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THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG

THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG
improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm pretty sure that this was written in the summer of 1971, while waiting for my friend Dave to come back to his house. I waited because it was a long way home. While I waited, I put a piece of paper in his typewriter and started banging out a rhyming version of a tale I'd written earlier. I seem to recall I worked on it for an hour or two. It was subsequently published in the first and only issue of BABOON, an eight-page humor mag that Dave put out, with contributions from the two of us, and another Dave. Probably Dave's first published cover. Since then he's done covers for "Heroes in Hell" and Honor Harrington books, among others.

I've revised it along the way for various reasons -- mostly the reason was that I was retyping it and I couldn't leave things alone. There are things I would fix now, including a glaring error of emPHAsis, but I'll leave it for the time being. (See: Life, shortness of)

So here it is, my epic poem:

RUMPLESTILTSTEIN

Once, Miller the miller chanced to be
At the place they called ‘group therapy.’
(A meeting place where opinions, views,
And dreams are met with jeers and boos)
He listened long to the people’s talk
Until oblivious to their squawk,
When suddenly his heart went ‘flutter’:
His name’d been mentioned in the mutter.
Ere he was left by this cardiac pain
Someone said his name again!
So he looked around to see if he
Could see who’d said it, and asked, “Who—me?”
Straightaway, he was seen by the crowd.
“That’s him now,” someone said out loud,
“We’ve talked of our kids long enough—
What of yours, you bag of fluff?”
He tried to stall and seemed to wilt:
“My wife’s almost finished her patchwork quilt.”
“Oh, knock it off about that cow,
She’s been ‘almost finished’ six months now.
We’re not so hot on Phyllis Diller.
What of Milly, miller Miller?”
Now Miller the miller was in a spot:
What could she do that others could not?
All she could do was sit on her fanny,
Eat, sleep, talk and tie a granny.
In less than a second these thoughts had passed
And he got his answer: “LIE—and FAST!”
So he cleared his throat: “She spins straw into POT!
(But just when she wants to—she mostly does _not_).”

Somehow, all the others followed it.
More amazingly, they swallowed it—
They all cheered for Miler the miller:
“Wow,” they chorused, “Whatta killer!”
And so, his glory now equal to Rome,
The miller got up, and smiling, went home.

News traveled fast in Yesteryear,
And soon it reached the Royal Ear.
At this, His Majesty’s very first thought was
“Get her!” Then he wondered what ‘pot’ was.
But the one they brought to the King’s great villa
Was not Millicent, but miller Miller.
There he knelt before the throne,
Shaken and frightened to the bone.
“Make her spin!” the King suggested.
“She doesn’t _want_ to!” m.M. protested.
“Well, make her want to, and make it fleet,
Or else your head shall look up to your FEET!”

The miller faced it like a man:
He sent her in and fled the land.
So Millicent, sans further hassle
Found herself inside the castle.
She looked around the room in awe
To find she was knee-deep in straw.
“Spin that into pot!” came the Royal drone,
Then the cell door slammed, and she was alone.

For several minutes she stared dumbfounded
At all the straw that now surrounded.
She knew what she would have to do
Was roll some up and bluff it through,
But before she’d exercised this ruse,
There came a flash and a smell like booze,
And before she could quite grasp it all,
She saw this midget, three feet tall!
Then came his line (a real killer):
“I’m your salvation, Milly Miller!
I can spin anything, from straw to string,
Into the best—the Real Thing!”
She gazed at him with the eyes of a fawn,
And managed to gasp; “You’re putting me on.”
Said he “It’s true! But it’s no dice
If you can’t somehow Pay... the Price!”
“Well, I’ve got... this ring! It’s one humdinger.”
(It left a green spot on her finger.)
He looked it over (he must have been blind)
And pocketed it. “This will do fine.”
There followed some fancy spinning and then,
The weirdo up and vanished again.
Now, being knee-deep in straw isn’t so hot,
But now she was up to her calves in pot,
And soon the King came into the cell
Saying “This is amazing! ...What’s that smell?”

In even less time than it takes to relate,
The King tried some grass, and found it great.
So he once again shoved Milly into the door
And left with the message to “Spin up some more.”
She looked at the straw, piled high in the cell,
And there was the flash and the same bad smell,
And there, sure enough, was her weird old friend
Saying “Millicent Miller, you’ve done it again!”
She looked at him sadly; he gave her a grin
And said “Now don’t tell me, you want me to spin.
I will, of course, but not for free—
There’s a little matter of paying the fee.
You pay, and I’ll appease the King.
You got another diamond ring?”

A look of pain came swiftly on
Her face: the dime-store ring was gone.
She pondered hard, and then she smiled—
She’d offer him her first-born child!
It was probably better than losing her lid.
(After all, with her dead, there’d be no kid!)
So she told the creep and he agreed.
Then he got to work and spun the weed.

The king thought he’d be set for life,
And graciously made her his wife;
No more spinning did he demand
For she claimed she’d broken her ‘detrecle gland.’
Things went just fine after that.
In time, there came a Royal Brat.
Then one day, in a blinding flurry,
The queen thought back and began to worry.
She tried to think: Who was that guy?
But she didn’t know, so she called her Spy.
“Just get his name, and I’ll be set
For any blackmail I’d need to get.”
So fast did her agent catch the game
That in just a week, he got the name.
And what did he whisper in her ear?
“Rumplestiltstein,” loud and clear.

One stormy night at half past eight
A knock was heard upon the gate
And sure enough, not Mr. Clean,
But the creep had come to see the Queen.
“Now, Milly Miller, remember your bid—
I gave you grass, give me the kid!”
The child walked in and caught his eye.
The midget gave a startled cry
And said “But first, a guessing game!
The kid’s yours if you guess my name.”
“Oh, I couldn’t guess!” the Queen protested,
“I’m bad at games, or had you guessed it?
My li’l ol’ head’s just ever so fat—
SO BE A SPORT AND TAKE THE BRAT!”
“Well, bury me in chicken puckey,
Take thirty guesses—you might get lucky!”
(Since she knew his name, one guess was enough,
But she wanted to lose, and proceeded to bluff.)
“Irving? Lucky? Karen? Barry?
Kathi? Stinky? Bruce? or Harry?
Ugly? Marty? Lyndon? Louie?
Herbie? Don, Doyle, Dick or Dewey?
Tim? Jim? Herkimer or Harry?
(She read from Webster’s dictionary.)
John? George? Karl? Ken? Fred Astaire?
Sam? Tom? Paul? ...Well, I declare!
Of all the things! O, fate so dirty!
I’ve made wrong guesses; all of thirty.
Excuse me if I seem to crumple.
The kid’s all yours now. Take him, Rumple!”
Quickly spake Rumplestiltstein:
“Sorry, kid, that’s twenty-nine!
But with the ‘Rumple,’ thirty guessings—
Kid’s all yours; you have my blessings.”
Then, laughing like he’d made a joke
He vanished in a puff of smoke.

But Queen Millicent was no fool.
She sent the kid to boarding school.
So the midget was not alone in laughter.
(They all lived happily ever after.)

THE END
(c) 2008 by Kip Williams