Scoundrel Time

Aesopica (2019)

i: The Hunting Dog and the Watchdog

Once there was a hunting dog
and a watchdog who lived down the street
across the river by a forest of meat

Watchdog took up on the big wraparound porch
every day with a rifle between his paws
and when Hunting Dog came home

bloody toothed and frothed with sweat
Watchdog gobbled all the food he brought
and Hunting Dog went rib sick and angry

Don’t blame me said Watchdog
wetly tonguing the trigger of his gun
By that time though Hunting Dog had died

and Watchdog ate him right up

ii: The Frogs Who Wished for a King

There once was a pond with a rainbow of frogs
Tree frogs and poison dart frogs and bog frogs
and glass frogs and leaf frogs and big bull frogs

A long necked crane with a frog skin hat
stole the voice of the father of frogs
by pecking out his throat and called out

The frogs must have a king
In answer rained a deluge of ribbits
O father of frogs the frog pond cried

please tell us who shall be our king
The next crane you see shall be your king
said Crane as he swallowed his hat and strode

into the pond with an open mouth

iii: The Animals and the Plague

The crane was sick the bull frog was
sick the lion was sick the horse
was sick the dog was sick the

wolf was sick the turtle was sick
the fox was sick and the hen was sick
so the animals called a caucus

Who is the cause of all his unrest
said Lion with a voice like vines
True I have eaten a crane a frog

a dog a wolf a turtle a fox and a hen
but who among us has not
and his tongue was slick with appetite

and the animals grumbled in agreement
But I have not protested Horse thinking
of his stone flat teeth and small moon mouth

I have only taken a little green grass
from the neighbor’s field
And hearing this egregious offense

the lion slaughtered the horse

iv: The Raven and the Swan

Once while clinging on a craggly twig
Raven spotted a swan slowly swimming
in the iridescent waters of the fountain

and Raven from her tree envied
the cresting arc of Swan’s curling throat
piebald with golden light

Come, Raven said Swan
brandishing her dappled neck
There is room for you in our water

and it will make you beautiful
Raven ached in her wishbone
but she had eyes sharp as leaves

I will not said Raven
for the light on your feathers is only
a reflection of the sun on the coins

at the bottom of the fountain
Swan made no reply but demurely nibbled
the grass blooming at the edge

of the fountain And besides
said Raven looking clear through
to the bottom of the water plated with gold

there is nothing there for me to eat






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