Questionable Stropharia

I am approaching the end of a twenty six-week long docent training at a wildlife preserve. Last week we did fungi and lichen – right up my alley of weirdness. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm.

One thing about mushrooms  – they have the best names. Common names of birds, plants, fungi, insects, etc. generally make great raw materials for poetry if you tend towards the playful. (Some poets are so serious.)  These words make for good list poems. Mushroom names seem to lend themselves to children’s poetry, where the most immanent dangers are concealed by an illusion of innocence created by rhyming verse.

Jump rope rhymes are great because the rope keeps the beat and forces the person (people) speaking to slow down or speed up certain words in order to keep time. I like the way meaning becomes subordinate to sound while the jumper is in; it’s a great metaphor for childhood.

The Blue-Skinned Man – a Jump Rope Rhyme

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Ca-Caliban!
The blue-skinned man
is a Fungus Fan;
the holy see
of mycology,
He’s the Mushroom Man
from a far-away land

When I went a strolling
Below the forest rainbow,
The blue-skinned man told me:
“Careful where your feet go–

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Ca-Caliban!
The blue-skinned man
is a Fungus Fan;
the holy see
of mycology,
He’s the Mushroom Man
from a far-away land

“I’m a fungus in the dead logs,
A mushroom in the roots;
I’m a truffle in the ground
So be wary of your boots!”

Skip a rope, jump a rope,
get in line–
How many mushrooms can you find?

Ravenel’s Stinkhorn
Deadly Galerina
Turkey Tail, Inky Cap
Bleeding Mycena
Dead Man’s Fingers
Strangulated Amanita

Dryad’s Saddle
Dung-loving Psilocybe
Beefsteak Polypore
Poison Pie
Witch’s Butter
Club-footed Clitocybe

Orange Milky, Panther
Shaggy Parasol
Witch’s Hat, Death Cap
False Chanterelle

Destroying Angel
The King and Slippery Jack
Swamp Beacon, Dry Rot
Fading Scarlet Waxy Cap

Fawn and Pleated Puffballs
Ochre Spreading Tooth
Old Man of the Woods
Pig’s Ear and Velvet Foot

Devil’s Urn and Sulphur Shelf
Sweating, Sweetbreads
If the blue-skinned man
catches you, you’re DEAD!   (jumper goes out)

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Ca-Caliban!
The blue-skinned man
is a Fungus Fan;
the holy see
of mycology,
He’s the Mushroom Man
from a far-away land

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