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Sonnet: To Jell-O

September 6, 2012

Never let it be said that Japey doesn’t have the soul, or income, of a poet. It was he, after all, who scored the only recorded interview with one of the most prominent and controversial figures in the history of rhyme. Occasionally, Japey has even been moved to take up the quill himself, cook dinner, open a bottle or three of Chianti, get biz-zay with Calliope, muse of epic poetry and circus wagons, and hand her cab fare at 3 a.m. (I told her I had to work the next morning, which, strictly speaking, wasn’t exactly true, but what you gonna do?)

One of Japey’s erstwhile efforts in the versification game, long assumed to be lost to history, or stolen from my desk by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (trust me, he’s done it before), recently came to light again after an indeterminate number of years. An exercise in Elizabethan poesy “commissioned” for an undergraduate poetry class, it captures, I think, both the verve and fertile creative spirit of Tudor England and the angst of the “freshman fifteen.” While I’m generally opposed to the airing of juvenilia, which inevitably exposes one not only as self-indulgent, but also a hoarder, I reread what I had written and realized that it would be exceedingly unfair—nay, criminal—to keep it hidden from the world any longer. I hope you’ll find it as timely as I do, that time being approximately 3 hours in the refrigerator (less if you stir in ice cubes). Whatever your reaction, just remember: there’s always room for poetry.

Instructions for Recitation

  1. Don pantaloons and shoes with long, upcurled toes. In the absence of pantaloons, use one of the shoes to cover your junk (two if necessary).
  2. Declaim the poem while contemplating a skull in your outstretched hand. If the skull is “fresh,” boil until the flesh easily slides off.
  3. The reciter should speak in slightly tremulous imitation of Sir John Gielgud. Slightly tremulous imitation of Dame Judi Dench is also acceptable. Using the skull ventriloquistically will add extra zest to the proceedings.
  4. When encountering words that include an apostrophe, draw the apostrophe in the air with your finger to alert the audience to its presence.
  5. All words that begin with a w should be pronounced with a prominent initial h, so: “hwat,” “hwondrous.”
  6. All r’s should be enunciated with a prolonged trill; the word “radiance” should take a full three seconds. Hint: count “One Stratford-Upon-Avon, two Stratford-Upon-Avon, three Stratford-Upon-Avon.”

So, without further ado about nothing:

Sonnet: To Jell-O

O! Jell-O! Gentle Jell-O of my heart
Thy crimson glow astounds mine mortal eye
I quake before thy ruby-bosomed art
What radiance in thy quiv’ring majesty!

O! Hue of emerald green! O! Tang of lime!
O! Pigeon blood of cherry! Wondrous feat!
Now chillèd to perfection gelatine
Sweet rainbow’d heft of Daphne’s laurel’d teat

A dusty infancy in coffers dim
Alas! To view the aura of the noon
And lo, but by a fair housemaiden’s whim
Thy destiny enmesh with glutt’nous spoon

The just desserts thy beauty doth inspire
Of these, my love, the world will never tire.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2012 1:24 am

    So… I guess you’re supposed to do the apostrophe gesture with the non-skull-holding hand? Your instructions really should be more explicit. I was holding the poem in my left hand and the skull in my right hand and, well — you owe me one skull, human, slightly used.

    • September 9, 2012 9:23 pm

      Old Clem down at the barbershop has recently developed a persistent hacking cough, so a replacement may soon be on the way. Fingers crossed. Also: get a teleprompter.

  2. September 7, 2012 4:43 am

    Dear dear Johnny! Never go to Stratford Upin Avon. It is a dump

    • September 9, 2012 9:26 pm

      For me, “Avon” conjures up scores of heavily made-up women going door to door peddling eye-burning cologne in ridiculously shaped bottles.

      • September 10, 2012 4:25 am

        That is Stratford Upon Avon to a tee!

      • October 9, 2012 5:39 pm

        You’re thinking of The Stratford Wives Upon Avon.

      • October 9, 2012 6:41 pm

        Ha! Very good. The original Stepford Wives is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s just hilarious.

      • pegoleg permalink
        October 10, 2012 10:33 am

        I remember when that came out – the first one in the 70s, not the semi-lame remake with Nicole Kidman.

        Congrats on the FP, Japey. Of course, I think you should be up there every day. Well, maybe every other day – we’ll alternate.

      • October 10, 2012 6:03 pm

        Thanks. It’s a deal!

  3. September 7, 2012 1:17 pm

    You could have avoided the angst of the “freshman fifteen” (raising both hands in the air to evidence quotation marks. Make that you owe 2 skulls, human, slightly used.) had your dithyramb been a paean to sugar-free Jello.

    • September 9, 2012 9:30 pm

      Sugar-free Jell-O is like tidy sex. There’s something just not right about it.

  4. sonnypi67 permalink
    September 9, 2012 8:49 pm

    I wept. Truly, I did.

    • September 9, 2012 9:32 pm

      Chicks dig that. They also like to talk about shoes and buy purple things.

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