JOHN SHIELDS

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POETRY: IAMB INSPIRED

Poetry: The Sequel by John Shields | April 21, 2004

It occurred to me after the last column that some of you may have thought the whole thing was a put-on, that there is no such poem as I Am A Dad With Adult A.D.D. ...
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Poetry: Could It Be Verse by John Shields |April 19, 2006

I was about to throw out my latest missing-child junk mail when something made me read what was on the other side.
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Please, Mr. Muslim by John Shields | February 19, 2006

(To the tune of “Please, Mister Postman,” with apologies to the Marvelettes)
(Stop!) Oh, yes, wait a minute, Mister Muslim
(Wait!) Wai-ai-ai-ait, Mister Muslim.
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Cross Words for the Crossword by John Shields | May 21, 2007

I’ve never met Byron Walden but if I ever do, I’ll knock him ACROSS his head with an “earthen building block” (5 letters) then pour “volcanic emission” (4 letters) DOWN his trousers.
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I'd Like You to Meet SM Editors by John Shields | September 24, 2007

It’s a shortened deadline this week, so I’ve brought in a guest to do most of the writing. A little background, and then I’ll turn it over to Katherina.
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Poetry: The Sequel

It occurred to me after the last column that some of you may have thought the whole thing was a put-on, that there is no such poem as I Am A Dad With Adult A.D.D., or, as I like to call it, “I/double A/D/W/double A/DD.”  Actually, the poem is real, but before I share it with you, let me say a few words about adult attention-deficit disorder (a glimpse of which you’ve just witnessed). 

Like poetry, adult attention-deficit disorder is a real problem for many of us.  It doesn’t get the attention it deserves – especially from those who have it.

There.  Now back to the original topic.

As I sit here holding in my hand the Editor’s Choice Award presented to John Shields March 2004 for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry, I am awed to have come so far so fast.  If I had any doubts about my poetic ability – and, friends, we poets have our moments of self-doubt like everyone else – this latest mailing from Poetry.com puts them to rest. 

The award is in certificate form and can readily be torn from the rest of the page, for framing, perhaps. At the top of the page there is a handwritten note from one of the select judges to Howard Ely, managing editor of the International Library of Poetry.  “Howard,” it reads, “John’s verse is wonderfully expressive – I suggest you use it for the ‘Sound of Poetry.’” It is signed, with the compactness befitting a great poem, “CS.”  Could it be the great C.S. Eliot, I wonder?

So, not only will I have my own page in Eternal Portraits, and not only have I been presented the detachable Editor’s Choice Award, but I’m to have my artistry recorded professionally and featured in a “highly acclaimed and internationally distributed three-album collection.” 

Need assurances as to the quality of this 3-CD set?  Well, “Captivating Baroque music forms the background to the spoken words” is assurance enough, wouldn’t you say?

This exposure to the upper echelons of the poetry world has taught me much.  For example, I learned that many of my fellow poets have asked if the International Library of Poetry can “make available a commemorative plaque to present their poetry in formal fashion.”

And here I thought I was the only one with that idea.

You may not believe this, but it turns out they can actually do that.  My poem can be “beautifully typeset on archive quality vellum with choice of borders, then mounted on a walnut-finish plaque under lucite.”

You have to think that a nature lover like Robert Frost – or, definitely, Walt Whitman – would’ve appreciated having each of his poems mounted this way.  Ah, the onomatopoeic sound of plaques clacking as we page through Leaves of Grass!

So much acclaim has come my way in such a short time that a skeptic would probably suggest that someone is trying to stroke my ego to get me to buy something. 

Fortunately, I know better.  If they really wanted me to buy something, they would keep at it, wouldn’t they, instead of telling me, “This is your last opportunity to do so.”

So, without further A.D.D.-do, and with the captivating strains of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in the background, I present (in iambic pentameter) I Am a Dad with Adult A.D.D.:

I am a dad with Adult A.D.D.
As such there’s much I oft initiate
My desk and floor now hold some fifty-three
Projects the start of which just couldn’t wait.

