Monday, September 13, 2010

The Faire Adventures of Buckingham Mouse

by Mark Lewis

©1991 Laughing Moon Productions & Mark Lewis

Buck the Mouse lived for the faire. It was a place where the world of a country faire in renaissance England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First was recreated. He loved how the faire rose like Brigadoon out of the mists and became real for at least part of the year. It was a place of fun and love and magic where he could go and be somebody else. The faire was a treat for all of his senses with its colors and sounds and sights and smells. Everyone who had ever attended the faire came away with powerful and lasting memories. He felt as though he belonged there.

Buck had attended many faires in previous years for they had built one of the stages right on top of his home! He was timid of it all at first; just watching from the sidelines, but soon he had discovered the fun of joining in and being a part of it! He had been different characters before - a peasant, a soldier and a merchant. He loved it all, but this year he was going to try something new!

In the weeks before the opening, Buck had sneaked into the costume trailer to watch the costumers and peek at the patterns. He borrowed some of the snippets of fabric, tidbits of thread and loose lace from the floors and took them home. He then spent hours and hours getting his new creation ready. This costume was going to be his favorite! He had created for himself an upper class tunic with lace at the throat and cuffs and a hat with the long plume.

"The only thing I'm missing," he said as he admired himself in the mouse-length mirror, "is a sword at my side!" As he put out his light he secretly said to himself, "Tomorrow, I shall be known to all the world as Buckingham Mouse!"

That morning, he was the first at the front gate to hear the speeches and cheer as the faire was pronounced "Open to all!" He ran ahead of the crowds with his eyes shining and shouted at the top of his mouse-lungs, "Huzzah for the Faire!"

That day he danced in a kilt with the Celts, tried not to get soaked by the Washer Women, shopped the jewelry and crafts markets, was astonished by the jugglers, listened to the Gypsy palm and card readers, cheered the horses and riders in the arena, sang sweet harmonies with the a a capella minstrels, slaked his thirst at the drink stands, and then ate until he bloated himself at the food booths!

Upon awakening from an impromptu nap, Buckingham found himself surrounded by swashbucklers, so he joined in with their bawdy songs and ballads. Then, wandering to one of the stages, he sat on a bale of hay and laughed at the performance, mimicked William Shakespeare, booed the Spaniards, cheered the hero and mustered and blustered with the captain of the military.

It was a very full day indeed!

Just before the Queen's show there was a hubbub and a broo-ha-ha! Buck ran up to hear the news that the Queen's ring was missing! A search was conducted but no one could find it. And to make matters worse, the procession was about to begin!

"The show cannot wait!" said the Queen. "We shall do without! Carry on!"

The drums and trumpets heralded the beginning of the parade! All of the military guard and the nobles marched off in order. The chair-bearers lifted the Queen's chair and the procession wound it's magnificent way toward the main stage and the waiting crowd.

As the hustle of bustling feet cleared, Buckingham saw something flash in the straw where the chair had set! He skipped over and cleared away the hay. As he did, the sun flashed off of the huge ruby in the Queen's ring, dazzling his eyes! He had found it! It had slipped off and rolled down under the chair! He tried to pick it up but it was too cumbersome and heavy to carry! As he lifted it, he lost control of the ring and it suddenly slipped down over his head and around his body! He was trapped! Then, in a flash of brilliance, Buckingham took a deep breath and the ring held fast around him like a jeweled saddle!

There was no time to lose; The Queen must have her ring! Buckingham Mouse ran to catch up with the procession, but by the time he reached them they were already on stage!

Buckingham paused for only a moment and then dashed straight down the center aisle, up the stage steps and betwixt the men-at-arms! His sudden appearance caused all of the ladies of the court to squeal and shriek as he ran across the stage! The noble gentlemen tried to halt Buckingham, but he eluded them all. The Mayor became flustered and dropped his ale cup! The Sheriff tripped over his sword! All was in chaos!

Buckingham ducked, skittered and finally leapt up directly into the lap of the Queen! She took him up into her purple-gloved hand, as she stood and commanded, "Hold!"

