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October 24, 2007

A ballad

This week's assignment was to produce a poem exploring "Blodigkeit" - the state of the idiot, the wonderful apprehension of the world that is enjoyed by the perfectly ignorant. In addition to this, we had to write in ballad format. That's a bit of a departure for me - I'm not used to writing extended, narrative poetry. I think it shows. But I think there are some enjoyable elements in here, and it was certainly a learning exercise.


Families Through Adoption

On the side of some London buses,
You'll find a government ad -
Asking: could you give a foster home
To children without mum or dad?

There's a man in the ad, and a woman:
Their bodies are colourful stalks.
They're supposed to have been drawn by children
And one day they got up and walked.

They peeled themselves off the picture,
For they wanted to talk to the world:
They waved at the lampposts and streetlamps,
And the stars, who were shining like pearls.

The moon in the sky was half-lidded,
And he smiled like a wide crust of ice.
He told them: who they ought not trust,
Who was friendly, and where was nice

To stroll when the wind was glittering
Or the air smelt gently of red
And where was the gentlest pile of leaves
A body could take for her bed.

He said they should go see the river,
For her skin was impossibly smooth:
But warned that tho' she was beautiful,
She was angry and long in the tooth.

So the child-painted man and woman
Took to idly rambling the streets
With the wind blowing through their purple hair
And their green arms flapping like sheets.

The unknowing pair were followed
By the metropolitan police
Who had a dozen cars tailing them
And another lot clearing the streets.

So, although they spoke to the buildings,
And swapped fashion advice with the trees,
And told Big Ben to wash his face,
The people they never did see.

The river was humming quite cheerfully
When they found her (doing her hair)
And the paper woman was jealous
When her husband started to stare.

For the river wound so sinuously
With a super-inhuman grace
Around the buildings and banks and walls
And with such a smile on her face

That the paper woman was certain
That the river was queen of the town;
And she, being made of paper,
Could never live up to that Crown.

(The paper man was actually
Just watching a small clump of mud
That was singing a wonderful chorus from Brahms
And was washed along by the flood)

So, in a voice like spilt sandwiches
The woman said "I don't approve
Of your interest in this river!"
And that's when the cops made their move.

They had the duo surrounded.
The advance was called with a shout.
As the paper man said to his wife "I’m sorry,
What are you gabbling about?"

The pair of them went down fighting
(Though they never noticed the cops)
Yelling about beef, and Milton, and cheese,
And the paper man's mutton chops

As a corporal shot off the man's arm,
He cried out " Wash up the plates!"
And the woman replied "Do the iroing!"
As a sergeant tore off her face.

In a moment the pair were confetti
Floating up into the air
And the police stood around, embarassed
And made pretend nothing was there.

Out of this sad tale, there's a happy one
For the whole thing was caught on the news
And experts were called in and talked to,
And scientists quizzed for their views.

And the original advert was broadcast
At nine o'clock on TV;
The advert for foster parents,
And millions of people could see.
And a few dozen called up the number
And got the forms to fill in;
And by the end of the week the new parents were ready:
And the real adventure could begin.


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