Packbawky Discrimination

What is it about birds going about their natural lives that provokes people to write slanderous songs about them and encourage their mistreatment?

Neil Gaiman's journal pointed me to "The March of the Sinister Ducks" (available for legitimate download). Its quirky humour disguises its true nature. It is a hate song. It is anti-avian propaganda. I group it together with Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and Weird Al Yankovic's song advocating duck slavery: "I Want a New Duck".

Please don't think I'm trying to build a case on just three carefully selected songs. Vilification of birds has been nesting in the back of human consciousness for centuries. It surfaces every now and then with songs like "The Tennessee Bird Walk" by Jack Blanchard - a song that, while not exactly encouraging cruelty to birds, did suggest the possibility of bird abuse as both a source of humour and a mnemonic device for separated sweethearts. The practice of singing about avian abuse has a long tradition. Allow me to remind you of those French feather-fetishist phrases:
Alouette, gentile alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai.

Anti-bird sentiment has reared its head in other ways too. I know of several songs accusing birds of sexual impropriety. e.g. "My Canary has Circles Under His Eyes" by Kohler/Pola/Golden and Jake Thackray's "The Bantam Cock". Sometimes the discrimination even descends to childish mud-slinging, as in "The Cuckoo is a Funny Bird".

I have a dre... er, no. That line's been overused. Let's just say it's time for the militant wing of the United Packbawkies to begin a retaliatory campaign. Don't say you weren't warned. All we need is someone to do for birds what Dana Lyons did for cows...

[Edit: The lone birdbrain attempts to defend packbawkies against unfounded allegations in a verse versus verse battle.]


Here's another one, from La Bohème:

E come la civetta
È uccello sanguinario
Il suo cibo ordinario
È il cuore.
Mangia il cuore!
Per questo io non ne ho più.

(And, like the owl,
She's a bird of prey
Her usual food
Is the heart!
She eats hearts!
Thanks to her, I no longer have one.)

I'm going to write you some anti-packbawky propaganda, myself, if my energy holds out just a little longer. Beware, O Black Packbawky--I'll be back-bawky.

OK, I got one. Could be better--pretty shaky meter in places, there, and some questionable word choices, but it'll have to do:

The Peck of the Packbawky

I fell asleep one afternoon
In a quiet glade
My head soft-cradled by the grass
A tree to lend me shade.

I dreamt of knights on sunlit fens
Their horses standing proud
The breeze that stroked my slumb'ring face
In my dream blew loud.

It swept, a gale, across a moor
Where ancient cromlechs stood
It swirled and twirled and caught up leaves
Capricious in its mood.

Upon my own great noble steed
I chased the playful wind
And, baying with exub'rant glee
The hounds careened behind.

Beneath the stones, a lady stood
A lily in her hair
She strummed upon a mandolin
As she lingered there.

I halted then my warhorse brave
And doffed apace my cap
Then, light as air, she sprang straight up
And gave my cheek a slap.

I leapt down from my saddle, then
And fell into the grass
Instead of lightly, on my feet
I landed on my ass.

Indeed, I had not come, at all
Down from a horse's back.
For it was up from sleep I'd sprung,
Dream ruined by a smack.

And in the air, I saw a shape
With feathers, beak, and wings.
As I rubbed the cheek that he had pecked
That bird began to sing.

I applaud your plausible tale, my friend,
and your thoughts so forthright and free,
but deplore your distortions - the truth that you bend.
Perforce, I must disagree.

When a carrion bird is just carrying out
his charitable charge for the lea,
'tis right he should harry some unburied lout
with a peck of soft cheek for his tea.

If dreaming of tumbling some crumpet all day
or of strumpets a-strumming your tune
leaves you crumpled with un-humble cheeks on display
please don't grumble if crows peck the moon.

Knock me down with a feather, you cheeky wee blether
I see your fine game now, I do!
But where you speak of charity, I see disparity,
Calumny and foul falsehood, too!

Come now, take a peek at the cavernous beak
Of any old vulture or owl
Two holes--look at those! It's nostrils, a nose
Are you ready to throw in the towel?

