This week’s #writephoto prompt is
which led to this
How Herman Suet Rose To The Depths
Back in the mists of time, before universal healthcare, bidets and novelty condoms, Ode was a land of leisure. Nestled between the Grecian and Etruscan Empires, it was viewed from the outside rather like a piece of grit is viewed by your foot and your shoe, an irritation to both. However, Ode’s self image was robust enough, and its cunning diplomacy sufficiently advanced to ensure it maintained its independence.
If the Greeks started agitating for Ode’s annexation, the Bards would send a delegation to Etrusca with a Paean that was the perfect mix of flattery and scaremongery with just a dash of snarky bitchery that would have the be-muscled if congenitally moronic Etruscan Elite loin-girding long before the final verse was declaimed. War on an Epic if unnecessary scale against Greece would be threatened, cunning and deceitful missives, all drafted by the resident Bardadors – like ambassadors but with neater beards and an ability to negotiate in iambic pentameter – would be dispatched and mass destruction would be averted with promises of cultural interfaces, open colosseum nights and two for one personalised rhyming couplets.
Life in Ode was, necessarily, lived on a knife edge. In many societies an ability to fight or grow food elevated you to a position of respect and leadership. In Ode those who showed a level of skill at turning a choice phrase or plucking an unlikely metaphor from three vowels and a couple of moody consonants placed the individual on a pedestal. Herman Suet was one such. He coupleted through Verse school, emerging with three straight Quinelles, secured a double Sonnet at university, in Petrarchan and Shakespearean (even though no one knew who he was then) spent one summer working in the local Stanza shop as a meter reader, coming up with a successful new promotion of Scribe One Declaim One Free, or SODOF as it was branded before joining the rest of Ode’s elite youngsters at the Composoritorium
The Composoritorium was the equivalent of a civil service and to reach the top a young Compost, as the junior ranks were known, had to go through several stages, the last of which was to perform his or hers best work in front of the Board of Laureates. Each Compost took their turn and the one who received the most profound silence was awarded the Silver Tongue. After each Compost had finished, he or she dropped their work into the massive centrepiece, the Urn of Utterances.
Herman Suet expected to win. It was destined. But like all top poets he knew he couldn’t copy what had gone before. He needed his point of difference.
So it was, as he entered the gated arena he regarded the serious if expectant faces. He marched forward, past the Performance Plinth, up the Declaratory Steps and next to the Urn.
The assembled Laureates adjusted their togas, and waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, Herman hitched up his robe and sat on the Urn. He raised his arms and spake thus
Each Blank tanks,
The Villanelle is criminelle
Any Epic’s septic
The Pantoum is doomed
And here his expression migrated from the pained to the beatific if distracted form of the relieved man. That change was accompanied by a distinct plop.
Without another word he left the stage.
The silence was deep, profound and stunned. He had won by literally crapping on his rivals.
Scholars have long analysed this momentous event which remains clouded in mystery though one thing is clear. This was the beginning of performance poetry.