Competition 49: Beastly Exchanges

Strictly speaking, the competition purported to be asking for the views of animals on the state of their world as addressed to us, but a point has been stretched to include those who merely overheard animals talking to each other or the world in general and the rubric-writer rapped over the knuckles.

Among the entries there was a gangster cat from William Greig, dropping a wealth of aitches and molls’ names, a bat and a pangolin, a caribou in Malibu escaping the Canadian cold and a lithping bathilithk from Susanna Clayson. With commiserations to them and thanks to all who took part, here, in no particular order, are the results of this quarter’s jury (of one).

Head of ginger cat

Jane Blanchard: A Feline Whine

You used to leave me home alone
While you were off at work.
I bided time here on my own
Yet never went berserk.

Now you stay with me night and day
Week after endless week.
We get in one another’s way,
Then fall out, so to speak.

Such constant human company
Is more than I deserve.
Your calls and conferences, you see,
Disturb me nerve by nerve.

You do keep fresh food in my bowl,
Clean litter in my box.
With luck, we each may reach the goal
Of living past this pox.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Judy Koren: Dear Adam

Another hundred species went extinct just yesterday:
you built a major road, their habitat was in the way.
As Master of the Earth you’re absolutely a disgrace –
do you think that nothing matters but the goddamn human race?

Each year you burn our forests to grow human food instead
causing massive air pollution that will someday see you dead
and is meanwhile killing insects, birds and bees – do you suppose
that your precious crops will flourish when there aren’t enough of those?

You believe in God who gave you all the creatures to command
but we think that if he did, since then, things have got out of hand:
you’ve caused wildfires, global warming, ozone holes – we’re in despair!
Please remember none of us can breathe if you destroy our air.

So the Creature Council begs you, knowing you control our fate:
start to behave responsibly! We hope it’s not too late.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Bruce McGuffin: Don’t Be Silly

I told my dog "I'm off to bed,
Please tell me if you need a walk"
She looked at me and gravely said
"Oh don't be silly, dogs can't talk."

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦ 

Richard Fleming: She Didn’t Udder A Word

Some friendly overtures fall flat.
How now brown cow! I called out loud
and rapped the gate but was ignored.
How now! Again, with dulcet tone,
I importuned the brindled beast,
expecting, well, a moo at least
but she was on her moo-bile phone,
an i-phone zombie in the sward,
so I cleared off, expression cowed,
denied the chance of bovine chat.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Liza McAlister Williams: Overheard: What One Grey Squirrel Said
to the Other Grey Squirrel on the Telephone Wire


This tightrope wire's mine, my friend - you trespass at your risk!
I have the sole authority for random stop-and-frisk.
You think you're quite the hot-shot, with your bouncing and your flips,
but on my radar screen your games are momentary blips.
I saw you nearly fall just now - oh, that would be a sight!
I'd buy a front-row seat for that: a gaffe on opening night!
You lost your footing; upside down your pride hung by a thread.
(I would have liked to see you fried; I would have liked you dead.)
Your hot stuff's on the cool, my friend - you've lost your magic touch
so step aside, please, for the pro, and thank you very much.
I'll show you how it's done, my friend. I've jumped through all the hoops:
there's nothing that the champ can't do. Just watch and learn and –
oops!

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

L. A. Mereoie: Misrepresentation

I heard a griffin opening its beak
About the well-known specimen in Wonderland.
"Why Lewis Carroll should have made him speak
Like some town rough, I fail to understand.

Our hybrid nature makes us doubly proud
That we are placed above the common lot.
We hardly care to mingle with the crowd,
Deans’ little girls and turtles, mock or not.

Dancing with lobsters? Totally absurd!
We have no wish to join in with quadrillers.
Half noble King of Beasts, half regal bird,
Our role's the stately topping of stone pillars."

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Elizabeth Horrocks: Interview With Pegasus

"The guest we've chosen to invite
speaks nothing else save Neighing,
but Doctor D, who's here tonight,
will tell us what he's saying.

Now, Pegasus, your wings look fine,
remind me why you've got 'em."
"They render me supreme equine,
it's no fun at the bottom!"

"So what is your most favoured place
to gallop?" "In the sky!
I circle round and leave a trace
of light as I go by."

"And what d'you think of life down here?"
"It's fine for you, of course,
but still, the upper atmosphere
best suits a flying horse."

Bellerophon holding the winged horse Pegasus by the forelock