TELL A POET THAT- From Alice

I sat a long while with Godfrey’s sister Alice’s latest packet of writings..yes, her poetry remained dreadful,some of the worst she had ever shared, but I read it over with a strong sense that Alice’s summer in Nova Scotia had touched the curmudgeon in places no person had ever tried.. 

“The folks of Knockfollie’s Bridge recall my brother Godfrey with fondness,” Alice wrote, even having all beets removed from the only grocers in his memory. My friend, Nudge and I have been inviting ourselves to fish suppers, adding insighds to my book- “Alice- A life In praise of Myself”

Here in Canada, all of it, we drive “on the right”. Alice and Nudge thought this ridiculous, and in rental car, roared about as they would in Wales.

Alice indeed shares her “insighds”, with a brown boat to catch, and a lot of pranks left in her poke….TELL A POET THAT- from Alice-

I was recently informed- “Farmers do not plow, they cultivate”. We passed a field with such sweaty a chap,  on a day already warm. Sunrise of boysenberry swirls of hokey-pokey cream and crimson, tinged in wild mint. Tell  a poet that, tell a poet here down east, the summer nights don’t cool, the stars brighter than there. The poet may reply, I recall they are- “A blanket for the olders over heather, their fire, harbor home and safety to the bold navigator”.

Tell a poet, it is raining out, Nudge wear my hat. Cold the wet drips down spout, rusts the hinge, in the sodden apple tree bedraggled chickens cringe. don we boots and stalwart fourth, gather the hens in safe with me- and we shall pass the rainy eve over eggy toast for tea.

Tell a poet the delight of outdoor clothes line. “I ran to grab a passing verse, like laundry dry on end of day. Thunder in the hills a griping, storm is on her way. Scent of summer with first drops of rain, new mown hay, sweet on clean sheet splats…Ah tell a poet that.

Eau Duh Colon’- I’m oft asked of the perfume I wear, asked Alice is it sweet essence from France? From France do tell?  “I dab on baked beans, baked beans on fair skin, and behind my ears baked beans from a tin. Tell a poet how a poet may describe it- baked beans.

Tell a poet of Nudge and I as as two more “Tramps in Mudtime”. Squelch, did we squelch round Tinhorn Bay, with my stick moist things to slay, squelch flotsam flat. Squelch we muddy knee to hips, two tramps and greasy wrapped up fish and chips. Oh a good long walk with you, the snizz and crackle of hot deep fat, salt and malt vinegar, but tell a poet that.

Today in need to be alone, with my stick set out a stroll. I sat on a bench, wondering if I am thought of fondly back home. I waited for family or child come by so I could, with my stick quick flick to the sand their ice cream cone. And soon came a lad, (they always did) sticky of face, ignoring the warnings of his nit-picking dad.

As the wee brat drew boldly closer to me, I noted his rubber boots, odd haircut, the image at six of my late brother, Godfrey. I glared at the child in my best curmudgeon, such nerve, the young nipper not to take fright. What happened next left me in utter shock, he held out his ice cream to give me a bite….

No front teeth, dripping pink cone in grubby hand, I was not shocked or revolted, “No thank you my dear” came from some place deep inside me, I gathered my stick up and bolted.

Rundown Motel for the night?, tell a poet that. She may write- Rustic Roadside Inn steeped in history. Old couple down the hall inform me, “First sign of spring is a warm waft of Pig Farm cross the valley”. Hourly the train rattles by neath your rooms only window, tell a poet romantic the three a.m. trains roar. Wobbly table, one threadbare towel, someone has pried open the toilet door…

We re-bequethed The Outhouse Museum to one Domestos Harpic and her silent husband Edgar.  Fond friends of Godfrey, would weed and tend it. Our sojourn sadly soon over, we invited ourselves again to fried fish supper for to end it.. tell a poet of such an adventure we must end it…

And the ship we sail on, steam home to Wales on is painted brown. Give me a poet describe such a thing, from Melbourne to London town, a ships proper color be red, or silver to keep up with the clouds, our ship was brown.

