The Old Woman And The Pig

Posting this story here at the request of my son, who has never seen it written quite the way I tell it. See note at the end.   

There was once an old woman who was sweeping her house and she found a silver coin. She took the coin with her to the market and bought a pig. When driving the pig home as she went across a field they came upon a stile. And the piggy wouldn’t go over the stile. Not wanting to get home too late the old woman considered what to do. Well, she went a little farther and she met a dog. And she said, “Dog, dog, bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

 But the dog wouldn’t.

So she went a little farther and she met a stick. And she said, “Stick, stick, beat dog. Dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the stick wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met a fire. And she said, “Fire, fire, burn stick; stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.”

But the fire wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met some water. And she said, “Water, water, quench fire. Fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.”

 But the water wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met an ox. And she said, “Ox, ox, drink water. Water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the ox wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met a butcher. And she said, “Butcher, butcher, kill ox. Ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the butcher wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met a rope. And she said, “Rope, rope, hang butcher. Butcher won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the rope wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met a rat. And she said, “Rat, rat, gnaw rope. Rope won’t hang butcher, butcher won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight,

 long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the rat wouldn’t. 

So she went a little farther and she met a cat. And she said, Cat, cat, kill rat. Rat won’t gnaw rope, rope won’t hang butcher, butcher won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the cat said, “Do you see that cow in the field yonder? If you will go to that cow and fetch me a saucer of milk, I will do what you ask.” 

So the old woman went to the cow and said, “dear cow, may I have just a saucer of milk, to bring to the cat? For if not, cat won’t gnaw rope, rope won’t hang butcher, butcher won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig. Piggy won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home tonight. 

See by the moonlight, 

long past midnight, 

time pig and I were home in bed 

an hour and a half ago.” 

But the cow said, “do you see that haystack just over yonder? If you will take the pitchfork and fetch me a forkful of hay, I will do as you ask.” 

So the old woman took the pitchfork and went to the haystack, and asked no questions but fetched up a forkful of hay and brought it back to the cow. The cow munched up the hay, taking her time, and then allowed the woman a saucer full of milk. The woman took the saucer to the cat, who lapped up the milk, 

And then 

The cat began to kill the rat,

The rat began to gnaw the rope,

The rope began to hang the butcher,

The butcher began to kill the ox, 

the ox began to drink the water, 

The water began to quench the fire, 

The fire began to burn the stick, 

The stick began to beat the dog, 

The dog began to bite the pig,

The little piggy in a fright jumped over the stile, 

And the old woman got home that night. 

This story is how I learned it from two sources. One was a book that was in our house, part of a series called My Book House, which contained a good collection of delightful tales. The other source was my mother, who taught me the old woman’s rhyme as she had learned it from her grandmother. So that part of the tale brings back by genuine oral tradition a form of the story from some time in the 19th century, as Im sure Mom told me her grandmother had also learned it in her own childhood. 

Another Place, Another Time, Another face, Another Rhyme

I left my space
for Another place
sought to embrace
friends face to face
who share the grace
of the human race.

Another time
through skies I climb
To foreign clime
Still in my prime.
Another face
To take the place
with silk and lace
Without disgrace
Will make the case

Though short the time
It is no crime
To wax sublime
With another rhyme.
 

 

Never goodbye

It’s been a while since I wrote anything. This is for my friend Allan Orkins Jr., who took his flight September 12, 2015.

For you, my friend, I have to write this song.
You’ve left me, and I can not come along.
I’ve still got work to do, but as you know,
one day my book will close, I too will go.

We laughed and fought and cried a little too,
when we were young, the whole world was in view.
We knew a lot more then than we do now;
or thought we did, but we still learned, somehow.

You made your music, and I made mine,
in separate paths we toiled, did just fine,
you built your life while I built mine.
But someone gave us guidance all the time.

A little while ago, our stories crossed.
Once more we found that some things can’t be lost.
Your music will live on. I’ll try to sing
In my own way of what the truth can bring.

It’s your turn now to rest with saints of yore,
make music like you never could before,
and take your seat at that great banquet table.
I’ll get there too, my friend, when I am able.

Until then, you have carried to the skies
A piece of me; that should be no surprise.
And part of you will stick around awhile
as thoughts of you will bring again a smile
To those who loved you, for love never dies.

Stumbling into a new year…

It’s a new day, a new year, leave the old behind…

Put your burden down and get heaven on your mind.

“Peace on earth” the angels sang, and Herod murdered many

The two year olds thus joined the choir. He said, “Despise not any

Of these little ones.”  There’s much work left to  do

To do God’s will on earth, so it looks like Heaven too.

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”  Let it begin with me;

Every day this whole next year…. Lord, set the children free.

To begin again

Quiet the mind, let the soul retract,
Don’t quit the show before the final act.
There is some help and comfort in the fact
That nothing dies without a seed intact.

No fire or ice can from that seed extract
The life concealed, in fashion so compact
That waits the day, the right time so exact
When life springs forth, fulfilling God’s contract.

The loss we mourn all winter long
Conceals the seed of summer’s song.

Pray like this….

Dear Source of all our being, whom we know but have not seen,
Living in the vastness of the Universe beyond our reach,
Every attempt to name or describe you
falls short of who you are;
Yet we seek to name you all the same,
to bring your amazing way of ordering the Universe near to us.
In fact, we want what you want to become
the order of the day on our poor planet,
just as it is among the stars and beyond,
in the vastness that belongs to you.
For this, we know we need what you have shown you can provide:
food necessary for our life,
the things that sustain us in the here and now,
here and now, over and over again.
Too often we take more than we need, even from one another,
and do harm where you want to do good; we know we do this.
Release us, please, from the power and consequence
of these harmful actions of ours,
just as we release those who harm us
from the power and consequence of their harmful actions.
And while you are releasing us,
protect us from ourselves;
don’t lead us into places
where we are more likely to do harm or be harmed.
We know you can do all this,
because everything belongs to you:
every ability, in every place, is yours,
and everything you have made should recognize and celebrate you,
you whose name is beyond all names, forever.
Amen.

