A spider had caught a delectable fly
And prepared to consume it, when out of the sky
The arachnid was snatched by a gluttonous pigeon;
One gulp, and the spider was less than a smidgeon.
This bird was attacked by a ravenous gull
Which pecked it to pieces and shattered its skull;
The gull, in its turn, flying over the reef,
Was destroyed by a skua, whose triumph was brief,
For a buzzard swept down and demolished the skua.
There’s always a predator bigger than you are.
“For dinner,” said the farmer’s wife, “I’d like a leg of pork.”
The farmer sharpened up his knife, and took his carving fork.
The Hen was scratching in the yard, and heard the conversation;
The other beasts were in the barn, enjoying their collation.
The Hen rushed in: “O Pig!” she clucked, “They’re coming for your legs!
I’m safe enough, for they rely on me for daily eggs,
But you, poor Pig, they’ll turn to gammon, and to sides of bacon.”
In this, alas, the wretched Hen proved horribly mistaken.
The farmer’s wife had found that thoughts of pork began to sicken.
“I’ve changed my mind,” she said, “I think I’d rather roast a chicken.”
The farmer seized the hapless Hen; one squawk, and she fell silent.
At last, the Cow spoke from her stall: “Humanity is violent:
They may seem kind, but bear in mind the Master’s not our friend;
However well we do our job, he’ll eat us in the end.”
Time Is Not What It Used to Be
Time has become a shoddy imitation;
They’d like to make us think it’s just the same,
A product built to last for the duration,
But I’ve caught on; I know their little game.
No doubt for reasons of expedience,
They make the stuff much thinner, shorter, leaner;
They’re skimping on the old ingredients,
And time, once plentiful, is growing meaner.
As days and weeks and months and years all dwindle,
And birthdays now come once or twice a quarter,
We’ve been the victims of a monstrous swindle—
The time we’ve bought is running out like water.
The wretched stuff is going ever faster,
Accelerating even as I speak.
We’re heading straight for temporal disaster,
And Christmas will be every bloody week.
They asked me if I’d care to join their party,
Assuring me that I would really fit
Among those horses’ asses, crude and farty,
Whose intellects add up to horses’ shit.
They’d like to see me standing for the Senate.
(It has to be Republican, of course—
The Democrats have one abiding tenet:
“We won’t accept a monkey or a horse.”)
I told them I was touched, and deeply flattered,
But of their language barely knew a crumb.
They all assured me that it hardly mattered;
The other candidates were just as dumb.
“They can’t construct a sentence, anyway;
The only word you’ll need to know is ‘Nay.’”
Need a hairdo, guys and girlies?
Come to us at Short & Curly’s;
We’re the barber-shop just next to Burger Queenie.
We can style you, we can shave you,
We can permanently wave you,
We do hair that’s fine, or coarse, or in-betweeny;
We do long hair, we do short hair,
We make lovely wigs of bought hair,
Dark or blonde, they’re always glistening and sheeny.
As our soda fountain dribbles,
We will give you tasty nibbles
Of tarama on a freshly-toasted blini.
While you’re waiting in the salon,
There’s Chianti by the gallon,
And we’ll play you soothing pieces by Puccini.
Or if literature’s your fancy,
We have Smollett, Follett, Clancy,
And we’ve even got the works of Seamus Heaney.
We will do you to perfection
A capillary confection
(Say goodbye to hair like strings of fettucini),
And with coiffeuristic science,
We can finish special clients
With a stylish razor-cut—just ask for “Sweeney.”
My wife often tells me I’ve got a cloth ear,
But she’s constantly dragging me somewhere to hear
La Sonnambula, Tosca, or La Traviata—
I’d rather be hanged with the heroine’s garter!
I try to indulge her, but sometimes it’s tricky
To simulate pleasure at Gianni Schicchi,
And can you imagine an evening more dreary
Than having to sit through the whole of Valkyrie?
My plight, you’ll agree, is exceedingly parlous;
What right-minded chap could put up with Don Carlos?
One night, I cried “Bravo!” and started applauding.
“You moron!” my wife hissed, “Shut up, they’re recording!
How dare you disrupt them in Il Trovatore!
Just wait till we’re home again, then you’ll be sorry!”
Embarrassed, I told her, my face growing mauver,
“The fat lady sang, so I thought it was over.”
The Building Site
These things are atoms; though they’re small,
There’s plenty of them, near and far.
Just roll them up to form a ball,
Then light the fuse—you’ve built a star!
I think it needs a planet, though,
So get some rocks and dirt and stuff,
Then knead it up like making dough. . . .
Not bad, but still a little rough.
You’ll have to smooth the edges out
(I find that water does the trick)
And help the thing to move about
By giving it a gentle flick
To set it spinning round the sun.
But what’s that shiny extra bit?
A moon, you say? Oh, nicely done!
I never would have thought of it.
Now, though it wasn’t in my plan,
Perhaps it needs a spot of life;
I’ll show you how to build a man,
And if that works, we’ll make a wife. . . .
Right, lads, that’s six days on the trot.
You’ve earned a break, so down your tools
And get your feet up. Tell you what—
Take Sunday off, it’s Union rules.
Brian Allgar, although immutably English, has lived in Paris since 1982. He started entering Spectator and New Statesman competitions in 1967, but took a 35-year break, finally re-emerging in 2011 as a kind of Rip Van Winkle of the literary competition world. He also drinks malt whiskey and writes music, which may explain his fondness for Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony.