Ordinary, Moving

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is the name of the gamelaughing, talking where the ball bouncesin the forgotten schoolyardone hand, the other hand; one foot, the other footyou know the one(Saturday Afternoon Kidblackball-cracker, scotchmint-muncherhandkerchief-chewer extraordinary)clap front, clap backballthwack on the boardfencefront and back, back and frontarms of old beeches reaching over drop theirsawtooth leaves in your hair (as I was sitting beneath a tree a birdie sent his love to me and as I wiped it from my eye I thought: thank goodness cows can't fly)tweedle, twydlecurtsey, saluteand roundaboutuntil you're out

the shadows turn, the light is longand while you're out you sing this song

this year, next year, sometime, never en roule-en ma boule roule-en we'll be friends for ever and ever

Pimperroquet, le roi des papillons se faisant la barbe, il se coupa le menton une, une, c'est la lune deux, deux, c'est le jeuseven, eight trois, trois -- c'est à toi!nine, a-lauraten a-laura echod, shtaimSecord hamelech bashomayim echod, shtaim, sholosh, ar-ba ...

whereja get the cold, sir? up at the North Pole, sir; what were ya doin there, sir? catchin Polar bears, sir; how many didja catch, sir? one, sir; two, sir Salome was a dancer she did the hootchykootch she shook her shimmy shoulder and showed a bit too much

my boyfriend's name is Fatty he comes from Cincinnati

my boyfriend's name is Jello he comes from Monticello

ini ini maini mo que cheleque palesto que jingale lestingo ini ini maini mo

and this is the way you played begin:

ordinary throw the ball against the fence, catch itmoving same thing, don't move your feet laughingmustn't show your teeth talkingshut, your, mouth one hand that's how youcatch it the other handone foot pick it up, you dope the other footandclap front, clap back front&back, back&fronttweedle with your hands like twiddling your thumbsonly overhandtwydle underhand curtsey, saluteand roundabout catch it andstart from moving

over the whole thing withoutstirring from the spot slapyour leg for one foot wave yourarms for roundabout on through laughing ononon


particle, atom, molecule, worldsolar system, galaxy, supergalaxy, cosmos

but start with small, the ball on the wallthat's how it went, and begin again:

my boyfriend's name is Tonto he comes from New Toronto with twenty-four toes and a pickle on his nose and this is the way my story goes:

* we started something like a slug and grew without a thought or wish to something like a fish a frog a bird a pig a golly- wog and ultimately red and born a blueblack head or peppercorn or bald or blind or idiot or multiheaded ,poly- glot *

I = I I? = ?I ?W?H?Y? ?I = I?

I = not ALL/eye/see = (s/ m)uch = notme

(rockabye baby the cradle is hardyer pa got it outa the junkman's backyard)

the thing that I thought was the moonturned out to be Mother's faceor Sister's or Brother's or Dad's or the cat's-- there's notme all over the place

(but I want the world's food in my bellyI want all the things I can seeI want all the toys in the world in my armsand I want all the arms around ME)

black skin, drum belly little stick leg Papa paint the sores on hold your hands and beg


What shall we name the baby?William? or James? or John?Matthew? or Mark? or maybeeven Napoleon?

sticks and stones can break my bones but names'll never hurt me and when I'm dead and in my grave you'll be sorry for what you called me

whatcher name?Dickery Dameask me aginand I'll tell ya the same ...

... the secret power, the personal keythe three golden hairs in the forehead of the Giantthe stone in the yoke in the egg in the duckin the rabbit in the basket in the chest beneath the Oak

in the Oak of the Golden Boughin the magical Mistletoe:

'In the whole of the East Indian Archipelago the etiquette is the sameno-one utters his own name...'

Sha-ame, sha-ame! everybody knows yer na-ame!

Whatcher name?Mary Janewheredya live? comment t'appelle tu?down'a lane je m'appelle comme mon perewhatcher number? et ton pere?cucumber mon pere s'appelle comme moi

it's Dinger Bell and Dusty Miller, Moishe Tochas and Lumber Bonceit's mwele and Elkeh Pipick, Scaevola, Pepito and Tanglefoot ...

what do they call'y'?Patchy Dollywhere were y' born?in the cow's horn


where were ya born? I didn't hear yaroundabout and begin againwell I'll tell ya

my father was born in England my mother was born in France but I was born in diapers because I had no pants

(cross my heart and hope to dieif I ever tell a lie )

where were you born my pretty lass?

born in the still-house binifn Pappy hadn picked me outa the mashthey'd'a called me Stone Blind Gin

where do you come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?way down south where the taters grow

where do you come from, Vinegar Bill?where the Gila sleeps in the sagebrush hill

where do you come from, Popoliin your laplap jockstrap sewn with bead?I'm growing up in New Guin-eaunder the eye of Margaret Mead

laughing, talking, one hand, the other handone foot, the other footthat's where the shoe isroundabout


how's your old man earn his nicker?potter? piper? peapod-picker?packer? knacker? sailor? stoker?bumbailiff? or bailbond-broker?doctor? proctor? thane? or thief?dustman? postman? on relief?

