Go back to Gene Keyes website

Go back to Ralph Keyes website
Selected Poetry and Light Verse of
Scott Keyes (1910-1992)
Scott Keyes (1910-1992)

After he retired, our father, Scott Keyes, turned to writing poetry: serious, as well as light verse. Dad had always wanted to do this, but first had to complete his career as an urban and regional planner. From 1977 till 1991 he sent an annual booklet of poems to his many friends. 

In honor of his memory, we are devoting a section in our respective websites to the best of Scott Keyes's verse. We will be gradually uploading his poetry, starting here with 28 of our favorites from his first collection, The Keyes Garden of Verses, and 12 from A Second Helping. (There are also a links at the bottom to the complete set of each one, though some might be a bit dated.)
Gene and Ralph Keyes   http://www.genekeyes.com   http://www.ralphkeyes.com

(with encouragement from our other two siblings, Stephen and Nicolette)

Light verse:

1977 The Keyes Garden of Verses
1978 A Second Helping
1979 Chapbook '79
1981 Time for Scott Again
1982 Your Nickels and Dimes Please, Madam and other poems
1983 Brother, Can You Spare a Chime? and other poems
1986 Tomato, Tomato! and other poems
1987 Polyester Rag and other poems

Serious poetry

1980 Where Does the Fault Lie? and other poems
1984 Look to the Horizon [parts 1 and 2]
1985 Look to the Horizon [parts 1 - 4]
1988 ...dust...dust and feet [preliminary version]
1990 Two Poems
1991 ...dust...dust and feet (Champaign, IL, and Yellow Springs, OH: David Scott, Publishers, 1991) 50 p.

1994 Dê uma olhada no Horizonte (Portuguese version, with English, of Look to the Horizon [parts 1 - 4])
     translated by Luiz Paulo Gujanabara (Rio de Janeiro: Grifo, 1994) 26 p.

Selected from The Keyes Garden of Verses (1977)

Big Busyness

      Whenever I think that
            I might like to snooze
      I'm stopped in my tracks by
            That list of to-do's

Two Loves

      I love to read till
            Late at night.
      I love to watch the
      But when I try them
            Both I find
      I spend the whole day

The Gardener

      I never like to
            Start from seeds
      Because I'm
      I find that I can
            Never thin
      Them out when they
            Have started.

Pack Rat


      I never like to
            Throw away things
      Because I've learned
            To my sorrow
      That anything I
            Dispose of to-day
      I'm certain to want

Pack Rat


      What I'll toss when
            I run out of space
      I'm not quite sure
            That I see
      But if nothing else
            Is disposable
      I guess it will have
            To be me.

Coming of Age

      A savage may
            Achieve manhood
      By putting a ring
            Through his nose.
      But the intellectual
            Does it
      By grinding out
            Scholarly prose.

Give Me A Hint


      I always know what
            I'd like to get
      Except when it comes
      But darn it — right at
            The crucial time
      I just can't seem to

Give Me A Hint


      Whenever you ask what
            I'd like for Christmas
      Why do I always find myself
            List - less ?

Room Mate

      My daughter has
            Moved in with
      Someone to
      But since he's
            No in-law
      I feel rather

Hard To Please

      Two things really
            Have me beat.
      One is cold,
            The other, heat.

Kitchen Drudge

      A man who retires
            Soon understands
      What his wife always meant by
            Dishpan hands.

Double Whammy

      I love my neighbor's
            Well groomed lawn
      But not his
            Power mower.
      It's nice he has
            A stereo
      But I wish he'd play it

Golden Years

      It's so wonderful when
            You're in my arms
      And the tip of your cigarette's
      And gently you put your
            Lips on mine
      And between us the smoke is

      Soon we'll be on the
            Other side, and
      Just think — there we'll
            Be able
      To light up again in the
            Same old way
      And forget what it says on
            The label.

Fellow Traveller

      I shudder whenever
            I open the door
      And see you scuttle
            Across the floor.