I covet greasy life vest, should I consume herring, trip over a bollard and drown. the ship lists like Lloyd our village drunkard in Batley, it’s name on the bow changed, painted over and over yet again. The ship is crewed by wayward sailors, homeward bound like Nudge and me. What is not painted brown is worn away wood or rusty. Herring is served in some form breakfast, lunch and tea…Nudge feels an epic poem neath my pen, but Ah, tell a poet that again.. from Alice.

ADDICTED TO MERINGUE- And other Stories From Alice.

Worzel here, greetings, just home from an autumnal visit to Wales, Beatrice and I entering our 5th year working on Godfrey’s saga. I met also with sister Alice in town to spare Beatrice the strain, and as the eccentric Alice both intriqued and terrified Adelaide and Benny, elderly wanderers who had found home on Sonsie Farm. Beatrice did not trust leaving them alone, as they wished to paint her faded puce cottage a sunny yellow, and had the gear stashed for the job, provided by Alice…

Alice is writing her autobiography- “Alice, a Life In Praise Of Myself”. Here is her introduction. “I cannot abide human contact, Alice writes, but do enjoy the company of Nudge Nigel Neal Giggleswick, as a lad, a fumble of events involving a “Pogo Stick”, an Austin Somerset motor car, and picket fence ruined Nudge as a man. He swings one leg wide as we stroll, and knows he is only to hold my hand watching the sunrise together, or helping me down from plinth or statue, should I wish to climb one. Nudge appears to be composed of spare parts, but so loves a quality prank- we two have been “De- Pranked” only once, over Cherries Jubilee.

Cherries Jubilee-   Nudge had a lucky day at the races, so out for posh dinner went we, barred from every local eatery, as pranksters bold, all but one fairly new Inn, far a field down in Swansea. We took stepfather Arthur, and My old Ma, I looked forward to Cherries Jubilee.

I had my stick to prod Arthur awake, or jab Nudge neath the table if need be. Cherries Jubilee!!, I had admired the sticky photo, in the worn out cookbook Godfrey had left me. But no one looked askance as Nudge and I, lit our brandy and breathed flames at each other, no wait person, tray tripped on the large knitting bag, placed in the way by my mother.

When I flicked a beet at him, the Maitre’ D caught it, when I demanded meringue on my rack of lamb, he brought it. Delightful was the meal, and cherries a flamed, and over coffee, I entertained with stories and song, inspired by my brother Godfrey.

Beef Tongue- He was chased through the streets by Trevor the butcher’s lad, wielding a beef tongue. It ended badly, from the back sides of Batley, he hid neath a shelf, in Theology deep in the library. Godfrey got a thorough licking, from the tongue, and from ancient librarian Miss Wurmly, who later took the tongue home for her tea.

Nudge used the lady’s toilet, yet created not a stir, I flooded the gents, as befits a proper prankster. Still, we were not requested to leave, or carried bodily out the rear door, Ma knitted, Arthur talked of the beets he ate daily, “as a lad in the war”.

This Is My Hair!, My Hair!-   Deciding it was time to sing I stood high on a chair. A crown of glory, I did sing, the hair dealt my brother Godfrey. Thick was his head of wavy auburn, my own the color of a rusty farrier’s rasp. A cowlick topped the mop given me. This is my hair, my hair I sang boldly.

That was my hair!, my hair ! Nudge cried, oh it must have hurt. He lost an eyebrow over Cherries Jubilee, leaned over Arthur’s dish of flambe’ dessert.

Get out of my hair!, My hair!- Ma recalled in the telling, she was baking a cake, Godfrey chased me with herring, I chased him with beets on a fork in one hand, the other a net. Later Ma and I ate cake, rich and frosted, neath the tree where Godfrey hid, high up as he could get.

I was not prepared for the response to my floor show, not pulled from the table I used as a stage or told to go. Cheered and applauded, encored and thanked, for the first time ever, Nudge and I had been foiled, I Alice had been “De- Pranked”.

