One Thousand Word Challenge: Fabliau 8.25.2012

This year’s final One Thousand Word Challenge story blew past the 1,000 word mark because the image ( from my good friend ~M inspired me to do something I’ve been wanting to do, and that is to write a Fabliau. What is a Fabliau, you ask?

It is a poem in octosyllabic verse. I was unsure if I should have applied a rhyming scheme, so I did not. Fabliaux (plural of Fabliau) were popular in the 12th and 13th centuries in France, and some inspired works such as Canterbury Tales and Decamerone, or so wikipedia tells me.

That said, take warning. The following giant block of text is a bit on the dirty side. ADULT CONTENT is in this Fabliau, though I don’t feel it is half as racy as its ancient cousins. However, those of you who don’t like double entendres or are particularly sensitive, I encourage you to seek out another story to take a peek at. Otherwise, please enjoy.


Gerard Dupris was a minstrel,

Who traveled all over the world.

He was quite lucky to possess

The world’s most majestic organ.


He learned to play it as a boy,

Practicing each and every night.

When he played it for the neighbors,

The women would swoon with delight


“His hands are truly amazing,

His fingers quite slender and long”

Said Madame Canard, giggling


Jean Canard did not join in;

His brain boiled like a beef stew –

Large chunks of unrequited lust

Lightly peppered with jealousy,

In a thick, red broth of anger.


“Why do you all profess your love

To a boy who has never worked?

All day long he sits in his room,

Playing with his giant organ.


“You women should appreciate

The instruments your men possess.

I plow the field ev’ry day,

Sweating and panting with effort,

And you idolize this young boy?”


Madame Canard smirked at her man,

Patted him gently on his head,

And guided him into the bed.


“A woman needs more than plowed land,”


Explained the surly man’s young wife,

“We need finer things, like music;

Art and beauty are part of us,

Toiling and strength are part of you.

I would not keep you from your lot,

You should not keep me from my own.”


She soothed her husband’s worried mind;

Their house was at peace through the night.


Until there was a bizarre sound,


Jean Canard rose from his night’s rest

Finding that something was amiss.

He heard a melodic panting

That carried on the morning air.


His wife had left their tiny bed

Before the sun had arisen.

He walked the streets in his nightshirt,

Worries creased his brow as dawn broke.


“Was she kidnapped? Or raped? Or killed?”


Serpents writhed in Jean’s stomach;

He raced across the village square,

Following the eerie moaning,

Looking through an open window;


“Stroke the pipe gently with your hand,

Be careful as you near the top.”

Gerard instructed the woman,

Holding her hand as she polished.


“With the preliminaries done,”

Said the young man with a broad grin,

“I can teach you how to handle

This most versatile instrument.”


“You will find that my hands are skilled,

They are strong, and they are quite swift,

As though they are made for this task.”

Madame Canard smiled proudly.


A cat observes before its pounce,

But Jean Canard was not a cat.

Graceless, he leapt through the window,

Howling like a raging giant.

His night shirt rising as he flew,

Spreading in the dim light like wings.


Madame Canard pulled her hand back,


Gerard Dupris let out a moan –

His face melted into a frown.


Jean Canard landed, half naked

Straddling young Gerard Dupris.

Time stood still for seven heartbeats –

The two intertwined like lovers

But embarrassment, not anger

Colored the cheeks of the two men.


“Did you just – um?” asked Jean Canard


“Yes,” answered the young man blushing.


After that, Gerard had resolved –


“Playing with another man’s wife

Might be fun, but it won’t end well.”


Resolutions are made, but lost

As times heals and hides their cause.


Men often repeat their follies

Gerard repeated his often –

He left a wake across the land

Made of broken hearts and houses.


Chased from towns by angry husbands

His name became too infamous:

He became a dark harbinger,

His coming – ominous to men

Who could not entertain their wives.


They would stand at the township’s gates,

Burly arms crossed and cold eyes fixed

Upon the wanderer’s organ.


“Take that out in front of my wife,”

They said, usually with knives in hand,

“and we’ll take care of you for good.”


This did not always stop Gerard,

Though he found more danger than joy.


He traveled to the big city –

Lost in the thronging multitudes

Gerard plied his trade unpunished.


Yet, no man can stop the sunrise.

And a decade passes quickly.

It is ev’ry man’s lot to age,

And Gerard was no exception.


