The Parson’s Tale ‘The Gospel Truth’

Rather than read me talking about it, here it is: the biog followed by the real thing. PAxxx

Rap, The Son aka ‘The Parson’: I learnt my skills on the street not the classroom. African ancestry, spitting in my hands free, born and bred and battling in Canterbury. I’ve got an ology in the trilogy: allegory, tautology, and etymology. Fired by KRS-One and the Bible: in the hip hop academy, an Old Skool disciple.

… Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls… Jeremiah 6:16

My beloved, truth isn’t tender, it’s tough.
I’m keepin it real, no rum, ram, ruf,
rhyme for a reason, rap that reaps an sows
wheat from the chaff, punchier than prose.
So it flows – Seven Sins was my Crew, you can ask them,
use ta be ‘The Pimp’ but now I’m ‘The Parson’.
Parental advisory, listen to the lesson,
this be no sermon, this be my confession.

Two roads diverged from the A2
one went to Heaven, the other Hey, you!
Fancy some fun, brotha, won’t ya park ‘n’ ride?
I paid a heavy price an’ I puckered up to PRIDE.
Her lips were wide, painted to a botox smile
and her scent more expensive than the square mile,
chandeliers in her ears and a designer outfit
gown so long it was trailing in dogshit.
What of it? Sista had diamonds in her teeth,
the only thing concerned me was what was underneath
the gown, her bra was brief, she paid a monumental pound
for cleavage as full as the Dane John Mound.
Jack fell down and broke his crown for a bling singer,
diva wrapped the rapper round her ring finger.
I loved my enemy, vicar was the MC,
PRIDE was my bride and our bridesmaid was ENVY.

Truth isn’t tender, it’s tough as they come,
keepin it real with a ruf, ram, rum.
Seven Sins was a rough an’ ready bunch,
my beloved, listen to the power of my punch.

ENVY hung out with ASBOS and Chavs,
they was the have nots and we was the haves.
She looked fine as a glass of wine but she craved
the high life, wanted to be my wife, slaved
in the kitchen creating feasts to seduce me –
Whitstable oysters all tender and juicy.
Her tongue was forked, she was an ace cook
but she was bitchin us daily on Facebook
in French. She had a versatile tongue.
She gave me the rope and I was, well, hung.
She had two faces, one fair and one foul,
she had two brothers, fresh outta jail.
They were pimps – and she worked for them both,
the bad one was WRATH, and the mad one was SLOTH.
I took a stake in their undeclared business
Pride was my bride and Envy my mistress.

Truth is tough when it comes to wham bam,
I hit the wrong road, the ruf, rum, ram.
Seven Sins was givin me bitterness an stress

but temptation’s bustin out of a low-cut dress.

Wrath and Sloth were the Canterbury Krays,
suits so sharp you be bandaged up for days.
Wrath would attack if you said a crow was Black,
Sloth needed crack just to get out of the sack
an’ I was Jack planting my cash to hatch gold.
But brothas was hatching a plot to snatch tenfold,
sent sex on legs times two to unbutton me –
one was called GREED, the other called GLUTTONY.
They had a catering business called Cayenne,
catered for men, if you know what I’m saying
but they did weddings, and they managed mine,
GREED for the profit, GLUTTONY for fine wine.
GREED sucked the gold from my teeth till I was poor,
GLUTTONY ate my face till it was raw.
God’s law. If you deal with deadly sins, you be dust
that’s what you get when PRIDE marries LUST.

The gospel truth is a rough tough lesson
but hear me, beloved, here ends my confession.      
In heart, in word, in deed I be repenting –
Canterb’ry Cathedral I be frequenting.
Took the wrong path but now I’m on the right track,
tempted but power of prayer helps me fight back.
Alright Jack, now that God is my guide,
Faith is my sista, Humility my bride.

‘Seven’

I rewatched ‘Seven’ last week when Jeremy was out. Wow! Even better second time round. Saw it when it came out ten years ago and it got under my skin so much I referenced it in several poems in Transformatrix. I was also reminded of Don Paterson’s poem, Rain. It rains on every day of the film apart from the last one. It really feels like Armaggedon. It’s a pretty bleak film but I like noir so it’s in my top 10. Or maybe even my top 3. The dialogue is also brilliant, and the way the film uses colour, especially blood as a contrast to the grey. (And guess what, it’s on Channel 5 this week. Talk about coincidence.) Yeah, it probably influenced Bloodshot Monochrome  too. The idea was to watch something brilliant to inspire me to great writing. I certainly woke up the next morning inspired but unfortunately it wasn’t a writing day so I couldn’t harness the energy.

Went to Canterbury yesterday on an Artist date (to try to get into the mode) and took a photo of the cathedral – this is not it. I find it impossible to ignore it from the High Street. It draws me in every time. It was good quiet time.

 The main idea was to go the the Canterbury Tells night in Coffee and Corks, an atmospheric intimate venue next to the cathedral (but seems like it’s closing down soon??) Anyway, was great to hook up with East Kent writers I was expecting like Vicky Wilson who’s one of the laureate  Squad and ones I wasn’t – like Dianne Langford from Whitstable whom I got to know from a Centerprise group in Hackney twenty years ago. There was mainly good poetry and one or two poetic gems. I enjoyed turning up unanounced and performed R&B for the Music, Love (and Food) theme.

