Monday, February 4, 2013

The Jester and the Cabbage

When the hour was dark and the moment was drear,
A huge cabbage terrorized New Windermere.
So green was its hue; so tremendous its bulk
That it went by the nickname "Cruciferous Hulk."
It stormed through the woods; it stomped through the vale;
It marched into town flanked by parsley and kale.
Could the kingdom be saved?  The folks had their doubts
'Cause it came with an army of huge brussels sprouts.
They bolted their doors, but all was in vain.
The veggies grew more when it started to rain.
Worse than Godzilla, worse than King Kong,
The cabbage would kidnap the kids--and that's wrong!
So the townspeople rallied, implored of the law
To grate it to death in a big bowl of slaw.
They had to be careful; the cabbage had spikes--
It let out the air from the tires of their bikes.
It punctured their fences and poked through their walls,
And left a big trail of green slime in their halls.
The dukes were outnumbered; the damsels, distressed;
The king tore his hair, and the queen beat her breast.
A committee convened, but to no avail--
The cabbage cried, "Tear down the town!" to the kale.
The king took some action; he didn't think twice:
He summoned the jester to ask his advice.

The jester arrived in his bells and his cap
And his big, pointed shoes that reached up to his lap,
And he said to the cabbage, "Wait! Wait 'fore you strike.
I'll show you a trick--and this trick you will like."
The cabbage was startled and stopped in mid-poke,
And asked if the jester was playing a joke.
"Well, actually, yes," said the jester with glee
As he balanced a kumquat on top of his knee.
He reached in his pocket and took out a pear
That he squeezed and then smashed right onto his own chair!
Then what happened next you just wouldn't believe--
A big orange pumpkin rolled out of his sleeve!
With a thud and a clatter it lit on the floor,
Then, gathering momentum, rolled right out the door!
Meanwhile, the jester was not nearly through
With the trick he was showing the cabbage and crew:
He had grapes on his fingers and plums on his toes,
And he balanced bananas on top of his nose.
The king couldn't help it; he let out a laugh
That soon spread to the duke and the rest of his staff.
The brussels sprouts snickered; the parsley's big frown
Wiggle-jiggled a bit and then turned upside down.
The curly-leafed kale couldn't stifle a grin
When the jester did handstands on back of a hen.
And what of the cabbage?  A gulp and a cough
And a snort and a chortle--he laughed his head off.

With one headless cabbage no longer a threat,
The jester replied to the veggies, "I'll bet
That you'd like to join with me and be in my act
And perform in the circus for crowds that are packed.
We'll go on the road; we'll perform in a tent;
I'll make you all stars--and I won't charge you rent." 
The brussels sprouts blinked and the parsley agreed.
Said the kale, "Ever since I was just a wee seed,
I have wanted to act, to perform in a show,
So draw up the contract; I'm ready to go."
The king and the queen and, in short, everyone
Gave a cheer just to praise what the jester had done.
He had rescued the kingdom, had kept it from harm
With a trick he had kept up the sleeve on his arm.
For he knew that no problem could ruin the day
If those with the problems would laugh them away.
So the veggies and he took the vaudeville route,
And the cabbage? Some spices and heat made him kraut.

A Much-Needed Note of Explanation:  Several weeks ago I was part of a community college lifelong learning class taught by one of my writer friends, wherein we considered how photographs might inspire poems.  The first night, she gave each of us a photo prompt and asked us to engage in a brainstorming process to generate words and phrases it might suggest, and, ultimately, to derive a poem related in some way to the picture.

As you can see below, the photo I selected (sight-unseen) was a doozy.  I could tell it was a specimen of some kind of green vegetation, but the close-up shot pretty well abstracted it beyond recognition.  I learned later that the photo depicts a hosta flower, but that knowledge came only after the above piece, a narrative kiddie poem, took shape in my head and then found its way onto paper.

I have yet to try the poem out on the kids, but I am hoping they get a kick out of the rhythm, the rhyme, and the far-out story situation. After all, Dr. Seuss made a fortune this way.  Maybe Sooby will want to illustrate it.  I hope so, and I hope you enjoy the piece as well.


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