In March of 2002, I discovered that I'd been assigned a message board over on Kent Brewster's Speculations web site. For some reason, I decided that I needed to post only poetry there, and over the next two years, that's what I did.
Other folks added poems in response, and we ended up with 104 messages before I just got too busy to keep posting.
Kent shut the Speculations site down in early March, 2008, so I dug around, found the old poems, and I'm putting them here.
And it all began with my profile...
Author Topics : Michael H. Payne
Don't worry; it's only the host
Who's required to rhyme every post.
Though you can. Who'll complain?
Not this Michael H. Payne,
Part-time writer and full-time milktoast...
It's quite the shock to find this here.
The reason for it seems unclear.
I mean, who's ever heard of me?
Who'll click this link? Who'll ever see
If I should type a few quatrains
On shoes for squirrels or lobster brains?
Quite the delicacy, I'm told,
In places mystical and old.
The lobster brains, I mean. Although
If squirrels made shoes from escargot,
They might be thought a rarer treat
By those who like odd things to eat.
But I don't know: that's my whole point.
I accidently found this joint
That's got my name attached to it
And thought I'd post a little bit....
I'd like to paraphrase that old
Immortal Mr. S.
And call us humans, brave and bold,
A piece of work, indeed.
We grasp the stars--well, more or less--
Whene'er we feel the need.
We taste like pork, though I confess,
This last I've just been told.
We laugh, we love, we lie, we bleed.
We're hot? We make it cold.
And yet, despite all word and deed,
My kitchen's still a mess.
My usual format is just plain ol' prose:
No rhyming or meters, just straight solid rows
Of letters and words and as much punctuation
As might be required for each situation.
I've had some success with it, sold a few things--
A novel, some stories and such--and that brings
Me at last to my point, why I'm posting this here:
A bunch of my old stuff will soon reappear
As e-books on Fictionwise. Stories for sale!
A cry to make even the strongest heart quail.
There's 10 altogether, 'bout one for each year
Of this thing that I laughingly call my career.
So warm up your modem, type in the domain,
Browse through the authors, find Michael H. Payne,
And a click should call up the entire bill of fare.
I like them all, but, well, buyer, beware!
You're a very talented HOOT, Michael! Love your verse!
Wish i were signed in as anonymous so you could take my compliment to heart without the baggage My name suggests, but here goes; "YOu write superb verse!"
Maybe you can try "A place for Race" and write what my words have been insufficient to say. I have tried several time to use the poetic voice to deliver my ideas; to say something that can hardly be said in any other way... but I am a fog horn in the bright of day!
Thanks for your kind comments, both of you.
I'm glad to hear my stuff can raise a smile
'Cause that's the only thing I aim to do.
I lack the smarts for more--or else the style.
Let other, deeper souls write poetry
That plumbs the human heart down to its core.
For me, the mundane triviality
Of cabbage soup and trips down to the store.
I like the classic stuff--don't get me wrong--
From Shakespeare up through cummings, Auden, Frost.
But those guys wrote with purpose, came on strong
With messages to heal and help the lost.
Mine's just for fun, for rhythm, word, and rhyme:
A way to share a laugh and pass the time.
That Wondering-if-Archy-the-Cockroach-Woulda-Had-an-Easier-Time-with-a-Computer-Keyboard-Mike Guy
My shoelace always snaps
Those times I need to leave
The house five minutes ago.
My socks fold down in flaps
With holes torn in the weave
To tangle 'round my toe.
All pants I've ever found
Are short or else too long.
My shirts tend toward the dull
And constantly astound,
The way each size looks wrong
No matter how I pull.
It's not like I can blame
The clothes: they're mass-produced.
It must be me who lacks
The proper sort of frame.
My legs should be reduced
Or stretched into my slacks.
A fruitless sort of ruse:
The laces still would break
No matter how my feet
Might change to fit my shoes.
I don't know how to make
My failings more discreet.
I'm just no good with lies;
I stammer, sweat and blush
And start to smell uncouth.
So, yeah, no big surprise:
In life's travail and crush,
I mostly tell the truth.
It stops my clothes, I think,
From making me the man
I just might like to be.
They take me to the brink,
But I just never can
Quite let my clothes wear me.
Mike (The Bard of Save-on) Payne
For the Mike Guy: I am hideously jealous of your superb facility at verse. Not so much as Ogden Nash, though, who is chewing his shoelaces after reading your productions. With cause.
Go on, great man!
I thank you, sir, and thank you, too,
For mentioning the name
Of Ogden Nash. I'm filled with rue
To not have brought him up
Myself before: a man whose flame
Burned bright for this young pup
And showed me first a way to tame
This language with his Zoo.
So if you've never sipped the cup
Of Custard, just leaf through
A "best of" volume. Go and sup:
You hate it, I'm to blame.
That Try-Your-Local-Library Mike Guy
To double digits! Who'd've ever thought
This group'd reach that loftiest plateau
In less than two months' time! And sure, it's not
A daring feat, like knights of long ago
Or thinkers in their labs, their eyes agleam
With hope to make this world a better place.
It's not like we've developed some grand scheme
To clean the air or feed the human race.
But still, with clouds of voices all around,
Opinions flying, angry or concerned,
A little patch of quiet fallow ground
Where grins can grow's a thing not to be spurned.
So thanks to Speculations for the chance;
I'll try not to set fire to Kent's pants.
That Not-Promising-Anything-When-it-Comes-to-the-Burning-Pants-Part Mike Guy
That Mike. How does he do it?
All with admiration cry
But me--a jealous snit
Is how I greet that clever guy.
My rhymes are flat. I've not a whit
Of his good grace and cheer.
My lines don't scan. No, not a bit.
My imagery is--queer.
But Michael's poems are quite the hit
Though I may pose and bellow--
My bluster fades and I admit
He's just the nicer fellow.
(Of course, I *am* a girl--)
Could it be, then, Ms. Lori Ann White?
'Cause the name summons pictures of bright
Shining teeth to my mind...
From I story I'd find
In TomorrowSF, am I right?
Mike "I've still got every issue" Payne
Oh, my lord! I declare!
I am flustered. I swear
Such a mind--like a trap
And I can't beat the wrap.
Yup, that's me. :-)
I'm constantly shocked by the way my brain works,
Or more to the point, just how seldom it does.