For now you must see that when birds take their tea
They give it a sniff first, to check.
If breath they can smell, then by George they can tell
It's not time to go for the peck!

So the bird of my dreams is just as he seems:
A nasty wee cheek-nipping pest!
He just couldn't bear to stay in the air
And let me enjoy my sweet rest!

You told us little of that glade,
and why your head to sleep was laid.
Your state, however, was betrayed -
your artifice observed.

You wandered in Glenlivet's bliss,
and savoured every burning kiss,
entranced in malt analysis.
Such torpor was deserved.

The bawky's peck should not have been
interpreted as cruel nor mean.
Please let me now describe the scene
viewed by the innocent bird:

"Oh, for the feasts in days of old
when soldiers died and death bells tolled!
But what's this smell? Well bless my soul -
a corpse that's been preserved!
Just when my hunger takes control
the homme au vin is served."

It was a perfect summer day
Ablaze with leaves and petals gay
And I atop my hammock lay
Lambent with the warm play
Of the smiling sun.

I gazed into the firmament
Where the blue was deftly rent
By a playful complement
Of cirrus clouds by zephyrs sent
To frame the golden sun.

I'd cast aside my parasol
And hung my coat upon the wall
Where the dainty lizards crawl
My skin, it was uncovered all
And browning in the sun.

At length, above my leafy bed
There came a shadow overhead
Shaped like an X, and gray as lead.
"Please to fly away", I said:
"You're blocking out the sun."

The bird, alas, did not comply.
He lifted up his tail on high
And, chirping sweetly, let it fly
Aiming for my waiting eye
It burned like the sun!

On that day, I was besmirched
By a bird, above me perched.
And still, the squawking legions searched
For ways to leave me in the lurch
Distraught beneath the sun.

This tale of boozing is a fraud
I swear before almighty God
And, should I catch that lying sod
I'll send him to the land of Nod
Where there is no sun.

I know it's not my turn, but every good argument needs some Random Celebrity Quotes:

Hold one moment, my dear man--I know you are a Gaiman fan!
For your pleasure, here's a quote, something that your idol wrote--
So hold right there, consider this--really, now, I must insist:
"Oh, no--it is the skooky bird! It's tickling my wrist!"

Now, tickling is not so bad, unless you're one unlucky lad
Kept from falling by your grip--woe betide you, should you slip!
And then there comes a birdy kiss, loosening your trembling fist:
"Oh, no--it is the skooky bird! It's tickling my wrist!"

Now the world's upside-down: you're falling upwards to the ground
Tumbling clouds chase forests green, and purple mountains in between.
It's over now; you can't resist that flapping, squawking terrorist:
"Oh, no--it is the skooky bird! It's tickling my wrist!"

(Quote from "The Doll's House", I believe. I don't have a copy here, so I won't vouch for its accuracy. It could've been, say, "Oh, no, it is our skooky bird!", or "He is tickling my wrist", or--well, you get the picture. But there was definitely a skooky bird, and a tickled wrist.)

Near a tree in a glade where a packbawky sat
singing "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk,"
there a slobb'ring inebriate snorted and spat:
"Shut yer brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!"
So the packbawky, knowing his song wasn't sweet,
spread his black satin pinions and flapped his retreat,
though it pained him to leave with his song incomplete -
only "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!"

As the boor snored another packbawky flew in
singing "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk,"
bringing mumblings of "Yah stoopid bird! Stop the din
of yah brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!"
And although he'd lain down not in sun but in shade
he berated the blackbird for darkening his glade
'til the falsely accused tried to stop his tirade,
pleading: "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!"

Now the drunk, blind with fury at hearing the bird
crowing "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk,"
found a missile to fling up (a steaming cow turd)
at the "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk."
As he clumsily pitched that fresh dump to the sky,
he looked upward and waited - I can't tell you why -
and as gravity worked, the bird bade him goodbye,
sighing: "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk."

