Thursday, December 13, 2012

981. Dem Bitter Snits

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a delightful little poem called 'The Bitter Snits' by Renee LaTulippe over on Renee's poetry blog. Reading this fun poem about these "niggling, wriggling" things called 'Bitter Snits' made me instantly want to tell the Bitter Snit's side of the story... and here it is, presented side by side with the original poem (reproduced here with Renee's permission). I suggest you read the original first, before reading my 'fan fiction' version :)

The Bitter Snits
by Renee M. LaTulippe

When you hunker in a sulk,
and you slouch and you skulk
like a heaving, huffing hulk
of mad

That’s when the Bitter Snits
slither in and steal your wits–
oh, my dear, I will admit it’s

A Bitter Snit’s a wormy thing,
a niggling, wriggling, squirmy thing
that plants a nagging germy thing
deep inside your brain.

And then you start the sniveling,
your surly head goes swiveling,
your common sense starts shriveling –
oh, it’s inhumane.

If you blubber, if you bawl,
beat your hands against the wall,
Bitter Snits will come to call,
it’s plain.

So when your temper’s on the fritz
and you sink down in the pits
of your snicky-icky fits
of mope

Just remember that a smile
for a Snit is something vile
and if you do it for a while…
there’s hope.

'The Bitter Snits' Copyright © 2012 Renee M. LaTulippe
Reproduced with author's permission


                Dem Bitter Snits
                by Vikram Madan

Dem no good restless little twits!
WE howl! WE prowl! WE stalk! WE sit!
And spread our spite where WE see fit!

WE'RE always cruising for some huff!
And specks of pout and crumbs of gruff!
An upset mind dat's feeling rough
Is where WE always plant our stuff!

WE snick and snack on common sense!
WE love to make your mind feel dense!
Once you've been breached dere's no defense
WE always quickly call our friends!

As long as dere are sulks and tears
Dere's little dat WE dread or fear!
De only ding WE cannot bear
Are signs and smells of (shudder!) cheer!

So DO NOT smile! It gives us fits!
NO SMILES! Smiles make us LOSE our wits!
You smiled? OH, NO! You've made us fritz!
For smiles destroy our SNITTER BITS ... !!! 

'Dem Bitter Snits' Text & Illustration Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

There you have it folks - poetry from two perspectives. Don't forget - you saw it here first! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

982. LOST: One Sense of Humor

No preamble, let's jump right in:

By Vikram Madan

The tale is spreading quickly;
You must have heard the rumor
I hurt my funny bone and then
I lost my sense of humor

I've looked for it all summer
I've searched afar and near
I'm feeling very dismal and
Unsmilingly severe

Hilarity eludes me
My wit induces tears
My jokes are flat as pancakes and
Repulsive to all ears

My puns are vile and pun-gent
My tales of jest appall
My gags induce much gagging and
My banter makes them bawl

Don't let this happen to you
Protect your funny bone
Or else you too might write a poem
Whose ending is a 'groan'.

Text and Illustration Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

If that ending made you groan, then I consider this poem a success :). Now hopefully I'll find my sense of humor one of these days - I suspect it'll be in the last place I look.

Happy Poetry Friday, hosted this week at Think, Kid, Think.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Classic Poems: 'I'm Growing Old' by John Godfrey Saxe

As I turned another year older this week (sigh), I thought I'd share this poignant little poem 'I'm Growing Old' by John Godfrey Saxe, penned sometime in the 1800s. Seems like nothing has really changed in the last two centuries on how we grow old.

I'm Growing Old
By John Godfrey Saxe

My days pass pleasantly away;
  My nights are blest with sweetest sleep;
I feel no symptoms of decay;
  I have no cause to mourn nor weep;
My foes are impotent and shy;
  My friends are neither false nor cold,
And yet, of late, I often sigh--
                 I am growing old!

My growing talk of olden times,
  My growing thirst for early news,
My growing apathy to rhymes,
  My growing love of easy shoes,
My growing hate of crowds and noise,
  My growing fear of taking cold,
All whisper, in the plainest voice,
                 I'm growing old!

I'm growing fonder of my staff;
  I'm growing dimmer in the eyes;
I'm growing fainter in my laugh;
  I'm growing deeper in my sighs;
I'm growing careless of my dress;
  I'm growing frugal of my gold;
I'm growing wise; I'm growing,-- yes,--
                 I'm growing old!

I see it in my changing taste;
  I see it in my changing hair;
I see it in my growing waist;
  I see it in my growing heir;
A thousand signs proclaim the truth,
  As plain as truth was ever told,
That, even in my vaunted youth,
                 I'm growing old!

