a poem in hexameter by Andrew B. Watt, living in western Massachusetts
written in honor of Tumblr user https://gallusrostromegalus.tumblr.com
who wrote the original story as a series of bullet points
The original Glorious Day was probably 7 September 2022 if it happened at all.
Sing, Muses, of the phone and its noise, of the glorious morning that Fate
put some random Tumblr goblin-kin, into the path of strange destiny,
with a tale worthy of the ages, a tale that dared not exist ’til now!
Sing of the phone, ringing in the dark, ringing and jangling at 6 a. m.,
the friend stranded in far Montana, sweating in heat and without power, 5
hardly able to use their cellphone, lucky to get one bar of service;
the servant stands up to the elder, the teacher or the nurse to client;
our narrator summons all their strength, gathers their runcible spoons for weeks,
and makes such arrangements as save friends: swift-ordered calls to car mechanics,
nearby hotels and pizza parlors, pharmacists in far-off county seats! 10
All is well-arranged, all is settled — but now curséd Hour of Eight dawns!
Now, does Anonymous tell us plain — there’s knocking, knocking, there’s knocking here,
there’s folks arrived! Unluckily, spoons are spent! Is this how to meet people,
wearing just black gothic booty shorts, labeling our speaker a cryptid?
Here’s t-shirt, inside-out and backwards; it will serve to meet with knockers! 15
(Surely it’s worth a dad-joke or two, to say this is properly nailed now.)
Fortune smiles! It’s not the Mormons! Yet she frowns: it’s two U.P.S. guys,
who now deliver a new cellphone to an adult friend just up the stairs.
But someone must sign for the package, using the mystery signing box
that neither of these two nincompoops really comprehend how to manage. 20
One is alcoholic and near-deaf, old guy who’s worked this route for years,
showing the ropes to the fresh recruit, the kid more a dude than a dab hand—
and the old magus is just a fraud. He doesn’t know how to use the tech.
Remember that it is only eight, but the heat of the day is scorching,
the bulb says one hundred in the shade — that heat seeps into the apartment, 25
where the plump Corgi has slipped the latch, learned to open his cage from inside,
and wanders freely about the house, happily waiting for attention.
Sing, O Muses, of the unlatched gate, the Corgi free in the cat litter!
Dogs like him, they love eating cat-shit, and now he’s gobbled up every bit!
There’s cat litter all over his face; he helped others, now he helps himself. 30
Cattle dogs like him love nasty things. He’ll be fine but it’s just disgusting.
But when, our dear narrator muses, did my dear Corgi learn to break free?
There’s no learning how he gained this skill, mastered this witchery or magic,
or why he stayed politely within the kennel cage that ought to hold him.
Somehow he’s learned to open latches, learned to work the bolts on baby gates, 35
slip a human’s tripartite blockades, and have freedom to go where he wills!
Far too much to process: our Hero must go forth in the Sun
to meet with a foul but effective demon-spawn, hound of hell — A Realtor®
who sends text reminders in strange code, bright strings of emoji characters,
a red house and alarm clock and noon. This is Oracular, mystical! 40
have the omens been interpreted at all like they were supposed to be?
Is the Realtor® old, of no deep thought? Will she understand emoji back?
a yellow thumb pointed to the sky, and sunglasses on the smiley face—
Surely she’ll understand that text back? YE GODS, her reply is baffling,
What IS this witches brew of symbols, signs that don’t translate across platforms? 45
Can this trash even be translated? Is this Egyptian hieroglyphics?
How does she type so fast with her thumbs, in characters no keyboard contains??
It’s nearly 9 a. m. by the time our hero decodes the message sent,
the address of the house being seen, protocols for avoiding COVID,
the masking of the face and the nose, and forgoing shoes when in the house. 50
How does the Realtor® write in this code, emoji of uncertain meaning,
and yet our hero comprehends it? Couldn’t it just be written in text??
Fascination gives way to purpose — our hero must meet this demon-spawn,
they must go forth into fairy-land, and see this … creature who writes like teens,
all in mere symbols which are not words, instead of how normal people write! 55
Be Well, O Hero, Be Protected! Take the friendly, shit-eating Corgi
with you on this bizarre adventure, and may he be your shield from strangeness
and all the powers of Realtor® hell, the pathetic effective devil
who types no English on her iPhone and yet sells mortgages and houses:
May his politeness be your defense —but clean that cat litter off his mouth 60
before you sally forth to meet her, that mighty woman known as DIANE,
she who dwells in darkness and in flame, She Who Texts Only In Emoji,
queen of all, certified Realtor®, Mistress of the Art of Selling Homes:
Come back safely, friendly Narrator, sing once more of the Glorious Day!
Friendly and Helicon Muses, sing: Sing once more of the Glorious Day, 65
when GALLUS, spoon-bearing Narrator, ventured out to meet with a Realtor®,
an agent for buying and selling houses and condos and real estate!
When last we left our heroic friend, the keeper of a shit-eating dog,
(a rowdy cattle-chasing Corgi who ever slurps breakfasts from both ends)
they were setting forth on adventure, out in the scorching heat and dryness, 70
daring the midday Sun in splendor, only to find no Realtor® at all!
The harried Realtor® was running late, couldn’t get there in time to meet them,
and who had sent all those crazy texts, but some third mysterious person?
Who had sent the walls of emoji? Who had written those arcane secrets,
the majestic occult characters that hide in secret on our iPhones? 75
Enter now DORIS, the home-owner, a clever-handed sewing mistress,
keeper of a fine stash of fabric, a seamstress of many heirloom quilts.
The cryptic text came from this elder who riddles with images and signs,
who knows her craft and related skills, and crowns all her workings with wisdom.
She will admit you, the Realtor® says, if you promise your best behavior. 80
Gallus our narrator of clever speech, wondrous maker of bullet-point tales,
decide they like the look of the house, and think it is in the proper place,
the side of town where they want to live, opposite their current residence.
The dog with good manners but bad breath, nam’d HERSCHEL (the Hanukkah Goblin)
has mystical powers of Cuteness, which no known power may yet resist, 85
provided his leash is on his neck, sunk to canine collar by a latch;
though Herschel’s a wonton criminal, he can be impeccably polite,
skillful as snake-charmers or con-men in deceiving people to like him.
Thus leashed & harnessed for the doorbell, Gallus brings Herschel to the doorway,
hopes against hope for the emoji-typing fairy to admit them both, 90
show them the house in its current state, and give them a chance to buy or lease.