Not quite fits and starts: more like staggers and jerks
As it tries to divide up "is," "will be," and "was."
I made it through high school and college, I'm told
By the folks that I met there and still see each week,
But my brain's been all gapped up, my memory holed,
The past splashed away like some slow-dripping leak.
But that story I read half a decade ago,
Or that T.V. show I always watched as a kid?
That's all front and center. And why? I don't know;
My brain's been replaced by some small annalid?
I'd shake my head "no," but the rattle and pop
Makes everything slosh out my ears. Where's the mop?
That What-Did-You-Say-Your-Name-Was-Again-Mike Guy
I know what you mean--I *do* feel your pain
But Silicon Valley's the place I call home.
Drip and drops? Mops and leaks? Could you please come again?
I'm a WASP, not Italian, and now I'm in Rome.
*My* brain is a hard drive, all cluttered with bytes.
My sectors are jumbled, data eaten by worms--
Trojan horses stampede through my dreams every night
I should not have agreed to those licensing terms.
My compatriots listen with forebearing smiles. They
Pat my hunched shoulder and think I'm insane.
I must hope that a geeky friend soon finds a way
To back up my body and defrag my brain.
I'm afraid they're too late. I'm afraid I'll soon crash
And my obsolete system get tossed in the trash.
Lori Ann "Oh, my god! *What* birthday is next week?" White
Obsolete? Au contraire!
If it works, then why despair?
And by "work," all I really mean
Is sparks don't fill the air.
Sure, it creaks; sure, it groans--
That's the fan, not snapping bones.
Fifteen years? Why, that's nothing to
The same-sized weight of stones.
Flick the switch, let it run;
Ah, the days when DOS was fun,
When the monochrome was Hercules
And amber as the sun.
In those days--halcyon youth--
Our computers gleamed with truth,
And the future we were rushing toward
Was boundless and uncouth.
Did we change? Something did.
Like yourself, I'm not a kid,
But my old 486 runs fine
In its home-made metal lid.
So boot up! There's the beep
And the C prompt! Take a leap!
Aches and pains? Sure, but promise, too:
Just buried kinda deep...
That Born-the-Same-Year-as-SFWA Mike Guy
The cat every morning at six
Yowls out its demand that I fix
It some breakfast, and I,
Crunchy sleep in my eye,
Stagger downstairs to get Meow Mix.
Then it's back up to bed--not to sleep,
But to work on my comics. I'm cheap:
I should hire someone
Who can draw? That's no fun!
Why, my art can make real artists weep!
And it's not like my stories require
An artist so hot, he's on fire.
The mice in my tales
Harvest crops into bales:
Simple stuff, but I've got me a buyer.
They're part of an anthology
That appears more or less quarterly.
Shanda Fantasy Arts
Brings it out, bless their hearts.
"New Horizons," it's called, actually.
Issue twelve's the next one, and it's due
Any week now. It should have part two
Of my first major try:
A fire-breathing dragonfly
Makes trouble for our stalwart mouse crew.
So give it a look. I won't mind,
Though it might be a bit hard to find.
It's out there, I swear,
Waiting for you somewhere
Among other odd books of its kind.
That Shamelessly Promotional Mike Guy
I can't believe I've gone this long
And not brought up my show!
Could be my head's just screwed-on wrong,
To use a fine cliche...
But still, I'm on the radio
Three hours each Saturday.
At 6 AM, I start the flow
Of story, chat, and song.
It's early, yes, but, see, that way,
The music can ping-pong
From jazz to folk, can wander, stray,
And no one'll ever know.
Mike (www.kuci.org/~mpayne) Payne
And when I mention 6AM below?
Pacific Daylight Time. Thought you should know.
Ah, Mike, you are too kind.
And what some would label "blind"
I'll try to call an "optimistic view."
And partake, for a while,
Of your vision--without guile,
Simply wanting to remake the old as new.
I *do* work, I suppose--
Toes and fingers, ears and nose
Are all in place and serving as they should.
When I rise to greet each day
All my parts their parts do play
As long as you don't look under the hood.
A little rust, a little tarnish.
I'd need steel wool and varnish
To remove the bumps and dents supplied by life.
Instead, I'll claim the truth:
My face is living proof
Of all the battles that I've fought--and won--with strife.
Lori Ann "Bloodied but Unbowed" White
I prefer "pragmat-" to "pessim-" or "optim-"
When talk turns to "-ist," though that never stopped 'em
From calling me one, both, or all three at once:
I'm packed full of multitudes...or else a dunce.
This last view proves popular most of the time--
I mean, who's the one posting all of this rhyme?
A blithering "egot-," some might even feel,
Deluded, a "fantac-" instead of a "real-."
I won't disagree, though with "masoch-" or "sad-"
I'd have take umbrage; I'm just much too staid.
Mike "Not so sure about that last one" Payne
I can't understand how you talk all in rhyme -- it's very consuming of effort and time! And how you maintain such impeccable meter... it's doubtful that poetry's ever been sweeter.
For me, I'm afraid, prose is just how I think. My poesy's rotten -- of uniform stink. So if you'll excuse me, I'll bid you farewell. I've already earned time in off-topic H***.
Michael Payne has a bee in his bonnet;
We hear the buzz through the whole Rumor Mill.
Careful! You might be stung by a sonnet.
It's only a topical wound, but still
Best to approach these memes with due caution.
The tendency flies from better to verse.
Doubled up with couplets, you'll need a potion.
Get sick with the limericks, you'll need a nurse.
The pleasures of poems mix with dis-eases;
You can't kiss Erato without getting sore.
That tramp of a muse sleeps where she pleases,
waking up someone who has to have more.
But the taste of her honey is worth it again:
All hail the verse of the muse that's in Payne!
The morning already hot and dry
Around my head buzzed a little fly
His eyes were green and faceted
The type that comes from things found dead
What he's doing, I don't know
It's not hot enough yet for the the to blow
But now he speaks in tiny voice
He says "Listen up, you've got a choice."
It can be in any order
Don't worry, you're not even close to Mordor
You could be on a cliff, facing South
Don't try to scream, just open your mouth
Relax, close your eyes, here's what I'm going to do
Don't fret or worry, this is nothing new
I'll fly down and on the page come to rest
Believe me, what I'll do is for the best
I'll insert the punctuation
Forget all that brutal frustration
I'll put my tiny body right on the spot
And leave a tiny little dot
It's not hot enough for the wind to blow!
