Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts

Thursday, February 05, 2015


That's James Witcomb Riley above, author of the poem "Little Orphant Annie." You probably think he stole the character from the comic strip but actually the comic derived the character from Riley, from this poem as a matter of fact.

The poem isn't perfect. You get the idea that an even better one might have been made from the same structural elements, but millions of kids memorized it without much coercion, so it must have had something going for it. Here's (below) a link to a little two year-old girl reciting it.

The poem was so popular that Harold Gray made a comic strip (above) out of it. Gray must have liked writing because the strip was the most wordy comic ever. It's a wonder that the characters didn't get stoop shouldered from having to scuttle around under word balloons as big as pianos.

Gray solved the balloon problem by running the excess dialogue down the characters' backs and over their faces and chests.

Annie was so goody-goody that she spawned a zillion sex parodies. I'm guessing that Annie was second only to Little Red Riding Hood in that regard. Here's (above) Little Annie Fannie by Harvey Kurtzman.

She was well represented in radio and film, too.  If you have the stamina to listen to this 45 minute video of Jean Shepherd's radio show you'll hear the story of the boy who got the shock of his life when he decoded Annie's secret message and discovered she was a rip-off artist.

Wood (above) did a sexy take-off, too.

Even Tijuana Bibles got into the act. Poor James Witcomb Riley. He was a gentle soul who probably never dreamed his poem would would spawn a whole cottage industry of sex and crime parodies.

BTW: Thanks to Steve for turning me on to Riley.

Monday, February 02, 2015


Here's a poem by Vachel Lindsay that every kid used to learn in school. It's almost unique in that it has a driving rhythm that makes parts of it very hard to forget. I wouldn't be surprised if hearing it only once addicted millions to the sound of English words.

Unfortunately the poem sounds sounds racist to modern ears and so isn't read as often as it once was. That might be okay if there was an adequate substitute, but there's not...none that I know of, anyway. There's the beautifully paced prologue to "Romeo and Juliet": "Two houses / both alike in dignity / in fair Verona / where we lay our scene." There's also Blake's famous stanza about the tiger.  They're great, and very hard to forget...still.....

Anyway, if you can forgive the racial content, here's (below) an excerpt from Lindsay's "Congo."

by Vachel Linsay

Well, it goes on.

Here's a reading by Lindsay himself. Fans regard this as definitive, but I can imagine one that might be even better. See what you think.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Haw! I never, ever thought I'd be doing a post about Paradise Lost, the poem about which Samuel Johnson said, "Nobody ever wishes it was longer." Johnson was right. Milton could write, but he wrote too much. I'm reading it now and it's hard to resist the speculation that the poet was getting paid by the word.

Come to think of it, it's probably more likely that the man had OCD. He probably wrote compulsively and often, whether he was inspired or not. That would be a fatal flaw for a lesser writer but hey, this is Milton, and when he was inspired he was almost without peer. See what you think of this collection of fragments (in no particular order):

"...With looks / Downcast and damp..." ["looks downcast and damp..." Nice, very nice. I assume "damp" refers to tears but it also brings to mind a wet rag, which is a great image to support the impact of "downcast."] 

"And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer / Before all temples th' upright heart and pure..." ["the upright heart and pure"... I love how he transposes words like that.]

"...the dire event / That with sad overthrow and foul defeat, / Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host / In horrible destruction laid thus low..."  [Not "laid low thus," but rather "laid thus low." That's a beautiful construction. Maybe that's the influence that Latin construction had on English. You can see the influence of the King James Bible style here. Milton could assume a wide audience for his poetry because even the common working man was Bible literate and therefore had a taste for beautiful words.]

Milton was a Puritan and the idea of democracy was so infused into that belief that even demons had to vote on everything, including whether to break with God.

