Four years after I wrote the Taste of Rat, I thought I should extend it to discuss microbiotic food production. I didn’t get very far with the project, but there are a few nice lines here, the Kilgore Trout : Champagne reference for example.

I have illustrated most of my poems, so an illustrated version may even now be sitting elsewhere in cyberspace . . . or maybe in a book.

Good Taste

I do not like the taste of rat.
I tried it once, but quickly spat
it out into the rubbish bin (a rank receptacle of tin
that stays outside the kitchen door
to keep the inside sweet and pure.)

From there, the spat remains of rat
were later “rescued” by a cat;
a mangy puss, a tabby stray
who passed and sniffed my bin that day.

She took it to a quiet place
and carried out (with feline grace)
the grim dismemberment her kind
will practice on the things they find.

Now to her lunch arrived a bunch
of pests – some uninvited guests.
As three days more our predator
continued in her gruesome chore.
Two lice, ten maggots came to feed.
Three beetles and a centipede . . .

Now why don’t cats get gippy belly
eating putrid flesh that’s smelly?
We humans have such tender guts
evolved to digest fruit and nuts.

And as our urbane culture grew,
we came to worship cordon bleu.
But stop and think and realise
not every feast before our eyes
is squeaky clean as mother’s nipple.
Consider first your favouite tipple . . .

As Mr Vonnegut deduced,
we set small microbes free in juice
to drink and dive in nature’s nectar.
They poo and fart. They know no better.
Their paradise they slowly brew
into a toxic bubbling stew.
When the last one dies by suffocation
We drink the same in celebration.

We really shouldn’t feel surprise
if that murky mix intoxifies;
but even bread – the “staff of life”
(beloved by every man and wife)
owes its levity in part
to the pungent gas of the microbe-fart.

And if your sliced-white picnic feast
got its texture from the yeast
whose tiny jaws were wrapped around
the bread flour, all so freshly ground;
what other foods have come to be
by pathways so unsanitary?

Imagine this Arcadian scene
a cuddly cow and grass so green
Her tiny calf, wet nose of pink
Comes by for natures freshest drink
As fresh as fresh delivered there –
not even touched by Eden’s air

. . . and that’s as far as I got., It was going to talk about how strange it is that a liquid designed never to be touched by air or preserved in any way can produce so many delicious types of cheese and yoghourt etc etc . . .

Nick James      Posted in:



Spring 2018 – Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Header Image:

Illustration by the Author