The Sevenfold Shield
or œdipus at Trafalgar


the sugar-plum ice-cube
Knot of that Ilk

  1. No bones for those that toil at night!
  2. Jam and puddings on the sofa
  3. Koalas, voles and eagle-owls and ninety-five gazelles
  4. My syphilitic repartee

Listen to reading

No bones for those that toil at night!
Invertebrate are many
And frogs at sunset outtasite
Are worth a paltry penny.
I weep, and then I cease from weeping
Seas of silent torches
Held by silent soldiers creeping
Kangaroos do not stop leaping
In and out of Spartan porches
Portia's torch has lit his porch
But Brutus' has not any.

No feet for those who feed by day!
Procumbent then are many
Who past these pillars wend their way
Unto a land of henny
And milk -- we don't partake of milking
Cabbages or coaches
Grown in silken meadows
With crochet hooks and bedows
Though you may call them Bedouins
(They own the horse whose name I said who wins
A furtive copper penny).

No food for those who feed at all!
The starving glow worms squeal
Who staring sadly, gaze on gall
And graze on fields of Teal
With eyes that hold no deeps
Of silent simple waters
But weeping pools where parrott's sheeps
Are old or ageless witty creeps
With most debauchŠd daughters
Amongst the gloomy glades
They seem a bit unreal.

My skeleton is a body out of key
Where Cheddar's caves produce a brand of Brie
And coldest logic seems a reverie.

Jam and puddings on the sofa
Sage and onion at the hearth
Silly Bernard baked the loaf a-
gain, then took a bath.

Bernard was a dusky bushman
Fiery eyes upon his head
Yellow lips concealed his mush an'
Made him seem quite dead

Yellow eyes are parasitic
Jaundice was my lover's name
She was a Persian music-critic
This explains her lack of fame

Worms are not much fun at concerts
Molluscs quite a bore at home
Whatever else my mother wants, it's
Not a plastic gnome

My lover's ears are quite neurotic
Which forces eggs to be psychotic
Or else cucumbers idiotic
(Not even slightly unerotic
As lovers found for years).

Tenses here have gone to blazes
Over the hill he gazes,

Yes it really is him, oh!
He choked
And then revoked
All that de Gaulle had sung
Or hung)
Under the eaves he wrung
His bung
And wept.
He! So inept.

Koalas, voles and eagle-owls and ninety-five gazelles
Were feeding in the canyon every day
Till the shepherd lad with gongs and tongs and mighty bells
Jumped off to Manderlay
(He went to join the fray).
Then dear Prudence who felt ill
Was ravished on the window-sill
The night, I think, was quietly still
Until we three all took a fill
And slept till break of day
(The dawn was grey).

Perhaps I'll start another stanza
But then again ...

To those that fail in all they try, I say
Merely procrastinate in your respective way
For Prudence is the thief of scented herbs
And sits cross-legged by the side of kerbs
Unless it rain.

My hundredth friend was Sancho Panza
But not, I think, a consul from Brazil
For he knew not and never will of hands a-
cross the heavens: he's as ill
As that dear Prue we found last week
Sunbathing in the loamy creek
With an aged, naked Greek
Called Bill.

Oh, Monty, see my capitol arise
Like winding pythons eating toast and cream
(And they shall starve who dare to criticise)
They dare not catch the Royal Bream
And fish for compliments in Istanbul
Where yellow tigers seldom push or pull
And thus appear much more than dull
Without a gleam.

O Turtles sing my savage lay
Tonight and every other day.

My syphilitic repartee
Is not for little girls
It is instead for those like me
Who scorn a frigid cup of tea
And go to bed with earls.

My semiotic ribaldry
Is not a happy sound
It is, I think, a sight for those
Of temper fierce or bellicose
Who shun my burial mound.

Hounds make sounds that leak and bound
Upon a distant hill;
That was the thing my mother found
In lands where purple frogs abound
By oaken glade or rill.

I'll keep the sense or just the smells
That frighten all my clan
And cause my teeth to sound like bells
And sing as no bell can.

I spurn the perfume and the sea
Which grows the dreaded weed
My syphilitic repartee
Is to the Jews a creed.

Their noses hide their ancestry
In time and temples mighty
"Your home?": the apple answers, "Tree"
In puce and scarlet nightie.

In buff and ochre dressed the sage
In red and green his nanny;
For thus she hoped to hide her age
From every nook and cranny.

O Perkin, set my heart aflame
With brandy, vodka, sherry
Whatever is: it's all the same
We'll be forever merry.

©1973, 1999 The Rat Fathom Poets
Edited by Peter Christian
May 31 2023.