Wide, wide, the groaning portal opens, no can of double-you dee forty
can hasten the slow revelation of the ancient woman in the house,
curled on her spine like a question mark, a straight thing made crooked by decades,
coiled on herself like a neat scroll, with glasses suited for telescopes 95
perched on her aquiline nostril-bridge, perfections of the glazier’s art,
suited for finding Venus or Mars, bright visions of a widening sky!
She speaks in joyous recognition, “Gallus, how lovely to see you here,
brightening my doorstep just at lunch! You’re not the bitch! Come in! Please come in!”
Bewildered Gallus enters the house, suffering pet-parent of Herschel, 100
knowing that Doris of curling spine, maker of marvelous textiles,
clearly knows just what and who they are, remembers that their sister’s returned
from foreign parts: back from Australia, the far-off and distant continent
where spiders, kangaroos, koalas roam in teeming hordes in desert wastes.
And Doris also knows this secret: of a just-past anniversary 105
that Gallus had just recently marked, a day of special significance.
But Gallus, our cryptid narrator, the Muses’ favorite bullet-pointer,
discerned disadvantage, knew not how they knew her host — then pulled a bead:
Is this Doris, working with wisdom? She who weaves splendor into her craft?
Doris the geriatric lady? Gallus doesn’t know where they are from! 110
Do they not know this blue-haired lady, crooked of spine and thick of glasses?
Gallus belongs to two quilting guilds, and works as a stage-hand in theater,
draws scientific illustrations with a society of artists
constituted just for that purpose, a specialist union of draughtsmen —
and also the local S. C. A. , the ‘kingdom’ in the Rocky Mountains 115
whose members play as medieval knights — that fearsome company of fighters
who gather in west Pennsylvania to fight the Pennsic War each August
(the loser keeps Pittsburgh, so they say, the city of steel and pollution,
at the bright confluence of rivers, Allegany, Monongehela
each entwining to form Ohio, deep current joining Mississippi.) 120
In other words, too slow to mention, Gallus knows too many grandmothers:
they’d have to whore out their own body if it were possible to name them,
keep their names and identities filed, and sort out which one belonged to whom.
Gallus casts about for any clue, seeks some hidden sign or oracle,
which might help them discern or reveal just whose grandmother has welcomed them, 125
Far down the hall behind the front door, there hangs a quilt of marvelous art,
with well-known, recognized appliqué, the brilliant artistry of just one —
only one grandmother has such skill! “Hi Doris,” says Gallus, “yes it’s me,
and I know you from S. A. Q. A.,” thus relieving their mental stresses,
by the recognition of quilting, delicate appliqué down the hall, 130
forty long paces, an arrow’s flight, down a hallway in the darkened house.
It might have been a risky gamble, guessing her name from a half-seen quilt,
but Gallus our hero need not fear; Doris the mistress of appliqué
is utterly entranced by Herschel, falling in love with the beast on sight.
“Who is this little man?” Doris coos, “this handsome fellow, this Corgi?” 135
Herschel is no dummy — knows this game — hears enough of English speech and tone
to know this old lady is smitten, enchanted to the point of blunder;
she’s all too likely to feed him treats, pamper him with milk-bones and bacon,
ply him with snacks for just being nice — and this role Herschel plays all too well.
He knows how to sit really pretty, and give a little shake of his fur, 140
and look at any human with love, and deep respect, and adoration.
This little criminal will get it, every little thing he wants and more.
But Gallus remembers the tale here, the story Dorus has recited
again and again and One. More. Time! with feeling, gross emotion, and song.
Doris lives next to a raging bitch, a True Cunt Magnifique, it is said; 145
She goes about to all the neighbors, busy-bodying all and sundry,
seeking to form a homeowner’s group, to improve the quality of life
for anyone who lives on the street —but also owns the house they live in.
She can’t abide renters or dead-beats, or even those minding their business —
and this awful twat has a husband, so Gallus our plucky narrator 150
has heard in their quilting guild meetings, who works as a sworn County Sheriff.
The twat’s husband likes playing bully, taking around illegal papers,
trying to get neighbors to agree; when they refuse, he cites them for fines,
writes them up on flimsy pretenses, violations of civic duty.
He also threatens legal action against his neighbors who rebuff him. 155
And Doris can’t be bothered by that, when there’s so little time left to live:
For she has much more she’d like to do, than be subject to petty tyrants
who seek to make racism normal or kow-tow to suburban Karens,
full of more vitriol and venom than your typical king Cobra snake —
(and snakes are self-governing, it seems, and never form homeowners’ co-ops). 160
Gallus, our generous narrator, beloved of Muses and poets,
knowing this history, and street-smart, vows that they’ll never live in this house,
though Realtor® desperately twist their arm, or summon minions from lava’ed Hell,
or offer them flatware with the sale, or or even give up her commission.
Neither does Doris intend to say, as Gallus learns from conversation: 165
grandchildren in Santa Monica will soon be much closer to her heart,
when she moves in with them far from here, where she’ll be loved and adored til Death.
The scythe-bearing lord of hourglass and ticking walnut grandfather clock,
will bring her gently into his realm. DORIS, he’ll say, with sonorous tone,
THERE’S A FEW QUILTS THAT NEED SOME MENDING, 170 (a)
THEY JUST NEED SOME STITCHING HERE AND THERE. 170 (b)
But — poor lady of other eras!— She hardly knows how to use Facebook,
and though she is selling all her goods, using a paper sign in the yard,
not a single person has appeared, to wander through her house to buy stuff,
and no one appears to know today is the day the estate sale goes down.
Poor Doris is utterly dismayed: All her chambers are stuffed with beauty, 175
with many decades of textiles lovingly assembled into quilts.
Yet no one has come by to buy things, and Doris, though wise, doesn’t know why!
“Hang on,” says our hero, “did you tell either local Quilt Guild of your plan?
If you told anyone these marvels, your beautiful, magnificent work,
was ready to go to loving hands at bargain basement prices — a crowd 180
would surely assemble in minutes, like Avengers or SuperWhoLock…”
But Gallus trails off, seeing Herschel, lying on the couch, his ears flicked back,
receiving belly rubs from Doris, munching on slices of Boar’s Head ham,
reveling in all the attention. “Did you make contact with anyone??”
“I reached out to Denver’s newspapers,” said sweet Doris preparing more ham, 185
“but all they did was put me on hold, kept me waiting ages of ages.”
Gallus frowned, then decided their Fate: they gave up spoons for Doris’s need,
recognized honor in the choosing, and summoned all their strength for the doing,
which had to be accomplished at once, or else never again accomplished.
“Take charge of Herschel, and let me work,” spoke the hero of our narrative, 190
“Only permit him that slice of ham, and don’t let him eat anything else.
