Get Your Premium Membership

Best Poems Written by Joe Wortham

Below are the all-time best Joe Wortham poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

View ALL Joe Wortham Poems

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

Lynn Margulis

Lynn Margulis is perhaps most remembered as the wife of Carl Sagan
Expected to be wife, mother, companion and last of all -  scientist
But Lynn Margulis, under Sagan’s basket, would not hide
Her light would shine – Call it a Woman’s Pride?

A radical with a cause who forsook
The path that other’s took
Stood tall in defending evolution
But not theories proposed by some.

Perhaps a doppelgänger had invested her body and mind
For there was no one else (like her) of equal kind.
She had visions and could see
What’s obscured to the likes of you and me.

In the biological world, chaos reigned
How to bring peace to this troubled kingdom?
Milestones of Abiotic synthesis of DNA, RNA, proteins,
Reproduction and photosynthesis had long sense past.

But how could evolution render life,
That would be past on to generations more.
She envisioned an organism evolving
That included means for mystery solving.

Life’s turmoil required a need for energy
Free from the sun’s erratic glow
She proposed a solution 
To evolution’s problem.

A mother cell could replicate with a whim.
Containing an energy dynamo
That would fuel the cell
Based on ATP generated within.

Margulis found in bacteria of another sort
Where conversion of chemicals occurred
To ensure synthesis and reproduction.
Ingest those cells whole and make them dependent in addition.

Give up chloroplast dependent on the sun
To make the system run
And convert life giving chemicals within.
Evolution of Man had begun.


Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

The Snowflake

The Snowflake

Sit quietly
And pretend 
There's a roaring fire 
In the fireplace

The snow
Silently builds 
Against the north side
Of the house. 

The smoke? 
To the wind howl?

And maybe 
In the cold night
Hear a barn door
Banging away? 

But we're wrapped
In our feather filed
Quilt q
Quite snug... 

My feet
Cold from taking
Off my boots
Then walking barefoot
The bare wood floor. 

My big ears 
Tingle as they warm.

A cricket
Brought in
With the
Armful of
Seasoned oak

Warmed by the fire
To sing... 
Crick-et, crick-et, crick-et.

Frost had his 
Road not taken,
Alluding to how
Being different
Is the now.

For me 
The last line

An insignificant
Makes all the

There is no going back.

Fpr Lillian Hillman
Walking through
The deep snow
to the
Train Station.

There is
No Train
And looking about
There is
No Station.

Lost in a Winter
Has no end,
A creative
But disturbed woman.

The heat rises
From the iron cookstove
A curl
Of escaped smoke

Finds passage
Through the beaded
Into the cold attic.

There on warming
Cedar shingles
Of the roof
A snowflake falls.

It becomes a droplet
Of Water

And begins its j
To the sea.

But wait,
It cools
And upon reaching
The roof’s edge.

Then joins others
In its descent

As sheep
Crowding to escape
Over an unseen

Gives up its
Latent heat
And becomes
A part of...

Morning and 
In the clear air
The icicle
Among others

In the Sun
From the roof’s

Snap one off
And taste the cold
With just a hint
Of the cedar
That gave it birth.

Are forever.
A bit of mind’s cosmos
To be shared.

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem


A shadow
Then it was

But wait
It's here

Was it
The eclipse
A passing
Of the moon?

It brought forth
To soon
Still borne

The presence
Of one long 

A shadow
O'er those
Who felt
The presence

Of her
On us

A playful 

In our
Leading onward

N'er looking 

Close your eyes
In the shadows

Louise H. Dameron

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem



She moved slowly in the cane-backed rocker 
Too and fro in the Summer heat
St Louis was unforgiving
Was there no escape?

She paused and walked to the bureau
Running her hand across the smooth worn oak
Opening the topmost drawer
She reached far back.

The small bundle in tissue
Tied with a ribbon
Called out to her 
She carefully removed it in the fading light.

Untying the ribbon, She laid it aside
The paper creases retained the package’s shape
But were soon unfolded to reveal
A single pair of black silk stockings.

Lifting them in her left hand
She caressed them with her fingers
But the barbs of age and hard life
Caught the fine silk.

Turning her hand
She continued to stroke 
The stockings with the back 
Of her hand.

Raising them to her cheek
She embraced the treasure
Moving it slowly as a lover’s kiss
Gently, softly.

The faint scent
Of Magnolias
Teased her nose
And she was transported…

Kate Coplin

(Based on Coplin's short story, A Pair of Silk Stockings, which reveals much about her life.)