I don't know what type of bug helps with that type of thing.
Heh. We're slammin'.
It shocks me to a place just this side of no end
that a brother of mine could churn out line after line
of self-promotional verse
without remarking poetically on that billiardical blend
so subtle and finessed with green felted dress
of purple monkeys and worse.
But now Mr. Big Shot, his finger he bends
inviting El Mike-o to realms of I like-o
and dangers of head like to burst.
So I simply won't mention our old pool room friend.
Leave self-aggrandizement or coy lowered-eyesment
to MHP's masterful verse.
Yow-wow and oy. I don't know what to say.
But let me thank you all for dropping by.
Like Amy's bug, feel free to stop and stay,
And Jaime, well, I'd never classify
A topic here as "off." I don't see how.
But if you feel you must report to Hell
Let me suggest a way that will allow
Your diabolic pain truly to swell.
It's Monkey Pool. My brother Tom alludes
To it in Message Twenty-Seven there.
The simple naive charm the game exudes
Conceals claws to strip your poor soul bare.
For those who call their constitution tough,
I cannot recommend the game enough.
Mike (http://henryjr2.tripod.com/monkeypool.htm) Payne
And Charlie says we're slammin'.
I don't know what that means.
But if it's got to do with dance,
Then, sir, I don't know beans.
That Two-Left-Feet-Both-Made-Entirely-of-Big-Toes Mike Guy
Puns and rhymes and games and such--
We're serious writers here, I do declare!
I say, don't you think it's all just a bit much?
No more having fun! Or so help me, I swear--
What's that? Yes, I've read all the posts in this thread.
The better to chastise you--for your own good--
We've got work to do! Change the world before bed!
A serious matter! Is that understood?
Come again? Did I laugh? Chuckle, smile, guffaw?
Well, perhaps?but I have your best interests at heart.
How do you plead ere I lay down the law?
To spread joy is sublime. To have fun is an art.
Lori Ann "That Mike Guy is a blessing" White
To lay down the LAW is something that I
would venture is going too far.
For while Lori's husband's a hell of a guy,
I like my bones right where they are.
So now I will go and see what monkey pool
is, avoiding fates that should be dreaded.
For while I may simper and act like a fool,
I just wish not to be beheaded.
punchin' and dukin'
jivin' and jukin'
doin' the slipslop
of rhyme and wit
that's a slam,
Jaime Rosen! Should I blush or be offended?
Young man, you'd best declare yourself straight out
And hope my disbelief I have suspended,
Or show yourself as nothing but a lout.
(Sorry. Harsh, but it rhymes.)
We're naught but guests in Michael's charming topic
And, as guests, obliged to be polite.
With a watchword of "discretion," not to drop pec-
adillos that should never see the light.
(Hah. Didn't think I'd get something for "topic", did ya?)
BTW, just to make myself perfectly clear--
*I* lay down the LAW, no one else. Got me, dear?
Lori Ann "I fought the LAW and the LAW won" White
Why dear, I never meant you to be offended.
My phrasing... well, perhaps it should be ammended.
Near PCs I should not be left unattended,
or else limb-from-limb I will surely be rended.
From birth, to improper jokes have I oft tended,
while to innuendo my name I have lended.
The applecart, thus, is quite often upended,
and others' good names must themselves be defended.
In apology my right hand is extended,
(Yes, hand, for all naughtiness has now been ended)
and please let me say that, while you are quite splendid,
attention once paid is now no longer spended.
(But one final note, as I take to the sky --
when spelling my name, it's the 'M', then the 'I'.)
my abject apologies.
The olive branch I tender,
with a promise not to render
an innocent RMer
limb from limb.
Kiss and make up?
The olive branch I do take up,
for at least we shall make up. :)
And silent I will be again --
there's no more rhymes left in my pen.
Apologies from me as well,
But, heck, if I knew how to spell,
I certainly never would've become a writer.
And lying here with eyes bleeding
After a day spent proofreading
Only shows that sloppiness grips me tighter.
Syntax, grammar, spelling: tools
That must be mastered by us fools
Who choose to ply this wacky little trade.
But if I'm lucky, I can find
The dictionary where I've lined
Up all the words that make my brain cascade.
"Pleasant." Is it 'a' or 'e'?
I have the world's worst memory,
And so I always have to grab the book.
But knowing that, I like to think,
Is half the battle. Yes, I stink
At spelling, so I'll always stop and look.
Now, as a rule, I don't much care
For action movies' flash and blare,
But still, one of my favorite quotations
Comes with the trademark steely glint
And raspy voice of our man Clint:
"A man has got to know his limitations."
That Had-to-Look-Up-4-Words-to-Write-This-One Mike Guy
There's also this comic I do
On the web every Wednesday. Who knew?
But that's why I post
All these things: not to boast,
But to give folks the facts, straight and true.
It's called "Terebinth." He's a tree.
The lizard's named Terpsichore.
And there's Kestrel, a bird
Who's a bit of a nerd
And who acts sometimes too much like me.
We've been posting for almost a year,
So you'll have to catch up some, I fear.
And check out the rest
Of the site: it's the best,
Full of secrets both odd and unclear.
Mike (www.chimericalcomics.com/terebinth.html) Payne
What dangers does this slammin' hold?
Are stresses, breaks or strains
Expected from the hot and cold
Mixed language running here?
Does my insurance cover brains
Pierced through from ear to ear?
Or just assorted aches and pains
From words reared back and bowled?
Well, Kent's the one that I should steer
All questions to, I'm told.
I doubt our policy's too clear
On verse-inspired sprains.
That Worrywort Mike Guy
Memorial Day kicks up some random thought
Concerning the whiteness of shoes.
But fashion, I've said, doesn't work in my head--
Might as well talk of glitters and glues.
It's always seemed more like an eastern thing,
Those rules about what to wear when.
They're wrapped in the air of a faded World's Fair
With its straw hat, hoop skirt, and quill pen.
But I'm on the west coast just south of L.A.
Where "mores" are eels, not rules.
Memorial Day: summer's well on her way.
Time to dust off the childrens' beach tools.
