(based on suggestions from @kirstymurray, @matchtrick, @sarahhazelton, @pinknantucket)
There’s plenty of you in the city,
lamenting control in your lives,
the latex you snap on ain't pretty,
it shuts out your children and wives.
You're blind to the truth of your mornings,
you tidy up, keep things in line,
hygienically sealed against warnings:
you tell yourself everything’s fine.
The city has made you its puppet;
its hand up the back of your skirt.
Be careful or Judy will snuff it,
A Punch with a baton can hurt.
When you first meet our Henry you’ll snigger,
you’ll scoff at his ponies and dust,
your city is just so much bigger,
but gradually turning to rust.
You think other Henrys are better,
the Tudors, the Eighths, and the Kings.
But there’s more meat in black bordered letter,
Than podgy old barrel-chest brings.
If you clipped yourself out of the rat race,
and walked by yourself for a time,
if you spoke as yourself within that space,
you might even find that you rhyme.
In the bush there is nobody taller
than lives that hang down from the tree.
It makes you feel quiet, and smaller,
like your cords have been cut and you’re free.
Pinnochio didn’t find walking
til his puppeteer let go the strings.
The ventriloquist dummy starts talking:
He will say the most startling things.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from four peeps:
- @kirstymurray: "The Prof and I would like a poem with Mr Punch and Henry Lawson in it. A puppets' bush ballad?”
- @sarahhazelton: “ponies?”
- @pinknantucket: “Henry Tudor as well? You could add King Henry from the Steeleye Span song who killed his horse & lay down next to a witchypoo!”
- @matchtrick: “Tidying things up.”
I remember being forced to study Henry Lawson in high school. I was derisive, naturally. It rhymed. It rhymed a lot. I still have a resistance to rhyme unless it's in hip hop (don't know why I'm such an urban snob), but I've actually warmed to Henry a bit over the years. Some of the more obscure ones, like The Old Stockman's Lament actually strike a chord with me these days. I must be getting soft. Or less prejudiced.
As per requests from lovely YA author Kirsty Murray and puppeteer extraordinaire The Prof (who does an awesome Punch and Judy show), I have done a kind of bush ballad (well, the rhyme scheme and metre are bush-poetry style). It's a city-to-bush-ballad, I guess.