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

The Penny

The Penny

At the Dollar store.

“Excuse me,”
She said
As I got into my truck.

“You dropped this.”
And handed me 
a nondescript penny.

I thanked her
And drove away.
Only in Myakka City.

(Often times as I pull my cell phone from my pocket, a coin that’s in the pocket is trapped in the protective edge of the cell phone protective housing  and is pulled from my pocket.  The lady saw it fall, picked it up and without a thought returned it to the rightful owner.  There is a grace and love in living in small town America.)

At Walmart:

Finished at the check out
Pocketed my change
Remembered how coins 
Get trapped by the cell phone.

Stopped and removed my phone
Out came a single penny taking a ride
Fell to the floor
And escaped as if to hide.

Rolled down the isle
From the checkout counters
And away it went
Energy within, not yet spent.

Others saw what was in play
As the coin rolled away
Further and further it went
Where to, I couldn't say.

Lady cleaning floors stopped and watched
As the penny rolled past her and her broom
Another at a further checkout saw it coming
Waited for it as it hastened on its way.

Finally mostly spent
Took a right turn 
Into the optic store
It was bent.

There it finally came to rest
Not quite the end of the story 
As I followed it in its quest
There sat the optometrist in his glory.

Watched me pick up my penny
And probably thinking,
Damn, I could have had it 
Had it not been for him.


Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

The Nose Knows


At the ballet, ran a survey. Who uses perfume?
The Nose knows.

Standing in the narrow hall
Waiting for one who’s answering nature’s call.
Young and all waft pass.
Vapor trail followed a pretty lass.

First to judge the bearer.
Less than thirty
Clearly in the majority.
Of course clothes she’s a-wearing.

Slight in build,
Knee high skirt with high heels
Dressed to the nines
Painted nails of all kinds.

But others, no scents a-following
None the nose detecting.
Washed clean as new fallen snow
Nothing, reflecting a flower filled meadow.

Next were those thirty to fifty;

Certainly not as progressive or sexy.
Moving like a bunch of cows
Impatient, waiting their turn
Udders (bladders) extended - firm.

Relieved they are slow to move
Stirring the air with reserve.
But wait, a scent is found
A single one moving around.

Essence of new mown hay
Identified as - cumin, let us say
Reminder of a pastoral scene
Was she here to be seen?

Fingers bare,
No rings-there
Just then joined by a man
Greetings; use imagination if you can.

Onward to the study
Now a rush aplenty.
For the aging ones emerge
After their time in purgatory.

Smell of coconut oil lingers
They washed their hands and fingers
(Probably only ones who did
Obscuring other volatiles instead.)

Back to the ballet.
(Or should I say, “Away from the toilet?)


Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2018

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

Omar Appears

Yesterday as I was going to my chair
I saw a cat not sleeping there!
He was’t asleep there,  again today
Oh how I wish he’d not be away.

At home at last after beers - three (or four or five) 
Certain, I can’t be
The cat was’t waiting there you see,
When I looked both in and out
The cat wasn’t there about.

Come back, come back my pet
The door I’ve left open yet
But when I looked again he wasn’t there
No ball of fur on my chair.

With no light a shining in the room
I thought I saw the cat a welcoming
But when the switch, I pressed – on
It was as if I’d said begone
For the cat on my chair
Wasn’t there.

Early morning came at last
And I looked to see what fate had cast
For when at the table sat
There was awaiting my cat.


"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there!
He wasn't there again today,
Oh how I wish he'd go away!" [5][6][7]

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away...

"Antigonish" is an 1899 poem by American educator and poet William Hughes Mearns. It is also known as "The Little Man Who Wasn't There" and was adapted as a hit song under the latter title.

Inspired by reports of a ghost of a man roaming the stairs of a haunted house, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada,[1] the poem was originally part of a play called The Psyco-ed, which Mearns had written for an English class at Harvard University, circa 1899.[2] In 1910, Mearns staged the play with the Plays and Players, an amateur theatrical group, and on 27 March 1922, newspaper columnist FPA printed the poem in "The Conning Tower", his column in the New York World.[2][3] Mearns subsequently wrote many parodies of this poem, giving them the general title of, Later Antigonishes.[4]

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

Sweet Agnes


Sweet Agnes
In my sleep see I thee
Bronzed skin a deepened hue
Bleached hair cut short
Hands twisted by fate
Calluses treaded on thy feet
Simply clothed in threadbare blue
Shirt missin buttons few.

