“The Fable of the Magic Porcupine” by Bob Rich

On a still, quiet night, on the edge of the town,

A curious creature, arrived without sound.

A garbage-strewn alley, bathed in shadowy dark

Is the place it appeared, its two eyes lit with sparks.

It walked up the alley, stepping over the grime,

And strolled past the dreams, that had rotted with time,

And stepped over bottles, that glowed ‘neath the moon,

And dark, cracked containers, of spilled fragrant perfume.

Its step: strangely sprightly, undisturbed, without fright;

Its eyes: like glass lemons, that poured out bright light.

And five homeless people, in their flat cardboard homes,

All stirred in the alley, with sighs and soft moans.

Across from the homeless, with crow-bar in his fist,

Stood a tired car thief, rapt in awe and dark mist ~~

He stared at the creature, at the glowing-eyed guest,

And he dropped the crow-bar, his hand clutching his chest.

And the porcupine walked, with a slow, steady path,

Past a man whose crushed heart, had received life’s fierce wrath:

This man’s heart had been trashed, like a cantaloup thrown

From off a high building, to the pavement’s dark groan.

This man, a musician, saw those eyes that flared on,

Which looked like twin lamps held by boatman Kharon *

Who could carry this man, over rivers that storm

With remorse and regret, til they reach someplace warm.

And a sad surfer girl, saw the porcupine too,

From her spot in the alley, with her face lit in blue,

And with tear-streaks that stained, like bright maps on her cheeks,

Showing mountains and valleys, where she roamed weary weeks.

Long ago, her heart held, a Roman Candle fire,

Which torched like a geyser, a fountain of desire.

Refrigerating chill: her dreams got torn apart,

And the sweet fire died, in the night of her heart.

Near the girl, a poet, saw those bright yellow eyes,

And he chose not to pierce, his pen into his thighs.

And an architect too, who had planned to soon make

An incinerator, where his blue-prints could bake.

And then, lastly, a king, getting ready to pound

His golden jeweled crown, on the alley’s cold ground ~~

Two members of his court, and three friends played their part:

They shot iron arrows, into his betrayed heart.

So, the king’s scarlet robe, and his scepter, and ring,

No longer felt regal, and no joy could they bring.

He had raised up to smash, his gold crown to small bits,

But the porcupine’s eyes, brought him back to his wits.

And then, out the alley, the porcupine was gone,

The king looked at the group, and he urged them all on.

The king motioned them out: surfer, poet, and thief,

Musician, architect, all in silent relief.

In quiet procession, the king leading the quest,

The group left the alley, to go find their quilled guest.

In a dimly-lit park, they found themselves searching,

Through the tall moon-lit trees, where shadows were lurching.

And there in a clearing, near a big muddy marsh,

The porcupine waited, ‘neath the moon: bright and harsh.

‘Round the marsh they all stood, ’round the wet salty soil,

For the first time in years, the sad king felt royal.

Then the porcupine stirred, and it closed its eyes tight,

And it shook and convulsed: five quills burst to great height.

The sharp quills shot straight up, and came down with a swoop,

Each spiked quill landing near, someone in the king’s group.

The porcupine was still, the night remained chilly,

A flower near the king: Yellow Waterlily.

Then the porcupine stared, with great force at the king,

And ’round the bright flower, the king heard voices sing.

The king announced, “Listen! What makes you feel alive?! ~~

With quill, in mud, draw it! Please! Each one of your five!”

Then the five promptly kneeled, and each took up their quill,

And in the mud’s canvass, all of them drew a thrill.

First, the architect stooped, to design a museum

Filled with sculpture and art — and this mud sketch freed him.

Next, the poet sat down, drew a meadowlark bird,

So he could write about, a sweet song he once heard.

The musician drew flutes, violins and a drum,

Guitars and a trumpet, and he heard the wind hum.

A melody floated, soft upon the night’s breeze,

He felt his heart surging, and warm tears came with ease.

And the car thief sat down, drew a body shop there,

Where he could repair cars, with mastery and flair.

Then the surfer girl sketched, waves which carressed her feet

Each morning when she rode, on the sea’s foaming seat.

And when they all finished, they found themselves smiling,

Thanks to that odd creature, with wide eyes beguiling.

The surfer girl whose tears, made face-stains like lightning,

Wiped away her tear-tracks, and saw the dawn bright’ning.

She reached out to embrace, the spikey, strange creature:

The porcupine was gone, but a gift it bequeathed her.

She saw them all smiling, and looked back at her wave,

She knew that a passion, can: redeem, heal, and save.

* * *

* In Greek mythology, Kharon (English pronunciation: `kair-on) is

the boatman who carries souls across the River Styx.

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