My son said, ‘Mum, I done a pome.’
And I said, ‘No, “I did”.’
‘You did not,’ he said to me. ‘It was me what did.
‘It’s called The Yeller Efalunt.’ I squinted at the kid.
‘Efalunt?’ I scratched my head.
‘Efalunt,’ said he.
‘You mean “elephant”,’ I said. He didn’t disagree.
‘Elephants aren’t yellow,’ I said. ‘Elephants are grey.’
‘It’s a pome, Mum,’ he replied, head shaking in dismay.
‘Teacher said that pomes don’t all have to make no sense.’
I grimaced. One of those teachers. No wonder my son’s dense.
‘Yellow. Elephant,’ I said,
‘And it’s “poem” by the way.
‘And elephants aren’t yellow,
‘Elephants are grey.
‘I’m sorry to repeat myself,
‘But I want to make you see,
‘The important role of realism when writing poetry.
‘May I read your rhyme?’ I asked, and he handed it to me,
‘“The Yeller Efalunt”,’ I read, ‘“by Freddie Nicklebee.
“The efalunt was in the zoo,
“But was a lonely feller,
“Cos the other efalunts were grey but he was real yeller.
“They laughed at him, those efalunts, nice animals they ain’t,
“But he got his revenge one day when he found a tin of paint.
“Bright yeller paint it was, left behind by the zookeeper,
“Once he’d finished cleaning up their muck, he was a great poo-sweeper”.’
I could see on Freddie’s face that this rhyme made him proud,
Personally, I thought that it should not be allowed,
‘No more,’ I said, ‘Your attempt at verse is coarse and infantile.’
‘Those aren’t good things,’ I added, as he began to smile.
I sent him to his room to think about what he’d done.
You wouldn’t catch Keats or Wordsworth writing couplets about dung.
Now, years later, I’m so very proud to see,
My Freddie’s first volume of published poetry.
I hold it in my hands and feel inflated with elation,
Eagerly I flip the pages to read the dedication.
‘To my Dad,’ it says, ‘My one true inspiration.’
But… what about me?
What about the role I played in his early poetry?
The constructive criticism? Help with spelling? ‘Yeller Efalunt’, indeed.
It was me that gave him all the tools he needed to succeed.
Not his Dad, that layabout, always stuck behind a book.
Me. Me. Me. I pushed him on, gave advice he never took.
When Freddie showed his Dad his work, all he did was take a look.
He’d maybe say, ‘That’s brilliant, son,’ but he wouldn’t offer guidance.
Yet when I said what didn’t work, all I got was silence.
Then he’d leave the room, his face so very glum,
No appreciation of my aid, not a single ‘thank you, Mum.’
I flick through pages but read no more.
I leave the tome just lying.
I stare at nothing very much then,
David Cook writes mainly flash fiction and has been published in a number of anthologies and online publications. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. Say hi on Twitter @davidcook100.