ADDICTED TO MERINGUE- From Alice- 

At my work, also works, when we work selling shoes Miss Pat Bamm- who will tell all who gather round tea urn or lunch table- “Unrepentant I am, addicted to meringue. “oh, my young years, allowed on my own to the bakers for bread and biscuits I ran, with the change I’d scarf a penny tart, by age eight I was addicted to meringue”.

I had never met a person addicted to meringue, for years I traveled with “The Uncle Lou Band “, oft pies were thrown at me when I sang, but it never occurred  to be addicted to meringue.

It was I, Alice, had to teach Pat Bamm to sell shoes. Oh, this pair is brown and white, she cried early on, they so look like meringue, And the clouds in summer sky, so fluffy and high, like meringue!. It crossed my mind, quietly occurred to me, she’d have made a fine match for my odd brother Godfrey. For though he disliked beets, was accepting of most others peculiaralities.

At dinner break, Pat ate a stack of pies , flipped them over, crust first, sucked the filling out as an aardvark may. She left the best bit inverted on her tray. I tidied the break room, vacuumed, threw rubbish away, put the tea things in place. Pat sat, on her prominent behind, enjoying meringue, ewe like smile on her face.

She said, “My parents had me tested, had my egg dealer arrested, when at eve I close my eyes I dream of pies”. “I was banned from speaking to a baker, not allowed to purchase sugar, hid my mixer, destroyed my hoarded cream of tartar.  “They dreaded the call in the night when the phone rang, or dawn knock on the door, ” your daughter is no more, she was addicted to meringue”.

“Old Dr Uren lectured. “All things in moderation”. So at noon, no more coveted pink macaroon”. “Avoid Pavlova, steer clear of Baked Alaska, let the Lady Fingers dissolve in a healthy herbal tea”. I spend my elder years selling shoes with an addict of meringue, it brings the “Sarchasm ” out in me.

SARCHASM- You describe a tepid moat, deep and dark round your heart, describe a leap from a plum tree. Mine is not moat, ditch Ismus or bog, it is sea of Sarchasm protects me.

My Sarchasm is a wild coast of black, volcanic sand. Lured to ruin many a stout hearted boat, offers scant shelter from sun and storm, and mangy seals there lay about.

My Sarchasm my own, never cold or bitter, just a strong reminder, tis folly to venture near, bandy words like “Romance”, “Mine”, or the dreaded “Dear”. Any given day I, Alice may be found, with Sarchasm to protect me, with my stick I wander, prodding the rubble, washed in from the sea…

Alice, unfiltered, from her Autobiography…

TELLING MARGARET STORIES- From Worzel

He disliked beets, did my friend, the vagabond Godfrey,I knew him 28 years, and the times he stayed in the city with us, remain with me daily in poem and memory, vivid to, the adventures we shared on the old #50 bus….

From windy Wharf Street to the wild lands of Sooke, and beyond, there was swearing and spewking, drinking and fighting, screaming children depending in number what stop you got on. Two elderly ladies road regularly, always sat near to me, and across from ever curious Godfrey.

” Margaret” was the main subject discussed on the bus, by these two old friends, in gossip legend and story.  We had lost a frozen turkey on the #50 bus, were aboard the wet morning when the door fell off, witnessed a woman throw her husband out the window, Margaret’s friends always caught the bus at the casino.

But Margaret herself never did…We learned she had an interest in old board games and Bison, and Margaret loved, loved beets with a passion, her home bore the tell tale stains if you looked, and Margaret put beets in most dishes she cooked. The beets horrified Godfrey, I stayed wedged at his side, watching the water logged blackberry bushes below 8 mile bridge, twas upper low tide, a warm morning ride…

When Margaret was a hairdresser, so it was said, a valued customer’s name she misread, “May I please speak to Jesus”?, it is Margaret calling, on the phone she bellowed cross the noisy salon. an abrupt guffaw sent poor Esters’s teeth flying, legend grew with the telling, those in for rinse and set, told of Margaret.