I’ll put this estate sale in motion; point me to the things you wish to sell,
and I’ll do my best to let folks know where and how they can buy these marvels.”
Gallus makes images and posts them, puts them online where many can see,
takes twelve minutes to write descriptions, lets the two quilting guilds know the time. 195
Word goes out, by Facebook and Discord, to S.C.A. and other venues,
and Herschel wrangles four slices more, as Doris succumbs to his cuteness,
unable to defend her lunchmeat from Herschel’s adorability.
Silence fell over the little house — a tiny grace of peace and quiet —
for seven full minutes by the clock, a chance to find a cashbox and book, 200
with which to make a running total and track what goods were purchased and sold,
and store the money in proper trays, locked away against prying fingers
far more nimble than Herschel’s cuteness, though less cunning than his con-dog mind.
Angels over Bethlehem’s pastures never appeared with such suddenness,
as quilters and cosplayers arrived at the house that Doris was selling: 205
Wingéd beings of splendor and light, singing without rest Halelujiah,
offering glory to God on high, never hastened with such providence,
to double their fabric-stash’s size, as did those folks in Denver that day,
that hallowed day of the estate sale in broiling heat under the Sun.
DEEDEE arrives with a horse trailer, breaking speeding laws of gods and men — 210
Do laws exist if you don’t believe? Can mortals break the limits of light
in pursuit of estate sale bargains? DeeDee is living confirmation —
and she has another aim in mind, arriving on site with her trailer:
“Why didn’t you call me,” she blurts out, “I could have been helping all this time,
and all of the stuff in my trailer is destined to go to the thrift store — 215
let me set up my stuff on your lawn, we will sell everything together!”
DeeDee has all of seven decades, plus three more years she’s cheated bleak death;
her preferred color is neon pink, her heraldry is Hello Kitty —
all her gear and belongings bear it, the Sanrio Hello Kitty mark,
she wouldn’t be caught dead without it — and her weight is less than seven stone, 220
there are fifth graders that weigh much more; She’s bird-like and yet frilly in pink.
And drag queens in all their finery, long for her skill with fine cosmetics:
her eyes are a wonder to behold, her make-up on point and fleek as hell,
eye-shadow and blush and mascara, eyelashes longer than anyone.
DeeDee speaks faster than Mercury, quicksilver tongue of divinity, 225
at the volume you find in airports, when jet engines leap their planes skyward,
roaring off the tarmac like lightning, burning fuel in dazzling splendor
defying both gods and gravity, with roars like the M. G. M. lion.
This warrior-woman all in pink, swiftly empties out her horse-trailer
onto the lawn of Doris’s house, she whose works are covered in wisdom, 230
maker of fine quilts and artistries, woman moving to California.
Soon she is putting price stickers on, deciding the values of the stuff,
labeling all her discarded goods, and hoping for a windfall of cash.
Herschel has found an interesting bag, a plastic bag of cotton batting,
the sort of stuff that goes in a quilt. He’s eagerly tearing it open! 235
Gallus our narrator is unfazed, they’ve got other problems to tend to,
as fifty-six vehicles arrive, all in this narrow development,
this cul-du-sac of suburban blight, ranches, split-levels and cottages!
Here are five more trucks with horse-trailers — and suddenly Herschel’s excited,
screaming as his friends and relations, as more pure-bred Corgis and owners 240
emerge from vehicles arriving, his friends showing up with their humans!
The next-door neighbor, the vicious cunt, MARCIA the Bitch Most Magnificent,
strides off her porch in earnest saunter, eager to be a petty tyrant,
lording it over the neighborhood, as the wife of a County Sheriff
and president of the H. O. A. she’s been trying to incorporate. 245
“Doris!” she says, with polite poison, vile in her kindly demeanor,
precious with insolence and hauteur, “you should tell all neighbors, days ahead,
and get some kind of permit for this, we try to coordinate these things
so all can benefit together, and don’t get these rowdy outsiders —“
But Doris the quilting artisan, nestled in the comfort of her wolves, 250
DeeDee and all the other quilters whose skill and confidence grows in packs,
ever stronger when all together, merely calls out to her silvered friends,
“This is my neighbor, the one I’ve spoke, Marcia who lives in the house next door.
I’ve been telling you of her for months, you’ve heard every story I could tell!”
And all the silver-haired artisans, combing though Doris’s possessions, 255
stop their search. As one with watchful eyes, turn with guardian gaze to Marcia.
She’s fixed with rapt and attentive stares, kindly polite — and yet vengeful.
And then a sudden confusion breaks, the estate-sale narrative broken,
as now a group of Vikings arrive, those medieval Nordic cosplayers—
men built more like boulders or mountains, bearded and tattooed and full of strength, 260
and the women just as frightening, who rule their men by subtler art,
determination and stubbornness, and spines like steel from far Damascus.
Here our hero breaks off their story, and something of the narrative ends.
Sing, poetic and artful Muses, dancing on lofty Helicon’s height,
harmonizing songs of epic deeds! Tell us more of the Glorious Day, 265
the tag-sale in mountainous Denver, where Doris the subtle artisan,
she whose workings are with wisdom crowned, the mistress of brilliant appliqué,
offered her belongings up for sale on a hot Wednesday in the summer
so she could move in with her family, grand-children in Santa Monica.
Sing also of our narrator friend, Gallus who bullet-points their story, 270
didn’t invoke the Muses’ blessing, but was well-rewarded just the same!
Now they begin again with the tale, grabbing the thread of the narrative,
and shuttling us into the tale like a skillful weaver at her loom.
Now they evoke the tired old trope, the high school party for a few friends
swiftly blossoming into chaos as the phone-tree lights up the whole town, 275
and every teenager for miles converges like a god descending
arrayed in all his golden garments, a tumult and a whirlwind of strength,
an unconfined powerful lightning, on one poor schlub’s house in the suburbs.
Fuck these six fish in particular, suggests the old meme found on Tumblr,
Some nerd’s parents have gone out of town, and planned a big night in the city, 280
and the football team and cheerleaders, the drama club nerds and the tech club,
the Blue Key kids and the music punks, and every kid more horny than smart,
has now arrived at this one poor house, and the cops will arrive any time!
A neighbor will call police quite soon. Like a John Mulvaney monologue,
the teens will take off into the night, and the doughnut-loving policemen 285
will chase them with flashlights and yelling, running out of breath and persistence
long before anyone can be caught — that’s the trope of the high school party.
But then our hero Gallus freshens, and breathes new life, into the cliche!
