What is poetry? Asked and Answered.

You will no doubt thank me for sparing you my long winded, boring monologue. I have decided that I do not know much about the subject and should be reading, instead of writing about it. I still believe I have something to bring to this conversation, but first, perhaps, just maybe, others might possibly have already Asked and Answered some of my questions and I should not assume too much about my own understanding.

If you have a question, assume it has already been Asked and Answered. This has been my mantra concerning my main form of writing: computer code. There is an open secret among programmers that a large percentage of their job is formulating accurate internet search criteria that will bring back the precise solution to their immediate problem (usually, on the first page of results). If you have a question, assume it has already been Asked and Answered, all within easy reach from your friendly neighborhood internet browser.

And today, while looking up “poetry forms” for inclusion in My Very Own Definition of Poetry, I stumbled on a recommendation for the first book in the list, below, and had a realization that may finally answer some of my questions, and hopefully elevate my own writing form to something that I would unabashedly label as Poetry.

I have often wondered how to get more readers of my poetry, and recently, more and more I have been concluding that the best solution is to write better poems. Learning what there is to learn might help, and to that end, I have reserved these at my friendly neighborhood public library:

A Poet’s Glossary
Hirsch, Edward

The Essential Haiku
Hass, Robert.

How to read a poem
Hirsch, Edward

The Norton Anthology of Poetry (1975)*
Eastman, Arthur M., 1918- , Norton

It is a start, at least. Here’s to becoming a less sanctimonious, more sensitive, more intelligent poetry reader and perhaps even a better poet. Cheers!

*The Norton Anthology of Poetry was the first book of poems we were given to study in CCHS [Cass City High School]. I remember it fondly and am looking forward to seeing it again. Donne, Frost, Whitman, Shakespeare, … Hope it is the exact same edition.


We need to invent a new word for SCANDAL to replace WATERGATE. Stop referring to scandals as X-Gate, measuring all present and future scandals against Republicans’ Original Sin of electing Richard Milhouse Nixon. We now have repeated and compounded or sin by electing Trump the Unelectable. We must remember and memorialize in history the fact that we did so in the face of the most profound corruptions in the history of the union: Hillary-Gate. But that is the Wrong Word, for it trivializes the actions of Crooked Hillary by measuring them against the far less dangerous acts of the honorable (by comparison) Richard M. Nixon.

So, what word susinctly represents the Clinton Corruption and its Coverup by his and her Democrat Co-Conspirators? What word redefines SCANDAL in terms that immortalize the well deserved in·fa·my of of Hillary and Barack?


The word must be convertable to a prefix or suffix that can be easily appended to any future scandal.

The word must be related to a central caracter or artifact of the whole Clinton mess.

The word should derive from the co-ordinated nature of the common news media’s coverage. It should already be a household phrase.

Perhaps we ask too much of a single word and we should just take our pick from the many options available:


X-Ghazi [Benghazi] Tax-Ghazi, Spasm-Ghazi, Lie-Ghazi, Video-Ghazi
X-One [Uranium-One] Rigged Primary-One, Spasm-One
X-Bit [BleachBit] Weaponized Agency-Bit, Tarmac-bit
Tarmac-X [Tarmac Meeting] Tarmac Agreement, Tarmac Announcement
Deep-X [Deep State] [perhaps too close to Deep Throat for comfort] #NeverMind
X-Unmasking [Unmasking] Intern Unmasking, Bimbo Eruption Unmasking, Open Marriage Unmasking

Mayday! Mayday!

To enslave an essentially free people, you must first convince it that is not free, but enslaved already. You must convince the people they are victims.

According to the article, The Brief Origins of May Day, By Eric Chase – 1993., from the Industrial Workers of the World, a union for all workers web site’s
https://iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday, one year before the first May Day “celebration”, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that

“whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave.”

Capitalism is evil. Your job is killing you. Full employment is full slavery. No man can agree to trade his labor for units of exchange, unless he does so under duress. He is no more than a victim.

The article goes on to suggest the type of anarchism required to achieve the Progressives’ Utopian promises:

“One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!”

“MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.”

With Citizens foaming at the mouth with such insanity, is it any wonder that Chicago burned itself to the ground? Stop blaming Mrs. O’Leary, but instead the sacred cow of Socialism and its Sacrament of Anarchy. For not only did Chicago burn that night, but countless other towns in Michigan and Wisconsin in what could only have been a coordinated Anarchist attack.

The Reverend Peter Pernin, the parish priest of Peshtigo and the nearby town of Marinette recounts what struggles other humans and other cows endured in their efforts to survive these Progressive tactics; after leading his flock to the river:

“The flames darted over the river as they did over land, the air was full of them, or rather the air itself was on fire. Our heads were in continual danger. It was only by throwing water constantly over them and our faces, and beating the river with our hands that we kept the flames at bay. … Not far from me a woman was supporting herself in the water by means of a log. After a time a cow swam past. There were more than a dozen of these animals in the river, impelled thither by instinct, and they succeeded in saving their lives. The first mentioned one overturned in its passage the log to which the woman was clinging and she disappeared into the water. I thought her lost; but soon saw her emerge from it holding on with one hand to the horns of the cow, and throwing water on her head with the other.”

