The Long-Forgotten Airfield
or Nonstop Buffet
- The bicycle pump was not of the best
- O Shark and threefold! Shark and fire
- In the heart of East Dulwich spake oracle sage,
- The house had many windows
- Off like clockwork went my plan to manumit the slaves
- Sad jesters were playing croquet then
The bicycle pump was not of the best
Its owner was guilty, I dare to suggest
Or dare you? -- to dare to is dangerous lest
A host of mad geese should arrive.
The cycle excursion was terribly planned
The office in general thought it should be banned
Though the undersized giant could not understand
The system of middle-wheel drive.
That giant could balance like noone before
Though his steering was rather unenviably poor
(For such do we learn from the Phrygian lore
That mercy's poor talents are strained).
The talent of Percy was not of the worst
(No cause for his folly, which Vathek has cursed)
'Twas blatantly clear that he'd never rehearsed
The dogma that trees are unbrained.
The redwood was written for giants to read
That stroll in the twilight wherever we lead
In ember-strewn glades in the thickening dusk
Where ember envelopes the turtle husk
And the bicycle pump rides away.
Ye trees that turn softly at night in your beds
Where the paranoid sandman unfailingly treads
And jangles so softly his myriad heads
Counting with care the unmusical sheds
Where cycles and lawnmowers marry in bliss
And aged geometers ardently kiss
In greasebaths: on windowsills, cobwebbed oil-cans
Upset the intrigues that bicycle plans.
O Shark and threefold! Shark and fire
O foaming shark and water!
Or is it honey from the hive
Bought from the bedesman's daughter?
Or marmalade or jaffa cakes,
O condiments, O custard!
Crying out for rhyming mustard
Just like my mother makes.
AprŠs moi, le d‚luge, Desiderata, she cries
Announcing that her Nobel Prize is but a vat of alibis.
Lord Blenkinsop, the noble, pries into the deeds of men
Who, avaricious, oust the eggs from heron or from hen,
Who push the little darlings from their cosy nests, and then
Destroy the myth of who-knows-where with who-knows-what foul lies,
Entraps the unsuspecting Quark to see he goes and dies.
O Shark and eightfold! Shark and air!
O festering shark and blister!
Or is it sorrows sad and care
Wrung from the Welder's sister?
Or lemon curd and walnut whirls
O apple-pie so ample!
(I cry to those that trample
Down the sails the Shark unfurls)
Sing not the shark!
And save your bark!
In the heart of East Dulwich spake oracle sage,
"Untimely your fury, though timely your rage!"
The oracle died as the sage burst in bloom;
As card-like slid down the walls of the room.
The walls that the sailor destroyed in the night
Were unpapered with gloom, they were painted with light
Which burnt like the sceptre in Nosnibor's hand
And guttered like seashores -- a runnel of sand
And then rolled off to the West
Where cantaloupes invest.
This paper is white; yet dear Grace, she was not,
Untimely the cream she was ready to clot
And yet like an earthworm she often forgot
That in a week, even if ye should swot
The sages that perilous blow.
Yes, dear friends, I envisage hard work as your lot
And undying pain for the feet in the sludge.
I envisage such peril wherever you go
Wherever the fireflies anonymous glow.
Sweet fireflies, O, bear me no diligent grudge
Persuade me to rot.
This paper is white: be it holier than thou
You'll be hung, I declare, from the uppermost bough
And your entrails fed to a diligent sow
The house had many windows
And of doors a plenitude
No aeronaut the wind hoes
Nor Fairy King the jester chose
To scale the iv'ry tower.
The house had many towers too
The airy kingdom viewed
And on a starlit summer's night
Before a certain hour
Her pale blue bulbous eyes would light
Her paralytic bower,
The home of Ermintrude.
The field had many meadows
Yet of cows a lowly few
A herd which, clad in red, owes
Little gratitude to Bedows
Or to milkmaids, man or wench.
The milkmaid is a buxom bush
The bush of buxom make
That the farmer left outside
Was stolen by a wrench.
Beneath this bushel hide
No barbel, roach or tench
That probe around and push?
The house of fish is but an awesome glade
Where paths are paced and penniless are paid.
Off like clockwork went my plan to manumit the slaves
The bark set off, the iceberg groaned, and sank beneath the waves.
Reverberations of the splash resounded through the ocean
And everywhere the sea turned black, a necromancer's potion.
And all forlorn the mermaids sang, combing golden hair
As swiftly from the ocean bed, upon a foaming mare,
Came Venus, Aphrodite, you may call her what you will
Though the epithet that she liked best was Beatrice, or Bill.
So Bill, that goddess of the Nile on which great Cairo stands
Arose at dusk and wandered lost among the sable sands
Arose at dusk and wanders still near Thames and London Bridge
But you shall see her not, I say, her size is but a midge.
Midges may be murky oft, but she cannot be wrong:
Her lover up at Fleet Street sees her going, going "gong".
In but 8 days my doom will come
For ninety nights I'll eat no crumb
For deadly the enchantment in the shades of tender might
Deadlier still the hellish thumb that no man dares to fight
To symbolists, electrical deposits on which bank
I cry "Defect" or then again "The toady millpond stank!"
To fatalists, ambivalent proposals by whose book
We never steer our Western course. But lo! Behold! The rook
Flies by on leaden wing. The sun begins to wane
Behind the hills where citadels await the evening rain
Where fruit-bats wait beside the lake and, chattering with glee,
Await the weary chain-gang: we are slaves you may not free.
O son of my father's father's son!
You're one of the men whose freedom's won
By the sound of the wind and the sea.
Sad jesters were playing croquet then
A cloudburst hit the scene
A scene of serendipity
Like molehills on a green.
Like molehills in a forest ride
Or even in a pie
As if some grotesque flippancy
Should even make a jester cry.
To dare do more than makes a man
(Who dares do more is NUN)
Who veils his thoughts and hides his fears
Who elephant milks and tiger shears
At Castle End sheds midnight tears
No moats or beams in eyes or ears --
In truth, a hot-cross bun.
To aim for less than half a life
To aim for more than whole
Is not the aim of her, my wife
Who mounts makes out of mole,
And yet maintains that hills exist
To arm is but to cut the wrist
To slash at giants in the mist
The millstone is a succour to the grist,
The millpond much befrogged.
The weeks are weeks of weeds and tears
And days the rotting lives of years.
©1973, 1999 The Rat Fathom Poets
Edited by Peter Christian
May 31 2023.