Instead of teens, it’s weary elders, all bored of retirement and age,
sick of waiting for children to call, and eager for some new excitement. 290
And so they emerge from the woodwork, on a random Wednesday afternoon,
to look through the material goods of Doris who’s moving away soon,
out to California on the coast, Santa Monica her family’s home.
The cops arrive in blue and white cars to break up the crazy gathering,
but instead of deadbeat teenagers, punks who will scatter into the streets, 295
it’s a bunch of retired lawyers, skillful at collecting evidence,
and noting what’s gone down is suspect, that Marcia’s quite overstepped her bounds,
crossed the limits of neighborliness, into some highly illegal shit
that’s bound to get someone in trouble: and the policeman who now arrives
is husband to that same cunt Marcia — the petty tyrant living next door, 300
that most wearisome busy-body, eager to form a homeowners’ guild
in which she’ll be queen, lord and master, watchful and petty and full of bile.
This County Sheriff may not be smart, but he knows that this is illegal —
and while no lawyers were yet involved, there was much he could do to help her.
But she’s been talking to everyone all through the broiling hot afternoon, 305
has been caught on tape and video, making outrageous claims and statements.
Now wonderful things are unfolding, and the County Sheriff is appalled,
because he knows Deep Shit is coming, shit so deep it’s deeper than whale-shit,
down at the bottom of Great Ocean, where toothy monsters dwell in darkness.
How did we get here, where whale shit goes? What has transpired in our absence? 310
Speak, gentle Muses, tell us plainly: Give Gallus words to back up a bit,
and tell us what happened in their break, when Marcia the Karen intruded,
just as the Norsemen arrived in cars, Viking men and their scarier women?
Marcia was whining about coordination of neighborhood functions,
complaining to everyone who’d hear about this great impropriety, 315
the strange cars blocking the cul-du-sac, and the stranger people loitering,
putting people’s houses at hazard when everyone was at work, not home.
DeeDee the woman who arrived first with her heavily laden trailer,
is ready to start some fisticuffs, an alpha female of Silver Wolves,
those famous textile artisans, Doris’s many friendly quilters. 320
Yet she’s not the most dangerous foe, though she just wears Hello Kitty pink,
and paints her face like a drag-queen would, if they had the magic of Venus.
No, the honor of mightiness, terrifying and most glorious,
belongs to the centenarian, who celebrated ninety-nine years
by getting strapped in a hang-glider and riding the winds over Denver. 325
No one really knows how hard she goes, a frightening and graceful monster
clothed in flesh of an elder lady, hardly a thing to be frightened of —
and yet the most dangerous gamester, DOCTOR RUTH of placid demeanor.
Hobbling with the help of a cane, she seeks out Marcia Cunt Magnifique
and asks, point-blank, the subtle question, “you’re trying to start an H. O. A.?” 330
Marcia, oh Marcia, O Marcia dear — you have misunderstood the danger!
This is no offer of sympathy! This question is worthy of Sphinxes!
This a question to ruin men, to break angels on Procrustes’s bed!
This is an invite to the Squid Game where everyone either tries or dies!
You can still save yourself, poor lady — shut the fuck up! It costs not a dime! 335
Don’t fuck around and you won’t find out just how nasty the old lady plays!
But no… the foolish bitch thinks it’s fine — at last! A sympathetic hearing!
Marcia enumerates tribulations, the hard trials of organizing,
convincing neighbors to go along and defer to her authority
and that of her husband the Sheriff — can’t these people just sign the papers?? 340
Wouldn’t it be better to give in, accept that she’s trying to help them,
and the neighborhood would be better if she were in charge of everyone?
She even had to pressure people into relinquishing John Hancocks
by convincing her sheriff husband to go door to door with the papers
while in uniform, as a tactic to get all the signatures she needs. 345
Doctor Ruth gently offers to help, some people just don’t see clear reason,
maybe my son the skillful lawyer would be able to find a clear path
through this dark thicket of paperwork, and to find the proper way forward?
Marcia forgets who she’s chatting to, and who these people have come to see,
not herself but her neighbor Doris, who’s holding an estate sale today. 350
“That would be quite wonderful! My thanks! Would you call in your son, the lawyer?
I’m sure he can resolve these messes, and make the situation work out —
Do you suppose he could come today?” Marcia invites her own date with Fate,
calls the Moirai, the weirdling sisters, right to the cul-du-sac where she stands,
there to render judgments, weave her thread into the doom prepared for mortals 355
who ascend to heights of importance — without considering how some fall.
Doctor Ruth agrees to make the call, and hobbles back to her friend Doris,
and assures her, “David will manage all that falls out from this point forward.”
In the meantime the rumors have spread far and wide, in specialist circles,
that something rare and most marvelous is happening in Denver’s outskirts, 360
out in the suburbs where sidewalks end: the estate sale of an artisan.
Crafty people speak, in hushed, soft tones, of the acronym known as SABLE,
Or, Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy — goods of legend
often comes forth from such estate sales: wonders like long-armed sewing machines,
hand-made quilts of heritage beauty, and years-old quality furniture, 365
sharp-edged tools in perfect condition, all manner of elegant notions —
zippers and buttons and gilded braid, rick-rack and ribbon and woven bands,
embroidery hoops, baskets of beads, finished quilt-top blocks of flying geese,
Dresden plates and fans all fussy-cut, alphabet squares for infant blankets,
all manner of substantial treasures — Once in a lifetime, maybe twice more, 370
does such an artisan’s hoard empty, all their treasures disbursed to others,
family and friends and new-made family, each new generation honoring
what has been passed down like tradition, honored and accepted as an oath,
a promise to make something lovely, something worthy of the memory
of the one who passed it on to you, the one who found it and rescued it 375
from some old back room bargain outlet, late capitalism’s treasure-vault —
the seedlings of future landfill waste unless some artisan espy it
and save it for some future project — So came the vast horde of artisans,
eager to rifle Doris’s loot, accumulation of a lifetime,
a vast collection gladly passed on (provided proper coin exchanged hands) 380
to anyone worthy of the name artist, cosplayer or artisan
willing to make room in their own stash for the treasures from Doris’s hand.
And most of all to thank the Artist, the one who’s giving away their stuff!
So often these belongings appear from orphanages when their Maker,
the one who collected this plenty, loosens fleshy ties to Mother Earth, 385
and goes to Elysium’s workshops, where gentle Vulcan, lord of forges,
master of all mortal crafts and arts, lightly supervises the worthy:
encouraging their artisanship; with cheerful license gives skill to dream
vaster than the imagination to fashion masterworks of splendor.
