Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calef Brown - Backstory - an excerpt

Backstory – an excerpt
by
Calef Brown

My life began in a tree fort
in Shreveport Louisiana
a breezy cabana
with one of those fantastic lawns
the kind with gnomes and plastic swans
plywood signs and fiberglass fawns.

I was a volatile child
easily riled and wildly erratic
full of dramatic "tin drum tantrums"
the loudest kind.
My parents, who didn't seem to mind
were more inclined
to read books and be quiet
so I decided to try it.
This stood me in good stead
during the years ahead
when my least worst ability
turned out to be verse facility.

My family spent every Christmas
with my beloved Grandpa
on the Isthmus of Panama.
We called him "Old Banana Paw"
and “Monkey McGee”
so partial was he
to that ubiquitous fruit.
Clever, handsome
and meticulous to boot
he wore a ridiculous suit
during the Spring Equinox
with a rhinestone ring
and sequined socks.

Much of my time
during the early Aughts
was spent scrubbing pots
and tying square knots
on luxury yachts.
My mind was in a sorry state.
I needed a new scene
and a clean slate.
Being extremely fond
of the proverbial pond
specifically being across it
I said to myself, “Toss it!”
and landed unfunded in the UK.
Available jobs were very low-pay
but I entered the fray
and decided to stay awhile.
What can I say, I’m an Anglophile.

I worked as a whistle blower
for a Scottish thistle grower
keeping weasels and possums
from stealing thistle blossoms.
I also drove the daily Beatle shuttle.
My route was Liverpool to Kidneypuddle.
I delivered limes to Leominster
and news to Coalcastle
but the whole hassle
of paying my dues
and the winter blues
propelled me back stateside.
It was with great pride
that I moved to Atlanta
to raise manta rays
and champion scorpions.
Despite being stung
on the tongue and the nose
I kept my poise
and won five Best in Shows.
This is why, I suppose
I chose the field of Entomology
which, by the way
owes me a huge apology.
I did not get kudo-one
even in pseudo-fun
when I discovered a worm in Annapolis
that found true happiness
in the nearby metropolis of Baltimore.
This is nothing to fault it for
it's a fine town
a good place to wind down
with a crab cake at a bake sale.
I often stop there
when my brakes fail.

© 2011 Calef Brown. All rights reserved.

If you were at TLA last week and happened to hear Calef Brown, I'm told you heard the world premiere of this poem in spoken form. The above is just an excerpt, but I know I'm itching to hear the rest of his life story in verse. I'm pretty sure every detail is true, too, though I suppose a detail or two has been changed due to his "least worst ability" being verse facility. But who knows? Perhaps, just like his last poem here, every word is true.

Calef Brown has another least worst ability, I think, and that is his facility with illustration. Most recently, he was let loose on the works of Edward Lear (and with poem choices/intro by Daniel Pinkwater!) and created a truly fantastic, must-have book called His Shoes Were Far Too Tight. You gotta check it out, I say, and then you'll see one of the many reasons I'm so excited to have Calef Brown here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

"I am God" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand was up last. Tomorrow starts off with Jorge Argueta's Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

4 comments:

tanita davis said...

This guy sounds like a hoot -- and I love his artwork!

Charles Waters said...

Oh how I would love to hear him perform this!!!!!!

Kristine said...

I was lucky -- I got to hear Calef perform this poem at TLA. 'Twas a hoot! Fingers crossed he'll do a YouTube video!

Kris George

ynl said...

Ok next time Calef Brown's brakes fail in Baltimore, I am kidnapping him and keeping him in my basement. I am a little bit in love with him after this! (I have a very nice basement by the way.)
:paula