Breaking a case of writer's block
This poem came to me in the fall of 1977, after a writer's block of nearly two years. I was taking a design class from John Chalke, who is such a private person that no one in the class knew anything about his work, even what medium he used. As an illustration to a point in class, he let slip that he was a potter. No one else picked up on it, but it stuck with me, and gave the poem its title, ironically, as the focus of the poem is his inscrutable, elusive smile. I later realized that, quite unconsciously, the little rhyme about "The Lady and the Crocodile" (a childhood favorite) had slipped in there, along with the deliberately-chosen Red Riding Hood reference. Like many poems I wrote at the time, this is a verbal portrait sketch.
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