ANSWERING

ANSWERING

 

If someone says

You didn’t see that,

say But I did. 

And I heard it, too.

 

If someone says

Surely that’s not

what you think, say

That’s what you think.

 

If they say  

You shouldn’t feel

that way,

say Ha!

should has nothing 

to do with it.

 

If they say

You shouldn’t say

things like that,

say Just listen.

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THE GREEDY FISHERMAN

THE GREEDY FISHERMAN

~after the Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time, there was a fisherman who lived in a vinegar jug by the seaside. Every day he went out fishing. Some days he caught enough fish to sell, some days he caught only enough to eat, some days he caught nothing.

But one beautiful morning, when the sea was calm and the sun was shining brightly, he caught a little golden fish, the likes of which he had never seen. “Ah,” he thought to himself, “I can sell this fish for a pretty penny.”

But as he pulled the hook from the fish’s mouth, the fish spoke. “Fisherman! If you let me go, I will grant you a wish. Anything you desire.”

Of course the fisherman had never heard a fish speak. “Why should I let you go?” he said.  “I can sell you and get rich! A golden fish that talks!”

“But you can wish for all the riches you like,” said the fish, “if you let me go.”

“Well, all right,” said the fisherman, who still did not quite trust the fish. “I would like a nice cottage instead of a vinegar jug.”

“Go home then,” said the fish. “It is as you wished.”

So the fisherman rowed his little boat home, and there, just as the fish had said, was a little cottage where the vinegar jug had been. There were two rooms, the kitchen with a good stove and a neat table, all complete, and a bedroom with a neat cot covered with a featherbed. Outside was a bit of garden, with cabbages and onions planted in rows. The fisherman was well pleased, and for many days he lived contented in his cottage.

But one day he began to think, “Why did I not ask for a mansion? Surely the fish could have granted me that. I’ll go back and see.”

He rowed his little boat back out into sea. There were clouds over the sun, and ripples in the water, but the fisherman was used to bad weather. He rowed out to where he had first caught the fish, and he called, “Fish! Fish! I have another wish!”

The fish immediately poked its head from the water, and the fisherman thought it looked a bit larger than it had at first.  “Yes? What is it?” asked the fish.

“I would like a mansion. Can you do that for me?”

“Yes,” said the fish, “I can. Go back home and you will have a mansion.”

The fisherman rowed home, and there where the cottage had been was a big stone mansion with beautiful gardens and a barn and a stable full of horses and carriages. The mansion had a hundred rooms and a great hall and a gallery and servants to look after it all. The fisherman was very pleased. He liked the beautiful things in the mansion, and he liked telling the servants what to do. And he stopped going down to the sea to fish.

And one day, after he had ordered his servants to prepare a bath and a picnic lunch for him, and had watched them busy themselves with his orders, he thought, “I could be king. If I were king, I would have more servants, and the lords and ladies all around would have to obey me, too. I will order my yacht to take me back to the fish, and I will tell it that I want to be king.”

So he ordered his yachtsman to make ready, and down to the sea he went. The sky was covered in cloud then, and there were whitecaps on the water, but the fisherman was not worried at all. He knew about all kinds of weather. “Fish! Fish!” he called. “I have another wish!”

The fish appeared then, poking her head out of the water. Yes, she was definitely larger than before, thought the fisherman, but the fisherman did not worry. As he grew more powerful, he thought, of course the fish would grow, too.  “What do you want? the fish asked.

“I want to be king,” said the fish.

“Of course you do,” said the fish. “Go back now. You are king.”

The fisherman had the yacht bring him back to the shore, and sure enough, the mansion was gone and in its place was a castle. It had a moat, and towers and flags flying in the brisk wind. The fisherman was greeted at the shore by a herald blowing a trumpet, and by a golden coach pulled by eight white horses, and the people lining the road waved and cheered as he passed on his way.

The castle was as magnificent as he could have imagined, and he was attended by lords and ladies who were happy to do his bidding. He had fine food to eat and fine clothes to wear, and wanted for nothing. But one day. . . “If I were emperor,” thought the fisherman, I would have kings and queens to attend me instead of mere lords and ladies. I will go back to the fish and tell it that I want to be emperor.

So he ordered his royal fleet to escort him to the spot where he had first met the fish. The wind was high and the rain had started to fall when they reached the spot, so the fisherman had his herald blow a trumpet to summon the fish.

She reared out of the water before him, half the size of his royal ship. “What is it now?” she asked.

“I want to be emperor,” said the fisherman. “Make me emperor.”

“Go,” said the fish. “You are emperor.”

This time when the fisherman disembarked, he was met by six golden coaches, each with a king or queen inside. His own coach was three times larger than their coaches, and was pulled by twenty black horses. As the kings and queens escorted him back to the palace that had taken the place of his castle, the people again lined the road and waved and cheered. It was raining and the wind was howling, and it pleased the fisherman that the people were standing in the rain to greet him.

