Category Archives: Poetry

Limericks for St. Patrick’s Day

Limericks for St. Patrick’s Day

My response to the Poets on the Page poetry prompt: Blessings, Curses, or Limericks?

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I stepped away from my usual free verse and tried my hand at some limericks. Named for a city in Ireland, this form has a particular rhythm and rhyme sequence that I find very challenging. I tried to incorporate something Irish in each rhyme:


A leprechaun ninety years old
Thought his nephew exceedingly bold.
He hitchhiked to Wicklow
And slid down a rainbow
And found there a great pot o’ gold.

A lawyer defending in style
A spy who had stolen a file
Asked the judge for recess
For his client to dress,
But he fled to the Emerald Isle.

A happy man started to prance
While his friends looked at him all askance.338px-Leprechaun_ill_artlibre_jnl
He said, “Do what you feel.
Me, I’m stepping a reel.”
And he calmly continued to dance.

A sharpshooter packing a pistol
Walked into a tavern in Bristol.
He said, “What’ve ye got
That won’t cost me a shot?”
And they poured him some Waterford crystal.


Getting back to St. Patrick, he was not, as you might think, born in Ireland, but in Britain. When he was sixteen years old, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland to be sold as a slave.

For six years Patrick worked for his master, and while he worked he contemplated his life so far. Ashamed of his sins, he prayed and meditated, asking God’s forgiveness. One day he received a vision that his time enslaved in Ireland was over and his ship had come in. He escaped from his master and walked 200 miles to a port (some say it was Wicklow) where he gained voyage back to England.

Years later, he returned to Ireland, where he introduced Christianity.

Legend has it that Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. But the Irish climate is not conducive to the reptiles. More likely, he subdued the Serpent (Satan).

Stained glass window depicting St. Patrick was photographed by Nheybob.





My response to the Daily Post prompt.


Your indifference suggests you don’t know
How the throw pillow came to be shredded,
But the nannycam will show
You vigorously masticating the quilted cover
And violently shaking the stuffing out
Transforming the couch into a ski jump.

Bad dog.

You know I have to go to work.
I can’t stay home all day to entertain you
And keep you out of mischief.
You could occupy yourself with your Kong toy
(Get the treat, why don’t you)
And then nap for a few hours
(Like Spike used to).

You give me no choice.
I’m buying you a crate.
Think of it as protective custody.



My response to the Daily Post promptcongregate.



To congregate in the narthex.
Pick up a bulletin.

To enter the sanctuary.
Sit in the last pew, next to the center aisle.

To praise God
With psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

To hear the Good News:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

To commune with the believers—
Bread and wine, body and blood.

To go in peace
To love and serve the Lord.




My offering for today’s Daily Post Prompt.



Mutual concession
Or settling for what you don’t really wantcarnival-2456914__340
Or with (com) promise

I would rather be uncompromising
Than promising away my joy
Or settling at the concession stand

Life is a series of compromises
And with every transaction
I’m farther away from my dreams

Why not a promise
That satisfies my convictions
My confections of perfection




Three Poems


Here are some poems based on actual events:


Meeting my Mother-in-Law at the Supermarket

Turning into the cereal aisle
I catch my breath—
In front of me a familiar form seen from behind
The exact stature
Gray hair styled in a narrow flip
My heart pounds with joy—
It’s been so long since I’ve seen her

Then I remember why:
She’s been gone 38 years
A casualty of cancer

The woman turns
She looks nothing like Mom
My shoulders bow

My mother-in-law would be well over 100 years old
If she were still alive


Essence of Lemon

The tree the landscapers planted
already dangled little green lemons,
a tantalizing promise of sweet sour delight,
tempting us to pucker up.

Little by little, green warmed to a yellow glow,
whispering, come and eat,
you know you want to.

Finally, the green disappeared from the fruit’s cheeks,
and pluck them we did,
To slice them into our water glasses
and drink their exotic nectar.
What a treat!


Thar Be Spiders

“Here.” My mother handed me
a 16-ounce tumbler.
“Fill this with raspberries.”

I went outside to the raspberry patch
Behind the garage. I paused at the edge.
Thar be spiders.

But I knew what my mother would do
With the berries.
She’d mash them with sugar and serve them
Over vanilla ice cream.

So I braved the jungle of
Raspberry canes and plucked the fruit
between the thorns, using my elbow to
Bend back the encroaching vines.

Occasionally I felt the whisper of
A daddy-long-legger on my skin.

Poems ©ARHuelsenbeck


Dogs Would be Better Off if They were More Like Us Cats


In response to the Daily Post prompt: inscrutable.


Why do you beg? Have you no dignity?
If the humans forget to feed you, scold.
And when they do feed you, don’t be in such a hurry to eat.
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Come back later when no one’s around to watch.
Otherwise they think they’re doing you a favor.

And when they tell you to fetch or roll over or shake
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Why work so hard to earn their approval?
Humans are inscrutable. Always making demands. Ignore them.