Proud of her talents in art, Margaret painted an Edwardian Lady, in verdant green meadow she poses on a boulder, but has only one leg. A handsome young stable lad climbs the hillside towards her, missing leg slung across his brawny shoulder. I prodded Godfrey, it had to be, a prank at the heart of Margaret’s story…

He would talk to anyone on the #50 bus,talk of all but beets, asking where Margaret was, never occurred to us. There  was vomiting, sobbing and language frequently coarse, once we sat behind a couple close to ninety, discussing divorcing, we met vagabonds  heading for western trails, we endured the smells, and at times really terrible singing.

A rat ran the length of the bus once, someones escaped pet, and it always got noisy when the two elder ladies, reached the climactic end to a story of Margaret. They smiled sideways at Godfrey, “Feh”, he would mutter at me, they get me every time, impish old ladies out a pranking deliberately…

Call it the passing of the years, as Godfrey was adamant that time waited for the bold, or the pains and vagaries that sneak in as we grow old, but every jolt and reek, every damp seat, every long wait at the stop, where in spring from above caterpillars drop, every bus trip he is still beside me. Recently, a tourist asked the name of the mountains we could see across the strait. Three young people riding did not know. Made me feel sad, for Godfrey did, and would have happily discussed the snowy peaks, would talk of any thing but beets…

OH BUT YOU LOVE ME..By Beatrice

Worzel here, this is a timely story from Beatrice in Wales, any new readers to “The Saga”, now nearly five years in the compiling, and in my recent absence, who may not know, it is the simple tale of a vagabond, and his lifelong search for wisdom…

Beatrice here, What can be lower than Turtle pat in a murky pond? Life devoid of humor, I informed the dour copper as I collected the elder pair Adelaide and Benny, from yet another spell in a village cell.

Harmless jackdaws, yet cheeky at avoiding laws, “We had to get them out of a pear tree”, the police explained with a tired sigh to me. “We thought they were apricots”, said Adelaide innocently,” by a lovely yellow house”, Benny always spoke softly.

We headed home, Adelaide and Benny’s wagon and steamer trunk behind the car in tow. “Your Godfrey’s wisdom stated, “when you find yourself arrested for creating a nuisance, thank the cops and offer apples before you go”. Knowing I was irked made Adelaide more obtuse- refused to get in the seat, hands on bony hips, steadfast, Oh, but you love us, I know belched the tiny old rogue.

“Do not bandy those words lightly with me- they are part of an a long old story”.

I warned Worzel, of trusting our book to a “Modern Computery Thingy,”..where I bank, the teller behind her wicket taps an adding machine, and updates my bank book by hand. I refuse to have a phone in the cottage, I enjoy the amusing verse written on the phone box walls, outside the pub.

“Grizzle De Mundy, Bockety Old Maid, Badger up Sonsie Hedge, I have heard muttered rudely these taunts as I pass, names do not worry me, for I was childhood friend, ate beets and faced bullies at the side of future vagabond Godfrey”.

Oh, but you love them, I know!. The dinner lady loomed above us, spoon full of beets, smiling down on six year old Godfrey. His faded, damp kilt was wrapped about him three times, defending his potatoes with one grubby hand, too shy to speak above whisper, “I DO NOT”…I ate a heap of beets, from then on this happened a lot.

Word spread through the “Nere Do Well”, bampot urchins in our small village, that odd little Godfrey indeed disliked beets and spoke only in rhyme. Oh but you love them the yahoos chanted while pelting him with beets in balls of snow.  Most days his rubber boots left a crimson trail of beet pulp, and oft the green tops were stuffed down his wooly shirt, or in the kilt he wore below.

Oh but you love beets, you do !, sneered cruel uncle Lou, rubbing Godfrey’s nose in garden dirt. Every school day for years, at dinner hour he’d ask, “excuse me Miss, are beets in this? they lurk in lentil soup and hide in Haggis”.

He had a sister, six years older, born a prankster, Alice wrote an essay. “For The love Of Beets”, and signed it with her brother’s name. Clever with words, it was printed in the local paper on the children’s page. So appealing was the story he was asked up to read it, at the Batley town pageant  on stage.

