Sunday, March 16, 2014


Sometimes my eyes will brush across your face
To steal a glance before they run away,
Pursued by looks that time cannot erase
Which catch me empty handed to this day.

Sometimes my mind will wander down your back
Like faithful pilgrim trekking lonely dunes,
Forever reaching for this warmth I lack
Beneath the fullness of these ancient moons.

Sometimes my thoughts will drift between your legs
Like anchor plumbing coral ocean floor
And though the heavy handed sailor begs;
The sand and sea still leave him wanting more.

Under the surface an attraction hides,
That pulls me back as surely as the tides.

Friday, February 1, 2013


First mine a heavy metal from the earth

Then press it into hollow coils of brass;

And since you’ve found a way to prove your worth

You’ve got the mettle for the ruling class.

Unfurl a pencil, sharpen it some more;

Write sermons showing Jesus on your side.

Remember to find heathens to deplore

Then shout it from the airwaves far and wide.

Then help your friends so they can start a coup

And sow those bullets (but don’t write that down).

You’ll find that when their grisly work is through

They saved a piece while carving up the town.

No mystery in turning lead to gold:

Find someone else to die while you grow old.

© Frederick C. Ingram 2013

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wealth Speaks a Different Language

Wealth speaks a different language than ours,
Talking in riddles, concealing in rhyme;
Whispered inside ever shinier cars,
Savored for every nuance sublime.

Wealth uses so many interesting words,
Tucking away all its lucre and gain,
Leveraging everything you've ever heard
Dealing with influence, privilege or fame.

Rolling from tongues that feel cooler than ice,
Syllables gilt in the richest of sounds:
Murmured confessions don't hang themselves twice;
There's no wailing of bugles, no baying of hounds.

Strive as we might for its generative powers,
Wealth speaks a different language than ours.

(c) 2012 Frederick C. Ingram

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Last

I wish the minister would let it rest;
It’s hard enough to be in here at all.
Please leave some space for heaving of the breast
And save your sermon for the lecture hall.

She feels as if she’s in a waking dream,
So let her catch her breath now, if you please.
Although police have cordoned off the scene,
Its violent stain’s the only thing she sees.

Another knuckle knocking on the door,
Two ruddy faces clad in bright clean shirts,
And two more souls she’s never met before
Arrive with kindness, flowers, Bibles, words.

Though you’ve been kind to share what you believe,
It’s taking all her strength right now, to breathe.

(c) 2008 Frederick C. Ingram

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Broken Bell

Like bitter sugar, falls November snow,
All night beside the dying embers' glow,
While far-off memories awake are kissed
By pealing church bells in the mist.
The happy, respectable ancient bell
Faithfully casts its elevating song:
In spite of age, it's still alert and well:
A soldier keeping watch before the dawn.
But as for me, my very soul is cracked,
And when it wants to fill the night with song
It only manages a voiceless hack---
The last gasp of one wounded and alone.
Beside the crimson lake, immobilized,
Beneath weight of humanity he dies.

Translated by Frederick Ingram (c) 2009

Here is the original by Charles Baudelaire, with some older translations. The most literal is the Aggeler. My favorite is the Millay:

The Elephant's Daughter

They hanged an elephant in Tennessee
For killing one or two unruly clots.
It happened in the year nineteen sixteen.
It must have been a gruesome thing to watch.
In South Carolina, four score years hence,
The daughter of an elephant has drowned
Her kids. It seems the animal had squashed
Her heart. That's what the coroner had found.
I don't know a lot about pachyderms.
Sometimes severely arid spells make them
Withhold all water from their young.
But do incestuous Republicans?
That might explain the water's fatal pull.
Perhaps the girl was praying to the well.

One tosses coins into a wishing well.
Like burying a seed, or priming pumps,
It always requires something valuable
Be lost, so that some better thing will come.
What could she hope to come from such a loss?
Was she searching for a better husband?
Did she truly want to marry her boss?
Or just somehow escape from this arid land?
Her counsel argued it was the latter.
The jury found her guilty anyway,
But have not yet decided the matter
Of punishment. They will do that today.
Why stop with her? Why not hang her father,
The elephant who kept her from water.

(c) 1996 Frederick Ingram

The Vampire's Humor

One night I rose from where I lay in rest;
I woke from dreams about my counterpart.
Rude thunder shook chambers inside my chest,
While lightning teased my cold and vacant heart.
Desire had seeped into my tortured mind;
Into the rain I ran in search of blood.
I knew whatever comfort I might find
Lay not in sleeping like a piece of wood.
My senses sharp, I found my human feast:
My girl, asleep in her eternal night.
I drank of her until her heartbeat ceased;
I watched her die and sadly touched the bite.
And so my skin feels warm now from her blood,
And, I confess, she tasted pretty good!

(c) 1987-1994 Frederick Ingram