take it in both hands
turn it inside out, wee sprog
your fave teddy bear
it can rather surprise you
it’s not stuffed with fairy floss
Do you think
that your Muse is dead?
She is tired.
She is just flat on her ass.
Yes! Dash it all, yes!
She couldn’t bear
your endless snivel,
You, pathetic Creator!
She dumped you, dumbass!
Two talented lines
aren’t worth two wasted years… yes.
Muses can fuck up.
TONY: Tati, have you ever been pissed off?
Tati doesn’t answer. She keeps looking to the door.
Still no answer.
TATI: Huh? Yes, of course. Every time you ask a silly question.
TONY: Hey! All of my questions are individual quests for truth! Don’t be dissin’ my questions, man!
TATI: I’m not a man.
TONY: Anyway, there’s this really cool poem you wrote once. It’s called ‘a Pissed off Muse’. Do you remember it?
Tati looks at the wall clock, then says with a petulant gesture…
TATI: Yes, I do. I’m not such a leaky head. Not like someone I could mention in this room…
TONY: Hey! I only forget the stuff that’s not worth remembering!
TATI: Uh hum… Indeed, why should you stuff your head with nonsense like the due date for our tax returns, or when to pay for municipal services?
TONY: Look, I don’t mind living without electricity sometimes, and since when have we ever earned enough to pay taxes?
TATI: Well, this time I’m going to agree with you.
Tati keeps flitting her eyes between the clock and the door, then glances out the window.
TATI: So, do you really think it’s a cool poem?
TONY: I do! I think it’s bitchin’!
TATI: Uh hum… Well… Thank you, I suppose. May I ask why you recalled it just out of the blue?
TONY: Well, it strikes me that no one ever asks the muse if they even want to be a muse in the first place, and your poem seems to reflect this. It presents the muse’s viewpoint.
This seems to get Tati’s attention. She looks at Tony for a moment.
TATI: Yes. By the way, Tony, did you know that ‘muse’ can mean not only a source of inspiration but a creator or poet also?
TONY: Oh. Really? That… That doesn’t sound quite right…
TONY: Because muses are usually only presented as some kind of insipidly romanticised ‘source of inspiration’ (to use your words). But the whole thing’s not so romantic really, is it?
Tati’s eyes have gone back to the door.
TATI: Sigh. Never mind. Do you have a muse?
TONY: Nope. Why reduce someone to nothing more than a source of inspiration for my creative endeavours? They don’t exist purely to orbit and nurture my every brain fart, do they?
TATI: Not everyone is such an egoist, Tony! ‘Nurture my every fart.’ Many creators take their muses as higher beings, not mere servants of their creative labours.
TONY: I’m not so convinced! I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of muses are mere extensions of their creators’ egos, and therefore not considered to be the higher beings you sugge—Hey! Are you listening at all? I said ‘my every brain fart’, not ‘my every fart’!
TATI: No. I don’t sleep.
Tati shakes her head, as if to clear it, then continues to give the door, clock and window her full attention.
TONY: See?! You’re not listening!
TATI: Not at all. Pardon? Oh, of course, you have my undivided attention.
TONY: Are you sure? I’ve been talking to your nape for the last bleedin’ hour!
TATI: I only wonder if we can talk about something else…
TONY: Okay. Fine. What would you prefer?
There’s a knocking at the door.
TATI: Wait! Do you hear that?
TONY: You bet your sweet bippy. I wonder who it can be?
Tati starts to fuss around a bit. She goes to a cupboard and pulls out some slippers, then runs to the kitchen to brew some tea. When this is done, she brings out a huge pile of fresh newspapers and tosses them on the table.
TATI: Okay, could you get the door, Tony? I think that may be for me.
Tony answers the door. A huge, glistening penguin wearing a monocle and biting down on a pipe enters the house, brushing past him like he’s not there. It waddles towards the kitchen, its pipe leaving a trail of soap bubbles.
TONY: Oh, of course. Now I understand who serves whom, my Dear Genius.
TATI: Hush! Don’t piss off the Muse!
Just jabbering. Beating a rhythm. Messing with common sense.
Murdering a language… grammatically semi-dense.
A holy fool…
Allowing unallowable. Well… omissible… fuck it!
