August 17, 2020

“The Leopard’s Good Idea,” Poetry by Mark A. Murphy

“The Leopard’s Good Idea,” Poetry by Mark A. Murphy
The Leopard’s Good Idea  
or Costume Change 
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold 
The arch-enchanters wand! - itself a nothing! – 
Edward Bulwer-Lytton 
One day the crafty leopard hit upon 
the neat idea to turn out  
his old wardrobe 
in favour of a whole new look. 
Out went last season’s winter warmers  
as if a change of pelt might bring  
about a change in personality. 
Nonetheless, the inclination to swindle  
outweighs any kindness.  
So, the cheating and subterfuge runs 
its course, until the cheat   
and the cheated part company 
in the face of wild promises and denials. 
Now we journey to the end of time 
to ascertain whether the pen  
really is mightier than the sword, 
only to find what we always suspected. 
When the age of starlight comes 
to its ungodly end –  
the leopard’s spots will persist 
fixed – not unlike a bad tattoo – 
the arch enchanter nothing more 
than a bad memory orbiting 
the last dwarf star, 
dwarfed by shame – a stubborn stain 
fading fast in the desolate night. 
A history of nothing but rage 
and adieu, or in the last sad words 
of the philosopher – 
from nothing, through nothing to nothing. 

La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous  
persuader qu'il n'existe pas. – 
Charles Baudelaire 
The shifty misogynist picks at his spots 
with a needle, as if releasing 
a bad spirit, or warding off a bad omen 
like a junky wary of the cops  
weighing in to kick the door off  
and bang him in a glass cell –  
to protect him from his own hand. 
In all likelihood, the glitching won’t end 
unless the master welder is excreted 
like a bad case of diarrhea – 
until the wheat is sorted from the chaff. 
What do you expect from the devil 
but deception wrapped as bread and wine. 

for John Doyle 
To rid itself of parasites and enable 
new growth,  
the sidestepping cobra slowly sheds its skin  
but do not be fooled  
by the sight of one predator leaving  
itself defenseless as it eradicates another. 
You must always be on your guard 
and remember – 
even without coiling  
to assume the strike position 
danger strikes  
silently spitting venom without warning. 
Anyone unlucky enough to be acquainted 
with the hooded menace 
might wish to keep a mongoose  
at hand to offset any material losses, 
prevent further trespass 
and send him packing (not before time) 
into the dustbin of all your past mistakes. 


Mark A. Murphy is the editor of the online journal, POETiCA REViEW. His poetry collections include Tin Cat Alley (1996), Our Little Bit of Immortality (2011), Night-watch Man & Muse (2013), To Nora, A Singer of Sad Songs (2019), and Night Wanderer’s Plea (2019). His next full-length collection, The Ontological Constant is due out in June (2020) in a bi-lingual German/English edition from Moloko Print in Germany. This is his first feature in The Fictional Café.

The Leopard's Good Idea
#cobra#leopard#mark a murphy#misogyny#poetry

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