So here's wishing all a deep crystal blue sky
And a breeze gentle, cooling, and sweet.
Unless you're a one who likes nothing but sun:
Then I wish you the hottest of heat.
That Lives-a-Block-from-the-Beach-and-Never-Goes-Swimming Mike Guy
Mike's rythym and rhyme keeps away the boredom
So here's a thanks to Mr. Payne --
For the words pushing away my severe ho-hum
And clearing my head of dreariness most plain
My gratitude for these thoughts so anti hum-drum!
To read your tales of ink
Talking cats and mice who think.
Spiders love of aubergine,
Crows and cows, what does it mean?
Gliderumblers helping girls get home,
Greedy dragons are in this poem...
Badgers and otters like Stan and Ollie,
Who can describe this endless folly?
To pick my favorite would be frightnin'
Because I like all Mike's writin'!
Best thoughts, Marilyn.
Humming and drumming, a marching band of bees,
Their shakos freshly cut from thistledown,
Forming their swarming beneath the willow trees,
They swoop to cheers from every bug in town.
Singing, not stinging, their number one concern,
They practice endless buzzing chords and notes;
Rumbling comes tumbling from flower, bush and fern,
Arising massed from honey-coated throats.
Pounding, resounding, their snares and timpani
Drive echoes sailing grandly through the leaves.
Crashing their flashing cymbals smashingly,
The whole precision line-up bobs and weaves.
Come one, come all, and join the grand parade!
Just watch out when they rush the lemonade....
That Summer-is-a-Comin'-in Mike Guy
Marilyn did the art, y'see,
For my 10 stories that'll be
Appearing someday soon, I'm sure,
She does her own stuff, too, y'know,
So try her web site. It'll show
You worlds of toys and scary clowns:
Mike (Normally, I'd put the URL here, but I managed to get 'em both into the poem) Payne
My name is Biz and throughout the land
I'm known as the star of a famous band
far and wide they know my name
music and spying is my claim to fame
These days I run with a group of geeks
a monk and an elf who act like freaks
they shriek and mutter in an endless rain
If they don't shut up I'll go insane
I have a shadow her name is Prak
If I don't look out she'll give me a whack
she's not bad on drums I'll give her that
and when the undead show up she knocks them flat
Sorry for this poem I know its bad
But I hear poetry is just a fad
fear not my friends Biz is done
yeah this was crap but I still had fun
Ladies and gentlemen, my friend Biz
Is fictional...but doesn't know he is.
Mr. Sean, who plays him so well,
Is somewhat fictional, too, truth to tell.
Which goes to prove most thoroughly:
Friends should NOT let friends play D&D...
That Fourth-Level-Half-Orc-Fighter-Bard Mike Guy
A practiced bard within our clan;
Why should I show suprise?
I've read his prose for years
and watched his sales figures rise.
More powerful than their size,
Mike's poems bring on tears
Of laughter, joy, and startlement,
His wit beyond his years.
Each week as Sunday nears,
My heart with longing rent,
I rush to reach our weekly game
Through acres of SoCal cement.
So now your ear is bent
With the tale of Michael's fame.
He's truly an amazing man
A poet by any name.
Michael, I'm afraid something Gregory
Koster said in "The Latest Ish" topic
is causing me to shanghai memory,
or, in the very least, this place, right quick.
Ladies and gentleman and boys and girls,
enjoy the novelty that now unfurls.
And forgive the lack of accents, as well,
for I can't do them in HTML.
Avantage Sauvage -- un chanson
Quand nous avons les arguments,
c'est toujours vous qui gagnez.
Seulement une fois, j'aimerais etre
le vainqueur -- ca serait assez.
Comme tous les jours, et comme tous les nuits.
La reponse n'est jamais 'Non', mais toujours 'Oui'.
Mais non! Mais non! J'ai perdu encore.
Peut-etre je devrais dit 'Adieu'.
Adieu a tout ces difficiles et ridicule battaile.
Il n'y a pas de doute, c'est vous qui etes le mieux.
Ca suffit! Vous etes trop genial
pour ces blagues, et trop gentil aussi.
Alors, je dis "Je me rends",
et c'est le temps d'etre encore amis.
Don't make me come to Canada, Jamie.
My French is somewhat worse than gamey.
A translation I demand at once
So I don't feel quite the dunce.
And it has to rhyme. :-)
Lori Ann "One o' them thar snobbish Amurrcans who only know English" White
Very well, very well, very well, Lori,
my song I will translate for you.
And while I may never obtain fame and glory
for this, I will have to make do.
What follows is translated, best as I can --
it's harder than it may appear.
Your rhyming request... well, I'm only one man.
That will take some time longer, I fear.
When we have arguments,
it is always you who wins.
Just one time, I would like to be
the winner -- that would be enough.
Like every day, and like every night.
The answer is never 'No', but always 'Yes.'
But no! But no! I've lost again.
Maybe I should say 'Goodbye'.
Goodbye to all these difficult and ridiculous battles.
There is no doubt, it is you who are the better.
That's enough! You are too inspired
for these jokes, and too kind as well.
So, I say "I surrender",
and it is time to be friends again.
Thank you, Jamie. :-)
(pretend the next thing I say rhymes with "Jamie." Or maybe ":-)")
If the late
Victor Borga you were to emulate,
this could be how your post you would relate:
"Thank you, Jamie. Smiley."
Now, don't you think I'm wily?
Foreign language poetry:
Alas, it's come to this.
How quick it all floods back to me,
The days I worked toward my degree
In Classics. Ah, the bliss
Of slamming books against my head
In hopes something would sink
Into my skull and makes these dead
Italians live again instead
Of rotting. Ah, the stink
Of Horace, Homer, Virgil, all
Those guys who tried to kill
My tiny brain until I'd fall
Unconscious, tumble down the hall,
My cries both loud and shrill.
Until I finally stopped the whines
And saw the forms they used:
The rhythmic words, the way their lines
Scan out with sense that weaves and twines.
It left me much less bruised.
I'm not a student anymore--
At least, not at that school--
But all that writhing on the floor
To read the stuff has formed the core
Of this uncertain fool.
So Jamie, go ahead and post
Whatever things you must.
I don't know how to be a host,
So I just let the whole thing coast
And live my life on trust.
