To Bee or Not to Bee*

Some writers have the gift of being crystal-clear communicators. Others muddle their own waters to the point of incompressibility [SHURLY ‘INCOMPREHENSIBILITY’, ED.] Imagine how they could be helped if Artificial Intelligence automatically supplied their texts with quips gathered from the Internet:

Hamlet* had a lot on his conscience* He knew that he should have practised more diplomacy* in his audience with his creator* He spoke now only to himself and worried he was becoming a bore* He wondered would he achieve a place in Camelot* His family, those still enjoying good health*, told him that even for an actor* he was neurotic* but he rejected that, positive* that his verbal* skills would guarantee him a place in history, not as a fanatic* but as the supreme egoist*

* bee: A fly dressed in a fur coat.
* hamlet: A little pig
* conscience: That part of the psyche which dissolves in alcohol.
* diplomacy is the art of saying “nice doggy” until you can find a rock.
* creator: A comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh. –H. L. Mencken
* bore: A person who talks when you wish him to listen. –Ambrose Bierce
* Camelot: A place where used dromedaries are sold.
* health: The slowest possible rate of dying.
* actor: A man who tries to be everything but himself.
* neurotic: Self-taut person.
* positive: Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.
* verbal: Able to whine in words.
*fanatic: One who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. –Winston Churchill
*egotist: A man who’s always me-deep in conversation.

Censored by Carpentry’s Inventor

‘Perdix flew wing on our fishing expedition.’
My song’s first line makes Daedalus cry ‘Halt!’
He fears, and rightly so, instant perdition
were the world to learn that it was through his fault
that his nephew died. He stifles each rendition
of lyrics mentioning Perdix or how he bought
the farm while flying vertically straight down
(which is why partridges fly close now to the ground).

After the Fact

I learned something grand this morning,
not many hours ago.
It is something I am surer than sure
that everyone will want to know,
It is a most stupendous finding
with powers to heal and enthral.
Unfortunately it’s also something that
I can’t anymore recall.

Dynamics Imaged

O haggis, hunkered halfway up the hill,
uneven legs in fore-and-aft matched pairs,
each to the other skewed like stick in plaice
before the batter’s up in golden ducks,
attend right-thinking running, circle up
or down the slope until the golden mean
of altitude, corrected for spare crags,
prevails, and you proceed goat-like to graze
at ease and restfully, your haggis rules
OK, exemplifying strange attractors,
repelling border colleens, collies, kilts,
and robber burns on ceremonial night.
And, haggis, try to live as if you’ve got
the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot.

IF the weather is nice where you are, please by all means go out and play. But if the sea is too cold or it’s raining, perhaps you could help me with these footnotes.

FOOTNOTES (so far, so good, so what):

1. ‘haggis’ — A delicate, delicious smallish creature hunted in the Highlands for its meet and for the hill of it. Pulled more successfully than birds by Dawkins shellfish jeans to the extent that its right legs (called Bermudas) are shorter than its left (called Levis).

2. ‘hunkered’ — Squatted down close to the ground, but not as in a squat. Unclear as to why this footnote is needed at all, except that one would have to renumber the rest (except one, ‘1’) were it taken out.

3. ‘skewed like stick in plaice’ — An impossible situation, like the impossible animal that exists (footnote 1), since a stick that is IN a plaice (large edible flat-bodied fish Pleuronectes platessa in European seas) can NOT be skewed (neither parallel nor intersecting) to said plaice. Cf. Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth’s castle:

MACBETH: If we should fail?

But screw your courage to the
And we’ll not fail.

4. ‘before the batter’s up in golden ducks’ — Before all the batter (for the plaice) has been used up playing with our food, making little golden-fried ducks. Alternatively, for those who find the first explanation not cricket, before the batsman’s or batswoman’s turn is up by being out with a nil score (from a ‘duck’s egg,’ shaped like a zero). There is of course a third and very important possibility relating back to the skew framework of the poet’s mind [sick? sic?] of batter as a transitive verb for building a wall or similar so as to form an upwardly receding slope ‘The Haggis Hunting Ground,’ but by now this footnote itself is getting battered beyond all redemption.

5. ‘attend right-thinking running’ — Admonishing the haggis to pay attention to conventional ideas of morality, propriety, and decorum whilst ALSO running to the right (otherwise it would turn its short legs to the downside of the hill and fall into the hunters’ sacks) and whilst ALSO concentrating to avoid coming too close to the perpendicular (and falling into the hunters’ sacks).

6. ‘circle up / or down the slope until the golden mean / of altitude’ — Advising the haggis (so that it may avoid falling into the hunters’ sacks) to find and keep to that aesthetically pleasing and just-right height (which the haggis computes on the trot, the ratio of the whole line to the larger part being exactly the same as the ratio of the larger part to the smaller part) where its leg-length challenge matches the mountain’s slope-flat challenge.

7. ‘haggis rules / OK’ — Reminiscent of the wonder which led one seeker of truth to The Linguist List, Eastern Michigan University dash Wayne State University to ask, on Saturday, 11 September at 09:22:06, ‘I’ve seen several British spray-painted slogans of the form “X rules OK” on walls and other outdoor surfaces. Can someone explain the syntax to me?’ He didn’t seem to get an answer.

8. ‘exemplifying strange attractors, / repelling’ — Attractors and repellers are, of course, WHAT THE WHOLE POEM IS ABOUT!

9. ‘border colleens, collies, kilts,’ — Since this is simply about complexity and chaos, it follows that we mix up the Borders — Scots going to Ireland, Irish girls coming back to Scotland, etc.

10. ‘robber burns on ceremonial night.’ — In Dutch ‘robber’ means ‘seal’ which is a red herring of another colour. The line itself should have Robert Burns whirling in Dumfries, which is only fair seeing how many poor little haggis have been hunted down over the years to accompany the mashed turnip, mashed potato, and mashed whisky at Burns Suppers. O, Immortal Memory.

11. ‘the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot’ — Somewhat at ‘out of the mouth (stoma) of Benoit’ but not very. More at ‘Fractal, fractal on the wall.’ I rest my case of Jacques Denials.


Come laugh with me, it is the only way,
to laugh ourselves out (a Dutchy idiom)
and nothing anyway we’d say
defuses bombs or saves our bum
’s rush that waits us. Better smile and sing
and celebrate the moment’s beauty, hein.
You have your dreams and someone must have mine
and when I find them I’ll not swoon or whine
but dance a minuet while babies boom.
I’ll pirouette inside a crowded room
and sing how happy I am prophecy
is now updated. Prozac’s set us free.