The papers thereon never find their rest
Their sundry subjects saying, “We’re still here.”
To find completion, that’s my biggest test
And something that I’ll never do, I fear.

So, rather than address the tasks at hand
What does my fickle mind decide to do?
It does something that wasn’t even planned
And spends its time on verse to send to you.

The Muse is with me. I think I can bring
That thousand-dollar prize home here to me!
I’ll be right back, just have to do one thing. . . .

I am a dad with Adult A.D.D.

 

©2004 John Shields

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Poetry: Could It Be Verse?

I was about to throw out my latest missing-child junk mail when something made me read what was on the other side.

(This is often how the Muse visits us artists – via direct mailing.)

Poetry – the International Library of Poetry, to be precise – was back in my life!

Two years ago, I was named a finalist in Poetry.com’s annual contest for my submission entitled I Am a Dad with Adult A.D.D. When I declined their offer to include my verse in their commemorative volume, Star Dust In The Morning, I assumed that I Am a Dad... would be trashed faster than a two-line haiku, shredded more thoroughly than the cabbage in an obsessive-compulsive’s cole slaw recipe.

But my piece of junk mail inspired me to return to the Poetry.com website, where I discovered that my poem remains in their collection – along with the works of a select group of 5.1 million other poets.

Verse’s version of McDonald’s hamburger count.

Not only is the website a portal to 5.1 million published poets, it’s a resource for the aspiring, unpublished poet, too. Choose from links such as “POETIC TECHNIQUES,” “NEED HELP RHYMING?” and “$150,000 mortgage as low as $594/mo. Rates Still Low!”

I think it was Archibald MacLeish who said, “A poem must not mean, but be.” (Or was it Mister Rogers saying, “A poem must not be mean?” I can’t remember. The fog of years never lifts / Like a longshoreman with a hernia.)

No matter. The mailer informs me that there will be 1,175 prizes awarded totaling $58,000. That’s $49.36 per prize, but using the poetic technique of hyperbole, I will call it $50.

Directly beneath the prize-money announcement, I see there’s another popular poetic technique at work: alliteration.

                                    Possible publication!

I can see how the International Library of Poetry might not want to make guarantees. Poetry is not high school bowling, where everyone who comes out makes the team.

Still, with 5.1 million poets on their website, I don’t think you’d be going out on a limb if you read that as Probable publication!

Well, it’s every poet for himself, so good luck to you, and may the best 50,000 win. I call my poem Resident 337 Loller Rd Hatboro PA 19040, and I dedicate it to Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry and direct marketing.

My name is Jocelyn Faber
My age is only 1
At 2’3”, you’d notice me
If I were on the run.

I’m not, but someone took me
Her photo’s to your right
We’ve not been seen since 8/05
And both of us are white

Beth (the lady next to me) and I
Have lt. brown hair
Our eyes are blue, our sex is F
We could be anywhere.

Beth is kind of tall and lean
115 5’7”
Me? I’m 20 pounds and chubby
Thanks to 7-11.

We hail from WI, right next to MI
I don’t know what that means
But Beth says we’re the Badgers
And they’re the Wolverines

Beth’s last name is Peterson
Her age is 22
We both lived in Allenton
Before we came to you

Have you seen us?
Probably not
But just before we’re tossed
If you have any info
Call 800-THE-LOST.

 

©2006 John Shields

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PLEASE MR. MUSLIM 

(To the tune of “Please, Mister Postman,” with apologies to the Marvelettes)

(Stop!) Oh, yes, wait a minute, Mister Muslim
(Wait!) Wai-ai-ai-ait, Mister Muslim.

Please, Mister Muslim, look and see (oh, yeah)
There’s no cartoon within a mile of me
(Please, please)
At least not one so sensitive (oh, yeah)
Mister Muslim, I want to live.