Ah me! my very laurels breathe
  The tale in my reluctant ears,
And every boon the Hours bequeath
  But makes me debtor to the Years!
E'en Flattery's honeyed words declare
  The secret she would fain withhold,
And tells me in "How young you are!"
                 I'm growing old!

Thanks for the years! -- whose rapid flight
  My sombre Muse too sadly sings;
Thanks for the gleams of golden light
  That tint the darkness of their wings;
The light that beams from out the sky,
  Those heavenly mansions to unfold
Where all are blest, and none may sigh,
                   "I'm growing old!"  

Excerpted from 'The Poems of John Godfrey Saxe: Complete Edition', James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1873.

I suspect I'm not the only one with whom this poem will resonate ... :)

PS Happy Poetry Friday, hosted this week at the Mainely Write blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

983. Midnight Hour (A Halloween Poem)

Halloween seems to always be worthy of a new poem or two. Here's an original one I jotted down this week:

By Vikram Madan

Just past Fall and shy of Winter
Somewhere, in there, in between
On a night of chills and shadows
Swills the web of Halloween

That's when Ghouls and Ghosts and Goblins
Witches and their Wraiths convene
Riotously overdosed on
Phantasmagoric caffeine

As the midnight hour approaches
As the shivers grow unseen
Supernatural commotion
Germinates an eerie scene

Skeletons and Specters saunter
Pale and pasty, pallid, lean
Unheard music molds the darkness
Nameless terrors lurk unseen

Phantoms float and fade and flicker
Poltergeists cavort, careen
Apparitions shimmer, glimmer
Shrouded in a hazy sheen

Then, at midnight, all goes quiet.
Nothing stirs in wood or green.
Halloween's hijinks seem over
Life is, once more, safe, serene.

Or is it?
Trick or treat.

Text and Illustration Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

Now I just need to get me some of that 'Phantasmagoric Caffeine' ...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

984. A Little Nap

Ever have one of those days when All. You. Want. To. Do. Is. Take. A. Little. Nap?

          A Little Nap
      by Vikram Madan

I’d love to take a little nap –
  (Just forty winks or so)
But noise in this construction zone
  is hampering my flow
The hammer's curt staccato tin-
  tinnabulates my ear
The drill's insistent counterpoint
  keeps stabbing through my cheer
The motor's surly grumbles send
  dissonance up my core
The chisel chip-chip-chips away
  what’s left of my rapport
The scraping, pouring, polishing!
  The blare and racket stun!
I guess I won't be napping till
  my dental work is done… :(

Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan
Sound Effect Fonts from Blambot.Com

Yes, one of those days (sigh), and and now you also know what my visit to the dentist sounds like... (Hopefully your dental experiences are more peaceful).


Oh, and happy poetry friday, hosted this week at the Teacher Dance blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Classic Funny Poems: 'Faithless Nelly Gray' by Thomas Hood

Here's a poem written by Thomas Hood, a British Poet and Humorist, excerpted from 'The Humorous Poetry of the English Language' by J. Parton (Mason Brothers, 1857).

This poem is strikingly similar to John Godfrey Saxe's 'Briefless Barrister' (previously posted here, also excerpted from the same book) - lots of puns, lots of word-play. Note: The humor is a bit darker, and I can't tell if this was meant to be a farce of a farce, given the full title of the poem is 'Faithless Nelly Gray: A Pathetic Ballad'.

Without further ado:

Faithless Nelly Gray: A Pathetic Ballad
By Thomas Hood (1798-1845)

Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
And used to war's alarms;
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
So he laid down his arms.

Now, as they bore him off the field,
Said he, "Let others shoot;
For here I leave my second leg,
And the Forty-second Foot!"

The army-surgeons made him limbs:
Said he, "They're only pegs;
But there's as wooden members quite
As represent my legs!"

Now, Ben he loved a pretty maid,
Her name was Nelly Gray;
So he went up to pay his devours,
When he devoured his pay!

But when he called on Nelly Gray,
She made him quite a scoff;
And when she saw his wooden legs,
Began to take them off!

"O, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!
Is this your love so warm?
The love that loves a scarlet coat
Should be more uniform!"

Said she, "I loved a soldier once
For he was blithe and brave;
But I will never have a man
With both legs in the grave!

"Before you had those timber toes,
Your love I did allow;
But then, you know, you stand upon
Another footing now!"

"O, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!
For all your jeering speeches,
At duty's call I left my legs
In Badajos's breaches !"

"Why then," said she, "you've lost the feet
Of legs in war's alarms,
And now you cannot wear your shoes
Upon your feats of arms!"

"O, false and fickle Nelly Gray!
I know why you refuse: --
Though I've no feet -- some other man
Is standing in my shoes!

"I wish I ne'er had seen your face;
But, now, a long farewell!
For you will be my death; -- alas
You will not be my Nell!"

