The baby features of the manticore
its cold dull eyes, its teeth black with decay
red hair above the eyes that’s tinged with grey.
Saliva drools in foul ropes from its jaw.
Its talons rust with dried and flaking blood.
A scorpion sting jabs brutal from its tail.
And when it hunts, you hear a distant wail.
If it comes closer, it means nothing good.
It used to hunt on high parched desert hills
but now tips over dustbins for its meat.
It basks on subway gratings for the heat
and waits for prey on first floor window sills.
It seeks out babies and devours them whole.
Don’t stroke or feed it. Call in Pest Control.
And that, with any luck, is that – my fourth eye surgery this year and my sight is not only saved but better than ever before. Thanks to the NHS.
Let’s see whether, with my major weight loss, I can get them to fix my surgical hernia.