But! Doris is yet among the quick, has not even become mostly-dead, 390
still eats and drinks as all mortals do, has not passed to Workshops Beyond —
and everyone wants to shake her hand, thank her for this marvelous event,
recognize and name her artistry, and say how much they admire her!
Furthermore, all sorts of powers come, specialty groups from all over town,
some overlapping, some closed up tight, each with particular desires. 395
Each hungers for some festive event where each can mingle with the others.
Some of the factions don’t get along — they each covet what the other wants —
but all are peaceful enough for now, each held from argument ‘til later,
Everyone honors the market-peace which settles on Doris’s front lawn.
However, the fuller accounting of all the groups amassed on that lawn 400
is itself a heroic effort, a worthy task for any poet
who gamely attempts to imitate Homer, the father of epic verse,
his Iliad and Odyssey first, or Beowulf’s anonymous bard!
Six were the Quilt Guilds in attendance, each numbering a dozen ladies,
blue haired, boasting of forty-six cats, who have weaponized fussy-cut work: 405
that bane of every seamstress alive, with all of their star-points properly placed!
Next in line was the Denver Art League, for professional artists only,
or at the least anyone willing to pay an annual membership.
Some of those crazy quilting ladies, friends of Doris every one of them,
also belonged to the Denver League, which swelled their numbers most mightily. 410
Next the Leather League of Denver — or Denver Leather League? — Let’s get informed!
It’s best not to get such names confused when speaking of groups who have Leather
somewhere in the name of their union: Some find that really embarrassing
to meet one group when it’s the other that has the stuff they’ve been looking for:
it’s high time to plant your feet and ask; it’s best to get explicit consent 420
before making any assumptions. We have already met the Vikings,
the Nordic cosplayers far from fjords, deep in the Coloradan wilds,
nearly as far from any Ocean as from the steppes of the Kyvivan Rus. [“Kee-van Roose”]
Loosely aligned with the S. C. A., they come in search of linen and wool,
the fabrics authentic to their gear — but wouldn’t ignore a quilted print 425
suited for summer adventuring, on some sort of suitable cotton.
Now come Klingons, doughty warriors playing out a sci-fi fantasy:
the strong and honor-bound aliens known from of old in the Star Trek show,
where Captains Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard crossed both their wits and their phaser beams
with this formidable enemy, the Klingon Empire ruling worlds — 430
striking from deep space in birds of prey, ships cloaked in silence and mystery.
And — just because it’s Colorado — also arrives the Game Share people
who like trading grouse and venison, fur and leather and antler and bone,
the rewards of wild-crafted hunts in the lonely places of the state.
These overlap with Klingons and Norse because some people are just like that,
and go far beyond mere cosplaying into the work of real survivors: 435
the handling of bow and axe and knife in wilderness conditions and risks.
They’re bringing out meat-shares and fur pelts, brain-tanned deerskins of high quality,
suited for drums or garment-leather, any such fancy accessories!
Now also come the Illustrators, who make accurate illustrations
of scientific accuracy and perfect perspective at true scale — 440
who know how to draw a peony with all its leaves and petals intact,
or how to show in two dimensions the three-dimensional skulls of wolves.
But you just can’t get Illustrators all by themselves: Scientists come too,
and though by precise data-sets there are few professional angels here,
toiling in labs all over town, they’re still here at Doris’s tag-sale. 445
And then there’s two groups of Lesbians, arrived in sensible working boots
and well-worn button-down flannel shirts, and jeans that are dusty from labor
or rubber boots for mucking out stalls, or cowboy gear for riding horses.
And each of them’s a professional, skilled either with horses or with sheep;
they all have no-nonsense attitudes, and haircuts well-suited to their roles, 450
and no one at all dares mess with them — not even the dumbest of Norsemen,
deep in his cups and haloed by mead, would think he had a sliver of chance
to go on a date with these butches: they might redirect his misplaced gaze,
but only after seizing his jaw firmly in hand as though to break it,
and making clear their fierce displeasure with his misguided lover’s ardor. 455
For all that, they were kindly women, talented, skillful and competent,
lovers of jokes as most people are, and happy to be out and about,
loving this impromptu festival with weirdos of the kind they enjoy!
And then there were the COMPETENT FINNS — hell sink me but they were competent!
The Scientific Illustration professor from the local college, and all of her competent sisters…. 460
Did I not mention their competence? Did I forget to name their talents,
why they should be considered separate from all the other Illustrators
and the Scientists who hung with them? Are there any Incompetent Finns?
If so, they have never come so far as Denver in the Rocky Mountains;
none of that kind has ever been seen; their very existence is doubtful. 465
The Finns take charge of the estate sale, and convert this haphazard affair
into something more like an auction where records are kept and taxes paid,
the authorities properly pleased, and Doris’s profits maximized.
And also here come the three Corgis — had you forgotten Herschel the dog,
who loves the taste of morning cat-shit, who secretly sneaks from his kennel, 470
unlatching his cage from the inside to rummage in the cat-litter box?
“CAP” and “BUCKY” are smaller Corgis, hailing from the Pembroke breed from Wales,
definitely lighter than two stone, who look up to Herschel as to God.
Herschel’s what’s known as a Cardigan, double their size and just a smidge more,
heftier and taller (for Corgis), and the little Marvels follow him 475
wherever he goes and sticks his nose, and Herschel accepts their devotion.
In movement, they look like the Hell Hound, father of all of Pluto’s breeding,
beloved of Queen Persephone, guarding the gates of the underworld:
three-headed Cerberus the toothsome, watchdog of Hades’s garth and gate —
Wherever Herschel sticks his big snout, Cap and Bucky put their noses too, 480
an adorable little monster, having free run of the festival,
three heads poking into every hole, eager to chase every aroma
back to the sources of the odor — hoping for some delicious reward!
And there are definitely stenches —the Wild Share people have set up,
they’re trading pelts and meat-shares from vans, lifting fresh sausages from car trunks, 485
and some clever, enterprising guy has set up a grill to cook bratwurst!
All the neighbors are getting intrigued, emerge from their houses on the street —
wary of Marcia and her tirades, but just as eager for Market Day
as all these other wild people who’ve shown up to Doris’s tag sale.
Despite advanced age and nervousness, anxiety over their neighbor 490
Marcia the wife of the County Reeve, who’s been harassing them all for weeks,
they’re eager for a little pleasure, some small excitement come to their street.
Before too long, they’re telling their woes to the various factions present —
a great many of whom have day jobs, where they don’t manage sheep or horses,
or pretend to be Klingons or Norse, or go hunting up in the mountains, 495
or sew quilts or leather wallets, or intimate things for the bedroom.
