Archives for posts with tag: Shakespeare

One Night at Shakey’s Pub
by David Mathews

“Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent.” —St. Vincent DePaul

You might not know this little fact:
I used to tend bar at this little place
where Shakespearean characters hung out.
My favorite regular was Nick Bottom,
surprisingly British for an ancient Greek.
Nick was the kind of guy who would tip well,
because he understood the value of work.
Late one humid midsummer weekend night
while Thin Lizzy lyrics shouted: “…and if
the boys wanna fight you better let them…”
Iago’s subtle whispered encouragement
sent Nick Bottom into a drunken rant.
Falstaff tried to get Nick back to his pint,
But once the lion was uncaged he roared:
“You think I am funny? Is it that damn
funny I want to play the bloody lion?
Look at the rude mechanical acting…
Do you think I just want to be weaving?
And weaving, weaving, weaving all the time?
To wake up and work for lazy royals?
Sod off will yous! At least I don’t get scared
of dirty hands and hard work unlike yous!
You rat bastards with your pretty iambs!
Ah bloody L! You don’t really know shite!
How do you value anything at all?
All you got is your bloody lousy ennui!”
Falstaff finally got Nick out of there,
before Puck turned him into an ass again.
The Duke of Dark Corners too busy to care.
Oddly, Richard The Third turned from his drink:
“Good man, do not let them make you a villain!”
I’m like Nick. I enjoy the same anger.
It’s hard to be content in discontent.

ILLUSTRATION: Nick Bottom costume designed by C. Wilhelm for 1932 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare in Manchester, U.K.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I originally wrote this in Richard Jones’ class at DePaul. Nick Bottom is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters—I feel a connection to him. We both come from humble means, want to express ourselves through art, people above us prefer we serve under them, and enjoy turning us into asses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. A lifelong Chicagoan, he currently teaches at Wright College and College of Lake County.

Fairness and Wit
by Rachel Voss

Who wants to live virtuous and die vile?
I think I’d rather be liberal as the north.
“Hang me” for naivete: I like her style.
Wilt not, women of the world, but go forth,
and even die, speaking as you think.
Right the universal order with words,
use that prominent shnoz to sniff out the stink,
cleanse the palate for truth. Chaos girds
us like the ocean round an island. No
lullabies—I only play the swan. Peace
is overrated. Silence is my foe.
Wrongs made right when loyalty’s for lease.
Here, I have a thing for you—it’s a poem
in my outside voice, my refusal to go home.

ILLUSTRATION: “Emilia in Othello” by Hannah Tompkins.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece, a sonnet, is inspired by Emilia from Shakespeare’s Othello. As I say in the poem, I like Emilia’s style. She is, above all, relatably human: pragmatic, complicated, weak, but aware that she is at the whim of forces stronger than she is. Ultimately, like us all, she has the potential for redemption, and accomplishes that with the only tools at her disposal: her voice, and the truth. I imaginatively relate to that struggle as manifested in the part Emilia plays in tragedy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal PageHanging Loose MagazineBlast FurnaceThe New Verse News, Unsplendid, Newtown Literary, and Silver Birch Press’s  The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.

PHOTO: At The New York Botanical Garden. (“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”)

Photo by Lucrezia Alcorn.

by Deborah Herman

Though a little out of fashion,
There is much care and valor in the morning

I think we have no great cause to desire
the approach of day.

We see the beginning of the day, but I think we shall
never see the end of it.

A friend
Under you

A good and kind gentleman.
I pray, think of our estate
as men wracked upon a sand,
that look to be washed off the next tide.

I speak to you, but a man,
as I am.

The violet smells; the element shows;
all his senses have human conditions.

Laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man;
his affections are higher mounted,
when they stoop, they stoop with the wing.

Therefore, his fears relish in reason.

He, by showing it, should dishearten.

He may show outward courage;
but I believe, as cold a night as he could wish.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:. I have chosen for my Half New Year Poetry submission page 72 [for July 2nd, Half New Year] of Henry V. I have taken the dialogue between men out of context — they are speaking of rumours they have heard about what kind of man the king may be, without knowing he is present. I have instead turned the prose into a love poem, rather than a dialogue that takes place on the eve of war. The play as a whole is about sexual conquest — Henry must “woo” Catherine of France before forcefully taking over the country to make his leadership (and his offspring) legitimate. The play is also rife with “homosocial” male companionship: the “band of brothers” speech, and even the Harfleur speech, when Henry threatens that his army will kill all the babies and rape all of the girls of the city. So I have taken liberties with page 72 of the play and have tried to make it into something beautiful (and sexually ambiguous).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Herman is an emerging poet with previous publications in Existere, Rhythm, Transverse, and Vallum. Her poem, “Endurance,” will be published in the upcoming water-themed issue of the Motif Anthology (Vol. 4).

