I saw a raven at a crossroads, perched
Atop a rustic fingerpost.
Now there, I thought, as she crowed and lurched,
Is a raven being raven-most.
With pretty hamlets beneath her claws
And shepherd’s skies behind her jet,
She guarded the lanes with portent caws
Where the paths of chance and folklore met.
A siren may serenade – softly she sings,
A banshee may let-out a climactic wail,
An angel may hug with her feathery wings,
A mermaid may wrap with her muscular tail,
A harpy may shriek with her passionate lungs,
A centaur may whinny her amorous cry,
A gorgon may kiss with her two-dozen tongues,
A faun-maid may stroke with her flocculent thigh.
But humans, ah, humans, the uppermost rungs,
The strangest of lovers of all you could try.
Six limbs ? Not an impossibility,
But why grow the lower four quite so stout ?
In flight, they’re only dead weight of little good utility,
And back on land, they’re never used for galloping about.
For all the traveller’s tales told,
It’s physics leaves the dragon cold.
It is a shame, but that is that –
Don’t curse the laws that bring us light.
There’s swarms of creatures to adore
Far more than sphinx or manticore.
The greatest wonder of the bat
Is how they find their way at night.
Don’t hope for dragons, save your wish
To glimpse upon a dragonfish.
Six tons ? Not as heavy as some aircraft,
But far too heavy without massive thrust –
Birds can only fly because they’re lighter than the updraft,
And when they’re not (like ostriches) they’re left down in the dust.
For all the picture books we read,
It’s physics kills the dragon dead.
It is a shame, but so it goes –
Don’t wish for trolls or unicorns.
There’s hordes of creatures just as nice
As any roc or cockatrice.
The greatest beauty of the rose
Is knowing why it grows its thorns.
Don’t weep for dragons, they’re just lies –
Instead, let’s sing of dragonflies.
With ev’ry atishoo,
Our souls are at issue –
Unless the Lord blesses it, quick !
But these days, we’re finding,
He needs the reminding
To come down and make us less sick.
So that’s why, I’m guessing,
We shout out a blessing
To keep us away from Old Nick.
But if we keep sneezing,
The Lord we ain’t pleasing –
We let in the Devil, our nose to be seizing !
Are born on our sneezes
That mark the ill winds of demonic diseases.
We’d best stop our messing
And get to confessing,
To put our poor souls on the level –
Cos all of our sneezing
Is proof of our sleazing,
And putting-off prayer for the revel.
It’s better than evens
All sneezers are heathens –
Our allergies come from the Devil.
Our futures, by Moses,
Ain’t smelling of roses !
We can’t blow our sinning from out of your noses.
They don’t need our sneezes
Achoo-ing for Jeezis –
To stop a nose running, get down on our kneeses !
There’s some who say sneezing
Is just nature easing
The irritants stuck in our sinus –
And each unbeliever
Will call it hay fever,
And curse only willow and pinus.
Take honey for tea,
And vitamin C,
And pray for the rain bring their nose dryness.
They think they’re so clever
With Science and Weather,
They think they can do without God altogether –
And when they get sneezes
And sniffles and wheezes,
They just pop a tablet, and quickly it eases.
You think you have answers
For hiccups and cancers
You think that your Science is all
But your days are dreaming,
And eyes that are streaming
Can’t see how your pride gets its fall
So don’t be so cocky,
Your logic is rocky,
For God made the pollen, and made it so small !
But hold on a minute…
If Satan’s not in it,
Then ev’ry atishoo – it’s God who must bring it !
I guess that He teases
As much as He pleases
To bring out more “bless you”s when somebody sneezes !
In India, they termed me Krishna –
Persians knew me, though, as Mithras –
To Syrians, Adonis was I called –
Attis then in Asia Minor,
Horus my Egyptian class –
And Dionysius, the Greeks enthralled.
In Italy, they dubbed my Bacchus’
Stole me from their neighbours’ crew
And Hebrews, ah, the Hebrews did the same:
Plus a dash of Perseus,
Tammuz and Osiris too,
All combined in who I then became.
Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guessed my name.
Some cities were built on solid rock,
Some cities were built on marsh,
Some cities were built on shifting sands,
Or fault-lines sleeping in filigree strands –
And some cities brought their own earthshock
By building themselves in wilderness harsh,
Or building themselves on the very lands
That other tribes sought in their conquering hands.
But no matter how long ago,
And no matter how brute their overthrow,
And no matter how the northwinds blow –
Not all their dust shall dissipate
Upon the breezes’ sarabands –
For all a city’s kiss-of-fate,
A glimpse remains, a trace withstands.
Through their footings bared and carvings old,
Through their buried pot and coins of gold,
And through their ev’ry mention in the tellers’ tales still told.
Some cities were held in high esteem,
Some cities were held in spite,
Some cities were held as shining states
To journeymen seeking their golden gates –
And some cities gave a lustrous gleam
That prophets implored their gods to smite,
That preachers condemned with envious hates
As other men praised for their glorious freights.
Ambition or apocalypse,
Each name upon their distant lips
As the place where sin and fortune grips –
The place, the home of orgies grand,
The nest of countless sirens’ baits,
Where ev’ry taste it must command,
As ev’ry thirst it satiates.
Through their legends past and heroes bold,
Through their poets’ songs and glamours sold,
And still their very mention breathes them life that we behold.
You say you believe
In demons and miracles,
Gaia and Eve,
In songlines and spirituals,
Voodoo and karma,
The Secret and aliens,
Danu and dharma,
The Masons and star-signs,
Von Däniken, Xenu –
They all mean you well.
From Asgard to Jedi,
From Hades to Hell,
There you dwell.
And I, you think of as too scientific,
Too closed in my mind
And too open to doubt,
Who therefore won’t find
What it’s really about –
Too weighted by knowing
To get where I’m going,
My aura ain’t glowing
Within or without.
And I guess
That you may just be right after all,
My cynical pride’s due a fall –
If we’re really not really at all
But a part of some story
Whose telling is tall.
For mostly in stories
All magic is true,
With morals and mores
As naïve as you.
Not like in the Real World,
The boring old Real World,
Where physics still rules
And must do so forever –
It hasn’t a twisting
Beyond its existing,
But punishes fools
Who refuse to be clever.
For the laws shall apply
To each rainbow and fly –
We cannot suspend them
For even a second.
Impartial and total,
Not just anecdotal –
We’d best to befriend them,
For by them we’re reckoned.
So tell me, my dear,
Are we really right here, right now,
Just as real as we feel ?
Or maybe, somehow
Are we all, I don’t know…
In some novel or show
That scripts us and traps us,
Creates us and scraps us,
Like gods of the gaps
Where the laws come and go.
So tell me the deal,
Your ardent conviction –
Are we really real,
Or are we just fiction ?