From the article, by Michael S. Rosenwald December 6, 2017, ‘The night America burned’: The deadliest — and most overlooked — fire in U.S. history, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/10/10/the-night-america-burned-the-deadliest-and-most-overlooked-fire-in-u-s-history/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4e14d65ca648

Really good pigs

Fade to helicopter shot,
coming over a rise,
revealing an idyllic farm with pigs;

The sun rises over a busy day,
as farmers in overalls and high black boots
perform their morning chores,
hosing down a stall,
spreading hay,
working on a tractor;

A modest herd of, energetic, but not overly clean pigs
scurries toward its breakfast,
and we fade to black, as happy pig snorting and squealing continues…

…A friendly Iowa woman voices over the words, …

“Good pigs make good bacon,
and we have really good pigs.”

Copyright © 2018, Paul Guernsey Player

Family Night

Dad’s Log 2018/04/22 23:00
Clearwater, Florida

Eli’s 28th Birthday-Eve / Family Night
with the board game: “Would You Rather?”

I spent the afternoon with Eli at the Reload Shooting Range in Tarpon Springs. Eli kept bringing out fresh clips from his ammo box. His AR rifle was such a joy to shoot, that we just couldn’t stop. It made me decide to get more magazines to reduce reloading on-site. We also shot his stainless .22 cal, 9 chamber revolver with white grips. #BADASS, according to a fellow shooter. Eli had attempted to use this weapon to dispatch with a possum a week or so ago, but missed. This had caused him to worry that the gun itself might have some accuracy weakness. We discovered this worry to be unfounded at the range, as the pistol produced some nicely tight groupings. #NotTheGun

Eli is a much better shot than me, as is his sister, Sasha. I need to take Sasha shooting more. She surpassed my shooting skills in her first outing at Shoot Straight, and in the yard with pellet/BB guns. And she seems to like shooting. Maybe I will get myself and her active in the Civilian Marksmanship Program after I observe next week’s CMP event at the Sarasota Military Academy.

Eli’s official Birthday Dinner was Shrimp Pesto Pasta, with steamed broccoli, diced cherry tomatoes, and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. Delicious, although as always, there is Never enough pesto. I got a little testy when Susan came into the kitchen at the last minute, as all the pieces and timing were coming together, suggesting that some of the pesto should be used to moisten the pasta. #DoNotMessWithMyPesto She was right about the pasta,though.

We had a great time playing the board game, “Would You Rather?“, with some really great laughs. After the final round of questions, we were discussing Eli’s written school success stories*, which, for many, many years were just this: “It was good. I learned a lot.” Christina then revealed that, “For the first few years of our relationship, Eli’s verbal enthusiasm often did not go beyond, ‘It is good.’ He would get enthused about things, but verbally didn’t go beyond, ‘Good.'” Probably more true earlier than it is now, she said, but he would often tell her, “I like you. You are good.” Susan had an incredibly good laugh at this. I have not seen her laugh so thoroughly in a very long time; so hard as to make it hard to catch her breath. Sasha and Christina described her laughter as “goose laughing,” and Susan laughed all the harder for us laughing at her laughing. Good times.

Another question/answer of note was, “Would you rather be able to A. Rewind, or B. Fast-forward time?” Susan’s answer was A. Rewind. She said, “There were two men I would not have had sex with.”

“Sorry, Dad. Sorry, Sasha. You and I would not have been born.” Eli joked. While I, her husband, was more than half certain I was actually on that list, all joking aside. But fortunately, she assured me later, I needn’t have worried. #NotOnTheList #Phew

*At most of Eli’s many Applied Scholastics private schools, each grade, subject and lesson was followed by an exam and a “required” success story. Each student was expected to express what he had gotten out of the course, grade, subject or lesson.


Dream Melodies


ADDENDUM to The Moment of Before

In one of this morning’s dreams, I was sitting with my family enjoying a concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Florida. On stage was a glockenspiel, a musician playing an interesting melody on it, and our seats. We were that close. The music did not last for more than a few bars because I awoke from the dream with a start, banging my hand into the bed frame. As in The Moment of Before, it took me a moment to reconcile multiple realities with my identity.

“What was that? Where am I? Ah, yes. Bed. Dream. Self. Home. Sunrise. Family – rapidly, pretty much in that order.

I was suddenly awake and the music had stopped the instant my left hand contacted the 2×6 pine board of my bed frame, before the “Moment of Before” rec·on·cil·i·a·tion process had even begun.


Who mans the projector playing the images of our dreams? Why did the music stop so instantly? Who controls the switch? Are the only two settings, [ Dream | Real ]? Why can there be multiple seats my dream’s theater, but one-and-only-one viewer in the theater of my mind? Who occupies That “seat” for which the dreams are played? Why did the music stop? My mind sought fit to record the content of this dream in conscious memory, and although I do not recall the melody being played this time, I have had other dreams with musical melodies that I continued to hum after awaking. Who truly deserves credit for composing such music?