After wiping the filth from his eyes, cursing God
for the "Brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk"
of the fleeing packbawky, he yelled out: "You sod!
with yer brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!
If I catch you I'll kill you, you aerial swine
and I'll pluck you and truss your foul talons with twine,
then I'll stuff you in places the sun doesn't shine
to sing brawk, brk-brawk, brk-brawk!"

Where the murm'ring willow bends
O'er a brook which stately wends
With unhurried majesty
To the river, then the sea--
There, amid the tangled roots
The ghost-plant sprouts its pallid shoots.

When the full moon's o'er the lea
Pale as any ghost-plant, she
And the stars gleam overhead
From a cloudless sapphire bed
Then the shoots are ripe to pluck
Their enchanted sap to suck.

Only one of spirit pure
Might hope by twilight to procure
That most frail and spectral flower
From its shady arbor bower.
If the hand should sullied be
That plucks it from its nursery
The shoot shall shrivel on the spot
White skin turning black with rot.

One night, when stars were overhead
There came a lady, dressed in red
She rested near the bubbling stream
Waiting for the moon to gleam
That she might, with any luck
Herself the dainty sapling pluck.

When the moon rose high above
Thinking of her distant love
She closed her eyes, and with a sigh
Raised her dainty hand on high
And, trembling, ventured to uproot
A single glistening ghost-plant shoot.

When at last she dared to look
The morning sun was on the brook
It made a halo of her hair
A wreath about her visage fair
And likewise fair still bloomed the flower
Fresh and shining as the hour.

"It is just as the witches said,"
She cried, and raised her golden head.
"Now, to find my slumb'ring love
And bring him succour from above!
Already stretched there in the glade
Neither full in sun nor shade
Nor on the ground, nor in the skies
My love half-roused, half-sleeping lies!
While in that state he's poised adrift
A virtuous hand his curse might lift!
So said the witches, so say I
Away now, to his side I fly!"

She hurried through the sleeping wood
Where the ancient oak-trees stood
And came at length upon the glade
Where, in the dappled, sun-specked shade
Her cursed love in a hammock lay
Below the blue, above the gray.

She raised the flower up to his lips
But as he swallowed his first sip
Of the ghost-flower's potent drink
A looming shadow, black as ink
Plunged him full into the shade.
She saw his surging colour fade
And his eyes roll in his head
There was no doubt her love was dead.

As she wept and cursed the sun
Which had betrayed her chosen one
She raised her fist to smite the air
And, glancing up, she saw him there:
The blackbird who'd obscured the light
In his wanton, reckless flight.

She plunged into the briar-choked wood
Mindless of the trees that stood,
Their tangled branches in her way
Guardians of the forest, they.
With her hands, she battled through
She chased that bird as swift he flew
She chased him till the day was gone
And still he flapped and carried on.

The night had gathered o'er the wood
Before that blackbird stopped and stood
Upon a branch, and took his rest
His head tucked tight against his breast.
Once certain that her quarry slept
The maiden from the thickets crept
And seized him by his feathered neck
Daring him to scratch or peck.

"Oh, blackbird, I beseech you, tell--
Why did you, with your shadow, fell
My one companion, my true love
With your shadow from above?"
The blackbird thought a little space
Then looked her boldly in the face
And, bold as brass, explained apace:

"It was I who blocked the light,
It's true, but 'twas a desperate flight!
I was but fleeing from a hawk
And, frightened by his hunting-squawk
I flew without thought to my place!
Please, kind maiden, lend me grace!"

There was no hawk up in the sky
That little blackbird told a lie.
And on false pretense, flew off free
A carefree murderer was he.
The lovelorn maiden laid her head
Upon the forest's leafy bed.
Where she watched the long days pass
Till she joined her love at last.

If, in this tale of woe you'd find
Some wise advice to keep in mind
The moral's this: don't take the word
Of any smooth-tongued forest bird.

The case you have so eloquently aired before this court
has brought to light some blatant lies on which it finds support.
It's clear to all your claim is baseless under laws of tort,
so the packbawky innocent must be, he must be,
so the packbawky innocent must be.

