Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Director's Resurrection by Jennifer Compton

The Director’s Resurrection


My grandfather, the coal carter, started a new business
in the house where his wife and nine children lived.

When he died, after an illness, his two sons
took over the business,

a wooden box factory, can you imagine?
My father, the younger, the Company Director.

My uncle, the elder, the Managing Director.
The family no longer lived on the premises.

My father took his ticket to be a saw doctor. And yes,
I’ve heard all the jokes about the saw doctor’s daughter.

He’d come home of an evening, scattering sawdust,
with talk of pinus radiata and a queer sort of tree –

forbeetoo. Say it quite slowly.
He’d spent the day with his head bent to the

incandescent shrieking of band saws and circular saws,
and his brother above him. Always above him.

I knew on the early starts when he was the only
one there, he threw crumbs for a mouse

that he swore was the same one, year after year.
I don’t think so.

But of what did he think as he bent to the work
his wife and children had sentenced him to?

One night he came home from The Box Factory, reached for
the bottle marked Drink Me – turned to me with a sweet smile.

You like books – he said – and I thought of a good one.
You could write it you know, for I don’t have the gift.

The band saw jammed, like they often do. As I crouched
down to clear it I saw I’d left the safety off, and sweat!

That was nearly me! And I thought of a thriller
where two brothers run a business.

The older one grinds the younger down so he plots to behead him.
Then he’s called away because, say, his wife is having a baby.

He sees his chance, leaves the safety off.
His brother has to cover but he hasn’t got his ticket

so when the saw jams, and they’re buggers for that,
the band saw bites down and kills him quite quickly

but no one thinks anything and after the funeral
the younger brother runs the business all on his own.

The Director’s Resurrection!” What do you think?
It’s good – I said – It’s good. One day I’ll write it.

I have run out of other poet's poems to put up - I'm working on that, reading intensively and emailing out calling in favours. So as Poetry Tuesday is in abeyance for a while I will pull out some old stuff of mine and see how it stands up. This poem is in my book Parker & Quink published by Ginninderra Press. I thought of it because I am answering some questions for the Cordite/Prairie Schooner collaboration about work, so I went back to look at this poem.


  1. I love the 'queer sort of tree - forbeetoo'. The change in tone and the change to italics is deftly done. I am tempted to ask after the Uncle's fate! Thanks Jennifer.

  2. Yes, I love that line too, followed by the command 'say it slowly'. I rather like the 'hist!' at the beginning of the poem, too. Thanks so much for posting, Jennifer!

  3. thanks people for dropping by - nobody was beheaded, it was all in the imagination - my uncle died many years later - probably of drink - those old time guys liked to drink what!

  4. I enjoyed the narrative, Jennifer, and the mouse ... :)