Oh, but you love them I know- Ma wedged Godfrey into itchy knitted outfits, as Alice made up songs of beets, to tease her brother, she played them loudly on the family piano. Those who never met Godfrey, often asked of us why he never, ever fought back…

Rolled he was in manure, forced to fetch his kilt from treetops, thrown down an open sewer. “I attribute in old age my healthy robust state, to the joy found hill walking, and all the childhood beets that I ate.” I ate beets Alice strung on the Christmas Tree, ate them every funeral and wedding we were dragged to. I ate them roasted on sticks, summer picnics by the sea, yes, he never lashed out. “I simply do not like beets”, was the first coherent thing, while spitting them out Godfrey told me.

I ate the beets, as I was brought up to be kind, to save him swat across his head or paddled behind.Who ate the beets as a child for you?, At your side boldly fought with sticks Autumn Apple Dragons?, Silver Top Trolls, the dreaded Outhouse Ogre Pokers?, Did it when dared to dash, and touch the bull’s snot nose?, Did someone hold your hand when teacher called you “Dim”?  Held his when boiled beets were dropped on him.

It was Godfrey built fine saddles from string, and imagination, broke trail beside me, who refused to wash dishes lest it harm the fairies in the foam only oddly he could see….

Worzel wonders why when I write, I oft begin at the end of a story..Oh I loved him you know, just a lifelong habit I learned long ago from Godfrey..

GODFREY MEETS A “POET ALL”- His 48th Wisdom, from Worzel

It happened, by chance to be a “Silly Tuesday”…I left Godfrey in the grocery check out line, for a brief time. There he stood in abject horror, an odd young man, as the cashier held before him, a large tin of Harvard Beets that would not scan.  I lurked behind the cheese and a door labeled “staff” so I could laugh.

Stuck he was in line with two elder ladies, one described loud and shrill how Yucca Filmentosa was making her quite ill. “And my husband’s Thymus Vulgaris now a dreadful sight to see, “it is Crepuscular!!- I saw the look of desperation on the face of my vagabond, Godfrey.

“They all thought those beets were mine, and that large box of lady’s things”. He shuddered as we finally got away, so as a treat I took him out for the evening, where a poet was reading at our favorite cafe’.

“Ms Cedar Waxwing will read from her book- “My Lunch Is Morally Superior To Yours”- was posted on the front doors.    Every poetic event we went, we would bet the same chap, sat at the same table teeth beside him on a plate, as he ate, this time a waffle.

The place was packed, I sat beside the teeth, it was awful.  Soon a hush passed oer the room, one last skreek of chair, final adjusting of the mic, Ms Cedar Waxwing wafted onstage, to stand dramatically within a ring of light.  She was upper middle age, in furry boots and layers of cape, glasses on a gold chain..

TEN YEARS A PANTOUM- She began to read in dour refrain.   Every six lines you return to my mind- like a pantoum. Every six lines tell myself I am fine- there you are in my sitting room. Raoul, you buffoon, a pantoum, a pantoum!!.

MY HAIKU-  Haiku, lo ku, no ku. Onecan takes flight with my heart. Pretty Toucan gone. Raoul how I adored you- Haiku, lo ku, no you.       His coffee congealed, his donut ignored so I ate it. Cedar Waxwing read on, Godfrey sat mesmerised – breathless between verses she paused, and eyes aglow, he waited.

Cedar strode off stage to polite applause, before “Ode to a Rice Cake” for an autograph break.   “I told him, Godfrey she is terrible, a complete poet-all, claims she’s read for The Queen, read at Carnegie Hall, elected her self “poet laureate of the west”. Her verse can get no worse and almost everyone has left.

“Oh Worzel, dear, this is a rare delight, I think Miss Cedar is so bad she is great, let us stay until the end, you and I and the chap with his teeth on the plate”

ODE TO A RICE CAKE- My lunch is morally superior to yours.   Not flat and soggy like a sandwich from the stores, that sell lukewarm coffee, with those nasty, sticky floors, my lunch is morally superior to yours.  Rice cake heaped with Kale, yogurt fed on grass, no pepperoni stick, nothing from a chicken’s ass. Seaweed gleaned, from France’s distant shores. My lunch is morally superior to yours.

