Fact Check (a found poem)

Are not opening a portal to hell.

Restarted their accelerator—
The world’s most powerful accelerator—
To learn more about the origins of the universe.

Social media suggest a different purpose:
That scientists are using the machine to open a doorway
For demons,
Wicked spirits,
High Evil Principalities.

The claim is baseless.
Scientists are engaged in scientific-related activities.

Experts use the collider to study
Unexplored energies,
Microscopic particles,
The creation of the universe,
Dark matter.

Scientists are engaged in scientific-related activities. 
The collider cannot open up portals to other dimensions.

Found poem from “Fact check: Scientists at CERN are not opening a ‘portal to hell’,” USA Today, July 26, 2022.

No Contrition (a found poem)

No contrition
Or regret.

The mob?
Stormed lives?
Totally appropriate.

Sidestepped questions?
Deadly riot?
Totally appropriate.



His mob.
His anger.

He should leave.
Leave everyone alone.

Found poetry from “In first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the mob,” The New York Times, January 12, 2020

Nursery rhymes, pandemic edition

Or, Mother Goose for the Covid era.

Twinkle twinkle little star,
How I wonder how you are.
Up above the world so high,
Socially distanced in the sky.
Twinkle twinkle little star,
Text and tell me how you are.

[Illustration of star wearing mask]

Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a tuffet,
Waiting for curds and whey.
But the Instacart driver,
Came unmasked to find her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

The wheel on your tablet
Goes round and round,
Round and round,
Round and round.
The wheel on your tablet
Goes round and round—
Too bad, I need the wifi.

[illustration of computer with spinning loading wheel]

This little piggy went to Walmart.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy bought toilet paper.
This little piggy had none.
This little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the Wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Were out of personal protective gear so 
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Feel free to share your own in the comments.

“… a torch whose flame is the imprisoned lightning”

In 1903 Emma Lazarus famously wrote “The New Colossus,” a poem the Statue of Liberty that concludes

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

In 2019–specifically, earlier this week—Ken Cuccinelli infamously edited that poem to say

Give me your tired and your poor
who can stand on their own two feet
and who will not become a public charge

In addition to being offensive, ignorant of history, and—coming from the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—outright dangerous, Cuccinelli’s words are, well, terrible poetry.

Which got me wondering: What would happen if other classic poems were revised from a similar perspective?

Possibly something like this.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

if you really
wanted them
you should have come here legally

(Original: “This is Just to Say,” by William Carlos Williams)

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, don’t despair,
We can raise taxes on the poor until
This monument stands forever in the
Sand, beside the casino and housing
Development that also bear my name.’

(Original: “Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer,
But it isn’t my fault that freeloading falcon
Didn’t work harder and buy health insurance that 
covered better hearing aids.

(Original: “The Second Coming,” by W B Yeats)

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I fracked and mined and dug a pipeline beneath the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(Original: “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost)

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin—’
‘First show me your papers, ‘ the Mariner said,
‘Then maybe I’ll let you in.’

(Original: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

And of course, music is poetry too.

This land is my land this land is my land
This land is my land this land is my land
This land is my land this land is my land
This land was made for me just me

(Original: “This Land is Your Land,” by Woody Guthrie)

Have any other updates to suggest? Share them in comments.

Split Borders (a found poem)

Split Borders

Parents are property,
Children an immediate danger.
Mean, this humanitarian crisis.
The democratic republic
Separating parents from children—
Families fractured by policy.

A violation
Of due process and
Equal protection.

The administration appeared
Unprepared for the fallout
“The child has rights,” a spokesman conceded.
“This is a complex situation.”

Amid the chaos,
The president continued to rail against
Those fleeing danger and persecution,
Asylum claims,
Our land,

An unmistakable message:
“You can’t come in.
“Don’t come at all.”

Respond, lawmakers.
Shift focus,
Keep families together,
Lean into that vote,
Cross that bridge.

Take action.

Poem found in “Federal Judge in California Halts Splitting of Migrant Families at Border,” The New York Times, June 26, 2018.