A Scholarly Analysis of a Classic PC* Poem

*PC = post coronavirus.

By a scholarly poet analyst.

The Poem:

I do not like you little fly
And I shall surely tell you why
You walk on shyte and things that die
And then you land upon my pie.

Don’t come here with your shitty feet
And walk across the things I eat
I just want pastry, gravy, meat,
Not hours upon a toilet seat

So shoo fly, do not bother me
Fly far away and let me be
I only want to eat my tea
Not
Campylobacter jejeuni.

Scholarly analysis:

The poet has used several literary devices to consolidate his theme. Firstly he has chosen to write only three quatrains with a simple aaaa bbbb cccc rhyme scheme. This sets out the poem in a deceptive, child-like simplicity, almost as if the it were a nursery rhyme, seemingly concealing rather than accentuating the depth and significance of the tragic theme.

Subtle.

He uses internal rhymes, assonance and alliteration to establish a rhythm that seems to support the nursery rhyme theme, belying once again the significance, indeed, the very the depths of despair and desolation plumbed in the work. For it is important to know that this opus was written during the great pandemic of 2020, when people around the world sat isolated in in their homes, afraid of death, and talking to flies. And dying.

He hauntingly starts the first and third verses with clever literary references to great literary works written before; one an ancient Latin tale of distrust*, translated and extemporised, it is said, by Tom Brown himself during his schooldays, and the other a song now considered racist, by Brigham Bishop. It was ostensibly about a fly and a negro soldier in Company B during the American civil war. It may have deeper, darker meaning. He was not the boogie woogie bugle boy.

Both references reflect and project the anxiety and stress of the poet’s own times.

It is known the poet suffered a serious bout of Campylobacter diarrhoea shortly before he wrote this poem. It was severe, and lasted eight days, at the end of which he was beginning to fear he might not just pass more crap than should really be in one man at any one time, but actually pass away.

When he survived, and recovered, he wrote an ode in gratitude

The poem ends with both a bit of scientific erudition, and poetic licence with the pronunciation of jejeuni.

Masterful.

So this poem can be seen not as simple doggerel, but a deep and meaningful metaphor describing the poet’s state of mind, and the state of the world around him, in which the pie represents a life full of happiness and fulfilment (meat and gravy), the fly a wandering traveller, unknowingly infected – or perhaps a thoughtless fucking food vendor who made a ham and egg burger after not washing his hands after using the toilet on Friday the 20th of last month at about 06:30 just after I picked up Lyn at the airport – (sorry!) – thus unintentionally bringing chaos and pain with him.

The brevity of the poem mirrors the brevity of life itself. The three verses represent the three stages of life; childhood, maturity and decrepitude, also known in literary circles as beginning, middle and end. The poet pulls no punches here.

In the poem, the toilet seat is a subtle metaphor for social isolation enforced as Lockdown, that leaves people sitting alone and lonely at home, unable to leave. Unable to be in company.

“Eat my tea” is a metaphor for “live my life”.

Campylobacter jejeuni is clearly also a metaphor, and a clever one at that, for the dread COVID 19 coronavirus that threatens the enjoyment of life itself.

By cleverly not mentioning toilet paper, a necessity when one has the trots, the poet brings it to mind by carefully not juxtaposing shitty and toilet seat in the same verse. This reminds us of the vast amounts of paper (read money) that the pandemic is costing society.

My word this guy packs a lot of meaning between a few lines.

Image Stolen from Internet

You didn’t know I could be so bloody deceptively deep.

Poem and scholarly analysis © 2020 ARF

*Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare.
Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te.

I do not love thee Doctor Fell, Why this is I cannot tell, but this I know, and know full well. I do not love thee Doctor Fell.

Non Credo

I bought almond milk to put on my cereal instead of real milk. I decided I don’t really like it, and prefer to use the milk I make up from milk powder. New Zealand milk powder of course.

One use for almond milk I do like, is my low fat I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Chicken. I’m going to make some today. I enjoy it all the more because every time I make it I am reminded of one of the funniest word play sketches ever, from The Vicar of Dibley.

Sheep May Safely Graze (Azithromycin Version)

Old men may safely fart and pass wind.

In Azithromycin’s sight

And Imodium’s

Peristalsis soothed and sphincter held

Brings to hearts a peace abiding,

And sleep throughout the night

Smooth and easy may my offerings flow

Neither rudely swift

Nor obstinately slow.

With apologies to Salomon Franck

And thanks to an unknown graffitist wit of Pompeii, whose epigram in Latin is poetically translated by an archaeological graffitologist whose name I forget.

