.

The Lyme Brain’s Refrain,
or At the Cupboard

What am I doing?
What am I doing?
What am I, what am I, what am I doing?
I’m doing something—something I’m doing—
But what am I, what am I, what am I doing?

What am I doing?
Where am I going?
Why am I here, and why am I not knowing?
Knowing I’m doing and somewhere I’m going,
But where I am going I’ve no way of knowing.

Where am I going?
When am I knowing?
Tomorrow or Tuesday or when it starts snowing?
When it starts snowing I’ll know where I’m going,
But ‘til it starts snowing, to go without knowing?

When am I knowing?
Who am I seeing?
Was what I was doing a seeing or being?
Or finding or looking or thinking or fleeing?
Or am I now seeing my looking for being?

Looking for being,
Finding for doing,
Tomorrow and Tuesday and fleeing and shooing…
Was one of these being the thing I was doing?
Or was it an—
Oh!
That’s what I was doing.

.

.

The Requirements of a Parakeet

A parakeet needn’t be clever.
A parakeet needn’t be smart.
A parakeet needn’t tie knots in your head
Or poke little holes in your heart.

A parakeet needn’t keep secrets.
It needn’t tell riddles or rhymes.
It needn’t be savvy or sagely or sharp
Or even keep up with the times.

A parakeet might make you smile,
But such is by no means required.
It might make you shiver or quiver or frown.
It might make you quite simply tired.

A parakeet, then, you might notice,
Can nearly be any odd way.
It needn’t be written, it needn’t be heard,
It needn’t be pungent or prickly or third,
It needn’t, I hasten to add, be a bird,
For parakeet, sadly, was never the word
I ever intended to say.

.

.

Jack DesBois is a singer, actor, and storyteller. He gives annual Epiphany season performances of “The Western Star,” which he wrote in 2016. He self-published a chapbook of short poems in 2018. As a singer, Jack has had the good fortune to solo in several of the great works of Baroque Oratorio, including Handel’s Messiah (Bass) and Esther (Haman) and J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (Jesus). Jack lives in Topsfield, Massachusetts. 


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14 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    These two fun poems have set me free. I just realized that, in fact, I’m not an old, dithering fool… I have Lyme Disease! Thanks for this brilliant excuse.
    I don’t want the cure…

    Reply
    • Jack DesBois

      Thank you, jd. Unfortunately, yes, I do have chronic Lyme and co-infections. Not fun, but a great teacher.

      Reply
  2. Peter Hartley

    Jack – these two poems get along at a cracking pace with flawless rhythm. You must have written them under divine influence and I’m wondering if the word you meant to say for “parakeet” was Paraclete.

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Esther – that’s the one with the harp solo isn’t it? My favourite composer, Handel, and I’ve got 69 boxed sets on vinyl. But I can’t even read music!

      Reply
    • Jack DesBois

      Thank you, Peter! And thank you for venturing a guess–which is wrong. I wish it was Paraclete; the real intended word doesn’t actually fit the meter (and that’s the only hint I’m giving).

      Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    The Lyme Brain’s Refrain – am I allowed to say Dr Seuss on acid?

    As for The Requirements of a Parakeet – very Lewis Carroll.

    Thanks for two mind-boggling reads.

    Reply
    • Jack DesBois

      You’re welcome, Paul–thank you for reading. Not to nitpick, but couldn’t you call Lewis Carroll “Dr Seuss on acid”?

      Reply
    • Jack DesBois

      Thank you, Sally. I hope to submit more poems to SCP. I have to say, this has been a very warm and welcoming literary community to me.

      Reply
  4. Jeff Eardley

    Jack, the hallmark of a great musician is to write poetry that can morph into song. These are brilliant and highly entertaining. Here in England, we used to have the famous Flanders and Swann musical duo who delighted us with delights such as the Hippopotamus s song (mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood) Your Parakeet piece is up there with them. Thank you

    Reply
    • Jack DesBois

      Thank you, Jeff–especially for introducing me to Flanders and Swann and their Hippopotamus song. I can’t stop grinning. They definitely had a heavy influence on one of my favorite comedy duos, Fry and Laurie (whose “Mystery” ranks just a bit below mud, mud, glorious mud).

      Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jack, I’m drawn in by the rhyme, rhythm and song of both of these unique poems, but I especially like:

    It needn’t be pungent or prickly or third,
    It needn’t, I hasten to add, be a bird,
    For parakeet, sadly, was never the word
    I ever intended to say.

    These exquisite words are utterly, engagingly hilarious – imagining a pungent and prickly parakeet has me in stitches. I am really sorry to hear you have Lyme disease, but heartened to see humor in poetry is a positive side-effect. The poetry is also educative… and for that, I thank you.

    Reply

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