This is just poetry. It won't save you, but it may locate you so that a rescue party can be sent out. — Dean Blehert

Saturday, February 28, 2009


If all my words from you I've nipped,
O Muse, am I the man you script?

[But no self-respecting muse would acknowledge responsibility for that pun, so I'm on my own.]

[Revision: The act of manuscript-teasing.]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


The sweetest human smile consists,
for most creatures,
of sharp teeth.

[Note: In our fears of beasts, we sometimes forget that we are at the top of the food chain. Some of the critters we smile at--for example, dogs and cats--may see a smile in ways that would surprise us. I've known dogs who smiled when in fearful propitiation. They didn't have happy smiles, though they did laugh. (I wrote a book of poems about dogs, called I SWEAR HE WAS LAUGHING.) I suppose there are a few species (Orangutans?) who smile pleasantly. But for most, a show of teeth is a threat.]

[Note: To make me smile (hungrily?), ask me about how to get one of my books!]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

is a disturbed state,
and so, in short,
is NV.

[Note: Perhaps NY is a bored state, since "NY" sounds a bit like "ennui." Then there's "antsy (NC), many others, but none as elegant as NV, right? Amen (which is my home state, MN).]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems
) (essays and longer poems)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Hollow "CLOQUE!" The dog's teeth
nimbly glom a milkbone
from my hand.

[Note: Fun to find spelling for sounds. No, he wasn't a French poodle, just a big streamlined black mutt, but somehow the look of "oque" conveys the robust richness of the sound of his teeth on the bone. Whatever this poem may mean to you, to me it's a kind of love poem. And it's about trust, for despite the vigor of the sound, despite his toothy avidity, those big teeth never touched my hand, even when the milkbone was small and even though the bite was quick. I knew he wouldn't bite me, and that knowledge became part of the pleasure I took in those full, but precise sounds ("cloque" and "glom"). I trusted him as he trusted me. Look, Reader! Two hands!]


Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We ARE History

Just when you think you're safe,
even safe enough to exchange pleasantries
with strangers in elevators, you hear
that someone has been upset with you
because of something stupid you are
supposed to have said 15 years ago.

And elsewhere, perhaps, someone
you've utterly forgotten (or remember only,
in a crowd, a smiling face that briefly
frowns)--someone daily cherishes
the rosary of your misdeeds
and hones a dagger.

[Note: I wrote this shortly after encountering someone I had no idea disliked me who, it turned out, had indeed been pissed off with me for 15 years. Kind of sad for her. When I asked her what the upset was, she told me--it was something I dimly recalled having said--something that was not malicious, by the way. But I apologized for having upset her. She received that sulllenly. About a year later, when I heard that she'd done some truly psychotic things, it became clear to me that this was her story, not (my) history. So I no longer have to hide in a cave lest I destroy someone with a remark that communicates something I had no idea it might communicate.]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Monday, February 23, 2009


Lime: That's what you put corpses in.
It eats them up. What, then,
is the effect on artists
of limelight?

[Note: Curious that the lime that eats corpses is called "quick lime." Why not "dead lime"?

When I wrote this poem, I had the vague idea that I was punning--that "limelight" had to do with the green fruit, maybe was green-tinged. But not so, says the dictionary. The "limelight" of fame is light generated by some chemical process involving the same lime into which the murderer submerges the embarrassing corpse.

Lime the fruit (acid) and lime the caustic substance (alkaline) are not from the same root. As for Liam the Neeson...well, that pun is lame, not lime. (Besides, the name is taken.) (Liam stars in the movie "Taken.") These puns are all lame, and far from sub-lime. (Yet another root.)]

[Oh, all right, if you insist, I'll be famous. I guess someone's got to be. So go ahead, make me famous. Go ahead, Fame, eat me up!]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Kinky sex saps an artist--
you can see the craft ebbing.

[For those of you who are not yet groaning, here's the start of a Wikipedia article:

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (August 14, 1840December 22, 1902) was an Austro-German sexologist and psychiatrist. He wrote Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), a famous series of cases studies of sexual perversity. The book remains well known for his coinage of the term masochism from the name of a contemporary writer, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose partly autobiographical novel Venus in Furs tells of the protagonist's desire to be whipped and enslaved by a beautiful woman.

I assume you are groaning now, right? If not, hint hint nudge nudge "craft ebbing"/"Krafft-Ebing," c'mon already! I wanna hear that groan!

Not you, kid, you're too Jung, I'm aFreud.]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Saturday, February 21, 2009


God help us
help those in whom
God has ceased
to help Himself.

