Top ten indefinities ever

Top ten indefinities ever

At ten is the time a Coptic
Bishop tried to take a shrimp from
The grill at a church fundraiser
On the expansive lawn of the
Diocese of Melbourne HQ,
And he swore – till his pancreas
Succumbed to adenosquamous
Carcinomas – that it said, “Wait!
I am not yet sufficiently tender.”

At nine is the time a young boy
Serving as a squire to a knight
Who claimed to be descended from
Sir Galahad saw in his shield –
While polishing it on the ninth
Hour of the ninth day of the ninth
Month of the Ninth Crusade – a cup
Of pure gold reflected in its
Old weathered face, radiating splendour.

At eight is the time a Russian
Painter, a short time after the
February revolution,
Succumbing to paraplegia,
Set out to paint a domovoi
Watching a merchant’s wife sleeping,
And discovered with his last stroke
That he had no idea with whom
He identified most – her or the beast.

At seven is the time a wolf –
Lost at sea for seven long months
After a storm broke and the waves
Came down on the low coast in ways
They’d not before and haven’t since –
Managed to swim back to her pack
And teach them the difference between
South and north, though she never grasped
The concept of a need for west or east.

At six is the time a sati
(“A”, not to be confused with “the”)
Made a plea to the governor
Of the Tamil Nadu branch of
The East India Company
That went all the way up to the
Governor-General in Bengal,
And he put a stop to the whole
Self-immolation thing, a day too late.

At five it has to be the time
A Portuguese conquistador
Lost his bearings (and his llamas)
Looking for the Qulla Suyu,
Hoping they would help him locate
El Dorado (or Tuvalu,
Or his marbles, or his llamas);
He walked the Atacama sands
In circles till his curly hair grew straight.

At four is that weekend in Bath,
August, 1894, when
Thousands of jellyfish – about
The size of a shilling piece each –
Fell from the skies of Somerset
And one lady pushing a pram
All across the Royal Crescent
Ran right into the ha-ha and,
Though unhurt, never mentioned it in jest.

At number three with a bullet
(Because you must have heard of it)
Is the time a Jewish merchant
Lost a pound of flesh in Venice
Running from angry creditors,
Jumping crates and cutting corners;
Falling into a canal, he
Commandeered a gondolier –
Who later wed him, she was that impressed.

At two is the time a man was
Two-timing these two twin sisters –
“It’s a win-win situation!”
He’d say to anyone who would
Listen – but he’d no notion of
The vagaries of double-crossed
Moroccan ladies; and the tricks
They turned against him in the end
Made him swear he’d never turn one again.

But, after all, the best is still
The time a tyrant with a quill
Decided to define the world
In terms that only he could learn,
And in the rarest molluscs’ ink
He etched out shapes and named them words,
And told his slaves they couldn’t sing
But instead must start compiling
Excuses for the funny ways of men.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]


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