Poetry Wednesday #17

The latest entry for Poetry Wednesday is “Ballad 8.28 (Ballad of Red Fox and White Tail)”

This poem is dedicated to the memory of my late grandfather Wayne Stroud and in honor of my brother Ross Stroud. Both of their birthdays were yesterday, August 28. This is meant to celebrate their special relationship.

“Ballad 8.28 (Ballad of Red Fox and White Tail)”

Gather round for all to hear the tale of Red Fox,

Let’s not forget his young cadet White Tail.

Their friendship somehow became their folktale.

All the story was provided by the grandfather’s vox,

Now the grandson reforms it just like Knox.

No, the story is not contained in any book.

The foxy grandpa was strong and imposing like The Duke.

This tall tale of these warriors traveled on the swift wings of hawks.

The young buck of a grandson was just as strong as a Clydesdale.

Now their family tells the yarn in their home in the Boondocks.

Grandpa Fox was a raconteur that none could top,

People for miles around still know him by his name.

Grandson Buck didn’t know when their story would stop.

Of course, their kinship was bound to be storied since their birthday was the same.

Grandpa Fox meant the story to tease, but it was affection, like when White Tail’s ears he’d box.

© Ryan Stroud 2018

I Got You Babe

Today is the day to celebrate America’s favorite fictional lumberjack.

It’s summer and that means tank tops and swimming gear not flannel and logging gear, but today is Paul Bunyan Day. Like Sonny had Cher, Paul Bunyan had his Babe. The only difference for Paul Bunyan is that his babe was a blue ox. Paul Bunyan, the fictional hero of American lore is just one of a handful of heroes included in tall tales.

Tall tales are often fictional stories with unbelievable elements consistent with mythology and legend, but rather than ascribing godlike qualities to the characters tall tales use a character that is more human. More often than not, tall tales also seek to help explain landmarks or events in an earlier time. Tall tales are much more similar to legends since they include humans, but the exaggerated accomplishments of tall tales are the hallmarks of that genre.

Likely the most well-known character of tall tales is Paul Bunyan. He is said to have unintentionally created many American landmarks. Among the claims is that as he and Babe traipsed through the Midwest their deep footprints created the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota as these footprints filled with water. Another claim is that Paul Bunyan created the Grand Canyon as he was dragging his axe behind him and creating a deep trench.

Among other exploits of Paul Bunyan’s story is the enormity of his personal possessions compared to the average man. For example, his cooking skillet was more than 10 miles in diameter and had to be greased by some local citizens skating on it with greased skates. More than that, when the skillet was heated, it melted snow around as far away as the next county over. Luckily though, Paul was more than helpful sharing food for the citizens. Supposedly Paul had planted pumpkins and corn in the summer and harvest time came and Babe had to help pull the pumpkins out of the ground to protect the nearby homes and Paul had to use railroad ties to harvest the corn. As Paul put pressure on the corn plant’s stalk it sent corn flying all over the Midwest and that’s why states like Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska are so well-known for their corn. So, thanks Paul Bunyan.

While all these stories are fictional, it’s still a fun day to celebrate. So, eat some of Paul Bunyan’s favorite food today — enjoy some flapjacks and tell stories about his exploits using your imagination. Short of that, just look up Paul Bunyan and enjoy what others imagined he is responsible for even today.