[Note: Here's a question: Can God be helped? If not, poor God, no exchange, just one-way help. This is a difficult concept, the notion of something that can only cause effects and not be recipient of them. After all, that's what's implied. If help can go in only one direction, ditto causation.

We must find this hard to think with. (For example, can God perceive or receive communication from us without, to that extent, being affected by us? Can what we can't understand have any understanding of us?)

Oddly, those who sweep these difficulties aside as mere cobwebs in the face of faith are likely to be obsessed with helping God: Those who most ardently insist that God is out there and separate and all-powerful and beyond man's concerns are usually the ones who feel most strongly impelled to help God by, for example, visiting God's vengeance on people they feel might be annoying to God. God is all-powerful and all-impervious, so be very careful not to upset God! He has these fits of jealous anger, you know.

At least one notion of God makes him infinitely able to be affected, what one does to the least of his children being done to Him as well. This is easier for me to see. If I could create any effect I wanted, I'd be able to receive any effect, including help. As one becomes more powerful, one becomes MORE willing (not less willing) to experience and to receive effects. At least that's been my own experience in these finite arenas. But it's not hard to extrapolate. If you can create a sun, surely you can enjoy the full blast of a sun and survive to say it is good. (Perhaps it tickles.)

But my poem is merely a variation on "God helps those who help themselves"--showing what the adage becomes if we postulate that it is God in us that is what is helping (or not helping)Him/Herself. (OK, I stuck a "Her" in there, but let's go back to unslashed pronouns, with "Her" and "It" understood.)

God not helping Himself? Why not? Perhaps God can forget He is God and imagine himself to be what we often imagine ourselves to be: A piece of briefly mobile meat. Can God forget? If God is unlimited in ability, and if forgetting is an ABILITY, then yes.

And forgetting IS an ability. It's required that one be able to forget in order to have a game. At least this is the case for one who knows all and is all-powerful. He would have to locate himself in a time-line and forget knowing how things come out in order to be able to experience play and winning and losing.

Seeing that forgetting is an ability is easier if we recognize that it is tantamount to saying that playing a game is an ability. You'd better forget you can fly over the line of scrimmage or vaporize the opposition if you want to find any thrill or even mild interest in scoring a touchdown.]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Friday, February 20, 2009


"It's an amulet--it protects my spirit."
But how can she HAVE a spirit?
Didn't we outlaw slavery?

No wonder we seldom meet
spirits who are free--every body
HAS one.

And since we're on the subject of the "amulet" (a small amu?), here's an old one of mine about the danger of fancy foreign pronunciations that reek of NPR fund-raising -- this might result in your having to eat an amulet. [Note: An umlaut is two dots placed over a letter, as often happens to the letter "o" in German, giving it a sort of eheow sound, just a tiny bit rounder than the "a" in amulet.]

Little Homily

If you umlaut the "o", ordering omelet,
Your waiter may bring an old amulet,
To eat which would surely humiliate
Your date, whose hot scorn would quite immolate
Your umlauted dignity. Emulate,
When in Rome, simple Romans--else ambulate
Elsewhere. That's all to my homilette.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Peace talks?
Peace is a puppet.
Money, the ventriloquist,

[Note: These days politicians never just talk. They talk "frankly and openly." And sometimes the talks are "frank, open and productive." I'd write a poem about that, but why try to upstage that level of absurdity? It's more fun to watch the talking heads and wonder into what orifice the hidden puppeteers' hands are inserted. That would explain, if the puppeteer is money, why we speak of "dirty money."]

I'm tired of all these political remarks, so here's something different:

SHH! Don't Tell Anyone!

The movie critic says it's a bad movie,
inane, one-dimensional, infantile, etc.
Before I read the review,
I saw the movie, and,
(how embarrassing!)
enjoyed it.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


...and fields
of wan men
warmeal lie.

Note: This line is a take-off on a line in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, called "Spring and Fall," (late 1800s) in which the poet is addressing a child named Margaret, who is moved by autumns devastation. The line is "Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie." The Hopkins poem is:
Spring and Fall
to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leáves, líke the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Áh! ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

I switched the scene from leaves to bodies on a battlefield. (The little marks over syllables in Hopkins' poem are one of his many idiosyncracies. He marked some of the stressed syllables.)

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)


before you worked for a bureaucracy,
when you thought evil was
passionate and intense?

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Suicide IS murder.
When you killed yourself,
you were not yourself.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)WWW.BLEHERT.COM

Sunday, February 15, 2009


[Note: Today's poem and those for the next few days concern nasty things such as war, but eventually I'll harness my inner satirist (but not my inner unsated satyr] and return to cheerier stuff.]

