TATI’s & TONY’s DEAD POET TOUR // The Tourist. by Hattie Howard

Lo! carpet-bag and bagger occupy the land,
And prove the touring season actively begun;
His personnel and purpose can none misunderstand,
For each upon his frontlet bears his honest brand –
The fool-ish one!

By caravan and car, from country and from town,
A great grasshopper army fell foraging the land;
Like bumblebees that know not where to settle down,
Impossible it is to curb or scare or drown
The tourist band.

With guidebook, camera, with rod and gun, to shoot,
To lure the deer, the hare, the bird, the speckled trout,
The pauper or the prince unbidden they salute,
And everywhere their royal right dare none dispute –
To roam about.

From dark immuring walls and dingy ways of trade,
From high society’s luxurious stately homes,
From lounging places by the park or promenade,
From rural dwellings canopied in sylvan shade,
The tourist comes.

To every mountain peak within the antipodes,
To sweet, sequestered spots no other mortal knows;
To every island fair engirt by sunny seas,
To forest-centers unexplored by birds or bees,
The tourist goes.

For Summer’s fingers all the land have richly dressed,
Resplendent in regalia of scent and bloom,
And stirred in every heart the spirit of unrest,
Like that of untamed fledglings in the parent nest
For ampler room.

What is it prompts the roving mania – is it love
Of wild adventure fanciful, unique, and odd?
Is it to be in fashion, and to others prove
One’s social standing, that impels the madness of
The tramp abroad?

The question hangs unanswered, like an unwise prayer,
Importunate, but powerless response to bring;
Go ask the voyagers, the rovers everywhere –
They only say it is their rest-time, outing, their

So is the world’s eccentric round of joy complete
When happy tourist-traveler, no more to roam,
His fascinating, thrilling story shall repeat
To impecunious, luckless multitudes who greet
The tourist home.

by HATTIE HOWARD (1860-1920)
Public Domain Poetry

Come Unto Me (based on a true story)

I feasted my eyes upon the gorgeous frescoes that adorned the ceiling one more time, then turned to the exit. When I reached the wide doorway, I saw that today (to my great surprise) the forecasters had been right. There was a heavy rain.

Of course, I hadn’t taken an umbrella. Who can properly enjoy walking around one of the most splendid European capitals with unnecessary stuff in hand? One hand is for my camera, another hand is for ice-cream cones. A third is not a given.

I turned around with the intention of going back into the church and waiting out the storm. No such luck. A stodgy man in a black robe blocked the passage. In answer to my wordless question he pointed to the notice board. It stated that the canonical hour would be starting soon, so I went out to the big porch in the rain. There was no choice.

The porch was quickly filling up with people. The rear pushed at the front, perplexed as to why they would stand out in the downpour and not enter. Toward them moved ‘exiles’ like me who had been turned out of the building. A sullen acolyte stood at the centre of this live whirlpool like a hard-shelled bouncer at a night club doorway. It looked like no one was fitting the dress code for this private party today.

I lifted my face to the grey sky and inhaled the heavy, wet air. Some huge raindrops fell on my cheek. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. There’s always choice.

I covered my head with a leaflet detailing the schedule of canonical hours, and ran to a bar opposite the church. Thank god these sanctuaries are always willing to embrace and warm the sick and suffering. Amen.

© All rights reserved 2017

BUT IS IT POETRY? // Inuk Dream Caused by the Sound of an Icicle Dripping on Her Igloo a Second Before Awakening

I’ve been longing for this vacation.
I work like a slave on plantation.
But I am not an office plebeian,
I am a wastrel, epicurean!

The buzz of a bureau’s honeycomb
easily makes everybody foam,
but I hold on to quietude and calm—
a plane ticket works just like a heart-balm.

Yells of a chancellor, squeaks of clerks…
they’re not real people, but hoarse clockworks.
Vegetation and soporific esse?
No, thank you. I will never acquiesce!

Meditating the existential,
I packed my valise and credential.
Full steam ahead! Time to sip coconuts
and pinch sappy indigenes for ripe butts.

I came down from the passenger bridge…
What the hell? Where is the nearest fridge?!
Oh, my Nemesis! Forgive your lost nun!
I implore you, get me back to square one!

I am sitting in the hotel rooms
washing down with dark rum my doldrums,
bedamning all photojournalist-jerks
who seduce us, naif untutored clerks.

Don’t be swayed by pictorialism,
don’t believe in exceptionalism,
sit in your office, don’t move a muscle,
leave parallel hot circles for mussels!


