Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
About This
How to Submit

Gone Lawn 9
Winter, 2012
Featured painting, ©2011 by David Ho : where it hurts, oils on giclee canvas.

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Ae Reiff

Jingle Bell Wok / The Wusicle: A Libretto Comedy

Chorus, narrator, various characters, poet, speakers come out of the chorus which surrounds in crescent shape the four characters sitting on couches often frozen in action, those being:

Ardor Eatin,
his wife Eden,
Grizzie's Bop, that is her husband,
and Ayin-Peh Grizzie herself, the Grizzly Bear guest at dinner.

The scenes are bracketed by the chorus physically, the narrator's speech and the dumb show of the actors, who do or do not have various lines, depending on how you like it, as if they were marionettes or puppets waking up suddenly, then falling asleep.

The scene:
Couches, table, chairs, some decorations, a Christmas tree. The four characters on their couches form mostly a frieze for the chorus and actors who surround them, and sometimes interpose between the characters to perform the play. The characters themselves sit but hardly speak, make gestures, with pantomime, then freeze. A movie in the round.


Chorus (bass voices):
Sometimes you can give an account to heaven
and it's only days before purgation is released!

Believe this text dear neighbor, that when the Harpsharks
came to dinner that was our belief.

[Pantomimed, people sticking up arms like branches form a tree with worshippers who kneel before whom the tree kicks.]

Sign in Form of a Tree

sprang out
garnished in
phosphate, covered


Then out of the tin-coat sprang a wrath that covered the night.
Tin Melt covered the grass.

It was a semantic invite to Atlas Hugged.
The name became the thing.
Ayin Harpshark. Precious darlin.
Populus mundi clawed in her sight!
Was she more Harp than Sharking?
Define it right. Jingle Jaw? HunkaHarp?
The jungle jaw dropped.

She spoke like a Grizzly bear, Ursa charismata.
Raised her jangle voice and teeth plodded fro.
The mouth anyway was shaped like a wok.
But it was a mis-wok, rather a Mrs. Wok,
Dante Alighieri gone awry:

Sopranoes (accusing):
"Ya don't KNOW ANYthing about the Permit world!
Ya don't KNOW ANYthing about cheatin!
Ya don't know nuttin about singing!"

Narrator (as if reading a letter from home):

Dear Jack:

I write to you who lie and boast until you once repent the host.
Until then you must be the guest! But do-be nimble dearest Jack.
For when they shriek out steeples, the hands of holy peoples
will come down and deforest your back.

Chorus (all together):
Devil, demon
and hoary rock
that's the grizzly bear wok!

The guest was fire, the host was water. Prehistoric rhetoric prevailed. 'Twas a steamy night.

Pedant from chorus shuffles papers, peers out of large glasses and pontificates:

The agonist, Ardor Eatin, worked in the brewery for Mr. Guinness,
a peanuty dark beer man.
But after splash-down he kept a blood-bleached gun
to blanche the Dantean crowd.

Chorus strophe:                     She didn't think him pious.
She didn't think him pious.
Too, oo, much red in...
the face of a water person.
It's On-ly a chemical contraction
kept separate by a fraction.

"I don't think,"
the wok tongue tolled,
"that I love you."

Choric Antistrophe: Her husband was an accountant.
       Her husband was an accountant.

Doubting faggots blazed o'erhead.
The view was good but the message was bad.

You don't know!
you don't know!
you don't know!


Now: The Wusical

Prelude. Chorus in parts and confusion:

Don't wait. Don't think.
Do you want to go to the think?
Don't think.
I don't know.
You don't know how I know I don't know.

How could you know.
I didn't know.
Oh wHo.
Who knew?
Boo Who.

Daily inspections of boo we approve,
but that's when who is excepted,
but if who is excepted then boo is approved
to do what is ill accepted.

Chorus (surrounding, accusatory):
Confess your illiteracy!
Confess. Confess.