KNOW YOUR MARSUPIAL-   Wallaby, wallaby, gentle are you, thump one another the mean Kangaroo. Koala, or tree pig will wee down on you. Opossum delicious in pie crust or stew. Know your Marsupial, I do.

Cedar Waxwing wrote the sonnet, the ode, even a dirge, “A nefarious “poet all”, yes she is agreed Godfrey on our walk home, still in thrall.  “One cannot be self concious over spoken word, I wish she had not fled the stage so haughtily, I wished to praise her courage to embrace the absurd.

AND THE 48th WISDOM OF GODFREY STATES- It is fine by me, if a “Poet All” you be. For this life go’s so fast, the readings over so quickly. There is only every day- no certainty- Embrace the Absurd in all you see.

BETTY THE COOK Was a Writer of Poetry- bye Worzel

She wore a faded smock, her name tag spelled wrong, not her own. (It belonged to someone Betty had loved long ago) It hung askew. Burn scars on her arms, badges of honer to a fry-cook of old, time worn wariness in her blue eyes. With a viynl  coated lunch menu, Betty Idley stood swatting flies.

She had her hair-net on, pen behind one ear, truck drivers at the counter stopped chewing, they were laughing at Godfrey, she asked of him, “So you are a poet? “We don’t get to many of your kind in here”.

In a sticky corner booth of The Ramble Cafe, I sat across from my friend, The Vagabond Godfrey. He was eyeing my cake, having gobbled his already, awaiting the moment my back would be turned. We had played this game to his delight before. I pretended not to notice him, watching the cook I could see peeling boiled eggs through the open kitchen door.

Did you say you are a poet? Betty said, asked, sizing up Godfrey, “Yes said he, “I write, on occasion, sometimes, now and then, put page to pen, communicate via rhyme, jot it down, we are shopping for new underthings today in town.

He snitched my cake mid-chat, as I dabbed tears of laughter with a paper serviette. Betty joined us in the booth, to share a word or two, she brought her book of poems and carrot cake, with whipped cream on mine, rich as her poetic imagery was line for line.

GRILLED CINNAMON BUN- Bye Betty Idely, The day’s rising of the sun, causes me to burn my tongue. Impatient to devour you, my grilled cinnamon bun. Soft, golden crust, so easily you open wide, lovingly I spread Margarine side to side. Lay you gently on the warm flat-top, I pour my morning tea until you are ready for me. Every day on you I burn my tongue, my love, my grilled cinnamon bun..Deep in poetry’s trance I left the two of them in thrall, to collect Godfrey later when done shopping at the mall.

CRANBERRY MUFFINS- Bye Betty Idely, Every morning of every day, they sit in the cafe with nothing to say anymore to each other. Roy and Dale I will call them. A dour old pair, they order wheat toast dry, and cranberry muffins that they never eat and I have never asked “Why”? . For they pick out all the berries and whose muffin has the most, unwanted cranberries has the say, on how the old couple spend their day..I had to ask Roy, more talkative of the two, if the number is the same, whatever do you do? “Nothing” said Roy in reply..on Sundays they have marmalade, spread in silence on wheat toast dry.

DUMPLINGS IN THE OVEN- Bye BETTY IDLEY-  He baked dumplings in the oven. Rubbery and black, they were flecked green with dill weed to.

“Said I to the Chef, why are these not light and fluffy, gold as parsnip, in the Beef Stew”? The nasty chef replied, scratching at his greasy head,”I baked them in the oven- is that not what you said for me to do?.

..At half past three I returned to Ramble Cafe, Betty and Godfrey sat, booth piled high with poetry..and late that night in my turquoise chair, he wrote the Ballad of  The Ramble Cafe, and the long road Betty the cook took to get there.

He wrote, “She was raised on rhymes, her Ma sang while she worked, elbow deep mixing Meat-Loaf. “Read books and verse Ma lectured the little girl, they will be your true friends through the lonely and the hard times”

“She shared me though we knew each other briefly this wisdom, carried like a treasure lifelong from her Mum, nothing could break the good cook Betty, grand observer of life, and writer of poetry’