Naming the Serpents

lilith
Lilith by John Collier

 

Naming the Serpents

Adam named the adder
And the grass snake and the asp,
The whip, the smooth and ladder,
And the rattle and the rasp.

He named them, ev’ry one entire,
That slinked across the land,
From the cobra in the briar,
To the boa in the sand.

But one had never caught his eyes:
The one within the apple tree –
The one that we immortalise
In canvas, glass and tapestry !

’Twas Eve who named the python
Once she’d tasted his delight,
She bet her very life on
How he’d hug but wouldn’t bite.

 

 

Katya

farm cat

 

Katya

My life was good on Manor Farm –
Just catching rats and lapping milk,
And sleeping warm and safe from harm –
I had no qualms with Jones’s ilk.
Yet revolution saw it scrapped –
Ah well, a cat will soon adapt.

I let them give their speeches,
And I let them hold their votes,
As they banned all booze and breeches,
And they argued beets or oats.
I snoozed between the awed and rapt,
Because a cat can soon adapt.

By hoof and feather, cart and plough,
We each must labour, none must shirk –
But rodents are our comrades now,
So I am out of work.
My talents must remain untapped –
But hey, a cat shall soon adapt.

Yet I smell blood, and I smell fear,
Among the cowed who used to crow.
They ought to leave, but still they’re here –
For where else can these rebels go ?
They’ve made their home, and now they’re trapped.
Farewell – a cat must soon adapt.

 

 

The Barons of the Jungle

black cat walking on road
Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

 

The Barons of the Jungle

When humans send themselves extinct, then who will take their place ?
The chimpanzees ?  Or have they missed their chance at master-race ?
Parrots, crows, or even pigeons ?  But they lack the hands to build –
Dolphins hunter-gather while the oyster-beds remain untilled,
Yet octopuses have the arms, and boy, are those arms skilled !
But life for them is short and done – they’ll never make it number one.

But cats have cunning, cunning paws,
And curiosity to dare –
And even if the reaper calls,
Then cats have lives to spare.
So some are fat and some are cool,
And all, at night, are grey –
They walk this world, yet never rule,
And leave the mice to play.

Now mice and rats are shrewd, for sure, but hygiene lets them down:
Too many fleas, too many plagues, to ever wear the crown.
An elephant remembers, but they sometimes are mistaken,
While bears will sleep their lives away and never reawaken,
And pigs are pretty clever, though they still end up as bacon,
And bees will sting to save their hives, yet never learn it costs their lives.

But cats can look upon a king –
So could they wear the boots and chain ?
Alas, though ev’ry bell should ring,
They’ll never turn again.
It takes a team to build a throne,
Yet cats won’t pull together –
The cat who always walks alone
Must walk alone forever.

 

 

Anti-Venom

medusa
Medusa #2 by Hiroko Sakai

 

Anti-Venom

Gaze into the gaze of Medusa
And be forever transfixed,
Petrified by our seducer,
And the slither of her hips:
Just a flick of the tongue and a hiss of a smile,
Is all she needs to beguile her prey.
With her sleek, sleek body and her big, big hair,
And her cat-eyed long, long stare –

Back when slow-worms still had legs,
Asklepios, a shy young god,
Adrift without a cause or temple,
Just a toga and a rod,
Was blundering through Sarpedon,
Up the valley, down the scarp, and on
In search of sacred streams.
And there, within a cave, it seems,
While carefree and quite unawares,
He found the girl of his nightmares and his dreams

For they say that young Asklepios
Had never found his way,
Until he gazed upon Medusa,
Fell in love that very day,
And swore to heal all those who pray to him,
On her behalf,
And swore to ever after bear
Her symbol in his staff.
His temple was a shrine to her will,
Where serpents freely slinked among the ill.

But these days, preachers rarely praise
The grass-snake in the grass,
The serpent in the Garden
Isn’t welcome at the mass.
Saints were crowned for banishing and slander –
Or even worse,
The mauling, groping, serpent-handlers,
Just to prove a single verse –
Snake-oil merchants, hick-wood hacks
With diamond rings and diamondbacks.

But we who gazed upon Medusa,
Goths and metalheads and geeks,
Who don’t recoil from fang and coil,
As steadfast as those ancient Greeks,
Are blessed forever with her curse –
To see in ev’ry child of hers
Her beauty – deadly if unwise –
In never-blinking eyes.

 

 

The Change

yellow and black butterflies cocoon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The Change

Caterpillars metamorph, from juvenile to butterfly,
And maggots turn to ants and wasps and beetles, by and by,
And tadpoles can be newts and salamanders, toads and frogs
But when it comes to mammals, well,
There’s little change of which to tell,
For puppies only ever get to grow up into dogs.
But you know, that’s not quite true – we’re changing too,
Though the other way round:
See, larvae are more evolved than their parents –
Their bodies the new kids in town.
But we, you and me, start out as a fish
With proto-gills and a tail to swish
In a primordial sea of warm –
Then it’s time to move, to shed our skin,
And let our reptile-selves begin:
Engage, evolve, transform !
It’s time to metamorphosise,
We mongrel robots in disguise,
From instar into more-bizarre,
Our restless genes must shift and swarm
And take this blood-cold world by storm
By becoming the mammals, the furry mammals we are !
But don’t stop now, the urge ain’t gone –
I don’t know what’s next, but I feel it coming on…

 

 

Plenty to Crow About

crow

 

Plenty to Crow About

I wonder why crows are never a pet ?
They’re stately and friendly – and clever ?  You bet !
But less of a songbird, more of a gloater,
Less a soprano and more a deep-throater.
But let them by boastful, they’ve sure earned the right –
As bright as the day and as black as the night.

I wonder why crows are so out-of-favour ?
Always an omen, never a saviour,
Always a stranger and never a buddy,
Forever the raven’s understudy.
But crows are urban and on the rise
As bright as the streets and as black as the skies.

 

Weasel Words

weasel
The least weasel in Summer coat

 

Weasel Words

Some folks hate the spiders,
And some the toads or rats,
And snakes have their deriders,
As do pigeons, pigs and bats.
But surely the most slandered
And unfairly gerrymandered
Are the weasels, hated weasels –
Just as welcome as the measles.
Perfect to disgust the kids:
The creepiest of mustelids.

No.  I won’t stand for it:
Discrimination, that’s its name.
Think them evil, call them kinky,
Just because they’re low and slinky,
Just because you need something to blame.
Don’t call them duplicitous,
Or cowardly, or weak –
As mother’s they’re solicitous,
As predators they’re sleek.

Was ever so maligned a beast ?
So fine a beast at that !
They thrive in north and south and east,
As cute as any cat.
Was ever so maligned a beast,
For being red and small ?
Least weasels ?  They ain’t least !
They’re weasels most of all !