Don’t make such a big deal when they come home.
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Why weren’t they here waiting on you?
Whose special—them or you?

You have to go out in all kinds of weather.
Why don’t you use the litter box?
Outdoors is best viewed from the windowsill.



In response to the Daily Post Prompt:

Strategy—the human attempt to attain desirable ends through available means. (~nod to Max McKeown)

I will
Make you mine:chess-1215079_640

Diagnose the problem
Gain perspective
Formulate a plan of action
Utilize whatever ploy necessary
Consider the consequences
Implement my schematic
Proceed from the status quo
To the desired position

Make you mine I will.

poem ©ARHuelsenbeck

Studying Geometry


In answer to the Daily Post prompt, study:640px-Teorema_de_desargues

Studying Geometry

A polygon is the sister of a pollywog.
A rectangle is just a square that was hung on the line rather than dried flat.
A sphere is merely a circle on steroids; it works out with cube, who used to be a square.
Is an equilateral triangle more egalitarian than an isosceles?
How do you know when a triangle’s right?
How can you be so obtuse? Too bad you’re not as acute as me.
Do witches cast hexagons?
Would an octagon be three times more secret than a pentagon?
Is there a rhombus in the rumpus room?
Is a dodecahedron as rare as a dodo bird?

Candymaker as Physician


In response to today’s The Daily Post prompt: treat.

Candymaker as Physiciancandy

The confectioner said, you need a treat.
Something soft and something sweet.
She melted butter and poured in sugar
By the cupful.
My teeth twinged, my tongue watered.
A little vanilla, and some nuts,
Rolled in coconut, dipped in chocolate.
She placed a dozen in a white box
Tied with a red ribbon.
Take two and call me in the morning.

I ate two
And then two more
And then four more.

My stomach aching, I called her.
What did you do to me? I’m going to burst.

She said, ah, but good things
Must be taken in moderation.
Too much joy only brings sorrow.
Go to bed and call me tomorrow.

Poem ©ARHuelsenbeck

Review of Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor

Review of Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor

I do not intend to defend or address Keillor’s alleged inappropriate behavior that recently cost him his jobs at Minnesota Public Radio and the Washington Post.

That said, one of my favorite poetry collections is Good Poems for Hard Times, which Keillor assembled, and which led me to acquire his earlier anthology, simply titled Good Poems. And good they are.

Sometimes you need to read a poem multiple times before you can appreciate it, and many of these good poems fall into that category. But others ring from the first read through, delighting me with their cadence, rhyme or humor.

Good Poems

One poem haunted and devastated me: John Updike’s “Dog’s Death,” and I didn’t know why it hit me so hard. We have a little old deaf and blind dachshund, but nothing in her life paralleled the words. That poem disturbed my mind for days almost like an earworm, until I finally unburied an old memory from thirty-five years ago.

When we bought our first house, we bought a beagle puppy from a pet store. He was the cutest little thing, but one day soon after when we took him on a walk, he sat down and walked no further. I thought he was being stubborn, but my husband suspected something was wrong and eventually took the pup to a vet. She diagnosed parvo virus, and tried to treat him, but he didn’t respond, and we had him euthanized. We had been paper training him, and he once dragged himself to the paper to have diarrhea.

In Updike’s poem, the dog sustained an unnoticed injury that ruptured her spleen, and died on the way to the vet. The last stanza is what twisted my heart:

Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.

Keillor expertly arranges the poems in this book. For example, these two poems, sharing the same name and obviously related, were printed on opposite sides of the same page:

This Is Just to Say
William Carlos Williams

I have eatenjoanna-kosinska-199279
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

This Is Just to Say
Erica-Lynn Gambino
(for William Carlos Williams)

I have just
asked you to
get out of my

even though
you never
I would

Forgive me
you were
me insane

Which led me to wonder—did the poets know each other?

One nice feature which Good Poems shares with Good Poems for Hard Times is a section at the back of the book containing short biographies of each of the included poets. I immediately found the one for William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963, but I couldn’t find the one for Erica-Lynn Gambino. I was heartbroken. Should I write to Penguin Books and tell them there’s an omission? I tried closing the book and opening it again, but still no biography appeared for Gambino. It bothered me.



Photo by Prairie Home Productions

Until I finished the entire book and read through all the biographies (I’m a little obsessive-compulsive that way) and found Erica-Lynn Gambino Huberty, b. 1969. So no, the poets did not know each other personally. Mystery solved.


The poems are interestingly organized into nineteen categories: O Lord, A Day, Music, Scenes, Lovers, Day’s Work, Sons and Daughters, A Good Life, Beasts, Failure, Complaint, Trips, Snow, Yellow, Lives, Elders, The End, and The Resurrection. Some poems would have been appropriate to more than one category, and I found it amusing that they ended up where they did.

Yes, this is definitely a good bunch of poems, but be patient with them. Some I didn’t care for on first reading, but they became more meaningful after repeated visits. And probably some won’t be your cup of tea no matter what. But it’s still worth mining for the gems that resonate.