Monday, June 13, 2011

Poem of the Month - The Passionate Mama's Boy

Reputed portrait of
Christopher Marlowe
When I was studying Renaissance literature, the professor shared a few homage poems written by former students. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of reimagining the works of great writers like Shakespeare and Donne. So I set out to do just that.

After reading and re-reading Christopher Marlowe’s memorable pastoral poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” I felt ready to tackle the challenge. (I recommend you read the original poem now so you have a point of comparison between it and my version.)

I won’t force you to read the first two efforts. They turned out neither memorable nor pastoral. But I felt I really hit on something with the third and final attempt. So did the professor, who briefly channeled Spenser Tracy when she described the poem as “Cherce!”

(I should mention that “The Passionate Mama’s Boy” and its less illustrious predecessors were all written at a time when I was engaged in a…difficult…relationship.)

The Passionate Mama’s Boy
by Betty Dobson

Come live with me, be my lover -
Take no notice of my mother.
Just give her time, she'll hold you dear;
Besides, she's hardly ever here.

Between her job and her "friends",
Her busy schedule never ends.
You can rearrange the pots and pans,
Clean the cupboards, recycle cans.

Cook whatever suits your palate;
Feed me steak, tofu, or carrot.
I promise you'll receive a treat
Of flowers, fun, or something sweet.

I have nothing, love, without you
Except my butane barbecue.
Bring your cat, your books, your broom;
We'll let you have your own bedroom.

On nights when I'm not working late -
As long as mother's on a date -
We'll find a sitter for the cat
And overturn the welcome mat.

Believe in me, my offer's true -
I've had three years to think this through.
Don't take too long, please, to decide;
I've got to run and catch my ride.

Using classic poetry as direct inspiration is a great way to unlock your creativity. Why not try it with one of your favorites?

"The Passionate Mama's Boy" is included in my poetry collections, Paper Wings, currently available via

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Off the Shelf: And This Was My Happy Ending

The first time I read Kevin Staniec's And This Was My Happy Ending, I didn't think too much about mechanics and style. I just let myself get drawn into the story. I felt the words as much as read them.

Much of my reaction stems from Staniec's skillful poetic craft. Rhymes are buried inside lines and used with care and precision. By the time Staniec kicks the internal rhyme into full gear, you're hooked.

     My heart, beating, rhythm-
     mically competing, and
     defeating me. Each key,
     delicately caressed,
     dressed in ebony and

The premise behind this book is at once simple and unique. And This Was My Happy Ending is, as the cover blurb declares, "a story of love from a man's perspective." In just 78 pages (each of them not much bigger than a large index card) Staniec explores the narrator's emotions from the first meeting through the evolution of the relationship.

And This Was My Happy Ending is poetry for people who don't think they like poetry. And if you already do, you'll have a distinct advantage going in.

Does our narrator find his happy ending? It's not my place to tell. I can only recommend you grab a hot cup of herbal tea, curl up in your favorite chair, and give yourself time to read this little book from cover to cover.