Now, when he went from Nelly Gray,
His heart so heavy got,
And life was such a burden grown,
It made him take a knot!

So round his melancholy neck
A rope he did entwine,
And, for his second time in life,
Enlisted in the Line.

One end he tied around a beam,
And then removed his pegs,
And, as his legs were off -- of course
He soon was off his legs!

And there he hung, till he was dead
As any nail in town--
For, though distress had cut him up,
It could not cut him down!

A dozen men sat on his corpse,
To find out why he died--
And they buried Ben in four cross-roads
With a stake in his inside!

[I have to admit one thing though: I did not understand the ending of this poem. If you have an interpretation of the last two lines, please share your insight via a comment for the benefit of the rest of us].

My favorite pun in this poem was 'Death...Nell' - how about yours?

Here is the biography of Thomas Hood from the same book. (Presumably, since this was written closer to his lifetime than, say, Wikipedia, we may consider it more authentic):
HOOD, THOMAS - Author of the "Song of the Shirt", which Punch had the honor of first publishing. Born in 1798; died in 1845. Hood was the son of a London BookSeller, and began life as a clerk. He became afterward an engraver, bur was drawn gradually into the literary profession, which he excercised far more to the advantage of his readers than his own. His later years were saddened by ill-health and poverty. Some of his comic verses seem forced and contrived, as though done for needed wages. Hood was one of the literary men who should have made of literature a staff, not a crutch. It was in him to produce, like Lamb, a few very admirable things, the execution of which should have been the pleasant occupation of his leisure, not the toil by which he gained his bread.

Thomas Hood

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

985. Curses: A Villain-elle

This one is an experiment with a poetic form called the 'Villanelle'. A villanelle is a somewhat complex poem structure characterized by only two rhyme sounds, refrains that alternate as the third line of each successive stanza, and a total of nineteen lines across six stanzas.

For the longest time, I used to read the word 'Villanelle' incorrectly as 'Villainelle' (what can I say, blame my dyslexia). To make up for my disappointment at discovering my error, I decided it was time someone wrote a real 'Villain-elle'. Here it is:

CURSES: A Villain-elle
    By Vikram Madan

I scheme and plot and plan in vain.
Once more I gnash my teeth and sigh:
And curses, I've been foiled again!

My dream is simple, sweet and plain
To rule this world from sea to sky
I scheme and plot and plan (in vain!)

What use my I.Q., my big brain
When fate just scoffs and pokes my eye
And curses! - I've been foiled again!

My death-star, robots, spider-rain,
My dino-clones … all gone, while I,
I scheme and plot and plan in vain

For no soon have I made some gain
When up pops up some super-guy
- And curses, I've been foiled again!

I'll NEVER give up my campaign
One day I'll win and no more cry:
I scheme and plot and plan in vain,
And curses, I've been foiled again!

Text and Illustration Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

For more Villanelle fun, here are two of the more famous Villanelles in english poetry:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

986. Ode to the Best Darn Poem What I Ever Did Write

Here's one only a poet can appreciate :)

Ode to the Best Darn Poem What I Ever Did Write
                        By Vikram Madan

I marveled when you first emerged, a tendril of a thought
You needed care and nurturing: I gave you all you sought

I watched you thrive and blossom and unfurl your worded wings
The texture of a language, vibrating in your strings

I felt your rhythms synchronize, your meters coalesce
Iambic feet cavorting as you took on loveliness

Your metaphors? Magnificent! Your similes? A bliss!
The way your words enthralled my tongue was no less than a kiss

Climatic? Like a symphony; Sagacity? Profound!
We danced all day inside my mind - (My smugness knew no bounds)

A masterpiece so perfect that no world would be the same!
I went to bed content I stood upon the cusp of fame

I dreamt all night how you and I would transform mankind
I woke up … to be horror-struck - you'd faded from my mind!

Oh why, oh why, did I commit the poets greatest sin
I should have freed you to paper, not kept you locked within

I've tried but failed to bring you back - I'll mourn you ever more
You could have been my 'Raven' but instead you're my 'Lenore'.

Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

[ PS. For anyone who didn't catch the references in the last line, look up Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven', a masterpiece of a poem that turned Poe into an instant celebrity. In that poem, Lenore is the maiden the narrator lost and forever pines for ... ]

PPS Happy Poetry Friday - this weeks the funs at Renee LaTulippe's No Water River blog.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Classic Funny Poems: 'The Briefless Barrister' by John G. Saxe

Here's an old little-known poem by John Godfrey Saxe penned sometime prior to 1857. Although John G. Saxe is most well known for his poem 'The Blind Men and the Elephant', he was a prolific poet and I was delighted to stumble across this gem in an old obscure book. I particularly enjoyed the word-play sprinkled through-out this poem. Note that John Saxe was a barrister by profession, so presumably he knew what he was writing about when he wrote this poem.

