Stocking fillers (4)

Feeling under the weather. Again. Not up to doing justice to a guest poet who I admire greatly. In the meantime, more stocking fillers. Sometimes in a workshop someone may ask you to write a poem about an imaginary event. Invent a bit of history, but, if possible, treat it with great seriousness. When I think about it, a great deal of the ‘history’ I was taught in school was actually of this sort. Kings burning cakes. Noblemen drowned in butts of malmsey. England being ‘founded’ by descendants of Aeneas. Richard the Second being a monster. That sort of thing. Who knows, if you’re deadpan enough, it might just get some leverage, like urban myths. This one was triggered by a starter poem by Billy Collins.

.

.

1470. Annus mirabilis

(after Billy Collins: ‘Nostalgia’)

1470. We’ll not forget that in a hurry;

the year they invented Jam. 

.

We’d hear rumours,

folk passing on the turnpike,

a shout on the wind 

from the back of a lathered horse.

‘Jam’ they’d shout. ‘Jam’.

.

We’d sit in the Tarred Pheasant 

at the end of a day’s slurry-shifting, 

or fettling capons, or stooking hares,

and speculate.

.

Change was never good. 

The moon had been a funny colour

all through Martinmas,

the vicar’s wife had lost her arm to croup,

mice took to midnight swimming in the dewpond

by the mandrake patch in Cotton’s Bog.

.

All sorts of tales were rife.

Jam would bring back sight to the goitred.

Jam would take off a murrain,

make a slack-twisted pigman smell sweet.

.

It was more than that.

Fruit that didn’t roll off tables.

Fruit you could stick your hair down with..

No good would come of it. Devils’ work

.

Alternatively, you could make up your own historical figures. Lord knows, ‘history’ has edited out 99% of the people who actually made it. By a pleasing synergy, jam features in this one , too.

.

Unsung Heroes

.

Let us remember them.

.

St. John Chatsworth Grace:

inventor of the reversible umbrella,

serviceable in jungle and in desert

to deflect, or conserve, rain

.

Enoch Waterman of Burslem

who patented a fruitless jam

and a device for getting blood from stones

.

Frederick Jagger, the Pennine Penitent

Who, daily, walked barefoot to his work in Rochdale

from Todmorden to mortify the flesh 

and save on cobblers’ bills

and once walked backwards for a week

to see the future unfurl in his wake

.

Remember Benjamin Hardwick of Haworth

who patiently engraved the Book of Genesis

on the obverse of a halfpenny

that he accidentally put,

with a handful of loose change,

in a collection tin for

the Overseas and Colonial Society

for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge,

and who shortly after died,

consumed by irony   .

.

Next week, I promise, there will be a proper post with proper poetry. And who knows, the country might have accidentally stumbled into sanity by then. Go well. Wear a mask. Keep a safe distance.  

2 thoughts on “Stocking fillers (4)

  1. Never underestimate the value of jam. And thanks for the frivolity. We don’t even talk about Freedom Day here in Wee Ulster
    – that nonsense is for Westminster and we have our own nonsense. XX

    Like

  2. Those poems are a tonic, John 🙂 And I wish you well, that is keeping more well than you are. Take care. I shall be too.

    Like

Leave a Reply to MoiraG Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.