Everyone fell silent.

"What is this?" she said, lifting Buckingham for all to see.

"It is a mouse, your grace." said one of the gentlemen courtiers.

"I have eyes, my lord!" said the Queen in an icy voice. "But look hither, he is dressed in the finest of clothes and..." Buckingham turned in her hand, " ... my ring! He has my ring!"

All in the court gasped!

The queen took hold of the ring, but it would not budge off of Buckingham! In a wave of embarrassment, he realized what was amiss and exhaled; raising his arms and the Queen gently slid the ring off of his body. Everyone murmured his or her approval as once again Elizabeth slid the ring home onto the royal finger! A great sigh spread across the courtiers.

Buckingham did a deep bow. The Queen laughed aloud and said, “What is thy name?”

“I am Buckingham Mouse, your royal highness.” He replied with a tremulous voice.

"We must reward our small hero." She turned to one of the lords and commanded of him, "Give me your sword!"

With a look of disbelief, he reached to unsheathe his sidearm.

"Not that sword...!" said the Queen as she stepped closer to the noble. She reached out and removed the miniature sword-shaped pin holding a kerchief to the breast of his tunic. "...This sword!" The nobleman's handkerchief fell to the stage and he retrieved it in a huff.

"Kneel, my little man!" commanded the Queen. Buckingham doffed his cap as he did so in her hand. Then, Elizabeth Gloriana, Queen of England and Empress of the High Seas touched him on each shoulder and on the head and said,

“I Knight thee Sir Buckingham Mouse - Knight of the Ring and Defender of the Faith!”

A murmur of awe rippled through the audience.

“Every one of my Knights must have a sword!”, she continued. “We present this one to thee with our deepest thanks.” and she handed the tiny weapon to Buckingham as his very own!

The Lord Mayor stepped forward and cried, "My Lords and Ladies, commoners, all, raise your voices in three lusty cheers for the newest Knight of the Realm, Sir Buckingham Mouse!"

Buckingham blushed and bowed to the crowd as the three, thunderous cheers echoed in his ears!

That night, by firelight in his snug, mouse house, Sir Buckingham Mouse listened to the storyteller on the stage above him and admired his new sword that hung above his mantelpiece. He rolled over in his bed and sighed a tired sigh as he drifted off to sleep, looking forward to another renaissance adventure at the faire!

The End

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Nightlight

Here is a small poem I found whilst digging through some files.

My Nightlight

My nightlight glows like angel vespers,

Soft and sweet there burning bright.

Silent songs with loving whispers,

Keep me safe all through the night.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

As an intro, a little background on this story:

My eldest daughter is a highly sensitive person. She is different. She has always had a difficult time in this world - sounds are too loud; crowds are too close; emotions are too intense.

It was especially hard for her when she was in the 4th grade because everyone was "clique-ing", and, because she is different, she was being "cliqued-out". She would come home from school in tears and I would sit and listen.

You see, now that I am in my "Late Youth" I have discovered the secret of how to be the Dad of daughters. As dad, you are not supposed to "fix" it - you are just supposed to listen.

So I sat, and listened, and my heart broke because I remembered what a hard time I had when I was in 4th grade because I was that same kid - I am still that same kid.

So, I wrote this story for me, and for her, and for everyone else who is a little different. Because it is good to be "different".
The Vegetable Lady
Mark Lewis

The Vegetable Lady lives down our street.
Her flowers and gardens are always so neat.
And the love of her plants is never discreet.
That’s why she’s the Vegetable Lady.

She’s tall and she’s pretty, with hair like a storm.
Her gardening clothes are all comfy and warm.
And the dirt on her knees is always the norm,
For the hard-working Vegetable Lady.

We see her each morning on our way to school,
Singing and weeding with her digging tool.
To be in the garden seems always the rule,
For the wonderful Vegetable Lady.

The proof of her skill ’s in the baskets she brings,
Filled with squash fit for emperors and cabbage for kings.
With carrots and turnips and peppers on strings.
What a treat from the Vegetable Lady.

