One word written every 30 minutes

Published 9:29 am Saturday, June 11, 2011

by Clarence Foster

I like to say that I used to do this in my spare time. I like sounds. I’m drawn to alliteration and rhyme.

One time in a New York night spot (Charles Fuller’s “Tarheel II” at Bedford and Lafayette), I said “for years I thought it was – The beagle flies on Friday. Hey eagle/beagle: they sound the same. How was I to know?”

A gullible older fellow gave me a hard look, as if seeing me for the first time, and in a saddened anguished tone “Clarence, beagles don’t fly.”

Yes, it was my spare time, but nonetheless obsessive. These verses, for better or for worse, emerged at about 30 minutes a word. So, for better or for worse, here’s 149 hours worth.


A ball of fur, that Woodshed

a sly impish feline,

a quadruped, alley bred

wonder, of its kind.

A 15-year measure:

self-centeredly effete,

my living toy, a treasure

worthy of its conceit.

They’re rare, but I knew one!

The proof’s in what it does.

A cat that’s half human,

perforce he said he was.


The turnip vain, of bloodless fame

purpled in its shame.

The maligned root

though the point moot

the metaphor unbecame.

The Siege

I shudder at the thought

the racket that it made

the panic that I fought,

desperate and afraid.

Alone and unarmed

against a mighty foe,

I cringed from the harm,

the imagined fatal blow.

I trembled and I cried

in terror in my house.

It loomed! I espied

the shadow of a mouse.


She belched, and walked away

in disappointment and dismay.

That was the deal:

a classic meal,

but really!— curds and whey?


Without provocation

he swatted at the bee.

In puzzled agitation

the bee: “Well now, gee!”

Unaware of proximity,

the hive over there,

he shouted an obscenity

to bees everywhere.

Word reached the corps,

a squadron took to air.

A thousand wings roar!

— he regretted the affair.

He raced from the scene.

He sowed, he shall reap

“Greetings from the queen!”

—“aaagh!! — from his sleep.


That bungler Dr. Jekyll:

striped, and then speckled,

changed in shape,

a bushy nape…

as fate hassled: heckled!


He said he knew everything,

in his high-toned inessentials.

He’d mention yet never bring

more meaningful credentials.

Vouchsafing through remarks

of extreme eccentricity,

that his head glows in the dark:

not a watt of authenticity


Despairing lines of minds

where sorrows serve as shrines,

where toasts to ghosts

are so morose

our now, and then entwines