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:
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