Glass eggs crashed.
Scriptoriums burst
upon Christian first.

Narrator (victim Eatin, in third degree, tied to a chair, with lights):

Of him we exact interrogation:

1)    Have you ever been bitten in the thigh?
2)    Been to the Fisher King? Don't lie! Don't lie. (echoes)
3)    Were you mauled about torso, took refuge in the bush?
4)    Thought about Eatin alone as a wish?
5)    Promised yourself a forgiveness dish?

Chorus (female voices):
"Oh, I'm sorry!"
"I'm very sorry!"
Solly. Solly. Sorely sorry.
Very, very, sorry.

Male Voices:
"What for?" (crescendo, decrescendo)

Female voices (always with gestures):
I didn't know. I don't know. I don't know.
At least I don't think I don't know.
Don't it show I don't know if I'm sorry?
Oh no then why should I worry?

Part Narrator, part Solo with parts:
"I have forgotten the specifics...
In the fifth ring of fire—
the plantigrade desires to chow—
chow down, chow down...."
(male voices) "Chow down in our living rooms."

Act II, Scene ii

Meeting of the Plantigrade

(Full parts in voice with accompaniment of soft shoe. Top hats on stage. Small sections of choreographed chorus march two step, single file, weave in and out among the rest of the chorus to "The walls come tumbling down" (Cab Calloway).)

(Three troubadours emerge from chorus dressed as tramps, somersault, tumble, go on all fours, impersonate bears. They straighten at stage center. After throat clearing and gesture, looking right in each others' mouths, examine tongues, jaws, teeth, in dental exam with gesticulation. Beginning to warm voices in song, gradually they are surrounded by the entire chorus. The four frozen ones on couches are a tableau in center.)

(The Three, in parts)
Do you know the meaning of the plantigrade,
(echoes) plantigrade, plantigrade,
Do you know the meaning of the plantigrade
when the walls come tumbling down?

When the jaws come out a rumbling
and the tongue comes out to greet,
do you get the message
or do we have to repeat?

Can you get the rhythm of soulful feet?
Can you get the rhythm or skip a beat?

Male voices:
Do you know the meaning of the plantigrade,
plantigrade... (fades out)

(Speaker with bullhorn)
When the voices all are roaring
and the tongue comes out to greet,
do you get the message
or do I have to repeat?

Full Chorus:
Do you know the meaning of the plantigrade,
Plantigrade, plantigrade,
Do you know the meaning of the plantigrade
when the walls come tumbling down.

Chorus counterpoint:
Planta gradus going (gestures, rocking),
look out everywhere.
Persuade me you're a member,
Men and bears.

Do you get the message
Can you beat your feet?
Have you got the rhythm
when you walk the street?

(Square dance patterns)
Quasi plantigradus
Lacks a simple joint,
heel, toe, heel, toe,
He can't point.

What number in the order,
How far can you go,
You say you got the makings,
but what do people know?

(More Dance Moves)
Do you get the rhythm, can you get the beat,
will you walk the whole sole of your feet?

(Leader dressed as alpinist, pipe, shorts, suspenders, studies and furrows brow, examines, then declares)
That's about the reason
that I got to sway.
I'm a professor of the plantigrade.
(pulls out placard declaring it)

(Chorus makes much fun of this, apes The
Thinker, point fingers, take professorial stances, strutting, etc.)


The inner and the outer,
the hunger after right,
there are three hundred orders of the plantabite.

There are 300 verses of the plantigrade...

There are 300 verses.
How high can you go?
What number in the order
even if you're low?

(echo in counterpoint)
Can you hear the voices?
Do you know the rhythm?
Are you still a member?
Do you got the badge?
How far in the order?
Can you hear the roaring?
Persuade me you're a member.
Can you pass a test?
Come in by the front door
Like the rest.

(All together)
That's what people say.
Do you have a number,
are you on the page?

(Crescendo, decrescendo, drawn out. Players on swings go back and forth.)

Swing with the rhythm of the plantigrade.

(Lots of heel toe mimicry. All bow.)

[Transition Out of Chorus spoken by Innocent Poet, dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy accordingly.]

There are three trees of the springing
of the soul of man.
Bow down, bow down,
bow down in your living rooms.
Who is like him, who is like him?
Bow down in your living rooms!
It is just as if GOD had made foolish the world.

(This tears it for Grizzie Ayin-Peh, who breaks out in vehemence):


You dare to mention G--?
The trials of light?
That tears it!

It's a little word my brother.
It's a little like your mother,
It's a little bit of humble
a little like your dad
are you glad
don't be sad.
Are you glad
Don't be mad.

Narrator pensively (speaking to Ayin):

"Perhaps G— thought:"
[Sung to: "wrap up your troubles, (oddles) in that old kit bag and smile, smile, smile"]

Omnipresent Voice (large bass, again in Ayin's face):

"wrap up some Eatin
in a cashmere bag and smile, smile, smile,

wrap a million lights on his lightning skull
from the Tree
of my Son..."

(Angelic chorus sings.)

"Goody, Goody." (Echoes in and out.)

Omnipresent Voice:

"I'll prune the branch of that blunt-end boy,
and drive him out in the screed,
splinter cardinal epaulettes
from the Tree of my Son

(Angels again.)                     "Season Greetings!"

Poet recites:

God was being given and received that year,
matched with bows at a party.
To change that or aught else Absolute threads
would have to prick from him an Evening dress,
shoot down Christmas morning to dollar suits and hats.
Ushers 'id rush up then and pump that sleeve for its weaving. Faithfulness would shoot in every arm
and "blessed be the bind that binds," they'd sing.

Narrator with bass:

Meanwhile Ayin's cheeks glowed red,
but her hands were white as snow.

Chorus (to: "You made me love you."):

I didn't want to tell you,
I didn't want to tell you,
you thought that it was the pâté,

but it was the tongue
of the wok that they left out,
forgot or maybe they set down

in the guise of a mushroom pudding,

an un-poly-urethaned Lot
careening out of Sodom.
You didn't make me love you.

Suppliant (on knees by tree):

Do you remember Sir,
the Furies' rigging,
that you turned inside out
that caused such sniggering,
raised hairballs of sorts?

(To Bill Cosby's, "Hello mother, hello father, how's my precious little brother".)


"Call the plumber, call the plumber,
he's bleeding, they screeched, he's bleeding!
And when they tried to fix it with a splint
it was a rich autumnal print
good for metaphysical feasting!

Speaker in chorus:

What could Ardor Eatin do, born under Eisenhower,
returned from rejection analysis in youth,
confirmed affront to choleric temper,
90% in the black! But not depressed or hostile,
Sad or even self-critical,
the subject of our carol:

Chorus (They come up behind him singly and in fours and smack him in the head, so hard the head finally comes off and like an exercise ball at the club they roll around on it on their bellies and backs, ultimately kicking it off stage in an impromptu game of soccer.):

"If in the meadow we can build a snowman,
pretend that he's genetically correct,
then we'd appoint a meadow prig to smite him,
and since he's not pious,
call him self-righteous.
and smack him in the head."


But give Ayin credit and baptize denial toots,
and agree with the minister yet in your way.


"DETACHED," the thunder spoke.
"TOO DETACHED!" came the call for dismembering.

Eatin had learned how 'is dad had knocked,
Detaching up the summed charges
of the yard that Ayin snuck into tune like none other,
the one that goes,

"Ya don' know nuttin 'bout nuttin!"

Troubadors (still there):
But, hush naughty kittens, for I smell a wat close by.
Are we prepared to disturb the universe?
Spare the widers and children?

Speaker: This is your captain speaking!
"It wasn't much, that peach."

Chorus: Demons fled like crooks with a stock tip.

Ayin: "I'm quite sure if I followed you around all day I'd catch you in plenty of sins."