by Patrick T. Reardon

Shall I compare thee?
Thou art more lovely.
Rough winds do shake
And summer’s lease hath
Sometime too hot the eye.
And often is his gold
And every fair from fair,
By chance or nature
But thy eternal summer.
Nor lose possession.
Nor shall Death brag
When in eternal lines.
So long as men can,
So long lives this.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT HIS CREATIVE PROCESS: Is there a poem, maybe half-good, in half of a great sonnet?

IMAGE: “William Shakespeare,” watercolor portrait by Fabrizio Cassetta. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is the author of the recently published Catholic and Starting Out, available from actapublications. Visit him at


by Alfred H. Marks
after the Frog Haiku by Matsuo Basho

A frog who would a-water-sounding go
Into some obscure algae-covered pool
Had best be sure no poetasting fool
Is waiting in the weeds and, to his woe,
Commemorates his pluck so all will know
His name and lineage, not for the fine school
He learned to sing at, nor, to make men drool
The flavor of his leg from thigh to toe.
He will not for his mother be remembered,
Nor for his father’s deeds, his honor bright,
Nor for his brother’s leg dismembered,
And eaten by a king with rare delight.
He will be famous simply for the sorta
Noise he makes just when he hits the water.

IMAGE: “Frog Hamlet” by Dallin Orr, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Visit the artist at


“Cervantes and Shakespeare occupied almost the same lifespan. In fact, they both died on the same day, April 23, 1616, by the Gregorian calendar. Don Quixote was published in 1605, and the first edition of Hamlet was probably published in 1603 or 1604. It is as if the two men stood back to back, Cervantes looking backward and Shakespeare looking forward. Cervantes pointed his genius backward and illuminated the medieval consciousness that was just ending in Europe…Shakespeare, in Hamlet, looked forward and made a statement about the modern man who was to come.”

ROBERT A. JOHNSON, Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness

Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) performs Hamlet’s soliloquy from Act III, Scene 1:

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
Th’ Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would these Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveler returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action…

Yesterday (August 1st), we celebrated Herman Melville‘s 194th birthday with a few Moby-Dick erasure poems. We continue exploring all-things-Melville today by taking a look at Moby Dick, the 1956 movie directed by John Huston — with a screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury.

In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, Bradbury offers some fascinating background about how he developed the script. Here is an excerpt…

INTERVIEWER: Why did you do Moby Dick?

BRADBURY: …he [Huston] called me up and said, Do you have some time to come to Europe and write Moby-Dick for the screen? I said, I don’t know, I’ve never been able to read the damn thing…I’ve had copies of Moby-Dick around the house for years. So I went home and I read Moby-Dick…I dove into the middle of it instead of starting at the beginning. I came across a lot of beautiful poetry about the whiteness of the whale and the colors of nightmares and the great spirit’s spout. And I came upon a section toward the end where Ahab stands at the rail and says: “It is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new-mown hay.” I turned back to the start: “Call me Ishmael.” I was in love! You fall in love with poetry. You fall in love with Shakespeare…  I was able to do the job not because I was in love with Melville, but because I was in love with Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board.

…read Sam Weller‘s 2010 Paris Review interview with Ray Bradbury at

While checking out the top-ten Poetry Bestseller list on for Amazon Kindle books, I was both happy and surprised to learn that Charles Bukowski‘s works occupy 4 of the 10 spots on the list.

#3 You Get So Alone at Times 

#5 Love Is a Dog from Hell

#7 Run with the Hunted: A Charles Bukowski Reader

#10 What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

And Buk’s books are selling for just $1.99 each! (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free reading aps for your computer at this link.)

The other author well represented on the list is Edgar Allan Poe, who occupies the #1 and #8 spots. Shakespeare also makes at appearance at #2.

Check out the list at this


“…every dog will have his day.” SHAKESPEARE (Hamlet)

We have officially entered the dog days of summer, which in the Northern Hemisphere run from July 24-August 24. I saw the window display depicted in the above photo on Beverly Blvd. in L.A. recently and found it a clever way to commemorate the hottest days of summer. To the window designer, I doff my straw hat in appreciation.

Photo: Silver Birch (L.A. window display)