A Heartfelt Ode To Office Basketball Pools

Our diverse country is rarely unified in thought or deed, but this week is an exception:  we can say with supreme confidence that virtually every worker in America is filling out their office’s version of the NCAA Tournament pool.  Our ability, from sea to shining sea, to share in the communal experience of NCAA Tournament wagering has moved me to verse:

An Ode To Office Basketball Pools

IMG_3402The Ides have passed, and now it’s here,

Our annual betting racket

I feel the heat, I must complete

My NCAA bracket.

I’ve studied hard and thought with care. 

And confidence?  I don’t lack it

I know this year I’ll win it clear

Thanks to this perfect bracket!

I’ll fold it neat and keep it near

So success, I can track it

And I’ll peruse whene’er I choose

My pristine tourney bracket!

Then Thursday comes, and upsets, too

And my forehead, I will smack it

As X-outs sprout and teams go out

And mar fore’er my bracket.

By Sunday night I’m crushed and mad

And fit for a strait jacket

My Final Four are all no more

Another failed bracket!

A shining moment, I ne’er had

If it were underground I’d frack it

I’m in the ditch, it’s fit to pitch

Curs’d NCAA bracket!

Twinkie, Noooooooo!

As a result of a labor dispute, Hostess — the makers of the Twinkie, that joyous, anti-nutritious concoction that has long been a favorite of hefty American children, myself included — is going out of business.

Nooooooo!  It’s bad enough that thousands of workers will lose their jobs, but can it really be that the Twinkie will go the way of the Dodo?  How can a cruel world deprive youngsters of the finger-licking pleasures of cream-filled, yellow sponge-caked goodness, dipped in milk?

I therefore republish the Webner House Ode to a Twinkie, not in celebration, but in sorrow:

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  The noon hour now draws nigh

My morning classes will be done, to you my thoughts do fly

The bell will ring, the rush will start, and we will race to lunch

The crinkled paper bag will ope, on PBJ I’ll munch

But O!  Dessert!  Dessert!

My hungry heart doth beat

For in my sack I soon shall find

A cream-filled sponge cake treat.


O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  Your sponge cake damp and gold

And filled with tasty frosting, sweet and white and bold

The wrapper tears, my eyes grow wide, the sticky mass I grasp

And clutch to waiting bosom like Cleo and the asp

And so to eat!  To eat!  To eat!

With glass of milk, ice cold

Then lick till clean the bottom square

Of its crumbs, wet and gold.


O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  My lustrous sack lunch friend

The sight of you gives rise to thoughts of lunch’s happy end

Your taste I crave, and I desire to see you on my plate

I do not mind if you are made of calcium sulfate

Fear not, my friend!  Fear not!  Fear not!

We’ll eat you still with pride

Come Polysorbate 60, hell,

or grim diglyceride!

How Do I Brick Thee?

College basketball is one of my favorite sports.  Often, I’ll watch a game even if one of my favorite teams isn’t playing.

Last night I watched Illinois play Michigan State.  It promised to be a tough game between two teams fighting for the Big Ten lead — but it became an ugly brickfest in which neither team could make a basket.  Illinois finally won by the ridiculous score of 42-41.  The Illini shot less than 33% from the field; the Spartans made fewer than 25% — 25%! — of their attempts.

The absurdly bad shooting got to be comical, and moved me to verse:

How Do I Brick Thee?  (with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I brick thee? Let me count the ways.
I brick thee by hurling thee against glass
And failing to make a capable pass
In an offense so far out of phase.

I brick thee on layup and on three-point shot
The efforts I launch all resound with a clang
And each ugly brick leads to coaches’ harangue;
I brick thee ’cause no teammate is hot.

I brick thee with all the pow’r I produce
Though the results be nothing but lame.
I brick thee and bear the fans’ harsh abuse,
With each miss I shrivel in shame,
I brick thee and see my shots leave a bruise,
I wish I was taught how to aim!

Hitting The Big Time With Christmas Card Verse

You known you’ve really made it as a significant poet when some of your verse makes it onto a greeting card.

The reason for this is simple:  there is no better testament to your powers as a wordsmith than knowing that other people, after careful consideration, have concluded that your thoughtful expressions best capture the sentiment they want to convey.

So you can imagine my delight when Webner House reader Angie disclosed today that she has borrowed some of our Webner House doggerel for her family’s holiday card this year.  OK, so the Webner House verse that was used was an ode to a furry Mad Bomber hat, rather than some deeply meaningful thoughts about the holidays, and it was a self-published card, and Angie tweaked it a bit — but so what?  It is still pretty cool.  You can see Angie’s card with the modified verse here.  Angie, you made my day!

Next stop, Hallmark!

