I have forgotten to include in this blog my most prestigious credential to date. I was selected as Poet Laureate of the World Toilet Organization. This seems like an honor appropriate to my station. It came about in this way. Friends in rural California had been living a trailer while they built a new house—a project of several years duration. During that time, they had an outhouse, and finally, when the house was finished, they had a flush toilet. To honor the occasion, I wrote an Ode to the Commode. Somehow this poem came to the attention of an official of the World Toilet Organization, whose mission is “improving sanitation globally.” He contacted me, and asked if I’d like to be their poet laureate, and I gladly accepted. His next request was to come up with some T-shirt slogans. I asked Larry for help, and he came up with “Flushed with Pride” and one other that I can’t remember, which I promptly emailed. This was all at least six years ago. I never heard back from WTO, but I assume, as I haven’t been informed to the contrary, that my appointment remains. I guess by now, you’re curious as to the poem that bestowed such honor upon me, and here it is:
Ode to the Commode
Wise peasants cart their night soil to the fields
to make manure from the stink.
But in the modern west, fierce nature yields
its grip to toilet bowl and sink.
All sorry squatters in the far off woods
can rest their weary buttocks, sigh
and loose their load of well digested food
into the bowl. They fear no fly,
no noxious smell. A single flush, it’s gone.
Oh, commodious commode, gleam on.
Your white and shapely tank, your whirlpool song,
the faithful seat we sit upon,
your simple parts, your satisfying whoosh,
are just what’s needed for the tender tush.
I entered this today in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award contest. It cost $3, plus a postage stamp to enter. It is a genuine sonnet, and scans as alternating pentameter (5-beat), and tetrameter (4-beat) lines. My favorite line is “Oh, commodious commode, gleam on.” Whether or not A.M. Juster (the contest judge likes it) remains to be seen. It hangs, framed, in my friends’ bathroom. And when I went looking for the link to the WTO, I found that Clorox has adopted this title for it’s “potty” line of products! That’s quite enough fame for now.