Monday, August 20, 2012

Porter's Prophesy: A Poem by a Colleague

This weekend, we had a talent show. There were many fun, entertaining, and frankly surprising performances. I heard some people sing that I didn't expect to; there was harmonica beatboxing, stand-up comedy, and line-dancing. It was an altogether fun night. But one of the performers did a great job of summarizing what this program has been like for us. He's posted his slam poetry on his website, so please go visit it and read more of his stuff.

The background to this poem is that Cameron spoke to a few of the porters during his time here, and they said that they can generally tell within a week who's going to be successful at Cambridge and who isn't, so this is called Porter's Prophesy:

I enter the lodge head down, the porter looks up…frowns.
No need to say, I’m totally nude but for a towel anyway.
I can hear him rant,  ‘Prior, proper, preparation
prevents poor performance,’ but I can’t help but wonder,
beyond this blunder, Can he fortell or spell out my time
here, in Cambridgeshire?
‘Porter Prophet, Prophesy
oh please, on one of your rings of keys
you can appease, abate, my curiosity of late
to see what I’ll undertake and what’s at stake
these next eight weeks…
You have hundreds of keys, thousands, galore!
Can’t one unlock a crystal ball? That’s all
I ask – from your aged eye, can you spy
what is in store for me?’
He leans in close. Was I too verbose?
Look’s like he’ll beat me
with brass knuckles
and chuckle as I buckle. But wait–
He strokes his white whiskers…
‘I see…I see, a crown. Yes. A King.
A Pembroke King you shall be,
from module one to module three.
In college shall feel like royalty.
You have flown from afar.
and some customs you’ll find bazaar
on your cultural radar.
Baked beans for breakfast,
punting, here, is done on a punt
not on a football green–
in fact, football is soccer,
and don’t make a scene
getting run over on the wrong side of the road;
or a common mocker-ry
of the great English tradition of afternoon tea:
thou shalt remember: ‘Jab after cream.’
I see you spinning fast with a Scottish lass
twirlin’ fast in a keeley dance.
Are you wet from the sweat or the rain?
Unclear… and yet, I see,  I see
you will come to call Cambridge ‘Home.’
Yes, returning from highland heights,  and castle sights,
both fog, and bog, and green feilds with a lonely lamb
back home to the gentle river cam.’
He grows silent, my towel’s still wet and damp
Is that it!? A cultural summer camp?!?!
So I implore, ‘But Mister, what more’s in store?’
Again he strokes his white whiskers–’I see…I see–
Music will litter the streets with their beggin’ beats
and a home strung songs will carry you along
past Great St. Mary’s and the Market Square’s berries
and fruit stands. Oh how long can you stand
the spinoffs of ‘keep calm and carry on.’
On to your classes; don’t mind the masses
of tourists; every day you will hear a ‘tchau mi amici,’
‘Je t’aime,’ ‘felicitations amigo’  or ‘mutter mit arbieter,’
if not a  Chinese kid asking, ‘Take my photo please’
Remember, thou shalt honour your PKP parents,
don’t peg grinning Greg and carful Carlos
with his mutton chops – they call all the shots.
with the PA too, they know their job,
but Beware! Beware the mob!
Woe! Woe be unto you,
if you get stuck in that stretching queue,
at the CUS cafe, almost e-ver-y day
before and after lunch you want to punch the guy
that took your last grilled panini of the day–
probably from BYU anyway,
or Hong Kongo, or Cal-i-for-nia-ah.
Remember remember this hidden treasure/greatest pleasure
will endure as the cure for your thirst,
and I dirst not speak too loud for it’s frailty,
the secret is: Commensality
I think, That’s a fancy word but I have never heard
that term before or what it’s used for.
The Porter Prophet fortells and dispells my doubts:
‘It means to converse over a meal,
like: breakfast or supper, or upper-class
formal halls: with suits,
and bowties, and gowns and wine
you’ll think you’ve reached cloud nine to dine
and find new fast friends
that last long beyond the programme ends.
What’s more, I see I see…
Thou shalt respect those dastardly dons
even when their reading lists go on, and on.
Love words. love books, love the 24 hour libraries too.
Read ‘em, learn ‘em, love em all,
Thou shalt not forget that corpus clock
that ticks and tocks, hiccups, and locks
and eats every minute away of every day
Don’t let it rob a moment of  your 56 days
Love the classes and the grasses,
even if you cant walk on them.
Keep these words in faith without a lie,
and I can clearly prophesy:
that your heart will flicker hot with fire
whenever you remember Cambridgeshire

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