© 2020 ARF

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bribie Island Caravan Park is closed to people wishing to camp or who want to rent a cabin. Only we permanent residents remain. The pool, kitchen, tennis court and common room are closed, as are half the ablution blocks. Visitors are discouraged. Social distancing is encouraged. It has been suggested we have a “social period” now and then in which we sit outside our own homes and talk to our neighbours.

The doctors at my practice are now doing consultations by phone in all cases when the patient does not need to be physically present. My next consultation, to discuss my last pathology lab test results, will not require me to make the usual two hour round trip.

Federal Police are confining international travellers in motel rooms and standing guard. The first person has been jailed for breaching self-quarantine requirements three times in less than a week.

Body bags have been delivered to remote communities in anticipation of an outbreak there, which, if it happened, is expected to be far more devastating than among the general population. Some see it as sinister that resources for body bags are more easily found than for sending free supplies of soap and sanitising chemicals and cleaning equipment.

Unemployment has spiked since so many businesses must close.

The cost of food has spiralled out of control. Especially in the outback. Drought, fire and flood have no doubt contributed to this.

Grey nomads have been requested to forego travelling to remote areas. Their response so far has been selfish, along the lines of “But we want to visit the Argyll diamond mine before it closes down”.

The public pools are closed. Hotels, clubs and restaurants, also. Only takeaway fast foods are open. Gatherings of more than two non-family members are forbidden.

Sales of duct tape have skyrocketed as shops and banks and pharmacies mark out queuing areas and 1.5 metre spaces with lines and crosses.

More and more old people are appearing in public wearing masks. No one makes a fuss as they did over niqabs and hijabs. Yet these folk terrorise supermarket checkout staff in a manner unprecedented over matters completely beyond their control.

Goanna still drops by…

Twelve Monkeys

It’s happening.

Good for NZ.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (19 Mar 1891-1974) 

Oh, Crap.

A park representative has just come round door to door to check that everyone has toilet paper. Apparently young thieves have been going round stealing it. The shortage is becoming less amusing and more a matter of wonderment. The codes on the park facility doors have been changed, and they are offering to supply anyone who has been caught short.

Kind. But I have a stock I have not needed to use since I moved here. Don’t tell anyone.

It could make me a target.

They

asked me how I knew

I had COVID flu

Oh, oh oh

I could not reply

I’d run out of three ply

And couldn’t leave the loo

.

They

said you’ll have to find

Something else for your behind

Oh, oh, oh

when your ring’s on fire

i told them that I chose

To use the garden hose

.

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed

To think they could catch me out

But today my paper went away

There are young thieves about

.

Now laughing friends deride

Tears I can not hide

Oh, oh, oh

So I smile and say

When things don’t go as planned

Crap gets on your hand

Crap. Gets. On. Your. Hand!

Spacetime Simply

Spacetime is a continuum. It is Mathematically proven beyond doubt that spacetime is a manifold, which is to say, it appears locally “flat” near each point in the same way that, at small enough scales, a globe appears flat.

Spacetime is expanding. Which means the universe is growing. Time is expanding. We can think of “the present” as being the surface of an expanding bubble of time. Everything inside the bubble is the past. A fixed and unalterable part of the spacetime continuum. Outside the bubble is nothing. It is the future. It does not yet exist. Until the present expands into it it is just a theoretical possibility.

That is the easy part. Now consider time travel. We are already travelling into the future at the fastest rate possible. The rate of expansion of the continuum. We cannot get there any sooner than anyone else, because there is nothing there until everyone arrives. Literally nothing. So travelling to a distant future is not possible. There is no such thing. Yet.

The math of travel to the past is entirely different. It is possible, but only if it already happened. Therefore travel to the past involves always having done so, and allows no possibility of changing events historically. The attempt to assassinate Hitler always failed, we know exactly who was involved and what happened to them. What we don’t know is precisely which of the conspirators came from the future, when they came from how they got there, and how they insinuated themselves into German Military Intelligence without being discovered. That hasn’t happened yet. Or perhaps it has, and we don’t know. In reality, there seems to be no point in undertaking the attempt, because it failed, and always will. We know the coup will not work, but we also know they did try. So they always shall. There is no way that the attempt can be prevented because it already happened. At some point in the near future therefore, it shall probably be initiated.

That is putting it simply.

There is no need to police the laws of spacetime. They police themselves.

Heinlein was wrong. Vonnegut was right.

Confession.

Sometimes, just to complicate things and confuse the Universe, when I’m counting out the week’s pills into my pill organiser…..