New at Disney World: GHETTOLAND,
where tourists can cruise in bullet-proof pimpmobiles,
buy plastic bags of harmless white powder
and perform drive-by shootings
with red-paint-ball pistols.

[Note: Almost as much fun as the real thing!]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

OHH! Look at THIS one!!!

Adult books, adult magazines, adult movies--
all deal with what fascinates little kids.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Friday, February 13, 2009


Towers of light,
each light a cubicle
containing a worried person.

[Notes: Interesting at night to see how many people in sky scrapers are working late. This reminds me of the old TV show, "Naked City," that began each episode with a a cityscape and a narrator saying something about "a millions stories in the Naked City...and this is one of them." A million stories. My dictionary says that the word "stories," when used to mean the floors of a building, probably derives from "story" meaning a tale--which derives from "history," which comes from a Greek word meaning something like to learn by inquiring.

How did a building floor become a story? (I'm learning by inquiring.) My dictionary speculates that floors of buildings long ago (Greeks? Romans?) were typically marked on the outside of buildings by friezes (bands of sculpture) that told a story. Makes sense for buildings a few stories tall. Wouldn't it be interesting if each floor of a 100-story building were surrounded by its own frieze, each floor telling a different story?

"I visited the Empire State Building today. I couldn't tear myself away!"]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

At The sPEEd of Sound

From the head of the stairs
"Shhh!" cuts me off:
"They're still sleeping upstairs.
MUST you yell at me
from across the house!"

Forgot again. Hard not to:
I use my voice
in the alien morning
as a dog uses piss:
To lay claim to spaces.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time for Breakslow?

Nights I'm fast
mornings slow

[Note: Reminds me of a recent joke of mine, defining languorous sex as "a slow poke."]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)WWW.BLEHERT.COM

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trying to Fit In (With a Bad Crowd?)

Rust and tarnish:
metal trying to be
less standoffish.

Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)
WWW.BLEHERT.COM (many poems, plus Pam's paintings)

Monday, February 9, 2009


Not the disagreement,
but being left in such solid agreement
with what someone else disagrees with.

[Note: "Pfeh" or "feh"--I think it's a Yiddish form of "ugh." Sometimes after an argument, I'm left wondering, do I really need to have opinions?]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)


Black Belts pulling
their savage kicks:
No mean feet.

[Note: Some of you may not know that in most Karate practice and in tournaments, the fighters are supposed to "pull" their kicks and punches. The judges award points when a punch WOULD have caused damage if it had not been pulled (stopped just before impact). I've heard that at higher levels there are matches with real punches landed. And sometimes in regular matches someone walks into one.]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Under cover of darkness
the rain smuggled in
billions of beads of light.

Yesterday's poem (the emailed one, not the blog) had a typo: I wrote "old" where I should have written "hold". Here is that poem, corrected:

Most birds flap their wings
to stay aloft, but the spirit bird
flutters frantically to hold itself
near the earth. If you shoot one,
it falls into the sky.

[Note: But there SHOULD be a verb "to old"--as in, "the child slops about in Daddy's shoes, trying to old himself." Or "To have and to old." Has a different feeling from "to age."]

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)WWW.BLEHERT.COM

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Spirit Bird

Most birds flap their wings
to stay aloft, but the spirit bird
flutters frantically to hold itself
near the earth. If you shoot one,
it falls into the sky.

[Note: Perhaps that's why the ones who try to destroy themselves call it "shooting up."]


Friday, February 6, 2009


an arrow of wild geese
talks to itself.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)WWW.BLEHERT.COM

A Comment on Comments on Poems

Someone recently asked why I write comments on the poems I post. Here's what I replied:

I comment on my own poems from time to time for the following reasons:

1. Because one isn't supposed to. It's part of the sacrosanct high priesthood of Poets. I try, in a poem, to say something of interest and, in a comment, to say something else of interest. To me the idea that a poet shouldn't comnent on his own work (and this IS a big taboo in certain circles) is something worth violating, as it implies that a poem is something other than live communication. It may be high quality live comm. (effective) and it may use certain conventions associated with poetry, but all this may be true of the comment as well.

2. Because, I'm of the "No Reader Left Behind" persuasion and have found, too often, that while some get it, some are left at sea.

I recognize that there's a down side to commenting: Sometimes, inadvertently, I limit the poem needlessly. Sometimes I insult the intelligence of those who get it. And sometimes, enjoying myself in my little riffs, I bore or overrun the reader. It's a trade-off.

