Monstrous Descent

‘What kind of wolf are you?’
                                              ‘I wish a were.’

‘Are you speaking grit,’ the gyring gorgon asked,
‘or subjugating us to the subjunctive?’

‘A were-wolf!’ whined the wolf whelp warily watching
the gyring gorgon’s garter-snake coiffure.
‘Why aren’t you venomous? Why am I not stone?’

‘Because we’re euro versions of old Europe,
defanged from funnelling finance to the Greeks,’
she fumed. She furrowed fang-scarred brow. She sat.

The whelp drew courage from that, and drew near.
It drew a Druid symbol in the sand.
It asked, ‘If we revert can I be dire?’

The gorgon hesitated, hissed green hairspray
at a spit-curl serpent forelock going astray.

She sighed, ‘Frankly, we must all now hang together.’
‘Surely Franklin,’ nit-picked pedantically the wolf.
‘Assuredly, we all hang separately
on every common interest we debate.’

Each regards the other, seeing nothing
they have in common, saving comedies
of errors, and they exit. Curtains. War.

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.

The Hamadryad’s Witness

The month of May was brighter, warmer when
young Pertelote had tamed proud Chanticleer.
The moon of then waxed brighter, warning them
of the coal-tip fox. The fowl could see their fears.
They ranged a world of hart, shallot and thyme
and did not live, as do their heirs, in boxes.
It’s said they sang. Per Chaucer, they could rhyme.
It was not heaven: birds died then of poxes,
and ancients suffered painful nights, but feigned
that they were fit by day — few changes there.
Men’s councils grew, and herd allotments reigned.
From Wall to Malvern, men killed off the bear.
The men feed scrapied sheep now to their cows.
The fading started when they ditched the Druid vows.