But then I feel I have to note
That somewhere I've a stash
Of Latin poetry I wrote
In those dark days, but I won't quote
A line for coin or cash....
That Ave-Atque-Vale Mike Guy
Another newsgroup recently
Has been featuring odd poetry
Summarizing the books
That have gotten their hooks
Into us, so here's two from me:
The aliens came, took a quick look,
Decided the Earth made a good nook
To settle and start
Bringing peace, joy, and art...
Until somebody cried, "It's a cookbook!"
Pretty soon, we just won't take a chance,
Huddling in with our robots and plants
Until Jupiter's call
Makes us plain chuck it all,
Leaving Earth to the dogs and the ants.
That To-Serve-Man-in-Simak's-City Mike Guy
From my house, one can travel west
I'd say five hundred yards at best
Before one ends up knee-deep in the sea.
So east I'm heading all this week,
Some old ancestral haunts to seek--
My brother's gone and traced our family tree.
Granby, Missouri, that's the town
Where my great-greats gained some reknown:
The Hudson Gang, they ruled with iron fists.
Other towns around there, too,
Are linked in ways I never knew,
Ways lost to time's exhaled obscuring mists.
So east along the I-four-oh
Our happy truck should swiftly flow
Through fields of wheat and barley, corn and soy.
We'll also bear the boxed cremains
Of Marilyn, mother of the Paynes,
To her hometown of Earlville, Illinois.
The plan's to drive out, plant her box,
And get back by the equinox--
Some days before it actually, I hope.
Her ashes should be in the ground,
She said, when summer rolled around;
She also gave instructions not to mope.
She smoked her smokes and drank her beer
And battled cancer year by year
With laughter, song, and her own dignity;
She left us plans for her headstone,
Detailed notes for when she'd flown,
And this black jacket much too big for me.
I've run the jacket through the wash
A couple times, enough to quash
Its tendancy to cover up my hands.
I wear it every day, a quirk
I need; y'see, I walk to work,
And sleeves keep off more sun than suncreen brands.
The drive from here to there should take
A couple days through desert's bake,
Through prairie's flats, 'cross rivers, creaks, and streams.
It just seems right to go this way,
To carry her back home to stay,
To rest her where her folks all dream their dreams.
That On-the-Road-Again Mike Guy
I chose prose over poetry, the former's much easier
but I talked about Granby in "I've come to praise Ceasar."
You say you wrote of Granby?
I can't contain my shock!
Please, tell us how this can be--
I promise I won't squawk
If you use prose to talk...
That Wondering Mike Guy
I only met her once or twice
and as I recall your Mom was nice.
Faint memories in me now remain
of visiting the house of Payne.
But I've heard tell that many nights
the Paynes played pool till morning light
And family folks would sit and play
music sweet, the stories say,
and listeners could learn a lot
like how to tie a zeppelin knot.
I hope your jacket's longish sleeves
more than a sun's protections weaves,
that as you walk you feel Mom Payne
smiling at you once again.
Ah, yes, the zeppelin knot!
The knot that time forgot!
The unknown hitch
Dragged from the ditch
Of lost historic thought!
That Go-on-and-Try-to-Look-it-up Mike Guy
I think I've finally learned to draw a tree,
A goal I'd set for last week's trip abroad.
I studied from the road most carefully
Those odd green thingies poking through the sod.
My aunt's house there in Earlville, Illinois,
Backs right against the park, a place so nice,
I sat and made each tree into a toy,
A sketchy simulacrum for my mice.
These mice so far have spent their comic lives
In farmland: flat with hills a distant swell.
But now, my vision grandly strives and drives
Me on to try a tree-lined street or dell.
Artistic madness grabs me by the nose!
I may next go for shadows! Hey, who knows?
That Bit-by-the-Muse Mike Guy
A friend of a friend of a friend
Has sent me an odd request:
To write five stories for one thousand dollars
On topics that he'll suggest.
And two hundred dollars a story,
That comes out to much the same rate
As the magazines pay, and this guy guarantees
That acceptance for all will await.
Which means I'll be spending my time
Doing that for the next couple weeks.
I've never done anything like this before;
Let's just see how much havoc it wreaks.
That Ever-Experimental Mike Guy
A patron? We all should have such luck.
Congratulations, you fortunate... fellow. :)
How curious it is to hear
these stories you will write
And what topics will appear
to work on every night.
You could be asked to write about
pickles, tanks or science
Or have to weave a tale around
an orphan's self reliance.
You may write about shopping carts
or things that never were
But Mike, what will you do if
your actors don't have fur?
I'm sure you'll do a bang up job,
It's sure to be quite nice
It'll be a little odd although
if your stories don't have mice.
Marilyn "still writing my summary" Scott-Waters
No talking mice, no;
There's animals, though,
At least in the one I'm on now.
The first one involved
A young man who devolved
From a human into a toy...
That Getting-Back-to-Work Mike Guy
And now, the second story done,
It's on to number three:
A tale of contests lost and won,
Of carnivals and midway fun
So very summer-y.
I also thought I'd let you know
That Fictionwise came through.
My stories wait if you'll just go
And make the link I've typed below.
So much for hype. Whoo hoo.
Mike (www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/MichaelHPayneeBooks.htm) Payne
There once was a penguin made of pine...
Wooden penguins? Hey, I'm all for that.
I can't imagine an hour better spent,
In fact, than whittling splinters from some slat
Until a bird emerges, strange and bent.
We snap a pen in half to get the ink
And daub the stuff across the wooden form.
Then White-Out, Liquid Paper, sunscreen zinc,
To color it like clouds before a storm.
Next, to the freezer! Quick now! Jam it in
Lest all the black and white drip to the floor!
Where Frankenstein was born in fire and sin,
A penguin needs the cold and darkness more.
But there, at last, it lumbers from the fridge!
A penguin golem! Someone call Tom Ridge!
That Chock-Fulla-Topical-References Mike Guy
The third of these stories I'm writing for hire
Kept growing until it hit ten thousand words!
The characters ended up very "high verbal"
And wouldn't stop talking! It's just for the birds
When creatures I've fashioned get up on their feet
And loudly demand that I re-write their lines.
Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman, Ben Hecht I am not;
I tell a fair joke, but, oh, their stuff defines
The essence of screwball. My stuff kinda coughs
And tries to work up to the witty exchange
That they made look effortless, frothy, alive.
