Poetry, Poetics, Po-business, Stuff Like That


Jaquie the Ripper

Something on one of the kiosks

upset a Regent.  The Provost told

the Dean, and the Dean told Ramona

his Administrative Assistant,

and Ramona told Jacquie the Work Study

to remove all offensive materials

from bulletin boards, walls, trees

and light poles on campus.


Jacquie was too scared of Ramona

(Who wouldn’t be?)

to ask what offensive meant.

She thought the Dean was pretty offensive,

the way he talked golf all the time,

but since he never got his picture

on any posters, she couldn’t take him down,

and nothing else bothered her —

not with the family she came from —

so she really didn’t do anything

till Ramona handed her

a copy of the University Speech Code

written by a bunch of PhDs,

and which Jacquie,

with only a high school diploma (Secretarial Track)

couldn’t decipher any more

than the blackboard after a Calculus class.


Look, said Ramona, I don’t understand it either.

Just get rid of anything

that might bother a rich Republican woman

over sixty.


So Jacquie tore down

any piece of paper with

a cute girl on it, figuring

they’d make an old lady jealous,

and she tore down anything

that made fun of President Bush

(Wasn’t he a Republican?)

and she tore down all

lesbi-gay stuff, anything

pagan or Catholic, Native American,

African American or Hispanic,

ads to sell musical instruments

(Old ladies like that

would probably hate garage bands)

and requests for rides

(Get your own car! she’d probably say).


So Jacquie was standing in Bluersch Hall,

trying to decide whether

a Green Party ice cream social

would bother the Regent when

a bunch of students surrounded her

and started yelling, which made her cry.


Then a bunch of suit people

marched into the Dean’s office,

and Ramona sat biting her thumb

while Jacquie tried to figure out

what she’d do for a job.


Finally they all went away

and Jacquie was transferred to Physical Education,

which was fine with her,

‘cause she could swim on her breaks.


Probably other stuff happened about the posters,

but over in PE they didn’t

talk about it, and Jacquie soon forgot–

except to remind herself never

to work that close to the bigshots again.




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.




She spits out
the pills because
they make her dopey,
but without
the pills, she
can’t walk.

Every day
when they bring
the pills, she
asks when
she can return
to her home.

“When the medicine
makes you better,”
they tell her.

She listens,
takes the pills,
spits them out.

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.