Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Same

“I feel the same,” you say; but oh, my friend,
   There’s no such thing as same. Distinct is king.
“It’s just like that!” we cry, but in the end
   Nothing’s identical to anything.
Equality’s a myth; we’re all unique,
   Distinguished by our attributes alone.
And though true harmony is what we seek,
   There’s something false in every undertone.
Life is all puzzle pieces which don’t fit
   That we will stitch into a perfect quilt.
When we see chaos, we make sense of it.
   Our eyes design because that’s how we’re built—
      Blind to what’s visible, we give a name
      To what’s not there. Because we’re all the same.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, October 10, 2016

Byron and Shelley and the Bar Bet

One of the things that always annoyed Shelley about Byron was the fact that he never lost a bar bet—and a very unique kind of bar bet at that.  Byron would walk into a pub full of strangers and declare: “I can identify any piece of pottery in the house.  Blindfolded.  If I lose, I pay you a thousand pounds. If I win, I drink for free until you run out of liquor or I pass out, whichever comes first.”  It was a bet he always won, and it was a tribute to his lifestyle that passing out rarely came first.

“This is Mrs. Macready’s chamber pot,” he would announce, his eyes covered with a black kerchief. “This is the urn that your grandmother bought from an old Welsh tinker when she was twenty,” he would say, the moment it was handed to him. “This is the stein that the bartender always give that old miser at the end of the bar, the one who never leaves him any tips,” he would declare. “He thinks it’s his special stein, and it is; it’s special because the bartender always spits in it whenever he pours the old Scrooge a beer.”

“Teach me how to Do that,” Shelley would plead. But Byron would laugh and say: “You?  You?  Oh, Shelley—you couldn’t tell how many fingers a woman had if you kissed her hand.”

It was meant to hurt, and it did. It throbbed in Shelley’s soul like a stinger from a dying bumblebee, until one day Shelley decided that he was going to stump his overbearing friend by presenting him with a piece of pottery that he could not identify.

Now Byron despised the Navy—had no truck with it—couldn’t tell a yacht from a frigate, and had little use for anything nautical, except the occasional lonely sailor. So Shelley approached a friend of his father’s, an old Admiral, and after explaining his mission, asked to procure the meanest cuspidor from the lowest garbage scow in the fleet.

“I will go you one better,” said the Admiral, and produced an ordinary-looking porcelain vase with flowers painted on it.  “Do you know how many warships this has christened?”

“Since it is still in one Piece,” Shelley said, “I would have to say None.”

“On the contrary,” said the Admiral “It has christened over eleven hundred ships of the line.”

“But how is that Possible?”  Shelley asked.

“Because it is made of bronze and painted to look like a vase,” the Admiral explained. “And the bronze was part of the Golden Hind, Drake’s ship, when it circumnavigated the globe. We sailors are a superstitious lot, and this vase is one of our greatest secrets. Before every public ceremony, there is a private one conducted by all serving members of the Admiralty, where this bronze vase is filled with sea water from the Channel which is then splashed on the new ship’s prow. Your friend will never guess what it is.”

Thanking the Admiral profusely, Shelley took the vase, and bided his time. A week later, when Byron made his usual wager in a local bar, Shelley paid the bartender to announce that one of his relatives had just the thing for him to identify, and he would send a messenger to get it. Byron agreed and put on his blindfold, whereupon Shelley ran home, procured the vase, ran back to the bar, and handed it to the bartender.

“Here you go, sir,” the bartender declared, passing it on to Byron.

Byron held the object in front of his blindfolded eyes for the longest ten seconds of Shelley’s life. Then he raised it up with his right hand, gestured to it with his left, and declaimed: “Is this the vase that launched a thousand ships?”

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Ones Fame Really Loves

I am the secret confidant of Fame.
She tells me all about her current lovers—
The schmucks who come while moaning their own name,
Or go down on her underneath the covers.

She says that none of them have satisfied her
They’re only in it for the lick or poke,
So they can tell the world they’ve been astride her.
(I call her Marilyn; she gets the joke.)

And yes, I want her so much I can’t think.
But I refuse to catch her carnal eye
Because I know her fetish and her kink—
So I’ll stay cordial till the day I die.

Which is the only day she'll love me back
Because Fame is a necrophiliac.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, October 3, 2016

Byron And Shelley And The Pantomime Festival

The town of Chidnight in Surrey was word-renowned for its annual festival of pantomimes. Every April, the kings and queens of dumb show descended on the tiny town for its fortnight festival, as did aficionados of the art form like Byron and Shelley.

This particular year, a company of Venetian mimes were scheduled to present their breakthrough triumph Il Stordimento (The Daze), in which a husband and wife are hypnotized into reversing their household roles, which wreaks havoc with their marriage as well as confusing each one’s secret lover.

“I shall be Watching for their Technique,” Shelley declared, as he read the program’s summary of lazzi.

“I shall be watching for the intrigue,” Byron replied. “The actors playing the husband and wife are married in real life, and rumor has it that the actor playing the wife’s lover has also extended his role into reality.”

Byron’s attention was rewarded when, halfway through the show, the wife’s lover sent the husband into a pratfall that was more malicious than mirthful, and the husband responded with an aria of operatic profanity that shocked every dumb show purist in the audience, many of whom became enraged and began shouting at the actors, none of whom remained inarticulate for very long. Within moments, the shouting turned into fighting, as the outnumbered actors of Il Stordimento defended themselves against the outraged Chidnight audience.

Shelley (being philosophical) and Byron (being practical) managed to escape the pandemonium with only minor injuries, and quickly repaired to a nearby tavern.

