Poetry Blog by Randy Horton (2019)
Sounding smug he said
“Nothing is vegan” as if he
had stated a truth revealed by God.
And I remembered a story about a
Buddhist monk who started each day
with a prayer for all the living beings
he would kill or harm just by
existing on the Earth.
He said simply walking,
or even breathing,
would surely cause and
He could have said, I guess,
everything is har...
Wednesday 11th December 2019 10:13 am
When I was a teenager, I stopped putting ice
in my “iced” tea, and started drinking it right
out of the pitcher at room temperature. After an
initial phase of alarm on the part of my family, they
sort of just decided that if I was too lazy to put ice
in my tea, then I deserved to suffer all the
consequences that might entail, which,
I have to tell you, weren’t very serious
consequences in ...
Sunday 1st December 2019 3:10 am
I don’t like answering a lot of questions.
Like when I go to Starbucks and order a
flat white, and the cashier asks what size
I want, and I say there is only one size of
flat white, pointing at the menu, but the
cashier says, no sir, you can have whatever
size you want, and I say, yes, but any other
size is not a flat white, is it? It’s just some
milk with coffee in it, and the barista i...
Saturday 30th November 2019 11:05 am
If I wanted this poem to be more intimate,
I would address the reader directly, and
invite the reader into my inner world.
I would use second-person pronouns and
share the deeper and darker aspects of
my personality. I would regale the reader
with stories of elation and spiritual fulfillment
along with brutally honest accounts of
self-doubt, anxiety, fear, and loathing.
I might make i...
Friday 29th November 2019 5:36 pm
you must become aware
of your privilege,
Something in the stars
has granted you access
to power, knowledge,
and minions who grovel
at your knees,
regaling you with stories
of your greatness.
the others have also earned
their cosmic misfortune
and have received only
what they are due.
Your indifference is essential
to maintaining ord...
Tuesday 26th November 2019 10:13 am
She’d always walk up and start talking
as if you were already in the middle
of a conversation. At first, I’d ask her
what the Hell she was talking about,
but I soon learned her explanations
were too long and circuitous to be of
any value. Best to just wait it out,
and eventually the picture would
come into focus. You’d suddenly
get it—like a Faulkner novel,
and then you’d start thinking ...
Monday 18th November 2019 8:36 pm
A lakeside photo was intentionally
displayed upside down,
and it took forever for
me to come to terms
with my feeling of
The muted reflection
established my Truth
of the world at that
moment, while I
struggled to accept
the clear and sharp
existence upside down.
I thought of the paradox,
and suddenly realized
what Plato must have meant.
Monday 11th November 2019 2:13 pm
The bulwark is protection
from him, not for him.
He sidles along
Touching the sides,
looking about furtively,
imagining tunnels and
catapults that could,
in another time and
circumstance, be his aids.
He’s come this far,
but in his old age
he has no choice
but to keep searching
for an opening,
for he’ll have no
ingress without invitation.
And at last, he finds
Thursday 7th November 2019 2:06 pm
Nothing is explicit.
It’s all implication
Layers of irony
lay waiting for
anyone willing to
claw their way
down to the core.
But these things
take time and
people read quickly.
So they just look up,
bemused, and ask,
“How is this even a poem?”
Monday 4th November 2019 5:38 pm
Sometimes when musicians finish
A piece that has gone well, they let out a
Combination sigh and laugh that
Expresses relief and pure joy.
It’s the same laugh you hear from
Women who have had a satisfying
Orgasm, enhanced by a slight tinge
Of guilt for being unduly blessed.
Of course, these laughs are never
Unwarranted. In both cases,
Substantial effort is required
To produce an even...
Friday 25th October 2019 12:44 pm
She held fast to truth, this
Grim taskmaster, serving
Lashes to the mendacious,
And kisses to the veracious.
And all wanted to serve her,
Uncovering the wounds of
Brutal honesty, one kick to the
Crotch or messy cuddle at a time.
No one asks for enlightenment
In a Dungeon until the dominatrix
Shines through moral fog and
Removes both fear and reticence.
And secrets are sloughed of...
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 3:32 pm
I was lucky, he said.
A sexy baby sitter took
My virginity off me before
It became a burden.
I became a man before
I finished being a child.
I knew my way around,
Worldly in the ways of women,
But lost in the wild abandon of boys.
The others were filled with envy.
If only they had had a nanny
With a name like big, fat Fanny!
They could have walked the world
With pride, chest out and...
Tuesday 8th October 2019 12:34 pm
In that book, Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre’s
Antoine Roquentin gets kind of freaked
Out just looking at the root of a chestnut tree.
