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The Publican’s Parrot

The Publican's Parrot
A lament for an African Grey

“Never spoil a good tale for the sake of the truth,”
My grandfather often would say,
“For a message is better delivered in style.”
He would add in his West Highland way.

The City of Oxford is famous,
For its colleges, courses and bars
And mist that hides spires, its chapels and towers,
Its conflicts, its intrigues and cars.

There's a pub off Blue Boar Lane in Oxford
For hundreds of years its been there,
With a famed collection of collegiate ties,
And it goes by the name of The Bear.

A publican there known as Charlie,
With a penchant for fine rolled Havanas,
Had a bird in cage that perched on parade,
With unusual and interesting manners.

The patrons were frequently greeted
As they stooped down to enter the bar
With a call from the bird in the cage by the door
Who would boldly cry “Have a cigar.”

And that wasn't all it would utter,
Its whistle was incredibly loud,
On first encounter it'd take one aback,
But the bird made the publican proud.

That African Grey was a talker,
It would sidle to the end of the perch,
c*ck his head to the side and in gravely voice
Its master's good name besmirch.

Some regulars had obviously coached it
It copied their verse to a “T”
In a subversive almost whispered tone
It repeated the words perfectly.

Clearly not all of the drinkers
Shared the publican's view of his bird,
And in crowded conditions and a furtive voice
“Bugger Charlie” was what could be heard.

Then all within ear shot erupted,
Guffaws like the smoke filled the room,
And those in the know would smirk and say
“You're a cheeky bird, you'll get it soon!”

One night a whistle-stunned patron
Took umbrage and pondered upon,
How to fix the bird in his wire safe haven
In short, he wanted it gone.

He brooded and plotted his stratagem,
When a couple of jars had been drained,
He snatched up the cage and departed away
The empty stand only remained.

He must have high tailed down Merton Street,
Over the cobbles to the High,
Then making to cross over Magdalen Bridge
Where he tossed the cage into the sky.

It splashed as it fell in the Cherwell,
By the punts tethered row upon row,
The bird squawked and sang it's very last song
And sank in the water below.
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Submitted on July 10, 2014

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Neil McLeod Claim this poet

Born in Oxford, raised in Kenya, past winner of Los Slamgeles Poetry Slam and author of abitingchance.blogspot.comand "The First Thanksgiving".Doctor McLeod is a performing poet who has recited at Highland Games, dinners and Burns Nights for the last 36 years. He is happily married, lives and works in Los Angeles,has three children, and practices as a dentist on Sunset Boulevard:http://www.drneilmcleod.com/He can be contacted by e-mail at drneilmcleod@yahoo.com and will willingly entertain requests to share his work with permission. more…

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