Monthly Archives: April 2017






The New Yorker always surprises me

When it come although

It comes every Thursday or Friday1

It’s not that I forget that I have

A subscription—it’s that

The magazine is so different

From everything else in my life.

It’s as if a tiny little UFO

Showed up in my mailbox

Or Bigfoot knocked

At my front door.

You’d be surprised, too,

Wouldn’t you?

That’s how it is

With The New Yorker.

Maybe I don’t expect

Some of the outré

Articles and statements

Within the magazine

Or coverage of issues that

Almost no one knows about

Or the cartoons that make no sense.2

Whatever it is, I can look forward

To being surprised

Almost every week.


1 Five combined (i.e., biweekly) issues appear in February, June, July, August and December and at other times, as indicated on the issue’s cover.

2 My favorites. Aren’t they yours?


Dan Verner

April 21, 2017

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How To




In spite of what people say, this is NOT an engraving of me practicing my manners.

When I was in elementary school

Our teachers saw it as their mission

To civilize us since we were, some of us,

Uncivilized in spite of what you might

Have heard about the “good old days.”

We as students weren’t particularly good

All of the time. It was too much of a strain

And so we fell into wayward behavior.

To combat this, our teachers made sure

We took our hats off when we entered the school

(Boys only) and learned the order and style

Of introductions: younger to older, man to woman,

It was all so civilzed.

Also telephone etiquette:

Always identify yourself

At the beginning of calls.

When you answer,

Simply say Hello, or,

If you are ambitious,

State your name

After you say hello.

Use a pleasant voice

(The teachers called it

“the telephone voice).

Say only what you need to say

Unless it is a social call

And even then, don’t talk for hours.

Don’t let anyone interrupt you

While you are on the phone

Unless you excuse yourself

To see what the person wants,

And always say good-bye

When ending a call.

Saying “please” and “thank you”

Were absolutely mandatory,

As was excusing yourself

After a sneeze and saying

“God bless you” to the person

Who sneezed.

The boys thought we had it rough:

We were expected to rise when

Girls came into the room,

To hold doors for them,

And to walk on the curb side

So we would be the one

Who was splashed should

A car drive through a puddle

Right by us.

We learned to write friendly

And business letters,

Observing all the conventions

And niceties,

And I won’t go on any more

(Remembering telephone rule

Number three)

Except to say that,

For most of us,

The lessons took,

And we are

All of us (aren’t we?)



Dan Verner

April 20, 2017





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Sad Little Poster



Lost Cat

On the telephone pole

In front of our house is

One of those sad little posters

Announcing a pet gone missing

With a picture of a dog on it.

It could be anyone’s pet,

But it belongs to the sad little poster

Who made the sign

And who had tacked it to

Poles all over the neighborhood.

I walk by and silently say a prayer

For the pet and the poster of this

Piece of hope, and I hope

The almost palpable sadness of

This situation resolves itself

Into the most jubilant of joys.
Dan Verner

April 19, 2017



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Jigsaw Puzzle



Jigsaw Puzzle on Table

Yesterday I felt an urge

To put together a

Jigsaw puzzle

Which I had not done

Since my Dad’s passing

Over two years ago.

He loved them,

And we kept one

Set up in his room

At the assisted living facility

And worked on it whenever

I visited, which was almost

Every day. Other visitors

Liked to put in pieces

As well, and like us,

Talk about whatever is

On our minds.

I miss jigsaw puzzles

And I miss my Dad

So I am going to put one

Together in memory of him,

Imagining him sitting

Across the table

Putting in piece after piece

Without looking at the picture

On the top of the box

While I studied that picture

And managed to place

Ten percent of the pieces

That he did.

He was like that.


Dan Verner

April 18, 2017

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Aries SW Big Black SUV

Today I mistook a

Big black late model SUV

For the little blue 1981

Dodge Aries station wagon

That we had for over

A decade.

Silly me. They don’t look

A bit alike.

I can’t claim it was

An honest mistake.

I was just wrong.

I remembered the days when

I could recognize and identify

Every car out there

And tell you something about them

But now I can’t even tell them



Dan Verner

April 16, 2017

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This Easter


Early Christian Art


This Easter, we met in a sanctuary

Not a temple, but they were the same.

And we gathered with two hundred others,

Not twelve, but we both were one.

And we sang hymns, not psalms.

Same music.

And heard the story we have heard

Every year. Same experience.

And, in the end, we knew

Once again

Strength, courage and hope

As did those followers

So long ago

And although we are so different

In so many ways,

We, united by practice and belief,

Are the same



Dan Verner

April 16, 2017


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Maundy Thursday

Garden of Gethsemene

Here in this room, there is

Quiet amid the busyness of the week

And we celebrate a meal that is

Over two thousand years old,

One that ties us to those who have

Gone before and to those in varied

Climates, locations and circumstances.

We are one with them as we

Reach out, reach up and

Reach in to our inner selves.

This ceremony transcends language

And class, time and place

And so we find celebration

And shared sorrow in the

Passage from Palm Sunday

To the Garden after this meal.

We move into the valley with him

Who created all,

Knowing that after three days,

After a terrible passage,

We find ourselves in another garden,

And find exultation again.

Through all this comes a sound,

Borne on the wind,

Remember. Remember. Remember.


Dan Verner

April 15, 2017

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The Last Button on My Shirt

Last Shirt Button

Why indeed?

The last button on my shirt

Is a lazy lad:

He lies horizontal

And while I don’t think it bad

He doesn’t stand up straight and tall

Like his other kin

And to tell the truth, sometimes I have to

Wonder just what’s wrong with him.

His brothers do as they should

While he sleeps away the day

And I wonder that he can hold at all

Lying in that way.

But I confess, he does the job

As well as another other

I’ll have to look at all my shirts

To see if he has a brother.

So hold and sleep, my little one

While others are up there on the guard

They still have a ways to go but

You won’t go very far.


Dan Verner

April 14, 2017


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The Cats Are Going on Spring Break



Cats at the Beach

Wait. That’s not entirely true.

Not all the cats are going on spring break,

Only the student cats who are

Going to go off to where it’s warm

And they can drink themselves

Silly on milk and

Chase mice and

Parade around without clothes

(But no one seems to notice)

And shred the cushions

In the motel room.

Yes, that’s what the student cats do

While the parent cats

Stay home and go to work

Each day and think about their

“Vacation” where they take their

Cat phones to the beach

So they can answer emails

Because it’s part of their job.

It’s also hard to press the screen

With their pads, and they have

To try again and again and usually

Have to get their human (who came with them—

They don’t have enough sense to be

Left at him) answer the emails

For them. The cats also worry about

What kind of trouble their

Kittens have gotten into

And don’t sleep for waiting

On the phone call from the police dogs

Telling them that their little cats are

In jail and they can bail them out

If they want to.

The parent cats don’t want to

But fear being the subject of gossip

At the office,

Fear being thought a bad parent

Even though the student cats have been bad.

It’s not fair, this being responsible and adult,

And it just makes the parent cats angry,

Which is how they stay most of the time anyhow,

So probably the student cats figure

They might as well go to the beach

And have what passes for a good time

While they still can.



April 13, 2017

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On Writing this Poem with a Pencil

Source: On Writing this Poem with a Pencil

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