December 2023-February 2024

This posting, like its two predecessors, is comprised of one new poem and one accepted  for publication. “Their Hot Pursuit Afoot” was written betweeen August and September.  “A Winning Affair,” originally posted in December 2021-February 2022 was submitted for publication in June 2023 to The Hare’s Paw Literary Journal and published in its September edition.  https://www.harespawlitjournal.com/issue-12-home

 

Their Hot Pursuit Afoot

 

On dog days in summer,
                a pack unleashed at dawn
obeys the sun’s high command—
                heads east, invades a village
whose citizens’re still embedded…

Darkness retreats—bright, in turn,
                 lightens up lane by lane,
house after house, floor to floor…

Among the windows it glares into,
                  any open bare streaming through;
shadows cleared out, sleepers
                  awaken, rise, and shine…

Home bodies are better off indoors;
                  come mid morning the devil’s
due’ll be milling around— hounds driven
                  mad by the heat hunting for cover.

 

   A Winning Affair

 

Mon cheri,
before the waiter shows up,
let us, a seating of lovers
at a window table, behave badly…

What’s wrong with stealing kisses,
playing name the shade of lipstick,
keeping score on a napkin?

Our café’s fondly called Cupid.
The wines are cheap, service slow,
and after a stroll along the Seine,
where we can sit side by side
so close an arrow couldn’t miss.

In good taste, I pick cherry red,
second guess wild strawberries…
The fun we have doing foreplay
lasts until, tongue in cheek,
you accuse me of cheating.

 

September-November

This posting  is similar in context to June-August. “Volksmusik Livens Up the Alps” is a new poem written during July 2023. “Last Laugh in the Funhouse” was originally posted in March-May 2019. I submitted the poem to Arboreal Magazine in June 2023. It was accepted for publication in their August 2023 issue. https://arborealmag.com/

Volksmusik Livens Up the Alps

Come spring, more and more blue sky,
               snow has stopped falling, 
                          bare ground showing.
In due course skiing’s verboten—
               the chance of an avalanche at any time.

Though valleys apart, the villages’re steeped
                in a tradition that brings them together—
                            yodelers sound off, low and behold,
                                          all falsetto, always wordless.

When called upon, echoes join in—
                            the songfest reaches a climax.

 

Last Laugh in the Funhouse

                   1.

Among the attractions
there’s always a back room
haunted by mirrors.
Above the entrance—
intruders are welcome
flashes off and on,
along with a green neon
arrow pointing forward.

                   2.

Within appears deserted,
dim as a dungeon;
but before long, one after
another, reflections show up
on both sides, back and forth…
What poses for fun is figuring
out who looks like who,
whether they match a good
or bad impression?

 

 

June-August 2023

Scruples #23 was written in April 2023 which makes it my most recent poem. Coincidentally, “The Advent of Spring” which was posted in March-April 2020 was accepted for publication in the April 2023 edition of Verse-Virtual.  https://www.verse-virtual.org/  In recognition of merit, the poem is being reposted.

                    23.

Pick any pocket, reach inside,
         let the right hand fumble around,
                 find a silver dollar…

Behold how bright and shiny
          hard currency glitters in light
                  of day, within your grasp…

This time you made a choice
           that paid off for a change–
                   on the money, winner takes all.

 

The Advent of Spring

 

Before sunrise many will congregate
outside the church in utter silence,
all eyes uplifted towards the steeple—
clerks, merchants, butchers, bakers
mingle with bankers and lawyers,
the mayor amongst them, standing alone.

The time of their lives is about to change.
Now that winter’s waned, spring
should be promising a warm welcome
for kindred spirits who kept out
of harm’s way by staying indoors.
And so, as the town stirs, windows
open, streets become walkable,
fountains blooming in every plaza.

The vigil lasts until first light.
By then bells ring free of the icy grip
that had stilled their tongues.
Crystal clear they chime, a blessing
upon those beholden
to the season’s better nature.

March -May 2023

Voyaging is the theme of this posting. Scruples #22 was written in mid 2022, coinciding with the publication of three by 3‘s print edition.”Nautical Leeway” was posted in December 2021-February 2022. While editing three by 3, I decided to revise it. The present version is titled “Nautical Leeways”.

                         22.                    

Cuzco’s temples worshipped the cosmos—
an imperial sun, earth mother, sibling moon—
on altars gilded with gold, silver, lapis lazuli
bluer than the horizon off Panama.

