humor by Louis Phillips

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
            And milk comes frozen home in pail.
When blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the  staring owl,
            Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
            While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow;
            And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
            And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
            Tu-whit, tu-who; a merry note,
            While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
                                    William Shakespeare

            If Shakespeare had published “Winter” today, the letter column 
of every book review section in the nation would be filled to overflowing.  
For example:

Dear Editors:
            I recently was astonished to read in your publication a poem
 by some new poet (if we can call him by that designation) named 
William Shakespeare.  His poem “Winter” is offensive to all your
 women readers.  It does not take a scholar to notice that when 
he mentions males (Tom and Dick) he makes no disparaging remarks 
about their physical appearance.  Yet, when Mr. Shakespeare remarks 
upon Joan, he calls her “greasy” and when he writes about Marian 
he notes only that her nose “looks red and raw.”  How insulting.  
If you wish to encourage male chauvinism you may do so without 
my subscription.
A. Merryweather
Chairwoman, Equal Time in Literature
Dear Editor:
            Mr. Shakespeare’s (I assume that it is a pen-name) hatred 
of religion, as evidenced by the line “And coughing drowns the 
parson’s saw” is a misguided attack on all faithful churchgoers.  
We who attend religious services, even when the weather is foul, 
deserve more respect.  I am tired of reading poems celebrating 
godlessness.  Please cancel my subscription.
Reverend Arthur Montroy III
Dear Editor:
            I don’t know much about poetry (just what I read in 
your publication while waiting in my dentist’s office) but I do 
know a thing or two about owls.  Recently, I was perturbed 
to read a contribution by some upstart crow named W. Shakespeare.
            Show me an owl that goes Tu-who, Tu-whit, and I’ll eat it.  
In the future, if you persist in your misguided efforts in publishing
nature poets, then please locate a poet who knows something 
about his subject.  No wonder poetry is in such decline.
            You might recall I wrote a similar letter to you when you 
published John Keat’s execrable sonnet wherein he had Cortez 
discovering the Pacific Ocean.  Perhaps you should consider 
dropping poetry from your publication altogether.
Quigley Horsefahr,
President of Accuracy in Poetry
Dear Editor:
            I recently borrowed a copy of your literary rag and I could not 
help but notice how your learned journal persists in its prejudice against shepherds.  In a poem by a Mr. William Shakespeare, he shows all 
persons doing something positive (keeling pots, whatever the hell 
that means, or bearing logs into the hall) but he portrays shepherds 
as being lazy and egotistical, fit for doing nothing but blowing upon 
their fingernails.  Let Mr. Shakespeare be warned!  If we shepherds 
ever get hold of him, we shall teach him a thing or do publication 
would do well to portray the simple, hard-working shepherd in a 
more favorable light.
Tom David Chinminn,
President of Teamsters Local 79675 (Shepherds’ Division)
Hey Yo!
            How come you’re always publishing poems about cold.  
What’s wrong with Summer or Spring?  Get with it.  Your readers 
would enjoy some other seasons for a change.
Yours in the heat of the sun.
Jack Frost
My dear persons:
            Is it not possible to pick up your review without 
encountering more literary efforts endorsing the exploitation 
of the working classes?  Sure, let poor Tom bear logs into some 
rich person’s hall.  How much is poor Tom getting paid to do 
all this heavy work?  Probably less than minimum wage.  
Most likely, he’s not getting paid at all.  If you don’t show 
more sensitivity to the plight of the blue collar or even the 
no collar worker, then I suggest you pack it in.  You haven’t 
published a decent working-class poem since “Man With a Hoe.”  
Now that’s the kind of poetry you should be publishing.
Yours on the way to my night job,
Harding Question, Esq.
Dear Editor:
Is your gray-eyed boy Shakespeare seriously suggesting that 
our little town is not safe?  The line “When blood is nipped and 
ways be foul,” is an offense to our to our town council.  We 
demand a written apology.
Town Council
Hey you!
Sure, let your readers think it is not good to order milk in winter.  
What is the is propaganda Bill Shakespeare insinuates into nearly 
every poem he writes?  I refer specifically to the line, “And milk 
comes frozen home in pail.”  When we deliver milk, we make
 certain that our customers get what they order and unfrozen too.  
Everyone knows that Mr. Shakespeare has it in for us dairy farmers
 and milk-persons ever since a dairymaid told the constable about 
his deer poaching.
            We demand a retraction.  And on the front page of your 
next issue.
Yours truly,
Howard Raftrough
American Union of Home Milk Deliverers
Artist: Steve Duquette
Noel Coward advised a young actor
“Memorize the lines
& don’t bump into the furniture.”
The same advice cd apply
To all readers of this poem:
Memorize the  lines,
But if you want to bump into a table or two,
Go ahead & do so.
Who am I to tell you what to do?

We’ve learned a lot about trees recently. Apparently they communicate with one another via chemicals that waft on the wind and via a fungal network underground. They warn of parasites, they feed their fellows in time of need. Like people are surprisingly social –they are at their best when there are many grouped together.
David Byrne . “By the Book “ in The New York Times Book Review (October 11,2020)


    1. I am ashamed but I , like our President, Take no responsibility for anything I say or do.

      On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 12:16 PM PhillipsMiscellany wrote:



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