A Nonsense Poem

During the summers of my teen years, I would camp with my youth group at Carolina Hemlocks Campground. Our church’s beloved pastor grew up in the area, and he loved reading a collection of mountain tales collected by Richard Chase, titled, Grandfather Tales. One of the stories that was a particular favorite was a “hunting story” titled, “Skookin’ Huntin.” Hunting stories, like fishing stories, are themselves “tall” tales.

After college, I worked as a middle school drama teacher. (Yes, there’s always drama in middle school). I taught these in a unit with language arts and North Carolina history teachers. In fact, I told these stories in dialect so much that I would get marks on my teacher evaluations for my poor pronunciation. Or as I mighta said then, ‘proNOUNtsiashun.

November 28’s November Poem a Day Challenge is “nonsense.” I’ve taken “Skookin’ Huntin'” and worked it into a poem. This particular hunting story is a nonsense story because it is all backwards.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

I’ve travelled this world all over:
House to barn, down to the gate,
Upstairs, downstairs like a rover
Until true love changed my fate.

Rode my mare to a valley town
That sat way up on a hill
Where little roast pigs ran around
Squealing, “Who’ll eat me? Who will?”

Come to a house made of cornbread—
Its sides, shingled with flapjacks,
Knocked on the woman with my head
The door swung and knocked me back.

That mean old woman offered me
A glass of bread and a penny.
“No thank you Ma’am, if you please”
Told her, “I just had any!”

Went and looked for my brother’s place;
A house that’s easy to find,
Sits alone in an empty space
With fifty like it beside.

A house high up, there down below,
A log cabin made o’ brick,
Where in a field he’d scratch and hoe
The corn he’d fished from the crick.

That’s when I saw Jenny, my love,
I knew she must of missed me.
Nailed the door down and windows up;
So I strowed in through the chimney.

Directly, I throw’d my hat on the fire,
Thoughtfully stirred up the bed,
I sat right close, her eyes admire
s’Far from her as I could get.

We played cards (some say it’s a sin).
She drawed hearts, me diamond’s love
‘Bout that time her old man come in,
And he drawed himself a club.

So I run’d home, run’d out a there,
Said, “I won’t see you never;
The old grey mare that’s mine, is yours;
I’ll be back for it forever.”

That very day life changed for me
The girl I’d chased ‘round the bend?
One I thought I was chasing? She?
Finally, caught me in the end.

after “Skookin’ Huntin’, Richard Chase, Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales (1948) (Richard Chase, February 15, 1904 – February 1988). Alt. Randall Edwards 2021

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About randamir

I pastor Grace Presbyterian Church in Kernersville, North Carolina which locals fondly refer to as K-vegas -- the town not the church. As D.T. Niles once said, "I am not important except to God."

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