All of us at sea…

One fine day a runcible goose declared himself king. Lots of folk thought ‘Great!’ and had a party.

Everyone must fly in a v decreed the runcible goose whilst smoking his signature cigar. The butterflies, still drunk on bruised fruit, looked quizzically about. Frankly, the ants were aghast.

The runcible goose saw that there was some disquiet, and thought for a moment (though not a moment longer)…

‘Grow some wings’ he screamed, with a brief glance in the direction of the insects. It became the Runcible Goose Party slogan. Posters were printed; someone the runcible goose knew way back was paid zillions for a cobbled together winged cigar logo; badges were duly pinned to lapels.

And the unwinged were beaten and the flightless were shot and the runcible goose ordered that the owl be detained and a few days later the pussycat was quite off his milk. Shortly thereafter he was hospitalised and died. Most suspect poisoning.

‘All hail to the runcible goose,’ we chant as he drives past the crowds in his bulletproof car.
And the ants wave their flags and their cardboard wings.

Alan Peat

The bone pillow

I have long slept badly and so was intrigued when a close friend asked if I had tried a bone pillow. I’d never heard of such a thing but he assured me that there are many who swear by them.

To make a bone pillow you must first catch mice. Voles will do at a push and it is rumoured that some of the cheaper outlets make do with moles, stoats and other such vermin.

Once caught, the mice must be processed. Their flesh is removed by an ingenious machine and what little of them still adheres to the bone is simply boiled off in an enormous copper vat.

After this a team of workers pour the clean white bones into soft cotton pillowcases.

Each time you turn in your bed the comforting crunch of fibula, mandibles and the like will surely lull you into the deepest of sleeps: that’s more or less what the adverts say.

I bought a bone pillow but I cannot recommend them. On the first night, as soon as my eyes closed, I dreamt the most terrible of dreams. Instead of mice it was my body they dropped into the ingenious machine; it was my bones they boiled.

Later in the dream, a giant bought the me-pillow from an enormous outlet store. And when he fell asleep his great weight quickly turned my bones to powder.

Dissatisfied with my dreadful lack of crunch he disposed of me.

I was taken to a local recycling centre and it was there that the fabric, which held me in, split. I watched as the wind took what was left of me – just dust really – and awoke with a hint of a whimper.

There are some who may call me a traditionalist but nothing, I believe, beats good old-fashioned feathers, freshly plucked from the skin of still-living crows.

sharpening a feather into
a sword

Réka Nyitrai / Alan Peat

[Can nursery rhymes keep the mourning doves away?]

After I told my husband that I will never grow old, I started to see mourning doves. Mostly, I see them at night. They pull gray hairs from my head to build their nests.
Secretly, at forty-three, I wish to make love with a woman. Secretly, in my next life I want to be born as an apple tree. Secretly, I think I still haven’t met the love of my life.
Since childhood, I have believed in the transformative power of words: I write the word butterfly on a napkin and the napkin flies.
My mother taught me the wisdom of violets: at times soft, sweet and alluring, but often determined and bold.
A pansy paired with blue sky for me is an ocean.
From my father I learnt the wisdom of nails: one does not have to be tremendous to join things together or to serve as a hook.
A nail paired with the earth for me is a rosebush.

Réka Nyitrai