One day it was cloudy. I was cranky and cold.
My sweater was droopy. My socks were too old.
Home from school past her garden on my bike I rolled.
And I looked at the Vegetable Lady.

Her eyes were all shiny, her cheeks like a rose -
Her hat on her head and her glasses on nose.
And I looked and she looked. I was pale I suppose.
“What’s wrong?” asked the Vegetable Lady.

I got off my bike and walked in through her gate
I plopped down beside her not feeling too great.
Like a ball loosing air, I began to deflate,
As I said to the Vegetable Lady.

“First I fell down … and all the kids laughed at me.
Then I messed up a test - Then a pop fly got past me.
This whole ding-dong day has been one big catastrophe…
I give up, Mrs. Vegetable Lady.”

Well, she sat down beside me right there in the beans.
Dried off my cheeks, wiped my tears on her jeans.
She hugged me and whispered, “Life’s tough so it seems.”
“Walk with me.” said the Vegetable Lady.

She showed me her cucumbers, showed me her peas,
Zucchini, Swiss chard, watercress and fruit trees.
“There’s something in common amongst all of these.
Can you tell?” asked the Vegetable Lady.

“Each of these things grows with sunlight and toil.
And to help them to grow and to sprout and uncoil,
A bit of manure ’s mixed into the soil.
Stinky stuff.” quoth the Vegetable Lady.

So when in your life you feel clouds in your face.
And you’re down in the dumps, feeling blue like this case.
And it feels like manure ’s all over the place.
Think of this.” said the Vegetable Lady.

“The thing to remember when you’re feeling low,
Is bad stuff ‘s going to happen - but it helps you to grow!
So learn from it - thank it - and soon you will know,
You’ll be better.” said the Vegetable Lady.

Well just then the clouds parted, and down through the trees,
Came a warm ray of sun on a warm-scented breeze.
I jumped up and I hugged her! (She was still on her knees.)
“Thanks a lot, Mrs. Vegetable Lady!”

The Vegetable Lady lives down our street
Her flowers and gardens are so neat
And we wink at each other each time that we meet.
She’s my friend. She’s the Vegetable Lady.

I live in the Upper Left Coast of the USA. One fall-ish day, the wind was blowing outside and I decided it was time for tea. As I sat and listened to the kettle getting read to boil, this story steeped into my imagination.

The Tea Kettle Who Thought He Was the Wind

Mark Lewis

The wind outside was blowing a “Cup-of-Tea” afternoon.

She filled the Kettle with cold water; lighted the burner; set the kettle on the stove and went to find her book.

“Watch out for me!” clicked the Kettle, warming up.

“Don't get all stirred up!” spoke the Spoon.

The Kettle wheezed and whistled, popped and clicked.

“I am full of myself, and I am hot!” he simmered.

The Salt & Pepper began to shake.

“Don't worry.” said the Spoon.

“Aren't you afraid?” steeped the Tea, infused with fear!

“No,” smiled the Spoon, “I've been in hot water before!”

“He's being such a pain.” whispered the Window.

“What was that?” hissed the Kettle!

"Oh ... nothing!" replied the Curtains timidly, drawing back!

The Kettle bubbled and rolled, louder and louder!

“Oh no ... ” rattled the Teacup!

“I'm right behind you , dear!” said the Saucer.

And then, boasting and blustering at a full boil, the Kettle shouted,

“I am stronger than the Wind!”

He whistled and sputtered, seethed and steamed!

“I'm frightened!” said the Sugar Bowl sweetly, covering her ears.

The Creamer tried to separate himself.

The Teapot ducked under her cozy.

Finally, the howling Kettle fogged the kitchen window and laughed!

“Ha! Ha! Ha!”

The Wind, who had been listening, had heard enough!

He pushed open the kitchen window, rattled about the pots and pans and blew out the fire under the braggart!
“Pipe down!" whistled the Wind.

“He really burns me up!” said the Stove turning off the gas to be safe!

Red-faced, the Kettle cooled his heels.

