Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Nice Town (Month of Poetry #15)

I was born here, in the front room. My mother

trilled ‘El Paso’ as she laboured, though as a rule

you do not whistle cowpuncher tunes on Sundays.

Would you like the little lady to get you a cup of tea?

We’re one of the old families, been here since

the church was built from trees they had pulled down.

The beams to make the cross were split by my

great-grandfather, singing away to glory with his

Gladly the Cross I’d Bear for Jesus. I always wondered

what Jesus had to do with a cross-eyed bear.

He went downhill after that, as did my father later.

Me, recently I’ve had another episode of coughing,

blood running a bit too thin these days and my heart

can’t get a grip. Often the menfolk seem to go that way.

Don’t expect you’ll have the ‘local trouble’, though.

You look healthy as a proverbial.

I wonder how that tea is getting on. No, don’t get up.

You’re really going to like it. Here it’s a nice town.

(with nice people you couldn’t have)

Made a better choice, had you really? Well.

Expect you could find someplace fancier,

(but we’ve all heard about your ‘spot of trouble’)

Ah, I expect you’ll be staying on a while yet.

(staying on here with us

til you find yourself withering

out each day by the fence

until the junk mail catalogues come)

Now. Where’s that tea?


Today's poem is based on suggestions from four people:

  • @ernamalleyscat: "You do not whistle cowpuncher tunes" (Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet)
  • @timsterne: "I've had another episode of coughing blood" (Anton Chekhov, A Life in Letters)
  • @realnixwilliams: "You're really going to like it here! It's a nice town with nice people! You couldn't have made a better choice!" (Stepford Wives)
  • @matchtrick: “They had pulled down the beams to make the cross” (Jorge Luis Borges, The Gospel According to Mark)

Having had to look up what a 'cowpuncher tune' is, I've now had Marty Robbins singing El Paso on the brain for the past several hours. It's not unpleasant.

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