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The Ballad of Marcel Duchamp & the Gopher: There is Love

July 28, 2008

In the middle of the night
you don’t want to think
you’re on auto-pilot
pee, brush teeth

go to the kitchen
get some water.
The kitchen floor is warm under my
bare feet near the stove. I turn on the light.

There’s Marcel Duchamp the big gray cat–maybe
he’s been lying here where
it’s warm–and there’s
a giant rodent. A giant

rodent–a gopher or a squirrel
I don’t know I am
just amazed just amazed I didn’t step
on it. The toothbrush stays

in my mouth I don’t scream
I look at Marcel. He is
Proud. He is Happy. I
decide to wake my husband

to ask him to help with the
removal of the dead said rodent.
He is not happy. He wants to
remove the cat. He puts on his

smiley face bathrobe and goes upstairs.
The rodent is on a kitchen
rug for easy removal. He screams.
It’s not dead yet

he yells down the stairs. Don’t
come up here. I decide
not to. He gets a shovel
bangs it on the head

a few times and tries to move it.
It’s still alive. he bangs it
again and carts it to the trash
washes his hands, takes off

his smiley face bathrobe and climbs
into bed.
My husband writes a 315 of
his own, an oral freewrite

about gophers, sex and 3:15am
a statement of gratitude that the kitchen
light works–no more matchbooks to adjust.
He says, the gopher grills

And there is love


This “Ballad of Marcel Duchamp & the Gopher” is in response to the readwritepoem prompt; if more ballads don’t float your boat, take a ride on the poetry train!

I wrote this poem as part of the 3:15 Experiment which starts up again in a few days. The last two lines in the poem refer to my first 315 poem, “waiting” which was published in ARTLIFE Limited Editions. The 3:15 Experiment is where a bunch of poets around the world wake up at 3:15am local time during the month of August to write, then at the end of the month, post the raw, unedited stuff on the 3:15 experiment website. I admit, I did edit this poem to give it the traditional ballad 4 line stanza shape…I will be posting another ballad, the ballad of my belly, which I wrote at 3:15am in 4 line stanzas plus 1 one line stanza…which I didn’t do consciously or edited it that way at 315am or even notice until after the experiment

Join the 3:15 Experiment this year–register your participation at the 3:15 Experiment website today! And let me know too by telling me in a comment that you’re on-board! I may even figure out a way to do a button (Tod?)

Search this site for other 3:15 Experiment poems (or follow the links to come)–watch for more past 3:15 poems to encourage you to partcipate to be posted in the next few days!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2008 12:28 am

    I love the narrative in this, it has that murder in the night that a good ballad should have.

  2. July 29, 2008 3:18 am

    Narratove poetry with momentum and rhythm, very cool.

  3. July 29, 2008 5:16 am

    thanks, nathan and paul!

    when I saw the ballad prompt on readwritepoem i thought, hmmn, i don’t do rhymes, don’t do ballads, and even toyed with a few ideas (lame, lame lame ideas–my rhymes are too simplistic), and then i thought of this poem with the murder in the night and all and went for it!

  4. July 29, 2008 5:52 am

    I was there for every step in and out of the dark. I was even there for the shovel thumping. Excellent poetic storytelling. Perfect details.

    The Autograph Tree

  5. July 29, 2008 8:19 am

    you must have a strong stomach to stay for that part, Quilly! glad you could “handle” it!

  6. July 29, 2008 4:29 pm

    A great ballad to sing around the campfire or open mike night. Bravo.

  7. July 29, 2008 8:55 pm

    Sounds like a great experiment, however, rather you than me. Although I must say your poems are pretty coherant for that time of the night (morning).

  8. July 30, 2008 2:29 am

    Great stuff! I am seriously considering trying out this 3:15 experiment, though I am more likely to come up with twaddle than anything mildly poetic.

  9. July 30, 2008 4:03 am

    you never know, brad! at least you’re writing, trying! you’d be amazed at what you come up when the editor is sleeping!

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