To the colony of mould upon my windowsill:
Show me just the slightest mark
Of sentience, a crucial spark
To show you’re rising from the dark,
Some gesture or some tiny act of will;
Show me that you are aware
And truly, shall I gladly spare
Your thinking self – it’s only fair
To leave you be, and curb my urge to kill.
It’s not your fault, of course, I know,
We cannot help the way we grow.
So demonstrate it can be so
With some discrete communiqué or skill.
But otherwise, I hereby state
I shall not balk, nor hesitate
To bring about your speedy fate,
And wipe you out from ev’ry crack you fill.
And with my conscience duly sated,
And my fears for health abated –
Now it’s time I contemplated
How to shift the mice behind the pepper mill.
I hear them scritching in their horde,
In cupboards and the skirting-board.
They cannot longer be ignored:
Their squeaks ring from the ventilation grille.
So rodents, let us parley, please:
I cannot have you stealing cheese,
Nor plaguing with your crop of fleas;
And yet, I hope we can co-habit still.
But only if you’re duly smart
To learn of hygiene – for a start –
And keep your soil well set apart
From places where it could pollute or spill.
And finally, let’s have agreed
A limit to how much you breed,
And maybe we can yet succeed
To forge a truce – forever and until.
But if you cannot learn the score
Then we, alas, must be at war
And if you doubt my lust for gore,
Just ask the mould no longer on my windowsill.
The beds that I’ve slept in, the beds that I’ve known:
Each harder than vapour and softer than stone,
From four-poster boasters to flea-bitten heaps –
I’ve sailed on their billows and sunk in their deeps.
From headboards to bedsteads, from duvets to sheets,
From brass-knobs to tassels, from casters to pleats,
With mattresses lumpy or stuffed to the seams:
They each one and ev’ry are beds of my dreams.
But they never will be perfect;
They’re close, but they never will.
In all my sleeping days alive
In which I ply my greatest skill,
The bliss of never-knowning five ayem
Is never quite as good in them.
However much they rest me,
They are always second-best –
Why climb the hill to Bedfordshire
To lie alone atop its crest ?
The bed I most desire to keep
Is in beside wherever you may sleep.
The beds that I’ve slept in, the beds I’ve called home:
To lie down on eiderdown, horsehair and foam.
From top-bunk to futon, from hammock to cot,
I’ve slept in the worst and the best of the lot.
Springs within pockets and springs within springs,
From the smallest of cribs to the sizes of kings.
A third of our lives is spend under your care,
From a bench in a park to the Great Bed of Ware.
One night, I swear I’ll drift away,
A hundred years a-snore,
And float amid the elves and fay
To where no dreamers dare explore,
And free my delta-waves to play
Where only Nemo came before.
Until I’m tossed upon your shore again,
To share once more your counterpane.
For the perfect place for counting sheep
Is right beside wherever you may sleep.
The title comes from Shakespeare, though not from his plays.