Archive for ‘Humour’

Thursday, 1 September 2022

The New Decalogue by Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.
Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.

Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.

Thy hand from Sunday work be held –
Work not at all unless compelled.

Honor thy parents, and perchance
Their wills thy fortunes may advance.

Kill not—death liberates thy foe
From persecution’s constant woe.

Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife. Of course
There’s no objection to divorce.

To steal were folly, for ’tis plain
In cheating there is greater pain.

Bear not false witness. Shake your head
And say that you have “heard it said.”

Who stays to covet ne’er will catch
An opportunity to snatch.

From: https://www.blueridgejournal.com/poems/ab-deca.htm

Date: 1911

By: Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-?1914)

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

World History: An Overview by Kevin Canfield

North of 161st Street near
The Park here for Yankee Stadium
Sign a graffiti artist has summarized
The folly of the human experiment
On a concrete bridge underpass
She has inscribed six orange letters
Each twelve feet tall and distended
Like bubbles or birthday balloons
Two words joined up as one
OHWELL, she has written

From: https://walleahpress.com.au/communion-13-Kevin-Canfield.html

Date: 2020

By: Kevin Canfield (19??- )

Monday, 18 April 2022

Rabbit by Francine J. Harris

for Tarfia and Fita

The rabbit has a funny set of tools. He jumps.
or kicks. muffled and punching up. In pose
the rabbit knows, each side of his face to whom.
he should belong. He hobbles and eyes. This
is the dumb bun allegiance. This bunny, even dry and fluff
is aware, be vicious. will bite down your finger stalk.
will nick you good in the cheery web of your palm.
Those claws are good for traction. and defense.
This bunny, forgive him. There is no ease. His lack
of neck is all the senses about a stillness.
stuck in a calm. until household numbers upend
his floor. until the family upsets the nest
and traipses off. Then stuck in a bunny panic.

We each stab at gratitude. In our nubbing, none
of us do well. We jump. We kangaroo. We soft seeming,
scatter and gnaw. Maybe the only way forward
is to sleep all day. one eye open. under the sink.
Like the rabbit, we could sit in our shit.
Chew at the leaf of others’ dinner. Make
of each tile on the floor a good spot to piss. No,
it doesn’t get much better. And like the rabbit
we do not jump well from heights. We linger the dark
until it is safe to come out. To offer a nose.
a cheek for touch. the top of a crown. Nothing
makes us happier than another rabbit.

From: https://poets.org/poem/rabbit

Date: 2020

By: Francine J. Harris (19??- )

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Corvid Nineteen by Marcus Bales

Once upon a midnight’s offing, as I sat there nearly coughing,
Coughing with a small, dry, coughing, like a man with fever would,
As I sat there not quite coughing suddenly there came a scoffing,
Just as I had started quaffing Theraflu, which does no good
To stop a new corona-virus only dimly-understood.
I pretended that it could.

Ah! Pretence, the trope of hoping, how it helps us with our coping—
Helps us with some quick self-doping facing problems such as these;
So we inhale its verdant vapor as we play, cavort, and caper,
Cleaning shelves of toilet paper even as we start to wheeze
From something else entirely, a respiratory lung disease,
Because it puts our minds at ease.

How fervid is our human fervor, filling every online server
Filling every axon, nerve, or synapse with our fervent wish
That we can do this cheap and quick and easy, as we do the trick
Of no one getting really sick, or not too sick, at any rate,
Or sick, at least, some later date, our inconvenience not too great,
With any deaths bad luck or fate.

How can I frustrate frustration with disease’s swift migration
And profit from my profanation as election’s drawing near?
Though before I’ve damned her emails, gays and POC and females,
I think I need another name, someone new that I can claim
Is guilty with a lie so lame that other men would stop from shame.
Yes—who’s someone new to blame?

Then again there came that scoffing just as I suppressed my coughing,
Somewhere out there in the offing, coming in my office door.
“Fiend,” I said, but it was Miller slipping in and standing stiller
As the room got chill, and chiller in that way that I adore,
As the evil permeated down within my dark heart’s core—
Only this, and nothing more.

There by Poe’s bust—near Poseidon, two feet left of Bach and Haydn,
In between the Pope and Dryden, there slouched Miller to confide in
Like a chance that hope’s denied in, like bad chances coincide in
Books that men and gods have lied in, slumped, as if he would abide in
Souls the Devil can’t reside in, the emblem evil’s reified in,
Quoth the Miller, “Hunter Biden!”