      The Briefless Barrister
A Ballad by John G. Saxe (1816 - 1887)

An attorney was taking a turn,
    In shabby habiliments drest ;
His coat was shockingly worn,
    And the rust had invested his vest.

His breeches had suffered a breach,
    His linen and worsted were worse ;
He had scarce a whole crown in his hat,
    And not half-a-crown in his purse.

And thus as he wandered along,
    A cheerless and comfortless elf,
He sought for relief in a song,
    Or complainingly talked to himself :

" Unfortunate man that I am !
    I've never a client but grief ;
The case is, I've no case at all,
    And in brief, I've ne'er had a brief !

" I've waited and waited in vain,
    Expecting an 'opening' to find,
Where an honest young lawyer might gain
    Some reward for the toil of his mind.

" 'Tis not that I'm wanting in law,
    Or lack an intelligent face,
That others have cases to plead,
    While I have to plead for a case.

" O, how can a modest young man
    E'er hope for the smallest progression-
The profession's already so full
    Of lawyers so full of profession !"

While thus he was strolling around,
    His eye accidentally fell
On a very deep hole in the ground
    And he sighed to himself, "It is well !"

To curb his emotions, he sat
    On the curb-stone the space of a minute,
Then cried, " Here's an opening at last !"
    And in less than a jiffy was in it !

Next morning twelve citizens came
    ('Twas the coroner bade them attend),
To the end that it might be determined
    How the man had determined his end !

" The man was a lawyer, I hear,"
    Quoth the foreman who sat on the corse ;
" A lawyer?   Alas! " said another,
    "Undoubtedly he died of remorse !"

A third said, " He knew the deceased,
    An attorney well versed in the laws,
And as to the cause of the death,
    'Twas no doubt from the want of a cause."

The jury decided at length,
    After solemnly weighing the matter,
" That the lawyer was drownded, because
    He could not keep his head above water !"

Excerpted from 'The Humorous Poetry of the English Language' by J. Parton, Mason Brothers, 1857

For more poetic fun, head on over to this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Diane Mayr's Random Noodling Blog.
Happy Poetry Friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

987. Franken-Jack and Franken-Jill

In celebration of this week's Poetry Friday, being hosted by Katya Czaja on her Write, Sketch, Repeat blog, here's a new twisted nursery tale I wrote this week. The plot will be at once familiar and at once not...

Franken-Jack And Franken-Jill
        By Vikram Madan

Franken-Jack and Franken-Jill
Lurching, lurching up the hill
Testing out the new physiques
Doctor Stein has built this week

Buck-Et-Take-Up!", F-Jack groans
"Wa-Ter-Bring-Down!", F-Jill moans
Fill the bucket at the top
Careful not to slop a drop

Franken-Jill and Franken-Jack
Heaving, swaying, stagger back
Teeter, totter, two left feet
Trip and tumble to the street

Franken-Jill's the first to rise
Dusts her dress, adjusts her eyes
Looks at Franken-Jack and frowns

Franken-Jack gets up and looms
Feels his head, then rages, fumes

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

Following last Poetry Friday's Humpty poem, this poem originally started as 'Franken-Humpty' ... but 'Franken-Humpty' just didnt have the same rhythm as 'Franken-Jack and Franken-Jill', who took a life of there own after being hit by a bolt of random inspiration.... :)

 If you enjoyed this poem, may I recommend two other 'twisted' poems I recently posted:
And if you enjoyed those poems too, well then, feel free to poke around this site and follow this blog for regular updates ... :)

Happy Poetry Friday!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

988. The Oviraptor's Kin

Here's an older dinosaur poem inspired by dinosaurs called Oviraptors, latin for 'Egg Thief'. The dinosaurs were so named because the first discovered fossil was found huddled over a clutch of eggs of - what was assumed to be - a different species. With time, paleontologists realized the dinosaur was probably guarding it's own nest and hadn't been 'caught in the act'. It's reputation was cleared, but the name still sticks. (Talk about a bum rap!)

This poem celebrates the original theory as that's the more imaginative one. :)

The Oviraptor's Kin
By Vikram Madan

Said Oviraptor to his kin,
    'I’m great at stealing eggs!
My arms are perfect - long and thin!
    I have the fastest legs!’

‘My face has got a cunning look
    My gait is sly and keen
I steal those eggs by hook or crook
    My getaways are clean'

‘And once an egg falls in my hands
    I cannot help but smile
The eggs from many Dino-lands
    I’ve added to my pile’

‘No Oviraptor can compare
    Its stash of eggs to mine
A hoard this size has to be rare
    And none could be as fine!’