my old man's a dustman he wears a dustman's hat --

aah, knock it off, Noddywe already been there

my old man's a navvya navvy by his tradehe wheels a great big barrowhe swings a pick and spade

my old man's a navvyhe get's a navvy's payit doesn't fill a rotten toothor scare the wolf away

I'm growin up to earn my keepas quickly as I canan I guess I'll be a navvyjust like my old man

my father works in the A & P my mother clerks in the baker-y my sister dances in the hula show and they do it for me, me, me

my old man's a psychiatristhe has a psychiatrist's couchhe doesn't stick any needles inbut his patients still cry ouch!

he thinks I'm slightly paranoidor maybe rather manicI tell him I'll turn out all rightif only he won't panic

if you got anxietymy dad will worry for youat 25 bucks an hourit's what psychiatrists do


Why? -- Zbutter your breadif you don't like itgo to bed

Why? Why? Why?¿Cuándo? Pourquoi? Far vus?

why does a chicken cross the road?no hablo español

waarom steekt een kip de weg over?pourquoi non?

¿ cuándo la gallina cruza la carretera?vais ich?

perchè Garibaldi alla battaglia di Calatafimi portava le bretelle tricolori?to hold his pants up, stupid


how and when and where and whystars and sun and moon and sky

canals and craters, dunghills, dunestell me what's beyond the moons?

beyond the moons the sands are deepthey spread through all the purple skiesin them are Giants who never sleepbut watch the world with burning eyes

they're just like us, with sharper clawshuger pincers, fiercer jawsand if they catch you -- goodbye head!goodbye little crystal bed!

so wrap your feelers round your feetfold your thorax nice and neatthe sun is high, the hour is latenow it's time to estivate

I lay me in my quartzy pool I pray the gods to keep it cool to keep off demons far and near and wake me when the winter's here to dance with joy on all my legs and live to lay a thousand eggs


Mother Mother I am sick call for the doctor quick quick quick!!! Doctor Doctor shall I die?

Yes my child and so shall I ...

Do you ever think when the hearse goes by that one of these days you're going to die? a-whoo, a-whoo ...

the dark the hairy scary dark's wherethe nightblooming neuroses grow:

Mummy the THING'S under my bed again!

they wrap you up in a big white shirt and cover you over with tons of dirt a-whoo ...

under my bed, my childhood bedonly the dustflocks blewin the midnight caverns of my headthe goblins spawned and grew

they stuff you into a long long boxand cover you over with mountains of rocksa-whoo ...

but my children's fears are wider, wilderfiercer, freerin their delirious feverdreamsangry shadows chatter from the bookshelvesand Caesar's legions fight all Gaul from the staircaselanding imperial ibises risestark and threatening from the reeds of the rug

and the worms crawl out and the worms crawl in and the ones that crawl in are lean and thin and the ones that crawl out are fat and stout a-whoo, a-whoo ...

deposition by J.E.G., acquaintance of writer:

The storm was raging and the wind was howling outside the castle. Inside the castle the lights flickered of. There was a blood-curling shriek. A Black figure stalked up the corridor. Bloodstained was his hands. I ran down the corridor and fell. Quickly I got up. I ran down the corridor only to find a girl jabbed in the back. As I ran farther I fell in a pit. It was a don- jon! I felt myself being chained to the wall. I struggled to free myself only to get whipped in the leg. The lights went on, I found the Black thing ready to cut my throat! I prepared to die. IM DEAD! IM DEAD! I screamed.

your eyes fall in and your hair falls out and your brains come tumb-a-ling down your snout a-whoo ...

Hap-py Birthday! Hap-py Birthday! children are crying people are dying Happy Birthday ...

here you're inthere you're outthat's how the world goesroundabout!


rise, Sally, riseopen your eyesthe earth turns east, the sun turns westturn to the one you love the best

Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy come over I wish, I wish your wish may come true the sun is up high at the top of the sky you can't cross my river unless you wear blue

bushel of wheat, bushel of barleyall not hid, holler Charley!bushel of wheat, bushel of ryeall not hid, holler I!bushel of wheat, bushel of cloverall not hid can't hide over

look out, World! here I come!

we sing from near, we sing from faryou brought us here, and here we are

we sing from far, we sing from nearnobody told us why we're here

we sing by night, we sing by daynobody told us what to say

in love begot, in lust begotnobody asked us what we thought:


my warriors have pitched their tentswhere Tigris meets EuphratesI suck the stubborn teats of goatsand feed upon the date-trees

I hunker down upon my heels(they call me chieftain's daughter)and I crack my lice between my nailsand flick them in the water

we have to sing, we sing a song it's all of Time and twice as long


Black sheep, black sheep, have you any wool?

