title illo by Teddy Harvia for 'Prose Is the Wine; 
  Poetry the Whiner' by Dave Luckett
What a hospitable soul a baby is! Always happy to see you, always sorry when you go, even to the extent of loud lamentations. Very loud lamentations. Even at four in the morning. Especially at four in the morning, dammit.

The long watches of the night are said to be ideal for composing the soul to philosophical contemplation, or to poetry. Certainly the current circumstances make it unlikely that the soul can be composed to sleep. Why, he's only just getting into his full stride now, and hardly rattling the windows at all yet. I suppose, though, that I could have a go at some poetry. Philosophy is a little beyond me, I'm afraid, as well as being out of my line. And beyond philosophy (some would say, within it) lies madness. Though madness, to be sure, begins to look deuced attractive, some of these nights.

Verses, now. I should start with something simple. A clerihew, perhaps:

Evan John Luckett Beasley
As I'll admit, uneasley,
Is plagued with looseness of the bowels.
He also Howels.

Or a limerick:

The soldiers were greatly admirin'
Evan's voice, though it drowned out the firin'
"Just imagine!" they said.
"He could waken the dead
"From an air-raid, and act as the siren!"

Um. Not quite what I had in mind. Perhaps something subtle and oriental, like a haiku:

Evan sits, grunting.
Does he regress to piglet,
Or fertilise floor?
illo by Teddy Harvia

About as subtle as a brick enema, as my old mate Ian Nichols says. Well, a villanelle is supposed to be delicate and frenchified:

Just when you'd think he'd have to quit --
Your wise precautions seem quite sound --
He thinks of ways to manage it,
To fit where nothing else could fit
And pull the curtains to the ground,
Just when you'd think he'd have to quit.
You put him on the ground to sit
A moment -- then he can't be found.
He thinks of ways to manage it.
The crash of glass! Another's hit!

He's teleporting, I'll be bound.
Just when you'd think he'd have to quit,
Could never reach the notes you've writ
You'll find them shredded, wadded, ground --
He thinks of ways to manage it.
And when you think, "That must be it;
"The day's foul nappies form a mound!"
Just when you'd think he'd have to quit,
He thinks of ways to manage it.

Hmm. I'd say that that particular piece is to delicacy as Attila the Hun is to court etiquette.

Have you ever noticed that the things you write seem to take on a disgusting life of their own, a Frankenstein's creation starting up from the table, to the horror of the helpless progenitor? I really didn't mean to allude to the more revolting aspects of infant care in that one, but it somehow slipped out, like (as my old mate Nichols says, again) a -- no, I don't think I'd better say what my old mate Nichols says it slipped out like. You get the general idea. But what observation applies most especially to the stricter form verse that I prefer to write -- which I write only, I hasten to add, out of sheer perversity and a mulish intolerance of what everyone else has been doing for the last century or so.

Nevertheless, I'll stick with it, but try for something a little more stately. Formal. Like a ballade:

The Ballade of Infant Moisture

In changing of his nappy, yesterday,
I mustn't have been watching what I'd done,
Or, more specifically, observed the way
His little pistol pointed. I'd have run,
But had no time or hope. I had but one
Swift, frozen moment, standing with teeth clenched
While staring down the barrel of the gun --
That was the way we both were slightly drenched.

And later, on my knees he liked to play
And bounce about, and writhe and bend. At one,
Just after he had had his dejeuner
(And half my modest meal of tea and bun)
Right in the middle of a bounce, my son
A tribute from his inmost corpus wrenched.
'Twas warm, from near the heart (a dreadful pun).
That was the way we both were slightly drenched.

His bathtime -- happy closure of the day
A time of joy, and merriment, and fun.
It's not surprising that he'd wish to stay,
And make that time continue, once begun.
I sympathise with his desire to shun
The biting air, when warmly, well-entrenched --

But still, I wish he hadn't kicked and spun,
That was the way we both were slightly drenched.


Prince, when holding him, as you do now, there's none
So eager that their ardour is not quenched
By varied means. Oh, dear! What has he done?
That was the way we both were slightly drenched.
illo by Teddy Harvia

I have to confess that I did that deliberately. It was mainly an experiment, to see if I could emulate one of the most remarkable feats of Hillaire Belloc (a poet I greatly admire, though much neglected now), and write light verse in so strict a form as that. But for my next trick, I'll try a rondeau:

He will not stop. He has two speeds, flat out
And sleeping, moving even then, to flout
The laws of physics, for he should not be
Perpetually moving. Verily
He will not stop.

He eats just like a little bird -- about
Three times his weight, in food a day. No doubt
His intake slows, at times, but normally
He will not stop.

He's growing, too, in every way, without
A pause. Stronger, surer, up and out,
Forever further on. A day there'll be
When, joyful, he will run ahead, with me
Behind, and labouring. Then, "Stop!" I'll shout.
He will not stop.

Oh well, if you're going to go all serious on me, have a sonnet instead:
There's nothing reasonable about this fate:
A dancing bear attending on this -- what?
This scrap of self-directed flesh, this clot
Of raw desire and shapeless will in spate.
How can I know what processes dictate
The things he wants, the things that he does not,
When he himself knows less, nor cares a jot
Who lives in that eternal-present state?

A section through eternity, indeed --
The ardent moment's set and frozen, still
As time is, in the mind of God. The need
Of that unending now, is law until
The galaxies are burned away and dead --
Or one hair turns upon his haloed head.

Or, if the insanity of writing this strict-form verse has finally burst all bounds, there remains the nastiest one of all, the triolet:

Imperative, that music in the bone
A life to life must call. Unending
Sounds the call, the echoes blending.
Imperative, that music. In the bone,
The deepest core, that need is sending
Summonses to me that I must own
Imperative. That music in the bone
A life to life must call, unending.

Nope. It's no good. He's awake again. So, for that matter, am I. And the dawn, if not coming out of China, looks a lot like thunder. So, for that matter, do I.
- - - - - - - - - -
There was a broad range of readers comments about Dave's article, ranging from indifference (with a request for a *baby alert* should we try something like that again) to amusement to outright awe at Dave's ability to construct word paintings of his son in so many different forms of verse. As an example of the latter, David Bratman wrote that "I almost caught myself thinking that it's a shame someone who can write like that has to spend time caring for infants, but then I realized that he has to; otherwise, what would he use for inspiration?"

The next issue, Mimosa 10, appeared in July 1991, just two months before the Chicago worldcon and two months after we'd been informed of the fanzine's nomination for a Hugo Award. We took that to mean we must be doing something right. Contents included articles, by Joe Celko and Lester Boutillier, about some of Southern Fandom's more unconventional characters and notorious incidents, a group discussion with Lynn Hickman, Roger Sims and Howard Devore about some of Midwest Fandom's more unconventional characters and notorious incidents (including the Room 770 party), Dave Kyle's remembrances about "Sex in Fandom," and the return of a furry beast last seen in Mimosa 7.

'Chat' cartoon by Teddy Harvia

One other article we were happy to publish in M10 was a remembrance of 1950's British fandom by Vincent Clarke

All illustrations by Teddy Harvia

back to previous article forward to next article go to contents page