Max Gutmann

Max Gutmann has ties to San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Budapest. He has contributed to The Formalist, Light Quarterly, Cricket, and a number of magazines with "Review" in their titles. There Was a Young Girl From Verona: A Limerick Cycle Based on the Complete Dramatic Works of Shakespeare is available from Doggerel Daze, online at


The Villanelle's Appeal

The villanelle's appeal is rather fleeting.
It's fun at first. The fun fades quickly, though.
The lines are few that really bear repeating.

The suffocating pattern's self-defeating.
Repetitive, mechanical and slow,
The villanelle's appeal is rather fleeting.

What poets feel their verses gain by beating
A line to death and then some, I don't know.
The lines are few that really bear repeating.

It's like a theater with half the seating
Roped off, reserved for folks who never show.
The villanelle's appeal is rather fleeting:

The end of every stanza's like reheating
The stuff you had for lunch an hour ago.
The lines are few that really bear repeating.

Like grating TV advertisements bleating
About NEW products, nothing's new, and so
The villanelle's appeal is rather fleeting.
The lines are few that really bear repeating.

Published in Piedmont Literary Review

Modern Romance

There was no photography in the long ago world that shaped the human male mind. So at some deep level, that mind may respond to glossy images of pin-ups and fashion models as if they were viable mates. —Time

She smiled and showed a bit of thigh
As I was idly passing by
A crowd of tourists in Times Square.
(She worked in advertising there.)

At some deep level, I was drawn,
Of ancient instinct just a pawn,
So, cautious, watching the effect,
I kissed her; she did not object.

I took her home to meet my folks;
She smiled at all my father's jokes
(A bit flirtatiously, I guess,
But she impressed them, nonetheless).

I'm certain that my glossy mate,
So fine and perfect, was a fate
Which I could never have escaped—
The way my mind and she were shaped.

The wedding small and cozy (The
Photographer, her dad, worked free.),
I glowed to have her at my side,
The image of a model bride.

Published in Light Quarterly

Success Story

I caught sight of a name I'd not thought of for ages
  At breakfast today in the paper, which fell
From my fingers. It's rare that the paper engages
  My memory; this one, though, rang quite a bell,
  And it led me to stare toward the distance and dwell
On the time we young poets were both in our primes,
  When I knew I'd go farther than he would go. Well,
The son of a bitch got reviewed in The Times.

Now, I know that it's not recognition that gauges
  Success, but although it means nothing to sell
Lots of books or become the new fashion that rages
  Through critical circles, I couldn't dispel
  An uneasiness, jumbling my thoughts all pell-mell,
And I found myself stumped for the simplest rhymes.
  I just wanted to open a window and yell,
"The son of a bitch got reviewed in The Times!"

Looking back toward his earlier work, it assuages
  My feelings a bit (though it sure doesn't quell
My amazement) to think of the way he wrote pages
  Of dull, mindless drivel you couldn't compel
  His own mother to look at. He hardly could spell,
Let alone write a poem. But, of course, these aren't crimes,
  And I'm not a bit jealous. I think it's just swell
That the son of a bitch got reviewed in The Times.

  He's a prince among poets; I knew he'd excel,
And he's certain to climb as Mt. Everest climbs
  Through the clouds. Just one question, though: how in the hell
Did the son of a bitch get reviewed in The Times?

Published in Light Quarterly

Alice at the Eiffel Tower

An American tourist named Alice,
With an earned reputation as callous,
      Once exclaimed, "Oh, Hell's bells,
      This inane Toor Eefell's
Just a half-assed erector-set phallus."

Alice in a Gondola in Venice

Whined our Alice, "It's crowded and hot here.
If I stay any longer I'll rot here.
      I could suffocate there
      In that pigeon-choked square,
And this sewer's been plugged since we got here!"

Alice at the Great Wall of China

When she stood at the Great Wall of China,
Alice said, "I would hate to malign a
      Famous site, but it's cracked
     And so old! It, in fact,
Makes me think of my first husband, kin' a."

Alice at St. Paul's

In the part of the dome of St. Paul's
Called the Whispering Gallery, all's
      Peace and calm, but not when
      Alice shouted, "Where'd Wren
Hide the door to the ladies' room? Balls!"

Alice at the Running of the Bulls

Spouted Alice, no tourism rep,
"As for danger, the running's just prep.
      From a balcony, you
      Can enjoy a safe view.
The day after, though, watch where you step!"

Published in Light Quarterly

Why You Shouldn't Read This Poem

You shouldn't read this poem because
  It's just a waste of time,
A jumbled bit of gibberish
  With here and there a rhyme,
Insipid, silly, insincere,
And so distressing to the ear
They shouldn't even print it here,
  It ought to be a crime.

It's dangerous to read this poem;
  It might just make you ill.
And once you're sick of poetry
  There isn't any pill
To soothe your head or calm your fits.
Your skin falls off in little bits.
Why, in the worst of cases it's
  Been even known to kill!

So stop your reading now, before
  Your vision grows unsteady,
And toss the poem aside, or tear
  The page into confetti.
Jump up and run outside to play,
Or tell a joke to Uncle Ray,
Or send a valentine to--Hey,
  Stop reading it already!

Published in Cricket