But as he gloated, full of pride,
    He erred and turned his back
Which let his kin sneak by his side
    And pilfer his whole stack…

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2004 Vikram Madan

An Oviraptor's kin, after all, is an Oviraptor too ...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

989. Charge of the Night Brigade

Here's another parody poem (or as J. Patrick Lewis calls them, a 'parrot-y') gestated by the parrot-y party going on at David L. Harrison's blog. This one is based on Lord Alfred Tennyson's famous poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. I was first introduced to the original when I was in middle-school, and portions of it have stuck with me ever since. Since the original is now in public domain, I have reproduced it side-by-side with the parody for your reading pleasure.

[Warning: I rate this poem as PG for excessive violence and macabre themes][though to be fair to myself, the original is no less violent :) ]

The Charge of the Night Brigade
Parody By Vikram Madan

Half a leg, half a leg,
Half a leg onward,
All in the alley of Death
  Shuffled six hundred.
Zombies, the night pervade
“Brains!” were the words unsaid.
Into the alley of Death
  Shuffled six hundred.

Zombies, the night pervade
Was there a man dismayed?
Wherefrom they came anew
  No one had wondered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to eat an eye.
Into the alley of Death
  Shuffled six hundred.

Human to right of them,
Human to left of them,
Human in front of them
  Panicked and blundered;
Stormed at with shoe and shell,
Coldly they flowed and fell,
Carrying their jaws of Death,
Carrying their mouths of hell
  Shuffled six hundred.

Flashed all their ulnas bare,
Moaned as they clawed the air,
Chasing the humans there,
Mindlessly swarming, while
  The whole world sundered.
Pounding on pine and oak
Right through the doors they broke;
Redneck and Yuppie
Reeled from each horrid-stroke
  Splattered, fell under.
Then they flowed back, but not,
  Not the six hundred.

Human to right of them,
Human to left of them,
Human behind them,
  Infected and plundered;
Tainted with zombie spell,
Rose now, who once had fell,
They that had fed so well
Carried their jaws of Death
Carried infectious hell,
Now there were more of them,
  More than six hundred.

When can their hunger fade?
When ends their dark parade?
  None left to wonder.
Fear now the charge they made!
Fear that undead brigade,
  Hundreds and hundreds
  And hundreds and hundreds
  And hundreds and hundreds
  And hundreds…

The Charge of the Light Brigade
By Lord Alfred Tennyson 1809–1892

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sab’ring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!

 Illustrations and Parody Copyright (c) 2012 Vikram Madan
Now that was fun wasn't it? :)

Psssst: Tired of waiting for the zombie apocalypse to happen? Get thee this here bumper sticker: 
and other similar merchandise by clicking here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

990. The Countenance of Humpty Dumpty

It's Poetry Friday today, being hosted over at the Poetry For Children blog. To celebrate, here's a new humorous poem featuring an all-too-familiar character in an all-too-familiar setting. Or is it?

The Countenance of Humpty Dumpty
              By Vikram Madan

As Humpty Dumpty, on the wall,
Sat in a cheerless slump
A passerby assumed the worst
And yelled, He’s going to jump!

An anxious crowd assembled and
Begged Humpty change his mind
The King's men and their horses came
(The Press shadowed behind)

They cordoned off the boulevard
Unfurled a safety net
A nervous chatter filled the night,
The tension, thick as sweat

Then Humpty shuffled in his spot
(The crowd shook with unease)
This isn't what you think, he said
I came here … for the breeze

You see, I haven't smiled in years
My countenance is skewed
I thought a dose of fresh air might
Invigorate my mood

For mirth lends me no company
I’m always feeling grim
And in my quest to lighten up
I sat here on a whim

But as he spoke he lost his poise
And toppled off the top
And treaded wind with flailing limbs
Down, down the few-foot drop

A solemn silence hushed the street.
All stared in stunned dismay.
Poor Humpty missed the safety net
(What more was left to say?)

The coroner, to close, declared
(As medics cleared the pile)
Humpty, our friend, is gone but look
At last, he’s cracked a smile!

