Category Archives: Poems

A Fragment

The cuckoo bird, he sings cu cu,
Because he knows there’s nothing new;
He will not cease nor will explain
The age-old notes of his refrain.

The cuckoo bird, he sheds no tears,
He is unvexed by human years;
He sings amidst the month of May
Until the final Judgement Day.

We briefly wake, we briefly dream,
Till borne off by the rushing stream;
Before we know what has been known,
We meet new lovers fully grown.


A Partial Bestiary (For my Great-niece, Allison)

A Partial Bestiary
(For my niece, Allison)

The aardvark’s worthy of our praise
His name begins with a pair of a’s
He is clever, suave and svelte
The classiest creature on the veldt.

He loves to go and eat his fill
At a convenient termite hill
This is really no malarkey
He can’t help being aardvarky.


The butterfly’s a killer diller
He starts life as a caterpillar
But then he tires of that state
And decides that he’ll pupate.

Then he hatches and the guy
Becomes an adult butterfly
And the name for all this is
Complete metamorphosis.


The chimpanzee lives in a tree
He does not know astronomy
He is brave and he is bold
And clever as a five year old.

He wears a brightly hued bandanna
And eats a yellow ripe banana
If I could choose, I would not be
A creature like the chimpanzee.


Behold the friendly crocodile
He always greets you with a smil
But do not ask him for a ride
Or you may wind up inside.

If you meet him by a pool
Just apply the golden rule
Do not annoy him in his pride
Lest you end in his inside.


It’s very impolite to laugh
At the long neck of the giraffe
The reason why he is so tall
Need not then concern us at all.

He likes to eat the topmost branches
And read boring, cheap romances
And it’s interesting and true
He has a real stupendous view.


A furry animal is the gnu
He does not look like me or you
For lions, he’s a tasty feast
And also called the wildebeest.

He always travels in a herd
To try to change him is absurd
It isn’t profitable, it’s true
To have a friend who is a gnu.


The hummingbird came down the line
Of blossoms on the trumpet vine
Hummingbird, green one, I do find
Your flight a metaphor for the mind.

Pirhouetting, quick as a wink
As fast as the mind can think
Each migration do you go
Across the Gulf of Mexico.


The kangaroo she is no slouch
She keeps her children in a pouch
The children aren’t very showy
And each of them is called a joey.

The kangaroo she likes to bound
And covers lots and lots of ground
She likes to go out to a ball
Like any good marsupial.


Look how the foolish ostrich stands
With its had beneath the sands
The reason why is hard to say
But he does it anyway.

The ostrich lies on desert plains
To be oblivious he feigns
But it would be quite absurd
To imitate this silly bird.


Behold the bird known as the owl
He loves to eat both fish or fowl
And does his hunting all the night
And he finds that quite all right.

The owl, they say, is very wise
And easy is to recognize
And the bird is nearly mute
Except when he will give a hoot.


A funny creature is the seal
It doesn’t have much sex appeal
It doesn’t wear expensive clothes
But balances a ball upon its nose.

The seals live in big colonies
Which practically obstruct the breeze
You ask what is their favorite dish
It is, you’re right, a plate of fish.


The spider’s a creature very great
The number of his legs is eight
He spins a web to catch his prey
And so he lives from day to day

When he has a fine web spun
He likes to bask beneath the sun
You won’t believe it till you’ve tried a
Friend as useful as a spider


A lovely creature is the vulture
He is an advocate of culture
He likes it not if you ask why
He spends his days up in the sky.

The vulture dives upon the dead
Which is one way to get ahead
It would be better if he could sing
And get his meals at Burger King.

The whale’s the biggest one of all
His spout is like a waterfall
He does not use an escalator
And mostly lives near the equator.

To see a whale is quite a treat
He grows up to a hundred feet
He is not a rank landlubber
And people hunt him for his blubber.


The zebra’s coat is black on white
Or white and black
Is he a sight!!

(Roger didn’t finish this one. He wrote “rest of poem to follow.”)

A Problem In Trees

Before my window
There paused a green-skirted evergreen tree.So still she stands
Till I ponder what cause
To her flickering progress dictated pause (declared a pause).And distressed find
Each lower bough
Descending into a pool of snow.Snow ledging her eyebrows
Her frosty vision
Has charted the way from here with precision.

Trees walking are deliberate
More, say, than humankind
Our feet pace by to be in turn
Bypassed by mind.

Trees take one step, and are content
Having a single boot
To give the toe to the hands of the loam
And mildly turn ambition into root.

But don’t stay the little bands at night
Trooping, when nobody knows or cares
Over the warm undulations of the earth
Until the hills roll out in stars.

[If a tree should move
I suppose I’d miss it
But my faith in the prospect remains implicit.]

