We hold these truths to be self-immolent

We hold these truths to be self-immolent,
that all women are creating sequels,
that they are renowned as the Creators
of certain unwinnable Fights,
that among these are Strife, Appliqué
and the pursuit of Vampiness.

That to endure these strifes,
Malcontents are insulated from us Women,
depriving their face powders and the concealer of the suffered,
That whenever any Form of Sufferment becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the Women to halter or to embellish it,
and to institute new Sufferment,
laying its foundation on such pimples
and layering its powders in such form,
as to them shall seem most lovely,
as to effect their Virility and Sappiness.

Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/08/30

in response to Poetics: Twisted Adages

BiDitarod, the New Sport for Sporting Dogs

The BiDitarod is a sport combining Biathlon with Skijoring, at least four sports in one. Biathlon, itself a combination of Nordic skiing and shooting, together with Skijoring, a combination of Nordic skiing with dog mushing. The BiDitarod is Skijoring with a rifle.

Like the biathlon, the rifle is used (by the human) to shoot at stationary targets at 50 meters with a .22 caliber rifle. This is done between two and four times, depending on the length of the event. Between shootings, the human slings the gun to his back and skijors a looped course of several kilometers. For each of these Skijoring sections, the human is attached by rope to his dog, which helps pull him around the course.

But that is just three sports (skiing, shooting, mushing). To round out the event and keep the dog busy while the human shoots, the dog enters a corral stocked with rabbits. The team earns extra points for each rabbit the dog catches. The rabbits put on special helmets and pads so they are not harmed as the dog drops them into the Capture Basket. A clever dog can make up points for an inaccurate shooter, or give the human a bit more time to shoot more accurately. In Great Britain, as well as Australia and New Zealand, sheep herding is often substituted for rabbit catching. The dog that wins the most points for his partner is awarded the coveted Big Dog award.

Traditional BiDiterod events are followed by a hot meal of stewed rabbit or lamb in the Big Tent.

My Tennis Ball

by Sweetie (the dog)

This fuzzy tennis ball is mine, you know,
But you can play with it, when you come play 
with me. Just know that I'm the one who wins,
and you are not allowed to throw it past 
my face or tug at all to hard because
you know, it's mine. It's Mine. ALL MINE! 
                                               You know,
I like when you come and lay down on the floor.
It makes you way less big and scary, gives 
me better tooth-grip, too. You know I don't 
have hands. 
            Remember when we would play catch?
I'd roll it back to you, when you would roll 
it back to me. What fun - and we would do 
that for a while; and every time, I got 
to keep the ball! Because it's mine, you know.


Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/08/23

The Blank Verse Mystery, Part 045

by Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/08/21

In ninety minutes on the dot we pass
our treasured offerings forward to the front.

A dozen student poets rise and speak.
Their verses strikingly unique, they earn
our willing light applause. No grading done
for now, today is only to perform.
I wait to be the last. The final poet
sits back down and Doctor H. resumes
his place before the nearly sated class.

“It’s been a different kind of Milton Works
this year. I thank you for your patient poise.
Sometimes surprises take you for a ride.
I hope this roller-coaster has inspired
and exposed you all to something new.
I know it has, for me. One last surprise,
or was it two? No matter, now. I promise
you it won’t be long. We’ve seen our poets
learn from us more “classically inclined.”
But now, today, we have one of our own,
a double-agent, so to speak, who says
he has a poem of his own to share.
Are you now ready, Paul? You’re up to bat!”

I read my solemn words and choke up once
for just a beat or two, but no one minds.

At last I read the final lines and lift
my eyes to see the beaming face of dear
Professor H. Is that a tear he wipes?
He nods at me and winks and tilts his head.

“Wow,” I hear a student say, and “Thanks,”
comes from another, and as the chairs begin
to move and backpacks fill with books and gear,
we hear a single pair of clapping hands
applaud me now from way back of the class.

At once a sea of heads begins to turn.
At once the recognition starts to dawn.

“Professor O!” I hear the joyous shouts
from all around as students rush to hug
the newfound man. But he looks straight ahead
at me and grins, and through the din
I hear him speak the final words, “Well said.”


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The Blank Verse Mystery, Part 044

Soldier at an Exhibition

In Green Beret he stands. With solemn steps
he moves past works regarded high enough
to hang here in this Institute of Art.

Esteemed enough he is to wear the Green
Beret, yet no one shows him due respect.
Quick silent looks askance at him we steal
and hope he doesn’t see we’ve noticed him
at all, for if we’re honest, nothing could
we do or say to recompense this lad
for what he volunteered to do, his heart,
his sacrifice, determination sheer.

And to what backward hell hole of the world,
and to what desperate situation had
this man and his few brothers just been flown?
And which of these a Frisbee nevermore will throw?
Which name still haunts his mind that came not home?
What gruesome scene plays out inside his head
as he now looks upon Seurat, this Sunday
Afternoon? [1] What former captive now breathes free? [2]

What would he say to us, who sit in peace
upon these sun-bleached limestone blufftops high
above the fruited plain; who gaze upon The River
wide, in leisure frozen in our own
Seurat; who sit and study art, and physics,
rocks and math and all the things that we
will soon enough forget as background noise?
These freedoms, gifts that we enjoy come at
a price of blood; not ours, of course, but his
and of his brother’s willingness to give
his all, “the last full measure of devotion.” [3]

I hear a voice that asks in silent prayer,
“Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?” [4]
So clearly it is we who owe this price,
but how can we it pay? There are not words
nor songs nor speeches, poetry nor even plays
that we could sing or write or act that come
to equal that which has been given us.