Heaven was an unassailable fortress so a direct military assault on God was out of the question. I like the way (below) Milton describes Heaven's defenses:

"...The Towers of Heaven are filled / With armed watch that render all access / Impregnable. Oft on the bordering deep / Encamp their legions, or with secret wing / scout far and wide into the Night / Scorning surprise..."

Wow! Heaven uses an active defence which relies not only on walls but on reconnaissance and confrontation with the enemy at night. It sounds like something modern defenders would do.

Enraged and humiliated, Lucifer decided the best way to hurt God was to hurt his pampered creation, the human race. God had given us free will and Lucifer would use that to tempt us to do evil, as he did with Adam and Eve (above).  God would have to suffer the agony of witnessing our betrayal and ingratitude.

Milton was great at evocative images. Here (the picture above and the text below) he describes the kind of enormous Leviathan that shared the world with man before the time of Noah. Milton's Hell wasn't confined to the deep underneath the Earth. In remote areas it could also be found in lakes of lava on the surface, and was sometimes seen by humans.

How would you like to have been the seamen who witnessed that?

All paperback editions of Paradise Lost were not created equal. Here's (above) an annotated one from 1999 that has a good typeface and no bleed through.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


It's almost Valentine's Day!!!!!!!  Is your loved one hard of hearing? Maybe she'd appreciate a copy of the love poem I'm writing for the hearing impaired.  I'm not finished yet, but here's how it starts. See if you can guess what the poet (me) is saying. I'll give phonetic hints along the way, then print out the whole thing in ordinary script at the end.  

Okay, let's do this thing!

(Cough! Cough!)

Oops! Sorry about that.

Okay, here goes......












llllllll..... There, I let that last "L" syllable just roll off my tongue.

The whole thing is "My-love-for-you-is-like-a-tickled-thistle." Tickled thistle...get it?'s a repetition of the "th" sound. Us poets know about stuff like that. 

Notice that I left out harsh, explosive know, stuff like....



Don't ask me how I know to do that. It's a gift I was born with. 

Friday, September 20, 2013


Holy Cow! Lalalizabeth has reposted her Naked Vlog which makes it possible for me to repost mine. I loved this post when I put it up a while back and was heartbroken when Lalalizabeth took her part down. I had to follow suit...the two videos only make sense when posted together.

Anyway here's the full blown original in all its naked glory!


To get the effect you have to WATCH BOTH VIDEOS SIMULTANEOUSLY, AT THE SAME TIME. Arrange the framing so both are visible, one almost on top of the other. 

Turn on the bottom (B&W) video first, let it run for four seconds, then turn on the top (color) video. Voila! 

Thanks to Lalalizabeth, whose videos can be viewed on YouTube.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Oh Man, I'm in heaven! Commenter and famed illustrator Kellie Strom told me how to recover this accidentally deleted photo story and the advice was good as gold! Here it is in all it's funky glory. I'm tempted to change a few things, and I wish I didn't look so fat in it, but I'll leave it as is, just to be safe.

The story:

"Now to write this thing...."

"Let's see....hmmm....Love...our love..."

"Our love is such that..."

"No, no....our love runs...runs and swims... "

"No... we swim into love with...we swim into the swimming hole of love...we swim..."

"Oh, the heck with it!"


"We swim...we dive...we swan dive..."



"We're CREATURES of FIRE..."

"Mingled male and female yearning..."

"Yearning for...for...YEARNING for THE HEAT!"


"I SPLASH into the PLEASURE, all consuming..."

"A-l-l c-o-n-s-u-m-i-n-g..."

"...and now...and now... I'm happy...really happy...I'm..."

"I'm just incredibly happy...I'm um..."




"I'm JOYFULLY INSANE...insane with...with..."






"Now for the reward! I think I've earned a little nip!"

NOTE: This is a bowdlerized version of what I assume is a famous poem but I don't have the name at hand.

NOTE 2: Many, many, many, many thanks to Kellie for the much needed computer help!!!!!!!

Kellie's impressive blog: "Airforce Amazons":