From their buds the roses pop
And the long day slinks
to an end
When will all this come to a stop
This road, this road without a bend.The curlew calls upon its nest
And I think of the girls I have known
Oh curlew, the one that I loved best
Comes to my mind fully blown.Cry then, for all past years blend
And the pains of living abate
Not mine to avert what the savage
years send
Though precisely what I await.
June 22, 2014



The cold, pale rays of sunlight,
Are shining in the dawn.
And the haze is slowly lifting,
From the trees upon the lawn.

The leaves, in all their glory,
Put on their cloaks of gold,
And scatter o’er the wood lands,
As the autumn wind blows cold.

The dark brown nuts are dropping
Like a hail upon the ground,
And the lively little squirrel
Is scurrying around.

The bear, grown fat by summer
Ambled o’er the hill,
Through sparkling woodland waters
Into the forest still.
Roger Fogelman—7th grade

Butterfly Messiah

Fluttering in from the horizon,
Wing on wing, from the Spring of time,
They come, a gossamer horde
Semaphoring in the endless day,
They meet, mate, and provide
Provender for their young,
And then they die.

But now from this
Another wave is generated to move on.
What then? Well, they believe
That crumpling one brood on another brood,
An infinity of butterflies will coax
An archibutterfly to come,
And lead them from a world of birds and wasps,
And other accomplices of woe
To where the whole taxonomy will bask,
Subjected to eternal shine,
And all the vacuum of the past,
The hurried haste, the glut of spawn
Is justified.

So what are we to say?
Well, birds and butterflies and men
Form an economy of souls
At whom we laugh at our own peril;
And the winged hieroglyphs
Provide a puzzle which
Our whole life is too short to puzzle on.

So here we end, all tantalized
At the solution of the butterflies.


From their buds the roses pop
And the long day slinks
to an end
When will all this come to a stop
This road, this road without a bend.

The curlew calls upon its nest
And I think of the girls I have known
Oh curlew, the one that I loved best
Comes to my mind fully blown.

Cry then, for all past years blend
And the pains of living abate
Not mine to avert what the savage
years send
Though precisely what I await.
June 22, 2014


When time and thought conjoin
In the reflecting pool of memory
Quite often there sign to me
The shapes of butterflies I’ve known,
Stamping their abstract signatures
Upon the medallion of the moment,
Piercing the inner eye like a wildflower
And, like it, filling the heart
With an incomprehensible sense
Of perfection
Too all-comprehensive to be borne
Except in silence,
And impossible to reduce to thought.
My niece also
Draws me into her orbit,
Signing the shape
Of years to come
In her continual present,
And my hopes for her
Blend with memories
Too long to promise that I’ll gaze
At length upon her in her glory,
But perhaps my part-time gaze
May sign to her
In some far forgotten future day,
And wink, like a friendly, falling star,
To tell her of my love.

Der Vallfish


Huge, svelte beater of the ocean paths
The blue or sulphurbottom whale
Casts its bulk through the depths
But cannot outrun its tormentor, the harpoon gun,
So all its hundred feet or so
Are liquefied in the factory ship
With the result that there no longer are
Enough to meet and mate.

And so to push the species forward
While the ocean may contain
Individuals, they cannot find one the other
And the species will be zero
In the fullness of time.

In similar vein, those of Ashkenaz
(except some dolphins of the devout)
Cruise the English-speaking seas
Without the help of a helpmate
And so if they long
To hear a juicy mama-loshen
They will have to speak out loud.

And some who would have wished
To speak it are thwarted
By obtuse progenitors
And so the aforementioned sulphurbottoms
Sail in lonely linguistic splendor
Around the world and then
There will be none.

So rather than frontiers
A folk must guard its language, in which
I say good-bye.


I do not write words but metaphors
Which are akin to God
And new minted things
Which fly like sparks from an anvil
And are coins to buy a seat in the world to come
And so with trepidation
They weld earth and sky
And I, a minor poet,
Wish to indicate
That poetry is shorthand
Both intellectual and emotional
And on that note I end my poem.



It is very honorable to love a woman
In the spring, at midday, in the shade
Of the very long ago, which is only human,
And the weeping willow glade
Very possibly is Eden
In the middle of which transacted a trade
Which reminds us that, when the world began
Woman was contained in the side of man.
To be a snake is not very honorable
And yet he was the go-between.
And all of us, or those who are able
To see the truth instead of the fable,
At the center of it, or whatever I mean,
Has some part of him snake, liable
To tempt and be cursed, and crawl, having done,
Responsible for every mother’s son.

So love, why not, it is a very serious business,
And supports commerce, industry, wars,
Poetry, women, I am told, somewhat less
Than honorable, and leaves not scars
Which can’t be healed by the next generation, or mars
Anyone’s beauty sleep, permanently, and the princess
In the story awoke, and was alive. Now let the song,
Its singer, return to their beginning, end, where they belong.
This poem is reprinted from The Academy of American Poets, University and College Poetry Prizes, 1960-1966