawn so sharply.  For every mid-March warm spell, there’s a St. Patrick’s Day blizzard on the way.

Sometimes it’s good to look in the record books for proof – thus today’s Baboon blog redux.

During what  passed for the Spring in the year 2013, America’s Singsong Poet Laureate, Schuyler Tyler Wyler, climbed into his drafty garret to produce a May Day Ditty that, this year, is more appropriate for March.

Embrace the May, but be a cynic.
Mother Nature’s schizophrenic.

She brings us air so sweet and mild,
and then a freezing zephyr wild.

She’ll green some grass, hey nonny nonny,
then kick your ass a little, honey.

Drape floral garlands ’round your feet,
then fill your face with freezing sleet.

Get out and do your May Pole dance,
but put some hot sauce in your pants.

Though May bringst bees and buds to flower
Conditions changeth by the hour.

What will you do to enthusiastically but realistically accept the gift of an early-season warm day?

Why Astronauts Shouldn’t Drink

Astronaut Scott Kelly spent almost one year in space. 

Now that he’s back on Earth, there’s some stuff to get used to, and he will be adjusting for a while, because spending so much time in micro gravity changes the body.  And perhaps the mind!

So I asked Trail Baboon Sing-Song Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler to create one of his famous lighter-than-air word confections to honor Kelly.  TSW grabbed the necessary supplies and locked himself away in a backyard tool shed, staying there for 340 consecutive hours before emerging with this work of art scribbled on the inside surface of an empty box of Nut Goodies.

It’s final call at Bottom’s End.
A round of suds was bought
as misery engulfed my friend –
a grounded astronaut.

A man who spends much time in space
will change while flying high.
He gets a somewhat puffy face
and lighter in the thigh.

He’d been aloft for many days
but now was unemployed.
He came back full of cosmic rays
and longing for the void.

“I’d wake up as the sun went down
Sometimes, the other way.
It flickered as we went  around.
sixteen full times each day.”

“In orbit, friends, I stood so tall.
Down here I sag and bloat.
I walked on ceilings and the wall.”
Even my tears would float.”

“But now I’m held in place without
a chance of pulling free.
I miss the flying all about.
I miss the space debris.”

“My bones are calcium-bereft.
My muscles all got limp.
I’d gladly go back where I left
to be an astro-wimp.”

“Don’t be so eager to depart,”
I told him with a wink.
“Down here when men drink beer and fart,
the capsule doesn’t stink.”

He smiled the smile of one who’s known
an idiot or two.
“I’d go back even though I’ve flown
with guys more crude than you.”

And then he looked away as if
there was no more to say.
An astronaut who’s seen the sun
rise sixteen times a day

Where are you longing to return?



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?


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 / 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.

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.

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.

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?