Once upon a Time

By Anthony Madrid Anthony Madrid
Once upon a time,
There was a beautiful shark.
She combed her long, blonde hair,
And it made the halibut bark.

It made the chicken oink,
And the whale to run for Congress.
A man should never obstruct
The course of material progress.

Yet a lamb cannot but weep
When the kiddies come home from college.
For they have forgotten to keep
The agreement they made to acknowledge

The woodpecker’s right to peck,
And the maple’s to be pecked at.
Let’s have a little respect
For Rubber Duck with a doctorate.  

That provocative way of standing!
All elbows and bangles
And hips just like a coat hanger
And ankles at right angles! I like

The shape of the pouring soy milk,
The sound of the splitting log.
But Egret finds it regrettable that her
Sister is dating a dog.

Don’t listen to ’em, kid!
And don’t listen to their questions.
This corporation’s been ruined by
Well-meaning false confessions.

And the world is fast a-melting,
Though I would have it slow.
And I don’t think it’s helping:
The way these animals go

Straight from hatchery to quackery,
And, if only to amuse,
I’ll throw my hat in with Mike Thataway in
Black patent leather shoes.

Maybe I’m just like my mother.
She’s never satisfied.
Maybe I’m just like my father:
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Maybe I’m just like my cat:
Licking invisible balls.
Perhaps you’ll reflect upon that,
Next time you’re screening your calls.

And all the solvent and the solute,
They were walking hand in hand.
This the Indian poets were the
First to understand.

The ancient Indian poets
Had their heads screwed on straight.
Fixed on the body’s affluence
And the effluents that escape.

And the influence they enjoyed?
Close-focus hocus-pocus.
And every gezunte moyd
In a juvenile honey locust

Will prefer their Hindi distichs
To the Indiana Hoosiers.
We’re gonna be there from Spit Christmas
All the way to Mucus New Year’s.

But for now I draw the curtain
And settle into Lent.
Last person to go to Harvard
Without knowing what that meant.

Source: Poetry (April 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2012
 Anthony  Madrid


Poet Anthony Madrid is the author of the chapbook The 580 Strophes (2009) and the full-length collection I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say (2012). He has written in forms such as the ghazal and rhyming quatrain, bringing a contemporary, associative, and surreal sensibility to received forms. A PhD student in the University of Chicago graduate program in English language and literature, Madrid’s study of poetics and American . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Class, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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