The Ill-Drained Twosome
or 'What is not'
- The Welder was welding as never before:
- The humans wobbled horribly away
- O the dreamers are the sleepers, but the sleep is not the dream.
- If aught of love should make her heart despair
- In the evening came the cycles.
- Let me know the day before you promise to forget,
- Deep in the dripping forests of Rangoon
- Oh, had I Janus in my grip,
- From Turkestan and Samarkand with opal eyes they came.
- April daze is here again,
The Welder was welding as never before:
Bright sparks and hot metal were strewn on the floor.
The woman they paid to keep everything clean
Had once sent a card to an African queen,
But this fact, however, had nothing to do
With the Welder's great-nephew, who shrieked, from the flue,
"Begone, you fat turnip, begone from my life!
Be you ever so clever, you puzzle my wife."
His wife was a moron, as thick as the woods,
And no good as chattels, and useless as goods;
To the African queen she was sister and niece,
But his husband, he shot her (to keep the peace).
And the Welder's third cousin had a stepson who thought
That if wives could be won, why, then sons could be bought.
So off he then trundled one day to the market
(His car was so big there was no room to park it)
In his pocket were a map, and a fiver, a stoat
(A small immature one he'd got for a groat),
A lampshade, a bus-stop, and fifteen gazelles,
Two oxy-acetylene hermit-crab shells,
An anti-diluvian Turkish trombone;
No wonder his stomach did rumble and groan!
The market was full of the oddest of folk
Selling horrible pancakes that make children choke.
The Welder was weeping aside and alone
For his grandfather's sister (an aged old crone)
Who was dying a blanket with antelope gore
And hoping to sell to some mad matador
For scandalous profit, usurious price
Who solders forever through acres of mice.
The humans wobbled horribly away
As the traffic jam wound slowly o'er the lea,
As the jaguars from Jupiter lay down at last to sleep,
And Turnkey slunk along to lock the day.
O the dreamers are the sleepers, but the sleep is not the dream
(Or so I deem),
And every little jaguar comes someday home for tea
Tea with traffic jam on Jupiter, for traffic jam is cheap.
For the gardeners of Jupiter are fair:
The seeds fall softly from their velvet hands,
Lying twelvemonths in the rubble 'til the first small shoots appear
To burgeon forth in blossoms fresh and rare.
But the seeds are not the flowers, and the flowers not the seeds
(Or so one reads)
And the jaguars of Jupiter are known in many lands:
For skill with plants, and maiden aunts. Their expertise is clear.
But no, he could not ever break the spell
That deemed him ever to be small and thin,
To wobble ever horribly and breathe the fetid air.
He couldn't really stand the movement or the smell.
But the move is at a standstill, and he shuns the standard move
(This I shall prove).
His eyeballs shot a thunderbolt, his armpit gran a grin;
Yet doubt it not, who dare: for doubt foredooms despair.
O the dreamers are the sleepers, but the sleep is not the dream.
Will the swallows ever sleep again?
For the sloop is not the schooner, nor the yacht the quinquereme.
Is it swift enough to plough the main?
Will the swallows sleep again?
O the spider spied a mayfly, and the fly may fly away;
The web will not, I say, be spun anew.
Yet to spin is to the spinster as the daystar is to day,
And the curfew to the cur, at least a few.
The web will not be spun anew.
If wafers feed waifs, name me widowers' fate!
(For windows eat wind, and waiters do wait).
But what of the orphans that wait at the gate
For the old orphan-grinder who turned up too late?
Name me the fate of the mad potentate!
Nor shall you hear of the Welder's new mate
Whose tale is sadder than I can relate,
Although I have spoken in words of eight.
So the workers are the waiters, but the weight is not the work
(Weld me to the writing, or the wall!)
And I'll dream my life away until the coming of The Turk,
'til the rising of the empire, or the Fall.
Is there writing on the wall?
For his trumpet is a limpet, but his limp is not a trump.
It gives a melancholy note.
Yet to note is not to notice, and to slide is not to slump.
The groaning grebe is not a goat
That gives a merry note.
If aught of love should make her heart despair
She would as lief have left her native home;
If aught of home should make her linger there
Then none but love would make her want to roam.
If sighs and weeping hours had brought her joy
(If joy had brought her sighs and sleeping flowers)
Then creeping cowards that took her home to Troy
Would have to bring it back. (Such are their powers!)
But powerless she lay, her heart a-torn in twain.
Long hours forlorn, she dreamt of torments dire.
And hope, though not enough, is not in vain,
And pain could not put out her heart's eternal fire.
Once, long ago, when but a lissom lass,
A winsome wench, she met a gladsome lad.
Both Northerners, they frolicked in the grass.
Now she's a mum, and he, of course, a dad.
Now she's a wife but he, alas, is gone.
What shall a poor wench do in such a strait?
When children went, she took Aladdin on
A fishing trip. They used the lamp as bait.
And when the day was over, Venus came,
Clothed but in seaweed and her native hair.
Her foot caught in the lamp -- it made her lame
And sing a wild lugubrious Cornish air.
O Venus, how your sorrowed heart was wrent
When stormy Vulcan rent your rings, and fields,
And Constance Plank was judged too thick, and sent
Where aught but love could catch the heart that yields.
In the evening came the cycles.
Through the mist they spun unerring,
Round and round their eyeballs rolling,
Bowling, holing, uncontrolling
Howling, hairy demoniacals.
As the footfalls sounded softly,
As the snowflakes fell like faces
Fleeing from some unknown kingdom,
Treed by sycamore and linden,
By the poplar soaring loftily.
But the branches swaying sadly
Seemed to sing the saddest music,
Chanted by some noisome lecher,
Who away would gladly fetch her
On his tandem, madly.
