Ken Gosse

Ken Gosse generally writes light poetry using simple language, meter, and rhyme in verses filled with whimsy and humor. First published in The First Literary Review–East in 2016, his poetry is also online with Academy of the Heart and Mind, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Home Planet News, Impspired, and others. He is also in print anthologies from Pure Slush, The Coil, Truth Serum Press, Peking Cat, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Germany, Virginia, and now in Mesa, Arizona over twenty years with two or more rescue dogs and cats always underfoot. Their four children and their grandchildren are scattered around the county, mostly at long distances.

Prime Your Rhyme

Rhyming’s as easy as pie: “One, Two, Three!”
(which rhymes with both “ABC” and “XYZ”),
but words with identical sounds don’t fit in—
they’re called homophones—when you write right you’ll begin
to notice some sounds that you hear here and there
(such as weather and whether, perhaps fair and fare)
as a pair bring a tear and cause poems to tear
(“tear” and “tear” are a homograph/non-rhyming pair)
and like tails of tales which have wandered away
from the start of their story, leave you in dismay.

But a word doesn’t rhyme with itself, though of course
even that common guidance can throw you off course
since combining a sound with another may force
them to rhyme in due time without any remorse,
whereas homographs have the same letters but don’t
sound alike, so when pairing you’ll find that they won’t
meet the need of rhymed pairs, so refuse such refuse;
don’t let others abuse you for rhyming abuse—
no excuse will excuse such faux pas on the loose.

There’s also near-rhyme, words of similar sound
which collide with each other then crash to the ground.
Many raps and free poems, some classic verse, too,
have used it quite often (not well—those are few).

My prejudice shows! Yes, I call that “rhyme crime”
and I cringe when I read it.
Examples (NOT mine):
• they make my cat sad,
• put a frown on a stone;
• describe ways of grace;
and to pick one more bone:
• crush fruit with a foot.
Though I may be alone, still I think the point’s moot
(not a true rhyme for foot—that’s a rhyme I’d refute,
and so I’d recompute and write “crushed by a boot,”
though of course, one might whine the wine wouldn’t be fine).

But Shakespeare and Dickinson, Browning, and more
such as Shelley and Yates, many others galore
used slant rhyme (that’s a hoitier word for “almost”).
Heaven knows, who am I to discount such a host.

The Road Once Taken

The bricks diverged and there I stood.
Beside me, Toto, as we were both
At the start of our wander in yonder wood.
A scarecrow there—I wondered, should
I begin conversation, but I was loath.

Then spoke the strawman, to my surprise,
“I sing and dance, but don’t scare crows.”
As I looked above, they filled the skies
and nibbled his straw before my eyes;
perched on his hat, they bit his nose.

We traveled on and gained two friends;
The bricks were clean; none trod before.
Each hoped that they might make amends,
Fully aware our success depends
On a stranger, arrived from distant shore.

Then by and by we met a witch
Who soon would die a fluid death
(I’d left her sister in a ditch).
For my return, I thumbed a hitch
Then clicked my heels and held my breath.

Perchance a dream—but this was real!
Aunt and uncle and crew were there—
The stranger, too, of magic zeal,
Yet all just grinned at my appeal
And the diffidence of my stare.

Repurposing Words

The chariot’s yoke wasn’t bolted on tight
and when it broke loose, the horse bolted in fright.

His apology to his friends said he was rude;
his legal apology blamed his wife’s mood.

Although they were all buckled in with great care,
they buckled when they hit the next car’s derriere.

The armies fought bravely and cleaved to their king
but the losing kings’ heads would be cleaved from their bling.

He retired, then coasted downhill all the way
until his health sent him downhill the next day.

Even lackluster vampires will, fairly often,
dust off the dust on the top of their coffin.

Each morning, he’d watch Holmes peruse through the news
then in greatest details, he’d peruse all the clues.

They seeded each pumpkin’s damp cavernous core,
then seeded the pumpkin patch so they’d have more.

On Casey’s last swing, he did not strike the ball
but “Strike three!” was the umpire’s terminal call.

They first trimmed the branches to even the tree
then trimmed it with Christmastime filimagree.

They weathered a hurricane on their way home
till their old weathered ship broke apart in its foam.

Many bones lay below, far beneath where they tread
on the beautiful overlook high overhead.
To mitigate mourning, the site had this warning:
“Don’t Overlook Safety
When Counting the Dead.”

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