From “On an Occasion of National Mourning” by Howard Nemerov, in memoriam of the Challenger and all souls aboard.
NEF (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
HOWARD NEMEROV (caller): It is admittedly difficult for a whole nation to mourn
NEF: Even after 4 years practice?
Happy 262nd birthday to Robert Burns! This would have been our second apolitical post this month, if Bernie hadn’t photobombed the featured image.
Read the rest of Address to a Haggis here in the original and in modern English.
ROSIE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
ROBERT BURNS (caller): Fair fa’ your honest, soonsie face,
ROSIE: Uh…thank you?
BURNS: Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race!
ROSIE: You race puddings? What kind of track do you use?
See Part 1 here (or see the 3 pages together below).
Congratulations to newly inaugurated President Joe Biden (who quoted from the same play in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention). May we all make it through the lengthy healing process.
JERRY (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
THE CURE (chorus): Human beings suffer
JERRY: Philosophers have written a great deal on the question of why people suffer.
THE CURE: They torture one another
JERRY: That is one reason.
THE CURE: They get hurt and get hard.
JERRY: As long as it’s consensual.
THE CURE: No poem or play or song can fully right a wrong inflicted and endured.
JERRY: So we’re talking about a lengthy healing process?
Excerpted from The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney
Happy 138th birthday to A.A. Milne!
POOH: The election was stolen from us, by which I mean that they counted all of the votes, when if they had only counted some of them, we would have one, and oh bother, that didn’t come out the way I intended, by which I mean that it is what I meant but not what I wanted you to hear, but if we all throw a big enough tantrum, then maybe they might just let us win?
OWL’S SIGN: I can spel 2sday!
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
OZYMANDIAS (caller): Look on my works, ye mighty , and DESPAIR!
WILLIAMS: I have eaten de spare that was in the icebox.
Any resemblance between Ozymandias and actual arrogant despots approaching irrelevancy is purely intentional.
A professional artist I met while in high school once told me never to apologize for my own work. But I sometimes make an exception when something might be misconstrued. So I need to clarify that my intent here is not to ridicule anyone for weirdness. Weird is wonderful. Weird makes the world a more beautiful and wonderful place. But seeing my kind of weird used in service of insurrection and attempting to overturn a legitimate US election, I felt violated, and I drew this. Weird is wonderful, but treason is treason.
Transcript for the visually impaired
Buffalo gals, won’t you
come out tonight,
come out tonight,
come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, won’t you
come out tonight
and clash like a right-wing baboon?
Q sent me
[picture of Q*bert]
I’m Donald J. Trump and I approve of these methods.
If all poems were limericks: “Cat’s Canticle” by David Sklar
If you speak I won’t answer at all;
don’t expect me to come when you call.
It’s a sort of a game—
see, I’ve hidden my name
someplace secret, and silent, and small.
I may eventually post something relevant to yesterday’s events. But today is my birthday, so I am featuring myself.
Read the original here.
COUNSELOR: Rock & Roll Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
RAY CHARLES (caller): Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
COUNSELOR: I hear you. Georgia’s been on a lot of minds lately.
If you’re a citizen of the state of Georgia, don’t forget to vote tomorrow (Tuesday, January 5)!
Happy New Year from the Poetry Crisis Line!
From “December 31st” by Richard Hoffman
KIM (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
RICHARD HOFFMAN (caller): All my undone actions wander naked across the calendar
KIM: I guess that’s one way to look for a date.
New Conspiracy Theory: What if the reason Dolly Parton helped fund vaccine research was so that she wouldn’t have to rewrite her old songs?
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacci-i-ine!
Until we get one, please don’t shake my hand!