Yes, Master Coxe, my fleece is fat and full

Shearer, shearer, clip him to the fell and take the wool to little John who lives by the well

I sit and pick at woolI pick at wool all dayI have no time to go to schoolI have no time to play

the shepherds tend the flocksthe shearers clip their backsand sell the wool to Thomas Coxewho stuffs it into sacks

and when the bags are fullthey bring them in to mefor every day I pick the woolhe pays my penny fee

my hands are cracked and soreI pray to go to heavenand hope perhaps he'll pay me morenext year when I am seven

I sing my song the whole day long from morning light to even


I am a little chimney sweepa poor benighted chapI knock about the dark all dayand no-one cares a rap

the soot grinds down into my groinseach time my brush goes whap!I'll die from cancer of the nutsif I don't get the clap

we sing our song, our song is long it's large as life and twice as strong

if you should see a chimney sweepyour luck will turn to badso always keep your eyes awayfrom a chimney-sweeping lad

but if by chance they light on onedon't let it go at that-- just hold your collar till you seea horse, a dog, a cat ...


here upon the altar lies the bleeding victim we slew him without falter -- that was why we picked him

O mighty Rongo, here's your fish wrapped up in tidy parcels was ever god served up a dish of such prodigious morsels?

all the gods are bad onesand some are worse than othersthe god who gave me his namehad demons for his brothers

he chose the altar for methe axe to split my headthe leaves to wrap my ears and nosefor the prize when I was dead

the missionary came thenand he took me in his armhe swore his God would strike them deadif they did me any harm

my father broke his spear in twothe prayer-king stove his drumand as a joyful Christian childI sing of Kingdom Come!


one day he gave me peaches one day he gave me pears one day he gave me fifty cents to kiss him on the stairs

the missionary ladieshave taught me to sew and cookto plant flowers in potsand embroider French knotsand write in a bluelined book

they have taught me to read the Bibleand to frown and turn my backon Corporal McGlashwhen he twirls his moustacheand calls me the Rose of Ladakh

but my mother will come and fetch meto my home on the mountain sideand I'll turn back my faceto the ways of my racein Shamlegh when I am a bride

and turquoise and silver will bind up my hairinstead of a flowery hatmy three husbands will ploughwhile the fourth milks the cow-- but I won't tell the pastor that.

I gave him back his peaches I gave him back his pears I only kept the fifty cents and kicked him down the stairs


Mammy, Mammy, tell me truewhen shall we be free?

Hush, chile, eat you chickenfoot stewdon't say dem things to me ole Uncle Jack he wanta git free foun his way north by de bark on de tree cross dat river floatin in a tub paterollers gibm a mighty close rub

Mammy, Mammy, all de yearsMassa laid us low

Hush, chile, hush chile, all you tearswon' make him let us go old Aunt Dinah jes like me wuk so hard she wanta git free but Aunt Dinah gittin kinda ole she feared of Canada cause it so cole

Mammy, wanta board dat Freedom Trainfeel de sun shine on my haid

hush, chile! don't talk out so plainor you mighty close to dead! ole Uncle Billy, mighty fine man tote de news to Massa, fast as he can tell Uncle Billy you want free fer a fac nex day de hide skun offn you back

and still we dance and still we singJuba dancers in a ring!

Juba dis an Juba datJuba skin dat Yaller Cat

Juba jump and Juba singJuba cut dat Pigeon's Wing!

Gadder roun, chillun, thank de Lawdold Abe done set us freeMassa in de cole cole groun, praise Gawdin de Year of Jubilee!

Missus an Massa, walkin down street hans in dere pockets, nothin to eat Missus git home, wash up de dishes! patch up y'ole man's raggedy britches!

Massa run home, git out de hoe clear de weeds outa y'own corn row de Kingdom Come, de slaves gone free ain no slaves in de Year Jubilee!

two four six eightwe don't want to integrate

('I dunno what they complainin about what with Bull Connor givin em free street baths an dog shows ever day')

put down you heelput down you toe ever time you turn aroun you stomp Jim Crow!

git off you kneeshold up you head ever time you turn aroun Jim Crow dead!


get a piece of pork and stick it on a fork and shove it in the mouth of a Jewboy, Jew ...

a skinny kid, a Yidl kid, I run the streets of Kievthe sh'gutzim kick my shins, the cold winds blow me like a leafa skinny kid, a Yidl kid, with swinging black earlocksfor furtrimmed ladies and their gents my father fixes clockshe cheats them just a little bit to make up for the taxI call them Pan and Panya and I spit behind their backsa dirty sheeny ragged Yid I spit behind their backs

Jewboy, Jew Jewboy, Jew

I am Belsen number 7829I know not blue sky nor to see the sun shineblind, I hear others die. I am called swine.

and still we sing and still we sing and through the wires our voices ring

does no-one hear? does no-one come?Lord of the World, my mouth is dumb


Bach Jones a bag of bones a belly full of fat and when he dies he shuts his eyes now what do you think of that?

at Aberfan where I beganI never grew to be a manthe slag ran down toward the townI cried and I was stillGod lost my name and no-one cameI died beneath the hill

still in their dreams our voices singthrough stone and slime the echoes ring

Rhys Owen was a holy man he went to church on Sunday to pray to God to give him strength to whip the boys on Monday!


the light swings west, the shadows follow the ball is hollow on the wall

curtsey, salute and roundaboutwe go by turns but never out

we turn the world away from nightwe raise the sun, we bring the light

if we don't act the way we shouldtoo bad for you. We're here for good.

and begin again

© Gotlieb Phyllis