Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jack Scott writes

Godfather Frog 
[Part I]
The Lake of the Lost Fisherman
lies in a long, long valley, 
not unlike a ten-pin alley   
beneath round, scudding clouds      
like Rip van Winkle’s bowling balls.

In this farthest north of frigid Maine
I camped in August frost by night
beside a chilly lake the color of the sky,
writing at, by day, a book-to-be:
The Moth That Made it to the Moon.

There was no refuge from the chill
of each cloud’s shadow,  
no insulation in this clear, thin air,
except coats and sweaters
and constant campfire tending. 
No protection from capricious gusts                  
which scattered all my pages
and sent me scrambling after them,
except paternal vigilance  
and rocks and forks and spoons
pinning paper moth wings
to my picnic table, 
crude lepidoptery.

The passing of each cloud
unveiled the sun    
and let its heat stream through,  
drenching me in sweat.
Overdressed or underdressed,
it was hard to get it right,
the thermostat was crazy,
and so perhaps was I,
stranded by affliction
a thousand miles from home.
Weighing misery against disaster,
I thought it best to stick it out
there with one working eye
until I felt safe enough  
to drive that far with two.
So I sat in my confinement
waiting for parole,
and wrote in two dimensions
of a mental multitude.
No-brainer self-denial:
I could not afford motels and gas.

Going to the nearest town
for food and fuel
and, of course, more beer,
I’d found a doctor
who put my mind,
though not my eye at ease.
Conjunctivitis . . .
how did I get it?
So many possibilities:
of them: mushroom poisoning
from plundering  maniacally.
He gave me salve and eye drops,
and gauze to darken it, and said   
it would likely run its course
given time and self-control.
If I kept on rubbing it
I might have two pink eyes,
a goad to self-restraint
and a taunt to rub them more.

I had two neighbors out of sight,
camping up the beach
around the bend.
Ex-smokers to be,
they had planned this trip 
to kick their demon, Nicotine.
Former lovers at the moment,
forgoing social graces,
in their smoke deprived
and shrinking minds,
retiring from the human race         
on this severe vacation,
shunning one another
and the lake’s community:
Perfect neighbors for a writer.

They took long healthy hikes
in different directions,
each avoiding all the things
that might ignite
short fuses of their tempers
to explode withdrawal‘s dynamite.   
Him, I never saw;
her path included me
strolling daily past
in her silent, absent way
up and down the beach,
her private treadmill.
Passing close enough to touch,
tormented, it seemed to me,
brushing past my elbow
without acknowledgement.

On the third day
she somnambulated by as usual
without “Good morning” or a glance,
fading down the beach
into out-of-sight.
Then she broke the fourth wall
of our private little play
and ran back straight to me.
“Come see! You have to see.
A monster spotted dark and green.
Bigger than I’ve ever seen.”
Her description didn’t match
a grazing moose or thirsty bear,
but might populate Loch Ness
in imagination.

In her excitement,       
she was jumping up and down,
while reaching for a cigarette
she didn’t have.
Breathlessly, en route she told me
of their masochistic mission,
swearing she would die or kill
for just one puff.
“Who would you kill?” I asked.
“Someone who’d rather die.”
The curious cyclops
and the resurrected girl
stalked swiftly side by side -
some years apart -
on the trail of mystery.
Nearing target’s habitat
she grabbed my arm and pointed.
“There! I told you. See!”