I guess that my characters just show more range
Than I do myself. But it's not a surprise:
Us real folks can't match those fictional guys...
That Trying-to-be-as-Fictional-as-Possible Mike Guy
What story comes next? Number Four--
And I've signed up to write him ten more
When these first five are done.
What the heck? This is fun,
But I'd never call writing a chore...
That Mercenary Mike Guy
So two years have passed--
I guess, at least--
Since I started writing my sequel-y thing
Crammed full of these folks--
Not man nor beast--
And stuff that I hope might prove interesting.
But now the book's done--
Well, more or less--
A first draft of ninety-five thousandish words
All set to revise--
Though I confess,
I'd rather leave doing it up to the birds.
They'd do a good job--
The crows would peck
The dead parts away, prune the bad from the fair.
The hawks would swoop down,
Would keep in check
The more rampant prose with their baleful stare.
Or hey, all those mice
To gnaw and chew--
As editors, no one could be better built.
No blue pencils here;
They'd eat right through,
Make nests from the leavings, and never feel guilt.
If only they would--
But no, it's not
The fantasy world of my writings out here.
There's nobody else
But me: I'm caught.
It's my job to hammer the thing till it's clear.
Mike "Anyone not read The Blood Jaguar yet?" Payne
So summer is a-goin' out,
And here along the coast that means
The weather gives one final burst:
The sun beats down till we're immersed
In sweat, or storm clouds like Marines
Swarm up the beach and flail about.
We've had the last these past few days,
And all the L.A. news shows brought
Their cameras down to show the folks
At home the breaks and snaps and chokes
Of surfers whom the Wedge had caught
And mangled up in different ways.
But did the folks remain at home
To watch the carnage safe and sound?
No, they all came to see first-hand
The battle 'twixt the waves and sand,
All down the one road, each car bound
To park and view the surging foam.
Alas, we're such a tiny place,
We fill up quick, and that just leaves
The road to serve as parking lot:
The cars stacked up as drivers fought
To squeeze their trucks and SUVs
Into the ever-shrinking space.
But me, I walked home--always do--
The breeze from off the sea enough
To scatter all the diesel fumes
That rose in black and crunchy plumes
Against the rolling storm clouds' fluff.
So bid we summer fond adieu.
That Looks-Like-It's-Gonna-Clear-Up-Today Mike Guy
Those stories still take up the time
I would devote to this:
The fifth a tale of family grime,
The sixth, a doomed romance.
But I have got to say I miss
This wordy little dance,
The winding, rhythmic play and kiss
Of syntax, sense, and rhyme.
And so whene'er I get the chance,
I'll still commit the crime
Of shooting out a verbal glance:
i.e., something like this...
That Mercenary Mike Guy
My favorite part of Hallowe'en,
By which I mean the days between
September 1st and Christmas, more or less--
And yes, I know there's other things
Within that span, but nothing sings
As loud to me of Autumn, I confess,
As pumpkins: orange, round, and carved
With glowing faces, fat or starved,
Those silent mocking creatures of the night.
But just one night. Then out they go
To rot on trash heaps, thrown below
The wheels of cars and trains, a noxious blight.
Which always seemed a shame to me,
So years ago I looked to see
If I could find another use for squash.
I didn't have too far to look;
My mother said they used to cook
The critters back in times less staid and posh.
So one year while in junior high
When Hallowe'en had slithered by,
I cut my jack-o-lantern half in two.
I laid him on a cookie sheet,
Applied our oven's modest heat,
And hours later pulled out orange goo.
The goo was stringy, so I plopped
It in the blender, never stopped
To think that pumpkin goo might be too much
For our five dollar Sears machine,
And, oh, such smoke I'd never seen
As billowed out. In short: I blew the clutch.
But undeterred, I persevered,
And through the years have never feared
To burn out blender motors right and left.
The final goal? It's pumpkin bread!
The staff of life--or so it's said
By those who understand life's warp and weft.
I even ventured far afield
And used the goo of this year's yield
To make some pies: ambrosia so divine!
So Happy Hallowe'en to all--
Thanksgiving? Sure, if that's your call.
I hope your pumpkin's half as good as mine.
That Spookable Mike Guy
To find a good read
You don't have to go far.
I do recommend
a book called
"The Blood Jaguar"
And other good stories
to shake up your brain
are the work of the marvelous
Michael H. Payne.
Marilyn "Write On!" Scott-Waters
Perhaps we need not rhyme to post
With prose we could mundanely coast
But I prefer to challenge rise
With rhythmic patter hypnotize
And voice my admiration in sorry verse.
To Michael my hat ever tips
Artistic trough he never sips
But quaffs creative juices down
So that his stories can abound
And Bobcat, Rat and Fisher can traverse.
This author I have long years known
And I've observed him ever prone
To show to me a point of view
That I find pleasantly askew
Heart of a poet in a rueful guise.
His talents shine on every stage
both on guitar and on the page
And I'm insanely fortunate
That he is my associate
(A fondness for him you may now surmise.)
Thus can I strongly recommend
The writings of my lifelong friend.
Janet Been-Hanging-Around-Way-Too-Long Prichard
I go away for, what, three months?
To wrestle with this novel-thing
That's sprung full-blown from what began
As one more little fling
With story-on-commission work,
The stuff I've mentioned here before.
It's just, this sixth one's grown and grown,
Has pushed me out the door
And has me sleeping in the hall,
The rug my blanket--pillow, too--
While it sprawls vast and snoring loud,
Its dreams where mine once flew.
A simple story, short and sweet,
It seemed when I checked in here last:
Five thousand words--heck, maybe six--
But that's all in the past.
We hit the forty thousand mark
On February First, and still
The end is distant, stretching far,
Beyond both dale and hill.
At least I know how it'll end;
I know the steps from here to there.
So I'll enjoy the ride, I guess,
And ask not why nor where.
But thanks, you two, for stopping by
And taking time to type a note.
Forgive the dust, and please do feed
The monsters in the moat...
That Usually-Confused Mike Guy
That Mike Guy remains
A most welcome host
as I prowl through the Mill.
His poems entertain
without preening or boast.
I can scarce get my fill.
Months pass with no word.
I grow sad; life seems drear
when deprived of his wit.
