Orphan poems (7)

I’ve broken Rule One (might be Fifty-Four) with this poem, viz., never have an epigraph which is longer than the actual poem. But I like the extract so much, I think I might well argue that the poem ought to develop it further. I was quite surprised when I came across this one, because I genuinely like it. Cheap laughs, probably? I don’t know. I can see there’s a steal from a Doris Day song at one point (among my many peccadilloes is a fondness for DD, although, as with Brigitte Bardot, she is too much of an animal lover for me to really push my luck …).

The Lily Langtry Effect

It is said that she is so sweet that when you look at her you feel caterpillars crawling up the small of your back, your heart begins to jump like a box car, and a streak of lightning goes down one trouser’s leg and up the other, and escapes up the back of your neck, causing the hair to raise and be filled with electricity enough to light a circus tent, and that when looking at her your hands clutch nervously as though you wanted to grasp something to hold you up, a sense of faintness comes over you, your eyes roll heavenward, your head falls helpless on your breast, your left side becomes numb, your liver quits working, your breath comes hot and heavy, your lips turn livid and tremble, your teeth chew on imaginary taffy, and you look around imploringly for somebody to take her away.
                    –
George W. Peck – Peck’s Compendium of Fun, 1886

I would not give you up
for all the tedium in China.

One look, and my heart
pulls a muscle.

I love you like an angel
under anaesthetic.

The south seas sound
in your bombshell.

You are the first scene
of the riot act.

I follow you
round the roof of my mouth.

When I see you, my
legs turn to jealousy.

Before my horse
you put my cartwheel.

You make my
clockwork.

Even my goose-
bumps are bumptious.

You make my teeth
chirrup like crickets.

I think of you, fizzling
like sarsparilla.

And you’ve broken every
trombone in my body.

______________________________________________

You can hear the poem here:

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