I thought it was pretty weird at first,
Because how can you get through life
If you freak out every time you see a
Tree root or some fool thing like a tree root?
You couldn’t go on, could you? It’d just be
One crisis after another until you went
Insane and did...
Saturday 28th September 2019 7:06 am
You can find volumes of information
On how to die, but the materials are
All prepared by interns and trainees.
The true masters on the art of dying
Have all lost interest in our struggles
With mortality and how to be shed of it.
Still, we want as much information as
Possible, so we can be prepared when
The time comes. We hang eagerly on
The words of those who nearly died,
Just so maybe...
Wednesday 18th September 2019 5:05 am
Very Reasonable People scolded us
For our childish outbursts,
Our irrational fear of the dark.
We could rest in the knowledge
That the adults would see to our
Affairs and avert any apocalypse.
They chuckled at our concern
And assured us they had balanced
Checks in place for stability.
The Very Bad Things we’d heard
Of before didn’t happen in places
Like this to people like us.
Tuesday 17th September 2019 7:30 am
She said, “Jesus wept”
Was her favourite Bible verse,
Because it showed Jesus
Was human and shared
Our human feelings.
I suspected it was her
Favourite because it was
The easiest to remember,
But I guess it isn’t so bad.
It’s better than the ones
That command genocide,
Stoning children, or taking
Virgin girls as spoils of war.
But it isn’t as good as the ones
That say to turn a...
Thursday 5th September 2019 9:14 am
At 12, I rode my first dirt bike.
Don’t go too far, he said as he
Helped me coordinate the clutch
And throttle and set me down
The beach. I could have turned.
In theory, it should have been easy
On a flat and empty beach,
But what does a boy with this
Kind of power for the first time
Know about turning back?
No one had explained this part,
And I just held on and kept
Twisting the thr...
Friday 30th August 2019 6:26 am
He said he wanted to make love
To her momentarily, and she didn’t
Know if he wanted to commence presently
Or only share his passion briefly.
Some people think it bad usage, of course,
To say momentarily to mean something
Will happen directly, in the immediate
Future, but true pedants disagree.
The disparaged usage has been around
Since at least the 19th century,
And use determines us...
Monday 12th August 2019 11:17 am
The male poet overcompensates
With poems of unbridled bravado,
Giving unwanted details of
Disemboweling a deer with
Bare handed desperation.
He counts his sexual conquests
With disquiet and undue clarity,
Each sweaty fumble declared
Victory over inadequacy and
Untold performance anxiety.
Somebody once called him queer
And set him on a course of
Toxic masculinity, but the
Tuesday 23rd July 2019 12:13 pm
The knocking of the bamboo
In the wind
Restores my awareness.
Su Dongpo said he could live
Without meat but not without bamboo.
Bamboo brings life, of course,
As meat destroys it, but
Dongpo had a different
Understanding (he loved eating meat),
Yet his words weave
Through the leaves
With warning and assurance
Of life whose end has not
Arrived so long as bamboo
Sways her promise t...
Wednesday 17th July 2019 11:19 am
As friends solemnly told him to call
On them if ever he needed anything,
Only his pastor was candid enough
To tell him Jesus alone would stay.
And so it was as it had always been,
Walking alone on the beach, in town,
Along the highway, and in the upstairs
Hallway with no memory of being carried.
He supposed Jesus was a faithful companion,
But a bit quiet, and not much help when
Tuesday 9th July 2019 7:18 am
You may think it’s blank—
Or even free—
Verse, but you may be
Unfamiliar with the voice,
The accent, the dialect
Of the author.
You don’t see the rhyme
If you pronounce things
Differently. And you may miss
The meter, if you speak with
A different cadence.
Wednesday 3rd July 2019 11:02 am
After the first date,
She asked if he knew of Gestalt.
He said he only knew tiny bits
But he felt his mind gave him
The whole picture.
He asked if she had read Hegel.
She insisted that she had not,
And they were both amazed
To have discovered such
Friday 28th June 2019 11:18 am
This poem will mean more if you are familiar with the work David Hume and Nelson Goodman.
We have such unfounded confidence that
The future will be like the past that
We are constantly disappointed in the
Present. The future betrays us daily.
So I can’t be blamed for thinking you’d
Be here still—as you always were.
Thousands of observations told me
You were a survivor and, besides,
Monday 3rd June 2019 10:12 am
You were always object lesson,
Never role model, and I only knew
I should never be like you.
Your death was early and tragic,
As expected, your last conscious
Moments spent reaching for the door
Of a home engulfed in flame.
Through tear-filled eyes,
Those who had nothing but
Criticism for you when alive
Expressed their own shock and
Grief with a final tinge of judgment.
“If it had an...