But when morning dawned, the fair one
Seemed to vanish in the brightness.
O eschew Medusa's gaze!
Sing again sweet Lethe's praise
(A German physicist called Erwan).
In its cycle came the evening.
On the haystack slept St. Michael.
Bravely groan the sad "Amen"
Or sing of Robin's Merrie Men
And their unwholesome evilling.
May the cycle chain be shattered!
May the unfat calf be fattered!
As if it really mattered!
Let me know the day before you promise to forget,
For I would write you long, long sonnets in the trees
Where chimpanzees and marmosets recline and take their ease;
The trees are where we parted, the trees are where we met.
Long will I remember that you never will return;
Your sight still fills my mind, your memory my eyes:
The sorrows of the universe are of a constant sighs.
The sighs show we are martyred, the sighs show how we yearn.
But isn't this, the yearning, what we yearn to feel within?
And we yearn to show without the things that inly burn;
(For, without the burning show, what things can any learn?)
And yet without the food of love, I should grow thin.
Trees are where we started, and trees are where we'll stop
To pick the mellow apricot, the acrid mangosteen;
Next summer you'll return to me, and we will not be seen,
Lest the keeper of the oasthouse should catch us on the hop.
So tell me when you want to go, and I shall go before;
I'd not prolong your staying if your heart is set elsewhere,
But before you go I'll tell you that you're rotten to the core.
Had you been a fairer love, I could have loved you more:
I would have loved it more, had your lover been as fair.
Deep in the dripping forests of Rangoon
The mongoose creeps
Lured by the languorous bassoon
The glowworm sleeps
And every creature fears the wild racoon.
Soon, in the flaming summers of Iraq,
A flautist lurks,
Awaiting the silence of the dark
To play the works,
The secret curfew works, of J.S.Bach.
Far in the vapid vortices of Ind
The Hindu stays,
His body racked by spates of wind.
He longs to graze
In silent wispy fields, but not rescind.
High in the hanging heat of Hell
The camel swings,
Eating cakes of caramel,
And sweetly sings supposed songs
That camels all know well.
Then, in the mangrove swamps of far Cathay,
Where we were born
(A mile along the road to Mandalay)
Devised this irreligious roundelay.
Many long years, with lute and lyre in hand,
The bard was barred
From writing sonnets in the sand;
The lard was hard.
It melts when all the people understand.
Oh, had I Janus in my grip,
Then I would build, for I am skilled,
And never make a slip.
Oh, had I Etna in my grasp
Then I would write, 'til Guy Fawkes Night,
Of Cleopatra's asp.
Or, should Elektra grace my house,
And feed the fire of my desire,
Then I would never grouse.
Reverse the hearse! Rehearse the verse!
Reveal the peel! Repeal the veal!
Imperatives are terse
Pejoratives are worse.
For those that cannot feel the weal,
Who squirm and squint, but never squeal,
Or scatter far like frightened teal,
For them I save my hearse!
Oh, were sweet Helen here with me,
Then she and I would purify
Our early-morning tea.
Oh dappled Daphne, stay in Rome!
For laurel shrubs make hardy scrubs,
And bloom around our home.
So, should a Grecian Goddess come,
Her I would strangle in the mangle
And pickle her in rum.
O Lady, when compared with you,
The ocean hardly strikes me blue
-- and nor do you.
From Turkestan and Samarkand with opal eyes they came.
On his charger, Maximilian. On his horse without a name,
Young Sophocles, his nephew; and on a cow called Kate,
The Tartars came a-storming by -- they feared they would be late.
They stumbled through the Caucasus -- a wilderness, a mire,
A luckless land that every year is swept across by fire.
Meanwhile the Turks were moving up from Deepest Ethiope.
Beside them rode young Migraine on a silver Calliope,
His trusty shaft swung low about his strong and subtle neck,
Bounced back upon the buccaneer who, born in far Quebec,
Where all the folk are charlatans and sell their sons for slaves,
Was bathing in a highland beck and washing in the waves.
But now the Mongols charging came and wrought with swords of steel
Such blows as those of Goodness Knows Who defter blows can deal,
And careless Kurds that use no words but those of Catalan
Rehearsed the verse that bodes the worst for woman, child and man,
And bodes worse still in far Brazil for pumas and their ilk.
Now Goths and Huns, their many sons, came bringing Curdled Milk,
And Teutons brave, that rant and rave, and vicious Visigoths,
Then Slavs and Czechs, with broken necks, who rode on sacred Moths.
Shout Hi! for One and Hi! for All: Usurp the tyrant of Nepal
And spoil his beer with froths!
From Burma far and Kilimanjar, the Kings of Carthage came,
With fifty thousand slave-girls who, with hearts and eyes aflame,
With thoughts of hope and hopes of thought etcetera, as you know,
Were ransomed for a crown of gold and adamantine glow.
So all the hordes of conquerors that teemed throughout the land
Were thwarted, nay aborted; Chaos strangled all they'd planned.
The Kings they willed, and all were killed. Across the silent plain,
On the shells of would-be heroes fell the darkness, fell the rain.
April daze is here again,
And May may soon be on its way.
Curdled now the Milky One
That Juno's breast did spray.
And duly stun the Creamy One
Or gusty winds that ever blow
Through the empty Nebul‘,
Dismembering the Honied Foe.
The thund'rous knights of Febul‘
Came marching to the Northern March.
(No vent bereaves them of their air.)
They jam no airy pie with starch.
In the transept embers flare,
Foot, sock, toe, bereft of limbs,
Wading though the miry fen,
We hum, we hum the honeyed hymns.
Yes, April daze is here again.
©1973, 1999 The Rat Fathom Poets
Edited by Peter Christian
May 31 2023.