Gepetto and Son, Sans Pere 

The acquisition of a son
With an adequate corporeality, albeit with certain caveats,
Certain limitations in terms of progeny and posterity,
Had awaken something in the old man,
Certain forces leading him to the altar
And, subsequently, to the nursery once more
(A second son, brought to bear in the established manner.
With a minimum of drama and fanfare.)
The child was loved, in a rudimentary fashion;
While his flesh-and-blood bona fides were beyond question,
He was a consumer, a thing of constant need
More akin to a hardship than his celebrated half-sibling,
Whose command of the spotlight
Served as a gravitational pull for parental affections.

The old man passed on after a spell,
Hanging on long enough for his second son
To stumble onto the precipice of adulthood
(His mother had hot-footed it out
Almost immediately after the burial,
Choosing to stage-mother her feted stepchild)
Though his fatherly wisdom
Was limited to matters of his craft, his business,
Which was left to the young man, though grudgingly at that,
As a sop, a means of getting shet of two unwanted encumbrances.
He’d proved to have much of the old man’s gift,
Whittling and carving puppets and toys and dolls
(Though with a certain grim fury making it evident to all
That the work was not a labor of love)
Rarely stopping to speak to or even acknowledge his clientele,
Except if one of them happened to repeat the time-worn chestnut
That the toy chooses the child, in which case he laughed harshly,
All but barking It’s the purse that closes the deal, not the puss,
And then he would return to carving some doll or marionette,
Which would always seem to have a certain wan look
Around the corners of the eyes, the edge of the lips,
The look of a child’s toy equipped with the foreknowledge
That it was destined for the back of some closet shelf,
The bottom of some attic-bound chest.


8 thoughts on “Gepetto and Son, Sans Pere 

  1. Where do you find your inspiration for your poetry? What would inspire you to work so hard on a poem like this about a woodcarver and his puppet?

    1. That’s a good question–and, frankly, I had been working on this one for long enough that the original spark is a bit lost to me ( as a further aside, I believe the first draft of this dates to 2005 or so, so it was a long time coming.) I think what may have pushed it along is that I had been re-touching a piece I wrote some time ago about a Capulet sister I’d spun out of whole cloth, and that may have lead me to put forward a heretofore unknown brother to dear old Pinocchio. I should also admit that I take an unexplainable pleasure at tweaking the odd creation of old Walt.

      1. Could be a poetry book idea…variations on the old stories. I would find such a book amusing. For example, you could be the new version of “Fractured Fairy Tales…”

  2. Very well done. Child is toy of parents, toy is child of grown up toy, adept at carving fatherless icons. There’s a book from the early ’60s by Alexandr Misterlich, “Society Without The Father,” it goes deeply into our cultural fatherlessness .. anyway, I keenly felt the second son’s adeptness and inadequacy, the harsh condition of such a heart faring on.

  3. Wow! What a look at the darker side of being a sibling of genius, the not quite favoured apple doomed to root at the foot of the tree.
    This shows your mastery of story-telling, but more, your keen acumen, and eye on the all too human condition.

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