Poem 178 – Riverbank Sketches II: The Coot

New born, an angry punk
with shaven head, bright red,
shrill, urgent and demanding.

Nearby the parent swims.
acquired, grown-up, it hides its
defiant past beneath
a comic exterior
of bloated feet and drab
commuter dress of black
and white.

But stray too close and watch
the rebel wake. With gun
fire spray of clacking beak
and furied charge across
the water, this crazy street
fighter fights mean not clean,
the threats soon flee now fly.
Behind with arms aloft
it cries its battle cry,
uncouth obscenities
of bloody consequence
should you once more defy
its patch. Return? You’ll die…

The violence is only momentary,
the furious flapping soon fades,
replaced by a tentative cease-fire.
With peace restored you might
reflect the scene just seen
was more a case of Benny
Hill than Al Capone.
But my advice is keep
this to yourself. She’s watching you.

I’ve always enjoyed looking out for coffee since reading Arthur Ransom’s ‘Coot Club’. Living here, I’ve really got to know them, watching their life cycles and displays thoroughout the year. Bonkers and loveable.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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