The Patchwork Pachyderm

‘The Patchwork Pachyderm’ … Photoshopped Collage:  WHB – 2017

The PATCHWORK PACHYDERM

 Six blind old men went to a zoo
Which blind men do not often do.

They wished to find out more about
Their unknown world I have no doubt.

It was not easy so to do,
Especially at our London zoo.

They heard a creature give a bellow,
The trumpet call was hardly mellow.

They followed the sound until they came
To where were housed all the big game.

Determined to go where blind men go
They encountered a creature they did not know.

They ventured into the elephants lair,
Sensing this to be just where

They could discover just what it is
Makes this creature a walking quiz.

  *   *   *

 Tim fell against its side so tall,
Crying “This is a mighty wall”.

Jim touched its Tusk and gave a cry,
“It is a Spear I’ll not deny”.

Lim felt its trunk and began to quake,
“I’m pretty sure it is a snake”.

Dim touched a leg saying with glee,
“Well, this can only be a tree”.

Kim then reached up and touched an ear,
“This is a fan it is quite clear”.

Yim lifted the tail saying in hope,
“I’m almost sure this is a rope”.

  *   *   *

They thought, each one, that they’d found out
Just what Jumbo was all about.

So I ask you please, whate’er you see,
You don’t need a first-class degree.

Just never get your logic mangled,
Make sure your view is multi-angled.

The story of the SIX BLIND MEN has its possible origins in India, but the same basic story has appeared with variations in many different cultures.  I first came across it in the Chinese version.  The story in essence tells of blind men who, never having been able to see an elephant, decided to use their sense of touch to discover what sort of a creature it was.  On doing so, each one pronounced on the basis of their own, very limited,view.  Because each man touched only one part of the elephant, and based their judgement on what they had found, each came up with a different version of what they considered the creature to be like. 

So,  In turn, each blind man created his own version of reality from that limited experience and perspective. In philosophy departments throughout the world, the Blind Men and the Elephant has become the exemplar of moral relativism and religious tolerance.

So this ancient parable is used today as a warning for people that promote absolute truth or exclusive religious claims. It demonstrates that our sensory perceptions and life experiences can, if we are not careful, lead to a very limited understanding and interpretation of the nature of something or someone else.  With only a limited understanding of truth we can only receive a constrained version of reality.

There are several versions in poetic form of this story, to which I have added my own above, with the title ‘The Patchwork Pachyderm’ !

TERENCE – The Teachers’ Torment

TERENCE – THE TEACHERS’ TORMENT

Terence was so sensitive,
He was averse to life.
He was a pain to have in school,
A constant source of strife.

He wouldn’t play in any team,
He just stood there and cried;
Wouldn’t join in any sport
However much we tried.

He hated maths, he couldn’t add,
His spelling was appalling.
His writing was a dreadful scribble,
His language was quite galling.

And what he knew of history
Could be written on two stamps
And science and geography
To him were complete blanks.

And when it came to making friends
He wasn’t interested;
His eating habits were quite crude,
His food left half-digested.

He said that school was not for him,
He’d rather be at home.
His mum and dad, at their wits end,
Called it his Teddy Syndrome.

“OK, then let’s just try” I said,
“To see if this will work.
Let him bring his Ted to school
Might solve his little quirks”.

And so it did, I’m pleased to say.
There’s no more ridicule.
He carries Ted around with him,
Best teacher in the school.

‘Horace & His Teddy’ … Pen – PH & WHB

MIRROR! MIRROR!

WHB: Self-portrait – scraperboard . . . c.1955

Mirror! Mirror!
On my screen
Can I believe
What I have seen?

Mirror! Mirror!
Tell me now
I am lovely,
Take a bow.

Is this a selfie
I see before me?
Is this reflected
In my story?

Am I vain,
Or am I boring?
Look at me,
My ego’s soaring.

Go to blazes!
Tell me why
I’m not just
Pie in the sky.

