Poetry in Mind: Poems for Fun and Wit

I love reading and writing poetry.  I also enjoy and admire clever phrases and the challenge of making a poem work within set constraints, such as including one or more specific phrases or fitting a precise poetic form such as Haiku, Tanka or Sonnet.  Nevertheless, I try to infuse most of my work with sincere feeling, and too much attention to cleverness may get in the way.  The poems collected here are ones which were written for fun or challenge – more for the love of playing with words than for a deeper meaning.  Enjoy them, but don’t look here for my soul.

Sincere But Ironic Advice On Poetry

Write with your feelings.
Share the compass of a heart
tattered but not torn.

Cleverness is not enough.
Poems speak with emotion.

©2017 Bill Hazelrig

The sentiment is very sincere, but in my determination to combine these 2 phrase prompts (“tattered but not torn” and “speak with emotion”) and also the Tanka form, I put too much emphasis on cleverness and not enough on feeling.  Changing the phrase from one of the two prompts and accepting 8 syllables on the last line would have allowed a more complete expression of what was in my heart:

Write with your feelings.
Share the compass of a heart
wounded but still bright.

Cleverness is not enough:
poetry speaks with emotion.

This next is a thoroughly facetious little poem written more years ago than I’d care to admit, back in my college days.  I wrote it ex officio as “Poet Laureate of Chamberlin House” (itself a thoroughly facetious title bestowed upon me by my dorm-mates) to protest a new rule which restricted the hours at which visitors from other dorms would be admitted.  You really have to see the place to get the full effect, but I’ll tell you a little about it here to help with the imagery:
Burton-Judson Courts is a dormitory at the University of Chicago which looks very much like a medieval castle, with stone walls, narrow windows, and even a crenelated tower complete with arrow slits. And yes, the sky on winter nights was almost always a pale orange color because of the street lights reflecting off of the snow-covered ground and the constant overcast in the sky above.

In B-J Courts

In B-J courts the walls are high,
hiding half the bright-orange sky.
The plains by night with guards do crawl,
as cops for threat’ning juvies trawl.

The other lords about have cried
to all who ‘gainst their gates have tried
“Be gone! We will not let you in
We think that you are here to sin!

Lord Richman now would say the same
to students who to visit came
and brand his herd against the fear
of students vile who dwell not here.

Therefore, friends, in Council grave,
‘gainst madness set your voices brave:
Let not Lord Richman lock the gate
and friendly visitors berate!

©2017 Bill Hazelrig (written long ago)

I took a wonderful poetry lecture class in my third year at the University of Chicago; it was probably the best and most personally meaningful of the classes I ever took there, although I eventually transferred to Northwestern and graduated as a Computer Science major.  One of the assignments for this class was related to a study of A.E. Housman’s poetry, but I felt moved to do a little more than the assignment; this imitative tribute to Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees” was the result.  There is sincere sentiment here, but the imitative form was definitely a constraint, as well as being a mirror whereby Housman’s work could reflect some of my own heart.

Fathomless and Free, the Tempests Run

Fathomless and free, the tempests run
Between the oceans and the sun
And give the sea an eerie shade
Where in grey it’s overlaid.

From days allotted me by fate,
Years of youth are fled of late,
And life less nurturing childhood’s span
Holds five decades for me to plan.

Because for watching storms at sea
This seems meager chance to me,
In rugged weather I will sail
And turn my face into the gale.

©2017 Bill Hazelrig (written long ago)


Memories are like
patient ghosts, walking in thoughts
from your younger self.

©2017 Bill Hazelrig


Nature’s great weavers
spinning intricate patterns –
hoping to catch flies!

©2017 Bill Hazelrig