To say my client's flight was unforeseen would not be fair.
The failure to ensure sunlight must be, in this affair,
the dereliction of a doctor's duty of due care,
so the packbawky innocent must be, he must be,
so the packbawky innocent must be.

You take great pains to paint your client as a spirit pure,
unsullied and with virtuous hands wherewith to wield said cure,
yet those same hands would seize and strangle birds, you may be sure
that the packbawky innocent must be, he must be,
that the packbawky innocent must be.

My client fled that fateful field in haste, I must confess,
chased by a spiteful scarlet woman in a state of stress.
He only lied to cling to life when under dire duress,
so this packbawky innocent must be, he must be,
so this packbawky innocent must be.

This prosecution's poignant plea presumes the jury young
and short of sense to see the shams whereon this case is hung -
a ruse to rook us that a raven can be smooth of tongue!
So this packbawky innocent must be, he must be,
so this packbawky innocent must be.

Your Honour, if my colleague's through
Allow me to present to you
These facts most relevant and true:

Here we have Exhibit A:
A bag of bones, the skin decayed!
And over here, Exhibit B,
A book on bestiality!
Exhibit C's behind this door:
A cage with smooth-tongued ravens four!
Exhibit D's a damning tape
Of the bawky's slick escape!

Prevaricate! Facilitate! Alliterate and obfuscate!
Administrate! Repudiate! Dedicate and regulate!
With words and with numbers (and really high bail)
The prosecution shall always prevail!
The prosecution shall always prevail!

These bones were once a lady fair
With pointy breasts and cornsilk hair!
What fell hand, what lout would dare
To end her life? Your client, there!
See, if you take a closer peek
You'll see the imprints of a beak!
In our lab, we matched its shape
To that rotten jackanape!

Prevaricate! Facilitate! Alliterate and obfuscate!
Administrate! Repudiate! Dedicate and regulate!
With words and with numbers (and really high bail)
The prosecution shall always prevail!
The prosecution shall always prevail!

Exhibit B was found on high
Lining someone's nest, oh my!
Your client is a pervert, sir
A lout, a punter, and a cur!
This hungry little cannibal
Fornicates with animals!
You credit him with honesty?
Give it up--you don't fool me!

Prevaricate! Facilitate! Alliterate and obfuscate!
Administrate! Repudiate! Dedicate and regulate!
With words and with numbers (and really high bail)
The prosecution shall always prevail!
The prosecution shall always prevail!

C, you'll really want to see
This one startled even me!
Observe, Your Honour, as I try
To catch these bawkies in a lie!
The capital of Scotland is--?
"Caw!" See, there, you getting this?
Another question: What's your name?
"Caw!" I'faith, you should be 'shamed!

Prevaricate! Facilitate! Alliterate and obfuscate!
Administrate! Repudiate! Dedicate and regulate!
With words and with numbers (and really high bail)
The prosecution shall always prevail!
The prosecution shall always prevail!

Exhibit D's the worst of all:
There's the maiden standing tall
She has him by the neck, it's true
But, I must appeal to you--
See that speck of sunlight, there?
The one that sparkles in her hair?
That's coming through a little space
Between her fingers and his face
She didn't grab him very tight
Just hard enough to prevent flight!

Prevaricate! Facilitate! Alliterate and obfuscate!
Administrate! Repudiate! Dedicate and regulate!
With words and with numbers (and really high bail)
The prosecution shall always prevail!
The prosecution shall always prevail!

The prosecution rests its case.
I trust this court will give no grace
To that little lecher bird
You must not take him at his word!
He is a scoundrel, weak and dim
Prithee, throw the book at him!

I had a dream that one day in the cool glades of poetitude
that packbawkies would not be damned for scavenging for scraps of food,
and birds of every species could be judged not on how well they sing.
My dream is dead until we find a birdy Martin Luther King.
I never should have tried to tackle hate with truth and honesty.
I thought the days of blaming blackbirds were a part of history.
But yet in these enlightened days of tolerant society
we see a justice system warped by fueling mob mentality.

