Saturday, October 10, 2020

Edgar Allen Poe Forgive Me



Last week I wrote a blog premised upon the assumption that matters had gotten about as far out of hand in the US as one could imagine–outside of a science fiction plotline.


Little did I realize how seven days later, with a slight tweaking to the title of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, “The Road”–coupled with Bob Woodward’s latest blockbuster’s title–we have the essence of what’s driving American policy (this week). Welcome to “ROID RAGE.”  


All of that leaves me at a loss for a subject to write about today, at least any that would make me smile.


Life this week is committed to defying the basic parameters of civilized behavior.  There seems no place to turn for peace of soul.  Even the bucolic woods surrounding my farm have turned on me with their venomous poison ivy.


Scratch, scratch.


In such a mood where can one turn except to writing poetry. No, not my own—that would require far too much talent—but in parodying others. It relaxes me. I hope it has a similar effect upon you…though not so much as to put you to sleep. 


So, with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe and any Raven fans out there, here goes: 



Once upon a midday early, while I wandered, quick and surly,

Over many a quaint and curious meadow of neglected chore—

While I prodded, briskly clipping, suddenly there came an itching,

As if from some gentle scraping, scraping from elbow to fore.

“‘Tis some hairy vine,” I muttered, “scraping me elbow to fore—

 Only this and nothing more.”


Ah, distinctly I remember it was on the first September;

And each separate shining three-leaf wrought its oil upon me more.

Eagerly I wished the tractor;—I’d foolishly forgot to factor

Would shield my skin from oh such sorrow—sorrow for the itch and more—

From the red and recurring blisters even angels itch and more—

Shameless scratching evermore.


And the silken, sad, uncertain bandage of each purple keratin

Chilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“‘Tis some shining three-leaf entreating access from my elbow to fore—

Some new shining three-leaf entreating access from my elbow to fore;—

This it is and nothing more.”


Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Ivy,” said I, “or if Oak, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was clipping, and so gently you came scraping,

And so faintly you came scraping, scraping my elbow to fore,

That I scarce was sure I felt you”—here I opened wide the door;—

For Urushiol and more.


Deep into that toxin peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no scratcher ever dared to dream before;

But the blister was unbroken, though the swelling reached Hoboken,

And the only word heard spoken was the whispered “itch and more.”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, “and more!”—

Should you scratch there will be more.


Back onto the elbow turning, all my arm upon me burning,

Soon again I heard a scraping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the vine and nothing more!”


Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

Out there stood a hairy vine of the poisoned sort before;

Not the least obeisance made it; not a minute moved or stayed it;

But, with mien of Trump-like hair, seemed to search beyond my fore—

Searching for a rhyme of Pallas just below my itching fore—

Searched, and that, and nothing more.


Was this hairy vine beguiling my sad fancy into smiling?

So at the grave and stern decorum of the ivy I swore,

“Leaflets three, let it be craven,” for on that I’m a maven,

Ghastly grim and ancient ivy that has me itching every night and more—

Tell me if thy worldly cure is what Methylprednisolone’s for.”

Quoth the three-leaf, “Itch no more.”


I think I’ll stop now at a half parody (please feel free to hyphenate “half” into an appropriate adjective of your choice). Not because I’m afraid of what all you Poe fans out there might want to do to me, but because it’s time to reach for the Calamine lotion and call it a night.

Scratch, scratch.




  1. Replies
    1. When I wrote that it was, but now it's all better.

  2. Replies
    1. I have photos, Kwei, but I shall spare you and the rest of humanity a true UGH experience.

  3. I feel your pain, Jeff, or in this case, your itch. Growing up in North Carolina I had multiple summer encounters with the dreaded poison ivy. Moving to Florida when I was ten, I was sure I'd be safe from that scourge. Little did I know, until building a tree fort with my cousin in his family mango tree, that the same active ingredient that makes poison ivy, oak and sumac itch also exists in the sap of the mango tree. Covered head to toe in itchy welts, with only the area where my shorts were worn safe from this awful spread, my mother rushed me off to the doctor. He quickly determined what it was, and I've avoided the dreaded mango ever since. I can eat the fruit if someone else peels it, but can't touch the skin for fear of a repeat performance. And that's my pre-Hallowe'en tale. Calamine Martinis for everyone!

  4. So sorry Jeff but I am laughing. I am a Poe fan and now I will think of you and that dreaded vine when I read The Raven. We have had that problem here in the Tampa area this summer. Hoping you are able to avoid that situation from now on.

    1. Laugh on, laugh on, your doing so makes me feel better. :) Avoiding it on the farm is tough, but the worst situation is felling a tree with a chainsaw and hitting one of those furry poisoned ivy vines. The chain saw sprays it back all over you. I dread even thinking about it.

  5. There's an ointment called Calmoseptine which works better for the itch! I,too, have suffered madly from the wrath of of 3-leafed vine!

    1. I wash vigorously with soaps that remove the cursed oil, but when that fails I've come to learn that only prednisone works for me. Abstinence is the best policy...along with goats, they simply love the stuff.

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