Monday, January 16, 2012

Rang out sirens (Month of Poetry #16)

She had waited for a great-grandchild
long as we could remember. Instead,
substitute pets ring-barked the furniture
spread their reminders on the couch.
They were blessed with dubious monikers
and natural ends. She wrote to tell us:
“At the stroke of six, Ikey Snigglefritz
laid down. His goose was cooked.”
Ikey was a rottweiler. The pets ate well;
the goose may have not been figurative.
Two cats, three chickens, a Doberman,
miscellaneous flurries of guinea pigs and mice
(some free range). Added into the mix is Herman,
a cannabalistic plumber who roamed
the water pipes, dispatching fellow spiders
in an arachnid audition for Get Carter.

She refused all use of the telephone,
though kept it in the cupboard for emergencies.
The cord trailed to the wall like an unlit fuse.
To her mind, this was being flexible and sensible.
Instead of being rigid and brittle in her thoughts
she wrapped them up in logic until they
couldn’t breathe. So we weren’t sure how
to tell her, how to usurp all her pets with
this bright new thing of birth. Debates ranged
over the stop-start-stop of telegrams,
the photographic curlicues of calling cards
the dashing nature of Morse Code.
You suggested we tie a note to Herman
for when she next took a bath.
When her first great-grandchild burst into
the world, full of cottage cheese and
yodelling fury, I lifted the phone and
we simply called. Her joy rang out sirens
like the most brilliant emergency.


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

@matchtrick: 'in the end we simply called her Joy' (David Almond, Skellig)
@marklawrence: "was being flexible and sensible instead of being rigid and brittle" (CS Forrester, Hornblower and the Hotspur)
@ernmalleyscat: "At the stroke of six Ikey Snigglefritz laid down his goose." (O. Henry, The Social Triangle)
@timsterne: "Added into the mix is Herman, a cannibalistic plumber." (Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film)

That line from Skellig is possibly my favourite last line of a book, ever. Although I haven't actually read 'Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film', so perhaps I shouldn't dismiss Herman the cannibalistic plumber out of hand.

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