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

Ok, ok - don't twist my arm - I admit I wrote this poem backwards, starting with the ending in mind. Sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do :) .... Happy Poetry Friday!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

991. I Tried To Clone a Dinosaur

Here's an old poem I wrote a while back. Can you tell that it's inspired by 'Jurassic Park' and other mad-cap mad-scientist capers? :)

I Tried To Clone A Dinosaur
     By Vikram Madan

I tried to clone a Dinosaur
From old amber-encrusted drones
But I could not produce much more
Than half-grown bits of skin and bones

And so I built a Time Machine
To head back to Jurassic days
To view first-hand all those unseen
Dinosaurs of the yesterdays

And I came back from this fine trip
Only to find, to my dismay,
Some Dinosaurs stowed on my ship
And breeding in the cargo bay

They looked at me with hungry eyes
I zapped them with my Shrinking Ray
But now that they were all pint-sized
They slipped through cracks and got away

Next time a bug goes scurrying by
Take one close look just to be sure
That it’s indeed an ant or fly
And not a tiny Dinosaur…

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2002 Vikram Madan


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

992. Poetry Stretch: A Lai

This week's Monday Poetry Stretch was to write a Lai - a "French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes", a rhyme scheme of a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b and additional restrictions of 5 syllables in the 'a' lines and only 2 syllables in the 'b' line.  All in all, a very concise and tight poetry form, and not easy to write to. Here's a quick, somewhat grim, 'Lai' I slapped together:

Warning: A-lai-ve or Dead

The Vampires arise
Under savage skies
   To seek
A suck-culent prize
Oh, how they despise
   The meek
They've planned your demise
So say your goodbyes
   This week.

Copyright (c) 2012, Vikram Madan

Someone should have told me never to 'Lai'  (all puns intended) ... :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Classic Funny Poems: 'A Nightmare' by W. S. Gilbert

(Once upon a time people actually managed to publish books of light verse. Sadly we've lost our collective sense of poetic humor since then).

The other day, while thumbing through an old book of humorous poems, I came across what-I-thought-was a stunning poem titled 'A Nightmare'. It took me a while to figure out that the unfamiliar-to-me author it was attributed to, one 'WS Gilbert' was none other than the Gilbert from the operatic duo 'Gilbert & Sullivan'. The poem is actually better known as the 'Nightmare Song from Iolanthe', but Sir Gilbert re-published it in a book of poems (Songs of a Savoyard) back around 1894 and I think it's actually a pretty fun and rollicking read as a poem (much better than it is as a song). Here it is in it's entirety for your reading pleasure

Note the way this poem is laid out with long unbroken sentences that contribute a breathlessness and sense of urgency and unease to the poem, which will feel very familiar to anyone who's ever had any kind of nightmare... 


A Nightmare
Poem (and Illustration) by Sir W. S. Gilbert
When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire - the bedclothes conspire of usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles - you feel like mixed pickles, so terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick 'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eyeballs and head ever aching,
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you'd very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich,
Which is something between a large bathing-machine and a very small second-class carriage;
And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations -
They're a ravenous horde - and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);
He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised when he tells you he's only eleven.
Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad (by the bye the ship's now a four-wheeler),
And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you're as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too - which they've somehow or other invested in -
And he's telling the tars all the particulars of a company he's interested in -
It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices, all goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors) by treating retailers, as though they were all vegetables -
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree -
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastry-cook plant cherry-brandy will grant - apple puffs, and three-corners, and banberries -
The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by ROTHSCHILD and BARING,
And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing -
You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head's on the floor, and you've needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg's asleep, and you've cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and a thirst that's intense, and a general sense that you haven't been sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last, and the night has been long - ditto, ditto my song - and thank goodness they're both of them over!  

Don't you just love the perfect meter and rhyme in this poem!

[Note: To my knowledge the copyright for both this poem, and the accompanying illustration above - also by Sir W. S. Gilbert, is in the public domain]

Sunday, August 26, 2012

993. The Ogre's Meal (or The Toad Not Taken)

Continuing on the bowlderization challenge mentioned in the previous post, heres another parody of another famous Robert Frost poem - The Road Not Taken.

This was a fun parody to produce in that I made the most minimal number of changes to the original poem. I've highlighted the words I changed in grey below (only 22! - and yes, the third stanza is entirely untouched).

Note: the title is an important part of this poem.
The Ogre’s Meal (a.k.a. The Toad Not Taken)
Parody by Vikram Madan

Two toads emerged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not gobble both
And be one gobbler, long I stood
And looked in one as far as I could
And smelled it’s scent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as scowled
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was warty and smelled more foul
Though as for that the passing fowl
Had fouled them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a cuss
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two toads emerged in a wood, and thus -
I took the one more odorous
And that has made all the flatulence.

Parody Copyright © 2012, Vikram Madan


994. Whose Woods These Are

Today's bit of poetry comes from another challenge on David Harrison's blog, prompted by J. Patrick Lewis (current U.S. Children's Poet Laureate) for a form of poetry they call 'First Lines, Bowlderized'. There's a fun set of poems posted on David's site by many well known author's. My humble addition is a take on Robert Frost's well known poem (read the original version here if you're not familiar with it):

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Parody by Vikram Madan
Whose woods these are I do not know
The bank foreclosed them long ago
My Ponzi scheme is in arrears
I’m out on bail and laying low

My little website had no peer
The suckers came from far and near
Buy bits of woods and quickly make
The largest returns of the year!

