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Sunday 9 December 2012


At some point, I suppose, I did leave school...
Must have! The last that I recall of it
was that limp operetta: all
us bloodless pirates prancing round the stage,
the parents clapping like the ninnies that they are,
and earlier, the hours of tedious rehearsing -- during which
I found the time to write my new, alternative, 
more violent script, The Pirates of Pen's Pants. Ah,
I remember now, THAT'S when I left school,
a tad before my time! Years after that
I found my hayloft studio
and bought the thermal lance and 4X4
to turn out beetles in sheet metal by the score.

It all goes back to frightened pirates walking home
along a pitch dark twittern known as Cold Blows under trees, 
in uniform -- or costume, if you will --
and that last evening of them all, when Mother Nature
furnished me with props beyond my dreams.
All week I'd walked home leaping, whirling, 
putting Dervishes in shade.
I'd given them the scripts I'd written them, my friends,
but could I get them to join in? God,were they afraid? Of what?
The shadows or the hospital for those who couldn't live?
Who knows? That evening, though, the beetles
fell in curtains from the trees to form 
a carpet that we walked upon, its pile 
was inches thick and crunched beneath our feet...
Okay, fair dos, a nauseating sound. I felt it too,but I am made
of sterner stuff and set about those beetles with a will.
My cutlass thrumped above my head like helicopter rotor blades.
That night I slew a dozen demons in my head,
chopping beetles by the thousand clean in two.

You should have heard them squeal, my yellow-livered crew.
I told them straight: how beetles feel no pain; 
remove a beetle's arse or abdomen, it eats on as before.
It stood me in good stead,that night,helped my career take off
like I had made the world's best mouse trap. People came
and beat that once proverbial path to my front door.
And yet I needed more...
The cutlass was replaced by thermal lance and 4X4.
I threw my beetles from the hayloft door
or ran them over with the 4X4
or with the thermal lance would cut them clean in two --
or three or four.

I asked two of my Cold Blows friends
to join my project, share in my good fortune, 
help me make a mint. The one ghost writing this I asked
and one who's putting sharks in something called
formaldehyde -- like that will catch on sometime soon!
Yellow-livered still, they both declined. 
Ah well, the more for me!

Written in response to Hobgoblin's prompt, Acting and the First Person Narrative, which you will find at: dverse Poets' Pub, this is a rewrite of one written several years ago (though posted more recently), but from my viewpoint. Here I have chosen the viewpoint of the main character. Also, this version, unlike the original. is not told in true chronology. You can read the original here.


Marbles in My Pocket said...

Terrific writing, David! I enjoyd this!

Daydreamertoo said...

Oh you beetle crusher you.... lol
I imagine they would crunch underfoot too. Yuck.
I once saw a huge beetle on the ground, picked it up and it bit me. Clung onto the side of my finger, dangling there and wouldn't let go, with either it's mouth or it's pincers. Had to shake my hand really hard to get the darned thing off. Had a lot more respect for them after that.
Have not seen the expression: 'fair do's for the longest time. I would've been in your crew ;)
Really enjoyed this

Ygraine said...

Think I'll have nightmares tonight, probably something along the lines of beetles crawling all over me!!
Hopefully your pirate will transmute into knight in shining armour and slay these demons, setting me free!!
A wonderfully imaginative tale, Dave :)

Anonymous said...

Ha! I think this is pretty tremendous. I was lucky or unlucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in close proximity to the art world as a young woman. Very funny.

First I love the youthful play, Pirates of Pen's Pants. That is very cute--and the general level of ego that goes with the speaker - even the way he describes the ninny parents.

When you first brought in the 4 by 4 and thermal lance I had a bit of a hard time. I don't know thermal lance - I think that's something British - I guessed it, but I thought I was also misinterpreting the 4 x 4, so didn't really catch that until the Damien Hirst came in. Then I had more of an aha! moment.

I've been thinking of whether it would be helpful to give stronger clues earlier as the artist is so odd that people with little contact with performance art may not get. (Maybe.)

