The Coleman Frog (a poem by Jesse Patrick Ferguson)

The Coleman Frog ... the worlds largest frog!!

Our recent Fredericton Arts Alliance Artist-in-Residence wrote this great poem during his week at the York Sunbury Museum

The Coleman Frog

A museum specimen now, the Coleman frog lies

under glass that keeps cynical fingers

at a safe distance. Fredericton’s Nessie,

this monster bullfrog hand-reared

on buttermilk, whiskey and bread

to a whopping forty-two pounds

by Fred Coleman, Victorian innkeeper

who flogged that oddity with the chutzpah

of a sideshow barker. Legend goes,

he’d come when called

by Fred’s dinner bell, and stuffed silly

on human fare, he stretched to man’s length—

five-foot-six from snout to webbed foot.

Until one day in 1885, death forced him to decline

Fred’s invitation to dine, and the bobbing frog

floated into Fred’s grieving arms.

He had the bugger stuffed, insisting

the taxidermist twist the lips up at the corners

so they might smile on the Barker House Hotel lobby.

Had Fred looked closer, he might have noticed

instead an ironic smirk on his unwitting mascot.

So legend goes. A few miles

from the York Sunbury Museum,

at Killarney Lake where Coleman once angled,

the amphibian population goes belly-up

along with those around the globe:

so many canaries in the coal mine

of our boundless exploitation.

A monstrous quiet spreads across

the lake’s surface and invades the sedges.

Coleman’s frog poses for one more photo,

looks sceptically back at tourists

through his magnifying-glass eyes.

His lips painted permanently shut

to preserve the dream of mutual goodwill

now grown dry and brittle

as centuries-old papier mâché that would collapse

inward at the slightest pressure.

by Jesse Patrick Ferguson, Fredericton, June 9, 2010 (posted with Jesse’s permission …. thanks Jesse!)

Fredericton Arts Alliance Artists in Residence Summer Series 2010 Schedule


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