http://www.albany.edu/offcourse
 http://offcourse.org
 ISSN 1556-4975

   

Since 1998, a journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays edited by Ricardo Nirenberg.


 

"Twenty-One Attempts..." and Other Poems by J.R.Solonche

 

TWENTY-ONE ATTEMPTS AT THE WILLIAM MATTHEWS CHALLENGE TO RUIN, WITH THE LEAST POSSIBLE CHANGE, A FAMOUS LINE OF POETRY

 

1.
Whose woods these are I think I know.

Whose irons these are I think I know.

 

2.
I heard a Fly Buzz – when I died –

I heard a Fly Buzz – when it died –

 

3.
The proper study of mankind is Man.

The proper study of mankind is jazz, man.

 

4.
Let us go then, you and I

Let us go then, me and you

 

5.
Little Lamb, who made thee?

Little Goat, who made thee?

 

6.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

In Timbuktu did Kubla Khan    

 

7.
When I was one and twenty

When I was twenty-one

 

8.
I caught a tremendous fish

I caught a whopper

 

9.
“O where ha’ you been, Lord Randall, my son?”

“O where ha’ you been, Lord Sheldon, my son?”

 

10.
When I heard the learn’d astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astrologer

 

11.
About suffering they were never wrong

About surfing they were never wrong

 

12.
A poem should be palpable and mute

A poem should be palpable and cute

 

13.
Drink to me only with thine eyes

Blink to me only with thine eyes

 

14.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

I felt a Funeral, in my Spleen

 

15.
There were three ravens sat on a tree

There were three mavens sat on a tree

 

16.
When I see birches bend to left and right

When I see bitches bend to left and right

 

17.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

Two toads diverged in a yellow wood

 

18.
O Rose, thou art sick!

O Nose, thou art sick!

 

19.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a mall

 

20.
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may

Gather ye nose-bugs while ye may

 

21.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go, gentile, into that good night.

 


 

FOUR GEESE ON THE LAWN OF THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

How long have they been here I wonder
on the lawn of the elementary school,

the grass not yet cut, still thick and sweet,
and the dandelions still bright yellow and still

spread out around them like their own golden eggs?
It looks like they’ve been here all morning.

It looks like they’ve been arguing all morning.
It looks like they have just now agreed

while one, only reluctantly persuaded,
now waddles away from the other three,

still, in her heart, unpersuaded, still, in
her heart, not yet ready to teach us their secret.

 


 

IN A PUBLIC PLACE

i
The flag flutters.
The white and pink petals fall.
One breeze is enough.

ii
Piped into the men’s room,
a Beethoven string quartet.
I wish I were constipated.

iii
On another bench,
a man reads a book of poetry.
Someday I want to write

a book of poetry
that cannot be read in public.
It will be illegal.

iv
The flowering plant is doing its job:
being publicly private,
being privately public.

v
The material dematerializes.
One deity dies.
Another is born.

vi
Look! The moon is made of money.
Let us spend it on happiness.
It will be sold out soon.

 


 

FOUND POEM WITH VARIATIONS

Paganini is supposed to have said
that  Stradivari “only used the wood
on trees on which nightingales sang.”

Frost is supposed to have said
that Dickinson “only used the paper
from trees on which butterflies were born.”

Pound is supposed to have said
that Whitman “only used the paper
from trees under whose boughs couples copulated.”

Moore is supposed to have said
that Frost “only used the paper
from New Hampshire maple trees.”

Tennyson is supposed to have said
that Blake “only used the paper
from trees in which angels sat.”

Creeley is supposed to have said
that Ginsberg “only used the paper
from the same trees Whitman used.”

 


Four-time Pushcart Prize as well as Best of the Net nominee, J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is coauthor of PEACH GIRL: POEMS FOR A CHINESE DAUGHTER (Grayson Books).

His Poems appeared in Offcourse #42, in #45, Four Poems, in #49 and in #51



Return to Offcourse Index.