The BUM STEER
shouldn’t really be here,
and yet, transposed to animal,
charmingly louche it rambles, toujours gai,
oblivious to the butcher’s block until
it meets an end decidedly not Grade-A:
on a bed of soggy toast, its juices mingle
in an Army dish called Shit on Shingle.
The CAT’S PAW
breaks the law
or does a dirty deed for someone else.
Unwitting or unwilling, he’s a tool.
The master hides behind events unfolding
and pays the piper for his dancing fool
who discovers that his partner in the waltz
is the empty bag he finds himself left holding.
The DOG’S BODY,
is no hot toddy,
or grog (though it belongs to the Royal Navy),
no rack of lamb with gravy,
but a boiled pudding of dried eggs and peas
and also, as we hear him puff and wheeze,
the name of the lowly stiff who bears the brunt
of the kind of work that’s often labeled “grunt.”
The JUDAS GOAT
has turned his coat.
Trained in deceit, he leads the herd to slaughter.
Despise him, preach what good men ought or
ought not do, but can you really know,
when death was everywhere and bodies burned,
wanting to live, that you would not have turned
The PIG IN A POKE
is for sale when you’re broke,
and it’s tempting, although you can’t see it.
Your future feels trapped like a cat in a well,
and this lottery ticket could free it.
Any sensible person would scoff at the pig and decry it.
You know that your chance is a snowball’s in hell
and you buy it.
The SACRIFICIAL LAMB
does not get to say “I am,”
but is told, “You are.”
Politicians wanting war
will cloak ambition in an age-old story:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
Young people, when you are offered a death called sweet,
resist their call to baa and bleat.
The STALKING HORSE
might as well be a hearse
where birds are concerned, for death walks behind it.
The hunter takes cover beside its broad flank
and moves ever closer. The birds do not mind it,
ignoring the beast till quick shots take their lives.
What hunters are stalking us, closer than we dare think,
so close they’re within us now, waiting to pounce with their knives?