Tell me that
I should believe it;
 At least I look
As though I mean it.

Because I feel
I have no guile
Doesn’t mean
I’m mean and facile.

My face my fortune
It is said;
If they are right
My palm’s well read.

But all is not
Quite what it seems,
What I see
Is in my dreams.

For I can tell
Just looking at me,
I’m not like
The me I see

My Library, My Life

Photo: WHB . . . 2017

My Library, My Life

The best way to find out
About who someone is?
Examine their library –
No need for a quiz.

My library is big,
Just take a look.
What you’ll find in it
Is book after book.

My bookshelves are full
Of books of all kinds
I’ve scoured the bookshops
Made remarkable finds.

Books I have read;
Books I might read one day;
Books never read,
Just there for display.

Books bought on a whim,
Not ‘cos of need,
Some temporary fashion
My psyche to feed.

Milligan and Wodehouse,
Others quite scholastic;
Some books of value
Wrapped up in plastic.

Books from my schooldays
And courses of study
‘Duchess Of Malfi’,
Such tales that are bloody!

Books presented to me,
Complete with inscriptions;
D.I.Y books,
Complete with descriptions.

Books I have borrowed
With library covers;
Books now on loan
From other book lovers.

Dickens and Trollope,
Austen and Hardy,
Similar authors
With whose reading I’m tardy.

Histories, biographies,  
And Poets galore,
Who once I indulged in,
Like Rabindranath Tagore.

Pop-up books from childhood
And Sunday school prizes
Maps and old diaries
And other surprises.

Games, chess and bridge,
Whole sections you’ll find
On Yorkshire and China
First editions – unsigned!

A few spaces for books
which I’ve lent out to others,
Awaiting return
With or without covers.

Look close and you’ll find
What once filled my mind;
Many are mystery now,
Since my memory declined.

But, never-the-less,
I still love them all,
Or perhaps I just keep them
To decorate the wall.

Photo: WHB . . . 2017

General Waste Comes To Town

‘General Waste’ … Photos – WHB – Surrey, UK, 2017

.

GENERAL WASTE COMES TO TOW

When General Waste first came to town
He brought a squad of others;
They came to clean us up and were
His military brothers.

They stand on corners, pavements edge,
In regimental fashion;
They’re smart and very business-like
And do their job with passion.

Intent on clearing up the streets
Of this, our unkempt town,
These sentinels of conscience stand
And scold us with their frown.

Receptacles of all our litter,
Thriving on our waste;
And if we dare to ignore them
They treat us with distaste.

They’ll tell the world of our disgrace
They’ll make sure we are booked,
And when the final reckoning comes
That won’t be overlooked.

‘General Waste’ … Photos – WHB – Surrey, UK, 2017

Do You Speak Seagull?

‘The Conversation’ … Photo – Tammy – Tenby, South Wales, 1993 by WHB.

SPEAKING SEAGULL

Hello bird

I haven’t seen you here before.

Talk to me

Tell me your story

I wish you could speak to me

Do you speak seagull?

Then you could tell me what you want

I’ve been fishing

You want food, don’t you

I spend my life fishing

I’m sorry, nothing you would like here

And diving of course

Bet you like fish

Can you dive?

And worms?

I was the best diver in my class

Do seagulls eat worms?

And I’m still a beginner

I have got some breadcrumbs

‘Cos I’ve just left school

I’m here on holiday

I’m only two

I’m only seven

I’ve just got all my grown-up feathers

I’m starting big school after the holidays

Better go now

Better go now

See you next year.

See you next year.

I wonder if she really understood me

I wonder if he really understood me

Goodbye … Must fly …

Cheerio … Must go …

NUMEROPHOBIA

‘Teaching Maths’ … Collage by Clive Butler – c.1984

NUMEROPHOBIA

When numbers leap up at me
I often feel scared;
They can be aggressive
Maker thinking impaired.

I try not to fluster
To think these things through,
But I can still end up muddled
Not having a clue.