Pizarro laid claim to fame and fortune by conquest.
The infidel was no match for an army of Christians—
chieftains were vanquished, warriors held hostage,
nobles treated like slaves, their monarch with scorn.

                  ***

Every year our flotilla weighs anchor from Cadiz,
in due course bounds over the Spanish Main
towards Hispaniola, where plunder’s waiting…
A river of blood flows from the Inca heartland,
carries our galleons back to Castilla full
speed ahead, high and mighty, invincible. 

     Nautical Leeways 

 

Sailing ships follow the wind’s commands
as directed in due course—tack one way
or another… drift along when none prevail…

Boats propelled by motors are commandeered,
count on a crew to keep them running,
an engineer who knows how and why.
While at sea the captain’s in charge,
his orders always right, never wrong…

A safe harbor welcomes vessels, regardless
of where they’re from, much less destined.
Windborne along with motor driven find
shelter on its premises—a time and place
for safe keeping during bouts of foul weather.

 

 

December 2022- February 2023

Happy 2023, and time for a change: three by 3 is now two by 3 ! Any comments can be sent through the reply section on this posting or mbates8@msn.com.

During the final edit of three by 3 print edition I wrote Scruples #20. Its completion in June 2022 coincided with the book’s publication. Many artworks in my collection were bought at auction. The participant in Scruples #21 might be a winner, maybe not.                        

                             20.

Tally-ho —as the bugle blares, hounds bay,
                we take reckoning in stride…

Somewhere a hungry fox has come to his senses;
                 the meadow at dawn sweet and damp,
early risers stirring so near he can scent
                 the way they’re headed, hear them cooing…

With high esteem we gallop over hedgerows,
                 up and downhill, still ground, rally round a thicket.
He outfoxes us all morning, good sport
                 until in due course the hunt turns bloody.

                       

                               21.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our evening session.
On auction’s memorabilia from the estate
of Nosferatu, featuring the coffin he slept in,
a blood stained wardrobe, the wedding band
Nina wore during their intercourse…

All are proven legitimate, each with a COA
confirming title and ownership…
The house also cuts an invoice for every lot,
payable in dollars, pounds, or euros…

Fair warning —we value your patronage
as much as our reputation—buyer’s remorse
gives us a bad name…for good reason
it’s better to pass than bid on a whim.

September-November 2022

In case a reader missed the June-August posting, this is an encore. The offer remains ongoing until the book runs out of stock.  Please send your name and address before that happens!

Happy Birthday to three by 3. June-August 2022 marks its tenth anniversary! To celebrate the occasion, I would like to gift my readers a complimentary copy of its newly published print edition. The book is illustrated and thematically organized apropos a collection. To receive it, please email or post to the comments section below a name and mailing address.

Best to all, and may you enjoy reading the poems as much as I did writing them

June-August 2022

Happy Birthday to three by 3. June-August 2022 marks its tenth anniversary! To celebrate the occasion, I would like to gift my readers a complimentary copy of its newly published print edition. The book is illustrated and thematically organized apropos a collection.

To receive it, please email or post to the comments section below a name and mailing address. Best to all, and may you enjoy reading the poems as much as I did writing them.

March-May 2022

This posting consists entirely of new poems. All are of recent creation, the oldest being “The Guild Meets Its Match” which was written in December 2021. The New Year started auspiciously. Scruples #19 was completed in January. Months later, after multiple revisions ” A Repertoire of Baroque Opera” was ready for posting.

 

The Guild Meets Its Match

In closed ranks they sit
              or stand around the table,
united not by blood, but as kindred members.

On display’s a lump of clay
               which’ll stay that way, unless
the Meister decides otherwise.

Evening lamps brighten the hall,
               darkness shrinks into shadows,
on his watch time goes slower…

What one of a kind vessel, rendered
                from start to finish with perfection,
might he have in mind?
                Tonight the artisans expect more
than their dues’ worth.
                  On the agenda’s an attempt
to hand make a man, body and soul,
                  out of the likes of clay.

 

           

                  19.

 

The peasants arrive early,
                     armed with hoes, spades, shovels.
Day after day their livelihood
                     is tending to a field of millet.
If all grows well, by summer
                     it’ll be blooming;
come autumn ripe for reaping a harvest
                      that yields no chafe,
just grade A golden grain
                      after months of labor.