In his soul, he felt a pining –

Small at first, but it grew slowly.


He started to yearn for something –


A roof over his head, a chair,

A hearth with a blazing fire,

A wife tending him, and also

Children for him to teach and love.


He sat in a tavern, amazed –

His organ began to bore him.

The endless parade of women

Had become dull and tiresome.

Mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives –

Their faces blended into one

One that was un attainable,

The one that would make him happy.

She would love him for who he was,

Instead of the gift he possessed.


A girl walked into the tavern

She had a cute smile and short hair,

She was quite young and beautiful.


In her possession was a box

Which was rather tiny and plain.

As she walked across the tavern,

All of the men stared at her box.


Gerard asked the man next to him,

“Who is the girl with that small box?”


The man laughed and smiled toothlessly,

“That is Helen, and she is great.”


“What does she do that is so great?”


“Just watch and listen, and you’ll see.”


Helen sat on a tall barstool,

The box in between her long legs.

She smiled coyly at all the men,

And each one watched in rapt silence

As she produced a curving crank

Out of the valley of her breasts.

She held it up for all to see,

And lowered it towards the small box.


The curved crank slid into a hole.

With swift, smooth motions she turned it.

The tempo quickened, and then noise!


A glorious sound filled the room,

Chasing away the dark and gloom.

Suddenly, Gerard realized –

Helen was the woman for him.


She continued to turn the crank,

As men laid down money for her.

She gave each man a small cheek peck


Gerard stood in line like the rest,

Put down his money before her,

And accepting her tender kiss.

He expected a reaction,

But she just smiled and turned her crank.


Gerard came back each afternoon,

Wondering what he should ask her.

He wasn’t used to such a girl –

She would smile and take his money

Then respond with a tiny kiss


Gerard wanted to be wanted


He concocted a special plan.

One the next day she would arrive,

She would start playing like normal

And then Gerard would interfere


He would show her his great organ,

Show her how impressive it was;

She was sure to fall in love then.


They could make music together.


However, when he tried his plan

Helen just laughed and shook her head.


“What woman needs a man,” she said,

“To make music for her,” she laughed,

“When she can make her own music,

Just by turning her tiny crank.”


Ev’ryone in the tavern laughed

They elbowed each other and joked,

All at the expense of Gerard.


He wondered about a new plot


He followed her home one dark night

Though the city’s twisting alleys,

Until she disappeared into

A small hovel beside a store


The store was shuttered for the night,

But her small hovel had no door.


A snake lays still to watch its prey,

Striking in a single, swift blow.


Gerard dove into the hovel,

To see Helen, naked, waiting,

Her hands clutching her tiny box.


“I knew you were following me”


Gerard stopped where he stood, puzzled.


“All I need to do is call out,

And my father will use his knife

To cut out your still beating heart.”


Gerard considered retreating

But before he could take a step

Helen said, “I can still call out.”


She stepped towards Gerard and grinned.


Monsieur Canard was awakened

Startled by a familiar sound.

It was the strange moaning again


He turned and found his wife in bed

Relieved, he let out a great sigh


The sound was loud and very close

The store was shuttered for the night,

And the sound seemed to emanate

From the apartment next to it

Where his adopted daughter lived

But he turned and went back to sleep


“It is probably just Helen,”


He said, letting out a huge yawn,


“She does take after her father.”


About harrylthompsonjr

I'm a writer, a photographer, and a lover of role playing games. I've moved my blog to wordpress in hopes of actually getting some feedback. We'll see :)
This entry was posted in One Thousand Word Challenge, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to One Thousand Word Challenge: Fabliau 8.25.2012

  1. ~m says:


    Definite reference to the randier tales in the Heptameron, eh?
    Skillfully played.

    • ~m says:

      aw, my full response is too crazy to fit on your format, lol.

    • I’m glad you dig it. As soon I I saw that bit of carousel, I immediately thought “a spectacular organ”. Then I giggled to myself.

      As I was working on it, I was going to ask your opinion about a rhyming scheme, but I wanted the Fabliau to be a surprise, so when I read my e-mail before sending it, it sounded like spy talk and decided that I would nix the mail and see what happens.

      Next one I do? Rhyming couplets throughout. I’m thinking February Fabliau needs to happen.

      Thanks for your participation!

  2. Sarah says:

    So dirty. ^_^

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