Friday, 1 April 2016

James Fenton: The Wild Ones


Here come the capybaras on their bikes.
They swerve into the friendly, leafy square
Knocking the angwantibos off their trikes,
Giving the age-old coypus a bad scare.
They specialise in nasty, lightning strikes.
They leave the banks and grocers' shops quite bare,
Then swagger through the bardoors for a shot
Of anything the barman hasn't got.

They spoil the friendly rodent rodeos
By rustling the grazing flocks of mice.
They wear enormous jackboots on their toes.
Insulted by a comment, in a trice
They whip their switchblades out beneath your nose.
Their favourite food is elephant and rice.
Their personal appearance is revolting.
Their fur is never brushed and always moulting.

And in the evening when the sun goes down
They take the comely women on their backs
And ride for several furlongs out of town
Along the muddy roads and mountain tracks,
Wearing a grim and terrifying frown.
Months later, all the females have attacks
And call the coypu doctors to their beds.
What's born has dreadful capybara heads.


From Children in Exile (1984). The feel of a sometimes inspired drunken joke that goes on for just long enough and no longer.