A Note to A.A. Milne 

(on the occasion of my mother's 88th birthday)

BARBARA FRIED

James James

Morrison’s mother

wasn’t lost at all.

James James

Morrison’s mother

had had enough, is all.

 

She woke up one morning,

sat up in bed, 

and said to herself, I’m through. 

I’ve had enough

of that snot-nosed kid

telling me what to do.

 

James James

Morrison’s mother

put on her frock and boots.

She looked at her hat,

and thought no, not that, 

and shook her brown ringlets loose.

 

She flew down the stairs

two at a time, 

and flung the front door open wide,

and there at her feet

was a world so sweet 

she just sat on the stoop and cried.

 

James James

Morrison’s mother 

hopped on a boat to Paree.

She climbed to the top

of Le Tour Eiffel

and then did it again, mais oui.

 

Her mornings began

with croissants and jam

in the corner patisserie,

and après midi

there was vin blanc et brie,

in place of her crumpets and tea.

 

James James

Morrison’s mother

Was born with a name of her own.

Not Mrs. Dupre

or darling Jim’s mom,

But Liliane Lucy Malone.

 

Walking one day

on the banks of the Seine,

Lily remembered poor Jim.  

"I hope he’s not worried

I’ve been mislaid,

or lost or stolen from him.”

 

“Dear James,” she wrote,

“don’t fret about me,

I left of my own accord.

I had to, you see,

if I’d stayed one more day, 

I’d have died of just being bored.

 

Try not to be quite so

bossy my dear, 

women are people too,

and can find their way

to the end of the town,  

without the likes of you.” 

 

James James

never did learn

to listen to his mother.   

He married once,

but his wife soon wised up

and left him for another.

 

He lives alone

in a dreary house

on a dreary London square,

muttering about the

good old days

when women just wouldn’t dare.

 

And Liliane Lucy

Malone, you ask?

There’s a happier tale to tell.

In the Louvre one day,

she stumbled upon  

a nude displayed on half-shell.

 

She studied the portrait

from top to toe 

including the coyly draped thigh,

and suddenly thought—

a bolt from the blue— 

if he can do that, so can I.

 

I’m happy to say that

she did, in her way,

not in his or anyone else’s. 

Next time you’re in London,

stop in at the Tate, and

you can go judge for yourselfses.   

 

So raise your glass

to Lily Malone  

and the rest of her coterie,

who had their fill

of obeying men 

and worse yet, boys of three,

 

and said, “That’s enough,

I’ve a mind of my own

and I’ll go where I wish when I like,

and if that’s not OK

dear husbands and sons,

you’re welcome to take a hike,”

 

then opened the door

and stepped outside

to the brilliant blue of the sky,

with nothing to hold to

but one brave thought:  

If they can do that, so can I.