Bull in the Chinashop
(or a Cliché Subverted)
For Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams

Once the original bull in a chinashop
had charged to a stop
and the last prize figurine dropped
floorwards with an exorbitant clatter,
there amidst his shattered stock
the shop’s owner shook awhile in shock.
Pulled himself, if nothing else, together.
Lifted the phone (which somehow was not
broken). Pieced the matter
to the police who, wondering whether
the man’s as mad as a hatter
or just having them on, never-
the-less sped hell for leather
to the scene of the said offence
where the bull, proving actual, is questioned,
then charged on the spot for violence
without robbery. Seeing red with punishments
(drawing and quartering, being sent
down to Smithfield Market) – Bull, for want
of a lawyer, bellows in its own defence:
“But I didn’t come here of my own intent;
I was dragged by some anonymous poet
with more similes than sense.
Any damage I sincerely regret –
Say what you like, I was only looking for an exit”
Which statement, no translator being about,
made not a blind bit of difference.
From that day on, whatever the evidence,
Bull in a chinashop’s been branded ‘misfit, lout,’
period. (Something else quadrupeds must do without,
the shopkeeper was covered by insurance...)

Martin Bennett | Mudlark No. 12
Contents | The Last of Summer