Driven to Verse

Poetry and Prose, by Mark Scherz


They came in broad daylight
with cheering and screams
of “Represent us!”
and “Bring back our dreams!”

“Make America Great,
again” — the refrain
that heralded in
Republican reign.

They came with a clown,
a shark from TV,
with small grabby hands
who said “Give it to me!”

So they gave him the land
on a bright silver platter;
one and a half million people
(okay, just six thousand

—do facts really matter?)

They heiled him in
with his “no-BS” ways,
“He’ll make it all better!”
But in less than ten days:

He had sought to repeal
the Affordable Care Act,
which is also Obamacare—
a little known fact,

at least among voters
insured on ACA
who had voted for him
to take Obamacare away.

He brought back the gag rule!
Far from stopping abortion,
it makes suffering greater
for a far larger portion.

He approved the pipeline
through old, sacred land
with a laugh and a sneer
and a jerk of his hand.

He ordered the start
of the wall in the south
“We’ll make Mexico pay!”
were the lies from his mouth.

He came down hard
on sanctuary cities:
immigrants deported
for looking too shifty.

Then he added a ban
on some middle-east countries,
“Hang Geneva Conventions!
Ban Syrian refugees!”

“It’s to keep out the terror”
was the line that he took,
but just look at the stats
and you see he’s mistook:

Not one of the people
linked to US attacks
was from Libya, Somalia,
Syria or Iraq

He pointed the finger
said “Our enemy!”
but the enemy of the US
is Americans, you see.

Every year, far more people
die falling from bed
than are killed by radicals;
shall we ban beds, instead?

And those numbers pale
when compared to the sums
of the innocent people
killed each year by guns.

Meanwhile he quietly
purged the White House:
any mention of Climate Change
was quickly snuffed out.

Now the LGBTQ
are under his gaze
and we know that their rights
have a matter of days.

is the hashtag of choice
as the bigots, the racists,
the assholes rejoice.

Meanwhile protesting
starts up at dawn;
from the end of one march
another links on.

Too many problems
to protest them all,
but we must keep on fighting.
We must make him fall.



Thoughts of you

Every morning I awake and you are almost gone;
out the door, for evermore—at least for far too long.
(It must be said that it’s my fault for reading far too late
but I would rather read a while and wake up around eight)
I slowly pull myself upright when you have closed the door;
I brush my teeth and put on clothes; drag feet across the floor.
As I prepare to leave I fill my mind with things to do
for if I don’t, then I’ll arrive, and think of nought but you:
A million years of drift, selection, in your perfect smile.
Countless strands of DNA that all were quite worthwhile.
Cranial perfection, culminating in your face.
I can make but one conclusion: you’ve won the human race.
I’d think of you from dawn till dusk till dawn and dusk again
if I didn’t spend the groggy hours on what to do and when.
And every day it’s a relief to come back home to you;
to hear of how your day went, and what you got to do,
and know that though the daylight hours were spent too far apart
I can be back in your arms; eye to eye; heart to heart.
I wrote this for my partner, Ella. It marks the end of almost two years of writers block; a huge relief.

The Potters’ Halloween

Thirty-three years ago, on this very same night,
there were spectres and vampires abroad;
werewolves and ghouls, and zombies and fools
made up in a ghastly façade
were stalking the streets, garnering sweets
from dark houses in spooky array.
Begging and barking for tricks and for treats
that their occupants might give away.

But elsewhere the evening was sinister and still;
the horrors were far from a game;
and the knocking, not from a chortling child,
but from He-who-must-not-be-named.
He came wreathed in shadow, with death on his lips,
his mind filled with nothing but hate,
and darkened the doorstep of one little house;
by prophesy spelled his own fate.

He broke through the door, and flung it aside,
and thus was the tragedy begun,
for that is the place where James Potter died
as he shouted to Lily to run.
Just a flash of green light and a whoosh, but no scream;
his limp body fell to the floor,
and the bringer of evils stepped over his corpse,
and toward the nursery door.

There cowered the mother, behind her the boy,
her shouting and screaming in vain
while the black-haired young Harry looked on from his crib;
this little child, Tom Riddle’s bane.
Lily hid him from view, with arms spread out wide,
no wand and no way to protect him.
She begged for mercy; to be taken instead,
as if pleas were a way to deflect him.

A flash of green light, and her crying was stifled,
and a deadened hush fell on the room,
and the most evil wizard locked eyes with this child
who shared in his prophetic doom.
Two words in the silence should have been the end;
two words that had silenced the rest:
Avada Kedavra! but the spell was reflected
and took the Dark Lord in the chest.