Set punctuation marks! Correct my torn jeans and my sanskrit!
A holy fool…
Don’t listen to me, please! Don’t call my bluff! Don’t yield to my magic!
It’ll not be my blame if you hear something essential and tragic.
A holy fool…
God forbid! Something that you were always afraid to say.
Oops… me and my potty mouth… I put my foot in it… hey!
A holy fool…
Healthy people shrug shoulders… a set of words isn’t usable.
Are you sick? Do you think that my words are excusable?
A holy fool…
There are people… they hear perfectly… how a heart talks to a heart.
Well… Putting on my horn-rimmed glasses. Just wanna look more smart…
TONY: Well, I have no idea.
TATI: Well, why am I not surprised?
TONY: Jabbering. Holy fools. Glasses. What does it all mean?
TATI: The thing that you sometimes put on your nose is called ‘glasses’. ‘Jabbering’ is talking in a rapid, excited, and often incomprehensible way.
TONY: And ‘holy fools’?
TATI: ‘Holy fools’… Hmmm… Foolishness for Christ. Are you familiar with this term?
TONY: Of course I am. I used to engage in such foolishness. I just wasn’t sure if this is initially what you meant.
TATI: Yes, this is what I meant.
TONY: Okay, so is this poem ‘Horn-rimmed glasses’ a commentary on religion?
TATI: Of course no! I used ‘holy fools’ in a figurative sense.
TONY: So who are the ‘holy fools‘ in this poem?
TATI: People, who aren’t afraid to be themselves. Who aren’t afraid to express their feelings and thoughts openly. Who aren’t afraid to go against the mainstream.
TONY: Ah, I see! These are the people that are thought of as ‘holy fools’ by the rest of society, and all because they refuse to conform.
TATI: Yes, but it isn’t aggressive provocation. It’s not an open protest. They just can’t live any other way.
TONY: Which is what you mean by the line: ‘There are people… they hear perfectly… how a heart talks to a heart.’
TATI: Yes. Empathy. Compassion. Acceptance.
TONY: Wow. I’m reading this poem again and… well, it makes so much sense to me! Tati, this might be one of your best!
TATI: Really? But you said it has no sense.
TONY: I think I was just a little too dense to get it at first.
TATI: Maybe it was me who was too messy in expressing my thoughts?
TONY: Perhaps that’s the point. By being messy you were sidestepping all the rules of conventional poetry, and forging a path all your own. You were being a ‘holy fool’. So cool!
TATI: Do you praise me? Oh my!
TONY: Totes! I wanna be your acolyte!
TATI: Okey dokey. It’s easy. Take these glasses and tell me what you’re thinking. Try it now.
TATI: Come on! I haven’t got all day!
TONY: I’m thinking!
TATI: Think out loud!
TONY: I’m thinking that these glasses make me look like Elton John, and appear smarter than I actually am!
TATI: Hmmm… Are you sure you put the glasses on correctly? Not upside down?
TONY: Well, isn’t upside down the correct way to wear them? It means I’m doing things differently then, which is entirely the point of your poem!
TATI: No… see, that’s the tricky part. Pride. Hubris. Have you felt sometimes that you’re better than other people?
TONY: Shamefully, yes. But only sometimes.
TATI: So, put the glasses on the right way. Don’t try to be better than the others.
TONY: Oh wow! Now I look like Bono! Is that a good or a bad thing?
TATI: Are you saying that Bono is merely Elton standing on his head?
TONY: I’m not sure what I’m meant to be saying.
TATI: See? You’re getting it!
TONY: Am I?
TATI: Don’t strain so hard, Tony. You do not need to take yourself seriously.
TATI: Don’t blame me if you hear something essential and tragic. It’s your choice, not mine.
Please tell me, what would you do
if you were confined in a zoo
and all of the animals
from lizards to camels
strolled around pointing at you?
Now tell me, how would you feel,
if you were encased behind steel
while the chimpanzees
watched your antics with glee
and laughed at you eating your meal?
So, what if the tables were turned?
It’s time the corrupted ones learned
just like human beings
those creatures have feelings
and all of us should be concerned.
Inspired by the Government’s recent faux pas (how’s that for an understatement?) over the sentience of animals.
by JANE PATERSON BASIL
© All rights reserved 2017