In the shop I try hard
To keep check on my spend,
But I’m easily distracted
And I have to pretend
That I know what I’m doing,
Mind and brain won’t agree;
Are two for the price of one
Same as buy one get one free?

When I’m with my bank statement
Checking up what I’ve spent,
Deducting those refunds
Allowing for rent,
Assuming some interest,
Checking those bills,
It gives me a headache –
Cue for some pills.

Life should be much easier.
If only I’d been
An attentive student
I could have foreseen,
That time spent with maths
In school in my teens,
Might have paid off –
Unless it’s my genes!

Three score years and ten
I will not see again;
At least I know that
My bible’s my brain.
My life is a number
Too large to keep count
It’s approaching seven dozen –
I demand a recount.

OPORTO

Oporto, Portugal … Pen & Watercolour – WHB – 2015

OPORTO  is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is situated along the banks of the Douro river estuary in northern Portugal. The city’s actual name is Porto, but when preceded by a definite article, ‘O’ in Portuguese, meaning ‘the’ in English, it is written as ‘o Porto’ meaning ‘the port’ in English. As a result, in English the city is usually referred to now as ‘Oporto’.   The city is known for its stately bridges, its port wine production, and for its monuments and buildings by renowned architects.  The city was also the birthplace of one of world history’s legendary figures, Prince Henry the Navigator.  In some city guidebooks it is also given as  the birthplace of that world-famous fictional character, Harry Potter, as the author, J. K. Rowling, was living in Oporto as an English teacher when she started writing her first ‘Harry Potter’ book. 

According to its travel bureau
Oporto’s a town on the Douro;
Praise be to Jehovah
It’s famed the world over
For port wine to banish your sorrow,

It’s Portuguese wine at its best;
If you try it you’ll want to invest;
You’ll go back for more,
Buy out the wine store,
And lay all your bogeys to rest.

But then you must explore the city;
It’s stunning, impressive and pretty;
Renowned architects,
Artistic projects,
Far too much to view – what a pity!

DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

Photographs; WHB 2015

DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

What is my joy in destruction?
Why does it give me a kick?
It grants me a sense of elation;
I once thought I was just downright sick.

As a toddler I remember I wanted,
As soon as a tower I’d built,
Just to knock it all over and giggle
Without any feeling of guilt.

Then when I’d taken up Lego,
I’d just love, after building my farm,
To smash it to bits with my mallet;
Didn’t think I was doing it harm.

And when in a History lesson
I said I’d like to have been
One of those men who wrecked churches and abbeys.
 The teacher near ruptured his spleen.

He sent me to see the headmaster,
Saying I must be beyond the pale;
For taking part in such Dissolution
He considered me right off the scale.

They decided I must be a vandal,
And said I would pay for my sins.
Abbeys and shrines were verboten,
I mustn’t wantonly damage such things.

Well, now I’ve left school and I’m happy,
My job suits me down to the ground.
I work hard with great satisfaction,
And no one will push me around.

For now I’m a demolition expert,
I can continue my hobby with pride;
Destruction now is my trade
As on top of a huge truck I ride.

Mechanical shovels and drills,
Excavators and large JCBs,
Bulldozers, cranes and dump trucks,
All these I can manage with ease.

And now that I’m married with children
I watch Joe build towers with his bricks,
Then demolish them with glee and I know
He’s a chip off the old block of tricks.

A Swarm of Bees Worth Hiving

I have a book, passed down to my wife from her father and his father before him, with the title of ‘ILLUSTRATED ANECDOTES and PITHY PIECES’.  It was published in 1874 and which, of course, contains just what the title describes – well, the Victorian idea of such things!

I am reproducing a scanned image of one of the entries which plays with words in rhyming couplets, as I often like to do in my own verses.  (Not sure about the attempt to rhyme ‘faith’ with ‘death’ though!). Amusing and educational aphorisms, life-enhancing even, and very PITHY !!!