11:55:46 am on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

Jack the Poet, Redux
Sjef Frenken

"I have another one," said Jack, during our lunch in the Bayshore food court.

"Another WHAT?" I asked.

"A poem, a part of a poem, a parody. It's a take-off on one stanza from Edgar Allen Poe's the Raven. You know: 'Quoth the raven 'Nevermore'. Got a minute?"

Since I had worked my way only half-way through the salad on my plate, I was in no position to escape. It was obvious that the success of his effort earlier in the year had gone to his head.

Jack took a deep breath, and proceeded to declaim in a voice loud enough to startle some of the nearby food court clientele:

"'But the black bird, shitting nearly
on the marble bust, spoke cheerily,
Those three words, as if it merely
that quadrasyllabic phrase could say.
No further bold attempt it made ?
not a statement it essayed -
While I more than faintly prayed
'Other friends have flown away
In the morning will he leave me,
as my hopes have flown today?'
Quoth the crow: 'No way, Jose'"

Before I could offer Jack my critical evaluation of this, his latest poetic effort, several nearby fellow consumers broke out in a modest applause. I expected this to result in Jack's digging some more poetic tidbits out of his jacket. But it seemed that Jack had satisfied his need of popular acclaim for his literary impulses, and he turned with enthusiasm to what was left of the food on his plate.

Not a moment too soon, as two security guards descended on us, wanting to know what the disturbance had been about. They didn't look as if they'd appreciate poetry; in fact, I doubted they'd even recognize doggerel if it bit them in the behind.

"Nothing, officer," I said, "my friend Jack here, suffers occasionally from trochaic tetrameters. It was just a spasm. Nothing serious, thank God. But thanks for asking." They backed off, not wanting to catch whatever it was Jack suffered from.

Jack didn't even bother to look up from his souvlaki.

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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