Range Finders

El Búho’s head swings left, front, right.
His eyes note field and house.
His brain enjoys the moonlit night.
His stomach growls for mouse.

A haggard mouse shakes out the kilt
he wears to every ball
and little haggis scraps get spilt
which causes him to bawl.

El Búho’s ears hark rodent rue.
He feathers his great wings
and flings himself (without a clue
whereof the fey mouse sings)

from blue-spruce limb through summer air
in search of rodent ham,
of brain of rodent, rodent hair,
and deboned rodent jam.

Up in the air, his great wings spread,
El Búho gives a hoot
which makes a drunken cowboy, Red,
point his gun and shoot.

Dum-dums, blanks and hollow points
(the normal late-night shooters)
answer, firing from cheap joints
named Bubba, Scum, and Hooters.

Rounds of grape and double-ought
violate curfew
as boys untouched by what they’re taught
drag Von Braun’s V-2

out and fire it down the road
to break El Búho’s head,
but he drops down to scarf a toad,
escaping cowboy lead.

El Búho’s now dispatched the toad
and feels the sicker for it.
Later, lightened of this load,
he hunkers for some porrit

and thinks again of kilted mouse
and fancies Highlands hoatching
with mice in every dell and house.
El Búho plans some poaching.

From Sometimes in Balance

Swamp Stoat

[This is an experimental, 100-lines-so-far beginning of something: fantasy? mythology? ecology? fable? animal story?]

Squirrels of mercy, vagrant eagles,
and a swamp god’s left-out stoat
share a moment of communion
drawing straws for Joseph’s coat.

Vibrant, bleach-proof lurid colours
draw the vagrant eagles’ gaze.
This allows the swamp god’s stoat to
steal a march and lease a maze

that it bids the squirrels to enter.
Oozing mercy they comply.
Up start eagles. Down-filled fissures
in the mazes’ duckboards try

to mislead the squirrels of mercy
delving deeper in the maze
of amazing grates of hearsay
and of other dubious ways.

Snapping from their hue-dazed centre
the eagles charge into the sky.
Gyring higher, their wings flail
the frozen paths where jet planes fly.

Soaring raptors riding updrafts,
flaring feathers of their tails
shred off fragments of the contrails
lucid diamonds in the sky.

Up start eagles. Down-filled fissures
in the duckboards of the maze
whisper clues devoid of meaning
to the squirrels whose feats amaze

the fishes, sloths and teddies sluicing
on the maze’s Escher side,
in dimensions no deducing
can make real. Illusions glide

up the nostrils of the lost.
They begin hallucinating
that the no-name goat is host
to a mage elucidating

why and how the ways though many
keep reducing when they’re measured
till what’s left is less than any
chance for exit though that’s treasured.

Greedy eagles flail at contrails,
lucid diamonds in the sky.
Peering down they plot the faint trails
through the veiled maze as squirrels try

to elicit Lucy’s meaning
if there was one. Failing there
the squirrels seek exits from the leaning
maze wall of the swamp stoat’s lair.

The swamp stoat, laird of maze and hirer
of successes to the needy,
cannot tolerate the slyer
vagrant eagles turning greedy.

Greedy eagles savour stoat stew.
That’s a fact the swamp stoat heard
often, when small, from his mother.
Grown up, he’d thought that absurd.

But, he thinks, since they are vagrant,
forever gyring with no home,
will these raptors find him fragrant?
Frightening vicious spectres roam

in what stoats presume is thinking.
the stoat enters the maze himself.
Through the maze mist he sees blinking
mercy candles on a shelf,

and vicious fishes, and torn teddies
from an office Christmas fete,
and a sloth that’s never ready.
These are the things that congregate

in the centre where the maze is
often entered, seldom left.
That’s to say, the part where daisies
grow amok and green, bereft

first of mercy, then direction.
Fishes, teddies, and sloth tarry
there awaiting benediction
or some happy chance to marry

up with guiding lights who’ll lead them
to the maze’s outer edge,
failing that, to guides who’ll feed them
during their stumbling through the hedge

that surrounds the maze’s centre.
The hedge blocks progress, makes them lame.
Then they meet the stoat’s dissenter:
it’s the goat without a name.

How to hail this holy goat?
She’s a ewe, perhaps a granny.
Trying for a cheery note,
the sloth stage-whispers, slowly, ‘Nanny’.

[I need to add more here, the goat being a false ‘prophet, profit’.]

Chinless, pretty like a sea lion
although fishes beg to differ
approaches from the maze’s tree line
the esteemed solution giver.

Neither mercy squirrel nor eagle
nor a sloth nor stoat nor even
Spot, the first grade’s favourite beagle,
it’s the orca Splendid Steven.

Steven steals a march and razes
the maze walls. The creatures roam
free of where the sly stoat hazes.
Even the eagles find a home.