Not easy to tell a story using rhyme and rhythm

Published 8:33 am Saturday, February 26, 2011

by Clarence Foster

I published a book in 2000, the result of a seven-year effort at what I call poems.

I was approaching 50 and in need of some affirmation.

I overpaid a small-time publisher for the printing. A few are pretty good, although most are not. Nevertheless, it is a badge of courage and pride.

I should warn you that telling a story in a formal style of rhyme and rhythm is not easy. My 111 pages of verses were reached at approximately 30 minutes a word. Relentlessness — or is it craziness — is a virtue.

Of the selections here, “Lullaby” may have emerged from as many as 44 hours, and “Class” may have taken as many as 12 hours. In actual practice, the reverse might be true.


The Hands began at seven,

a seer presiding as medium.

Entranced below the heavens

in reveries borne of tedium.

That fog of early morning,

the forest light all shimmery,

the fields a dew adorning;

spellbound by the memory.

A passing shower flinched,

the sizzling droplets beaded.

The mason jar quenched;

back and forth, we weeded.

Rows, and rose in séance

summoning favorite themes,

while reality in abeyance

a matinee of dreams.

An intermission pause,

arousing one another

to greet with warm applause:

the row to six and supper.


Do thanks and sorry diminish you:

a nod, a mumble, shuffled shoe?

I felt small,

but recall

I said a few, in sum I grew.


Saying grace, having grace:

a sameness underlay

as honor, virtue interface

In humble grace to pray.

Saying grace at the start

a custom driven rite,

stilted words soon a part

of the obedient neophyte.

For in time it takes hold

words become weighty,

amazing grace a custom goal,

To wit: the Sunday laity.


To casualties on-the-dole:

beware the creeping mold;

a weathered ran,

then forward deign

‘fore damp invade the soul.


A woeful time really

Up to e’en Philly.

If’n I am,

Mightn’t Uncle Sam

‘tweren’t Uncle Billy.

CLARENCE FOSTER is a resident of Southampton County, and 1963 graduate of Hayden High School.