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Shell Shocked: The poet in all of us

By Staff | Jan 26, 2011

To say that I’m in awe of island poet Joe Pacheco is an understatement. I wrote a column not too long ago expressing my childhood phobia of poetry. But, just as I learned to tolerate soft-boiled eggs as I got older, I also began to appreciate the art and substance of poetry – but always taken with a grain of salt in a teaspoon of cod liver oil.

And then along came Joe Pacheco, the poet laureate of Sanibel, who demonstrated that poetry could be written for the great unwashed masses, including me. He taught us that there’s a bit of the poet in all of us. It started with our elementary school graduation autograph books with such pithy poetic commentary as “Roses are red, violets are blue, you’re graduating now, boo, hoo, hoo.”

As time went by and our schooling continued we learned about the great poets and even memorized some of their verse. But until the people’s poet, Sanibel Joe Pacheco came along, I never related to rhyme (or reason either for that matter).

But the urge to rhyme is ingrained in all of us, particularly after listening to a slick Cole Porter lyric or an Ogden Nash limerick, such as Nash’s classic “An Ode to Mount Kisco”:

“Mount Kisco, so close to New York but so far from Frisco”


“The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks

Which practically conceal its sex.

I think it clever of the turtle

In such a fix to be so fertile.”

But how about the poetic skills of Cole Porter as demonstrated in this verse from “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”:

“Just declaim a few lines from Othella

And they’ll think you’re a hell of a fella

If your blond won’t respond when you flatter ‘er,

Tell her what Tony told Cleopatterer”

So now it’s my turn to break into the poetry game. All I need to do is find a few words that rhyme and I’m on my way. Here goes:

Writing poetry is nothing less than a ball —

Its might is as majestic as a summer squall.

But where words can fail me,

Chutzpah can prevail me

And sooth me from summer to fall.

Well, Joe, do you feel threatened yet?

Here’s another mighty poetic verse that will send tremors throughout your psyche:

Poems are written with thought and grace —

Written slowly with dignity and pace;

But if words fail to please

And meaning’s just tease

Then I won’t even get to first base.

I feel I’m on a roll

Finding the right words to extol.

But Joe Pacheco is right:

Rhyming words takes insight,

And I may as well be at the North Pole.

I just read these great creations to my wife and she said that Joe Pacheco can out-poet me under the table any time, with any rhyme, starting on a dime, in his prime and what I’m doing is a crime.