No — some of these people are lawyers, who find Doris’s neighbors’ stories
of Marcia the Magnificent Bitch, the outspoken H. O. A. tyrant,
who’s married to a County Sheriff… it’s rather intriguing and funny,
but not that thing, called “Funny, ha-hah!,” but “funny, weird,” and worth a Close Look. 500
Now five of these white-shoe Great White Sharks, familiar with Colorado laws
who went to the bar and then passed it, and argue in court before judges,
are clearly smelling blood in this street, the kind that can earn lots of money
for someone or other who’s willing and able to jump in with both feet.
Rare the lawyer who bills in hours, heavy with debt accrued in law school, 505
who can’t see such opportunity when it comes gift-wrapped like a present,
and dropped in their laps at a tag-sale, a marvel amid many marvels,
a thing of horrendous illegal conduct by an officer of law.
Someone, ’tis certain, will pay and pay, and pay once more for ages to come.
And … Doctor Ruth’s son hasn’t arrived, although he’s already been summoned. 510
And also… ? Dear Gallus realizes the Realtor® is also not yet here,
who made the appointment with Doris for a house showing today at noon,
who set all the day’s enterprises in motion like Rube Goldberg machines,
by asking Doris to show her house, while she navigated the traffic.
Gallus reaches for their phone and texts, sends the message out on the Aether, 515
where it bobbles like a paper boat in the cloudless ocean of hot air
that oppresses Denver from above, a blanket of one hundred degrees,
stifling desire for action, and hindering movement without sweat —
and of course there’s also Altitude, the secret killer of visitors
who oft forget that they’re a mile up, but go hiking at sea-level speeds. 520
The Realtor®’s phone grabs the tiny boat, the message is plucked from the Aether,
and soon she responds she’s in the crowd, but having a slight nervous breakdown —
it’s unprofessional to be late, especially not to be THIS late,
and Where O Where Can Gallus Have Gone, O Where, O Where Can Her Client be?
Our plucky narrator waves this off, with a gesture of a fresh-grilled brat, 525
that is to say, a fresh-cooked bratwurst, delectable savory sausage.
And there’s also new entertainment — Marcia forgetting Fifth Amendment,
lovingly self-incriminating her own person on Doris’s lawn!
The Corgis play at engineering, jumping around on a Playskool slide,
gradually demolishing the set like a bomb-squad at Navarone’s guns, 530
and various people milling ‘round, waiting for their preferred auction lots
to make it to the block for bidding — There’s no schedule of events here,
just grab a bratwurst and watch the show that’s popped like a mushroom after rain
on this ordinary cul-du-sac where Denver’s sidewalks all peter out.
Here comes a Klingon with a new friend, the Realtor® of Gallus delivered 535
from out of the crowd by burly arms, and hands that now hand her a Bratwurst.
Enter DIANE, the Realtor® mentioned, back in early lines of this poem,
line sixty-one for precision’s sake, back when it was only eight o’clock.
Has she been running late all this time? Surely she would have caught up by now,
had she only allowed herself time between all her clients and showings. 540
Back then, we thought, the Realtor® was old, a woman at least in her eighties,
but now we discern she’s not so old, barely older than the narrator,
glorious Gallus who told the tale to all of Tumblr just two weeks back:
September the seventh it appears, in the year two-thousand-twenty-one.
Realtor® Diane is somewhat preppy, didn’t know that people could have dogs 545
or that other people made blankets, or that bratwursts were Even A Thing.
This is a Learning Experience — so many doors are being opened
and it’s exciting to see her join Today’s Ten Thousand in many things,
the opened-eye castle of wonder: X. K. C. D.’s thousand-fifty-three.
A Horse Lesbian now approaches, compliments Diane’s Dior handbag, 550
strikes up a gentle conversation, and Diane stutters out a “thank you,”
and graciously returns the notice, honoring the Horse Lesbian’s scarf,
a cloud of silk from expensive name, a thing rarely seen at a tag-sale.
With some hesitation and caution, Diane puts forth her burning question,
that tugs brain and heart: “Where have all these people come from, for secret exchange? 555
Do you know them and why are they here? What on God’s green earth is going on?”
The Horse Lesbian’s all too willing — yes, of course she’s in the S. C. A.,
this band of people living the Dream, pretending to be knights in armor,
and medieval ladies in kirtles, and artists worth crowning with Laurels.
Her girlfriend is Armorer TASHA, and yes she makes gauntlets and pauldrons, 560
vambraces, gorgets and cuirasses — and yes, you should say the entendre,
the pun was intended, damn your eyes — Don’t cover up what’s going on here
as the Livestock Lesbians gather to strip their sleeves and show off their scars
like men who fought on Crispian’s Day, on Agincourt Field over in France.
There’s tattoos, battle-scars and biceps — Diane is clearly learning A LOT — 565
’tis sort-of slow-motion seduction of a pathetic but effective
demon in the Devil’s employment, a Realtor® of Hell’s own first circle.
Diane is used to being on fleek, being the one who Closes The Deal,
Makes the Purchase and Sell Agreement — but now there are biceps and booty,
and horsey women who know fashion, and lesbians who care about wool, 570
and she’s far beyond her comfort zone — but also Making Discoveries
deep in the unknown regions of Soul where what she wants is more than a job,
but a life lived more deliciously, a living more lived than commuted.
Gallus springs into action anew, to gather up everyone’s contacts,
leaving Diane to her joyful Fate, and makes the attempt to keep Herschel 575
from eating his own weight in bratwurst — a great combination with cat-shit
when you’re a dog of revolting tastes, which every Corgi is sure to be.
B-WOOP! goes the horn of a siren, an official Sheriff’s vehicle,
making its way through the crowded street, filled with people shopping for bargains.
And Gallus sees that the County Reeve, husband of Marcia Cunt Magnifique 580
has — finally — arrived on the scene. He intended to pull in his drive,
but the crowd thinks he’s there to control the traffic surge as it ebbs and flows
around the estate sale of Doris, artist whose works with wisdom are crowned,
so she can move to California to be with the family that loves her.
Gallus steps out to watch him approach, a copper of big voice and bluster; 585
He tries to condemn the blocked traffic, with huffing and puffing like a wolf
that tries to blow down a pig’s cottage — but this house is made of fired brick:
a grandma just smiles and ignores the sheriff who tries getting nasty,
And there’s way too many grandmas here, not the sort of people you bully
even when you think you can do it, because there will be Consequences — 590
Even if permits aren’t in place, even if they are blocking traffic,
There are old hands from Sixties Protests, and Lesbians with Fancy Handbags,
and trucks and trailers that mean Money, and probably Real Estate Owners…
is that a lawyer from the courthouse? Didn’t she rake me over the coals
about that traffic stop I fucked up, and let the criminals get away? 595
The sheriff is now turning bright red, and Gallus decides to get their phone,
starts recording whatever goes down —this is likely to go off the rails,
and the sheriff is out of his depth, far deeper than most of his kind go,
where the predators have other strengths than just a loud voice, a gun, and badge.
