EP&M Online Poetry

Booked For Battle: Or, The Village Mom
         by Michael Curtis

The First Mother lives in a pillared white-house
At the foot of a hill with her girl and her spouse
And her army of do-gooder nannies who care
For the children, the poor, and those in despair.

Little is she in her form but her wig
To hold her ideas is two sizes too big;
Light, powdered, and blond in tresses it falls
And falls from it numerous memos as well.

She dresses with eye to style and with care,
Each outfit to fit like a costume a player;
A masque for the mistress who's fit for the part
Of the Mother of God of the Bleeding Heart.

Great is her range as she roars o'er the land,
A mouse to the children, a lion to men,
Who speaks – should I say – not truthful, but well,
Like the noise of a scratch from a cat on a wall.

So now that you have our great Lady's description
We get to the gist of the cause of the fiction:
A book of some pages, letters and numbers
Like those of its kind, but vastly, well, dumber.

Now mice’s and spiders in attics will battle,
The old with the new in continual prattle,
But never ere this was sense taken for wit –
For wit, never was sentence so silent of it.

And this is the cause why the mice and the spiders
Stand gaping and bug-eyed, abashed in their silence;
For never in all of these three-thousand years
Has a book gained admittance by wedding a peer.

But here stood the Mother, her Book in her hand,
Her ruler on table, a rap, tap, tap, tap;
Her bee on her shoulder, poised as to sting
Those who would question the size of her wig.

Spoke she then thus, to the mice and the spiders
(As Aesop and drones were now banished outsiders),
"I am the queen of all I survey.
So shut up, shut up, and hear what I say:

It takes not a parent, a village to raise,
It takes a whole child to bring the New Age,
And all shall be better as I have arranged.
So shut up, shut up, shut up and pay."

Well, you think she'd have known by the size of her wig
That scholars, and spiders, and mice ever did
And ever shall do as their masters have done,
Beg poorness, then wish her their best in her fortune.

‘Twas then that the spider, he of sharp eye,
A flaw in the stripe of the would-be bee spied.
But it wasn't a bee, no it wasn't at all,
‘Twas a fly traced in stripes, its butt but an awl.

And then there arose such a ruckus and fuss
That it threatened to rattle the stones of the house.
Oh yes, I'd forgotten to tell you this fact:
The battle broke out in the First Mother's attic.

Now the awl in the fly, poke though it did,
Could not stop the one of eight legs who ate him,
And the mice to the wig of the mother they ran,
Which she threw to the floor with a howl for her man.

Thank God we my child are safely outside,
Away from the attic of webs and of flies,
For thus I may close with a wish of good-night:
That all of your morrows bring sweetness and light.

Round Her Knee
        by Michael Curtis

The children gather round her knee
To hear her tell of convexity,
Which she does with pen and rule
Whether in or out of school.

And here about her on the grass
Are gathered girls and boys for class
Who look on her with smiling eyes
Which twinkle with the question, “Why?”

All the world is full and round,
The mother Earth, and from her ground
The living world impassioned swells
With pleasure till its flesh is full.

Or if a crystal it expands
Along some geometric plan
Like variations in the snow
To ends that only god may know.

This drop of water, like the world,
Holds the undreamed universe
Wherein what was not comes to be,
Wherein the nothing you can see.

Children, look upon your flesh
Golden-brown or pink and fresh;
See the muscle grow, then rest
In tendon, then to bone expand.

See me a woman, like a god –
She who taught mankind to love –
Who, by the swelling of her breast
Has urged with milk the baby’s breath.

See the patterns on the man
And trace it careful with your hand
Twisting on its double curves
Round and ‘S’ like in reverse.

All forms that are must expand
To the purpose of their ends,
Until they shrink into death
Where nothing comes to be convex.

This they hear the lady say,
Then each goes happy on their way,
More beautiful, and too, more wise
As can be seen in their eyes.      

Michael Curtis, who has appeared here often, operates out of Alexandria, Virginia.   Classical trained in sculpture and painting, he has worked as a sculptor for over twenty years.  His most significant commissions include The History of Texas at Texas Rangers Ball-Park, Arlington, Texas, the largest US frieze of the 20th century; numerous portrait busts for the Library of Congress, The Supreme Court Building, and other public buildings. Recent statues include General Eisenhower and The Shipbuilder, both in Alexandria.  Current commissions include the Thurgood Marshall bust for the U.S. Courts Building, garden statues, portraits, et cetera.  His speciality is relief portraits and fine medals.  He has had over thirty one-man and group exhibitions.  His paintings, sculpture, and architectural drawings are represented in over 250 private and public collections.  (See archives for the rest of Michael's bio)

Booked for Battle, or the Village Mom and Round Her Knee copyright © 2006 by Michael Curtis
and not to be reprinted or distributed without permission from the sculptor & author