Monday 26 Sep 2016

Jack the Poet
Sjef Frenken

My friend Jack fancies himself a bit of a poet. He dabbles at a lot of things, so why not poetry. Most of his poetry is actually pretty bad -- more like doggerel; about the same level as the very best Rap lyrics, which isn't saying much. But at least he doesn't have to grab at his crotch to produce it. Mind you, much of his inspiration seems to spring from that region, or focuses on it.

Do I hear you clamour for an example?

Well, you're in luck. Jack sometimes sends me his poetic eruptions by eMail when he thinks he's written one I'd appreciate. Take this one, for example,

Here's an erection
For your inspection
If you like its direction
We can make a connection.


That one's called "Rise and Shine." I want to make it clear that it was neither dedicated nor addressed to me. If you know Jack, that'd be obvious.

This next one has the title CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A KIND,

I found him in my bed
Shaking his head
With a nipple in each eye
He said: The Martians are coming
The Martians are coming
The Martians are coming
And so am I.


That seems to be a familiar theme for the lad. Here's another one much in the same vein. He's re-worked Julius Caesar's famous 'veni, vidi, vici',

She lies asleep; he lies awake."
This conquest was a piece of cake,"
He thinks, "No problem with this dame:
I saw, I conquered and I came."


But sometimes he actually soars, albeit only with the lower-flying eagles, as in this poem FLORA, which, by the way, is not about a woman named Flora.

Fast women are like rainbows
Good women are like showers
The latter are good for my roots
The former for my flowers


Most of the time, however, he soars about as high as a panicky chicken.

All that aside, the reason I bring up Jack's versification is that he surprised me a few days ago, by picking a piece of paper out of his jacket, while we were sitting down for lunch. You know where.

"I've been trying my hand at parody," announced Jack, working the creases out of the crumpled sheet.

"Will wonders never cease?" I said.

"Did you ever read 'Sea Fever' by Jack Masefield in high school?" asked Jack.

I said that it had been one of my favourite poems. And I quoted a line or two I remembered:

"'I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky ....'"


"See, I still know a bit how it goes."

"Good for you," said Jack, well aware of my very bad memory. "This is how the first verse goes,

I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
And the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face,
And a grey dawn breaking."


"Yeah," I said, "I remember. Pretty good stuff. Masefield was Britain's Poet Laureate for a long time, wasn't he."

"Thirty-seven years," said Jack, "Well, I've written a parody of the first verse. Wanna hear it?"

I don't think it would have done any good refusing the offer so I nodded my assent.

Jack said it was inspired by his having to get up more often in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, now that he was getting older. He began to recite,

'I must go down to my seat again
To my lonely seat for a try
And all I ask is a good book
And a light to read her by.
And a strong gut and the wind's song
And the porcelain shaking
And a red glow on my cheek's face
And the log-jam breaking.'"


Jack looked at me, expectantly.

I said "Not bad, Jack, although it is a bit scatological, and maybe not fit for presentation at the dinner table, but not bad. Are you going to give it a title?"

"I was thinking of 'Blow the man down', to stay with the sea theme," said Jack. "Or maybe 'Thar she blows!' But maybe you can come up with a better title?"

I said I would give it a try or ask around for suggestions.

Anybody?

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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