Other poems

Mythical Teeth

Under the influence of Shel.

A dragon has a thousand teeth:
It keeps them clean and white
In case it finds a lobster
Into which it needs to bite.
For dragons do love lobster
Whether boiled or baked or raw
And so they have a thousand teeth —
Five hundred in each jaw.

A manticore has ninety teeth —
Comparatively few,
But that’s a fine distinction that
May well be lost on you
If you’re the one a manticore
Thinks would be simply grand
If cooked up in a fricassee
With carrots from a can.

A troll has sixty-seven teeth
And needs them all to chew
Its dinner, which consists of garnet
Bread and marble stew.
Each day it wears its teeth to sand
And grows another set
In time for breakfast. If you doubt me,
Want to make a bet?

A vampire has just thirty teeth —
Well, give or take a pair;
Of course that pair’s what matters most
If you are vampire fare.
The others are superfluous
For blood’s a vampire’s food,
And blood does not (nine times in ten)
Require being chewed.

A griffin has no teeth at all
But only has a beak;
He keeps it sharp by filing it
A dozen times a week.
So much for dragons, manticores,
And trolls who live beneath,
And vampires, yes, and griffins too…
Now, go and brush your teeth.

When

Kipling, skewed, sort of.

When the fire drill is over and the sun lights up the room
When the lilacs are in blossom and the cannon start to boom
When the dishwasher’s rebooting for the twenty-seventh time
Then I find I can be happy if I have another lime

When the butterflies are chirping and the ants play whiffleball
When Uzbekhistan and Libya come pay a social call
When the marching band plays greatest hits of Stockhausen and Cage
Then I’ll script “The Origin of Species” for the stage

When the Great Red Spot turns greenish and blinks “mayday” in Morse code
When Bugs Bunny sings “The Raven” in the mixolydian mode
When the seas all turn to soup, the continents to chicken stew
Then I think I might consider maybe coming back to you

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