Advent

Prophets foretold, and angels sang, and Mary embraced the truth:
There is no saving of a soul without the saving of the world.

Good news of great joy for all people
Cannot be confined to a church with a steeple.

The Word must be made flesh.
Where is your Body now?
Until the mountains and hills break forth,
my song remains a prayer.

Waiting

Waiting

It is what we do with much of our lives.
Don’t you think we should put some attention into doing it well?

Waiting for reports, waiting for results, waiting for news to arrive
Waiting for the baby, waiting for the school bus,
waiting to learn if a friend will survive
Waiting again for the phone to ring, for the buzzer to chime,
for it to be time

Waiting I say, for life to begin
Or to end, it is all the same….
If we know how to wait, not resigned to our fate, we can win while we wait, enjoying the game.

Life’s a journey my friend, to an uncertain end, and it’s not all wrapped up on the last page.
We can worry and fret, while we wait, but I bet if we do, we’ll be empty in old age.
So I’ll think while I wait, not resigned to my fate, always open to see what surprises
Might be waiting for me, it’s exciting you see; and my worries are only surmises.

Yes, we often must wait, but if we can create, we can more wisely fill in the time,
Giving all things their due, but enjoying the view, making rhythm and then making rhyme.

Late Renewal

It’s late, they said,
Time to go to bed
Oh, just go ahead
and get ready to be dead.

Here comes some energy
some sense of being free
Some sense of being me
Once blind, but now I see.

Today I seem to tend
Or lean toward a trend
Of adding friend to friend
In life that does not end.

I’m finding new release
New instances of peace
New hope that will increase
In a dance that does not cease.

The ones I’ve left behind
Now fill my heart and mind
As each new day I find
That even death is kind.

In this eternal now,
Not lost in why or how,
In worship do I bow,
In love repeat the vow.

For Ned

Dear Ned,

It’s Monday morning as I write this. Less than a week ago, I talked with you. You were so full of plans, ideas, energy. The future was emerging. You seemed content, happy with the direction of your life. Not yet satisfied with yourself, that you would never be; always looking for how to grow, how to improve, to do better. It so happened that I contacted you that day, not for any particular reason but because both of our lives had been busy for a while, and we had been out of contact, and as you know I would never want to lose touch in any significant way. We talked about your travel plans, and how we might meet, for the second time only on the ground, some time in the next few months.

I think that was last Tuesday. On Wednesday you had a medical emergency, and on Friday, you died. I got that news late Friday evening.

A gift, a precious flower
Blossoms for a day, a year, an hour.
The beauty that the flower reveals
Is what Eternity conceals.

Once in a fortunate lifetime, the soul on pilgrimage
Finds a companion for the way.
Such were you, for me; though I knew you just a day.

My grief is not for you; you knew the joy
That centers on the Love that moves the world.
I mourn a future lost; in which your light
Would shine, as all your gifts would be unfurled
Like a proud flag, for all the world to see;
Alas, those gifts, now fragments left to me
Must wait for other hands to set them free.

And yet, although your absence gives me pain,
I feel your presence still; this is my gain.

Busy?

I’m busy, I said; too much to do:
I have no time to spend with you.
Your need is great, I do not doubt
The basics you must live without.

But I am on the way, you see,
To meet with experts just like me,
Who’ll sit,  confer, and then discuss
 How folks like you need folks like us.

Late at night

I sat down to write, too late one night, while all the household slept.
Something not right, for sleep took flight, the cobwebs were unswept
Within my brain, now numb from pain, no wise thoughts or profound
Inspire my mind; instead I find I cannot make a sound.

Still I must say, at end of day,
I have not yet quite lost my way.

I like my life; I like my wife; my children, home, and friends.
I seem to be respected, free; except so much depends
On being true to what I do; responding to the needs
That constantly appear to me; that sprout, like hardy weeds,
In every soil of work and toil, in sunshine or in rain,
I get the call in spring and fall, and winter is the same.

I’m tired now; I think I’ll rest. The weary sleep is still the best.
I’ll wake tomorrow feeling blessed; another day, another test.

Overheard

I looked inside myself and saw a lot that wasn’t there.

Visual Poetry

Iris Spring

Roadside Blossom

Just testing the “image” post format on WordPress.  You like my flower?

I wonder why such loveliness can fade within an hour.

A Close Friend Far Away

I have a friend a world away, a friend I’ve known for just one day,
(If friends are counted, face to face, who share a single time and space.)
But counted in the depth of heart, this friend was mine before the start,
Before the race of life began, this friend and I were hand in hand.
We knew each other, so it seems, in realms of visions and of dreams,
And so one day, as if by chance, this friend and I began to dance.

We danced with words in cyberspace, our hearts expanding, learning grace;
We danced with thoughts of God and life; we danced through turmoil and through strife;
As earth revolved around the sun, we found our dance had just begun,
Until one day, we then were brought to see the friendship we had caught
For a few hours, in line of sight, we danced and talked into the night.
Then danced away, released our hands, as life took us to different lands.

But this we know: we’ll meet again, and dance once more, as friend to friend,
Though far away this friend might be, there’s none I can more clearly see
Within my heart, where time and space
Give way to friendship’s lasting grace.