TONY: Well, here we are again. We’re going to be discussing poetry this time, not art. And it’s your latest poem that’s in the line of fire!

TATI: My poem? Really? Don’t you have something more interesting to discuss, Tony? Laundry! Cooking! Look around. So many cool things! Why do you cling to my poetry?

TONY: Because you deserve to suffer as much as I did when my Mascara Baby got pulled apart. Okay, let’s get down to it. Firstly, the title… Why the hell is it so long?

TATI: It’s pure peacockery. But, OK… I hoped to hook people’s attention, and to hint at what the main topic of the poem would be.

TONY: In the interest of full disclosure, I guess I should mention that this poem is the result of a challenge I set you. I threw down the gauntlet, so to speak.

TATI: Yeah. Why don’t I feel relief after this confession? You haven’t tried to make things easy, have you?

TONY: That’s true. I gave you a bunch of words to put into a poem… as well as the topic. Do you remember what these were?

TATI: Of course! They will chase me in my nightmares until my last gasp.

TONY: Like a defenseless kitten being hunted down by a pack of underfed bloodhounds. I’m so evil!

TATI: No sane person uses the words ‘photojournalist’ and ‘plebeian’ in the same poem, especially one about an ice cube melting on a tin roof.

TONY: You’re right. It was a pretty ridiculous challenge, no?

TATI: Photojournalist, plebeian, quietude, chancellor, exceptionalism, doldrums, soporific, honeycomb, nemesis, existential.

TONY: Those are some mighty big words, aren’t they? So, how did you manage to find a way to use them all? What was your process?

TATI: Hm… it’s hard to describe my creative process, actually. The general idea came into my mind pretty quickly. But it was a kernel, not flesh.

TONY: It didn’t come fully formed?

TATI: LOL! Of course, no. When you think of a picture, do you see the final result immediately? I can bet not.

TONY: Actually, sometimes I do, and the act of drawing it is an attempt to get as close to that vision on the page as I possibly can. But you’re right, it’s not something that would happen all the time.

TATI: Well, it’s like bead stringing. You add word to word, line to line. Sometimes the pattern is neat and nice. Sometimes it’s better to cut the string and start again. This poem wasn’t my soul’s impulse. It was nearly work. I don’t know if that is good or bad. But, hell, it was a challenge!

TONY: So, it was as deliberate and methodical as that, huh? You were taking a more… hm… workmanlike approach to this?

TATI: Yep.

TONY: So, why did you decide to change what the poem was about? Do you have a set against anthropomorphised ice cubes dying beneath a sweltering sun?

TATI: Did I change the topic? Do you feel I cheated? I don’t think so. Firstly, why can’t the hero be an ice cube? Do you remember the snowman who loved warm hugs?

TONY: Love killed him. Are you saying love kills? It’s better not to love or be loved?

TATI: Don’t change the topic! And, as I remember, it was a happy end.

TONY: He was the recipient of… ahem… a ‘friendly massage’? Is that why there was another carrot down there?

TATI: TONY! It was a Disney story! For children! No second carrots! No frogs in diapers!

TONY: That was one weird ass video you showed me. Why the hell would a little girl go around stuffing live frogs into her diapers? Children are mentally ill. Seriously, people should stop having them.

TATI: They educated dolts like you, Tony. Who shoved ‘honeycomb’ and ‘nemesis’ into one poem?

TONY: Anyhow, this is off the point… which I still don’t get. What is it you’re trying to say? That the poem really IS about an ice cube and I’ve got it all wrong? I thought it was about a nun going on holidays and pinching the natives’… butts?

TATI: Yes. But why can’t an ice cube be like a nun? Why can’t a nun be like an ice cube? Are you a chauvinist, Tony? Do YOU have a set against anthropomorphised ice cubes? Or nuns? They have equal rights too, man!

TONY: Wha—? How did this get turned back on me? I’m not the criminal here! Yeesh.

TATI: Okay, let’s go back to the poor poem. Don’t you want to praise how ingeniously and artfully I weaved this?

TONY: Oh, of course! That goes without saying, baby. It totally knocked my socks off! And it was so good it kindly put them back on again, all without me lifting a finger. That’s the total brilliance of a poem written by Tati. About naughty nuns.

TATI: Can poetry be written from the mind, and not from the heart? Can it be a challenge, not soul’s impulse?

TONY: Fancy a cup of tea?

© All rights reserved 2017