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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Or, as the bishop said on The Poetry Bus...

There was a choice of three prompts by Emerging Writer who is driving the Poetry Bus this week. I chose L'esprit d'escalier which means The wit of the staircase and refers to that frustrating experience in which the perfect witty response occurs too late to be of any use. But do visit and check it out for yourself. So I will just call this:-

L'esprit d'escalier

More eagle in his eyrie
than bishop in his pulpit, given that
the steely glare from steel rimmed eyes had found
this juicy morsel of an altar boy
about to be confirmed - and had locked-on.
Any moment now he'd swoop, and I
would be consumed. Or carried off
to feed the kids. Conspicuous
in bright red cassock and white surplice (no
one else in that great nave was wearing red -
my uniform had been the vicar's doing!)
you might have called it destined (or pre-destined?)
that a stomach ache the size of hell would strike.
I'd wriggled in its clutches. Now,
impaled upon that stony stare, I squirmed
the more. The beak-like nose had been aligned,
was pointing straight at me. How did he know?
His eyes on me - and only me - each time
he whispered, roared or otherwise re-
iterated his main text (how sinners
feel discomfort in the presence of the Lord),
so multitudes of demons gathered there.

He shook hands with us at the great west door
and whispered as we passed. To me he said:
The Lord will choose you for... but I was gone,
and half-way down the great stone steps before
it came to me: ...his breakfast, I don't doubt!

16 comments:

120 Socks said...

Oh to be inconspicous that certain moments! Your words great even half-way down the steps!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh how lovely Dave - and how apt. I think we all have these situations when we think of something we could have said, something witty and clever, by which time it is much too late.

Emerging Writer said...

Thanks Dave. what a scary vision you paint.
The links are up on the Poetry Bus post any minute now.

Dick said...

Chilling stuff from your chequered past! A touch here of Stephen's horrors at the beginning of 'A Portrait of the Artist...'

Helen said...

I think it's good you didn't hear the end of his sentence .... OR maybe he was going to predict your burgeoning talent....but you always knew you had that, didn't you? WORDS, they have great power.

Madame DeFarge said...

We have all stood on those stairs at some time or other. Enjoyable stuff.

Windsmoke. said...

Very stark and scary. I think we've all been in that situation.

Niamh B said...

Atmospheric piece Dave!

impaled upon that stony stare

we've all been there

Karen said...

Once again you put us right there with you. Excellent work!

Totalfeckineejit said...

A scary portrait, but a great punchline!

A Cuban In London said...

I didn't know it was called 'l'esprit d'escalier', so thanks for the free lesson.

I loved your poem for the humour and the suspense. That final line was a wonderful mix of mirth and innocence.

Greetings from London.

Kipling said...

That notion, that feeling, of 'Why me' captured here, I can feel the unease, almost claustrophobic quality in your verse. I am very glad I have found you.
"his breakfast" indeed!

Kass said...

Lighthearted, yet sinister.

Derrick said...

Such discomfort on the point of glory, Dave!

Dave King said...

120 socks
Funny how different they feel in retrospect. Thanks, though.

Weaver
Indeed we do, and frustrating they can be on occasion!

Emerging Writer
Thanks for posting. Great to have your comments.

Dick
What exalted company you do pace me in! (Not that I'm complaining!)

Helen
Er... no, I didn't always know that - come to think of it, I don't know that!! Very kind of you to say so, though. I do agree that it may be as well that I didn't catch the end of his sentence... or did I decide to drop it from my memory? I wonder...

Madame DeFarge
Thank you. Maybe we use them for our art more often - might take the sting out of the frustration!

Windsmoke
Thanks for the comment.

Niamh
... and thought it meant specifically for us when it was for the world in general.

Karen
Lovely comment. Thanks.

Totalfeckineejit
Thanks again.

A Cuban in London
Thanks. I didn't know it was called that, either. We Have to thank Emerging Writer for the info'.

Kipling
A warm welcome to you and sincere thanks for commenting. All such feedback is gratefully received.

Kass
Thanks. I guess that sort of sums up one kind of childhood memory.

Derrick
Perc eptive observation! Thanks.

Kat Mortensen said...

How well you convey the terror instilled (albeit possible in your mind) by those in the church hierarchy! They do have steel-rimmed eyes and beaky noses, don't they!
Having been on the wrong end of the glare from a number of displeased nuns, I could well sympathize with this.

I don't know whether to direct you here: http://hyggedigter.blogspot.com/2011/01/poetry-bus-bit-of-just-desserts.html

or here:

http://hyggedigter.blogspot.com/2010/09/magpie-tales-31.html