  1. "Rip Van Winkle" was a short story by American author Washington Irving published in 1819. While he was living in Birmingham, England, he locked himself in his room and wrote non-stop all night; as he said, he felt like a man waking from a long sleep. The story was part of "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.," published in New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. The story's title character was a villager living at the foot of New York's Catskill Mountains before the American Revolutionary War. To escape his wife's nagging, he wandered into the mountains, where he encountered a man wearing antiquated Dutch clothing, carrying a keg. Together, they proceeded to a hollow in which Rip discovered the source of thunderous noises: a group of ornately dressed, silent, bearded men playing nine-pins (an earlier form of bowling [ten pins]). After he drank with them he fell asleep. He woke up twenty years later to find an entirely different world.
    Loch Ness (Loch Nis in Scottish Gaelic) is a large, deep, freshwater loch extending for 23 miles (37 km) southwest of Inverness, one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water. Due to its great depth, it is the largest loch by volume in the British Isles, containing more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. It is the home of "Nessie" (Niseag), the Loch Ness Monster. In the late 7th century, a century and a half after the events described, Adomnán, the 9th abbot of Iona Abbey, wrote the "Vita Columbae," a hagiographic biography of St. Columba, a relative on his father's side who had been its first abbott. The Irish missionary Columba (Colm Cille, "church dove" in Irish Gaelic), descended from the 5th-century high king Niall of the Nine Hostages, had founded the abbey in the Ulster kingdom of Dál Riata in order to spread Christianity among the northern Pictish kingdoms at the invitation of his kinsman, king Conall mac Comgaill, in penance for his quarrel against his mentor St. Finnian that led to the battle of Cúl Dreimhne in Cairbre Drom Cliabh (now in County Sligo) in 561 and his role in instigating the clan Neill to battle king Diarmait at Cooldrevny in 561; a synod of clerics and scholars allowed him to go into exile rather than be excommunicated, and he resolved to win as many souls as had been slain due to his actions. In 561 he came across a group of Picts burying a man by the Ness river who had been slain by a "water beast." The saint ordered one of his disciples to swim across the river, and when the creature approached, Columba commanded, "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed." The beast stopped as if it had been "pulled back with ropes" and fled. [Columba wrote two hymns: "Adiutor Laborantium" had 27 octosyllabic lines, each one following the format of an Abecedarian hymn using the Classical Latin alphabet (except lines 10-11 and 25-27), while "Altus Prosator" had 23 stanzas of 16 syllables with the first containing seven lines and six in each subsequent stanza; each stanza started with a different letter rather than each line. An anonymous poem in praise of him, of 25 stanzas of four verses of seven syllables each, was written within three or four years of his death, probably commissioned by the king of the Uí Néill clan, and is Europe's earliest vernacular poem. Adomnán also left behind a good deal of Gaelic poetry, including a celebration of the Pictish king Bridei's victory over the Northumbrians at Dun Nechtain in 685.]

  2. A cyclops (kyklops, "round-eyed" or "circle-eyed") was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the center of his forehead. Hesiodes described Brontes ("thunderer"), Steropes ("lightning"), and the "bright" Arges, three sons of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth) whom Uranus, fearing their strength, had locked in Tartarus. Their brother Kronus overthrew Uranus but left them imprisoned, guarded by Kampe ("crooked"), a drakaina (she-dragon) with a woman's head and upper torso, snake hair, a venomous, scorpion-like tail, snakes around her ankles, and 50 grisly heads of various creatures (wolves, snakes, bears, lions...) around her waist; her fingernails were "curved like a crooktalon sickle" and she had black wings on her back. Zeus slew Kampe and freed the kyklopes, who then gave Hades a helmet of invisibility (later given to Perseus to use against Medusa) and Poseidon a trident, and all three fashioned Zeus' main weapon, his thunderbolts, which the gods used to defeat the Titans. They later made a bow and arrows of moonlight for Artemis and a bow and arrows of sunlight for Apollo. In the "Odyssey" Homeros described Odysseus' encounter with Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon and Thoosa, who belonged to a tribe of mortal herdsmen who lived on Sicilia. Later, in 408 BCE, Euripides' only extant comedy (and the only complete satyr play that has survived) was based on Homeros' account as well as Cratinus’s "Odysseuses," which lampooned it. In "Alcestis," another play by Euripides, Apollo killed the kyklopes in retaliation for Asclepius' murder at the hands of Zeus and was then forced into the servitude of Admetus for one year as punishment. After Euripides, other stories claimed that Zeus pardoned and revived the kyklopes out of gratitude for their help against the Titans and resurrected Asclepius at Apollo's requet to end their feud. In some versions of this myth, te ghosts of the kyklopes dwelt in the caverns of the volcano Aetna after they wer killed by Apollo. According to Kallimachos, they were Hephaestus' helpers at the forge, and the noises proceeding from the heart of volcanoes were attributed to their operations. The Sicilian Greek poet Theocritus wrote two poems c. 275 BC concerning Polyphemus' desire for the sea nymph Galatea and his strategy for winning her. Strabon described seven Lycian kyklopes, known as "Bellyhands" because they earned from their handicraft, who had built the walls of Tiryns and perhaps the caverns and the cyclopean labyrinths near Nauplia. In the late 4th/early 5th century, Nonnus wrote the "Dionysiaca," the longest surviving poem from European antiquity at 20,426 lines, composed in Homeric dialect and dactylic hexameters, which detailed how the kyklopes, at the request of Zeus' mother Rhea, allied with Dionysus' army against king Deriades of India. In the Kavkus (Caucasus) the kyklops was usually a cannibalistic shepherd who says his name is “nobody;” in one example from Sakartvelo ("Georgia"), two brothers who were trapped in the cave of "One-eye" escaped after stabbing him in his eye with a wooden spit.


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