Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Maud and the Abram Man

MAUD AND THE ABRAM MAN                     
The milch cow startled     My eyes saw true     A singing man was swinging by
his knees in one of my father’s pippin trees   A lute athwart his breast   he sang 
the daymoone’s beauty   bellowed to Actaeon’s hounds   and tutored the titmice thus ‘Better to be king of a molehill than a Pharoah’s slave!”   Plucking the gut’s 
progression on the belly’s pearwood rose    he howled   then mimed into his collar 
the dangerous dominus vobiscum    then chortling withal   boomed out our Queen’s 
endorséd English parson’s infinite rant   all at the gallop of a wind    I well-nigh 
bepissed myself with laughing   Like a crow he quirked his beak at me and cawed 
His wings flew up    he vaulted down into a frantic gypsy galliard scattering geese 
across the dooryard   leaping reckless and fast upon one foot   until from his knee
a greasy fillet slid   poppy-bright the sore enchafèd under it    At the well I soaked my handkercher and went as if to clean it    He spun at me and hissed   ‘Tis five 
shillings you would wash away!‘   A badge shone on his rags   a sanctioned crest 
of tin    O God, an Abram man!   From Bedlam sent to beg from shire to shire  
I tried to run    he took my arm  and like a courtier bowed prettily and low   then 
kissed my chilblained hand   “Poor Tom’s a dry,” he sang like a player, “Any food? 
Any feeding? Cyder punch for charity?” I gave him drink from the milch cow’s 
pail   my mind on his bloody wound     ‘Crowesfoot and speerwort bruised with salt”

he said   calm as if reciting a recipe for bread   “Rubbed into skin   will injure it   
A linen cloth sticks fast   wrenched off brings pustules   then Ratsbane thrown 
upon it keeps it raw”   The welkin whirled    he was quite mad   I slipped into 
the field flowers    holding my hankercher    his eyes were blue as anemones    
There was sugar in his face     galle in his breast   and I was planet-struck To be 
hanged on his fair gallows with  his hands’ silken halter    I wanted nothing more
Tom and Maud like quicksilver turned    without so much as a God Be Wi’Ye
to my kin    We followed hedgerows through the lanes until we came to London


  1. Flashback. Prelude. The plot quickens. And "quirk" as a verb! I'm planet-struck too. Fabulous!

  2. Thank you for last week's bit of context, Cliff notes for us beginners. The piece is so wonderfully vivid, the language decipherable though unfamiliar. I'm there with Tim, awaiting the next episode. My brother and his former roommate had a phrase, "You're sick but I'm game." Likely what was going through Maud's mind. You exceed yourself. xo

  3. and i, with my appetite for unsightly details, love the greasy fillet...
    here's the stuff of a riveting poetry reading, one we are all waiting for, melissa...

  4. Thanks, Tim, I'm glad you liked the flashback and are 'planet-struck' too.

  5. Dear Marylinn, I'm glad last week's Cliff notes helped you understand Maud better. My poor Maud is not in her right mind---there's more to come, I think--I hope. I'm happy you liked this piece. xo

  6. Dearest Susan, thank you for believing these pieces are riveting and leave you hungry for me, greasy fillets and all. xo

  7. Melissa- Yes, indeed, I too am grateful for the cliff notes, but fear I'll need a Mad dictionary in hand. Yet I'm held still by the color and texture of this poem. And these characters--bloody wounds and all! I won't let them out of my sight!

    'Tis fabulous and infectious! ;)

  8. Dear Jayne, I'm very glad you're hanging onto my characters and their story, bloody wounds and all. There's a lot that can be intuited just by continuing to be in their world, so you may not need to rely on your Mad dictionary as much as you fear you will. Any word you can't find, I'll be glad to translate!