Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Spread of Avian Flu and How to Treat It

Shortlisted in the satire section at Strokestown

As I lay abed one morning,
The radio put out a warning,
And I was quite disconcerted
At the picture that it drew.
From the east, disease was spreading,
To the shores of Ireland heading.
Chicken farmers all were dreading
This new strain of avian flu.
Budgies were morosely shedding
Feathers, due to avian flu.

Down the stairs I tiptoed slowly,
Lest some foul, deranged, unholy
Bird should jump out of the shadows,
As such birds are wont to do.
Then a sound! A chesty wheezing,
In the kitchen, dark and freezing.
Then, the sound of something sneezing?
Ah-ah-aah, ah-Tish! Tishoo!
Or was my active mind just teasing?
Did I really hear “Tishoo?”

Long and hard, I stood and pondered,
Till I gulped a breath and wandered
Through the kitchen door, unsettled
By what might come into view.
There, beside the back door, groaning,
Like a distant aircraft droning,
Hanky poised and softly moaning,
Stood my daughter’s cockatoo.
There, I thought about disowning
My dear daughter’s cockatoo.

But as I stared at this sad creature,
Formerly a strident screecher,
My hard heart was moved to pity
By this bird from Timbuktu.
Unwillingly to me entrusted,
Outlook totally adjusted,
There it stood, distraught, disgusted,
Pondering its life anew.
Eyes awash and beak encrusted,
Looking at its life anew.

Though inclined to be quite cranky,
Round my face I tied a hanky,
Sore afraid that I might catch
The swirling germs that round me flew.
Then I wrapped a towel around him
Which at first did quite dumbfound him,
But I stood where I had found him
Till his trust and calmness grew.
My gentleness did so confound him
Till his trust and calmness grew.

Up the creaking stairs we ventured,
Him still snuffling, me un-dentured.
Into bed I lightly placed him
‘Neath my quilt of royal blue.
And, as his eyelids briefly fluttered,
As he to a deep sleep stuttered,
I do swear he faintly muttered,
“The blessings of the Lord on you.”
True as God, he softly uttered
“May the Lord be good to you.”

Throughout the day he lay half-dreaming,
Nose still running, eyes still streaming,
While I brought up scalding Lemsips
And some bowls of homemade stew,
All of which he guzzled meekly,
Eyeing me somewhat obliquely,
Wheezing hard and smiling weakly,
As I slowly nursed him through.
Coughing globules thick and treacly,
As I helped to pull him through.

That long night, this willing gopher
Slept upon the downstairs sofa
While that bird in my bed tossed
And turned, its feathers all askew.
Then, as light of day came creeping,
I awoke from fitful sleeping,
As a strident cry came sweeping –
Was that not a cock that crew?
No, it was the piercing cheeping
Of my daughter’s cockatoo.

So all of ye scared poultry farmers,
Spreading stories to alarm us,
Do not let your sneezing chickens
Make you turn the air bright blue.
Rather treat them with compassion,
Don’t begrudge their Lemsip ration,
Treat them in a kindly fashion,
With a heart that’s pure and true.
Love those turkeys with a passion
And fend off that avian flu.

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