Gruyere-Some Squeals Are Heard, I Hope

Here is a chant royal written a while back (1997) in homage to a super poet, Neil Harding, creator, when he was not pursuing Eastern modes such as sushi and rings a crumpet, of many a character trumping Punch’s Bargepole, some mentioned in the scree below in answer to his Anon a mouse series of cult fame.

When summer peaks and days start turning short
and wainscots creak and the blooming mouse does that,
comes blooming out as I take my first snort
of the morning, cor, I’m off to buy a cat.
A great large cat with eyes like rancid peas
and whiskers curling up so he must sneeze.
He’ll grab that mouse and gobble him with haste
while his brows recede at the truly horrid taste
of the tail and toes and bit that was the brain.
He’ll chew and smack till nought’s left but some paste
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

When Ma Mouse whelps, it’s too late to abort
and her litter lands with giggles, squeals, and splat
and I drop the book where I’m reading of young Wort
and the dog gives chase and Ma runs out the flat.
But a nonagon staircase catches her lice and fleas
that flee as she runs, and cold flue makes them freeze
and Anon’s won’t grow up if he dares to waste
his chance to steal and grows up a pantywaist
who won’t gnaw cheese while the cat’s deaf from the train
that rumbles by while the polled fleas fall unplaced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

Now a mouse or twenty scarcely make a quart
but unlike gerbils you can’t keep them in your hat
because housebroken’s not what they’ve been taught
and they’re naught but midget mirrors of the rat.
As a midget rat with a squeal and rickety knees
who weasels on debts and often cops his pleas,
Anon’s not cute and it’s high fun to lambaste
his hide and catch him hopping, hot, shamefaced,
with his rat snout shining through the window pane
where clouds reflect how hares are oft more chaste
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

Old Anon’s author is a poet who can’t be bought
or I’d offer him a drop and invite him in to chat
of the cricket and whether he thought Botham ought
to have gone to Cape Town and taken his turn at bat,
not that I care about old histories
but he might forget to write mice, and I’d tease
for a flatman story, or a barge pole to impaste
that bleeding mouse with. No, I’m not two-faced
and I want my satire dark and that he’ll abstain
from mousing while the heavy stuff’s disgraced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

A burger-queen kit-kat mouse house can’t be fraught
with rooms where royal chants can get to bat,
so rodent cultures are what we must thwart
to make our Weaver write a requiescat
or other work to take in hand our kidneys
or make sly fun of what’s begun (bard, please!).
I dream a dream, with cats, of how a whey-faced
mouse of some repute is banished, Samothraced
not to return because out there there’s ratsbane
and whips ensuring mice get steeplechased
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain

O Weaver! Weavers! Help Anon get aced
so Wimbledon and cricket can regain
our oh-so-small attention spans. Let pain
pan-fry the mouse until at last he’s plaiced
and seaside sparrows shiver in the rain.

Capitol in 2045 CE

Pig Duroc and Cat Ginger wade in water dark as tea.
It is ankle deep in this part of old Washington DC
‘It is low tide now, but dampish,’ the cat gingerly explains.
‘Especially now we are suffering from unending monsoon rains.
Clove your hooves and clog dance. That churns up baby squid.
They’re an easy catch. I’ll show you.’ Cat Ginger purred and did.
Pig Duroc did a pirouette, then a header, pranged a bream.
He ate fresh fish and chortled. ‘Without humans life’s a dream!’

Impromptu Afternoon Funeral for a Merle

This bird’s Chapter One has ended.
Fake epic, abbreviated,
bird’s body in the unkempt grass.
Mallard tries to stare me down.
He wins. I win. We draw.
Across the canal, grey cat watches red.
A mower’s motor irritates.
The flowing water’s shades of green
float first fall leaves past us,
mallards, cats duck, me,
and the body of the bird.

The first boat has a rusted rudder.
The second has new, blue covers.
The coot that is silent
swims towards me, and dives.
She surfaces, eating weed.
To whom was this merle’s epic real?
Warmth and mites address the corpse:
its feathers, skin and song.
A mallard splurges wake.
Birds so loud they hurt my ears
contest the chestnut’s branches.

The sander quiets us all,
doing honest maintenance work.
Four more mallards paddle by.
The dead merle’s feathers stay still
while wind ruffles the red cat
as it stares down a floating feather.
What can be stayed, after execution?
I watch the red cat watching water.
Tall weeds dip purple flowers.
Shadows lengthen long enough
to cover more than the merle.

Canal-side Logarithms

Cat purred, ‘the log of minus one.’ ‘That’s undefined!’
the jackdaw yelled. He flew down, cawing foul.
He darted off before the cat’s claws fined
his rudeness. See the cat rear up and yowl

that the bird is absurd to think she speaks of math.
‘If I add that the log of zero is a limb
of Satan, then you are on a slippery path
of soggy rhythms leading to a swim

in waters dark as the proverbial Styx,’
the cat adds. See the jackdaw, unimpressed.
‘Next,’ he tells the cat, ‘you’ll claim to fix
the log of positive one at what’s professed

to be itself one, into some dumb allusion
you will make to mask your massive math confusion.

Nine Lives Divided by Two

I watch my cat try consciousness then conscience.
He discards the latter before it does him harm,
but he limps, less limbic than when our attendance
had been mandated by the witch’s charm.
The wizened wizard laughs at my alarm.
He and his malwife burnish brightwork plates
of steel they lay upon me, magic weights
that hold me fast. I am under their control.
‘We will weigh him, kill him, weigh while life abates,
and then know, by subtraction, what the soul

amounted to, how much it weighed in grams,’
his malwife cackles. I am sure they’re mad.
We had come here thinking we’d unmask their scams,
but their spells had lamed my cat, and now they had
me and my soul strapped to its launching pad.
My shambling cat comes nearer to me, purrs.
The witch proffers a mouse. The cat demurs
and his mind meets mine. He says, ‘Your soul’s a function
of their imagination, and of yours.
So do not worry. Don’t ask them for unction.’

‘All right,’ I say. ‘We’ve watched galaxies unfold.
The beauty of forever’s overrated
and youth is only valued by the old
because they’ve lost it somewhere while they waited.’
The cat pretends my soul is reinstated.
It swings a lightning paw. Claws kill the witch.
My weights take wing and the ignition switch
the wizard presses backfires. Blowback fries
him where he stands — or stood. We’ll go our way,
my cat and me, and live as if we’re rich.

Cat and Pig Among the Pigeons

‘I am old,’ said Pig Duroc. ‘I missed the last bus.
and I had to walk toting this carp.’
‘You’re myopic as well,’ said Cat Slynog, then shied
from the pig, and played Bach on a harp.
The music they made as they harped and they carped
seemed to pigeons that flew by great grief.
Then the carp joined in; all three flatted and sharped
till the end of the day, and this brief.