Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, Line #1181: “The Calamity is Not Serious”

He catches the rain in his cooking pot.
He places a stone in his cooking pot.
There’s nothing to put in his cooking pot.
He dances by the fire as the water boils.

“Stone soup, stone soup,” he sings.
“Lend a little garnish,” he tells the village,

“soon you’ll each have a bowl.”
In go the carrot-tops, the rosemary,
in goes the hambone with its fatty kiss.
The children gather. The stray mewls.

Sometimes it has to be button soup.
Sometimes axe soup, sometimes nail.

In France he is a soldier, in Portugal
he is a monk stirring sopa de pedra.
Wherever he goes he is The Clever Man:
Folktale 1548 in the Aarne-Thompson index.

Not to be confused with his brothers
Eulenspiegel (1635), Master Thief (1525),

or 1574, The Flattering Foreman.
He’ll never have a turn as The Stupid Man,
The Man Looking for a Wife,
or The Man Who Kills (Injures) Ogre.

His is not the Cat as Helper (545B).
His will never be The Lucky Accident.

He wakes each day with an empty pot
and the spoon his grandmother gave him.
“Stone soup, stone soup,” he sings.
The heel on his left boot loosens, so

he dances harder. This town is his pantry.
His is the recipe that needs no knife.  

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