Poetry by Rhys Hughes
WILLIAM TELL It’s hell to be a fussy William Tell. He refuses to aim his crossbow at the apple unless it’s peeled. But how does one peel a crossbow? ROBIN HOOD Robin Hood has a slightly strange quirk. He could rob a bank instead of travellers if he chose to and many would thank him for that. Yet banks didn’t exist back then: he would have to establish one himself in order to raid it but he’s afraid of paperwork. SINDABAD THE SAILOR His tailor was a failure and it drove Sinbad mad that the colourful robes he ordered to be made tended to fade when exposed to just a little salt spray. “How can I have adventures in pastel clothes? I want to wear bolder shades when I go looking for gold and gems!” he muttered. His tailor only smiled in reply but when Sinbad’s back was turned, he returned to his original shape. He was a gigantic genial green genie. NED KELLY Suits of armour rather do chafe but they keep you safe from the bullets of the Law. If you are poor and truly believe you need to rob banks to feed yourself then taking precautions is a lot less awful than being shot into small portions. DANIEL BOONE Daniel Boone needed more room so he went westward until he came to Kentucky where he was lucky to survive all the various dangers. Easily bored and a man of few words he rarely spoke to his friends but often said howdy to strangers. HONG GILDONG He had magic powers but no pockets on his trousers So he kept his keys strapped to his knees with a bowstring. That was a clever thing to do because if he was attacked he simply bent a leg and shot one of those iron objects with serrated teeth into the locks of their shocked looks. Sometimes a key ended up in an assassin’s mouth and unfastened his tongue and it wasn’t much fun for that very bad man. MARTÍN FIERRO On the pampas he was hampered by fate when he filled a hamper with picnic foods but forgot to bring a knife to cut the bread and cheese. Sitting down with a deep frown and trying to tease meaning from political debates while chewing vast sandwiches with the local cowboys. Gaucho Marx! JESSE JAMES He was a bushwhacker in his youth and the bushes plotted to whack him back eventually. And they did but not with a literal club when he hid in thorny scrub one prickly dangerous day. DON QUIXOTE His beard is a goatee. His horse is a bag of bones. He has no home. His servant, Sancho Panza, acts like a panda, slow and plodding, chewing often. While he, chivalrous in a haphazard frivolous manner, never clamours for dinner but only demands noble and gallant repartee. TWM SIÔN CATI A cunning thief and trickster he once took a leaf out of his own book and refused to give it back. Into a sack of looted treasure it went while he went into hiding in the hills near Rhandirmwyn. Those cursed heights! Whether or not he read the words on that stolen page or not matters not a jot. Our concise advice is the worst. HENRY MORGAN Why is that pirate yawning? Doesn’t he know that the golden age of salty rogues is dawning? He will do well come hell or high water and never give quarter if he wakes up in parallel with the zeitgeist, ropes all spliced so his sails won’t fail but billow large and not nice like a poltergeist wrapped in the sheets of a foamy sea. Wait and see! RASPUTIN I don’t want these cakes! I don’t want this wine! You might say I’m fussy but I know my own mind. I won’t dispute in this room that Rasputin is doomed but right now I feel fine. It’s not time to become just a footnote of mystery in the annals of history. No cakes, no wine for me! DICK TURPIN The highwayman is hurting because of a pin that was concealed within the bag of coins offered to him by the hand of his victim through the curtain of a stagecoach window. His thumb is bleeding and the carriage is receding down the rutted road. He is annoyed and will take no joy from the successful robbery because he is fussy about injuries at work and only respects big ones. That’s his rule of ruddy thumb. PANCHO VILLA It’s time to retire from revolutionary thrills and live in the hills in a cottage or bungalow. But just in case you don’t know fussy Pancho declines to dwell in any abode less swell than a villa in classical mode well-stocked with wines. GERONIMO Geronimo is learning to parachute from one of the newly invented aircraft on the off chance it will help his cause. Paratroopers will surely be effective in future wars. That’s what he thinks. But he refuses to jump out of the plane unless he is given a memorable name to shout as he does so.
Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.
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