Don Behrend’s In Doubtful Taste is a playful collection of rhyming poems that skewers everything from modern courtship to self-improvement routines to the sexual advantages of an octopus—and much more.
The collection includes 56 poems presented in nine, short sections, each titled with a “P” word, including “Pandemic,” “Ponderings,” and “Peccadilloes.” Behrend’s speaker is amused and amusing, toying with the lingo and idiosyncrasies of our current zeitgeist.
For example, in “A Modern Love Song,” his speaker notes: “You’re the froth on my soy cappuccino;/ You’re the spread on my paleo toast./ You’re the nose of my GM-free Pinot;/ You’re organic, my love. You’re the most!”
Similarly, “Courtship” takes aim at modern romance: “The male of today has no patience/ For hand-written love notes in rhyme./ If he fancies a female/ He sends her an email -/ A valuable saving of time.”
Behrend’s section of “Parodies” pays quipping tribute to classic poems like “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (“Allergy in a Country Churchyard”) and “To His Coy Mistress” (“A Coy Man to His Mistress”). And his literary, religious, and artistic allusions are highlighted in poems like “Rembrandt’s Selfies” and “Jules Verne on the A380.”
The poet delivers both elaborate and simple rhyme schemes; short witticisms and longer tales. His poems are clever without being shallow and are sure to elicit smiles and sometimes hearty chuckles. A highlight is his poem “Self Improvement,” a sly take on the benefits of daily training routines, including pumping iron, Pilates, cycling, swimming, jogging, meditation, yoga and mindfulness. He slyly concludes: “In the evening, assess your new powers:/ How, from morning to night, they have grown./ You’ll have spent about seventeen hours,/ But the rest of the day is your own.”
In Doubtful Taste is a delightful counterpoint to the self-absorbed, contemplative styles often celebrated by the contemporary poetry establishment. More engaging and substantial than most light verse, this charming diversion is sure to find its own niche of followers.