The Onyx, The Oryx

Please enjoy my poem titled The Onyx, The Oryx, which was written with intent that it would be read while listening to Claude Debussy’s Nocturnes, although anything that is older than 1898 is passable.

This poem was created for an assignment that I had in 10th grade English with MR. LAMPLOIS, a notoriously difficult teacher. The piece was written to fit the description, “An ode which captures the essence of life as an inanimate object,” as Mr. Lamplois had dictated to us one very long morning. It was up to the class to figure out what that meant.

The Onyx, The Oryx, inexplicably, was good enough to garner a C+ on the assignment. It was, of course, very contrived (and it tongue-in-cheek, too, until I saw my grade). So, once again, please enjoy this sufficient poem that I currently consider the highlight of my writing career:


The Onyx, the Oryx,

Teach me of your ways.

Your labyrinthine characters

Are certain to amaze.


The Onyx, the Oryx,

You’re my seed of hope.

You stop the cracking whip when I

Reach the end of my rope.


The Onyx, a special stone,

With semiprecious fate.

I open up my heart to you;

It’s like we’re both agate.


The Oryx, the antelope,

The cantaloupe of deer.

Sweeter than a honeydew

And smarter than a steer.


The ancient Greeks have honoured you

For millions of days.

My words are all I have for you–

They’re all I have to says.


The Onyx, the Oryx,

I must tell you true

That I intend to one day win

A Scrabble game with you.


After the semester was over I found out that I was one of only four kids who passed the class. In fact, Lamplois told me on the very last day that he thinks that I should become a poet.

“You have talent, kid,” he told me. “Not as much as I did when I was your age, but some.”

“Wow, Mr. Lamplois. I can’t express my gratitude.”

“If you are interested in publishing any of your work, please let me know. I’d be willing to sponsor a strong submission from you to a journal. Wouldn’t that be exciting?”

“That would be exciting,” I said, unsure if he was asking about the publishing opportunity or about him offering to sponsor me.

I soon later wrote what would be an unofficial follow-up to Onyx  titled The Ibis, The Iris. Here we go again:


The Ibis, the Iris,

Two creatures of a kind.

They must be parking meters–

They’re so easy to fined.


Dogs are called man’s best friend;

For girls, it’s diamond-stuff.

But compared to Ibis and Iris,

Those things seem quite rough.


The Ibis, the giraffe-chicken

Who flies across the sea:

Your wings will never hit

What your eyes will never see.


The Iris, the Iball,

Receptacle of light.

Someone get me a mirror,

‘Cause man! your outta sight!


After a long, long day

Of feeling weirdly weary

It cheers me to know that part of

My eyes spell the inverse of Siri.


In this way, dear Iris,

And Ibis, just as so,

You make my days much brighter

Than you will ever know.


Like ever, ever know.

Like, please don’t even guess.

You would be so far off that you

Would need a new address.


“My days are much, much brighter”;

Those six words shall suffice.

If you keep nagging me for more

I might not be as nice.


Like seriously, back off.

I’m trying to keep it cool.

I’m not the one who’s standing there

And acting like a tool.


Fine, be that way, then!

I’ve saved this up ’til now,

But no one needs input from

Unqualified critics anyhow.


Without indicating any of the intended irony, I submitted this new poem to Mr. Lamplois to look over. He changed his mind about sponsoring me, and I don’t blame him. The world was not ready for this level of postmodernist technique. Or maybe I was so far ahead of my time that my time was way behind me. Maybe it was a combination of the two and I just needed to find a new niche.

One way or another, though, I would grow to appreciate the days of that following summer, of not knowing what to do with myself. Those days, of course, are gone, however. Maybe some time soon I’ll sit myself down and get back into that poetry mindset, but when you always have something important on your mind, it’s hard to come up with anything creative. Trust me–I’ve gotten pulled over a lot.


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