Let’s All Write a Lyric Poem!

by Paul Mathers

A Lyric Poem is, simply, a poem which sounds like it might be sung. So says Ron Padgett. In days of yore, it is thought, these poems were sung, but we do not have the music. Think of the Psalms.

The word comes from the “lyre.” A lot of poetry is composed to be sung and a great deal of poetry that seems to have been composed for that purpose exists without any indication of what the original music may have been. William Blake is said to have sung his poems and we have no musical notation. Allen Ginsberg put out a remarkably awful album of how he thought Blake’s poems may have been sung. Indeed, one could put these poems to music.

This was a tricky form for me. I don’t think I’ve ever written a poem intended to be a lyric piece in my life, save for that one time I started writing an opera libretto (which is another item on my bucket list by the way). I found myself writing in a sort of “patter” which reminded me of Gilbert and Sullivan or, oddly enough, hip-hop. I learned that this specific form of simplicity is not my strong suit.

Any attempt by anyone out there to put this to music is highly encouraged. I picture verse 2 as a chorus, I suppose.



Late February Song

by Paul Mathers


February, when the coats are on the rack in readiness.

Vapo-rub and lavender in all of their headiness.

Earliest mosquitos tap the window to my room

and the bare, first twinges of what is soon to bloom.


And all the hemisphere begins to reboot.

The dead get buried, the vine spits out new shoots.

And I’m laying speculating the next verse to my song

If I should live so long.


Blindly fumbling through the path of life, we so often lose our way

with no compass, map, or blind man’s staff we weave our parquetry,

Anything that’s keeping falling sparrows calculating

is a force complex enough to keep my blood pump palpitating.


It’s all vanity: your panicky attempts to speak some pathos

when your only navigation’s acceleration through the chaos.

So I pull on my pants, each foot I put a shoe in,

drag myself into the kitchen and get the coffee brewing.