Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Fable

The Poet and the Praying Mantis

Once upon a time, an old poet called Pancho sat at his desk in a small hotel room in Havana, the sole window of which that looked out across a street and upon the sea. He was trying to think of something worthy of inscribing an ode to. Everywhere he cast his mind, to the half-empty bottle of bourbon on his desk or the spry, beautiful and careless young Cuban women who dashed and trilled together like magpies below his window to the political movements that called for peace and sensibility- everything seemed so trite and obvious and temporary. An ode is love that lasts as long as language and needs an object whose beauty is permanent and whose merit is above controversy. The poet deplored to his muse her infidelity, "Oh, send me something to love!"

Just then, a long-bodied bug hopped through the open window and on to the desk. The insect was gold, rather than green, and glowed with a soft light that made the objects on which her light shone suddenly beautiful whether a blank sheet of paper or an unfinished cigarette.

"My mother, Euterpe, to me has commanded
A flight through your window tonight
To answer your prayer, for, as you demanded
A love made from reflections of light,
My heart is immortal, o, write me a poem!
I care for the sick and the felon
My beauty's as fertile as the softest loam
And amusement grows sweet as a melon."

The poet, inspired by the beaming bug, picked up his pen and used it to flick the cricket back through the window. "What the hell rhymes with praying mantis?" he growled into the musky, swirling, tropical night.

Moral: Inspiration is the reflection of consent, beheld in a mirror.

ODE, n. An appreciation of any vessel strong enough to constrain a tortured metaphor, large enough to hold a poet's delusion, and conveniently named.
PRAYING MANTIS, n. One who worships herself in the morning, the grass in the afternoon and the sphinx in the evening. Semi-homophone of graying Francis.

22 comments:

Mo'a said...

Hmmmmm!!! can it be that I am first?

goldennib said...

Reading quickly, I thought you wrote sphincter. Sheesh.

Mo'a said...

Now I can leave a real message.
Wonderful fable and a great poem/ode.
Be careful of the Praying Mantis, I hear she eats her mate, once she has had her way with him.

Jamie Dawn said...

My dad came up with a character for Courtney to use in one of her screenplays. The character's name was Pancho Chang. Your Pancho wouldn't happen to be him, would he??

I know a graying Francis.

karma said...

"In Far Eastern countries, they deep fry 'em till crisp enough to go crunch in the mouth"

- Craving Haggis


nuuxxv: what's new, sexy?

Logophile said...

Gives one a appreciation for Grecian urns and skylarks, eh?

puppybrose said...

i believe Donovan had the same problem as the poet in your story, back in 1968. oh wait... no he didn't. ; )

as you may or may not know, i am a big fan of your fables and/or poetry.... have to say today's offering ranks right up there with your best! well done!

G said...

Ummm, dancing Santas (prounounced - well, you know).

Puppy, great link!

Ode to Doug:

You write prose with aplomb
which I try to read before noon
About a praying mantis
more fun than dancing Santas!

You rock!

The End.

pia said...

I have nothing to say after all these inspirational comments--was going to copy my favorite line but am too lazy

TLP said...

Praying Mantis: a false prophet devoted to itself and not above enjoying a snack after sex.

actonbell said...

Excellent! An ode to a golden praying mantis, two great definitions, and it's humpnight.
Cool.

actonbell said...

I meant humpDAY, or course. I can just make out the weekend from here.

G said...

By the way - in my ode, you'll have to mispronounce "aplomb". Hey it was closer to noon than praying mantis.

Doug said...

Mo'a, it seems to be. Good things come in threes, too.

Nessa, are you using that as an adjective?

Mo'a, not the ones I've known.

Jamie Dawn, you know him, too?

Karma, Far East from India is Ohio, right?

And mice and artichokes and megellanic penguins in Spanish, Logo.

Neva, if I had different bad habits I might have come up with that, too. What a great find.

Dancing Santas! Great, G!

Pia, that's pretty lazy. No problem with that here.

Who is, TLP?

Actonbell, I can see the weekend from here, too. In your comments.

G, I can mispronounce with the best of them.

Kyahgirl said...

still up to your ode tricks I see :-)

Tom & Icy said...

Oh. So if inspiration is seen as consent, then that might be why we consider imitation as a form of flattery, because imitating shows we approve, and inspires us to do likewise.

Minka said...

personally I think that poet-dude should get out in the fresh air some. It´s not like anybody asked him to write an epic and I am pretty sure flicking rhyming insects sent by muses is not gonna improve him karma one bit!

I loved the end of that fable, though. Reminded me of someone *ponders* maybe Diogenes...

ariel said...

what a beautiful fable. the more times I read it the more paths of truth I notice. and this feeling when you know you came across something real good and live in peace with the rest of the world for a minute or two before everything is back to normal. :)

Doug said...

Kyah, tough to teach an ode dog new tricks.

Icy, that's deep. I had "arf!"

Minka, the cricket, you mean?

Thanks, Ariel. It was a very elaborate way of saying "I got nuthin'" I feel like a poet.

ariel said...

oh geez

Cooper said...

Now that I have had my weekly fable I can ponder closely why I stepped on that darn thing.

Doug said...

Ariel, that's a less elaborate way.

It was him or you, Cooper?