Monthly Archives: September 2011

Captain and Mother Too


My cleve poem (actually two poems that can be read together to create a third poem)  here is dedicated to the memories of Bob Keesham, my mother Valerie, and the magic of childhood imagination.  Bob is better known by all my countrymen as Captain Kangaroo, a friend and icon in children’s television long before Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers came along.  He once said that as a child he would play with his mother’s box of stray buttons in the sandbox and pretend they were “ships at sea or Hannibal moving across the Alps.”  Imagination is so very important to everyone, but especially to us, the poets.

I hope that you will enjoy my first attempt at a cleave poem and please tell me what you think…..  Thank you for stopping by…..   – John

P.S… Please accept my apologies..  anyone viewing this with MS Internet Explorer might have had problems seeing the poem itself, which is in a table and was a bit off center in MSIE…  It should be corrected now…  I’m a Firefox fan and didn’t check it in MSIE before publishing…

Listen along as I read this poem………     

Captain and Mother Too

Imagination, gorging my mind like A box of mama’s buttons
Shimmering bits of ivory and wood, Scattered across the sand.
Telling tales of brave adventure, Of life, of love, and dreams,
As sailors rage the seven seas. Drowned away in a distant time.
Teddy’s soldiers atop San Juan, Singing songs of blue despair,
And Napoleon’s great flare, Ending in tragedy,
Oh the realm of quest and glory! A soft copper casket lowers,
A thousand men before me cried And her buttons fade away,
If only to be a child, forever My friend, forever.



Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.

–          T. S. Eliot

© 2011 John Richter

Lost Indifference of a Learned Critic

Several months ago I read an article written by a somewhat esteemed and learned member of an obscure, elite literary group who took it upon herself to define poetry, not so much by what poetry is but rather by what poetry isn’t.   Words can not even describe how her thesis made me feel.  But I will say this, and I will say it without any apology whatsoever:  She is wrong.  I didn’t even need to read her descriptions to know that.  Anyone who sits on a sideline as a third party and attempts to tell others what poetry should or shouldn’t be is simply and entirely wrong.

Poetry is not about what she prescribes for others.   And as I was just reminded recently by a lovely new friend,  poetry is not even what the poet himself thinks it is.  Poetry is only what the reader finds.  Period.  Poetry is simply art.

As an example, I do not enjoy Picasso’s jumbled art.  It has no meaning to me whatsoever.  But it would be sinful and a slap in the face to those millions who find his work enthralling to say that I don’t believe he was an artist…..  because to them he certainly was that.

I hope you will enjoy my little poem written to the hardline critic in us all.  Thank you for visiting………

Lost Indifference of a Learned Critic

What beauty will you find in words
that others found before you?
Will the twists of yesteryear’s poet
slip completely through?
His heart fallen to dust,
his feelings lost in time due?
His memory untouched,
his own Waterloo?

And should you find his pen at best
more comfortably in its well,
that his words find no solace
but in your solemn death knell.
A stretch of time has you sublime
to the feelings he would foretell.
But his words still there and bare
haunt you through the dell.

So go now, critic lord,
to worlds of wonderment.
Bind his words to unworthiness,
and for ever your abandonment.
But please leave with this,
most likely to his enjoyment,
that your learned and cultured pleasure
was probably never meant.



It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of art, and ignorant also of surgery. Because people who understand art find nothing in pictures but blemishes, and surgeons and anatomists see no beautiful women in all their lives, but only a ghastly stack of bones with Latin names to them, and a network of nerves and muscles and tissues.    – Mark Twain

© 2011 John Richter

Do you see angels too?

Listen Along With Me….

As I stood there, wondering “Who am I”
and what should I tell you about myself
an angel touched my shoulder and said
“Excuse me sir,
but you’re in my seat”

How odd that was, I thought
because I was standing at the moment
and these angels calling themselves Kim
don’t have halos, by the way
but they do glow, you know

So, what to tell?  What to tell?
OK……. I know
so I gave that angel the nearest seat anyway
and a margarita too
she liked that a lot

But then she said
“Excuse me sir,
but you’re stepping on my toes”
so I looked down and
she didn’t have any

Angels are weird
but they are, like, the best part of my life
I love them


© 2011 John Richter

Hawk’s Blood


The band of nested birds cried,
their eyes shouting within
the cold distance of their hearts.
The green blanket of leaves
couldn’t hide their misery.
And their songs went away.

In the shadows of that great wood lurked the
flavor of something powerfully bold.
That a love could last but one moment
and use all the rest to torment my soul.
The hawk came, and the songs went away.

I left my heart perched in the elm that day,
next to that great hawk who had come to prey.
He didn’t stab my life with talons
or swallow my flesh whole with life’s blood.
Instead he stole my song away
and left me for another day

with no one.


