Poetry Friday -Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. And be sure to check out Tabatha Yeatt’s blog to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 


Hello and Happy Friday and HAPPY POEMTOBER! It has been another chaotic week. But Friday is here. Back in 2017, I decided to write a spooky poem and paint a little picture to go along with it. Fair warning: I am not a very good artist (my husband has all the illustration talent).

I do the little paintings because it brings me joy to see things on the page. Even if they don’t ever turn out how I see them in my head. Take today’s for example. My painting is supposed to be a toad that a witch’s assistant may find deep in the woods. I think it looks like she got lazy and scraped some roadkill off the asphalt and called it good. And I’m alright with that. I wish I could approach all aspects of my life with such forgiveness.

I always enjoyed the part in Macbeth when the witches are around their cauldron brewing a potion: “Double, double toil and trouble;/Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” I decided to look to that part in the play for some inspiration and I learned that the first ingredient that you must boil is the entrails of a venomous (poisonous*) toad that has sat under a cold rock for 31 days. It got me thinking on how and who would harvest such an ingredient.

Witch’s Underling

Never the easy ingredients:
Eye of newt – mustard seeds
Bought at market
And the large hairy leaves
Of Hound’s Tongue weeds
Creeping towards the cottage

No, she sends me to this fetid bog
Late autumn’s chill
Slithering around me
Like the serpents
This cold snap has sent
To sleep for a season

My fingers ache with cold
As I lift log and stone
Searching for that slimy thing
Putrid poisonous pustules
Sweating from its back
A toad for her cauldron
© Becky Herzog, 2020

*My nerdy brain went back and forth on whether to make the frog poisonous or venomous but since potions are ingested, I went with poisonous (although Shakespeare says venomous in the play). Some interpret it to be a toad who has been bitten by a venomous snake. But in my mind, there wouldn’t be much left of a toad that was bitten a month ago.


18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday -Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

  1. Absolutely enchanting -! From the inspiration in Macbeth to the pursuit of ingredients (in research, that is) to the word choice between “poisonous” and “venomous,” your post and indeed your poem bubble with delight. Writing is a bit of toil and trouble in itself, also needing, sometimes, to be left under a cold rock for 31 days … not to mix a metaphor … oh, and this reminds me of a recent walk on the street in front of my house where a black worm (I thought) stopped dead in its “tracks” right in front of a my feet. With its head raised. Which worms do not do. Looked it up. Yup – a tiny snake, ring-necked, to be exact. Which is “slightly venomous.” Hmmm. What difference does “slightly” make -? We each slithered round the other and went on our merry ways … I do love every bit of this post!

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    1. Thank you! A few summers ago, we had a bunch of ring necks eggs hatch. It had rained and they were all over the parking lot. I’m not a huge fan of snakes, but they were pretty cute.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Considering that list of prompt words on Poemtober, I imagine you are going to have a bunch of fun with “toil and trouble” this month, Becky. Don’t apologize for your painting. It’s terrific! We have so few toads around Denver, just too dry, but perhaps near some streams that float through. They get a lot of attention which is interesting to me, and I have sympathy for that poor “Underling” sent off into the woods. I love that middle verse, those creepy woods you’ve shown so well: “Slithering around me
    Like the serpents
    This cold snap has sent
    To sleep for a season”

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    1. Thanks, Linda! We lived in Utah for 6 years and got used to the wildlife there. It was a bit of a shock coming back to FL and realizing how different the wildlife density is! My daughter’s 1st grade teacher commented on how obsessed she was with squirrels (they’re everywhere here). But she had never really seen on in Utah.

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  3. ha! That poor underling. I was completely taken with the story of your poem and enjoying how much it’s grounded in Shakespeare. You are BACK! This poem is so you–or at least the you I tend to remember from past poems. You know, this is totally the beginning of a collection. hint!

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  4. And you off to a great start, Becky. “Putrid poisonous pustules” – I think you made an excellent choice because the alliteration is one to give me the creeps…I hear you about chaotic weeks but poetry brings us back to our center or near center (as in my case).

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    1. Yes! It feels so good to be working on this little project. Even though everything is so chaotic, it’s nice to have a few minutes of “play” each day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic poem, Becky! And your illustration is divine… or maybe divining… or maybe just an awesome effort and far better than I could do. 😉 I could totally see this poem as part of a fun MG verse novel. (Maybe you should let that idea bubble for a while in your cauldron!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I’ll let it stew for a bit and see what comes out of it. A verse novel about the underling may be fun!

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  6. Awesome poem, Rebecca. I have a great mental picture of this witch’s assistant — rolling their eyes and sighing heavily — who loathes gathering these ingredients.

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