Archive for poems

The Whale-Shaped Man (fiction? poetry? both? neither?!?!)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, daily writing, flash fiction, poem, Poetry, short stories, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

The Whale-Shaped Man

Is he in his office? asked the whale-shaped man.
Is who is his office? the woman in sparkly pants replied.
You know.
I don’t.
That doesn’t clear it up.
The whale-shaped man grimaced. I’m talking about your father.
Oh. Why do you want to see him?
To ask for your hand in marriage.
That’s stupid, the woman laughed.
Why would I marry you? You’re shaped like a whale.
But I love you.
That doesn’t change anything.

So the whale-shaped man left. Inside his office, the woman’s father sighed in relief.

Math and the Mermaid (poem)

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on October 17, 2017 by Robert Crisp
the mermaid

The Mermaid by Howard Pyle

Yesterday, I found myself using a tape measure (not a common practice of mine). The following poem began as freewriting after doing that and, after a few iterations, has emerged as one of my new favorites:

Math and the Mermaid

“Can you measure my hips?”
the mermaid asks me in the
dream where I tread water
and try to solve math problems,
not the usual fare but stuff
that vexed Albert Einstein.

I fumble with the tape measure,
my movements slowed by water,
as she smiles and drifts closer to me.
“You’re always so nervous,” she says,
and places her green hand on mine.
“Just slow down and take your time.”

“I don’t understand the equation,” I reply
and look down at the tape measure
which has became a black sea snake.
The mermaid laughs, a soft sound
that fills the ocean and summons whales.
“You never do,” she says and kisses me.


That Time the Can of Paint Wasn’t Having It (poem)

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, poem, Poetry, sober, sobriety, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I’ve been sober for almost three years, and every now and then drinking and/or sobriety show up in my writing. When I first got sober, it was all I wrote about…mainly stories but a few poems, too. This poem is more or less based on a factual event (painting the dining room while drunk and doing a terrible job of it). It’s supposed to be funny, but I’m not sure if it is.

That Time the Can of Paint Wasn’t Having It

“You’re a bold motherfucker,”
the paint can told me one night
when I couldn’t sleep and grabbed
a brush, thinking I was the shit
and could paint the dining room.

“I’m drunk,” I told the paint can
and took another shot of courage,
as they say (whoever they are).

“Tell me something I don’t know,”
the paint can retorted and scooted
away, like I had a disease or something.
“You come anywhere near me, I’ll
explode and paint this room my way.”

I prayed to the god of Glidden, but
he wasn’t interested, and I implored
the god of Smirnoff, but he was three
sheets to the wind just like I was.

“Tomorrow,” I vowed and tossed the
brush at the paint can, who dodged it easily.
As I climbed back into bed in my hot room,
I heard mocking laughter, and I dreamed
of bare walls the color of absolutely nothing.

My Grandfather’s Neighbor, Whose Name I Can’t Recall

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on September 20, 2017 by Robert Crisp

Back to poems that make me think, “What the hell?”

My Grandfather’s Neighbor, Whose Name I Can’t Recall

“Aside from inculpatory evidence,”
said the drowning man, “what else you got?”
He was my grandfather’s weathered neighbor
a jaundiced gent, blinded since an accident
in ’64 and half-deaf. He puttered around the yard,
yanking weeds and raking leaves but this time,
he was busy drowning, though not too busy
that he couldn’t bend my ear for a while.

“I feel contempt mixed with pity for you,”
I replied. “Is your name Leon? I always forget.”

The man’s head dipped below the waves and
he fought angrily to rise. And rise he did, like
some doomed god, seafoam in his beard, his
milky eyes wild as a spooked horse’s, his chest
heaving like the bellows of some iron beast.

“You don’t get to know it,” he pronounced
and died. The monsters of the deep sang his name,
further proving how out of touch I really was.

A Little Close to Home

Posted in anxiety, poem, Poetry, short stories, social anxiety, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on September 18, 2017 by Robert Crisp

The best writing surprises the writer, or so I believe. As I’ve undoubtedly said before, I’m often surprised, shaking my head after a writing session and saying to myself, “Well, there’s something going on here, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.” I’m comfortable with ambiguity in my work, if not in my everyday life. With this poem, though, I recognized the point. I knew it was about me.

