Dormez-Vous

Oh, you want to hear a story
Dealing with Doom and with Death
Of sounds echoing in the Dark
To steal away your mortal breath

Then come close and hear a tale
Of times brittle and dusty
I’ll try to recall all the words
Tho’ my skills be old and rusty

The day had died like daytimes do
As the Sun had fled from the sky
Stars care not for human folly
Distaining to ever answer to why

The old barn door creaked open
Though no one seemed to be there
As out clopped the mighty Big Red
A wrecked horse of greying rust-colored hair

His cracked tether had been chewed through
As smoke poured out of the open barn windows
Followed by a crackling explosion of smoke and fire
That sent out sparks arching in great billows

The spiders all ran for their lives
And the rats soon followed suit
The barn would be a total loss
Fulfilling wretched Doom’s pursuit

The Smith’s lot has been awful
Losses mounted by the score
You want to hear the whole tale
Listen closely now to hear more

Here meet the farm family Smith
John, Senior and Jeanne Marguerite
Three kinder had eventually come to them
All softly brilliant, healthy, and sweet

John Junior came in time for the planting
Grew hale and keen on the agriculture
Later on came tall Jake a true horseman
Eyes sharp and clear as the hunting vulture

Then a surprise child came for Jeanne Marguerite
A few years before Jake went off to the Big War
Renee soon became everyone’s favorite
Tho’ like Jake a life that’d be a bit noir

Mamere Smith came up from New Orleans
With a Creole temper and dark eyes to match
Keen was she for her kids to learn French
Only with Renee did this dream ever catch

Renee would parlez like a Parisian
And could sing Frère Jacques since she was two
She’d climb into Jake’s lap and warble on
Jake’d bust out laughing and ’bout turn blue

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous…

But Jake’s eyes would soon hood over
As stints at the Big War took their toll
Screams and bad dreams came on a-plenty
Draining the poor man’s soul

The last time his cavalry had made the charge
His mount took the best of the blast
And shell shock sent our poor Jake home
With unseen wounds that would ever last

Renee would not ever understand
How ‘forners’ could be so mean
Jake was just the sweetest brother
So tall, so sweet, and so lean

So Renee would take Jake to go for a riding
Big Red pulling the hansom at a walking pace
She’s then sing Frère Jacques so quite out loud
Just a shadow of a smile crossing Jake’s face

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous…

One sorry dark April spring evening
As the mighty snow thaw had late come to pass
A wall of teeming water came running down the creek
As John and Jeanne Marguerite rode back from Mass

Deciding to cross over through the Covered Bridge
John and Jeanne Marguerite never saw the raging water
That took about everything in its angry path
Making orphans of their two sons and daughter

John Junior then took over at the farm
Neighbors helped as best they could
But prosperous has been the Smith Farm
They did as well as you knew they would

A few years later came that terrible season
When everywhere was the Spanish flu
Taking every one in four it’d laid low
Including our poor Jake too

Renee was beyond inconsolable
Tears rained on her best calico blue
All she could do was mumble some words
Frère Jacques, dormez-vous…

Finally the doctor said that an asylum
Would be best for mad little Renee
But John Junior tarried for over a month
Before he could send his sister away

But she would not eat nor even sleep
Just sing all day and all night too
Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous…

Into the horse-drawn cab Renee left the farm
But escaped before reaching those ivied walls
They only found her buckled-brass shoes
With a bit of blood at the foot of Dedman Falls

John looked and looked and looked some more
But the years passed and mostly the tears dried
As he never could find his sister Renee
In time John had found heart and took a bride

But on some clear nights beyond the copse
John swore he could hear some notes true
Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous…

FIRE!

Slap went the screen, John leapt the porch
Running straight for the burning barn
Pulling out animals, tools, and some old livery
Even saving a box of his wife’s new yarn

Back on the porch out had stepped Sally
Holding their new baby, Jake 2
He was a-crying and he was a-squalling
Just like those newborn babies can do

Of course the barn would be a total loss
But the Smiths were of a sturdier kind
He swung his son high and then took Sally’s hand
Saying a better family you will never find

John’s bride Sally screamed and pointed to the copse
As up walked a woman wearing singed blue calico
She was holding Big Red’s tether and seemed to be singing
An old French nursery song we all probably know

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

Happy Halloween, Mon Ami

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About Kitt

Sometimes a rhyme or couplet wanders across my consciousness. So, I share it. Other times I'm a hospice social worker; others, a Dad; others, southerner, New Orleanian, cajun enthusiast, voter, and on better days, a not-too-awful-poet/rhymster. Welcome to my page. Enjoy.

Posted on October 3, 2012, in Poem. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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