If I enjoy a meal I get accused of necrophilia.
They'll burn me with the witches just because I look "familiar".
In short, for words apocryphal on bawks and bestiality,
here is the very essence of a redneck courtroom travesty!

You bring a bag of Rover's treats and claim them once voluptuous,
supported by the evidence rigged by Monsieur Anonymous -
no doubt the same false witness caught with books on "animal husbandry"
who placed the blame absurdly on a library-lifting packbawky!
Perhaps the court should know I saw an angle-grinder there among
the set of power tools you used to burnish smooth each raven's tongue.
Exhibit D - note carefully my client's eyes about to pop,
and sparkles in the maiden's hair were filtered in by photoshop!

Your manufactured evidence would shame a witch inquisitor.
The jury all bent over for your calumny-suppositor.
In short, for words apocryphal on bawks and bestiality,
this is the very essence of a redneck courtroom travesty!

Your Honour, if you will, a brief recess?
The counsel for the defense, I confess
His logic sound, full eloquent his pleas
Has brought a sodden blowhard to his knees.
Though I swore once and, red-faced, swore again
That I, full sober, slept in that sad glen
It wasn't true. The fact is, I have not
Been dry a day in years, decades, God wot.

There was no virgin, dying for her love
No errant bird to smirch me from above.
There was no hammock in a sun-warmed glade
No curse, no peck, no chase, no flower, no shade.

Your Honour, I'm naught but a sad old sort
I'm lit today, sodden drunk in your court
I despaired, you see--I'm not a glib man
You've heard the defense speak, the way he can.
My case was small, but full proper my claim
If you indulge me, I'll say why I came.
'Twas like this: last night I left my bourbon
On the sill, and this morning, it was gone.

I stumbled out, hung over, in the yard
There lay the defendant, snoring full hard
The bottle under one wing, and his head
Under the other, sleeping like the dead.

Your Honour, oh please, it's true no-one died
But this life's never once taken my side.
That bird there, he took my one and only
Remaining pleasure. I'm old and lonely.
I'm sorry I lied to judge and jury
But please, just once, avenge me my fury.

Caww lummy! Give it a rest!
You want to talk about *that* night?
Put bourbon on the sill? - yeah, right,
and I'm an honoured guest!

When you were brain dead on the floor
from too much sucking on the tit
of some Wild Turkey, I was sitting
on the bust above your door.

Molotov Mort, the rat, sleazed in
and strutted up to where you lay.
He sniffed your breath's leggy bouquet
then turned, wearing an evil grin.

I was shocked to hear him snort:
"When d'ya think that I should steal
the old guy's final liquid meal?
My only words were "Never! Mort."

Next I knew he'd nabbed the drink
between his paws and scampered out
the open window, up the spout
onto the roof - no time to think -
I launched myself in hot pursuit
and caught the bugger on the tiles.
He flashed one of his ratty smiles
then quite deliberately dropped his loot.

Clink, clink, clink, clink, the bottle slid
towards the edge and gaining speed -
too late for me to intercede.
Too late? No! God forbid!

Though packbawkies aren't known for pace
I plummeted over and down
with nose-cone beak aimed for the ground
to save the flask from earth's embrace.

I stretched my wing beneath its plunge
just as the hard dirt slammed my head.
Alas, the uncorked bottle bled
it's contents to an earthen sponge.

When you awoke the rat was gone.
Molotov Mort had had his fun,
his trick had worked. The rat had won,
and I lay stunned upon your lawn.

Because of Mort I lost your trust,
my place of warmth, my life of ease.
So now I pine out in the trees,
no more to phosphate-coat your bust.

One last interrogee there be
One final witness! Look, it's he!
Affirming here my tort, it's Mort
The rat will now address the court!

ah was up the 'ouse, an aw
chawin' doon the cloakroom waw
ah chawed so hard ah come through
intae the wee doonstairs loo
ah hudnae meant tae be pokin'
but ah heard someone boakin'
aw brakk-brakk, an' retchin' and
ah thought ah'd lend a hand.