Yet--a novel! My lord! (okay, so that doesn't work too well)
My duty is clear--
I forego my snit.
An opus by Mike
can brook no delay
for this topic I track.
So his iron he strikes
while I wait for the day
When he can come back.
When he can come back
Hi, Lori! It's nice to be missed.
Just as long as no one's getting pissed
And plotting my doom
In a watery tomb
'Neath a lake all enshrouded in mist.
Mike "Yeah, I really hate when that happens" Payne
It's taken a while, but Winter's arrived
Here in south California. The wind and the rain
Pounded down rather fiercely, but still we survived--
Though the leaks in my roof made the rug one big stain.
The waves get all antsy in weather like this,
Digging cliffs in the sand, wet and gray as the sky,
Smacking hard as they plant their big Valentine kiss
On the shore, smacking back to make roaring foam fly.
I stand on the sidewalk, umbrella in hand,
Safely out of the way of their crashing embrace
Till the darkness comes on--I've stayed later than planned,
And I head home, the rain splashing cold in my face.
The next day, the sun's up; it's breezy but warm,
And the coast snuggles down till the next winter storm.
Mike "and they all lived happily ever after" Payne
No voyage of doom,
no watery tomb
for our Mike.
and wishes of cheer
is more like.
We miss you when you're gone. :-)
So, my name only stays for some forty-two days
On that list that you clicked through just now.
But this message will pop my name straight to the top,
Raise my state from "toenail" to "eyebrow."
To the cusp of the thing I will leap with one spring--
Well? It's springtime! "Spring forward!" All that!
And the breathtaking view, the sky cloudless and blue,
Makes my poor little heart pitty-pat.
But it's passing, I guess. Temporarily, yes,
I'm the Yertle of all I survey.
Once I click on the "post," that'll start my slow coast
Down the list, name by name, day by day.
Sure, I could blame the net, blame the fast pace it's set,
Blame the times that beguile and entice.
But I won't. Aiming blame's just a sour mug's game.
And besides, here the weather's too nice...
That Over-Easy Mike Guy
I'm not here to kick your kester
but to wish you Happy Easter!
May the great Bunny bring you eggs,
Chocolate goodies by the kegs.
Baskets filled with sugar treats
or whatever it is that Mikeys eats...
Marshmallow Peeps in piles high
Tho' I suspect it's pumpkin pie.
Marilyn (mmmmm pie) SW
Congrats on the web thing.
It's all I can do to sing
And praise your ingenuity
Do you require a gratuity?
I'll be home by the end of Spring
Your little brother Jeffrey
My brother Jeff's a pilot
With our boys Over There.
He flies those big refueling planes
Above the desert's glare.
My brother Tom's an artist
With song and ink and paint.
He lives inside a water tower--
Conventional, he ain't.
My sister Lisa cantors
At church and wrangles Scouts.
Her laughter makes a room light up,
But watch out when she shouts.
It seems to me I've known them
For years and years and years.
And so I send this doggerel
And raise three hearty cheers.
That I-Oughtta-Work-For-Hallmark Mike Guy
Mr. Mike, I've been remiss!
Consider this a cyber kiss
tossed with an airy wave of hand
to your address in cyber land.
Your family sounds charming, too--
what a lucky fellow, you.
Safe skies to Jeff, dry home to Tom, :-)
Peace to Lisa's loving home.
Well it seems to me to be the thing
to write as well and hope to spring
eternally and fraternally with all you all
and aint that as well as something ping ping ping
Your other dumb brother Tom
Interesting folks and magical forces
I remember your story about the horses
So I thought I write this song
and ask how it was coming along...
that Marilyn reader person.....
I don't have the best of habits
of filing things online
and the pix of Jessica Rabbit
is difficult to find
But if you turn your browser
to this here URL...
You'll see her with her hammer
And all will turn out well.
Thank you, Marilyn; my old brain
Is froze with rust from too much rain.
I knew you'd have that pic somewhere
And post it with accustomed flair.
I'm working, yes, always and still:
That novels grows; its words now fill
Three hundred twenty pages! Yeech!
Though twenty more will prob'ly reach
The end, and then the fun begins:
Revisions, rewrites, kicks to shins,
The whittling till the stuff becomes
A thing that sings instead of numbs.
I'm also poking back through "Rat's"--
The opening's still too crammed with fats
And one big plot point needs to wind
Throughout the book, my sources find.
I've got the comic back on line
For those whose art tastes aren't too fine.
I'll put the URL below
Where all things that won't scan should go.
So busy is the word for me,
And on I go most happily.
Here's hoping that you're all the same.
If not, just tell us who to maim.
Mike "the comic's at pandora.xepher.net/terebinth" Payne
Maybe a minstral or was it a Bard?
who said, "Writing is easy - rewriting is hard."
Spin it around and untie every knot
whatever you do, Mike
I'm sure 'twill be hot.
Things here are busy, life's no bummer
if only I survive the summer.
Marilyn "looking forward to Comic-Con" Scott-Waters
Revising is like mother's milk to me,
A process I have often wished would stretch
From paper out to harsh reality
And turn each word and deed into a sketch.
I gape my darn fool mouth, and words come out
So stupid that my skull tries to collapse,
And once a week I'm cursed, I have no doubt,
The way my body twitches, flails, and flaps.
But with revision, ah, that tumbling fall
Becomes a simple saunter down the stairs.
The words I say? Erase! Delete them all!
I'll get some better ones, then make repairs.
So, yes, I rewrite stuff with joy and bliss.
'Cause life needs white-out. Who's in charge of this?
That Disgruntled Mike Guy
So August comes and August goes,
But where, I sure can't say. Who knows
What months get up to when they're not
Displayed on walls like something shot?
I like to think they've got a place,
Some cabin where July can race
With March and April 'round the lake;
September can lay down its rake,
While May and June, their feet propped up,
Flick cards into October's cup.
A place, in short, where they can rest
And hang around, all half-undressed,
Their beds unmade, their shoes untied,
Their meals either deep-fat-fried
Or barbecued vacation-style:
No phone, no mail, no "to do" pile.
Eleven months would live this way
Until there comes that fateful day
When standing up, the next one sighs,
And come the stroke of midnight, flies
To take its place upon the page,
To trip the wide calendric stage
For thirty days--well, give or take:
There's February, such a flake,
And those who feel their job's not done
Unless they stay for thirty-one.