I see why you could feel so riled
Who wants to see their Prophet defiled?
But Mister Muslim, you gotta see
My taste in comics runs to Peanuts and Ziggy

I been standin’ here spewin’ indignation
At every Dane I see, but...
You must admit, that one about the virgins
Now that was funny, don’t you agree?

(Mister Muslim) Mister Muslim, look and see (oh, yeah)
There’s no cartoon within a mile of me
(Please, please)
I disavow such underhanded humor
That “kick me” sign I drew is nothin’ but a rumor

So many days you heard me say,
“See my head? I like it this way.”
I promise you that I will try harder
Take off that vest, no need to be a martyr

(Mister Muslim)
Mister Muslim, look and see (oh, yeah)
There’s no cartoon within a mile of me
(Please, please, Mister Muslim)
Put down that sword and make me feel better
Stop threatening me –
I’ll make you read Nancy
(You gotta)
Wait a minute
Wait a minute (oh, please don’t)
Hate a minute
Hate a minute (Mister Muslim)
Mister Muh-uh-uhuhz-lim
Don’t sever my left hand
Because it’s my best hand
Mister Muslim ...

 

©2006 Anonymous

 

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Cross Words for the Crossword

I’ve never met Byron Walden but if I ever do, I’ll knock him ACROSS his head with an “earthen building block” (5 letters) then pour “volcanic emission” (4 letters) DOWN his trousers.

Byron Walden, my “donkey relative” (3 letters)! Any idiot knows “Byron Walden” is just a “false name” (9 letters) for “English Romantic poet and Concord pond.”

Whatever his real name – and I’m suspecting it’s an anagram of Byron Walden – he (she?) has been my undoing.

For the past couple of years, doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle has been an integral part of my Sunday routine. And my Monday routine, and my Tuesday routine. I’m proud of my ability to regularly solve it in its entirety – in pen. So proud, in fact, that I’ve even modified my resume:

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:
2005-present         I regularly solve the Sunday New York Times crossword in its entirety in pen.

As with any task, the learning curve flattens the more you do it. The puns, the abbreviations, the maddening two- and three-word answers, all reveal themselves a little more readily when you know what to look for.

That’s why the crossword “Byron Walden” created for the April 15th issue was so unexpectedly brutal. So malevolently sadistic. So preposterously “can’t be done” (8 letters).

The puzzle’s theme was “In Other Words.” In each of the four corners was a pair of intersecting, 8-letter anagrams, for example, B-E-I-N-G-F-A-T and F-A-N-G-B-I-T-E. These letters, rearranged a third time, became yet another anagram, F-B-I-A-G-E-N-T,  that was part of a separate, longer answer, a familiar phrase reinforcing the “hidden” theme of “In Other Words":  U-N-D-E-R-C-O-V-E-R-F-B-I-A-G-E-N-T.

There were four of these suckers, one for each pair of anagrams.

More torturous still was the fact that the only “clues” for these longer answers were the locations of the other two anagrams. In the above example, “23-Across or 19-Down?”

As if that weren’t challenging enough, solving the four sets of anagrams was like having to scale Lhotse and Nuptse to get to Everest. The surrounding words’ clues were deviously misleading. Here are a few examples:

“Something that goes for a quarter” (9 letters). Answer: “Trimester.”

“It begins here” (5 letters). Answer: “Aitch.”

And the one that set me back two days:

“Words before roof and flag” (8 letters). My answer: “Raise the.” Correct answer: “Under one.”

It took my plugging away off and on for nine days, but I managed to solve every clue except two: “Some toll units” (5 letters; answer: “Axles”) and “Salt agreement” (3 letters; answer: “Aye”).

In hindsight, those two look relatively simple. That’s why hindsight is “perfect vision” (12 letters).

You may be familiar with the expression “Pyrrhic victory.” It’s a reference to the Hellenic king Pyrrhus, who won two battles against the Romans but lost so many troops doing so that he is famously quoted, “Another such victory and I shall be ruined.” A Pyrrhic victory, then, is one that leaves the winner in devastating shape.

In this case, me.

