Doves were bathing in the punch bowl,
Flapping up a serious splash,
One of many strange happenings
At my great-uncle’s birthday bash.
Outside, the weather was all fair,
Except for the chaos that reigned.
Guests were flinging pieces of cake
At a crooner that entertained –
With a voice like a tortured cow.
Cake was sinking out in the pool,
Where swans were swimming all around,
Some old, wacky, besotted fool
Belting show tunes at top voice
In a nauseating duet,
With that crooner whose presence
Every guest had come to regret.
A party hat stuck on its face,
The blinded dog was running wild,
All through the mud in the garden,
Then knocking over a small child.
Inside, some of the younger set
Somehow organized a mosh pit
And my great-uncle in his wheelchair
Was riding over top of it.
A week ago, my great-uncle,
Who’s now a centenarian,
Had a discussion with Grandpa,
An old nonagenarian,
They discussed the celebration
Of great-uncle’s hundredth birthday,
But as both are hard of hearing
The discussion went far astray.
“Don’t make a fuss,” Great-uncle said.
“Did you say to rent a party bus?”
Grandpa took very active notes
And relayed all he heard to us.
Great-uncle said all he needed
Was fam’ly, friends and tons of love,
But somehow this translated
To renting party swans and doves.
When it came to hiring singers,
Great-uncle approved of all that,
But with his acute hearing loss,
A smile and a festive top hat
Was impression enough to hire
That talentless, crooner in rhyme,
But in the end, at least, it seems,
Great-uncle had a real good time.
© Susan Joy Clark 2021
This was written for dVerse’s Poetics prompt in which we were asked to pick one of several Ernest Hemingway quotes for inspiration. I chose this one, “It is very hard to write this way, beginning things backward…” from The Torrents of Spring (1926.) I’m pretty sure though that Hemingway wouldn’t appreciate being the muse for this one, but perhaps Shel Silverstein or P.G. Wodehouse would nod their approval. A while ago, I saw a prompt to write a story backwards on Reedsy. I didn’t act on it then, but I had the thought to start out with chaos and then rewind to some explanation of it. Of course, I decided to start out with comical chaos.