Phone poems are concise, precise, and often humorous 4 line verses that were originally written for the telephone answering machine. Volume 2, Simple Gifts,continues that tradition in the first part of the book with 333 such poems, mostly inspired by recent events in the author’s life, especially his adventures with his dachshund, Simon, his love of nature, its creatures, the flowers and elements in his wife’s garden (a new-to-the-garden old white door), the advent of winter and spring, angels, demons, the movements of planets and stars, some current events,etc. The second part of the book contains a different order of humorous verse based on events that occurred during the author’s past as he and his wife attempted to rear their 3 children and live together as a loving family. These longer poems, organized around the theme, Simple Gifts, are from varying points of view: father (My Son the Ninja), mother (My Flaw), but especially the children, as in the delightful Eyeball Soup, the poignant Clip-Clop the Wonder Horse, Nightmare,Pierced Ears, Daddy’s Nose, The Snicker-Snack Man, and more. The second volume of Phone Poems also contains another new (to these works) literary form,the parable, wherein the reader is invited to participate in discovering the meaning of a brief story. The most unusual of the 4 parables is The Text, told from the third person limited point of view of an angel who is given a difficult task by his ultimate superior.
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The Phone Poem BookSimple Gifts
By L. Eugene Startzman
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 L. Eugene Startzman
All right reserved.
29 May 2009
Okay! This, I think, is true!
I was feeling like a tub of glue,
Wearied, depressed, stuck
Like Christian in the Slough
That's when God chose to respond,
With a gift unparagoned,
Through a friend who knew us well
To lift me out of Christian's Hell.
He sent a long—a creature swift—
We call him Simon—
—our über dachshund rescue gift!
Talking heads are my despair;
All have such a knowing air,
Punctuating right and left,
With their heads, they're really deft.
Bobbing up and bobbing down,
Avoiding disapproving frowns,
Sticking to the printed text—
Goodness! I am truly vexed!
Habit is a useful tool;
It keeps us going back to school.
Habit helps us brush our teeth,
Front and back and underneath.
Habit helps us get to work
Through the early morning murk;
Habit keeps us at our prayer,
Though our knees need great repair.
Habit though can aid our sin,
For once we let ourselves give in,
Habit lays down in our souls
Nasty ruts and great pot holes.
The more we travel Habit's way,
The further we will go astray.
Now there's nothing more to say:
Choose habits with great care each day.
Simon sits in Pookie's place,
Beside me on my chair;
He lacks her silver-dappled face
But wields her doggie air.
I stroke his little doggie back
And scratch his doggie rear,
While memory summons Pookie's lack
And memory starts the tear.
[for John W]
A flower in his chest, he says,
A Pirandello metaphor;
A field where one might rest,
And blossom like a meteor.
Growth in Grace
Why is it when one grows better,
Closer to the holy saint,
One quickly finds himself enfettered
With a dark demonic taint?
We tell our kids and tell them well
That all the Monsters live in Hell.
The problem with that easy lie
Is Michael Myers who lives close by.
In outer space the odds are great
There is no feeling such as hate.
Passion is a different case;
It moves all worlds with ceaseless grace.
This Writer's Block
[a Simon poem]
I cannot write, I cannot read;
My mind has turned to mustard seed.
The reason rests upon my lap,
Blissfully blind to my mishap.
I stroke his back from head to tail,
While he sleeps on and I exhale.
Losing the Blues
All it takes is a laser light
And one little gullible dog
To chase away a dreary day
And lift an oppressive fog.
Reflections from the Feeder
See the little chipmunk
Charge the dogwood tree,
Trying to earn a living,
Just like you and me.
He stuffs his cheeks with ample seed,
Scurries to his nest,
Part of Nature's work force—
Time to reap and rest.
The world is made of matter,
And matter's all that is.
Mind is just an offshoot
Of matter's usual biz.
Matter is, and maybe God;
In either case it's mighty odd.
Matter's real and so is mind;
I don't know how they're both aligned.
Matter is and it is good;
Mind is that which made it;
Love is a pervading force;
God is Who pervades it.
The ISS and Shuttle
Are the scientists' rebuttal
To the claim that we are grounded—
On Earth forever bounded.
It leaves them quite dumbfounded
(Whom ignorance confounded!).
A Brief Encounter
7 September 2009
The ISS was steady on,
The Shuttle right beside—
A Chariot of the golden dawn,
Like Pegasus his stride.
The magnificent stars of summer
Swim bright in the cosmic stream—
Deneb, Altair, and Vega,
A perfect first magnitude theme.
The Non-ecumenical Dachshund
Simon is a Catholic dog;
His brain is in a constant fog.
He shakes the empty yogurt can,
As if it were a Lutheran.1
The Garden Door—One
Paths abound in her garden,
Past fish ponds, flowers and more;
But the best is the path that takes you
To the old, oddly placed kitchen door.
