Essay: The Archetype of the Whore

The Archetype of the Whore

Queen Sheba journeyed to Judah bearing gifts and tribute to pay homage to King Solomon, and returned home bearing his child Menelek, who became the first king of the great Ethiopian dynasty.

Mary Magdalene carried Jesus’ child even as she watched her lover crucified for aspiring to the throne of David. Magdalene fled to Egypt with her daughter Sara disguised as a servant girl, but Peter shoved them off in a rudderless boat without oars, and they landed in the French Riviera where Sara’s descendants became the Merovingian line of kings.

Sarah could not give Abraham a child, so she gave to Abraham her slave, Hagar, who bore him Ishmael. Then God blessed Sarah, and to Abraham, Sarah bore Isaac.

It is a perilous thing being born to Abraham. Now Ishmael must not be allowed to inherit Abraham’s birthright, so Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael to starve to death in the desert, Isaac being the one destined to be the ancestor of Jesus once he survives almost being sacrificed on his father’s altar. Continue reading


SunWinks! September 28, 2014: Nothing Is Sacred

 I think that I shall never see
A poem as trivial as “Trees.”…

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers!

Joyce Kilmer’s 1913 poem “Trees” is an easy and favorite target for parody. I was shocked to learn that “Trees” was originally published in the prestigious Poetry magazine. (I was also shocked to learn that Joyce Kilmer is a guy.) And you know, looking at it again, it’s not the worst poem ever, especially for 1913.

Joyce Kilmer

Writing parody can be lots of fun, and it can improve your technique and even give you a new appreciation for the poem you are lampooning.

This week, I wrote a parody of James Whitcomb Riley’s “When the Frost Is On the Punkin,” a poem I grew up with. It (the original) is a celebration of crisp autumn mornings on the farm. I heard some baseball commentator say, “The pitcher’s on the rubber, and the batter’s in the box…” and said to myself, “OMG I have to write that!”

“When The Pitcher’s On the Rubber”

Continue reading

New Poem: When the Pitcher’s On the Rubber

I’m sending this to the Chicago Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Len and J.D.: I think you’ll enjoy this. It’s a parody of James Whitcomb Riley’s “When the Frost Is On the Punkin.”

Best wishes, Doug Westberg.

[This is my copyrighted work, but I acknowledge submitting this gives you the right to use it any way you like.]

Caption Contest II

The Caption Contest Returns Again once more for the second time! I’ve included my own captions, unlike when we did this on Gather, but please contribute your captions for any or all of these as well. Just put them in a comment with the photo number(s).


The Tower of Babble



To blazz or not to blazz, that is the quezztion...

To blazz or not to blazz, that is the quezztion…


Grandma always said: the best ancient remedies are the brand new ones...

Grandma always said: the best ancient remedies are the brand new ones…

SunWinks! September 21, 2014: Playing the Field

Dear SunWinkers!SunWinksLogo

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
Lewis Carroll


Well, I got Len to write a poem, so pigs must have wings…..

Anyway, poetry is many things, and consists of many things, and we are going to talk about one of them. Today I want you to think about the placement of the words on the page.

Now, poetry is an oral medium. A good poem must be read out loud, both by the poet in the process of composition, and by the discerning reader.

It follows that the organization of a poem affects how it sounds when read out loud. When it is written in a fixed form, such as a ballad, the form is imposed on the content, and the content must be manipulated to fit the structure. Therefore, much of the music of the poem comes from the superimposed formal structure.

The emergence of open form (or free verse) spearheaded by Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams in the 1940s is based on the idea that the form of a poem ought to grow organically from the thoughts, words, and breathing of the poet. Pound said that poets should “compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.”

Continue reading

SunWinks! September 14, 2014: Gently Down the Stream

Dear SunWinkers:SunWinksLogo

Years ago, I was struggling with deep depression, divorce, custody battle, blah blah blah. I started writing poetry as a form of therapy. I would usually begin by doing some automatic writing in my journal, just writing the next word that came into my head without thinking about it, and before you know it, there I would be, writing a poem.

Not too long ago, I wrote an experimental poem, just a goof, really, called “Listening In.” The idea was to “record” (not literally, the poem was a deliberate composition) what I heard and saw and what was going through my mind as I watched a Chicago White Sox broadcast with Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone. The poem leaps from inner thought to external action to thought to action to thought to action.

So, in a way, this is what is called stream of consciousness writing. Stream-of-consciousness writing differs from automatic writing in that the author composes the stream of thought that is putatively going through the character’s head. S-o-c writing eschews punctuation and sentence structure, hurtling along from thought to fragmentary thought. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Jack Kerouac are notable practitioners. Continue reading

SunWinks! September 7, 2014: Give ‘Em The Fast Shuffle

Dear SunWinkers:

SunWinksLogo How’s the wife, you ask? Get it from the horse’s mouth at ! We went to Carol’s hairdresser today and—well, I’ll let her tell you.

Interesting story: My good friend and colleague Susan Budig, who writes a column called Mindful Poetry, did a prompt asking for readers’ original forms. Respondents were instructed to submit at least two examples of poems in that form. I submitted the two you see below. Susan’s response was that she didn’t see how the two poems were the same form.

Poem: Ambivalence Continue reading