In courts that blameless men are tried in, fires innocents are fried in,
Tumbrils that the doomed must ride in as the gates of Hades widen,
All the bad the bad take pride in, dungeons men are chained and tied in,
Wars a thousand millions died in, lies Republicans can hide in,
Rhymes that poets are so snide in mourning all the beer they’ve cried in,
Quoth the Miller, “Hunter Biden!”

Then I knew, when he had spoken, he’d identified the broken
Spoke the Democrats had woken when they woke this candidate.
This is why I keep him: he’s a stale and fetid lack of breeze
That puddles in a pool of sleaze and thinks the thoughts that agitate
The liberals, and throws the bait to stir our base’s basest trait,
The fear of loss that makes them hate
In pseudo-righteousness, and hate
In purity of privileged hate,
The hate that makes our Party great.

From: https://winningwriters.com/past-winning-entries/corvid-nineteen

Date: 2021

By: Marcus Bales (19??- )

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Deep Sorriness Atonement Song by Glyn Maxwell (with notes from “Blueridge Journal”)

(for missed appointment, BBC North, Manchester)

The man who sold Manhattan for a halfway decent bangle,
He had talks with Adolf Hitler and could see it from his angle,
And he could have signed the Quarrymen but didn’t think they’d make it
So he bought a cake on Pudding Lane and thought “Oh well I’ll bake it”

But his chances they were slim
And his brothers they were Grimm,
And he’s sorry, very sorry,
But I’m sorrier than him.
And the drunken plastic surgeon who said “I know, let’s enlarge ’em!”
And the bloke who told the Light Brigade “Oh what the hell, let’s charge ’em”,
The magician with an early evening gig on the Titanic
And the Mayor who told the people of Atlantis not to panic,

And the Dong about his nose
And the Pobble re his toes,
They’re all sorry, very sorry
But I’m sorrier than those.
And don’t forget the Bible, with the Sodomites and Judas,
And Onan who discovered something nothing was as rude as,
And anyone who reckoned it was City’s year for Wembley.
And the kid who called Napoleon a shortarse in assembly,

And the man who always smiles
Cause he knows I have his files,
They’re all sorry, really sorry,
But I’m sorrier by miles.

And Robert Falcon Scott who lost the race to the Norwegian,
And anyone who’s ever split a pint with a Glaswegian,
Or told a Finn a joke or spent an hour with a Swiss-German,
Or got a mermaid in the sack and found it was a merman,

Or him who smelt a rat,
And got curious as a cat,
They’re all sorry, deeply sorry,
But I’m sorrier than that.

All the people who were rubbish when we needed them to do it,
Whose wires crossed, whose spirit failed, who ballsed it up or blew it,
All notches of nul points and all who have a problem Houston,
At least they weren’t in Kensington when they should have been at Euston.

For I didn’t build the Wall
And I didn’t cause the Fall
But I’m sorry, Lord, I’m sorry,
I’m the sorriest of all.

Notes:
‘The man who sold Manhattan for a halfway decent bangle’: In 1626 Peter Minuit, the first director general of New Netherland province, is said to have purchased the island from the local Indians (the Manhattan, a tribe of the Wappinger Confederacy) with trinkets and cloth valued at 60 guilders, then worth about 1 1/2 pounds (0.7 kg) of silver.

‘He had talks with Adolf Hitler and could see it from his angle’: Probably a reference to Neville Chamberlain, who returned from negotiations with Hitler in Munich and famously declared “I believe it is peace for our time”. It wasn’t.

‘And he could have signed the Quarrymen but didn’t think they’d make it’: ‘The Quarrymen’ was one of the early names of the greatest rock group of all time, the Beatles. Manager Brian Epstein sent demo tapes to literally dozens of recording companies before landing a contract with EMI/Parlophone.

‘So he bought a cake on Pudding Lane and thought “Oh well I’ll bake it”‘: The Great Fire of London, in 1666, started in a bakery on Pudding Lane. (It ended on Pie Lane, but that’s a different matter altogether).

‘And the bloke who told the Light Brigade “Oh what the hell, let’s charge ’em”‘: The ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade, immortalized by Tennyson.

‘The magician with an early evening gig on the Titanic’: One can safely assume that the performance sank without a trace.

‘And the Mayor who told the people of Atlantis not to panic’: Famous last words.

‘And the Dong about his nose / And the Pobble re his toes’: The Dong with the Luminous Nose, and the Pobble who has no Toes are characters from the mysterious, twilit world of Edward Lear’s imagination.

‘And don’t forget the Bible, with the Sodomites and Judas, And Onan who discovered something nothing was as rude as’: Sodomy: copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal Onanism: masturbation, Judas: one who betrays under the guise of friendship.

