Shell Shocked by Catherine Edmunds

The incubator’s light turned green. We cheered!
The wait was over, eggs would hatch tonight,
but as we watched it flickered fast. We feared
the hatchlings wouldn’t last, would die of fright.
“Not so!” Professor Zog cried, full of glee,
“Their life force cannot fail, I promise you.”
And he was right. Now all of us could see
a tiny movement; peck, peck, peck, and through
the mottled shell a beak appeared. A beak?
But dragons don’t have beaks. We were perplexed.
This looked more like a chicken. Zog looked bleak.
“Good grief!” he wailed. “I say! Whatever next!”
And thus it was, despite a heartfelt plea,
Professor Zog now works for KFC.

(Previously published in Anomalous Appetites)

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her published works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and other literary journals.

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School Uniform by Jonathan Pinnock

Henry’s Mum was making tea
when the Headmaster telephoned:
‘There’s been an accident in Biology –
I’m afraid your son’s been cloned.

‘We wouldn’t normally bother you
(except in case of disease)
but from a practical point of view,
we’re concerned about the fees.’

Henry’s Mum became quite grim,
and her voice was filled with dread.
‘How will I cope with two like him?’
‘It’s … worse than that,’ he said,

‘We didn’t notice what was wrong
till it was far too late.
You began today with just one son,
but you finished it with eight.’

Next morning there was quite a crop:
thirty-two from just one mould,
and when the process finally stopped,
five hundred and twelve, all told.

After that appalling day,
the school went to the wall.
The other pupils moved away,
so they renamed it Henry Hall.

Group activities in class
suffered less from indecision,
but games became a total farce:
they all played the same position.

Exam results were uniform,
both first time and re-takes.
They stuck to a consistent norm,
including the mistakes.

Careers were trivial to fix:
some took command of tanks,
a few went into politics,
the rest into merchant banks.

And Henry’s Mum still makes the tea,
when called on by a son,
each time wondering wistfully
if he’s the proper one.

(Originally published in Every Day Poets)

Jonathan Pinnock runs this place.

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