Why Not Smoke Marijuana?

Way back in the Seventies,
I smoked the Marijuana,
and way back in the Seventies,
I learned Algebra, Geometry, and Trig.

Not much later, in the Eighties, I had moved on to Calc,
and though I loved the Calculus, it squashed me like a bug,
as my mind was still quite fuzzy on the Trigonometry.
I can still recall the day I smoked at lunch and then went back to school.
I can still recall the day I sat in Trig and missed the SINEs, completely,
fuzzy-headed, as I was.

And so, I failed the Calc, because my skills in Trig were weak,
and at that point, no tutoring from Truth* could catch me up,
for I had started way too late,
and for no man Calc class waits.

Who knows what careers I could have found in Math,
the studies that I could have done, and discoveries I missed?
But luckily I found the Database and the Code,
some other ways to work the slight of logic by my hand.
So, all was not completely lost, although not all was well.

But look! The Database has vector math, was I asleep then, too? Perhaps.
Was sixteen-year-old Me so brash to throw away a thing
that would one day seem so presioius to the fifty-something Me?

How would he have seen me?
What would I tell my then-self, now?
I guess I’d just say this:
“There’s a substantial price to pay, and yes, I do mean damage.”
“It is real and it is lasting,”
“while the ‘feeling’ that you get from smoking is illusionary dullness,”
“and is doing you no good.”
“Look hard at what it’s doing to your accuracy of thought,”
“to your keen discerning curiosity and especially ambition.”
“Say, ‘Good Bye.’ to these dear friend, at least, that is, in part.”

With all the wisdom hindsight gives, this is what I’d say.
But would I even listen? I don’t know, for sure;
but given who is speaking, I believe that I just might.
Yes, perhaps I might, and that slight chance
is just the reason that I need to write.

Paul Guernsey Player

*Truth Stevens, a fellow Principia College student who valiantly tutored me in math when I was well past the point where tutoring would raise my grade. Thanks for trying, Truth! I should have come to you sooner, but asking for help always felt like cheating.



The Moment of Before

Dad’s Log 2018/04/18

Who am I?

Woke up this morning from such a thorough sleep that I did not know who I was;
no clues from my surroundings; an empty slate for which to write my life on. Before it all came rushing back, the dawn, the birds, my blanket, and the day, the day of week, where I go to work, all my family in the rooms next door.

But at that moment, that brief, brief moment, when I did not know who I was, who was I?

I eventually got up, pulled on some clothes, brushed my teeth and put the kettle on for tea. I started hearing in my head the song that I had played the day before. And though I do enjoy the song, this is not who I am, but just the mantle that I wear. Because, for just a moment, I was none of this.

The Moment of Before

Before pushing back the blankets of the night,
and pulling on the trousers of my day,
just before the calling of the birds outside,
I knew not who I was.

I had first to wrap about myself the mantle of my life,
the fully woven fabric of time and space and memory,
of meaning and of effort,
of duty and agreements made…
to mask my truest self behind the thick and musty mask of this identity.

For in that moment, that brief, brief Moment of Before,
I was myself, a potential force so pure,
so stunningly simple, and oh, so free.

Paul Guernsey Player

The beauty of this poem is, to me, not the fleeting joy (not at all the right word – keep coming back to “potential”) of the experience that it describes, but the realization that the Moment of Before did not actually end. It still continues. Deep beneath the mask of this life is Life, itself. The Silent Calm of Being, the pure potential of becoming anyone and anything that you or I desire is always there. Reach into it, and breathe, dip into this unfathomable well and drink.

Unstoppable we are.

Addendum: Dream Melodies


I Promise.

“I promise.”
“On my honor.”
“I do.”

Words upon which our culture rests;
not, “You must.” rather, “I will.”
consent, willingness, and responsibility;
no master and no slave;

I am here because I choose to be;
I contribute for I want us all
to live,
to survive,
and ultimately, to thrive;

I trust in you, and you can have a friend in me;
if not the universal bargain,
then the only one that works,
at least, for here and now;


by Paul Guernsey Player
Copyright © 2018, 2118, 2218

podcast (read by the author)

But is it really a poem? My jury is still out on this one. Remove the unusual line breaks and fix the capitalization, and you get this:


“I promise.” “On my honor.” and “I do.” Words upon which our culture rests; not, “You must.” rather, “I will.” Consent, willingness, and responsibility; no master and no slave. I am here because I choose to be. I contribute for I want us all to live, to survive, and ultimately, to thrive. I trust in you, and you can have a friend in me; if not the universal bargain, then the only one that works, at least, for here and now.

A marginally decent paragraph, not really poetry.

I wrote this as a companion to “I Live for the Grey”. To me these two are somehow in·ex·tri·ca·bly linked. Their lines came out together, and I had to extract them from each other. I do not know why, exactly, they should be linked. If you can explain it, please do.

See also this poem’s companion, I Live for the Grey.