The genesis of the poem "alice"


I had been writing a poem about my sisters and their friends, when we were all elementary school age. On warm days they would play hopscotch and jumprope outside, on our neighbor's paved driveway (our own driveway was gravel). I was remembering the rhymes they sang as they played double-dutch:

A, my name is Alice

I come from Alabama

My husband's name is Alex

And he sells aardvarks


B, my name is Beatrice

I come from Baton Rouge

My husband's name is Benjy

And he sells baseballs

Or, some such thing. The rhymes would be quite out of date today, and I was thinking of less local, and more contemporary, verses:

A, my name is Alice

I live in Azerbajin

My wife's name is Ayten

And she sells AK-47s

Or, some such thing.

I wrote a few verses beginning with A, then B, with the intention of going through the alphabet, becoming more clever with each verse. After "B" I realized it was silly and dull and gave it up. Then, yesterday, while coming out of anesthesia after a medical procedure, the rhyme, beginning with "Alice" came back to me as the nurse read instructions:

- Do not operate a vehicle

- Do not make life decisions

And, I don't remember the rest, I was not all there. She did not say:


- Do not operate a computer


When I got home and under the care of Marketa, and seemingly fine, I had an online conversation, a give and take, with my singing partner Cindy. She and I have a history of making bets over silly things, which I always lose. Literally always. In this case I bet her that the our next singing gig at a nursing home was in three weeks, she said two weeks. I lost. The price that I had to pay for losing was to write, and I quote:

"What shall it be ... hmmmm ... 


20 original previously-unread-by-me-written-by-you lines to a Neal Sedaka-type song.  No.  Too cruel and unusual.  


20 corrections to my errors.  No.  I should get that anyway. 


20 sentences about the dangers of gambling.  No, too 5th grade.


I give up.  But it better be good."


Without further ado I wrote (with my jump-roping rhyme in mind):


"alice doesn't bake

 alice reads blake


(later adding the "wm.")


After that I thought of going to "b", instead kept on finding rhymes for "bake,", and there are quite a few, enough so that I could satisfy Cindy's request for 20 lines of something. The fact that I was still under the effects of anesthesia, though it didn't seem to me that I was, explains the poem, which isn't my usual storytelling style. But I like it, and I wouldn't mind if they sold that particular brand of anesthesia down the block at Walgreens for home use. 


Since I hope not to have another medical procedure for a long, long time, I don't suppose I'll write another such poem, which is too bad, because it was fun. 



Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 541 times
Written on 2019-08-08 at 11:17

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With all best wishes for a speedy recuperation. I enjoyed both the poem and the exploration of its genesis!

Ann Wood The PoetBay support member heart!
Hey Jim hope you are well now. You make my day with this poem, thank you and well done Jim. Get well soon my dear friend, with love, light and peace always yours friend Ann Wood.