Monday 18 April 2022

Five Poems by Ken Gosse


Pitter-Patter With a Hatter


The Mad Hatter had a matter

(there were many on his platter)

which the March Hare didn’t much care

to discuss or make a fuss,

avoiding grousing or espousing

what the Hatter put to chatter;

indication of a troubled

syndication, “Strange R Us.”


Although when they’d douse the Dormouse

with their tea, in repartee

he’d share retorts (though still asleep)

of many sorts as he would keep

up with the fog of dialogue

of each of three who drank the tea

(and although wine was also offered,

none was there, so none was proffered).


But a question sans suggestion

of an answer for digestion

lingers on and on and on

long after all of them are gone:

“Why’s a raven like a desk?”

Like most of Lewis’s burlesque,

absurd and garrulous in style,

a cause to pause and smile a while.



The Gravity of Being a Macavity (a reversing rhyme)


Does he know he’s a cat or not bother with that

but take life as it comes (sans opposable thumbs)

as he tinkers with gravity, much like Macavity,


knocking down apples on old Newton’s head

(although, I think that was a fig tree instead)?


Does he know he’s of felines, not canines or birds?

Does he know that his humans don’t understand words

which he mews and meows, sometimes snarly with bites,

and they really don’t treasure his love tats most nights?


He begins gently kneading until we start bleeding,

that’s when we respond very fast from beyond

in that state of repose from the daily grind’s woes


(the state in which most of his life passes by

as he naps in the sun, somehow keeping one eye


ever open, ensuring he’s not caught off-guard

by no-see-ums inside or by birds in the yard).

Ever watchful from windowsills since he’s been barred

very thoughtlessly by those who take no regard


for the freedom desired as the world passes by,

which is why, when you open a door, he will try


to reach out with clawed toes just before it will close

for a stealth sneak beyond, just before you respond—

though once out, he reminds you he’s needing his feeding,


and scared by the many strange things in his sights

(which, watched from inside, had appeared as delights),

so he’ll mew and meow with his growliest words

saying “Please rescue me from these frightening birds!”


Then once back inside, he’ll climb onto your bed

(or a windowsill, if there’s still sunlight, instead)


or seek serene gravity of some dark cavity

where he succumbs to a nap’s purring thrums

just because he’s a cat, and a cat is like that.


The Morning After


She stopped and sniffed; I couldn’t see

the phantom who had stopped to pee

(or maybe pooped, though his good walker—

host or ghost or midnight stalker—

demonstrating courtesy,

removed signs of unpleasantry).


But certainly, my pup’s intent

was focused on where someone went

the night before: the spot now taken,

curiosity unshaken,

evidence engraved in stone,

more fascinating than a bone.


If there were ants or grubs or bees,

she would have sniffed them up with ease

but disregarded any scent

except that which was evident

to prove who claimed to own this route;

all other scents blown out her snout.


No tug of leash or call of voice

deterred her from this anchored choice

and very soon I saw my lot:

awaiting near this damnèd spot

until she marked it to the core,

reclaiming it forevermore.



Ensuring Tomorrow Today


Nature is neither a father nor mother

nor sister or brother, and not any other

persona, not even one we call non-grata

as if any person could cause an errata

so powerful it can destroy, at its whim

(though not really whim, neither her nor a him)

what man has created in moments or eons,

a shack or a nation, as if we mere peons

could relegate nature to do our own bidding

and care for our comforts, while also outwitting

the challenges faced as we shelter and feed

that unique speck of nature, the body we need

to exist—and a mind to acknowledge we do,

which is needed to help us consider the view

of effects of our actions on what we call clime,

not just local, but global, and all of the time.


We’ve applied great resources to help understand

things like cause-and-effect and how human demand

has affected the atmosphere in which we live

but has now reached a point where it’s time we must give

full attention and effort, repair the effect

of our selfish, self-harming ways and redirect

feeble efforts to counter the damage that’s done

and enhance any benefits already won

which have helped re-create the space in which we live:

instead of just taking, we clearly must give

of our time and our talents with wisdom’s discretion,

enraged at the nonsense of selfish aggression

which seeks to engender those few who don’t care

for the fate of tomorrow, since they won’t be there,

but the strength of mankind lies in hearts and in hands

which will give of themselves for the future’s demands.



Flu Flea, Don’t Bother Me (An Ogden Nash Poem in My Fever Dream)


Round one wasn’t fun;

I’m burning like Nero.

Flu’s score is One.

My score is Zero.


A receiver of fever awoke in the night

when a flea chose to light

and it gave him a fright

which put nightmares to flight,

but it wasn’t contrite

and its bite caused a blight

that was worse than the mightiest bite of a mite.


Then the flea looked around him and said,

“Mr. Flu, though it looks like he’s dead,

he’s just out of his head

and can’t get out of bed

so it’s time you took over instead,”

and with that the flea flew

through a flaw in the flue

within view near the head of the bed.



I know

fleas can’t fly,

or so I have read,

but when I said flew

perhaps I meant instead

the flea knew the fly flew

through the flaw in the flue—

so in thinking it thru, the flea fled.

Pitter-Patter With a Hatter is inspired by Chapter VII of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "A Mad Tea-Party."

A link to Chapter VII:


The Gravity of Being a Macavity (a reversing rhyme) borrows from personal experience and from the famous cat of T.S. Eliot’s 1939 poem Macavity - The Mystery Cat (on which Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical Cats was based).

A link to Eliot’s poem:


The Morning After is a tale of walking my dog Dilly on the morning after Halloween night in 2021.  


Ensuring Tomorrow Today began with the opening phrase, “Nature is neither a father nor mother.” My muses carried it from there. It’s one of my more “serious” pieces.


Flu Flea, Don’t Bother Me (An Ogden Nash Poem in My Fever Dream) began in December 2011 when I wrote several phrases and rhymes while wandering in and out of fever dreams courtesy of the flu. Ogden Nash’s protagonists from The Flea and the Fly in the Flue apparently flew into my flu and struck up a conversation with it. I’ve tweaked it frequently, including a last minute change before submission, but always tried to keep its unusual form close to its fevered origins.

Ken Gosse usually writes short, rhymed verse using whimsy and humour in traditional meters. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, he has also been published by Pure Slush, Home Planet News Online, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and others. Raised in the Chicago, Illinois, suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, for over twenty years, usually with rescue dogs and cats underfoot.


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