Poppy’s Brush Pile

 

Poppy’s Brush Pile

Poppy liked to tell the story
about the time he did a little
yard cleaning and had a grand old pile
of brush and leaves, probably
about ten feet high more than likely,
and reckoned he couldn’t
bag it all, that Ketchem’s
didn’t have enough bags to sell
even if he’d wanted to, so he
figured on it awhile and settled on
a big burning as the best way—
shortly the pile would be gone,
and while it was a-going he could
set on the porch and just watch.

So he took a dry bunch of leaves
up under the pile and dropped
his half-smoked Marlboro.
One tiny spark and a smidgen
of smoke and nothing else.
Well, this ain’t working
worth shooting, he said.
Then he went to the porch
and got a-hold of the morning paper,
crinkled it all up, stuffed it
in the pile and lit a match.
The paper burnt quick
and awful hot but petered out
before doing its business—
‘bout like my pecker, Poppy said—
so he went back to figuring.

Then he remembered that five-gallon can
of regular gasoline he had sitting
in the shed, and he wasn’t about
to let a damned brush pile
make a fool of him. He took the can
and scrabbled to the top, standing
like the precious good Lord
come again on Mount Olive,
and dumped the gas all over the pile.

‘Course it took awhile to pour
five gallons, so in the meantime
the fumes worked their way
all into the little pockets
of air. As you might guess
but Poppy didn’t, not quite yet,
when the match was dropped
the blast blowed him
clear into the flower bed,
heels heavenward. He said he smelt
singed ass-hairs for two weeks after.

He liked to tell this story and say,
See there, honey, even if you reckon
you got the best idea, you still
might want to figure awhile.

 ——————————
 
For dVerse Meeting the Bar. I have been absent from the bar for a few months, and sincerely missed everyone. Peak season at work, tons of overtime. I still was able to do a fair amount of reading, but very little writing. Just couldn’t find the motivation, the inspiration, the whatever it is that makes me put pen to paper and try to make sense of my world. 
 
Anyway, our host Tony Maude has us hearkening back to previous prompts, and since I missed so many I felt a lot of freedom. This poem is meant for the prompt Victoria offered, in which she invited us to write close to home, personal, in the common speech of daily life. I actually had another poem ready that I wrote last night, but things happened and I didn’t submit. Then as I was falling asleep I thought about this story, so I wrote it out this morning. 

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32 thoughts on “Poppy’s Brush Pile

  1. hahahaha…oh my…um i would like to think i would have a thought along the way…its a good thing the whole house did not go up…or he end up more like fried chicken…..smiles…..

    how did homework go last night?

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  2. Missing your words Nico ~ This is tale we can all relate to, have to figure out things long and deep before we get into deep trouble ~ For me now, I let it stew overnight if I am not really sure about the consequence ~ Found out the hard way , like the guy in your story ~

    Wishing you happy weekend ~

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  3. Singed ass hairs….Sorry I cannot get my head around this image….LOL… and to think you used to be such a shy country boy when you first started with us. Good to have you back again Nico.You have been missed…

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  4. Nice to see you back at the pub, Nico. Thanks for this homespun tale told in homespun language. We've nearly all done stupid things similar to this in our pasts; thankfully we survived to tell the tale – just like Poppy … smiles

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  5. The homespun jargon is bang on, like a story Will Rogers or Samuel Clemens might have spun. “Poppy” could be father, or grandfather; hard to tell–but his story is funnier than a cat stranded in a room full of rocking chairs. Nice job, Nico.

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  6. Thanks for visiting, Brian. The homework went all right, I suppose, considering that I was trying to explain bourgeois economics from my Marxist-socialist bias and hoping she'd get a good grade! (Just tell them what they want to hear, honey . . .)

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  7. Thanks Tony. I really think this homespun style fits what I want to do, what I like to do. The old-timer's dialect and storytelling cadences are deep in my soul, and I need to get them out on (virtual) paper. And yes, somehow we manage to survive to tell the tale.

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  8. Thanks Claudia, this character is based on a real person I once knew, and the story is only slightly embellished from one Poppy did tell. I didn't have a sophisticated childhood, but one rich in stories and humor. Poppy was cool indeed!

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  9. Thanks Glenn, to be likened to Rogers and Clemens is high praise, not really indicative of the quality of my work but of your kindness. Poppy was not a relation, but everyone I knew called him Poppy. I don't even know what his given name was!

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  10. Thanks Victoria–it takes a little work to get the phrasing and cadence right, but I owe it to my ancestors to try to get it right. They are the unsung masters of poetry and storytelling, even if they barely made it out of high school!

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  11. Thanks Bjorn–this event really did happen. I embellished a little, but the story and the phrasing is authentic as far as I remember. Well-rooted is a fine way to describe Poppy and those of his generation. They were as much a part of their place as the soil they walked on.

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  12. Good to see you, Nico. Yes, even when you think you have the best solution possible, it is important to thoroughly think out the ramifications of carrying through. A fun poem to read, but one with a lesson worth paying attention to!

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  13. ds says:

    Love this! Despite (or maybe because of) the humor, the message sings even louder. Why is our solution to difficulties always more? And the voice & language are perfect. Thank you.

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  14. Thanks Mary–I'm happy you enjoyed it. It's easy to overdo the vernacular, I think. There's a fine line between capturing authentic dialect and making a piece almost unreadable. I'm a-workin' on it!

    Like

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