Author

Jongleur

 

In verse and in song, in prose soaring and long,
His grandfather told stories in village and town.
In swales and plains and mountains he roamed
Led by the sun where the weather fit his clothes.

Traveling south in the winter, north when hot,
West to east, east to west was as good as not.
Stopping to sing, to tell a story for a pence,
To lift a draught, to give a laugh, to court a wench.

His voice was pure and amber and sweet.

At every stop, townsfolk gathered round to hear him sing,
And listen to stories of presidents and kings,
Knights in armor and ladies with braids,
Cracked mirrors and iguanas and damsels afraid.

Now he, the grandson, hitches rides in trucks and cars
Carrying a knapsack, bottled water and two guitars.
Cities and suburbs and townships he covers
Led by visions of stardom and being discovered.

He croons in clubs and casinos and small town bars.
Stories he tells are of missed chances and second-rate stars.
In cities, he plays on the streets for nightly rent
For dimes and quarters that are quickly spent.

Few stop to listen, many more stride past
Talking on cell phones or just walking fast.
One day in a cold and foggy city
He found his way to a great library.

There, in the children’s section he began to sing
And tell stories of presidents and kings,
Knights in armor and ladies with braids,
Cracked mirrors and iguanas and damsels afraid.

And children began to gather, and wiggle, and listen.
Their mothers and fathers found them in rapt attention.
For his songs told stories, and his tales were deep
With romance and history, with delicious mystery.

And his voice was pure and amber and sweet.

J. S. Anderson

 

I’m pleased to say Jongleur was published in the 2013 edition of The Salal Review, the annual literary magazine of Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington.   It is produced entirely by its students, capably advised by Heidi Bauer of its Department of Language and Literature.   Submissions are invited each year from anyone with a biographic connection to the lower Columbia River region.

One of several influences for this piece is the music of the late Dory Previn, singer and songwriter whose albums Mythical Kings and Iguanas and Reflections in a Mud Puddle (both released in 1971) still stir in my soul.  You can see her on Facebook.

Another is Ken Follet, whose Pillars of the Earth–one of the most enjoyable reads you will find–featured just such an itenerant musician and storyteller.

 

 

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