Off To Chicago

Richard has moved back to Chicago, where he will reconnect with Northwestern friends and look for a job.  We’ll miss him, of course, but Chicago is a wonderful place to be for a young man on the move.

Unlike many other once-growing Midwestern cities that now are shriveling, Chicago has maintained that youthful exuberance and bursting at the seams feeling of growth.  It’s a huge city, sprawling and brawling, always throwing up new skyscrapers and enduring new scandals.  Carl Sandburg’s great poem Chicago captures the city well, beginning with its familiar opening:

HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

Enjoy the Windy City, Richard!  You fit right in.

 

On Stone Walls And Robert Frost

The Lake Champlain region of upstate New York feels, to me at least, more like New England than like the mid-Atlantic states.  It is separated from rustic northern Vermont only by the blue waters of the lake, and the signs of a New England approach to life are everywhere evident.

For example, you cannot take a walk on a country lane without seeing many stone walls, in various stages of repair and disrepair.  Some are clean and sharp-edged, some are rambling and covered with flowers, and others are vine-covered, weedy, and completely unattended, only a year or two away from full-scale collapse and a wholesale return to nature.

And who can see a stone wall without thinking of Robert Frost?  His wonderful poem of ruminations on stone walls, their inevitable decline and decay, and his annual meeting with his neighbor to replace the stones in their common wall, Mending Wall, begins as follows:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The poem is full of Frost’s curiousity and impishness.  It is too long to reprint in full in this post, but it is available here.  The poem famously concludes:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.

A Caliente Limerick

For about 20 years now, I have owned a Schwinn Caliente.

I’m not sure how old it is, because I bought it used, but it has been a tremendous bike.  It was cheap, it’s easy to operate for a recreational cyclist like me, and it’s durable — at least, it is if others don’t ride it.  However, at least once a year somebody borrows it and blows out a tire.  Of course, they don’t say anything about it — they just get the bike back to the garage and then slink away, leaving me to discover the problem the next time I want to take a ride.

It was beautiful here on Sunday, with the temperature reaching the 80s.  Conditions were perfect for a bike ride.  With growing anticipation I rolled the Caliente out of the garage, hopped on the seat . . . and discovered that the rear tire was flat as a pancake.  Arrgh!  I pumped it up, and it promptly deflated again. My hopes for a pleasant ride on a fine spring day were dashed.  The disappointment was such that I felt moved to pen a non-dirty limerick about the experience:

There once was a bike made by Schwinn

I sat on her seat with a grin

But my plans all went splat

‘Cause her tire was flat

And I couldn’t take her out for a spin.

For the record, writing bad poetry can help to ease the pain of a missed biking opportunity.

Ode To A Fur Hat

When the temperature gets down to the single digits or below, the Mad Bomber fur hat is taken from the closet and worn with grateful appreciation.  On even the iciest days it keeps my head warm on our morning walks.  As Penny and I were strolling during this past weekend’s cold snap, I was moved to compose this bit of doggerel:

Ode To A Fur Hat

My winter hat, I hold you dear

On frigid days I know no fear

Your ear flaps hang, low and bold

And shield my ears from awful cold

Those icy days you heat my head

As if I were still snug in bed

Your feel is warm and richly furr’d

Who cares If I look like a nerd?

Ode To A Twinkie

A news article recently discussed the 37 ingredients to a Twinkie, many of which apparently are mined rather than grown.  So, the Twinkie is indeed all-natural, but in a different, more earthy way.

I don’t care.  Although I no longer eat Twinkies, they are a fondly remembered staple of my grade school and junior high packed lunches.  And so, in the honor of the Twinkie and its epic contribution to the lunch times of generations of American children, I offer this bit of doggerel (with apologies to Walt Whitman and his poem, O Captain!  My Captain!):

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  The noon hour now draws nigh

My morning classes will be done, to you my thoughts do fly

The bell will ring, the rush will start, and we will race to lunch

The crinkled paper bag will ope, on PBJ I’ll munch

But O!  Dessert!  Dessert!

My hungry heart doth beat

For in my sack I soon shall find

A cream-filled sponge cake treat.


O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  Your sponge cake damp and gold

And filled with tasty frosting, sweet and white and bold

The wrapper tears, my eyes grow wide, the sticky mass I grasp

And clutch to waiting bosom like Cleo and the asp

And so to eat!  To eat!  To eat!

With glass of milk, ice cold

Then lick till clean the bottom square

Of its crumbs, wet and gold.


O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  My lustrous sack lunch friend

The sight of you gives rise to thoughts of lunch’s happy end

Your taste I crave, and I desire to see you on my plate

I do not mind if you are made of calcium sulfate

Fear not, my friend!  Fear not!  Fear not!

We’ll eat you still with pride

Come Polysorbate 60, hell,

or grim diglyceride!