'Twas generosity, you see
That led our friend the rat to be
Where he was that night, all right!
He doesn't lie; he's not that bright.

oy, ya wanker, do ye not
want tae hear the tale ah got?
ennyway, there ah am,
actin' like ah guv a damn
ah thought it wuz the ol' man
who'd got huz heid in the can
but it was really that burd
whose expectorations ah'd hurd.

The truth will set you free, says me
We'll have this settled up by tea!
The rat will shed the light, that's right
That ends this histrionic fight!

shut yer 'ole, yeh lunk, an' let
me talk, uh'm no finished yet.
ah put ma wee arm round 'im
the burd, see, an' ah sed "jim"
(coz that's huz name, the burd's name)
ah sed, "jim, it's sich a shame
tae see ye oaf the cart again
it's no gonnae stop yer pain."

Yes, Mort, keep up the pace, and race
To help us solve this troubling case!
Keep going, Mort, like that--good rat!
You've got this witness thing down pat!

werl, jim, he screwed up huz face
an' boaked orl over the place
'e got it on me, an' then
'e said, if ye spill this, ken
if ah hear ye've bin runnin'
yer mooth, ah'll soon be comin'
tae gie ye a bluiddy nose
puffy an' red as a rose!

The rat regaled with threats? It gets
No worse than this, my courtroom pets!
Mort met with treatment rude and crude
When he set out to do some good!

ah tried tae keep quiet, see
bit quiet jest usnae me
ah tole me mam aboot jim
an' soon it got back tae him
so now huz brung me tae coart
e's a real kine, charmin' soart
jim, ah didnae mean tae tell
ah meant to shut it, good an' well.

The rat, he tells the truth, forsooth--
That bird's behaviour was uncouth!
How came that bad bawky to be
Drunk in the yard for all to see?

sorry, ah forgoat that part.
he was boakin' up to start
booze hud boughten on huz own
then eh starts tae sigh an' moan
"a hair o' the doag i need
'e stole some tae fill huz greed
'e took the booze from the sill
an' drunk till 'e was dead ill.

A tiny wee bit more bird lore
And then we'll all be out the door!
Good Mort, it's almost done, the fun
Soon you'll be free, and you can run.

werl, jim fell doon on the floor
an' i druggen um ootdoors
tae git some fresh air, ah thoat--
git some breath intae huz throat.
'e wouldnae droap huz poison,
'e snored awa' wi' it on
huz wing, an' then ah went 'ome
tae ma burrow under the loam.

Our side prevails again, good men!
You heard the rat's true statement, then?
Sweet justice, don't begrudge, good judge
A verdict grim that doesn't budge!

You can always depend on a dog, "man's best friend",
and a more faithful pet I could not recommend.
Yes, even a wolf can be trained to obey,
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

I suppose if you're smitten you could keep a kitten
and your book of betrayals by cats won't get written
'cause they're fluffy and cute and they just like to play
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

I've heard that a pony can make a good crony
and the stories of unfaithful steeds are baloney.
You can trust a big Clydesdale to fart in your dray
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

An owl or a duck (or a goose if you're stuck)
are reliable friends with their loyalty and pluck.
Get a swan or a swallow, a wren or a jay
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

A cute little spider won't drink all your cider
and when your friends visit it's okay to hide 'er
She's happy to keep herself out of the way,
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

You should never be slow to confide in a crow
for he'll steadfastly keep all the secrets you know
and he'll store all your jewelry in his caché
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

You can place your unshakable faith in a snake.
Let's face it, it's hard to find times he's awake.
If you wear him like clothing he may seem risqué
but a rat will *always* lead you astray.

You can trust a bent lawyer if you're the employer
but here in this court she's a character destroyer.
All her lies and distortions fill me with dismay
for a rat will *always* lead you astray.

Let me spin you a tale of four-thirty BC
Justinian warmed the seat of democracy--
Or Constantinople, thirteen thirty-four
Seventeenth century London--need I say more?

(eh, wossat?)

(Hey, no interrupting!)

Pestilence rode the streets in the guise of a flea;
Apocalypse threatened, and most dire misery.
Common men died in droves, but still one man grew fat:
The gentleman charged with destroying the Rat!