The more I paid the more I raked
But my success was my mistake
I couldn’t help but stop and weep
When Feds denounced me as a flake

My trial is lonely, dark and deep
But I have skeletons to keep
And files to shred before I sleep
And files to shred before I sleep

Parody Copyright (c) 2012, Vikram Madan

Bonus Tip: I learnt from Jane Yolen that both the original and this poem can be sung to the tune of Hernando's Hideaway (see the Pajama Game version here).

Some fun poems

Every once in a while I stumble across some exceptionally fun poems out on the interweb. Here's a couple for your reading pleasure:

  1. Burning Hot Banana by JonArno Lawon (You have to read this one aloud)
  2. I Hate To Ask by Elisabeth Dahl (For all the facebook-fatigued masses)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

995. The Knight And The Dragon

I wrote this poem a few years ago for an online zine that was doing a themed issue on Dragons.

[Note: If the opening line sounds familiar, well yes, it takes inspiration from the opening line of Lewis Carroll's well known poem (from Alice in Wonderland) 'You Are Old, Father William', which you can read in it's entirety on Wikipedia.]

                    The Knight and the Dragon
                            By Vikram Madan

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he polished his lance
     ‘And your wings are all tattered and torn
And the ache in your bones surely softens your stance
    And your talons seem dull and well-worn.’

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he mounted his steed
     ‘And your eyes are beginning to gloss
And the weight of the years surely makes you knock-kneed
     And your scales are all covered with moss.’

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he straightened his shield
     ‘Do your teeth rattle loose in your gums?
And your blood, once so hot, must lie cold and congealed
     Do you get by on more than just crumbs?’

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he spurred on his horse
     ‘And your glory lies faded and maimed
But your fate, though much withered, has shown you remorse
     And left you the keys to my fame’

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he galloped in fast
     ‘So why bother to swagger and pose?
With my heart just as kind as my courage is vast
     I shall bring a swift end to your woes.’

‘You are old,’ said the Knight, as he readied his blow
     ‘And your breath smells like brimstone and ash
And your fire… still burns?! … Like a hot… volcano!
     So… hot!!…’ And he was gone in a flash.

Copyright (c) 2005 Vikram Madan, All Rights Reserved


996. Captchas

For this week's Poetry Friday, well-known author Douglas Florian had a poem on his blog about captchas, ('captchas' are those weird number/letter combinations you have to decipher and type to prove you are human - read more here) to which I had to comment:

I tried to prove that I was not
A bot, a script, a tool
But I failed so persistently
I felt just like a fool
Is that an 'A'? Or 'T'? Or 'C'
Or 'X' crossed with an 'N'?
This squint-inducing task I'm sure
Is not for mortal men
I refresh, retry, try again
Until my brain unspools
Whoever thought these 'captchas' up
I fear is somewhat cruel ...
Copyright (c) 2012 Vikram Madan, All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 24, 2012

997. In The Back of The 'Fridgerator

Sometimes inspiration can come from the strangest of sources. I was poking in the back of the fridge one day, and thought to myself, 'Wow, this stuff in here is really old and really stale'. Well, the phrase 'Really Old and Really Stale' got stuck in my head because it sounded like the opening line of a poem, which I then just had to sit down and write.

Here's the first version:

 A Love Story by Vikram Madan

Really Old met Really Stale
In the back of the ‘fridgerator
“Love at First Smell!” they declared
Each vowed its love was greater

“You and I shall have such FUNgus”
“Let’s grow mOLD together”

And thus they lived in rotten bliss
Decaying with each other

But then one day a hand reached in
And decomposed the pair
And one was left mourning the loss
Of one no longer there

This tale would be a tragedy
As one sat there and yearned
But the ordeal was not over yet
And the cleansing hand returned!

Before too long the fridge was bare
And scrubbed from well within
And the lovers? Reunited,
In the heart of the compost bin.

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan, All Rights Reserved

The phrase 'In the Back of the 'Fridgerator' had a nice ring to it and sounded like a refrain that needed repitition within the poem. Here's the second version I wrote, this time with a chantable refrain:

A Love Story by Vikram Madan

Really Old met Really Stale
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
So began this stinky tale
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Love at First Smell!, they declared
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Oh, the fun-gus times they shared
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Growing m-old and mildewy
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
     In the back of the 'fridgerator...

Then one day a hand appeared
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Did the thing they both had feared
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Picked one up and split the pair
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
Lonesomeness and sorrow there
     In the back of the 'fridgerator...

Does this tale end in regret
     In the back of the 'fridgerator?
Wait! Mom's not done cleaning yet
     In the back of the 'fridgerator!
When the scrubbing was all done
     In the back of the 'fridgerator
The two once more were joined as one
     But away from our 'fridgerator...