‘And anyone who reckoned it was City’s year for Wembley’: Manchester City have never won the F. A. Cup.

‘And the kid who called Napoleon a shortarse in assembly’: The widespread notion of Napoleon’s shortness lies in the inaccurate translation of old French feet (“pieds de roi”) to English. The French measure of five foot two (5′ 2″), recorded at his autopsy, actually translates into five feet six and one half inches (5′ 6.5″) in English measure, which was about the average height of the Frenchman of his day. It’s also probable that the grenadiers of his Imperial Guard, with whom he “hung out,” were very tall men, therefor creating the illusion that Napoleon was very short.

‘And Robert Falcon Scott who lost the race to the Norwegian’: Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole about a month before Scott’s doomed expedition.

‘And anyone who’s ever split a pint with a Glaswegian’: Glaswegians are notorious for their tightfistedness…

‘Or told a Finn a joke’: … Finns for their lack of humour…

‘or spent an hour with a Swiss-German’: … and Germans for their boringness.

‘All notches of nul points’: Probably a reference to the annual Eurovision song contest, where a really bad song could get nul points. (Songs that get booed even on Eurovision – ooh, horrendous thought.

‘and all who have a problem Houston’: Astronaut Jack Swigert, command module pilot of the unsuccessful Apollo 13 mission, reported the first signs of trouble with this marvellous piece of understatement: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here”. A vivid account of the subsequent rescue can bo found here: http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo-13/apollo-13.html.
‘in Kensington when they should have been at Euston’:

Kensington: the wrong station, and Euston, the right one for trains from London to Manchester.

From: http://www.blueridgejournal.com/poems/gm-sorry.htm

Date: 1998

By: Glyn Maxwell (1962- )

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

A Rum Effect by Robert (George) Howe

“My wife’s so very bad” cry’d Phill‐‐‐
“I fear she’ll never hold it,”
“She ᴋᴇᴇᴘꜱ her bed” “Mine’s worse”
said Will‐‐‐
“The Jade this morning ꜱᴏʟᴅ it.”

From: ‘A Rum Effect’ in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 12 Mar 1803, p. 4.
(https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/625449

Date: 1803

By: Robert (George) Howe (1769-1821)

Friday, 4 June 2021

Wearing Corks by Thomas Henry Wilson

There’s a pesky sort o’ glimmerin‘ in the thin white track ahead, 
And the salt lake seems a-shimmerin‘ like a sea o’ melted lead. 
Ain’t a blessed twig a-stirrin‘—ain’t a livin thing but flies; 
They keep buzzin‘ and a-whirrin‘ at the corks afore my eyes. 
Yes; I’ve got them on at last, 
An’ they’re just the things as talks. 
Don’t give tuppence for the past— 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
 
From Fremantle out to Morgans, and from Morgans further back, 
Where the desert ends the goldfields and the devil ends the track, 
Swallowing mullock from the shaker, gettin fat on cyanide, 
An’ a gettin‘ through it somehow—p’rhaps where better men have died. 
Bet I often got weak-hearted; 
Pretty nigh wiped off me chalks; 
All broke up—until I started 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
 
In the days of wine and women that we always say we’ve had, 
Guess it wasn’t always swimmin‘; sometimes sinking took us bad. 
If we supped off stout and oysters, took a woman to the play, 
We’d a “head” an’ empty pockets—she’d another chap—next day. 
But the night has never fled, 
And, the morrow never baulks, 
And you’ve women, wine, and bed— 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
 
Here’s the “soak”; I’ll light a fire; nicest day I ever felt . 
(Handy piece of fencing wire; do me nicely for a belt.) 
Think I hear a dingo howling—that sounds homely, just alright. 
Guess I know some chap in Sydney’d like to be with me to-night, 
In the city some may scoff, 
But I know—experience talks— 
There’d be thousands better off 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
 
From: ‘Rhymers’ Refuge’ in Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902-1954), Sunday, 8 March 1903, p. 10. 
(https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/57221289#) 
 
Date: 1903 
 
By: Thomas Henry Wilson (1867-1925)

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Some Little Bug by John Leroy “Roy” Atwell

In these days of indigestion
It is oftentimes a question
As to what to eat and what to leave alone;
For each microbe and bacillus
Has a different way to kill us,
And in time they always claim us for their own.
There are germs of every kind
In any food that you can find
In the market or upon the bill of fare.
Drinking water’s just as risky
As the so-called deadly whiskey,
And it’s often a mistake to breathe the air.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
Then he’ll send for his bug friends
And all your earthly trouble ends;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

The inviting green cucumber
Gets most everybody’s number,
While the green corn has a system of its own;
Though a radish seems nutritious
Its behaviour is quite vicious,
And a doctor will be coming to your home.
Eating lobster cooked or plain
Is only flirting with ptomaine,
While an oyster sometimes has a lot to say,
But the clams we cat in chowder
Make the angels chant the louder,
For they know that we’ll be with them right away.