Thursday 16th May 2019 10:28 am
Fertility varies from place to place.
In my hometown, cilantro would take over
The yard if you weren’t careful. Some
People don’t like the smell, but I loved
The fragrant flood of mulch and pollen
Whenever I mowed. (It was the only joy
I found in mowing.) A cilantro haze
Always encircled by volunteer chilis
Standing as spicy sentinels guarding
The perimeter of the lawn with indifference.
Wednesday 15th May 2019 6:58 am
God is watching over us,
When we feel afraid,
Grateful or anxious,
We look to the sky
Hoping for protection,
Or tender mercy.
Hope lies only in the sky.
Fear burrows under our feet.
The lost wanderer is afraid
To look down and advised to look up.
So believers are blessed
With good posture.
Tuesday 14th May 2019 11:03 am
The Mississippi River is a metaphor for life,
Mostly because Samuel Clemens made it so.
At least that’s what you would’ve learned
In your literature class—that a huge, meandering
River held the secrets of innocence, knowledge,
Guilt, and wisdom. So much is hidden under
The surface, see, and so much changes as you
Drift along. You may start your journey with
A piece of property and end it...
Wednesday 8th May 2019 1:00 pm
Epidemiologists and public health ethicists have been grappling for some time with the near certainly of widespread disease pandemics resulting from climate change. Changes in non-human animal migration and human migration will bring extant pathogens to new populations as warming releases long dormant pathogens on the world once again. Large swaths of the population could be wiped out in an incred...
Tuesday 7th May 2019 1:55 pm
Before the reckoning,
The water was like glass.
We would glide
Across the surface,
Staring into the deep
As naïve as a recently
Never knowing what
Mutation might bring.
Saturday 4th May 2019 3:02 am
I don’t like all your self-referential poems and
Confessional narratives where you just go on and
On and on with your boring anxieties and
Insights into a meaningless existence.
I mean, just like the time you said
She floated on an azure sky and
Had lips that made the rain seem dry.
It started as a conventional statement of
A poet who likes women with moist lips,
But then you had to go ...
Friday 3rd May 2019 7:05 pm
Democracy died in the Senate chamber
When Supreme Court justice was never heard
Through a guileless force of legal obstruction.
Respect for law fell like old holiday garland.
A complacent nation did not demur,
Thinking true fascism could not recur,
Power transferred to a political poseur.
A complacent nation watched it’s legal destruction
And Democracy died.
They quickly forgot what they ...
Friday 26th April 2019 10:15 am
Deferring to the OED, Fowler’s* tells us not
To spell “inure” as “enure” for variant
Spellings are not needed; even if “inure”
Has two meanings, it is still only one word.
But who ever heard of “inure” relating to
Anything but some form of suffering?
Something quite beautiful and useful
Might well be put “in ure,” which just
Means we like this well enough to
Make a habit of it, and that...
Wednesday 24th April 2019 6:24 am
When people see a spectacular dancer,
They say, “Oh, that’s poetry in motion!”
And then they might see a moving painting,
And say, “That painting says it all—It’s like a poem!”
And good musicians are just considered poets.
I mean, Bob Dylan won a God-damned Nobel Prize
In literature, didn’t he?
But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve heard motorcycle
Races described at “pure poetry in action...
Monday 22nd April 2019 2:38 pm
They never changed that room.
Dolls, teddy bears, trains,
And transformers all hold space,
Lock time in perpetual stasis.
When death comes life stops.
Family said they should pack
Things away. It’s too hard
To be reminded day after day
Of a future lost in the past,
But a room can be a memorial.
It’s a museum of childhood,
Until a child of a later
Generation discovers it with
Thursday 18th April 2019 5:47 am
They never ask, the old ladies.
They just hug, pinch, kiss and
Cuddle at will. Babies are theirs,
You know, and they do love them
So much. I guess it isn’t their fault,
No one ever told them they aren’t
Free to touch at will. I once told
A woman to get her hands out of
My hair, and she said no man
Had ever asked her to stop
Touching him before. As an old
Lady, I’m sure she became anothe...
Wednesday 17th April 2019 10:01 am
Each mover, save one Renaissance man
Of fellow feeling, complained of the books
And the bookshelves to display them.
Why would anyone move these thousands
Of miles and from house to house when
They are so obviously rarely used?
But the bookshelves, fully loaded, serve a purpose:
For starters, they tell anyone curious enough to look
Where and how my intellectual development has unfolded...
Tuesday 16th April 2019 10:25 am
The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to use a homophone or homonym. I can’t take credit for the example, which was offered by a former student.
After her purported reading
Of Jeremy Bentham,
She said he believed
She should do whatever
Made her happy.