Really Stale met Really Old
     In the heart of the compost pile
Henceforth rotting uncontrolled
  Gladly rotting uncontrolled
   Together rotting uncontrolled
     In the heart of the compost pile.

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan, All Rights Reserved

I was feeling partial towards the second version, but a ten-year old I tested it on found it to be (sadly) too repetitive. What do you think?  Does one work better than the other? (Right now the first is headed into my upcoming poetry collection while the second is destined for the reject drawer ...)

998. Through Deep, Dark and Lovely Woods

Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago for an online zine for a provided prompt of 'Deep, Dark and Lovely Woods'. The phrase was no doubt taken from Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' and so I threw in a few subtle references to Frost's work inside the poem. See if you can spot them.

Through Deep, Dark and Lovely Woods
By Vikram Madan

Despair not, O Weary Pilgrim
   I too made the same mistake
Stopped and fell under the spell of
   Easy wind and downy flake
Took a path that was less traveled
   Through deep, dark and lovely woods
Falling snow erased my footprints
   I too was then lost for good…

Daylight gave in to the darkness
   As did fortitude to fear
Fear to fright and fright to terror
   When those voices reached my ear
Vile and vicious, harsh and hostile,
   Reeking of pain and torment
Surely mortal tongues might never
   Harbor so much ill-intent…

As the sounds grew ever closer
   As my heart beat louder still
I saw shadows in the darkness
   Lurking, lurching down a hill
Rough and ragged raspy breathing
   Shuffles of demented feet
Hints of claws and fangs and maws and
   Whiffs of rotten, spoiling meat…

Was that wind that tugged my collar
   As I turned around to flee?
Were those roots that sent me tripping?
   Thorns that dug into my knee?
Could I be but more uncertain
   Were those rocks that struck my head?
There is little I remember
   Past that final sense of dread…

Despair not, O Weary Pilgrim
   Even if prospects look grim
You too have been well surrounded
   Chances of escape are slim
Heed my counsel, curb your anguish
   When the end comes, do not fuss
Once your misery is over
   You too shall be one of us…
Copyright (c) 2006 Vikram Madan, All Rights Reserved

I remember I spent a month on and off back then tinkering with this poem trying to get it just right and was quite happy with the end result... 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

999. In Which All Planning Comes to Naught

Another day, another challenge. Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect blog is a recurring Monday Poetry Challenge. This week's challenge was to create a 'trimeric' poem. A trimeric is a complex poetic form where subsequent stanzas repeat lines from the first stanza (what can I say - poets like challenging themselves). You can read more about the 'trimeric' here.

The original form, as conceived, is not a rhyming form, but I thought to try my own hand at a rhyming variation of it. Here's my sorta-rhyma-trimeric:


Now all through the summer I begged and I whined
In hopes that my parents would make up their mind
But parents have reasons to do what they do
And that's why I sit here and grumble and stew.

In hopes that my parents would make up their mind
I begged and cajoled and I craved and I pined
Until they said, 'Yes, we are almost inclined - 

But parents have reasons to do what they do
And that's why we're saying - No! No pup for you!'

And with that they sent all my planning askew

And that's why I sit here and grumble and stew
For now there's no dog who I hoped to have 'chew'
The homework I shirked, which I'll now have to do.

Copyright (c) 2012 Vikram Madan

In retrospect, I have to say this is a hard form to work with, and I compounded the challenge for myself by trying to rhyme it, which seems to have somewhat constrained the expression of the idea within...

1000. Ominous Sign

Poking around the web the other day, I stumbled across the blog of David L. Harrison, a well known children's book author. David runs a 'word of the month' challenge where he invites people to submit poems based on a single word. August's word was 'LINE'. I couldn't pass up the challenge and here's the poem I came up with in short order:

              OMINOUS SIGN
               by Vikram Madan

I was born in the grip of an ominous sign
That has scalded my life with its evil design
It's a fate worse as any that fate can consign
It's a bane to be weathered till stars realign
I have traveled the world with this burden of mine
I have sought out the wise in the rarest of shrines
Though they poked at my toes and they prodded my spine
They had nothing to offer to curb my decline
So from six in the morning to past when I dine
I must go right on living as if it's all fine
But I know, in my heart, it's a matter of time
When my curse reappears and ensures it assigns
Me to wait, yet again, in the slow-moving line
In the slow-moving line, in the slow-moving line
Wherever men queue up to await or combine
That's where I'll be standing, in the slow-moving line…

Text and Illustrations Copyright © 2012 Vikram Madan

This poem should really have been called 'Slow-Moving Line' but that would have given the ending away. Somedays, it feels like I'm living this poem, especially when I'm at the airport. :)

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