Take a slice of nice fried onion
And you’re fit for Dr. Munyon,
Apple dumplings kill you quicker than a train.
Chew a cheesy midnight “rabbit”
And a grave you’ll soon inhabit
Ah, to eat at all is such a foolish game.
Eating huckleberry pie
Is a pleasing way to die,
While sauerkraut brings on softening of the brain.
When you eat banana fritters
Every undertaker titters,
And the casket makers nearly go insane.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
With a nervous little quiver
He’ll give cirrhosis of the liver;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

When cold storage vaults I visit
I can only say what is it
Makes poor mortals fill their systems with such stuff?
Now, for breakfast, prunes are dandy
If a stomach pump is handy
And your doctor can be found quite soon enough.
Eat a plate of fine pigs’ knuckles
And the headstone cutter chuckles,
While the grave digger makes a note upon his cuff.
Eat that lovely red bologna
And you’ll wear a wooden kimona,
As your relatives start scrappin ’bout your stuff.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
Eating juicy sliced pineapple
Makes the sexton dust the chapel;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

All those crazy foods they mix
Will float us ‘cross the River Styx,
Or they’ll start us climbing up the milky way.
And the meals we eat in courses
Mean a hearse and two black horses
So before a meal some people always pray.
Luscious grapes breed ‘pendicitis,
And the juice leads to gastritis,
So there’s only death to greet us either way;
And fried liver’s nice, but, mind you,
Friends will soon ride slow behind you
And the papers then will have nice things to say.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day
Eat some sauce, they call it chili,
On your breast they’ll place a lily;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

From: http://www.poetry-site.com/roy-atwell/some-little-bug-39012

Date: 1915

By: John Leroy “Roy” Atwell (1878-1962)

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Easter Habits by Felice Holman

Around now,
they think of rabbits.
(I don’t know why.)

I
tend to think
of sprouting roots
of grasses blowing.

They think
of rabbit ears and rabbit tails.
(And I do, too, I guess.)

Yes,
but not just now.
I think of rabbits running,
rabbits growing.

Yet, when the bells
start pealing in the steeple,
it is my habit
(since I’m a rabbit)
to think of people.

From: Livington, Myra Cohn (ed.), Easter Poems, 1985, Holiday House: New York, p. 11.
(https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Easter_Poems.html?id=SGogtAEACAAJ)

Date: 1970

By: Felice Holman (1919- )

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Alexander’s Feast: an Ode by John Wolcot (Peter Pindar)

Timotheus now, in music handy,
Struck up a tune call’d — Drops of Brandy;
The hero pulls out Thais to the dance:
Timotheus now struck up a reel;
The couple skipp’d with nimble heel,
Then sat them down, and drank a quart of Nantz.

Now did the master of the lyre
On dancing exercise his fire.
He sung of hops at court, and wakes, and fairs;
He sung of dancing dogs, and dancing bears;
He prais’d the minuet of Nan Catley,
And lumps of pudding, and Moll Pately:
The king grew proud, and soon began to reel,
A hopping inspiration seiz’d his heel.

Bravi, bravi, the soldier crowd
In admiration cry’d aloud.
The lady dances like a bold Thalestris,
And Alexander hops like Monsieur Vestris.
Again, so furiously they dance a jig,
The lady lost her cap, the hero lost his wig.

The motley mob, behind, before,
Exclaim’d — encore! encore! encore!
Proud of th’ applause, and justly vain,
Thais made a curtsey low,
Such as court ladies make before the queen.
Alexander made a bow,
Such as the royal levee oft has seen,
And then they danc’d the reel again.

Of vast applause the couple vain,
Delighted, danc’d the reel again:
Now in, and now out,
They skipp’d it about,
As tho’ they felt the madness of the moon;
Such was the power of Timothy and tune.

When the dub a dub, a dub dub drum,
In triumph behind e’m beat — Go to bed, Tom.

And now in their ire,
Return’d from the fire,
In revenge for the Greeks that were dead,
The king and his punk
Got most horribly drunk,
And together went reeling to bed.

From: http://spenserians.cath.vt.edu/TextRecord.php?action=GET&textsid=38113

Date: 1808

By: John Wolcot (Peter Pindar) (1738-1819)