 

A Repertoire of Baroque Opera

 

The prince looks lost—which is how he feels
in a forest growing dim, where come moonshine
or starlight, spirits unseen but overheard resound.
As his lot appears more and more hopeless
he renders an aria that, moving beyond words,
rises to the occasion…

Purcell’s artistry should settle the score:
night mimicked by violins paired with cellos,
woodwinds playing from glade to glade
tweeting high and low, an oboe hoots.
Then hark the archangels—harps on hand
poised to pluck out an enchanted passage…

The last act’s staged within a clearing.
Light casts a halo around the Prince.
Hosted by trumpets, he finds his voice
in a clarion call that says and sings
about the tenor of fate — heaven help
any mortal, even a noble, who ventures
too far, too late, while hunting a unicorn.

 

December 2021-February 2022

The reprise of Scruples # 1-18 that began in June-August 2020 ended in September-November 2021.  The first posting for 2022 comprises two new poems, “Nautical Leeway” and “A Winning Affair” plus “Soul Searching’s Right of Way” which was recently published in The Courtship of Winds, summer 2021. The website is: https://www.thecourtshipofwinds.org/copy-of-toc-template-1

       Nautical Leeway

                               1.             

Sailing ships follow the winds’ commands,
do as they’re told in due course,
tacked one way, another, by breezes,
adrift when none are stirring.

Boats with motors, from yachts to cruisers,
run on captain’s orders, an able bodied,
mechanically minded mate carries them out,
a crew fathoms how and when.

                           2.

Ahoy the harbor, land based, water bound,
on high ground a lighthouse, offshore
a jetty that can withstand tidal waves,
the full force of stormy weather.
Large or small, it welcomes vessels
year round from all over, with a place
to anchor regardless of class.

By whatever means they navigate
across high seas and oceans;
stopping in between to rest assured,
spend down time plotting ahead.

 

A Winning Affair

 

Mon cheri,
before the waiter shows up,
let us, a seating of lovers
at a window table, behave badly…

What’s wrong with stealing kisses,
playing name the shade of lipstick,
keeping score on a napkin?

Our café’s fondly called Cupid.
The wines are cheap, service slow,
and after a stroll along the Seine,
where we can sit side by side
so close an arrow couldn’t miss.

In good taste, I pick cherry red,
second guess wild strawberries…
The fun we have doing foreplay
lasts until, tongue in cheek,
you accuse me of cheating.

 

Soul Searching’s Right of Way

 

So long as this trail wends
             over hills, down dales,
lies steeped in sunlight, babbled
              to by a passing brook…
on those grounds we spend a summer
              day, hour after hour,
until dusk comes, and with it
               a trail lurking in the dark.
Summer nights are heavenly sent—
               when the moon beams,
lone stars cluster together.
                In time, shadows show up,
some standing, others on the go—
                between then and dawn
they appear everywhere, without
                crossing our path.

 

September-November 2021

This posting of Scruples numbers 16 and 17 ends the reprise that began in June-August 2020. Number 18 is a new addition to the series.  This is its first appearance in print.

All told: “The idea of scruples has to do with ethics and morality: what is right and wrong. Scruples are a kind of moral compass that lets you know what’s right.”  (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/scruples )

                   16.

Being born losers ups the odds
to dead set against us.
We game each day until
there’s none in play.

Luck, as it so happens, can run
short or long, change direction,
swing from good to bad.
Our lot takes chances by choice.
Dealing with all kinds at any time
makes us gamblers for life.

                  17.

His eminence, hours into a tedious
speech about theology
in everyday space and time,
reaches a mute point.

Say no more, Aquinas, listen as heaven
revels, high strung harps pair
with dancing angels, corpus diem,
around the head of a pin…

To tell the truth, you’ve shown
they can in so many words.
Still riddled with doubt
is the nature of their gender,
be it male, female, or neither?

                     18.

Out of hunger, not pleasure, a pride
                        of lions leaves its lair at dawn,
 bright and mighty on the prowl…

 Until noon they have time to kill, cunning                                                                                                                                                  embodied in every move,                                                                                                                        their tour de force an ambush…       

 

Sun o’clock— the only shade around
                          grows under acaccias.                                                                                                                           Bloody lions gather there to share                                                                                                                                                               the spoils in all fairness—
 by merit, rank, age, gender,
                           without any growling allowed.