Percy and Me ‘neath the Yum Gum Tree (read it now)

Percy and Me ‘neath the Yum Gum Tree

A double sestina with erratic stanza breaks


Elaine Stirling

Part, the First


A fortnight past I ran into the wilderness

as far as I could flee from gnashing mob

whose litany of plaints that once bewildered

me, I could no longer bear within my hearing.

Too long it was since I had spun delirious

from strains of pure and vital song;

my spirit and my body ached for veritas.

No realist of woe am I. The razored wire

of Now when rubbed against the grain

will bleed and bleed us, but for what? Ease

I sought, no more the microscopic lens

but zoom—with room. Something bit my arm.


Ow! I spun, prepared to launch an arm

of oaths against the loper in my wilderness

and spied small movements in the grain

of foxtails and wild barley. Adjust your lens,

said one and then a titter. Who was I hearing?

What know ye, spoke he again, of veritas,

contriver? Ten millions strong your mob

of expectations. Oops, beware the wire—


Too late, my ankle caught and I, bewildered,

spun upside down to hang and swing with ease

of room to spare, a snare, beneath a tree. My song,

a howl, set boughs a-bouncing; delirious,

I flailed and spat. A face zoomed in. Delirious?

I think not, he said and firmly gripped my arm.


To be hanging ‘neath a yum gum merits song

of raging splutter, though I’d say more hearing

would yet sooner bring the soul of Veritas

you seek to this enstrangled wilderness.


I seek no soul, insisted I. Escaping gummy mob,

said he, we heard. We? I asked, bewildered.

Tall pale man of darkly curls with subtle ease

he looked around whilst from the waving grain

peeped out the teeny forms of—what? I had no lens

of perceptivity, much less while snared upon this wire…


He ran a thoughtful finger up the length of silver wire.

I’ve no cutting tool, alas, but fret ye not. Delirious

to’ve caught you, the doxies have alerted Veritas,

and if she heeds, your cursed plight may birth a song

the likes of which no mortal or immortal hearing

has enjoyed since William the Conqueror lay arm

and knightly shield to rest. And so be thus at ease.

My squirming made the yum gum creak. You, this mob?


Hundreds of humunculi surrounded me, bewildered

as I was of them; I reasoned that my upturned lens

demanded quietude; this buzzing curring wilderness,

its finitude, elongated past my normal mental grain.

Who was this handsome man, in whom some grain

of known, beloved, made bearable the wire?

Did I teach you once, I asked, some lyric song

to write or novel? Upon a stump with ease

he sat and mused, amidst the twittering of wilderness.

Mayhap, for oft, in many ways, we’ve faced the mob

and struggled to restore and lift the veritas

to zones of ordinary, mortal hearing.


Shelley is my name, though call me Perce. Bewildered,

I glanced upon the tiny teeth marks on my arm

and wondered if doxy spit by some delirious

content had reframed my lunatic poetic lens.

A solar microscope, I prized, said he, of lens

superb, that brought to vivid life the grain

of cheese mites’ armoury. For feeble song

they sold it at my death, a watery ease

that descended quick upon my hearing;

thence I understood at once and loved the mob.



Part, the Second


Doxology, the wee folks’ evening praise of Veritas,

lulled me into sleep so that the fitful wilderness

seemed not so wild, although my bitten arm

and leg both throbbed. Woman hanging on a wire,

bizarre arcana, wearing faded cutoffs, delirious

thoughts suggesting that I might be wildered,

not tamed by this event and though bewildered

would be freed from gross distorting lens

that blurs the space twixt me and veritas

to walk upon an odd but fabulous high wire.


I wakened to a gentle touch upon my arm

Soon the dawn will rise upon this wilderness,

said Percy, lanky poet, and the doxy mob

will stir to feed and put you at your ease.

My blood-rushed head, no doubt delirious,

smelled bacon, heard a robin’s song

and then appeared a bowl of oaten grain

soft-cooked in Shelley’s hand. Hearing

is belief, said he, while feeding me. Hearing

is the sense that tranquils the bewildered.


While upside down with care I swallowed grain

light-sweetened, from a distance came a song

of rare celestial mien, a canticle delirious

with notes of soaring and uncomplicated ease;

then from slanting rays of twilit wilderness

in company of piping doxies there came Veritas.

With what manner of expression shall I arm

my sight of her? No sad and mortal lens

can take her in, no ethernet nor astral wire

electrify her white-bright truth. A weary mob

inside my head rejoiced; the teensy mob

without, more stately, gave her hearing.


Sweet morning to the Light of Truth, delirious

the doxies danced the night-chilled wilderness

to life renewed while I, yet timid and bewildered,

snared and sore upon my hanging wire

wept rivulets of tears into my hair. Ms. Veritas,

I did not mean to su-su-summon you. Take ease,

she smiled. Your search, it is the cause and grain

of me, you are the truth and glimmer of my lens.



Part, the Third


Percy, kindly hold and take her bruiséd arm

that I may cut her from this yum gum tree. A song,

she said, has waited long for you, a noble song

to soften and refresh what gutter-wailing mob

and efforts have exhausted. Every grain

of pain I recreate to gain, no more bewildered.


