Sunday, 14 December 2014

Star Light, Star Bright


I didn't think that it would rain,
Then couldn't find my key.
I lost a heel in the mud,
Then tripped and skinned my knee.
I tried to use my cell phone
But the battery was dead.
I hobbled to a bus stop
To take transit home instead.
I waited and I waited
Underneath the grinning moon.
And then I saw a sign that said:
"Bus service will start soon."
I spied a phone booth down the road
And limped up to the phone.
I struggled to find change and then
There was no dial tone.
I stumbled to a diner -
And with mounting desperation -
I calmly pleaded for my life,
Given the situation.
Somebody lent me their cell phone.
I called home for a ride.
And while I waited round for them,
I staggered back outside.

And then I noticed a huge star,
Was hanging in the sky.
Are there wise men in the neighborhood?
Or lost ships passing by? 
Because if that's a wishing star,
It's just a little late.
It could have showed up long before,
I got into this state.
But still and all, a chance to wish,
Is not a thing to pass.
So I made a wish upon that star:
Please let my ride come fast.
And just like that the car was there,
To end that awful night.
And from the vehicle, I heard:
 "I just made every light".

note:  This poem was written several years ago when I began exploring comedy genres that would translate well into poems.  I found more inspiration in film than in books – the reason being, I think, that film, like poetry, is much more compressed and the telling of the story more rapid-fire than in a book.  Of course, everyone is familiar with the Romantic Comedy, but I found that there are a number of comedic forms that appear in films.  A few that, I think, could (and do) hold up well in humorous poems are:  “Parody” (ex. Pink Panther), “Black Comedy” (ex. Dr. Strangelove), “Fantasy Comedy” (ex. Groundhog Day) and “Anarchic Comedy” (random or stream-of-consciousness humor that often satirizes a form of authority, such as in National Lampoon’s Animal House) - and, of course, there can be a certain amount of cross over within these forms.

For me, though, “Fish Out of Water” (and yes, that is the term) comedy scenarios (as in the films Tootsie and Private Benjamin) really stand out as offering many humorous applications in poetry (and to my mind, some of the best).  This is because, I think, empathetic people see echoes of themselves in the foibles of others and in the reactions that others have when caught in a ridiculous situation.  One of my favorite “Fish Out of Water” films is The-Out-of-Towners (the 1970 Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis version, my personal fav), where a couple en route from Ohio to an interview for a job promotion in New York – encounter one problem after another in an escalating cascade of disasters that become more and more far-fetched and hysterically funny, as the film proceeds.  “Star Light, Star Bright” was my attempt to take such a, seemingly, routine event and spiral it into wits-end mayhem – ending, as most “Fish out of Water” films do:  in an All’s Well That Ends Well (albeit unexpected) way.

photo:  Star Light, Star Bright (ink doodle) - W. Bourke

© 2011 Wendy Bourke 


  1. Ah, when everything seems to go wrong and one is most down and out, it is good to see a star above to wish on. It can't hurt and it just might help.....

  2. hectic day it seems but then all is well that ends well

  3. The postscript was as interesting as the poem .. first I wondered if this was something that happened to you.. I like the concept of comedy, and this would work in a film I think.. Some very nice scenery,, and I could just think about that dialogue at the diner trying to borrow a cell-phone.. I think you should pursue more in this genre.. after all imagination and fiction gives us all such freedom to fabulate...

  4. I wondered, too, at first if this had happened to you, so I didn't want to laugh. :-o. Well done! I enjoyed the commentary too.

  5. ha. its cool...and the jaunty rhythm of the piece plays well into the humor....
    its like a string of misfortunes....finally the start though...there to get us home...

  6. A Christmas miracle! Ha! But I would think of it as one if I had just experienced such a sequence of events. Smiles. I so enjoyed this poem, Wendy. And I definitely want to watch The Out-of-Towners now. Can always use a good laugh!