Standing tall carryin burden
Not revealed
Fisher woman 
Known not but to a few
Bringing to th' door
Briny harvest to share
Sweet pompano freshly caught n' cleaned
Ready for the pan it seemed.

Oysters pried from their secret spot
Sea's seasoning, a tasty lot
Where from she came or goes, matters - not
Today is today as God begot
For while th' sun beats down today
Tomorrow's rain will cast away
Grime, nature's cosmetics give
An elegance to one so dear.

Bed made from findings along the way
Or simply a spot, sand pushed away
Blanket, the stars that she can name
Head resting on a bundle, all to her name
God mother to the child
Who pray would say,
Agnes my friend
She passed this way.

(I know not her name, only Agnes
From whence she came or goeth since
Rosemary's friend who would share
From time to time
Bay's bounty, for clothes to wear
Living free and unadorned
She was of life -
Freedom born.)


Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

Burnel or Brunellus the Ass

If two heads are better than one
How much better is three.
For the time has come 
When Translators cannot agree.

Nigel wrote the words in Latin script
And much time has passed 
With many Learned Ones pen’s dipt
In deciding what the story of the Ass encripted.

It is not a simple tract
Written in riddles true
For the reader to go forth and back,
Trying to decide if the Ass is you.

Such it is as we begin with the translation
Of Graydon W. Regenos of Speculum stultorum
by Nigellus Wireker who
May not have been Himself, it’s true.

Followed up in short order 
By J. H. Mozley
Who retitled the text 
As “A Mirror for Fools”

Now Regenos, as scholars are bent to do
Translated words and phrases to
Sometimes missing the meaning
Of the text as it was demeaning.
Trying to be accurate in the sense
That a Dictionary presents.

Then along comes Mozley with good intent
(With passing criticism of Regenos sent.)
Thinking he knew to the letter
And tried to make the rhymes better.

To both we are grateful for their efforts
Which nevertheless come up short.
So with a quirky pen and pencil to the test
Mahtrow seeks to bring life to the beast.

So call him Burnel the Ass if you choose
Or Daun Brunellus while somewhat loose,
By Nigel Longcamp or Nigellus Wireker 
The name of the Ass is just a moniker.

¿And perhaps the “Ass” is you?


Nigellus Wireker (aka Nigel Longchamp)*

 Nigellus Wireker is the author of the Speculum stultorum (A Mirror of Fools, written about 1000), a satire in Latin elegiac verse on the clergy and society in general. 

The hero is Burnellus, or Brunellus, a foolish ass, who goes in search of a means of lengthening his tail. Brunellus first visits Salernum to obtain drugs for this purpose. However, he loses these when attacked by a Cistercian monk with dogs. (And loses whatever he had as a tail as well)

He then goes to Paris to study, but makes no progress there, being unable to remember the city's name after eight years of study. (And when called upon, answers with a “bray”.)

He then decides to join a religious order, but instead founds a new one by taking the easiest parts from the rules of other orders. Finally, his master recaptures him.

The poem was immensely popular for centuries. Under the title "Daun Burnel the Asse" it is quoted by Chaucer in line 15328 of the "Nun's Priest's Tale."

(parenthesis added to add to the internet’s mention of the book and its author.)

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2018

Details | Joe Wortham Poem

Body Casting

Body Casting

Standing there naked for all to stare
Or is it a pleasure to share
The days when before
Your body took a different shape and more.

A way of remembering the time
When pregnancy was progressing just fine
And your body changed as was due
For nine months pregnancy was ending for sure.

Weight distribution fore and aft
Bulges here and there are in the cast
For weight gain was taking place
As within the skin there was a race.

A race to fill the voids and cause expansion
When the skeleton would allow expression
Of the new growing within and about
That was soon to be without.

Those who have had their body cast
Made with strips of adhesive and plaster
Ensuring that a form would be saved
That some would consider depraved.

The cast can be used as decorative bowls
For it reproduces the body as it molds.

Sand them and paint them if you like
Art work that is unique to the mother’s tike
Hang them on the wall to exclaim
Look at me in my nine-month’s frame (fame).

Put baby blankets in the cavity
A place for cats to snuggle infamy
Or baby toys and stuffed animals there placed
Whatever, moves you to view the displaced.

But understand each is unique as they stand
A testimony to the delight of man (woman).

Ancient Paths in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho makes plaster cast of a women’s bulging belly at nine months to remember the shape that nature takes during pregnancy.  Naples Daily News,11/28/2917

Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017