Mudlark Poster No. 134 (2016)

Double-Title Poems

by David Alpaugh

Is Now. Here. Today. The Gas & Electric bill
you’d better pay. Pain in your side—that will
not go away. Why let a fork (or 2) in the road
leave you forever glum? Sperm kisses ovum.
Ultra-sound. (You’re going to have a son.)            

This is forever in your face—Duke of The 
Dotted Line. Free Granny Glasses at every 
polling place. THINK, Lucky! Concentrate! 
This ain’t over till it’s over; till sit becomes 
sat—bats return to their caves–and that’s 

Makes me shiver. Pulls me towards it—as it
did Robert Frost. Spooky action at a distance. 
Trees are friendly, can be climbed—birches,
maples, oaks—lead us, with birds & squirrels
& butterflies, to open skies. But what’s in the                

Undergrowth? Poison ivy, briars, spiders, ants,
scorpions, wasps—and let’s not forget snakes! 
I prefer the simpler dangers of the ocean; peril
I can row. A Great White attack? More likely
I’ll win lotto!—or be swept out to sea by the

This poem promises whips & chains—all the way 
down. Nauseating scenes of truly Electra-fying ire:
from Medea to Titus Andronicus to Sweeney Todd,
plus the real thing on video with Baghdad Bob—
segueing into Christ’s cheeky slap in the face to

Hate. Too often, that word is merely hyperbolic;
doesn’t quite live up to its frown. I hate! Adele?
Broccoli? Cable TV? And so it’s off to Portugal to
tell Miz Browning we’re going on a hunger strike;
demanding she change “How Do I Love Thee” to

Feeding snakes is not fun. I say so, having
done it many times. Ring Necks, De Kays,
Green Snakes refuse to eat in captivity. Pry
their jaws apart gently; ease in a live worm,
slug, cricket, or hellgrammite; and may the                 

Force be with you! Since snakes can go weeks, 
even months without food—forcing one to eat 
isn’t something you’ll need to do often. But if
your snake spits out proffered orts & you long 
for inner peace—there’s only one way to go—

Margolins was our upstairs tenant in Plainfield, 
New Jersey. Paid $28 rent which she earned as
a clerk at Macy’s. A widow, her only son, Jack,
died in World War II. Though I always said Mrs.
Margolins, I’d fetch her mail, so knew her name:
Lorna. Once, when I thought she wasn’t looking,
I stuck my tongue out at her. She saw me—and I 
had to apologize. “I’m sorry, I stuck my tongue 
out, Mrs. Margolins.” I felt bad then. As this flame 
gutters, I feel rotten. Outside this poem, Lorna is

Was a doctor—but not the kind who stuck 
a thermometer up your behind. No, he had
something called a Ph.D.—knew all about
“Metallurgy.” He came—once a year—and
talked to us mostly about gold & silver, did                  

Moldenke. Once we visited the replication of 
his family estate in Denmark. Gawking at its
turrets, cannons, armored suits—I intuited the 
meaning of vassal. I lived in what mom called
Home Sweet Home—but Moldenke lived in a 

Note on the Double-Title Poem

The “double-title” poem has two five line stanzas. The first title reads into the poem or states its opening motif. The first word in the second stanza is italicized and identical to the first title. At least one word in the last two lines of the second stanza rhymes with the exit title.

Double-title poems respect both locality and “spooky action at a distance.” Their aim is to treat language as both particle and wave.

Author’s Note

David Alpaugh’s poetry, drama, fiction and criticism have appeared in journals that include Able Muse, Chronicle of Higher Education, Evergreen Review, Modern Drama, Poetry, Poets & Writers, Rattle, Scene4, Spillway, and Zyzzyva. His collection, Counterpoint, won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press. Anthologies that have published his work include Heyday Press’s California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present and the Norton Critical Anthology Eight Modern Plays. His musical play Yesteryear: Three Days in Paris with François Villon was published last year by Scene4. He teaches at California State University East Bay’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. Access more of his work at:

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