She should spend
Her paycheck on new shoes,
Because they will be good
For her sole.
Sunday 14th April 2019 5:06 pm
Know how in the 1970s the televangelists
All had perfectly sculpted and blow-dried hair?
Well, my Daddy was at least partly responsible
For all that glitz and fancy get-up.
He didn’t do hair for anyone as famous
As Pat Robertson or Jim Bakker, but
Styled hair for some big traveling evangelists
Like Gene Williams. These guys would take the
Word of God around the world, but come back
Saturday 13th April 2019 6:50 am
On our first meeting, she
Described me as a “near Buddhist,”
Meaning, of course, that I had
The ascetic qualities of a monk.
And it was true that Siddhartha
Helped me lose my appreciation
For things. You learn first that
Attachment is suffering.
But Elizabeth Bishop was more
On my mind. Like her, I had
Lost things every day, and
Most of them didn’t matter...
Friday 12th April 2019 8:04 am
Oh, Good Lord, y’all, I thank we better git in the house. That sky is darker than Brother Jimmy’s sermon last Sunday, and it’s flashing like a God-damned disco. It’s gonna be a gully washer, all right, but Ronnie’s got the big truck if we git in any trouble, and we can surely trust Jesus will be with us. The last time we had a toad strangler like this, a big ol’ twister turned Alma’s roof inta too...
Thursday 11th April 2019 12:43 pm
In a previous century my grandfather died
Only weeks after my great uncle.
A few weeks later, my grandmother
Made a quick trip to the grocery store
And returned to find her house in flames.
Having lost her brother, husband, and home
In a matter of weeks, my uncle Skeet
(so known because as a child he was
No bigger than a mosquito or “skeeter")
Tried to comfort his s...
Thursday 11th April 2019 8:14 am
Day 8 of NaPoWriMo asks us to write poetry using the jargon of our professions (or someone else’s profession). As a philosophy instructor, my only learning objective was to destroy the smug and self-satisfied confidence my students had in their own knowledge. Petty of me, I know.
On the Destructive Power of Measureable Learning Objectives
Your destruction is both
Achievable and measurable
Monday 8th April 2019 7:17 am
Today's NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a contemplation on gifts and giving. I read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on gifts when I was in high school, and it has stayed with me all these years. Emerson definitely had his moments as an essayist.
“The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The gift is always some sort of recriminati...
Sunday 7th April 2019 6:42 am
The prompt for day six of NaPoWriMo was to write a poem dealing with counterfactual conditionals, as it were. Here is mine:
Accepting an Infinite Regression of Causes
If only life had come into being
On different terms, according to a different template.
If pain weren’t the primary motivating factor
For keeping life propelling itself forward,
If the best of all possible worlds weren’...
Saturday 6th April 2019 5:40 am
There should be the sound of trumpets, thin and mournful
As we emerge in mist and set off on our journey.
We’ll make song, laughter, and love seem normal.
It’s only a walk. We won’t be won’t be beaten and forlorn, so
We can rise up and never be brought to our knees.
There should be the sound of trumpets, thin and mournful.
We won’t be stopped, though we know we’re only ...
Friday 5th April 2019 11:11 am
Straddling a life between town and country,
I remember you once stood on a snake.
You never saw it as we were shouting,
Until you moved and it slithered away.
Once you walked into a concrete column,
As I told you to hurry and catch up.
But you were focused and a little solemn,
Just searching for green anoles close up.
So many times you fell into a pond,
And I had to pull...
Thursday 4th April 2019 3:46 pm
He made a clumsy compliment,
And it was taken for an insult.
Immediately, he tried to explain
The misunderstanding, but
He was told to “stop digging.”
And so it was.
He wasn’t in love, exactly,
But he admired her
Constantly and consistently.
He spoke highly of her to colleagues
And mutual acquaintances,
Hoping to eventually mend the rift,
Wednesday 3rd April 2019 8:21 am
No, it’s true, April does not
Arrive as a grim reaper
Coming to take souls
Off to underground rivers
In the waste land
Or anything like that.
On first glance, April
Is a reprieve, new life
Is in abundance, and
We step out and look up
For the first time in awhile.
Now we can rouse ourselves.
Lift ourselves from bed
And go out into the world.
Monday 1st April 2019 11:38 am
The poetry is pretty perhaps,
And some may appreciate the aesthetics
While being put off by the messiness
Of the content, preferring a tidy theme.
And maybe you could clean it up
A bit to avoid making the prigs uncomfortable.
Say something about flowers by the seaside,
For example, and let us forget people have sex.
And let’s forget about messy conflict
Wednesday 27th March 2019 8:24 pm