When I heard poet and sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter perform this poetic monologue a few weeks ago, I knew it was the perfect thing to share on Black Friday.
I met Jay, a fellow Maryland poet, at the DiVerse Poetry readings series in Gaithersburg, MD this spring. (Those of you who go to that city’s book festival, be sure to say hi to Lucinda Marshall, host of the Diverse Poetry series and its lively community of readers.) After hearing him read, I had to invite Jay to perform at the local series I co-host, Wilde Readings.
By Jay Hall Carpenter
What if I had a diff’rent job,
An occupation more attuned
To skills that best befit a snob
And are, in practice, less jejune?
Perhaps I could, a critic be–
No Broadway show could match my taste.
I could appraise fine jewelry
And at a glance know gem from paste.
But English, that’s the highest calling,
To speak precisely, without doubt.
And what on Earth is more appalling
Than when one calls a route a rout?
We lend to friends, we never loan,
And such transgressions bare my talons.
For we must all, our grammar hone.
It is less milk, but fewer gallons.
We champ the bit, we do not chomp,
A swind’ler is a sharp, not shark.
Abhor inconsequential pomp
And make each sentence hit its mark!
It’s Farther when we go the distance,
Further when we’ve things to add.
The full effect of my assistance
Is an affect far from bad.
We flounder, as we gasp for breath,
But founder when we sink below.
Poor usage is akin to death
As even lesser men should know.
Yet here I’m stuck and must be stalwart,
Although I’m built for better thing.
So in my name-tagged vest at Walmart
I’ll greet them in the tongue of kings!
Shared with the author’s permission.
Jay Hall Carpenter has been a professional artist for over 40 years, beginning as a sculptor for the Washington National Cathedral, and winning numerous national awards for his work. His first poetry collection, Dark and Light (2012), was followed by 101 Limericks Inappropriate For All Occasions (2107), and will be followed next year by a third, as yet untitled, collection. He has written poetry, plays, and children’s books throughout his career and now sculpts and writes in Silver Spring, MD.
Check out Jay’s wonderful gallery of sculptures here.
I was lucky enough to see Jay’s statue of Frederick Douglass in person during the Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival (Eaton, MD). This year marks Douglass’ 200th birthday.