And so his life went on. Kings and queens waited on him, and did his bidding. Anything he wished to have, he had, anything he wished to do, he did, and no one could stop him, or even stand in his way. But one morning as he looked out the window of his private chamber, he saw the sun shining over his lands, and he said, “I would like to make the sun come up when I want it to. I want to make it set at my pleasure. I want to be god.” The kings and queens attending him were horrified, but they said nothing. The fisherman ordered his coach and attendants to take him to the sea, and his imperial fleet went with his imperial flagship out into the water. The clouds were towering, and the rain falling in great sheets, and the wind was blowing a gale. Two of the ships in his fleet were capsized and the sailors drowned, but the fisherman did not mind. He himself stood at the bow of the ship and called the fish. “I command you!” he shouted. “Come forth!”

The fish emerged from the water, her great golden form looming above the ship. Everyone but the fisherman fell to their knees. “What do you want?” said the fish.

“I want to be god!” said the fisherman.

“Go then,” said the fish. “Go.” And the fish slid back into the water. The sea was suddenly dreadfully calm, and the ships vanished, and the fisherman found himself on the shore where there was no palace, or castle, or mansion or cottage. There was nothing but a vinegar jug, and there the fisherman lived alone for the rest of his days.

CRANKY

CRANKY

 

The old women are cranky.

They turn, squeaking, resistant.

They like their routines:

coffee, silence, good bread.

What’s the point

of bad weather?

Of more books about childcare and food?

Those people in Washington—

well, what do you expect

if people stare at a screen all day?

Somebody has to make the bread

and wash the quilts

and feed the kids

and walk the dog.

Somebody has to remember

the reasons,

tell the stories,

sing the songs

everybody used to know.

April prompt #26

April prompt #26

An adult who affected you strongly as a child

Janice’s #1

 

MRS. FARRINGTON KILLING THEORY

 

Tonic. Sub-dominant. Every Good Boy

Does Fine. The ruler across the knuckles.

The yellow notebook. Erasers balanced

on the hands. It is forbidden to play

by ear. I can read music in my sleep.

My hand position is old-style perfect.

I cannot improvise to save my life.

Playing Mozart, I always forget to breathe.

April Prompt #2

April Prompt #2

AN INCOHERENT RANT ABOUT AN OBSCURE ISSUE

Mary’s #5

 

The way they forget to

I mean you’d think

that someone would have taught

who runs the place now anyway?

If we don’t make it compulsory

or at least certify

but then there’s “local control”

which nobody has anyhow

some damned leftover from what?

So what gets to me, is you walk

down the street and there it is

all the time, everywhere

right in plain sight. And once

even in a school. I mean, a  SCHOOL,

really. I’m not kidding. I wish

I were. Since it was a blackboard,

I could fix it. And somebody

thanked me, which was nice.

One more example of how

nobody cares. Sloppy thinking.

The end of civilization.

It has nothing at all to do

with inclusion, by the way,

or anything like that. I hate

it when people use that excuse.

If you think we have rule’s,

just look at, say, the Japanese.

What’s the point? Don’t even

get me started about

texting God knows where

and Thank You For Having Me.

DEADLY SINS

DEADLY SINS

Jealousy deeper than green-eyes.

Indigo smoke in the nostrils.

A long black tongue.

 

Rage.

A stone through the screen.

The reason I don’t have a gun.

 

Greed.

So much I still crave,

so little I need.

 

And I am too proud,

or too ashamed

to speak, or pray.

 

I eat too much chocolate cake.

I want sunshine every day.

Difficult people, go away.

 

Accidie–

dear God!

As if I had a world of time.

 

Lust,

last on my list. And me

too ancient to resist.

April Prompt #17

APRIL PROMPTS #17

Mary’s #4:  a rant on any subject of your choice

 

PANTOUM FROM THE FIRST WORLD

 

The white cat won’t leave me alone.

He sits on my lap, drooling,

shedding hair on my black sweater.

The dog awakens me in the night.

 

He stands on my chest, drooling.

He wants me to let him out in the porchlight.

I hate being awakened in the night.

to fill his bowl with fresh water

 

or to let him out to bark in the moonlight.

I cannot find coarse-ground whole wheat flour.

The kitchen faucet drips hot water.

No restaurant here has good vegan food.

 

I can’t find local whole wheat flour.

My glasses are dirty.

We have no good vegetarian diner.

The telephone is a constant annoyance.

 

I can’t find my sunglasses.

This yogurt isn’t low fat.

The telephone rings constantly.

That radio announcer has an irritating voice.

 

Is this yogurt really low fat?

My black pants are covered in cat hair.

That announcer has a seriously irritating voice

and the white cat won’t leave me alone.