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Posts Tagged ‘April 1’

NCPS Chappell Stephenson

 

C ++++ THE EPIGRAMMATIST

Mankind perishes. The world goes dark.
He racks his brain for a tart remark.

Fred Chappell

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Poets are a sober and studious lot. Profoundly introspective, respectably staid. Their rhymes are the quintessence of conservatism and decorum, their meter most martial. Their lines are ever crafted and solid as Cold War architecture, their images invariably  illuminate and never titillate. Their thoughts are only a little lower than the angels’.

No poet and no poet’s poetry better represent these fundamental verities than Fred Chappell and Fred Chappell’s. For today’s APRIL FIRST missive we have selected the utmost in staid, respectable, and illuminating offerings from a book by Old Fred (as he has called himself) titled simply C (Roman numeral “100,” designating the exact number of poems in the book as well as Dr. Chappell’s initial, which this writer had not actually remarked upon for the first 29 years that he owned this book until today over lunch while he was reading aloud and his wife commented on the typeface, then pointed out the connection to the author’s last name). Illuminatio Lector.

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V ++++ HOW TO DO IT

“Chappell – you who love to jest –
Hear the things that make life blest:
Family money not got by earning;
A fertile farm, a hearthfire burning;
No lawsuits and no formal dress;
A healthy body and a mind at peace;
Friends whom tactful frankness pleases;
Good meals without exotic sauces;
Sober nights that still spark life;
A faithful yet a sexy wife;
Sleep that makes the darkness brief;
Contentment with what you plainly need;
A death not longed for, but without dread.”
++++ ++++ ++++ ++++ – Martial

VI ++++ REJOINDER

Now let’s even up the score
And tell what things make life a bore:
Sappy girls who kiss and tell;
Televangelists’ threats of hell;
Whining chain saws, mating cats;
Republicans; and Democrats;
Expertly tearful on their knees,
Plushlined senators copping pleas,
Swearing by the Rock of Ages
That they did not molest their pages;
Insurance forms and tax reports;
Flabby jokes and lame retorts;
Do-gooders, jocks, and feminists;
Poems that are merely lists.

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All of today’s poems, epigrams, epitaphs, enlightenment, and erudition are from C, by Fred Chappell, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge & London, © 1993.

Fred Chappell is the author of more than thirty volumes of poetry and prose. He has received the Bollingen Prize, the T. S. Eliot Award, and the Thomas Wolfe Prize. His fiction has been translated into more than a dozen languages and received the Best Foreign Book Award from the Académie Française. He was the poet laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002. [bio from LSU PRESS]

NCPS

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XV ++++ UPON A CONFESSIONAL POET

You’ve shown us all in stark undress
The sins you needed to confess.
If my peccadilloes were so small
I never would undress at all.

 

XXIII ++++ LITERARY CRITIC

Blandword died, and now his ghost
Drifts gray through lobby, office, hall.
Some mourn diminished presence; most
Can see no difference at all.

XXVI ++++ ANOTHER

Blossom’s footnotes never shirk
The task of touting his own work.

 

NCPSNCPS

 

LIII ++++ EL PERFECTO

Senator No sets up as referee
Of everything we read and think and see.
His justification for such stiff decreeing
Is being born a perfect human being
Without a jot of blemish, taint, or flaw,
The Dixie embodiment of Moral Law,
Quite fit and eager to pursue the quarrel
With God Whose handiwork he finds immoral.

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NCPS

 

LXXIX ++++ UPON AN AMOROUS OLD COUPLE

This coltish April weather
Has caused them to aspire
to rub dry sticks together
In hopes that they’ll catch fire.

 

XLI ++++ RX

Dr. Rigsbee
Drank all my whiskey.
He said, when I objected, “Hell,
Fred, you’re paying me to make you well.”
++++ ++++ ++++ ++++ – Martial

 

LXVIII ++++ EPITAPH: PREVARICATION

A lonely sorrow
This monument tells:
Here lies one
Who did nothing else.

NCPS Laughter

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And the penultimate:

XCIX ++++ APOLOGY

If any line I’ve scribbled here
Has caused a politician shame
Or brought a quack a troubled night
Or given a critic a twinge of fear
Or made a poet’s fame appear
Transitory as candleflame,
Why then, I gladly sign my name:
Maybe I did something right.

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And one last item, and about this there is no fooling:
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MARGARET AND JOSH!

 

Margaret & Josh , April 1, 2016

 

LXII ++++ WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Gale winds tore this tree
And drought and frost came near
To killing it. But see:
In its thirtieth year
It blooms like a candleflame,
And puts its youth to shame.

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NCPS

 

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2020-11-03b Doughton Park Tree

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