The Garden Door—Two
In the midst of a marvelous garden
Hangs a door with a rusty old lock.
The white wooden door makes a difference—
To enter there's no need to knock.
The Garden Door—Three
Her garden is always a wonder,
Like lightning and faint, distant thunder.
The wonder is different, I swear,
When you find a white door hanging there.
Pursues the backyard mole
Through every nook and cranny,
Down every backyard hole.
Digs with all his might—
Ears perked up and eyes alert,
Our Dachshund's made to smite.
When Venus rides before the Sun,
Apollo misses all the fun;
For naked Venus in her glory
Gloriously inspires amore.
Blue Blue Jays
The Blue Jays' morning squawk fest
Makes me think a Snake's close by.
They begin their infernal ruckus
Ere Sunlight has touched the sky.
Acute Summer Triangle
The geometry of the Heavens
Is an astronomer's delight,
As Deneb, Vega, Altair
Form an angle not quite right.
Do Not Go Gentle ...
I look at obits every day;
Today they took my breath away.
Every soul was just my age;
It left me in a deathly rage.
16 September 2009
This morning my star chart said Venus
Would rise by the thin crescent moon.
So I'm out in the yard in my PJs,
When I see that the Sun says it's noon.
Dexter Has Issues
Our Beagle named Dexter's bipolar;
His problems began in his youth:
His family rejected him firmly;
Now he thinks all kin are uncouth.
Death's a coming—whoop-ti-do!
He's a runner, but I am too.
I hear him laugh as he closes in,
For he knows full well who's going to win.
Vampires now are all the rage;
They've taken over center stage.
Dark and brooding are the themes,
While fake blood flows like mountain streams.
When there's a critic behind your ear,
Who's always causing you untold fear,
You can bet your valuable life
It will turn out to be your very own wife.
Dexter, our bipolar Beagle,
Has ears that make him look Regal—
Which just goes to show you
That ears don't control you,
When you're driven by issues that do.
A Simon Poem: Super Snoop
Simon, God's most inquisitive dog,
Found an extremely well-hidden frog.
The terrified frog fled into the pond;
Simon, wisely, chose not to respond.
The little guy's a dachshund,
About that there's no doubt,
For often his plain stubbornness
Will make us curse and shout.
I love a day that's different,
Especially in the fall;
The air is crisp, the shadows sharp,
And worries seem so small.
War Is Hell!
War is never over,
The battle's never won,
For the Devil lives inside us,
And he's always got a gun.
Sitting at the table, sneaking a nap,
Holding the Little Guy on my lap—
What could be better for blood pressure ills,
Especially better than popping six pills?
The elephant to the bumble bee
Wondered how the bee could be—
Lacking a distinguished nose
And several large distinguished toes,
And how a single bee could thrive
In such a structure as a hive.
The astonished bee replied,
I find comfort in the hive,
And being is a thing we share,
Large or small, no matter where;
And, I have wings with which to soar,
While all your nose can do is snore.
Blue Jay Noise
The good-morning blue jay chorus
Should never ever bore us:
Though they wake us at five,
Hey! We're alive!
So give thanks for the loud blue jay chorus.
Before I looked for a permanent job,
I found myself at a Dance Macabre.
The band was made of a skeleton crew,
While the dancers were mostly skeletons, too.
Each of the dancers wore a mask,
Each one carried a half-full flask.
When the Queen of the dance offered me a drink,
I turned and fled from that hideous rink.
I found a job on the very next day;
On the Dance Macabre I've no more to say.
Alpha and Omega
The world and all that is in it
Requires a God to begin it—
Sustain it, maintain it,
And keep it from going to Hell,
Gravity holds it firm to the earth;
A base of rock provides it girth.
Built like a cave, it holds the fire
That signals our ardent, burning desire.
[d. 1914—not a Clerihew]
Filled a big crock
With texts he considered immoral.
The big crock instead
Was just his fat head
With its fixations, some of them oral.
This monster sucks in all the air,
As well as dust and dirt and hair.
Every time she heard its roar,
Pookie piddled on the floor.
Frollie the Goalie
Our Jack Russell terrier, Frollie,
Would make a great soccer goalie:
She's quick on her feet,
Her head's like concrete,
She's a happy team player wholly.
Quirks and Quiddities
How odd that mole
Should rhyme with hole,
Or that skunk
Should rhyme with stunk.
One for thought is swallow/wallow;
Two for quitting are sitting/knitting.
I blundered into Wonderland,
And, curious sight to see,
A grouchy purple pansy
Was looking up at me.
He had three yellow fellows
Standing close beside:
"Don't be looking down on us,"
With pansy pride, they cried.
I said with awe and wonder,
"How is it you can speak?"
"It's Wonderland, you idiot,
Here you're the only freak!"
Simon met a turtle
In the middle of the yard;
The turtle looked at Simon
With the mildest disregard.