Into the cul-du-sac turns a car, not just any car but a black one, 600
and not a typical black sedan, but, gleaming and clean, a Mercedes,
the tri-point logo shining silver, an ornament of chrome perfection.
The German engine just barely purrs, a black leopard stalking its victim
(and yes, that’s another type of car, but metaphors are hard to come by
in late capitalism’s hell-scape of intellectual property.) 605
Our story nears its end — give me leave, to welcome in, near the end, at last,
DAVID, the lawyer, Doctor Ruth’s son, and not just any lawyer, dear friends,
but The Lawyer, emphasis on THE, no ambulance chaser this fellow,
no business hack writing boilerplate, no public defender scraping by
on a janitor or teacher’s pay in an office starved of resources. 610
No — David is on the State’s payroll, the one they send to prosecute fraud:
Fraud with a capital F, you see, cucks who use their investor funding
to fill up their personal accounts while their whole Company goes bankrupt —
Fraud where those organized criminals racketeer their way through businesses
and mine the local economy as though it were a secret gold-mine, 615
starving town and state of revenue, and skimming tax-money for themselves;
Fraud like when appointed officials, or even elected aldermen,
decide to raid government coffers, and cook the accounting to hide crimes —
that’s the sort of lawyer that David, son of Doctor Ruth, is known to be.
Nor is he limited to cases that have this outline and silhouette: 620
he’s also brought down the K. K. K., at least its Colorado branches,
using RICO and similar laws, the statutes against racketeering.
David might be tall — for a hobbit — and he wears a nebbish’s glasses,
and he’s a little balding lawyer with half a halo of hair in back —
Open the dictionary to “nerd” and there’s his high-school portrait staring. 625
Yet he moves with intense confidence; he doesn’t quite wear authority
the way others put on uniforms — He just simply IS authority,
with trumpets royal sounding on his path: the Pillar Men Theme blasting, perhaps,
Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man swelling around his little figure.
He’s got three other lawyers with him: like a Tribune of Plebs with escort, 630
a Magistrate with Sixteen Lictors: And his car has state government plates.
County Sheriff turns from red to white, an octopus seeking camouflage —
this was a man who thought uniforms entitled him to do anything,
get his way in any circumstance — and now he sees what real strength looks like,
the way that power is exercised and managed from within velvet gloves. 635
Is that the faint odor of odure? Herschel and friends prick up their noses:
Is that the scent of human feces, the delicacies rarely gotten,
far more salacious than cat-shit, flushed down the toilet with prejudice,
never tasted except by proxy when slurping up water from toilets??
What Wondrous Love is This, O My Soul, sing the Corgis at the Sheriff’s ass, 640
hardly daring to hope at the gift that may be about to drop for them!
What his wife has done to their neighbors, circulating all sorts of papers,
and sending him around to bully and hassle and berate these elders,
is absolutely quite illegal — fucking illegal to be precise,
absolutely beyond their purview, and far beyond his sheriff’s duties, 645
practically, morally villainous, very-very-fucking-illegal —
and the One. Man. who could do something, in the whole state of Colorado,
is standing right here in his driveway, with a growing cloud of witnesses
who also appear to have lawyers… and those attorneys have notebooks out,
and copies of all the petitions, and citations he himself issued, 650
as part of his petty tyranny, in aid of his own dictator-spouse,
“MAR-C-IA!”shouting three syllables, he calls out with wild abandon,
“Shut the fuck up! Stop talking Right Now!” He’s waving his hat and he’s screaming.
But Marcia’s been at it for hours; it’s a hundred degrees in the shade,
and she’s told anyone who’d listen of her trials and tribulations. 655
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, and she emerged from her house at noon
to protest all the great commotion that Doris’s estate-sale had caused.
And now those five lawyers have clients, copies of paperwork and tickets,
and also David’s undivided and completely open attention.
The lawyers are pointing to doorbells equipped with the latest in cameras, 660
and the just-mentioned cloud of elders, not a single one an easy mark,
who’ve been harassed by a County Reeve, an officer of law enforcement,
whose accusations David then takes and turns into state prosecution.
Oh! What tangled webs of corruption have been unveiled at Doris’s sale!
All of the Lesbians and Vikings, all of the quilters and seamstresses 665
have been in the Devil’s Cul-du-Sac, the Suburban Demon’s very home!
And Gallus can do nothing but laugh, laugh at the Devil’s own misfortune.
Muses, I pray you, sing once again: sing of the Glorious Afternoon
and the estate sale on some small street where Doris had tried to sell her stuff
but her efforts nearly came to naught until Gallus our hero stepped in! 670
Tell us of the final accounting, the success of the Competent Finns,
whether Diane got Educated in the ways of Livestock Lesbians,
whether David obtained damages from the office of the County Reeve,
and whether Marcia the petty cunt, and her husband the County Sheriff
were really busted for malfeasance, and corruption of their offices? 675
What, also, of Herschel and minions —did each of them eat their weight in brats,
and were they stuffed with all sorts of snacks from the Colorado Game Share folks?
What happened to all of the Klingons? And what of the Vikings in their braids?
Tell us also, dear dancing Muses, secure on the heights of Helicon
and one with Apollo in music performed for Gallus the narrator? 680
No more can be told, dear friends, for now, except that the Finns are Competent —
Now forty thousand dollars richer, Doris has pending sales with others
of some furniture too big to move, and some antiques in mint condition.
And David is clearly on the case. This sort of evil is just his jam:
he has all the witnesses he needs, and every bit of paper for court. 685
Herschel passed out at once coming home, stomach distended by his eating,
He’ll recover eventually, but for now he’s sleeping off his binge.
Diane might have found a Lesbian, of what sort of Livestock we’re not sure…
but whether Horse or Sheep, a Realtor® could be a most valuable ally,
a balm in bed to a sheep-shearer or an equestrian paramour. 690
There’s a plan that they’ll meet up next week… and now that the Realtor®’s eyes are wide,
all sorts of things are now possible that couldn’t have been realistic
even just a few hours before. So we wrap up the little side-quests
and Gallus our perky narrator didn’t get to bid on the machine
that they really wanted for sewing — but someone stuffed their purse with money. 695
(maybe it was Doris giving thanks), and maybe there’s enough to buy one,
a brand-new model from factory, never used but by Gallus alone…
For right now? All the spoons are dirty, and not just merely filthy but spent.