….. I take the pills from the blister marked Tuesday and put it at random into one of the boxes for any other day of the week. Sometimes I even change all the days. Thus on any one morning I may take a pregabalin intended for another morning of the week, and take today’s tomorrow. By doing this with all ten of my medications I can create my own small pocket of chaos. There are, by my calculation, 604,800 permutations.

That’s 604,800 of the infinite number of ways we the people can frustrate the domination of Big Pharma.

No, Really.

True story.

I was in the economy shop to buy a device for picking things up, and a lumbar support, I knew I’d find them there at a fraction of the price at a pharmacy. I was not wrong.

I found the picky uppy thingy, which I usually refer to as a gotcha. As I took it from the shelf, I dropped it. I said aloud to myself. “Great. Now I’ll have to buy two”.

A woman standing behind me broke into a fit of giggles as she bent down to pick it up for me. The giggles redoubled when she saw I had already selected another one, and then I tucked both that, and the one she handed me, under my arm.

I thanked her sincerely for the assistance, and for the amusement, which brightened what was threatening to be a bleak day in more ways than the weather.

I had just come from a visit to, of all people, a podiatrist. My health care planner had thought maybe one could help me with my back/leg problem, seeing that I could no longer wear shoes with heels.

I met with him at 08:45. I apprised him of my current condition, and told him it seems to be getting worse lately, despite the walking, cycling and swimming. He listened. He asked a few pertinent questions, mostly about when the pain was worse, what activities made it flare up. He examined my posture.

At last he told me he did not believe that as a podiatrist, there was much he could do for me except provide a little arch support, which he promptly affixed to the jandals (thongs, flip-flops) I was wearing, after I told him they were what I wore most of the time. It may or may not help. He was not hopeful.

However, speaking not in his professional capacity, but as a person still recovering from a broken back, he felt he should pass on the information he had received from the surgeons and spinal specialists who had treated him.

What it amounted to was that riding a bicycle is not a good thing to be doing. Swimming and exercising in water is. So is losing weight. The first I had already begun to suspect. The latter two I already knew. When I mentioned having recently bought a boat, his look of dismay told me all I needed to know. He advised me to get a seat with suspension fitted. He also told me to get a lumbar support for when I sit, and gotchas for picking things up.

So I headed out into the rainy weather with an outlook bleak indeed. The bike had not been a good idea at all. Maybe the boat also. Though that yet remains to be seen. However, no matter how I looked at it i thought perhaps I had not been making sensible decisions lately. Most of my not-good ideas were costly. Either financially or in other ways. For example, my decision to work in the Kimberley had broken my heart, and my spirit, for a time , and did no good to the rest of me.

I tried to think back to the last time I could say I had chosen to do something that had really worked out well.

By the time I got to the economy shop I had progressively thought all the way back to 2009, and my decision to take that well-paid job in Fiji, without having identified anything positive at all. The black dog was circling me, ready to lunge.

Then I dropped the gotchas, talked to myself, and made someone laugh. That made me smile. I headed for the pool and swam in the rain. Swimming is Good.

I swam an extra half hour to make up for the cycling I’m not doing. I also solved the problem of water infiltrating my earplugs as I swam. The rubber bits that go into my ear canal are left and right handed. Somehow I had transposed them after washing them. Something I could have sworn I had taken great care not to do each time. I should have realised straight away.

Dave. My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.

I shall continue to use the bike, for short trips to the local shops and for transporting my washing to and from the laundry, but I’ll not be pedalling so much.

FOOTNOTE

By shear coincidence, just after writing about how I talk to myself, I came upon this article.

Which led me to this one. Until now I thought I was in the minority, on the spectrum of schizophrenia.

Trajectory

Noteworthy

….. we have evolved massive creative brains, capable of planning and predicting the future, of invention and creativity, and this had helped us extract ourselves from many of the historical shackles of natural selection. We have externalized the stomach with the invention of cooking, so we don’t have to digest a whole range of chewy molecules, because they are already partly broken down by our unique control of elemental fire. We have bypassed many aspects of a life of nomadic sustenance, as well as hunting and gathering, by settling and domesticating all manner of beasts of the field and plants of the ground. This also has changed our culture, technology, and even our genes. We have radically eliminated diseases that scythed down ancient popu­lations with casual indifference — plagues, malarias, cancers, pesti­lence. Smallpox once killed hundreds of thousands every year. Since the 1980s, as a result of vaccination, there have been no cases of smallpox. Polio looks set to follow soon as a disease only of inter­est to historians. These sorts of evolutionary pressures have been radically altered as a result of invention and science and the tech­nology that has come about through our own evolutionary trajectory.

From: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes
Author: Adam Rutherford
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Copyright 2016, 2017 by Adam Rutherford.

Trajectory is an interesting choice of word.