A fun evening and it kind of fed into today’s writing which was not quite getting blood out of  a stone but was at times painful.

So what seems to be the problem? I think the main one is The Parson’s Tale isn’t a tale so it’s hard to know what to do with it. I started a tale with an inciting incident and some idea where it was going but I might need a much tighter plot beforehand to give me momentum. Having said that, there were one or two nice lines and if I can just get into the groove (thanks Tupac for being such a genius and making me cry listening to Brenda’s Got a Baby) maybe I’ll come up with something that inspires me. You can get away with reading an OK straight poem but you’ve got to get into the groove for a rap or you’ll never pull it off. So I need to get deep into the story and identify with the characters more. Or they’ll just be types in a mediaval morality play. Pride. Envy. Lust. Should surely be able to have some fun. Guess I’m also aware I need to ref Chaucer’s original more language-wise but could well try to do that at later edit. Get the raw story down first then play with it. Add the images and pep up the language then. Time is tight. Need to act as if I have to finish it the end of this week. It feels like it. As they say on Numberjacks, anything can happen…

Tea, tracks and translations

Had a nasty bug last week which set me back by a few days. And the scarey deadline looms. Have decided to go for one piece and not feel pressured to produce more to ‘showcase’ on March 2. This isn’t the time of year for stuff to be coming out of the soil. Only snowdrops and I don’t do snowdrops. Black tulips more like it. Or tulips red as the beginning  of Blue Velvet. I’m still at the research stage.

So here I am drinking tea to give myself an articifial kickstart. The tea has to be green tea with honey. This is my Monday drink. Monday’s the day I get home from dropping the children, sit at the computer and get on with it. Today I made the mistake of having a couple of wonderful dark chocolates laced with coffee  to accompany the tea. Now I feel anxious and sick. I never learn. Stick to green tea and honey and calming carbs. Anyway, tea ususally helps me to focus. I managed to edit the biog for The Parson to 50 words not including the name, which now goes like this:

Rap, The Son aka ‘The Pastor’: Rhythm’s the spirit and Poetry’s the godfather. African ancestry, spitting in my hands free, born and bred and battling in Canterbury. I’ve got an ology in the trilogy: imagery, tautology, and etymology. Fired by The Roots and The King James Bible, in the hip hop academy, an Old Skool disciple.

So I have a character and I’ve been on Spotify listening to Ice Cube, KRS-ONE, The Roots, Public Enemy. You name it. To get into character and voice. Also for sheer pleasure. ‘Cos the Parson’s so-called tale is sooooooo dry. It’s like reading a text book for an exam. At least it’s clearly written and obsessed with categories and subcategories of sin which makes it easier to take notes. But I have to punctuate it with hardcore hip hop (that would make the Parson turn in his grave) to stay sane. And awake. And I’m ashamed to say, I’m reading it in translation. It was just too tall a task to read the ‘myrie tale in prose’ in Middle English at this stage. I read Chaucer for rhymes, for irony, for fun. The only good bit in the Parson’s tale so far is when he’s describing bling. He goes into so much detail I think he doth protest too much. Infinite detail on ostentatious and/or revealing clothes. I’d recommend it. Impossible to be 100% boring when outlining sin. 

Has anyone out there actually read it in the original …for pleasure?

I’ve decided to make it into a ‘tale’ but I can’t see it being very merry. Suits me to end the book on a dark note. It worked with my last two.

I’ve really started with the greatest challenge. This is madness. This is ‘being Canterbury Laureate and feeling under pressure to create something Canterbury oriented’. I keep telling myself pressure is a good thing, pressure is a good thing, pressure is a good thing…

So the last shall be first – Matthew 20:16

I’m working on The Parson’s Tale. The only reason I’m tackling the longest and by a long shot the most boring tale first is I’d like to showcase it at my Uni Kent reading next month. 2 March to be exact. The last tale was told in Canterbury so it would be a nice gesture to the city to have a bash at it. Gives me a long time to revise it if it’s total rubbish. Which it shouldn’t be. But will definitely need lots of editing after I’ve written some of the other pieces. Decided that as it isn’t a ‘murie tale in prose’ at all, but a long and turgid sermon, I should make mine more sermon-like and the obvious delivery was rap because rap plays with language but can get away with being preachy.  And then I realised that the word ‘rap’ can be extracted from P A R S O N so am now working on an anagram for the teller of the tale. It won’t work for all tales but will be fun. There must be a good anagram website out there. I didn’t expect to be writing the biog for the teller before the tale but it kind of makes sense for this one. A 25 year old Canterbury-based rapper who knows his theology. I need to hang out in Canterbury again soon to soak up the vibe once I’ve written a first draft. Also got to find that fantastic rap tape Carl did for me a decade ago. I’m going for Old Skool rap (it’s a Chaucer rewrite so I want to keep a retro flavour) but there’s one track in particular about key figures in the bible being Black that should feed into my piece. So watch this space…