('oo, me?)

(Shut up, you!)

Thus impugned and maligned, the poor rat ran to ground
Stealing and scavenging from the refuse he found.
Observed eating the dead and beguiling the blind
He was shunned and reviled, him and all of his kind.

(yeh, soonds aboot right.)

(Stuff it!)

Centuries passed, and it only got worse for him;
Snub upon slight--it was just like a curse for him.
Observe, though, his whiskers, his nose and his feet:
When you look at him closely, he's really quite sweet.

(dinnae forgit ma tail!)

(No, your tail really is hideous. It looks like a worm.)

He's dainty and quiet and scrupulously clean
His parents' parents' parents entertained the Queen
Many generations and a hundred years ago.
Yet when he dares present himself, he's soon told to go.

(ah am, an' aw!)

(Hey, if you don't stop interrupting, I'll have to ask you to leave!)

He isn't too brilliant--his brain's like a pea
He's not got the gray stuff for dishonesty.
But a bird is full shrewd and equipped to express
His lies and cajolings with guile and finesse.

(can ah talk the noo?)

(Oh, all right. What is it?)

(ah've gottae use the bog.)

Because I couldn't buy a pet when I was just a brat
I used to play in drains a lot behind our council flat.
And then one day I found a rat to be my closest friend.
His putrid piss resulted in my tragic sticky end.

Oh canicolafevercaversspirochetaljaundice:
It's called Leptospirosis and kills the uninformed, yes.
Hemorrhagic jaundice symptoms really should have warned us;

I was flushed with hots and chills; I went right off me food.
All my muscles ached and if I went to bed I spewed.
Then I came up black and blue, the doctor was surprised:
anaemic, jaundiced, fever, nose bleeds, nausea, sore eyes.

Oh canicolafevercaversspirochetaljaundice:
It's called Leptospirosis and kills the uninformed, yes.
Hemorrhagic jaundice symptoms really should have warned us;

If you want a rat you'd better not look in the wild.
It's not for nothing that throughout our history they're reviled.
Don't try to tell me they're all healthy cuddly ratties, please!
That is of course unless you want to die of Weil's disease.

Oh canicolafevercaversspirochetaljaundice:
It's called Leptospirosis and kills the uninformed, yes.
Hemorrhagic jaundice symptoms really should have warned us;

Last Saturday night, at an elegant ball
A chattering parrot held me in thrall.
Bedazzling my eyes with his colours so gay
Regaling my ears with the news of the day.
But by Tuesday, they gave me a chilling prognosis:
Along with the gossip, I'd got psittacosis.

To convalesce quicker, I went to the park
Where I found myself charmed by a bright-eyed wee lark.
I fed him my sandwich and he fed me his
I sampled his cordial, and he my gin fizz.
And by nightfall I had me a new diagnosis:
That rotten bird gave me the aspergillosis!

I fled the foul bird plague in old London town
But as I crossed Trafalgar, some pigeons flew down.
"Come on, be a lovey and give us some bread!"
Said the largest offender, and cocked his gray head.
The rest's plain from there--suffice it to say
I had cryptococcosis by the end of the day.

I thought I'd be safe if I just stayed inside
And shut all the windows, the better to hide.
But the chimney still gaped, and down it there shat
Well, I'll give you one guess, and it wasn't a rat!
Before I fair knew it, I was coughing again--
Histoplasmosis!--now, that was a pain!

I was laid up for weeks, and then my best friend
Brought over a budgie, my boredom to end.
I grudgingly set my frustration aside
And let that packbawky roost at my side.
At first, they thought I had got brucellosis,
But he'd really just given me salmonellosis.

The next month was a blur--I trembled and shook
The last thing I remember is some sort of...rook.
And then there was nothing but feverish dreams
Everything tattered and ran at the seams.
It wasn't the gout or acute tendonitis:
Just a moderate touch of encephalitis.

Now my dwelling's in a mushroom on a distant shore
Where rats and mice and even lice are shown an open door
But there's a sign at the border, bearing these words: