Note: this poem was created out of the ‘family’ words or favourite unusual words of my colleagues on an Arvon course.
The place: Woddleploshers, a small remote village
Concealed in the mists just outside Hebden Bridge.
The time: call it winterish. That time of year when
On some days it’s warmer to sit in the fridge.
The biting wind mithered the vulvular valley,
Cloud-busting, helping the morning light change.
A heart-sloughened mother stood biting her knuckles:
Her lad was a part of the Woddleploshers Exchange.
Bumper to bumper two cars faced each other
Like monochrome cats locked in eyeball embrace
Who couldn’t decide between fighting and flighting
But neither one wanted a scar on their face.
Delishamus frisson of silence befell
Those who’d driven, so eager to soon rearrange
Their cargoes in jittery, slippery swoppery:
Who’d get the best deal at The Woddleploshers Exchange?
A bleep and a click and one car’s door swung open.
A mallemaroking man loomed from within:
Devoid of entranklements, mighty in moto –
The kind that light fires by striking their chin.
The mallemaroker held up his device
(An objet futil that he’d bought with the change
That was left after buying a spanky Ferrari)
And so, there began The Woddleploshers Exchange.
The other car opened; the mother cried out as
Her lad appeared bearing the things for his trade:
A bedpan, a suitcase, some falling-down water,
A package of faffage, a jar of pomade,
A telecommander, an exteroceptor,
An oofdah and flask of home-made cure for mange.
All these the lad gave to the mallemaroker
In return for five beans at The Woddleploshers Exchange.
The lad and his mother were not seen again.
Some say that she killed him for loss of their hopes;
Some say that their ghosts can be seen in the twilight
Wandering mafted on Heptonstall’s slopes;
Some say that the lad did away with his mother
As the shock of the loss caused her mind to derange;
Some say they found gold at the top of the stalk
That they got from the beans in The Woddleploshers Exchange.
If ever you’re in Woddleploshers in winter,
When a vulvular valley plays tricks with the light,
When you’ve something to swop – like a coin for a story,
A pint for a poem, or calm for a fright –
Remember the tale of the lad and his mother:
Beware of the mallemaroker so strange,
Beware the delishamus frisson of silence,
Beware what you get in your Woddleploshers Exchange.