She had done it with her husband.

"If we say that we have not sinned we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

She ate scripture like a two snake sandwich.

And now my friends, in the latter day,
when we yearn, like Ike,
for the deco age
where rubbers were worn on feet
and trouble meant heat
at the diner for an hour after necking
would Ursi follow that Hubby around?

Chorus:                 What does Warfarin know about rats,
    pigeons and pigs about hats?

She gnawed like a drop of paraffin.
Kaboom, kaboom, went the sheets of flame,
the napalm toot fairies!

Poet: I don't know, you don't know, I don't know.

Her husband gripped the sides of his mortar. He was a pestle. "I saw it coming," he said.

Pedant (pontificates):
In most ancient custom, after the Priest has passed the Levite dines. (We refer to the elegant Eden, who failed to airlift supplies to the perishing.) Eden had been to comedies of W. H. on stage, had acted Sophocles. She was used to melodrama, served nuts at intermission. The surface of her home was Hippocrene in fracas, I mean the conflagration 'tween soul and spirit broke out like when that philosopher cracked flint wit 'is head. "Albigensians flee Betelgeuse!" was the tale for their fear of fire. At least so the newspaper filed, but they were edited:

Neopolitians want a fiddle,
Queens a candle.
Anaximander danced,
Lydia cried.

It was narrated in the realms
by Orson Smythe.

It sounded like a rock concert landing in oil.


At the airport clouds of revulsion waved arms behind plexiglass. The springs of revilation ran dry.


Dessert was Chocolate creaming fudgesickle.
Came in a cup.
Burned round the fridge.
We had to blow it out (gesturing).

Various speakers:
With dessert, come personals.
Shoe size?
Tea in the morning, coffee?
Length of last stay in the penitentiary?
Why not?
Heck, Ding Dong!

Saved by the bell?
Counted out. Ground out. Found in shadow.
Hugs all round.
Glad you could come!
Are you going to be crucified tomorrow?
Of course we'll be there!
See you then!

Narrator: The long departing arms of yellow tape wave like branches.

Chorus (finale, debut, bowing, celebrating, won't leave stage, must be driven off by stage hands, laughing, singing, slapping hands, having flats, circling each other):
Ayin's husband's thoughtnut,
Like their car's replacement doughnut,
rang punctually round a mutual should,
Ah new, ah nu, ah nu she would.


Prelude to the Story

It was Christmas again. Don't you love these affairs? The Protagonist was Ardor. He met them in church. He sat in the back. He always sat in the back. Makes an easier exit. This night came a woman and her groaning son. Ardor and Eden and their little one sat down in front of them on some chairs to the side. Never sit in front of anybody.

So the joint started stompin. Tambors revved. Tinkling and jumpin' that boy's eyes glazed. If he was a bungalow we'd have had him appraised. Whatever the case after all the stompin' and hands raised the preacher started in. Back row seats maybe you can't see so good from, so boy starts mumblin. He heckle the Man. Pretty soon he preachin' and moanin' too. Usher come up, asks him to take a seat. Asks him, nice, see, I was there when the deal went down. Dude delivers a pretty right cross to the usher's crown. He go down.

"Why, oh why, oh why o," I ask it in confidence, "why am I moving?" Amazed to see I am. I meet him at the altar in the back. The head usher had him in his grip. There were two more. Why am I front of the guy? We all go in the air. He kicks me in the pie, descending to the floor. I like this church, but you should stay in your chair. We carry him to the exit, set him down. I go back inside where you thought the danger was over, but no. Two weeks later Ayin Grizzie's bop says, "I saw that innervention, you were cool." I invited him to dinner with his wife. Not wise. How I know? It's not the first time. How many do you know? Last Christmas my neighbor declared himself god. I'm for staying home. This is what happened the night the grizzly bear came to dinner.

AE Reiff's investigations of art, fiction and ceramic sculpture are more or less indexed at Encouragements for Planting during business hours.