The Honey-Rag!
or L'ouistiti Engloutie


Nanny-Goat Lot
a Member of The Sly London Chair Gang
a youth of 20

  1. Happy New Year to the King and the Queen
  2. The earth split asunder, the moon flew apart
  3. Leprosy is no doubt apt
  4. What was the secret you told me last night?
  5. Though my mouth was full of water I resolved to have a try
  6. The trees were old: their barks were scarred

Listen to reading

Happy New Year to the King and the Queen
Happy no king for the Queen of the Year
Happy the keen one who yearns for the Ring,
Razors for growers of Beards.
Happy bodes greyer for roses and things
Stop this I say, and stop this I mean.
Send me no sighs for impertinent seers
Send me his ear, for no pie is in sight
Send me his eyes -- for dire is my plight
But Happy New Year just the same.
The beard is the same.

The earth split asunder, the moon flew apart
Her words shot a shattering hole in his heart.
His blood filled the cracks in the newly-split earth
Causing a glut where there once was a dearth.

The death of the slug was a boon for the land
He rattled the mug with a spoon in his hand
And though she was standing aside on a plinth
She saw him lie down by the old terebinth.

The drought came at last, then the rain came once more
The mug stood half-full by the open back door;
The water dried up on the back garden path
And the eighty-eighth child had a half-tepid bath.

She opened the door in her nightie
And observed a new hole in the field:
She drank though she wasn't Thersite
And nobody said she was flighty
Though the curry was never revealed.
She died on the following morning
When she fell from a ten-storey jar
Just as the Lady was dawning
And hiding her face with an awning
She drowned in her mirth every star.

The birth of the oyster was bad for the town,
The shell fish were striking, the sea was shut down.
From the window of nowhere my new friend looked forth
For if West can meet East, surely South must spurn North.

Let me remark that your smell has improved
And the mollusc is dead now its shell's been removed.
Her words shot a shattering hold in his heart
And the moon split asunder, the earth fell apart.

Leprosy is no doubt apt
For those in peril on the Dee
Whose arms are numb, whose strength is sapped
From scurvy on the hypo sea,
Whose life has reached its apogee,
At which the wild spectators clapped
And filled their pockets with Magee.

Scurvy is a handsome ill
Ness it is a parlous Loch.
Art is a narcotic Pill
That angers Marshall Foch
And makes the Scotsmen all say "Och";
Right or left, and no doubt still
"Er liegt im Himmel hoch".

Measles are a sorry trial:
Contagion fills the rancid Thames
That flows in pain each cankered mile
And takes up pins and lets down hems;
Let all cremation drop its M's
(I don't like your uncouth style)
A sorry pearl, if wit were gems.

What was the secret you told me last night?
Was it you that I saw in the pale Venuslight?
I'll admit I was frightened, yet sign the reprieve;
I'll confess that the Welder laughed right up my sleeve;
I'll confess that the patriarch's daughter was right.

What was the nitrate you told me to seek?
Was it the gruel of the ibex last week?
Was it the mud in the swamp? I surmise
It can't have been buns though it might have been pies
For the Bactrian Bakers have founded a clique.

What was the night-rate the Sikhs were all paid?
I finally saw how they got the name `maid'.
I hide from the Sikh all the night; I reveal
The secrets you swore you would make me conceal
From the airy policeman when making a raid.

What was the knight-rate for Gawain and Bors?
Where were the dandelions, where were the whores?
Where were the houses where Nosnibor roamed?
Where were the foemen who fought and who foamed
In a boat on the ocean without any oars?

How does the knight rate alongside the pier,
Where welders have moored their acetylene hulks?
And, beating their breasts, they depart, out of fear
To drink themselves sober, with never a tear
For the sybarite skeletal scullion who skulks

Under the tree where the marmosets play,
And shout all the time, though they've nothing to say;
Under that tree skulks the scullion all day
Predicting the weather.

Though my mouth was full of water I resolved to have a try
For the new Headmaster's daughter was looking in my eye;
I spat the water up three hundred yards into the sky
Though my heart was full of horror I resolved to have a try.

And as the jet of water fell serenely to the ground
The new head hunter's uncle made a sulky screeching sound
For the rabbits in his haversack were breeding much too fast
And the habits of dichotomy were much too strong to last.

He doubles twice his speaking rate, and kills a sacred cow
He hits the sacred bull's-eye, with a size-e-able plough;
Though she's staring at the tulips father's growing in the font
She knows that golden dandelions are all she'll ever want.

Though the font was full of flowers, I was weeping on the floor
For my plate of apple crumble was devoid of aught but core
(Though the fruit had been most subtly introduced from Appledore
Where the dandelions bloom and the villagers drink gore).

Though my plate was full of fancy I resolved to have no truck
With the mighty vole of Tonga or the vile green-feathered duck,
When she struck me with the Atlas I assumed it wasn't luck
That brought me to the fate wherein my tearful life is stuck.

While the stalwarts from the Nunnery were kicking Mrs Squib
-- She'd forgotten that the Infant Prince would die without a bib,
And the regent's plaque would then be writ by pen without a nib
By minstrel or by minaret, by liar or by fib.

Though the bowl was full of curry I still hurried to the cage;
Mrs Roman Candle swallowed half the ethos of the age
Whose most important ethos was the strutting on the stage
With mirrors as mementos for the wrath that's all the rage:
O, terrible gauge!

The trees were old: their barks were scarred
Their boughs were bent and ragged,
Halfway up the seventeenth I found a Christmas Card
The which I read with dire dismay, I found the going hard
But cheered myself by reading all the sonnets of the Bard,
All the sonnets of the king
(The words flew by on silken wing).
As the butter turned to lard,
The rocks were softly jagged.

The breeze was cold, its currents chill;
I trust you aren't uneasy.
Halfway through the heaven's teeth I found a sleeping pill
Which I took without regret, though I wasn't feeling ill
And cheered myself by running up the steepest hollow hill
Where the ruined oast-house was
Drinking tankards by the doz.
As the holiday was still
Making everyone feel queasy.

I was tired: could scarcely sing
An old Etruscan anthem,
Could hardly cause the often-silenced telephone to ring,
Which was scarcely very sad, as it's such a noisy thing
As fit to wake an emperor as send to sleep a king
Of Whatsoever clan,
Of mollusc or of man,
Or the bee that lacks a sting
That sucks the sweet Chrysanthem-

um: the bedesman hesitated while reciting his new tale;
His thoughts were all but random.
He thought of Sheridan the Shark, and Wilberforce the Whale
Of Bernadette the Bicycle, and Tamburlaine the Tandem.
Write no such names in the Cards of New Year
Or Christmas will not be a time of Good Cheer.

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