All this he knows, our Soldier, now on leave.
What would he say, if only we could dare to ask,
but this? That we should not just spend our lives,
but know their worth, his sacrifice, and “Earn it.” [5]

Paul Lance Guernsey Player, Principia C 1983, © 2018

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[1] A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, George Seurat, 1884, The Art Institute of Chicago

[2] De oppresso liber [Latin], the motto of the U.S. Special Forces, “thought to translate to “To Liberate the Oppressed.” In actuality, the word liber is an adjective ‘free’ that could be translated ‘a free man,’ and ‘de oppresso’ would be more an overwhelmed man. The phrase would therefore be more accurately translated, ‘from a caught man, a free man.'”

[3] The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, 1863

[4] Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, 1599

[5] Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg, 1998

Blank Verse, in the Wild 001

We speak of matter dark as if it were,
when realy it is just a fiction we
made up to cover a phenomon
we can’t explain at all, not in the least.

The other 96 percent is made
of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect
or even comprehend.” – from space.com

Blank Verse, in the Wild is a new feature here on TheGuern. These are examples of naturally occurring blank verse, in the wild, as it were.

The Blank Verse Mystery, Part 043

by Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/08/18

My written final test for Milton Works:

In ninety minutes’ time please write an essay
telling what you learned from Milton’s poems.
Describe his lasting mark on English Lit.

The things I learned from Milton most were not
of Paradise Regained, nor even Lost,
but how to read blank verse and so, to write.

What legacy do poets truly seek?
To speak to readers from beyond the grave?
To shatter brittle centuries and thrust
a long-past age’s looking glass into
the face of future scholars yet unborn?
Well, yes, ideally so, but who can see
so far beyond his frosted window panes?

For whom, then, do we write our verses plain?
We first write to appease our fancied selves,
to see our own voice echoed back in ink,
to read aloud our words and hear
as plainly as we think they should resound;
and passing, only then reveal our thoughts,
our tender children, to the larger world.

The questions first we pose are to ourselves:
What is it that I think I have not said?
What thought is it I think that is not clear?
What thing have I observed but not beheld?
What is it that I do not understand?

For in the writing of ideas there flows
a river of progressive thought that builds
upon each thought before, and not until
we see the first in letters written out
upon the page can we begin to hear
the next thought start to form within our mind.
It’s not until the ink is dry can we
entrust our future self to not forget
his place and leaf back through the pages penned
and give our pending thoughts their turn
within the breach to fire their report
in proper sequence to enshrine our will.
All this the masters of blank verse, before
and after Milton, John had known, but none
more masterfully than him did weave his will.

And what of Milton, then? Did he succeed
or fail to reach this reader centuries
advanced from his, who had not even heard
of Homer in his public funded school?
How can I even hope to understand
this man who wrote so long ago about
a subject that itself is all but dead?

To ask such questions is to miss the mark,
as measures of success are more than one.
So yes, his art’s success we must admit
by this etched rule, that he with pen alone
projected forth the blank verse form from those
who wrote before, catapulting out an art
from darkness far beyond his grave, in
English language, too, cast out from near
medieval times into the murky future,
thus to take its place beyond the Globe’s
small, meager stage onto a global stage.

His legacy, his lasting, inky mark
is this, that scholars still today do write,
not merely read blank verse, and proof of this
I humbly tender my own work, below;
and if it please, then pleasing prove the more
my point: that Milton did not blindly see
and still holds discourse with us budding poets
of today. I give you now my warrior angel:

EXHIBIT A – Soldier at an Exhibition

(continued on back…)

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The Blank Verse Mystery, Part 041

by Paul Guernsey Player, Copyright © 2018/08/22

Then speak I shall. Though my Professor O
has chosen not to show his face, I see
he shares my passion for the English verse.
I cannot find him, yet he’s always there.
With cryptic margin notes that only I
would know as his, my papers he has marked.
So, in cahoots with Doctor H. he still
remains, which leaves me one last final plan.

In Milton Works, our time is split between
the ancient and the new. At first hear we
our teacher read from Milton’s unrhymed verse,
and catch his intonation, emphasis,
and love for what the artist then had writ.

Then, secondly, the other half will stand
up one-by-one, reciting out their best.
I must admit that some have touched my soul.
I see my fellow students aren’t all bad
and some have taken full advantage of
the first half of each class to learn
a thing or two from classic verse, and how
to read and where to pause for great effect.

Our final test is set for one p.m.
on Thursday afternoon: a ninety minute
essay followed up by poems read.
The usual, it seems, divided tests
just like our split, divided, broken class.

Which leads me to my final last-ditch plan
to force the hand of my Professor O
and bring him back to class, if only for
the final one. “Then speak I shall,” I say
my motto now becomes. I shall no longer
hide my words or wonder at their worth.
Instead, I write my own blank verse. Why not?
And furthermore, I will myself stand up
to read it to the class on finals day.
For readers authors do become, when rivers
flow upstream and students learn to teach
the class themselves, and learn their own true worth.

I write an invitation to Professor O.
My own encrypted margin text I print
with ball point pen upon a Post-It note
adhered with trust onto the final page
of my last weekly essay for the class:


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