Simon spoke to him in Hebrew
While the turtle ate a frond;
Simon spoke to him in Spanish
With a chorus from the pond.
Simon spoke to him in Latin
As a voice from the Beyond.
But the turtle never answered,
For, as everybody knows,
Turtles just speak Turtle,
And that's the way it goes.
A tongue-rolling wonder,
Is a fine name
That comes at you like thunder.
Sounds like a curse,
A fast-food joint
Or something worse.
Laughter in Heaven
They say the joke in Heaven
Lies in the pre-human bones
Scattered throughout the sediment
Along with the sticks and stones.
Dry bones indeed tell a story
That scientists carefully read;
But they don't reveal the full glory
Of the soul in the human seed.
Study the tree of life,
Bone up on our common ancestors,
And what teeth tell us of strife.
Like a Story
11 October 2009
They buried Edgar Allen Poe
Some 200 years ago.
His stories then were filled with gore;
Let's hope he's buried nevermore.
Would be holy.
He enjoys his fame
With modest shame.
Eckhart Tolle took his name
From the mystics' Hall of Fame.
Now he speaks through the Internet,
Where you can find his monument.
Something here is terribly wrong;
Something here doesn't belong:
Is it the Angel come from on high;
Is it the Demon eating mince pie?
Maybe the Tiger down the block;
Maybe the Thirteen on the clock?
Is it the Scientist in the church;
Is it the Kite in the lofty birch?
What's left is the Elephant under the bed,
And the ponderous Hippo eating wheat bread?
Something here doesn't belong;
Something here is terribly wrong.
Why won't you come when you're called?
You're as stubborn as I am bald!
You keep on stalling,
My hair keeps on falling—
By both I am terribly galled!
The way that Time goes racing by
Makes me either laugh or cry:
Laugh to think of the good I've had,
Cry to think where it went bad.
What's it like to be a fish,
Breathe in water with a wish,
Flick a fin and shoot with ease
Over unsuspecting trees?
I could feel it in the air,
Something dangerous lurking there.
The light was off its color too,
An ominous, grim, yellowish blue.
The Art of Cleaning
Scrape away the outer layers—
Ignore the atheist naysayers—
For beneath the canvas clothes
Stands revealed the Heavenly Rose.
Let it be to me, she said,
According to your word.
The Angel, humbled, wings outspread,
Departed with our Faith secured.
The Troubadour came singing,
Over the merry hills.
His theme was just—Our Lady,
The way her faith fulfills.
9 October 2009
The Storm arrived with thunderous glee,
Rain so thick we couldn't see;
It tore six branches from our tree,
And left us all with quaking knee.
9 October 2009
They're looking for water
In all the dark places;
The next thing you know,
They'll be seeing strange faces—
In the Moon.
They're throwing down stuff
Just to raise dust,
So they can fly through
In a ship they'll crash too—
Into the Moon.
They've made a new crater
And sent up a cloud;
And NASA is proud—
On the Moon.
An orange and yellow sunrise
That leaves the mountains black,
And makes the undersides of clouds
A golden glowing wrack.
Red-winged blackbird perched on a limb.
How do you tell if he's her or him?
Listen to his blackbird call;
A very loud screech reveals it all.
"What was God doing," the Hypocrite said,
"Before the Big Bang began?"
"Preparing Hell for people like you
Who have no faith in His plan."
The thing of it is, my darling,
The only story we know
Is the one we're living right now, dear,
Where we're the stars of the show.
13 October 2009
We're walking through the garden,
Still early in the Fall,
We meet a leafy coleus,
Whose colors us enthrall:
Bright green around the edges,
With centers of dark burnished red;
Those colors leap and dance and sing,
And all the world o'erspread.
In the Darkness Blooming
Moonflowers bloom only at night
When daylight has receded;
Large white flowers spring to life,
On bright vines unheeded.
Yellow-billed cuckoo locked in the cage
Worked himself up to a mighty rage,
A flapping, flashing, feathered flurry
Of cataclysmic avian fury.
Excerpted from The Phone Poem Book by L. Eugene Startzman Copyright © 2010 by L. Eugene Startzman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: the Box....................3
Simple Gifts: the Shaker Song....................207
Simple Gifts: the Text....................209
Simple Gifts: the First Turn Children's Perspectives....................211
Simple Gifts: the Second Turn Household Pets....................239
Simple Gifts: the Third Turn Adult Perspectives....................251
Simple Gifts: the Fourth Turn The Father's Perspective....................267
Simple Gifts: the Fifth Turn The Mother's Perspective....................277
Simple Gifts: the Final Turn The Place Just Right....................281
Simple Gifts: True Simplicity Isabelle Rebekah....................289
Simple Gifts: the Parable Where We Ought to Be....................293
Pills and Ills....................298
Flotsam and Jetsam....................313