It's not a job the faint of heart
Should want, for there's a certain art
To keeping up the flow of time
And dealing with the dust and grime
Kicked up as ev'ry second ticks
Its way into the daily mix.
Construction worker, traffic cop,
On call all day and night on top
Of duties here and 'round the world:
No wonder all the months seem swirled
Together till the year flies past
As slick as snot and twice as fast
As clouds that skate through summer skies.
Oh, well. So, what's up with you guys?
That Ever-So-Pensive Mike Guy
The main page takes you there.
A string of pull-down menus waits,
A choice of words that percolates
And turns to phrases fair.
I mean, you gotta kick 'em some
And sometimes add your own
But kudos still to Our Friend Kent
For adding something slightly bent
To Speculations' zone.
Mike "www.speculations.com, then click on 'Add a Poem'" Payne
What's going on?
I'll give you a snootful!
Things have been busy,
the days have been fruitful.
Working a lot,
taking care of the boys...
making a webpage
that's nothing but toys.
If you want some amusement
in a moment of calm
turn your browser to
That Marilyn person.
For breakfast each day I eat bran,
But a friend of mine isn't a fan.
It's muffins, she said,
That go straight to her head,
So straight to the keyboard I ran.
No, vex me not with talk of bran, unless
You add the sweet word "muffin" to the end
And mix in raisins, currants to excess,
Or cranberries to liven up the blend.
Cholesterol, I know, leads to the grave;
Advancing age demands I pay the costs.
So sure I watch the clock: the microwave
Ticks down the seconds while the roast defrosts.
I'm sensible enough, I like to think:
I walk the mile up to work and back;
I've never smoked and never cared to drink,
So all I ask is that you let me snack!
The vegetable I want is pumpkin pie!
A milk-and-cookies man, I'll live and die!
And so I cast it loose to meet its fate
Since there, behold, my bowl and spoon await...
That Breakfasting Mike Guy
This time of year I have to sigh,
and turn my thoughts to pumpkin pie,
you can have your cake and eat it too
for me other desserts won't do.
Keep your cookies and ice cream,
your peppermint and chocolate dream,
your bubblegum and licorice sticks,
that is not where I'll get my kicks!
Those other things are really dandy
custards, fudge and other candy.
As leaves turn red and fall to the ground
on my plate pumkin pie is found.
Here's hoping for you a great Thanksgiving too.
You and your turkey, me and tofu,
I'm thankful veggies, you're thankful for meat
And pie is the thing we're both grateful to eat.
But most thankful I'll be
When the day turns to night
And we're finished with all
Of this family sh*te.
And so the New Year, minty fresh!
We burned the tree and boxed the creche--
Make sure to chop the tree up first:
That dry pine tar is just the worst.
I hope two thousand three went well
As you could stand, and at the bell
That signalled "Last call! All ashore!"
You leapt aboard two thousand four
With no more than the normal trips
And snorts and screams and trouser rips.
This first week hasn't seemed too long,
So what, I ask you, could go wrong?
I'm working on my comics still
Despite the early morning chill
That whispers, "No, just stay in bed."
Besides, the cat must needs be fed...
The horse book passed my agent's test
Except the end. At his request
I'm poking, adding, thinking through--
Revisions: ah, that stalwart brew.
There's other projects, too, but none
I'll mention here until they're done.
My thanks to Marilyn for her posts,
And to you all, my warmest toasts!
The Sticking-A-Fork-Into-the-Toaster Mike Guy
To triple digits! Oh, be still, my heart--
Though not too still, or else I guess I'd die.
And that would be an awful way to start
Our second hundred here, would magnify
The dangers of the poem-spouter's life
And make it seem like words could kill you dead!
They cut, but with a metaphoric knife:
To stop a heart, use something real instead.
A bullet, say, or poison in the food
Or drop a statue off the balcony.
Attacking with a poem, that's just rude:
Who kills me thus is not a pal to me.
But, hey, this poem's only ninety-nine.
I guess my life is spared. Who wants some wine?
That Party-Hearty Mike Guy
One hundred musings
Composed in meter and rhyme
Testify to life.
One oh one is a number, too,
that reeks of grand stately stature
through and through.
Though for Wested Coast coastians, mayhap
visions of coastal visiting vistas mapped
along the line between brother and brother,
from one Lost Coast to another.
At any rate, to reiterate: ain't life grate?
Or is that cheese?
Dumb Broder No. 2
A haiku? Hey, another first!
And glad I am to see it:
Another barrier we've burst,
More birds with just one stone.
And so, although I won't decree it,
Let me here enthrone
A link to take. Yes, you may flee it:
I won't call you cursed.
An illustrated poem shown
To those whose raging thirst
Extends beyond this board alone:
The link below would be it...
That Bribing-People-With-Poetry-So-They'll-Vote-for-his-Webcomic-at-pandora.xepher.net/terebinth Mike Guy
This bus is all right!
Like me, it's late for History of Western Civilization Part Two class.
Actually, it doesn't bother.
It goes to the beach, really slowly.
Wherever you're coming from, for a dollar thirty-five,
it lets you deep inside.
In fact, the driver says, "Move all the way back!"
When you come out, you're in a completely different place,
without feeling invaded, dirty, inadequate,
rejected or regret.
You don't have to say anything on this bus.
You don't have to have a comeback, or explain.
You don't have to practice, or have traveled a lot.
You don't have to be able to see the pattern.
I'm in love with a paper towel. I'd know her fall to the floor anywhere. The origami of her crush in my hand. The time it takes her to get damp and useless. Her patience, alone by the trash. Not one to cause mischief there, or, worse, to feign pathos. No, she just...is. More vulnerable than the most halting, circuitous, unrequited loveletter. Serrated at sexy, evil angles. And she'll do her job if she has to. Built in. Now I have to figure out how to stay in touch with her. We lead such different lives. And she might not even be interested in me. What do I know? I'm so naive. I certainly don't know what other people do alone in the bathroom. Not like her.
And that was that. Thanks to everyone who posted during those two years: we averaged one a week!
From here, you can head back to the Poetic Annex or the Terebinth Main Page. Or, heck, this is the world wide web! You can go just about anywhere!