Grotesque and Greedy at Day Fifteen NaPoWriMo, 15.4.2018


The Goblin, the Grocer and the Student


Let us begin with the grocer’s wife; talkative

and very long of tongue. A student

who makes a marvellous find

when it is a page of a poetry book,

and not newspaper, wrapping his purchase

of candles and cheese. (About which Health

and Safety I would suggest, agitate some dis-ease.)


Here comes the student who says the grocer

is a practical man but that he knows no more about

poetry than the nearby tub. Porridge and pats

of butter bring in the grotesque goblin, who lives in

the smallest corner of the household and whose

blood pressure is raised  and who then acts

mischievously on behalf of the tub, though

both student and grocer saw the remark as a joke.

You can lose a tongue when a point must be made

and so the goblin; borrows, we are told, the wife’s

long tongue for the tub. The tongue is passed around

from the coffee mill to the cash box and back to the

tub whose opinion is that poetry comes at the bottom

of the page in newspapers. And because of the student’s

perceived insult the goblin is about to lay into him but

is made a convert when he monitors the student

and his poetry, so that he comes to love it well. When

a fire breaks out everyone rushes to save their most

precious treasure but  the goblin heads up to the garret,

where naturally, the student lives, and in order to save

the book of poems he does very well by wrapping

the precious book in his red hat.


RED ALERT because a red hat on a goblin spells danger

and blood so that the tongue is not returned to the wife.

A tongue that says poetry is neither, news, truth or even

legendary therefore such a tongue should end up

in the river in more pieces than two, the goblin now says.

(That verdict has yet to be proved – Health and Safety never

punctilious in Fairy Tales.) But we are not about to end

this poetic fable with the unpoetic grocer’s wife. We go

back to the goblin who decides he must now serve

two masters; the grocer and the student. He remains

grotesque and mischievous and outright greedy

when it comes to poetry and still enjoys his porridge

and pats of butter at Christmas time.


Benita Kape © 15.4.2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 image

 And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighbourhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).