My favorite comment on the relationship between the poem and the commentary is a brilliant and hilarious novel by Nabokov called PALE FIRE.

I am also glad to explain my puns to people. When I know I have delivered a groaner, but someone didn't groan, I simply explain the pun and extract the groan, good as new, not at all dessicated by the explanation. I try to make my puns and my poems good enough to survive explanation. After all, I live in Virginia, a place full of ex-plantations. (That one is not good enough to explain. [A desert is an ex-plain.])

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What I Hope To Do

Not shock,
but teach gently
to connect.

[Note: Odd, since I recently wrote a long poem about the value of knowing how to disconnect, as well as connect, but when I wrote this, I was thinking mainly about a tendency in many poets of our time to value shock, and of critics and reviewers to praise literature for being shocking. The idea (similar to the psychiatric notion that shocking a brain is beneficial) seems to be that when people are petrified in some way, for example, stuck in unevaluated social values, it is an artist's job to jolt them out of their solidity--for example, use language that shocks, images that disgust, etc.

My own view is that heavy jolts shock a person out of one solidity into a new solidity that is usually denser than the original state, so that stronger and stronger shocks are needed, just as an addict needs larger and larger doses to get the high. I aim, not at shock, but at a recognition that is also a surprise, like the melody that, even as it surprises us in its twists, seems immediately inevitable, as if we'd known it all along.

Connect here could mean to connect with one another or simply to make connections, become aware of them. And a few zillion other things.]

MANY MORE OF MY POEMS AND ESSAYS AVAILABLE AT WWW.BLEHERT.COM. Site also has my wife's paintings and poems.



We have various books and other products available. Info on request.

Dean Blehert

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Though they pressed tightly against each other,
love found a gap and leaked away.
Love goes without saying, even
without sighing. Everything else
oozed away, pleasure, excitement, even
at last clotted boredom--it all went
without saying--until, stuck together
by the vacuum between them, in silence
they became inseparable.

[Note: Not intended to be a criticism of love, but a description of one way to fail to create it, while mimicking it, the uniting, not of mutual admiration, but of mutual need for it. That's not a new idea. Perhaps this metaphor for it (the pressure of clinging pressing out love as if squeezing moisture from a sponge) is a new look at it. (Probably not!) The old idiom of things going without saying, here becomes the silence as love gradually vanishes, perhaps not noticed until long after there's nothing there. Of course, love doesn't vanish. It simply stops being created. And in this case, it was badly alloyed with need to begin with. Reminds me of an old song, CLING CLING CLING off my trolley.... ("Clang Clang Clang goes the trolley...")]

Dean Blehert

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


What we mustn't say taxes our vitality:
It's all the withholding that makes it hard
to live on the wages of sin.

Dean Blehert

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Most Inscrutable One Wins!

Across the table you slowly smile.
What now must I pretend to know?

Note: Perhaps you've met such a person? The one I have in mind was not only conversation-killingly inscrutable, but delivered whole profound dramas that only he could follow. In the midst of discussion, he'd drift away, working his lips and frowning, then smile like the coming of a new dawn, then say nothing or say things like "YES!" But "Yes WHAT?"

And I, having been flattered enough by his saying or hinting that I understood things better than most and having foolishly indulged in joining him in being critical of the superficiality of mutual acquaintances, would be trapped in these self-serving agreements, so couldn't be too insistent on learning what the smile was about. I had to "just know." Or, asking, I'd get the start of an inarticulate statement that would be interrupted, first by his saying, "Well, it's complicated" and soon after by something like this: "You see, it', I don't like putting it that way...on second thought, I'm not happy with that...hmmm...AH! Yes, that's, that's not quite it...".

To make things more difficult, this person could be charming, could even make fun of himself, and occasionally he did say things worth hearing--bait for his traps? Or maybe I put the traps there for myself because I wanted to imagine him brighter than he was.

I wonder how much of my attention and intelligence is STILL stuck in those long-ago conversations, waiting for an explanation that will never come.

Dean Blehert

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Wind slams the screen door--
must have had a bad day
puffing to bend down tall grass
that kept standing up again.

Note: I missed a chance for a better title. Suppose I had the wind in a bad mood because of attempts all day to disrupt overly gelled and conditioned hairdos that resisted being wind-mussed. Frustrating! I could have called it BAD HAIR DAY. But whole fields of rebellious grass, refusing to remain bowed down , will do. No wonder we have hurricanes that rip out whole trees. The wind has to work off all that frustration.

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