And a few hours later, a trick and a treat
was delivered to a muggle door:
a black-haired little orphan, with scar replete,
in such need as they could not ignore.
You know the story, you’ve heard all the tales –
the Boy who Lived; the Chosen One –
this is the story of how he got those names;
how the story of Harry was begun,

on a dark Halloween, just like tonight
when false evils stalked through the town,
a real evil descended and snuffed out two lights,
and turned the whole world upside down.

Green Medicine

There’s solace in the forest,
amid the rustles of the trees;
in twitterings of flitting birds;
in the stirring of the breeze.
It is shelter from the rushing;
the pry of daily life.
An hour among the branches
quenches stress and strife.
When I feel most broken,
at risk to fall apart,
I seek out forest solace
and let it heal my heart.


Happy Earth Day, friends.

Abrupt endings

Some days, from nowhere,
the world comes crashing down;
no-one there to hold your hand
as it collapses all around.
Alone in your apartment
on the edge of the sleeping town,
your whole world seems to flicker
as your plot-line comes unwound.

It can come from nothing;
as innocuous as song
but before you even realise
everything you knew is gone.
The world will keep on spinning;
the song will carry on;
the notes can play the ending,
but the music is all gone.


A reflective piece today. For those of you who are concerned, you needn’t be; this poem is largely unconnected to my current emotional state. It just came to me like a song, so I had to write it down. It felt good to complete a piece in a single sitting. I find that it is often cathartic to write about things from my past, or from situations imagined. It happens that this piece is both.

A Zoologist’s Valentine

I wanted to write an article
about how none of it makes sense;
how we are really animals;
should do away with the pretence,
for you can look at animals
and learn a lot from them;
animals in pairs and groups,
from singles to harems,
and we are only animals
and we have the same desires:
to survive, to grow, to reproduce,
before our time expires.
Because that is what we are;
just apes in clothes and shoes.
Yet somehow there’s a greater roll
than just to reproduce.
I want to find someone I love
and form a monogamous bond.
Socially and sexually –
those don’t always correspond,
especially in birds,
where the latter is quite rare
for there is greater fitness
in mating extra-pair
but that is what I want;
illogical thought it is;
because I know I am a human;
perhaps evolved to feel like this.
It’s no longer just our fitness
that decides who we take,
but the ‘chemistry’ between us:
Do you knit? Do you bake?
Do you know the names of all the dwarves?
To which house do you belong?
How do you feel about Eleven’s hair?
How long’s Sherlock been gone?
And that is what I’m looking for;
not just compatible genes
but someone who can make me smile;
who fills the in-betweens.
Someone who can make me laugh
when all is dark and bleak;
someone who can lift me up
when I am worn and weak.
You can say that we’re just animals,
and though in truth that’s right,
not logic, rhyme or reason
can keep us warm at night.

Life Line

Life is not poetry
but linear prose
without rhyme or rhythm
-we don’t observe those-

We live in a line –
we know not the length –
all we have is the now
our own ignorance and strength.

We aren’t handed a string
of determinate size;
not told of its length
or when the line dies,

just that it does. In time
all things started must end
and we’re left with the choice
of what to do until then.

To live life in fear
of an inevitable ending
is to fray our own string,
for it’s useless pretending

that we don’t know how it ends;
how the last page is read;
We know what we have
but not the length of the thread.

Do not mourn

Do not mourn me
when I’m gone,
for life is short
though days seem long,
but think of me
in joyous song;
play it loud,
sing it strong.


Imagine a life
lived out in a year:
from birth through to death
a perfunctory smear.

We take it for granted
that life lasts for ages;
the cycle of seasons,
the turning of pages.

But many a life form
sees only one spring,
summer, fall, winter;
one loop of the ring.

and they never see
the fruits of their labour
they’ve no chance to stop.
To cherish. To savour.

At The Edge

At the edge of a forest,
in a land far away,
flew a small frantic bee
in a state of dismay.

“They’re destroying my home!”
said the bee to a tree,
as she bumbled about
in a care-worn frenzy.

But nobody heard
the bee’s feeble pleas;
they were carried away
by a wisp of a breeze.

And the tree couldn’t help
even if he had heard,
for he couldn’t fight,
nor take flight like a bird.

He couldn’t warn
the rest of his kin;
couldn’t run around shouting
what peril they were in.

He could only stand sentry
and wait for the tide;
for the tree line to reach him;
for his time to subside.

While about him his family,
a whole community,
right down to the fungus
and the poor worried bee

would slowly be lost;
every one, in the end:
every visiting stranger;
every childhood friend.

Lost to the war
fought by only one side,
where the weapons are axes,
where only innocents die,

at the edge of that forest,
in that land far away,
where a bit of green falls;
a little more every day.

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