      Yet really I think that
            I should ask why
      Since you've been around
            Much longer than I.

      You've seen species come
            And you've seen them go
      And I'm sure in that stubby
            Black body you know

      That you will reflect
            On the human condition
      Long after we've blown
            Ourselves to perdition.

On a Certain bomber

      I never saw
            A purple cow
      I never hope to
            See one.
      But I'll tell you
            This much anyhow —
      Rather that than
            B - 1.

Now They Tell Me

      New, bigger, better —
            Have I been had ?
      Was last year's product
            All that bad ?

Big Sale

      It's a curious thing
            I can't quite comprehend
      When they tell me I'll save more
            The more that I spend.

Born Loser

      In guessing which
            Check-out line
      Will move
            Tells me I'm
      Not a good

Strange Interlude

      Peculiar things happen
            to water consumption
      Between "Now this message ..."
            And program resumption.

Laxative Commercial

      I never would have
            Suspected it —
      So many people
            So full of shit.


      When I see those
            Help Wanted ads that say
      "Cook — No Experience Needed"
            I remember the
      Restaurant meals I've tried
            To eat and haven't succeeded.


      I used to like the
            Simple words, but
                  Now-a-days, my gracious
      I've had to shift to
            Sprightly, animated or


      I wish they hadn't
            Stolen away
      That word which means
            You're happy — gay.

More Robbery

      And another word they've
            Stolen away —
      Just look what "Explicit..."
            Means to-day.


      I don't have
            Much time
      For poems that
            Don't rhyme.


      Whenever they tell you
            The verse is free
      Prepare yourself for some

Triple Threat

      Parkinson's Law and the
            Peter Principle
      Appear to make Murphy's Law
            Almost invincible.

Fifty / Fifty

      I hope the day is not far off
            When women have an equal say
      In running the affairs of state
            It surely will be best that way.

      We need the type of thought they bring —
            Sagacity and wit and charm.
      But should they pass the half-way mark
            My hope could soon become alarm!

Go to unabridged version, The Keyes Garden of Verses

Selected from A Second Helping (1978)


| M | a | c | h | i | n | e
| R | e | a | d  | a | b | l | e|

 | I |   | w | o | n | d | e | r |   | i | f |   | m | y |
 | P | o | e | m | s |   | w | o | u | l | d |  | b | e |
 | C | u | t | e | r |
 | I f |   | t | h | e | y |   | w | e | r | e |
 | R | e | a | d | a | b | l | e |   | b | y |   | a |
 | C | o | m | p | u | t | e | r | . |



      I know my desk is
            A mess.
      It's been so since way
            Back when.

      I ought to clean it
            I guess
      But how will I find
            Things again?



      No matter how fair
            Or foul the weather
      My paper clips always
            Hang together.


Gresham's Law

      We live in a
            Peculiar age
      When using words is
            All the rage.

      And it really is
            A thing to see
      When they replace


Please Fence Me In

      Somehow I just can't
      Space and time that
            Have no end.



      If saving the world
            Were not so hard
      I think I'd have time
            To mow the yard.


Rabbit Food

      Knowing that rabbits
            Have their needs
      I offer them my
            Crop of weeds.

      But exercising
            Rabbit power
      They dine instead on


The Great Indoors

      My neighbors? Yes,
            I believe
                  They are there
      Though I'm never
            Sure with their
                  Central air.


      I think that I would
            Get on the ball
      And worry, if I could
            Remember them all.

Watch Your Step

      I know that walking is
            Better by far
      But I only feel safe at
            The wheel of a car.



      Cats that
            Scratch couches
      Will hear from
            Us grouches.


Income Tax

      I'll have to take
            A month off
                  I guess
      To do that research
            For the

Go to unabridged version, A Second Helping

Page design by GK; keyboarding by GK & Mary Jo Graça.

Go back to Gene Keyes website

Go back to Ralph Keyes website