I’ve faced down many a clever puzzle creator and emerged victorious, but you, Byron Walden (Ronald Newby? Waldo R. Benny? Len B. Anyword? … Wo, Bryn Laden!), you have exacted a price for my success that makes a pound of flesh look like the portions you get at Subway these days.

Brain dead, that’s what I am now. Brain dead. D-E-B-A-D-R-A-I-N that’s fallen on me ever since I threw in the towel on “Some toll units.” A-D-I-R-E-B-A-N-D playing  “The Alphabet Song” in my head over and over.

I'm sapped. No longer do I look forward to curling up on my recliner with the latest Sunday Times crossword spread across my lapdesk in all its empty-squared glory. No more the thrill of the hunt. Just the pitiful whimpering that emanates from the core of a beaten man.

Time for something different. Tamer stuff. “Can be done” (6 letters) stuff. 

Maybe the Middle East? World hunger?

And as if from a faraway dream, came this haunting sound:

“Anagrams,” a ram sang.

 

©2007 John Shields

 

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I’d Like You to Meet SM Editors

It’s a shortened deadline this week, so I’ve brought in a guest to do most of the writing. A little background, and then I’ll turn it over to Katherina.

Back in April, on the recommendation of a colleague whose medicines must have been mislabeled, I sent an email to a company named “SM Editors” that, in effect, said, I am a man of superior copyediting skills. Do you have any freelance editing opportunities? Thanks. Resume attached.

Next day, I heard back from them.

Dear Mr. John Shields
It will be a pleasure to keep your name on our Editorial Board. It is to inform you that as a Board Member of PROFESSional Editors & Writers, you would be please involved in the correspondent academic and promotional activities for the company. You may introduce the company within your circle and among your acquaintance.
Best wishes for a long-lasting and productive collaboration.
With kind regards,
Thank you.
Best regards
Katherina Johnson
PROFESSional Editors & Writers (Formerly called SM Group of Editors)

Talk about freelance editing opportunities! With two errors in the salutation alone, this response had me thinking that maybe it was actually a test that I was supposed to correct and return.

It was fairly obvious that the writer was someone for whom English was a second language, but, please, “Katherina Johnson?”

I never replied – I have standards, too, you know – and didn’t hear again from PROFESSional Editors & Writers … until this week.

Dear Dr. Shields,
This is with regards to our previous correspondence regarding offering online, free-lance job of Editor, Reviewer, Writer, or Translator’s under the banner of PROFESSional Editors & Writers.
(Have oxygen ready.) It is a pleasure to offer ample opportunity to those who are keen to be an active part of the organization serving the best mutual interests. Recently, it has been offered a discounted complete publication package for authors of regular papers/books or publishers/organizations, which includes writing, language editing, scientific reviewing, formatting keeping prescribed guidelines, graphics’ or chemical structures’ development, graphics’ or chemical structures’ improvement for quality, tables’ designing, layout or cover page designing (for books), designing & printing (books, flyers, brochures, Ads, press releases etc.(authors or publishers/organizations must chose at least four services at a time in order to be entitled for a discount of 25% off on the total service charges).

“The website www.sm-editors.com,” it continued,“is being updated for potential flaws and updates,” an update refuted by the potential flaw that followed it: “Your name will soon be included on the board page.”

Thanks & regards,
Katherina Johnson
Co-coordinator
PROFESSional Editors & Writers
1306 Preston Lake Drive
Tucker Georgia GA 30084

(It’s not just Monty Python that has a Department of Redundancy Department.)

As a board member and surprise holder of a terminal degree, I recognized my fiduciary responsibility to act in the company’s best interests, so I penned the following reply:

Dear Katherina,
Variant of Katrina, isn’t it? And speaking of disasters …
Do not – repeat, do not – put my name on your board page or anywhere else. In exchange, I promise I will not introduce the company among my acquaintance.
Consider a career change.
No thanks & ill regards,
PROFESSor Shields

After which, I stepped down from the board.

 

©2007 John Shields

 

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