by Bethany Eve Thomas | September 16, 2022
“Even now as the latest mealy-mouthed apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth, a new set of deflections and distortions pour from the other.” – Keir Starmer, April 2022
Flea sits beside Cockroach and fingers his ’tash,
Discussing fiscal matters of raising cash.
He’s scheming to fund his new project
Of which buying booze is the object.
Across the table, eating with aggression,
Greedily causing the next recession,
Maggot chews tallow flies, spitting cash around:
A gurgling, guzzling, gulping sound.
Disgusted, Earwig pulls out his red box,
Tucks his green card neatly into his socks
(he’s wearing the pair made by his designer wife
His dearest Silkworm affords them quite the life).
He unclips at last his red toy
And clicks his pincers in pure joy;
He removes the precious cargo within:
His exhaustive and flawless plan to win
The money of the people fooled:
Those who weren’t privately schooled.
At last Mosquito – buzzing loudly – arrives,
To the head of the table, he leisurely flies
He coughs a little, “Take your spots;
Not you Ladybird – you have lots.”
(It’s true that she does, but haven’t you heard?
You can’t change the spots of a ladybird.
Birdy’s renowned nation-wide as a bully
But it’s fine – Mosquito forgave her fully.)
Before esteemed Mosquito can begin
He hears from outside a terrible din
And he observes as fat, juicy Worm arrives:
His slippery lady: the third of his wives,
With her soft, pulsating, pale-pink flesh.
He inhales with a grin her smell: fresh.
“Surprise my dear, Mozzy!” she hoarsely croaks,
“I have arranged – with these delicious blokes
A birthday party for your special day.”
And on the table, she begins to lay:
A feast for the many-legged, many-eyed;
Those who squirmed loyally by her husband’s side.
Their feast spills out on the tablecloth
And at the sight they begin to froth;
Their drool quickly turns the woodwork damp,
Their frenzy like bugs around a lamp.
The centrepiece: a feline cadaver –
Three days old and oozing rancid flavour.
Once a proud lion now nothing more
Than a bargain at the butcher’s store;
Dirt canapés and roasted mealy-bugs,
Aphids to devour and blood to chug.
Dung for Beetle, fungi for Slug, carrion for ’Wig,
Food for gastropods, invertebrates; little and big:
Wood for ’Louse,
Blood on the house,
For all a delectable rig.
With bellies full they clear their throats
And up rise jarring, tuneless notes.
The birthday song: a discordant chant
Of rasping sounds; a sibilate pant,
Until the chorus is over at last
And they each top up their empty glass.
Generously they spare a moment
(Thanks they see as their atonement);
They think of those who let them stay,
And feed upon them day-by-day.
And so, at last, they raise a toast
And yawp a thanks to their kind hosts:
“To those who wordlessly submit,
Our favourite of all half-wits:
There’s no one like them – it’s the Brits!” ∎
Words by Bethany Eve Thomas. Art by Ben Beechener.