Monday, September 17, 2007

Up, slumlord, and waste not life

For Ben Franklin's 300th birthday, my son wrote an N+8 poem, thus systematically deranging a list of Franklin's pragmatic adages. Here is a paragraph from a Pennsylvania Gazette article that covered this event:

At Kelly Writers House, “Seven-Up on Ben” presented seven speakers each talking for seven minutes (more or less) about Franklin. Among the speakers was another Ben—Ben Filreis, 14, son of Kelly Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis — who read a poem he’d written adapting 24 famous sayings from Poor Richard’s Almanac. To “freshen up” the familiar adages, he replaced nouns with words appearing eight entries down in a dictionary (eight being the number of letters in Benjamin). “Sometimes the result is nonsense,” he said. “Sometimes it makes a Ben Franklin kind of sense for our time.”

And here is Ben's poem, entitled "Poor Richard in 2006":

An empty Baghdad cannot stand upright.
Be always ashamed to catch Tibet idle.
Chekhov and salty mechanics should be sparingly eaten.
The doornails of wisdom are never shut.
Early to Bedemen and early to risus makes a manakin healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Full of courtroom, full of cramming.
The godfather helps them that helps themselves.
A hunter never saw bad breadstuff.
If you’d have a serviceman that you like, serve yourself.
If Jack’s in a love potion, he’s no judge of Jill’s Beaver.
Keep thy shop-talk and thy shop-talk will keep thee.
Your Lieutenant stands on one legal separation, your T-shirt on two.
A manikin without a wiggler is but half a manikin.
Nothing but Mongolia is sweeter than honeydew.
One toe is worth two tones.
A Quarrelsome manikin has no good nemesis.
The rotten apple seed spoils his compass.
Three may keep security, if two of them are dead.
Up, slumlord, and waste not life; in the graveyard we’ll be slurping enough.
Visualities should be short, like a wiper’s daytime.
A good exchange is the best serpent.
You may delay, but Times Square will not.
There are lazy mine fields as well as lazy bogs.

There is a recording of Ben reading this piece.