“Jesus, The Daze that we have seen!” Shelley declared, over mugs of sherry sack.

“Yes, Master Shelly,” Byron replied. “We have heard the mimes at Chidnight.”

Copyright 2016 by Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sonnet Based On A Line By Paul Claudel

O la joie d'être pleinement aimé ! 
ô le désir de s'ouvrir par le milieu comme un livre !
            —Paul Claudel

Open me in the middle like a book.
   No matter what the page, you’ll find your name.
Run your long fingers down where I once took
   A pen and drew a heart of ink and flame:
The one that burns in me and always writes
   In blood of you whenever it feels love
For all your inarticulate delights—
   Which I devour and never weary of.
It’s all and only lines and pretty phrases.
   Part fact, part fiction; but each word is true.
I like to think it comforts and amazes.
   It only lacks one positive review.
      For I’m what nothing on this earth can age:
      A book of love without a final page.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sleeping Handsome

Sleep is too kind a word for what I did
   Before we met.  I faced life lifelessly
Behind a wall that all my feelings hid,
   And you broke through, the night you smiled at me.
You held my hand and something in my chest
   That used to be my heart opened its eyes;
You said my name, and that brief sound caressed
   My secret dreams out of their long demise.
Who you are broke through my every defense.
   Looking at you forced my blind eyes to see.
God knows that none of this makes any sense.
   You cannot know how much it means to me
      To know that I could not dream less than true
      If I could always wake up next to you.

Copyright 2016 by Matthew J Wells

Monday, September 26, 2016

Byron and Shelley and the Hello Dolly Revival

Two weeks after Shelley was hired as casting director for the Hello Dolly revival, he was pulling his hair out in frustration. “I cannot get Bette Midler to Commit to more than one Day a Week!” he complained to Byron. “She refuses to perform on any Other day but Tuesday. Which means I have to find another Name Star for all the other Shows—but none of them can commit to more than one day either.”

“Who do you have lined up?” Byron asked.

“Queen Latifah on Wednesdays, because she can do both Shows; Bernadette Peters on Saturdays, for the same Reason; and then Reba McEntire on Thursdays, Imelda Staunton on Fridays, and Ru Paul on Sundays.”

“Problem solved, then,” Byron pointed out.

“Problem just begun!” Shelley whined. “Eight shows, with six Different stars? How in the World am I going to Market this to theatergoers?”

“Simple,” said Byron. “Another day, another Dolly.”

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


There’s something in the air that smells like promise.
There’s nothing that I need to do or be.
Life says “Go here!” but I’m a Doubting Thomas—
I only pin my faith on being free.

I’m one who meets a compromise and legs it
And always has one eye on the unseen.
I never fail to take the nearest exit
And always treat each red light like it’s green.

This life’s a war where no one fights beside me
Or cares if I should perish or survive.
I load my car up like a gun
And aim it at the setting sun
‘Cause there’s a voice inside me that says “Drive.”

I always keep my eyes on the horizon.
I always count the miles and not the cost.
And when my soul gets down to moralizin’,
My rear-view mirror shows me what I’ve lost.

Tomorrow’s journey always looks inviting
‘Cause yesterday’s was like a lost and found.
I always think the new will be exciting
And wind up swimming where my old self drowned.

It ain’t fair, but this life is like a guidebook—
You always take the thoroughfare you know.
I’ll wish, but I will never pray;
I’ll stop, but I will never stay—
‘Cause there’s a voice inside me that says “Go.”

She was the sweetest thing that this life gave me.
I hummed her like the chorus of a song.
No matter how I fucked up, she forgave me.
Her smile told me that I could do no wrong.

I thought she was an angel sent from Heaven.
I saw salvation when she looked at me.
When God says “Ten,” the Devil says “Eleven,”
And eyes can hide a world of treachery.

I think of her and wish I’d never met her.
I’d kill to wipe those memories away.
I found her in my best friend’s bed
And shot her three times in the head—
Now she’s the voice inside me that says “Pay.”

There’s only one road and it can deliver
A man to heaven or the calaboose.
It’s caked and dusty, like a dried-up river,
And twines around this country like a noose.

We say that standing still is terrifying,
But every time we move, we never change.
A house is for the lonely or the dying.
A car is for the freeway and the range.

I starve the need that will be my undoing.
I feed the engine that keeps me alive.
I know my dream is just ahead.
I’ll chase it down until I’m dead
‘Cause there’s a voice inside me that says “Drive.”

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Life In 14 Lines - 9

My inner mirror says that I’m nineteen.
I like to think that Life’s a piece of cake.
My ego drives me like a limousine.
Low self-esteem keeps stepping on the brake.

My fears are quaking in the shotgun seat.
My lust is in the trunk, ballgagged and bound.
No matter where I stop or who I meet,
I wind up swimming where my old self drowned.

There’s only one road and it can deliver
A man to heaven or the calaboose.
It’s caked and dusty, like a dried-up river,
And twines around this country like a noose.

I feed the engine that keeps me alive.
My dream is down the road, so I just drive.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, September 19, 2016

The High Place

It’s an odd view, far from the noisy tussles
I’m used to seeing on the road below.
To stand here takes a different set of muscles;
To stay here means descending is my foe.

Perspective is the only view that's clear—
I see inanes swallowed by the innate.
Trees shrink and forests blossom as I peer.
I feel a wind that shows me what has weight.

What was important face to face seems small
Now that I look down on it from above.
I find that there are different names to call
Familiar nouns; but only one verb: love.

To feel or offer it is my decision,
Like how and what I view explains to vision.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells