Monthly Archives: September 2014

My first book is published!

My first book, Vain Imaginations, is now available on Smashwords. Several poems you may have read here are included, as well as several that I have not posted here.

The Leper and the Doctor’s Couch

She has deliveries to make.
She rounds the cubicle walls,
Her voice lilting
As she greets each person.

Sometimes by name,
Others with a hello,
Always with excitement;
Her enthusiasm is evident.

I consider plugging in my headphones
So I’ll not know when she arrives;
But no, I know what to expect.
I choose to leave the clutter on the desk.

She enters my domain,
Not a word is spoken.
Gingerly she holds the booklet
Between two fingers:

I am a leper,
My disease flaking from me;
The fibers of the booklet
A transmissive medium.

She must minimize her contact
With that filthy rag
Lest she contract
What I have.

So I seek the doctor’s couch
In the spinning iron ore
Spread throughout the globe;
I inquire to find the prognosis.

But the diagnosis accurate
Comes from the heart;
It is as I presumed:
I am not a leper.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

If I Were a High School English Teacher…

Darwin city skyline from East Point Reserve

Darwin city skyline from East Point Reserve by Bidgee

If I were a high school English teacher, I’d have my students write a compare and contrast essay on the Hoodoo Guru’s song Tojo (lyrics) and Santa Never Made It Into Darwin by Bill Cate.

First I’d have them listen to Tojo, with a printed version of the lyrics in front of them, and write their initial impressions of the meaning. Then I’d play for them Santa Never Made It, with the lyrics to reference. Then I’d ask them:

The relative sizes of the United States, Cyclone Tracy and Typhoon Tip, the smallest and largest Pacific tropical storms recorded, respectively

  1. What did you think Tojo was about when you first heard/read the lyrics? Turn your page of initial impressions in with your essay. (I was thinking it was a love song: his girl abandoned him on Christmas eve, and he was so devastated that he didn’t bother with the traditions that year.)
  2. What motivated David Faulkner to write Tojo?
  3. The meaning of Santa Never Made It is pretty clear; what is the meaning of Tojo?
  4. What is different between the two approaches?
  5. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches?
  6. What information would be important to know before listening to Tojo for the first time to interpret it correctly? How does world knowledge affect our ability to comprehend the messages we receive from art, from media, etc.?
Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo

I’d award some bonus points to students who accurately describe who Tojo is; slightly less points for making a good guess. I would also possibly award various levels of bonus points for various levels of answering the question, “What would be required for a computer to understand either song?” It’s probably a good thing I’m not a high school English teacher: my students would have too much fun. Or I’d get fired for not following Common Core.

Two-minute Warning

Meeting time in ten,
Processing ceramic-ly
What nature demands.

Mind is occupied
By blue and white striped candies
And red and purple.

Things and time pass by;
Level failed, I try once more.
How much time is left?

In panic I check;
Two minutes is all that’s left:
Skip some rituals.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

Silent Lunch

Leftovers find their way
To a paper plate in the microwave;
The container finds itself
Filled with soapy water.

Peach looks good,
Though bruised.
Paring knife supplied
Leaves bruised flesh behind.

And I’m near ready to eat.
But lo! There in the sink,
Another’s bowl soaks,
Now with leftovers and peach flesh.

The choice seems simple:
Do nothing, and risk that this other
Gets her feelings distressed;
Or, wash and deliver it to her desk.

I choose the latter,
Not wanting to hurt her,
Not even in the most harmless way;
Bright and fresh and clean,
I bring the bowl her way.

But she’s not there.
I kindly place the bowl on her desk
And return, unlike a house-elf,
On my own two feet, to the lunchroom.

I hear her voice as I depart,
Turning, I see: several yards away, she saw me leave.
“No matter,” I think,
“She’ll see the bowl and know.”

Quest completed,
I’m now seated;
My mind begins
To haunt me again—

Exploring possible thought paths
She might have started down.
Racing, racing around in circles,
A frenzy stirred up inside:

Fearing her wrath,
Or a giant frown;
An injured porpoise, I see tail heterocercal
As HR pulls me aside to chide.

Oh, to have been that house-elf,
And snapped my fingers to avoid this bind.
“Silence! Let me eat in peace!”
I yell into the void in my mind.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore


For me, the problem with starting a poem on WordPress is that if I don’t get time to complete it then, in the heat of the emotion, while the words are rattling around in my head, bouncing off my skull … Continue reading