This poem was inspired by a patch of woods behind my home, which is usually bustling with life.  Turkeys, deer, even coyotes which I was surprised to find in northern Kentucky.  But the trees and our feeders are always alive with so many different species of birds, their songs absolutely and gently carry the days here.  One day I stepped outside and noticed the feeders were vacant.  The only noise at all was a simple breeze rustling through the trees, which was odd.  But odder still was the rabbit not 20 feet away from me, just sitting there absolutely stiff as if  frozen.  That never happens.  I took a few steps toward him and he still refused to run away.  And it all struck me:  one of our two visiting hawks must be in the area.  And there he was, I spotted him perched up in the tallest tree there on the edge of the woods, staring down at me.  You could have heard a pin drop out there….  I realized my presence was probably giving that little rabbit a heart attack.  Coming to the conclusion that the hawk had not yet seen him (their acute vision relying on movement sometimes) I thought it best that I return to the house.  -Wherein I immediatley crafted new rules regarding the safekeeping of our little chichuahua, Gizzy, who enjoys the freedom he finds at every possible opportunity to rush outside without a leash….  Maybe that’s what Mr. Hawk was waiting for, perhaps he was in the mood for a little Mexican dinner that night!  🙂  Oh, and of course there’s the whole “Woe is me, I’ve lost my lover” thing in there too, but that comes from muscle memory, my hand just used to writing about it…..  I hope you enjoyed my poem, thanks for visiting….

© 2011 John Richter

A Lost Child

Please forgive this prologue to my poem, it’s necessary.

Some things are hard to write about.  Some things are hard to read. As a poet I don’t control what inspires me, words are the canvass, life the brush, and emotion the color.  I believe poetry and passion are gifts from God, as is everything in our lives. – Everything. I want you to know that the following story is true, and it is sad.

I was only in my second or third year as an Accident Investigator for a police department in a large Midwestern city when this happened.   She was eleven, holding hands with her younger sister as they crossed the crosswalk. The notes you will read about were folded and apparently kept in her little purse. I surmise they were notes passed between her classmates. The poem’s ending describes an image of this girls mother that will stay with me forever.  This memory is one of the most powerful, prevalent emotions that I have ever endured in this life.

A Lost Child

Disappointments will never come.
Glory of a heart’s dance sent forever
to the faint shadows of what might have been.
Her life song once trumpeted by legions of Cherubim,
now lays hallowed, trapped in the distant echos of memory.

Her little papers flapped in the breeze.
Their comeliness waved me to hither and see.
Duty eroded compassion, a grisly task prevailed
and only my glances could answer their beckoning wail.
And then my flashbulbs bit into the cool autumn night’s air.

Flash!  An old burgundy pick up truck.
Flash!  Bloodied clothes and a medic’s gloves.
Flash!  A child’s purse, strap snapped and dangling.
Flash!  Little folded notes, stark against the pavement.
Flash!  A lost night, a lost child, a mother’s love denied…

Odd the quiet that ruled this street,
Once bustling with the business of busy.
Yellow crime scene tape kept us, swept us within,
while witnesses cried that sisters held hands at death.
Giggling, and smiling, running through the striped crosswalk.

The little one thrown clear by brunt,
the other went under, a quick loss of life.
And her notes hailed me now, screaming of love,
amidst the spilled contents of her purse’s mysteries.
They laid aflutter, holding the secrets of a sixth grade girl.

A voice barely whispered over the tape,
“What should I do,” under the soft breeze bellow.
“She was my daughter.  They called and said she’s dead.”
My words wouldn’t come.  I lifted the tape, grabbed her hand,
and walked her to the middle of that closed lamp-lit intersection.

I gave her a paper bag.
I watched her silhouette kneel
in that barren street of scars and tears,
to pick up those flapping notes and other things
that filled the life of this dear young child.
When my soul unfroze from that sight,
I knelt down beside her beauty
and helped collect them.

A kite is the last poem you’ve written
So you give it to the wind,
But you don’t let it go.
        –Leonard Cohen

The form of this poem:  This poem is written in a visual form, some call it “shape” or “concrete” poetry.  Mine is intensely simple, showing nothing more than 45 degree trailing edges.  If you didn’t notice them then it means I did a pretty good job as a poet.  And if you cried like I did, then it was an even better job.  Thank you for visiting my blog and peeking at my soul.  

© 2011 John Richter









© 2011 John Richter

Copper Glances

 I wanted to try my hand at a “Shape Poem,” which some people call a “Concrete Poem” (I don’t know why)  Mine is really not a poem.  More like prose.  But it was long enough to fill the form so here it is…..  I actually posted it earlier under another name, but i like this one better…  I hope you enjoy it, if not please let me know why….  And thank you for visiting.

