Two-Tone Margarets

magpies 1
Magpies by maineexile

 

Two-Tone Margarets

Magpie, magpie, all upon your lonely,
Have you an omen or an auspice to portend ?
Tell me, oh magpie, perched all one and only,
What do you impart, my fortune-casting friend ?

Magpies, magpies, twosome in my setting,
Have you an omen or an auspice to bestow ?
Tell me, oh magpies, the pair of you abetting,
What do you impart – am I set for joy or woe ?

Magpies, magpies, thrice upon my vision,
Have you an omen or an auspice to enprime ?
Tell me, oh magpie, a trio on your mission,
What do you impart for my future-coming time ?

Magpies, magpies, four of you here gathered,
Have you an omen or an auspice for my mood ?
I tell you, oh magpies, I think your signs are blathered,
You’ve nothing to impart – you’re too busy finding food.

 

 

Attacat

signal box
Yeovil Pen Mill Cat & Signal Box by Tim Jones

 

Attacat

There is a cat who watches trains
And makes his home in signal boxes,
Lives beneath the weathered gables,
Catches rats who chew the cables.
Grey, he is, with smoky grains
That fleck his coat the way of foxes,
’Cept the tramlines down his back
Which earn his name of Clickerclack.
They shine out silver, brow to rump
They even bear the marks for sleepers;
Branded thus, his fate assured
His working for the Railways Board.
So where a plague of rodents clump
Within the homes of signal-keepers –
Unannounced by midnight freight
Comes Clickerclack to extirpate.
He bites, he claws, he chews in half
And shreds them into vermicelli –
Drives them out and leaves his scent
To fright them off resettlement.
And when his work is done, the staff
Will feed him fish and rub his belly.
Then it’s off to boxes new
Aboard the 07:22.

 

 

The Blobfish

blobfish
Sketch of a blobfish in its natural environment by Alan Riverstone McCulloch

 

The Blobfish

Clearly a fish,
Clearly a blob:
Big of hooter,
Wide of gob,
Beady eyes and bloated head,
And very, very dead.

We trawled the net to rake the murky depths,
And up your mugshot popped –
For once, an ugly bugger who’s unplugged,
And not the usual “cropped & ’shopped”.

But wait.
No, this feels too easy –
All too gawpy, snide and cheesy,
Facts and heckles both unchecked.

But what can we expect, hey ?
We snatch you out from miles-deep
And leave you rotting on a slab
Where density is not so steep –
No wonder, then, you’re looking drab !
Gelatinous skin is just the thing to help you float –
But do we care ?
Oh, how we grin and how we gloat,
As you bloat in our low-pressure air.

But away from such shallows,
Away from our narrow lies –
Deep down and dense,
Where you raise your callow fry,
So you suddenly make sense
Amid sea-pig and anglerfish and barreleye.

 

 

 

Aves Rupulica

bird birds usa raven
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Aves Rupulica

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower;
Strange to think these scavengers
Should hold such royal power –
To keep the crown from toppleing,
They’re crippled in one wing,
To fawn and clown for punters,
(All still peasants of the king.)

But you should be flying, Raven,
You should have flown,
For what cares a raven for propping-up thrones ?
Be mightier, Raven, than magpie or rook –
For the higher you fly, so the smaller we look.

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower –
So much like us, they’re savaged
Just to keep the nobs in power.
They’re victim of Victorians,
They’re prisoners to lore –
If only they could bring them down,
And goad them “Nevermore !”

For you should be soaring, Raven,
You should be gone,
For what cares a raven for owners of swans ?
Be mighty, oh Raven, and help us stand tall –
For the higher you fly, so the further they fall.

 

The whole myth only started in Victorian times, and to this day these magnificaent birds are denied their natural instinct to fly for the sake of tourist pounds.

And Saw That It Was Good

Haeckel
Aspidonia by Ernst Haeckel

 

And Saw That It Was Good

Life, it seems, is ev’rywhere,
An opportunist spiv:
And ev’ry nettle, ev’ry rat,
And ev’ry spider, ev’ry gnat,
And ev’ry roach and snake and bat,
Is one more proof of nature’s flair
Through evolution’s sieve.
So love each thriving organism:
Dandelion, botulism,
Dry-rot, fly-bot, feral pigeon;
Life, it seems, is ev’rywhere,
It cannot help but live.

 

 

A Malady of Arms

Swatch
The Arms of Sir Swatch of Wristwatch

 

A Malady of Arms

Sir Lucas Drake was a dragon of a knight:
His scale-mail always polished bright,
Charging headlong into battle,
Stalling left and swooping right
To circle round and dive again –
His wind-filled cloak, his flying mane,
His sword as sharp as any talon,
Raining over foes with death
To make their sabres rattle.
He also had a fiery breath
From quaffing claret by the gallon.

Sir Lucas Drake was a dragon of a knight,
Yet his coat of arms would dishonour a sergeant:
Not for him a griffon argent,
Nor a wyvern passant gules
His blazon, rather, came a cropper,
Listing not a battle-stopper,
But a shield befitting fools:
‘Azure, a mallard with head vert,
Naiant contourny proper’.
Oh, how that blazon hurt !
A green-headed duck upon a blue ground,
Swimming the wrong-way round.

Sir Lucas Drake was a dragon of a knight,
Though he bore much wit from his brothers-in-sword
Who rebuked his arms with much delight –
“It seems our Drake bethinks he a lord:
For look: Sir Luke, by his shield, is a Duc !”
Sir Lucas would curse “That’s just my luck,
To share a name with so artless a bird.
I’m one quack away from a chicken’s cluck !
What forebear had I who was so absurd
That such a pitiful nickname stuck ?
It should be a lion or a viper-snake,
Or a dragon – then they’d bloody quake !
But no, I’m a Drake – I’m a ruddy duck !”

 

 

A Malady of Arms – The Herald’s Cut

Sir Lucas Drake was a dragon of a knight,
But never one for courtly prattle.
Back at home, he spread his wings
Across his mountainous estate,
And hunted game and sheep and cattle,
Anything to fill his plate.
Never one for kissing rings,
Or hearing yet again the jest
The ladies made at his family crest,
So he’d retreat to his hilltop clouds
Away from kings and madding crowds.
Depressed, he’d often spend his days
Within his keep, atop his gold,
Asleep against the winter’s cold
As jealously he’d guard each chattel.

 

 

The second poem is an early verse which I had to cut, so I thought I’d include it here on the B-side.

Can I say how much I hate the language of heraldry – write in in English, or write it in French, but this weird Norman-middle English hybrid is…well, come to think of it, it’s the kind of snobbery we’d expect from people who still think that coats of arms matter. I love them for their history, but we’re not living in history.

The facing-right bit is rare. Since most knight were right handed, they held their shield in their left hand, so for the charge (animal) to be looking forwards, it has to face to the left. Fine for in battle, but otherwise looking like it’s facing backwards, and possibly retreating !