Annie Taylor’s Barrel Ass by Simon Williams

in Poetry/Spotlight

I was no young wire-walker

out of a Barnum sideshow.

I taught music, turned the handle

like a monkey for the organist.

.

A not-so nubile sixty three and soon

for the women’s workhouse, I rolled

the barrel out, scraped the river bottom

with the pitched rim of it.

.

Good oak and iron

to protect me from the drop,

a duck-feather mattress

to protect me from the oak and iron.

.

I took the slow water, where the cat had

embarked, tumbled, been rescued with

a single scratch. That river took my barrel

with a bob to the edge I never saw coming.

.

I considered a further stanza, here,

about the fall, the falls,

but it would have been

four lines of trailing scream.

.

Not that anybody heard me,

with the roar of the water.

The rescue boaters broke me out,

before the fug did what the drop hadn’t.

.

Would I do it again, they always ask;

come to me with cascades I could try.

I sit here rooted to the stage,

let them pick their favourite. Tell them go fly.

.

Annie Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel

barrel ass – to charge headlong

.

.

Simon Williams (www.simonwilliams.info) has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House (www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848), which has also toured in performance. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and is currently developing a one-man poetry show, Cosmic Latte.