© 2011 John Richter

Circles of the Merry Go Round

Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – John Keats

Circles of the Merry Go Round

The ride just goes round, never ending turn
it goes and goes and where it started
no one can say
But its end shall have us all, some day
some summer, some hot summer day

Step right up!  Pay your ticket!
climb on the shiniest, golden horse
let the motors grind and the music play
your greatest find that it should last all day,
all on a hot summers day

Ice cream melting, trickling
sticky fingers grabbing mommas hand
passing crowds eagerly longing for just a taste
swallowing their own lives in the terrific haste
passing by, not seeing, on a summer day

Momma’s attentive, loving to a fault
always in reach, that most soothing reach
the hawker cried with such force: Guess your weight!
I should have peed myself, nearly too late
on a sticky, sticky summer day

Father never caring, another mouth to feed
his cold eyes looking but never seeing
he grabbed the great mallet with eyes on the prize
looking through me as he swung, my insignificant size
and the bell rung on this lonely, lonely day

Quit lagging!  he yelled, me just a nuisance
nothing but another stupid bill to pay
must hurry on to the next great trick to amaze
but daddy, I just need to be loved these days
on this awful, sad summer day

Mother, don’t go, I need you so
you musn’t leave me alone
you’ve melted away, drop by drop, ending my wonderful dream
sticky fingers reaching for yours, colder than this dripping ice cream
on this terribly cold summer day

And so I ride this ride, round and round
music piercing, gears haunting, horses snarling
years passing by, more blurry than the spectators outside
them thinking what fun, me shouting “But they lied!”
Mother’s gone….  and I have bills to pay, on this non-day

As you have already discovered, this poem is a metaphor about the circular nature of life.   It’s not really about a summer day or a carnival, nor even a merry go round though it certainly is suggestive of all of those things.   It is about a man’s life, a love for his mother, a misunderstanding of his father, who he regretfully finds that he has turned into.  I hope that you enjoyed my little carnival ride….  Thank you for stopping by…..

The form of this poem:    It is constructed on eight stanzas of five lines each, also sometimes called quintets.  Lines three and four have a tail rhyme.  The last line of each quintet ends with the same word and repeats the theme of the poem,  in this case, very simply – a summer day.  This form has no set metre, except the poet’s eye.

Please visit the work of this wonderful photographer, Mr. Damien Franco at

© 2011 John Richter

Burnt Roses

This is a picture of a beautiful rose captured by Yvette
                    This image of a beautiful rose was captured by a new friend, Yvette.

                             Merci beaucoup Yvette, cette photo d’une fleur est absolument magnifique ……



Burnt Roses

You picked roses, cut their nursing
stems.  Their cradled, vital blooms
slashed into slow death.  That
crystal vase, a mausoleum, a glass
casket to watch them slowly fade
away, designed to wither and
decay for your enjoyment.
Their petals blacken and you smile.

And what of my heart?  Can
your shears pierce it too,
prop me in a jar and watch my
essence drain away?  Has the
foulness of your death breath
blown upon me?  Do the remnants
of my rotting, sloughing
soul please you?

But roses will die anyway,
at season’s end you say.
What’s a month or two?
Or a decade given to the realm of beauty?
What beauty is that, dearest?
My crystal urn clouds the view,
this misty grey once called my life
grovels upon the shards of it.

I long for what once was,
the glory of that single moment in time
when I lived upon my stem.



© 2011 John Richter

Sandman Words

Mouthfuls of juicy little glow-in-the-dark wads
prancing through unknown fields of taste.
I chomp them, like bits of swollen,
ripened apples falling from the trees of my hidden places,
trees that harbor what was and what might yet be.
They fill me with wondrous pleasures of things, mightily
capturing me away, or slicing my soul’s flanges
to find my heart in a scream.
My dreams.

I rush into wakefulness at the speed of confusion
to find him, maybe, still finishing his copious spell.
But never there, that punctilious little Dreamer man,
who brings us everything but punct,
and whose brim exceeds his girth by a foot,
except his nose, that comically barnacled schnozzle
that could hook the stars on a clear night.
He escapes my wary each and every time,
tricking me into his yellow sublime
with the yak of his klackity klak.

He must oil his shoes, I think
for never have I taken a peak
of his awkward little self, sneaking and speaking
into my imagination of away-ness,
the empty me, who lives alone when
I close my eyes and the Dreamer steals me.
Yet he brings me things of happiness,
towering above life’s sappiness,
-sometimes.  Other times he reaches into me
and takes little parts away, parts I don’t remember.

I think he is Mr. Flaggarty.
The church organist.
He always looks at me like he knows.
And his shoes smell of oil,
the kind they used in Europe in World War II.
He might be a Nazi Dreamer.
Or a French resisting screamer.
But he always brings the most beautiful women,
and leaves me with my own little apple tree.
Tickled Pink, I should think.

A dream.

This poem was written in a form unique to it.  Ten-line stanzas with a floating rhyming couplet within.  The first stanza has the ryming pair as lines 9 and 10.  The next stanza, the rhyming pair moves up one line, to 8 and 9. The next, 7 and 8, and so on.

© 2011 John Richter