Everyone in the kitchen cheered!

“What a bully!” scolded the Milk.

“Oh, Spoon,” crooned the Dish! “Run away with me!”

“Perhaps, when the cow jumps over the moon!” replied the Spoon.

And the moral of the story is:
Beware of being boastful
when you are simply full of hot air.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

8 o'clock and All's Well

This story came out of a very intense daydream I had about 30 years ago. I saw it all as if I was living it. It poured out of me in this format with very little editing needed.

8 o'clock and All's Well

Mark Lewis

I see a warm wood dark brown cabin, filled with light, hiding high in the wild.

You sit close by in wool wrapped quiet reading.

A fire sings softly to itself within the hearth.

I stand from my story-strewn worktable and stretch as I roll down my plaid, flannel shirtsleeves. I walk to the French doors and open them.

As I step out onto the porch, the winter welcomes me and teases every seam of my shirt as if to say, "Where is your overcoat?"

The view down the valley is wall-to-wall white with chimney-born serpents of smoke licking at the quieting sky.

A Jay, with his formal blue tails intact, arrives a bit over dressed for dinner at our bird feeder suspended from the eves of the cabin.

The world below winds away slowly into sunset.

The snow crunches cold between my fingers as I lean forward onto the porch railing and fling my breath on the wings of mists into the twilight.

I inhale a deep sigh and with it comes the colors of the winter - the pine, the snow, the stillness and the clean. I hold that rainbow of scents within me.

I close my eyes and listen to my heart as it beats out a sure and steady life within me. With my eyes still closed, I exhale and I hear my heartbeat chime in time with the ticking of the grandfather clock in the living room.

A wint'ry wind whistles past my ear, tugs at my hair and tries to snuggle it's icy cheek under my beard.

Then I feel your hands on my face as you "shoo" the vagabond breeze from your special place under my chin. I open my eyes to find you standing close beside me.

As my arm circles about you, you cup up closer to me and wrap your warmth around my waist. We stand as one and listen as the twilight sings the anthem of the evening which, in turn, ushers Night into his throne of darkness.

The stars chuckle holes in the fabric of the sky and the warp and woof clouds thread off to sleep.
I turn to you and we look into each other. Your eyes hold secrets soft and safe and I would gladly drown therein.

You take my hand and lean up on tip-toe to my ear. With warm words you whisper,
“Tea's ready.”

“I love you ...”, says I and your kiss catches the "..ou" of you and we stand forever in that moment.

Night smiles down to us as we turn and re-enter the warmth.

The cat sniffs the last threads of night as the door hushes home and the grandfather calls out,

“Eight o' clock, and all's well.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Story of Word Pictures

I believe that every human is a storyteller because every human has a story to tell.
And, every one of my stories has a story.
This one - The Story of Word Pictures - is no exception.

The story behind this story is that I was "18-long hair-Volkswagen bus-traveling-through-Canada". (Yes, it is all hyphenated.) It was 1972 and I was sitting by a lake in the Canadian Rockies. My Muse came to me in the quiet and gave me this poem Word-for-Word. It just poured through my pen onto my pad - complete.
All, that is, except for the last line, which took me a year to create.
This is the story I use to explain how my process works and from where the stories come.

It is how I begin this Story Telling Blog.

The Story of Word Pictures
Mark Lewis
Copyright 1972 Mark Lewis and Laughing Moon Productions - All Rights Reserved

Sit down beside me,
I'll tell you a story.
Of beautiful women,
and men who are bold.

The kind of a story,
to help you remember.
The wonder of childhood,
Before we grew old.

A Story of Word Pictures,
Of sulfur and tin.
Of fern banks and forests,
That you can hide in.

Of little, brown people,
As tall as your knees.
Who walk very quickly,
Through doorways in trees.

Spires of moonlight.
Shells on the beach.
The soft, silent sermons,
The butterflies preach.

A small, Elfin Maiden,
In spiderweb gowns.
Goes gliding right past you,
One foot off the ground.