I became uncomfortable as the words flowed out, and the discomfort continued as I redrafted and tinkered with it. The poem is certainly hyperbole, but it contains enough truth about me to make me sigh. I’m not a very social person, and lately I seem to have withdrawn even more. I’m trying to rectify the situation, but not as hard as I could. Such is my life at this point.

The Recluse

The fact that I found none of this
peculiar (the horse smell, the dark
magic of the mantle clock, the eye
that glittered murder from the socket
of my dead boyhood friend, the pain)
told me I was either in a dream or
something had fundamentally shifted,
an alien landscape had grown inside
me, a filter had dropped into my brain
that processed everything bad as good.

I determined I wasn’t dreaming by the
sheer consistency of items and events
that stretched through the day and into
the night…dreams went quickly sideways,
and this all had a bizarre, black logic,
including the girl who approached me
hesitantly and asked, “Are you the recluse?”

“I am the one who has been foretold to you,”
I decided to say, not caring how I sounded,
not caring that the girl dissolved into tears
and ran through the empty streets, shouting
out to any who would listen, “He has come,
he has come, prepare the way of the recluse!”

I merged with the shadows behind a house
that used to belong to my grandmother before
she and her second husband killed themselves.
I didn’t know who lived in it now, but I determined
that I wouldn’t visit the new owner–or visit anyone.
I couldn’t. I had a prophecy to fulfill, after all.

Baby Omar Frees His Mother…and Some Other Thoughts

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on September 13, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This morning, I read an interesting and encouraging article about rejection and the writing game entitled “I’m Almost 40 and Still Getting Rejected–Am I Running Out of Time?” Hell, I’m 43 and get rejections at least once a week, and I don’t think I’m running out of time.

That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the writer’s anxiety…I’m just not in that place anymore. Rewind time to twenty years ago, and I was terrified that I was running out of time. I compared myself to other writers who had prizes and accolades and book contracts. Surely, their lives were perfect, and I was slowly sinking into obscurity, destined to be a chain-smoking, hard-drinking writer who would never find success.

Fortunately, I don’t feel that way anymore (and I got sober, but that’s a different story altogther). I identify as a writer and always will, but it isn’t my job. It doesn’t pay the bills. It’s something I do and will continue doing, regardless of publications.

According to Duotrope, I have a six percent acceptance rate. That’s out of 123 poems sent in the last 12 months, and I have 331 poems recorded in Duotrope, ready to submit at a moment’s notice. I could look at that six percent and despair, but I choose to say, “Hell, yeah! Six percent, baby!”

I linked to the article above to encourage others who might be in the writer’s position of dread and anxiety. It’s not too late to publish and find success, however you define it. Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep trusting your voice.

Below is a poem that was rejected a few days ago. I love it. Also, the fact that it was rejected by a market doesn’t mean it isn’t good or even worthy of publication. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong editor…take your pick. I’m happy to post my poems here, where they’re always welcome.

Baby Omar Frees His Mother

Baby Omar ate a dagger, which shocked us all.
That is, we never figured him for a dagger-eater,
especially since his father was so adverse to pointy
things, beginning with his head, coned and sweaty.
Moving on, Baby Omar’s mother was a nasty piece
of work, half-crippled and ruinous with grief, given
to making words up in prison: persmitten, verbonded,
One day, the guards ushered in Baby Omar.
“Pillious boy!” she said and covered him in hot tears.
Baby Omar vomited up a dagger, and thus his mother
freed herself, slashing at all in her way, her child grinning
like the wild thing he was, morphiat and cersicklind.

The Benefits of Mishearing

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on August 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I like to think my hearing is excellent, but I have no proof of that. If anything, I have evidence to the contrary. I mishear things all the time, and I generally file away for later use snippets of conversations that probably didn’t unfold the way I heard it.

For example, while I was at my son’s martial arts practice session, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two women behind me. They weren’t exactly quiet. I was writing at the time, and I allowed what I heard to drift into a poem. The result is below.


“Back of the school, back of the church,
what the fuck ever, I’m cool,” said the lady
with all the raw sexuality of an egg-timer.

“I texted her,” she went on, incredibly.
“Tomorrow’s golden, I said. Got nothing
back, so let’s go. I don’t have a car right now.”

I pondered these things in my black heart
(as is my wont), I decided to make like a
mentally-ill banana and split myself…

…something she didn’t get. Of course not.
She yammered on as the moon and I sighed,
both of us lamenting the abuse of language.