Poetry, Poetics, Po-business, Stuff Like That


Surely Not

The clouds above
the Episcopal church

form Santa
grinning as he
gives the finger

but surely not
to the Episcopal church.

Originally published in Editors’ Picks, Poetry Circle


Snapshot of Child in Political Hat

Someone left it on my classroom floor.

(Every year the religion teacher makes them bring in childhood pictures “for discussion and reflection.”)

The girl in the frame is four years old, the hat a white straw boater, probably fake straw.

XYZ for President or Senate or Congress. Doesn’t matter who. She wouldn’t know or care.

Her head’s tilted slightly, though the hat is on straight. She’s got a do-you-like-me smile, so the photographer must be her father. Only Daddies can wreck their daughters’ dignity and still evoke that smile.

Who this girl grew up to be I can’t tell.

None of my student blondes would dare look that way now: silly, hopeful, sweet, sad. It’s a tougher world.

Maybe that’s why the picture ended up on the floor.

Maybe that’s why I saved it.

…………………………………………………………………………… Originally published in Expelling Trelnita (TJMF 1007).

The Alchemy of Worse Alternatives

The kids in the alternative school
are mad because Bill the Director
won’t let them
explore storm sewers,

so they write BITE ME, SHUT UP,
and DIE BILL on the walls
in colored chalk, and draw Bill
with a bullet hole in his head.

“Make the blood look real,”
one of them says.

Then a teacher laughs, “Hey
you want a sewer, we could
send you back to Main Campus.”

So the bullet hole gets
covered by a hat, DIE BILL
becomes a green cat, someone
hides BITE ME in flowers,

and SHUT UP becomes a big
fat peach in which nestles the moon
holding in her arms the sun.

(C) 2006 by Rick Stansberger, published in Expelling Trelnitz, TJMF Publishing, 2007.

Weird Kid

What do you want to
be when you grow up?

I want to be time.


Time.  It rules all.
It destroys all
but it flows right along.
We’re all trapped in it,
except God, and
He’s timeless.

Uh, I don’t think
you’ll be able to be Time.

You asked me
what I wanted to be,
not what I would be.

That’s true.
I did.

Raven, Raven, Raven

You can’t hide
in that yellow tree.


When I die and

go to the heaven of the poets
if there is such a place
and if they’ll let me in
and if I actually want to go there,
knowing, as I do, so many,

I’m going to ask the Muse
why she’s so perverse.

I don’t expect an answer,
or one that I can understand,
but on the other hand,
she’s so perverse
she might give it to me straight.

Song of the Dissipating Anxiety

Where the candle smoke goes
where the red of the leaf goes
and the color of dawn.

I have the choice
of a bowling shirt
or a waistcoat to wear

when I go dancing there.