A silence greeted this ungodly
As though whatever words one spoke would fail
To resonate in
depths so dark and cold
As those that drowned the tale the sheriff
Until the chef, whose turn was next, spoke out,
"Now there's your truth and play, no doubt,
For art arranges happenings
To make us see again the world we know.
I have an epiphany
To grace the tale I will shortly tell --"
the bartender broke in.
"We've had enough of brutal tales and
Epiphanies. Now leave that stuff alone,
Or all these lovely
people will go home.
Give us something lively, light, and fun,
I'm afraid our tale telling's done."
"All right," the chef agreed.
"I'll do my best.
But you have put my powers to the test.
I have no
tale in mind ... Ah, yes! Here goes!
But how I'll ever finish it, God
Copyright by Nicholas Gordon
There was an assistant manager
Would once have been intended for a clerk.
we make the ego king
And so inflate the worth of
Assistant manager's the lowest rung,
But sounds much
better on the ignorant tongue
Than clerk or secretary or
Words that we no longer wish to hear.
Hard work and real
achievement get the same
Recognition, title, status, name
mediocrity, or often worse.
Now this young man was to his boss a
He hated work and often loved to play
Computer games to while
the time away,
Or chat online with strangers, friends,
When his boss came 'round, he would endeavor
To look as
though he had no time to spare,
So overworked he was, and full of
Yet at five o'clock, right on the dot,
He was gone,
overworked or not,
To happy hour at a nearby bar
Or home to find
friends for his avatar,
A cartoon he called Perkin Reveler
Chaucer's uncouth character.
This Perkin chatted gaily with
Avatars he met in closed chat rooms,
Where they had sex
(in words -- they had no flesh),
Two avatars in virtual
The person -- Stanley -- had a friend named Steve,
wife was somewhere out there, he believed,
Since Steve once said he
caught her in the act
Of having sex in words, if not in
She promised him that she would stop if he
her in reality,
But Stanley knew quite well her avatar
better sex online by far.
There was no way, of course, that he
What lay behind each avatar, and so
He fantasized right
through the fantasy
That it was Steve's wife in reality,
all those layers --
At this the chef broke off, and to us
"I am afraid my inspiration's dead."
"Oh, go on!" the baker
urged. "You've made
Us anxious to hear more. The plot you've
With Steven's wife is quite intriguing, and
Your character is
quite the modern man."
"Have a drink!" the sheriff said. "And
You'll get your inspiration back again."
"I'm sorry. You don't
understand. He's dead,"
The chef insisted. "Chaucer. Chaucer's
"Chaucer wrote this tale of avatars,
rooms, happy hours at bars?"
The lawyer asked, as though it could not
"Not exactly," said the chef. "But he
Set out the bones. The
flesh, it's true, is mine.
This isn't a translation, line for
But let us say an adaptation that
Rides through our own brief
time on Chaucer's back.
"But somehow I was drawn to tell a
That Chaucer left unfinished, doomed to fail.
Well, there it
is. I've tried to do my best.
Now I'll sit back and listen to the