I really don't know and so any suggestion I would make is not to be taken too seriously, but you could expand the title perhaps. Pirated! (Inspiration At Its Source) or Pirated! (Ars Longa Vita Brevis) I really don't know. I thought it read really well and it certainly held my interest till clearer but some might not catch on. (I don't know.) The Ars Longa also not really a giveaway!
Anyway, I found this very funny. Thanks so much, Dave. Crazy story. k .

Brian Miller said...

ha. what an enjoyable tale dave...i dunno why they did not jump right in and want to be a part of your project....this was mad fun....i agree with k, on the place i struggled for a moment but it did not bog me down long....thoroughly enjoyed....

Anonymous said...

Very funny, and mother nature has a knack of giving you curtains and carpets of beetles, especially in summer, though not always as welcome here...at least I know a good beetle exterminator when I need one. :) Very enjoyable story.

Claudia said...

ha nice..that was a fun read dave...i was a bit clueless as well first...cool write dave and just smiling at di's comment with the beetle exterminator..

Wolfsrosebud said...

ah... the mad scientist in you, perhaps

Wolfsrosebud said...

ah... the mad scientist in you, perhaps

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Very imaginative tale Dave! Great imagery.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have sung in Pirates many times Dave but I shall never think of it again as anything but Pen's Pants!

Grace said...

Your tales are entertaining Dave ~

I enjoy the scenes and lively conversations ~

Have a good week ~

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

What a great exuberance in these lines, a frenzy I really enjoyed.

Mary said...

That was a smashing tale, Dave!

Victoria said...

"A smashing tale...?" says Mary. Good line. The crunching beetles got to me and then where the dream took you/the narrator.

Elephant's Child said...

A sickening crunch (which I have experienced to my disgust) will rise and haunt me tonight because of your skill here. Performance Art has long bothered me - perhaps because of its dependence on repugnance but today I could at least laugh at it. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Dave this is great. Engaging piece. Love the wordplay with the pirates of pinzance (sic) Really a great example of first person, thoroughly enjoyed. thanks

Anonymous said...

Beware the exciseman - there's duty to pay on beetles, I'll be bound! Thanks for sharing this imaginative piece.

A Cuban In London said...

Great. You could actually develop this poem into a monologue. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Dave King said...

First an apology to everyone I may have bamboozled with my references to the 4X4 and the thermal lance! I had made an early New Year resolution to add hyperlinks explaining anything that might be mysterious to some, but it truly hadn't occurred to me that these were not terms universally recognised. Wikipedia defines the latter as A thermic lance, oxygen lance, or burning bar is a tool that burns iron in the presence of pressurized oxygen to create very high temperatures for cutting. The 4X4 is a car with four-wheel drive.

Too late, I know, but there it is.

Just in case anyone is not sure, the main protagonist in this tale was/is not me! I am ghost writing his autobiography!

Marbles in my pocket
Kind words. Thank you for them.

Daydreamer too
Yes, they did crunch! Your experience must have given you some degree of phobia towards them. Did it?

Hope you didn't have nightmares. Wouldn't like to be the cause of any lost sleep!

Sorry to have discombobulated you with my Brit terms. As I've said above, I had just assumed they were general currency. I agree it would be helpful to give links to explanations. The point is noted. Sincere thanks for the title suggestions. A blind spot of mine. I often think my titles let me down. Thanks for all your comments and the time you have given to them. Most useful and very much appreciated.

Yup, I am duly contrite not to have included some help with these terms. Will try to do better infuture!

pandamonium cat
Yes, I think I could still account for a few. Thanks for your comment.

Yup, sorry. The mystification was not intentional.

Well, could be... hadn't given that a thought, though!

Optimistic Existentialist
Thank you for your kind words.

The Weaver of Grass
Thanks Weaver. We (school) would put on a Gilbert and Sullivan each year at the local Baths Hall. It was quite a social event for the twon - but not universally popular with the boys!

Thank you. And blessings to you.

Thank you. I do very much appreciate this comment.

So glad you thought so.

not a dream, actually, but a fusion of two actual happenings - with some modifications!
Thansk for your interest.

The Elephant's Child
Thank you very much - but I do hope you were able to enjoy a peaceful night.

Thank you so much - both for the inspiration and the feedback.

Love it! Yes, I'm sure you're right. There would be, wouldn't there? Much thanks.