The field with their fucks is now barren, and nothing will grow in this wasteland:
There’s time and love enough for ice dream. Then it will be the hour of bed. 700
It’s unusual for a poem in the 21st century, to need a preface or an afterword. This one does, if only because it began as someone else’s Tumblr post. A Tumblr.com user named @Gallusrostromegalus originally recorded these adventures in a bullet-point format somewhere in a suburb of Denver. I’ve been to Denver maybe twice in my life, and I don’t know this person at all — someone reblogged the story, and I added a comment of my own to the effect that it really needed to be an epic poem of some length and seriousness.
Someone else basically dared me to do it, and commented that dactylic hexameter is more witchy and magical than iambic pentameter. As a fond writer of sonnets, I have to disagree that iambic pentameter isn’t witchy at all — but it must be admitted that hexameter (18 syllables in a line, arranged in six sets of rhythm that should sound something like “basketball, nincompoop, disgusting, attention, detention, emoji”) — has a witchiness all its own.
I’ve written other heroic poems in this meter — my Orien sequence, alternately started and abandoned, is written in this rhythm, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. When I’ve read poetry aloud in this meter to audiences, you can watch them gradually becoming entranced, falling into the poem like they’re under a spell. When the poem ends, you can watch them sort of shake themselves free as though they’ve been in otherworldly places, and it takes them a moment to decide whether to applaud or be annoyed that you’ve wasted so much of their time. It’s definitely more lively and energetic in Greek — even not knowing the language of Homer, there’s something exciting about the sound of a few dozen lines of the Iliad being read aloud in the original language; English doesn’t have that same kind of cadence or tone to it that Greek does, and I wonder if the result is that, instead of making the audience excited, it tends to send them into something like a trance state. Or Sleep.
There is precedent for such poetry in English, though. Alexander Pope in 1712 published anonymously a poem of his, called The Rape of the Lock. It’s considered one of the first examples of the “high burlesque” style, in which the tools of epic poetry, like epithets for the characters and locations, and the strongly rhythmic character of either rhyming couplets or hexameter, is used to explore themes of heroes and villains in somewhat more ridiculous circumstances than sieges of Troy or dangerous ocean voyages past monsters and gods and cyclopses — parlors and tea houses and taverns are more the kinds of places that you’d expect to find stories and poems of the high burlesque, than military encampments beside the black ships on the beach.
As for the story itself, I must issue a disclaimer. Gallus, the character in the poem, and the third-person narrator of the poem, and Gallus the Tumblr user are several different people, and I’m not at all sure they know one another. They certainly have different perspectives of some things. Additionally, the weaving interplay of several stories may have no basis in fact — I don’t know anything about the events in this story, I wasn’t there, and I turned a story by someone else into a poem in a high-falutin’ style because it seemed to need or want to be that thing. Elizabeth Gilbert has written, and spoken in her TED Talk, about the gift and curse of creativity — the value of having a Muse, an outside spirit, that helps you breathe life into the creative act, without entirely having responsibility for the quality of the thing when it emerges. This also means that all of the characters in this poem are entirely fictional, and any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
A few notes on the text. It’s an unfortunate truth of our time that bards are not respected nearly as much as they ought to be. Homer was widely regarded in the classical era of ancient Greece as a nearly-divine hero or demigod who had produced, single-handedly, a pair of masterworks of subtle brilliance. Today, poets mostly hang out in coffee houses before an open mike night, and then get up and say something like, so, this was a poem I wrote this afternoon, on a bus, on my way home from jail, on the back of a napkin… I hope you like it, and could spare me a couple of bucks and a couch to sleep on?
I am sure Homer did the 9th century BC equivalent of this in his own lifetime. So, in order for you to have the proper experience of this as a masterwork of heroic literature from an earlier time, I hope you’ll think of me, the writer, as some long-dead and celebrated bardic genius rather than a living contemporary who’s looking to produce something that attracts notice on social media, some likes, and maybe some cash. This is a product of deep attention to the zeitgeist of eternity, not a shameless plug for likes.
We also know that Homer, despite his alleged genius, probably also stole shamelessly from earlier poets and poems. The ethnographer Parry Lord in the 1910s and 1920s was working in the Balkans when he made a startling discovery — that the traveling musicians and tale-tellers of that era and place used a mixture of improvised material composed on the spot, and set-pieces that had been memorized in advance. Many characters had fixed epithets that filled out particular chunks of the metrical and rhyme scheme used in Balkan epic compositions. Thus it was relatively easily for a professional storyteller to shift back and forth from set-pieces to improvised material that was still made up of pre-designed material that fit the meter. I have tried to include something of this style in the poem: you’ll notice that Doris has a theme of works crowned with wisdom, and Gallus is sometimes the friendly narrator and sometimes the teller of bullet-pointed tales, and … well, you’ll meet the Realtor® soon enough.
This piece would not exist without a specific Tumblr user. Some person unknown to me in or around Denver, @Gallusrostromegalus, is clearly the source of the content of the poem — they claim to have been there, to have rendered bullet-point by bullet-point a truth and faithful recollection of the events of the day. However, a person of David’s description could not be found working at the office of the Attorney General of Colorado at this time, and no biography of such a person could be found on their website. It’s possible the entire event was fictional — as fictional as the Trojan War, for example, or the adventures of Odysseus in the Odyssey.
In the original post, @Gallusrostromegalus originally wrote-and-posted, and then edited-and-saved their narrative five times. These five times are echoed in the five narrative breaks, headed by Roman numerals, which should be designated as Cantos. In obedience to meter, I have put eighteen syllables into each line, and — because this winds up creating a very DENSE experience of text on the page — I’ve broken these units into eighteen-line stanzas (because 18×18 is a very satisfying 324). Some lines simply fell out of this process, and didn’t fit, though.
These various guardrails imposed by warring editorial factions have also added the critical apparatus of text line numbers as a guide to future scholars (Ha! As if!). It appears that the poet anticipated the deep study that this poem might provoke, and left some little presents for those who choose to make the study — at least according to one school of mock-scholarly investigation. Other schools of thought believe the poet to be a mad crank living in Massachusetts, who has no business butting in on someone else’s story.
Mostly this was fun to write. I found the time to write it on the 25th and 26th of September 2022, edited it on the 27th, and hit Publish on November 22 after running it by a couple of friends for edits.