The old, learned Wizard,
Whose mist-shrouded tower.
Watches his watches,
Chime hour-on-hour.

And wait for the wind,
To come running up fast.
And watch as his footprints,
Go past in the grass.

So, think of a feeling,
From when you were younger.
Now, give it a color,
Or call it by name.

Then pull up the covers,
And keep your head under,
And smile at the darkness,
And know who's to blame.

So, if you can gather,
The pictures I scatter.
Like daisies in sunlight,
You weave into chains.

Then we'll be the ones,
Who will look for the rainbows.
When others think only,
Of clouds when it rains.

The Ballad of the Bog

The Ballad of the Bog came to me while I was thinking about classic ballads and the nature of being a troubadour. It is the story of a haunting. I refer to it as "An ancient, English ballad the I wrote about 20 years ago."

My good friend Craig Coulter and I turned the poem into a song which we performed in our act, Coulter and Lewis. We finished writing it at 12:00 midnight, on Friday the 13th, under a full moon. Yes, we had a little "inspiration"!

The lovely and talented Kate Price recorded The Ballad of the Bog on her album, Isle of Dreaming.

Let me know what you think.

The Ballad of the Bog
Mark Lewis
©1985 Laughing Moon Productions All Rights Reserved

The ruins stood within the bog,
The folk knew not from whence they came.
A rumor floated in the fog,
Of a white and wistful, ghostly dame.

‘Twas said she prowled the ruined walls,
and all the while bemoaned her fate.
Down crumbling, moss-encrusted halls,
Her voice would echo and relate.

Now no one common dared go near,
This spirit-place, all brown and gray.
For all who ventured ran with fear,
And quaked with faces made of clay.

A stranger heard the village tell,
The tale of spectre, moss and stone.
From stories heard around the well,
He’d see it for himself - alone.

He found within the haunted place,
A maiden, sleeping very sound.
With dark hair streaming ‘cross her face,
And falling tangled to the ground.

He slowly crept up to her side,
And bet his ear unto her chest.
And life within her did reside,
A faint heart-beat within her breast.

The wind then moved the cloud aside,
Which made the moon reveal her face.
He jumped behind a wall to hide,
As light filled up the horrid place.

And as he watched with fullest awe,
An evil mist fell from the stones.
And uttering words of ancient law,
It settled down into her bones.

Her eyes shot wide! She sat upright!
A flame of yellow burned insane.
Her moaning filled the frightened night,
And echoed through the halls again.

He froze stock-still as she went by,
He prayed she would not see him there!
No human looked from out her eyes,
It was a demon’s fiery stare!

The specter heard the church bells toll,
and stopped the maiden’s sad lament.
And with a scream it left her soul,
And she collapsed, her body spent.

The evil mist then pulled away,
And wisp-ed back from whence it came.
The night seeped back without delay,
And silence then held court again .

The plan was now set in his mind,
Without a sound he rode away,
And left the ruins far behind,
Before the breaking of the day.

He knew just what he had to do,
There were no doubt-clouds n his eye.
‘Twas clear to him as morning dew.
He’d rescue her, or he would die.

His father’s sword he buckled on,
And pulled the belt tight at his waist.
He knew that what would come anon,
Would find him live or shroud-encased.

The day was spent in plans and schemes,
The hour now was growing late.
Then armed with naught but sword and dreams,
He rode to meet what lay in wait.

He gathered up the maiden and,
Removed her to the open air.
And laying down upon the sand,
He took her place and waited there.

The time was nigh - the Mist arrived,
And took it’s evil, alien shape.
With lengthy neck and bulbous eyes,
He realized there was no escape!

With gruesome gait and glow insane,
The specter hung o’er where he lay.
A sudden thought went through his brain -
He might ne’er see the light of day.

He grabbed the mist - it screamed with hate,
And twisted in his surly grip.
He drew his sword and struck his pate,
And cross his glove its green blood dripped!

The maiden woke when it was dead,
And ran into the young man’s arms.
His heart reached out to her and said,
I’ll keep you safe and out of harm.

The End