Dazed, within the gentle lap of Shelley, the wire

coiled harmless at my feet, I watched the wilderness

take on a glow, made so, no doubt, by graceful Veritas,

embodier of Truth, my agitations so long delirious

now calm, I breathed sweet sprucéd Nature at her ease.

And now, said she, I shall restore your sight and hearing.


Doxies, fan with foxtails, please, across her smoky lens

of disappointment. That bite you feel upon your arm

is vaccinate, ‘twill work as strong defense to arm

you ‘gainst the suppurating, suffocating song

of limitation, that unnatural and deafening miswire

that electrocutes and gums the mortal hearing.


Cooling in the wee folks’ breeze, I asked, bewildered,

who are these doxies? Truth replied: once delirious,

they are your true awarenesses, your inner grain

so long deprived of language, now coming to your ease;

welcomed and restored, they are the joyful mob

delighting in each moment of eternal wilderness

and wonder; they are your innate clarity of lens,

expanding space and time and act, the veritas.


We were, when I could stand, equal in height, Veritas

and me. Percy stood the taller and did not let go my arm,

while the doxies taught me lyrics to a revolution song.

A few awarenesses still gazed at me bewildered,

and my brain could not yet fathom this new grain;

but the vision that was rising in the field of my new lens

caused a heart skip and a soul laugh so delirious

that I felt it might be possible whole cities to re-wire

on the strength of joy alone, and all that I was hearing

in the chorus of the subatomic, ever-swirling mob

assured me with supernal, ever-multiplying ease

that we are true Nature’s children of the wilderness.





Walking arm in arm with Shelley brings such ease.

He’s a mad live wire who powers and defines the grain

of human veritas; and while at times my sense of hearing

may fall short, bewildered by not knowing, his poetic song

still rises, and the mob who plays unfettered in the wilderness

sets brush fires with his lens for fun. We are all delirious!


© Elaine Stirling, 2012

Tree image © Kalenik Hanna

I hope you enjoyed Elaine’s poem. If you did, you might want to try her poem about the end of the Mayan calendar coming on 2012, entitled: The Mexican Saga: a poetic journey through the 20-count. Click here for more information.

7 Responses to Percy and Me ‘neath the Yum Gum Tree (read it now)

  1. Russel says:

    What a delight to have this cross my path when time on line and time for poetry is scarce. Scant too the moments for now I have to comment so will defer that ’till another day but to say for now that this is wonderful; I have copied it to my hard drive and assure you of future return of my attention. Well done! Well done indeed! Congratulations and it is wonderful this is so freely available.

    • timctaylor says:

      Thanks for taking the time to let us know you enjoyed Elaine’s poem. I’m sure she’ll be delighted to read those words. Most of all, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Thank you, Indeed, Russel, for your kind comments. I’m still getting the hang of RSS feeds and such–an occupational hazard of spending too much time in alternative thirteenth century realities.

  3. D. Russel Micnhimer says:

    At last I’ve had the time to be able to focus my attention on your words Elaine. What an ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE you have wrought here! This is your voice as a story teller at its absolute finest and refinedest. This is the rhythm and timbre of a spectrum of your vocabulary that wells from your pen like a symphony, blending instruments, each of whose voices are drawing from echoes of voices that have blended into a single voice with which in this poem you sing. This is a seamless blend of vocabularic economy, not only evident by the lack of syllables that serve solely as padding, but by your exercise of poetic license to invent the occasional word when necessary. This is a twining of historical, whimsical, science and esoteric allusions that constructs, through the use of the double sestina form, a chord uniquely knotted to keep the reader following its length until the envoi neatly ties and tucks all the diverse strands into a single knot that leaves us swinging along with the poet beneath the branches of the Yum Gum tree. This is the inventive brilliance of a poet who has taken the time to learn a complex poetical form and then fearlessly adapted it to suit the precise needs of her vision, polishing it like a lens through which the depth and breadth of her humor and education can shine through and create a real jewel of unprecedented order where their light focuses. And no matter which way, or in what light that jewel is examined, the edges of the carefully crafted facets turn ordinary combinations of words into clever turns of phrase that sparkle with the mixture of archaic and avant guard vocabulary into sprites that twinkle through our akashic imaginations leaving a trail of joy behind. I joy in the delight as I read it, the same delight I hope that you felt as these fine verses flowed from that deep sea of Veritas from which your quill drew ink.

    • Elaine Stirling says:

      Russel, words will never convey the gratitude I feel, not only for your comments here, but for the patience you’ve shown this budding, often blundering writer as she attempts to meld story with poetic form. I am indebted too to Tim Taylor, publisher of Greyhart Press, for giving this virtual space to a nearly lost art. This is a fine, fine world we’re living in, and thank you both for being part of it!

  4. Pingback: Silent reader, we know what you’re going through! « Oceantics

  5. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you’re using?

    I’m having some small security problems with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more safeguarded.
    Do you have any solutions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s