Scott Stoller

Poem Beginning With a Line by Tom Petty

I’m the King of Milwaukee.
The wisdom of a billion years.
A uniquely charismatic figure.
Once, I’d jump oceans,
decorate front yards with body parts,
kill in horrifying ways,
an unexpected cure taking a sadistic turn.

I’m the King of Milwaukee,
whittled down to almost nothing,
settled in at a lower gear.
A flowerbed of withering mums.
Hills dark black.
Open skies face scrutiny,
buffeted by anything possible.
Too late to be helped.

I’m the King of Milwaukee,
unlikely to end
with all the right parts.
If current trends don’t change,
a lost opportunity to deliver a simple message:

Get a cookbook.
Afflict the oranges.
Their spirit knows no bounds.
Consult a doctor.
That old black magic
has us in its spell again.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Volunteers are standing by.


Source & Method: The first line, which gets repeated two more times, comes from the Tom Petty song “Honey Bee.” The remainder of the lines are composed of words and phrases from either the October 30th 2019 or October 31th 2019 Wall Street Journal.


Scott Stoller’s work has appeared in numerous online and print journals and anthologies including Right Hand Pointing, Weave, decomP and Best Contemporary Tanka. He has been nominated for the And Now award for best innovative writing, and lives in the Chicago area with his wife, kids and neurotic black cat.


Photo by Dark Rider