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Published in The Serpentine Muse,

Vol. 16, No. 3, Spring, 2000

used with permission


To sir james saunders

             April Fool, Godfrey!

                       Marilynne McKay


Lance-corporal Emsworth, of Middlesex Corps,

Was wounded in Africa, fighting the Boer.

He rode to a house and then, tired and sore,

Fell into a bed, where he started to snore.


In the morn he awakened, a pitiful sight,

Surrounded by monsters who gave him a fright.

Disfigured and mottled, affected with blight,

They laughed to see Godfrey naive of his plight.


The doctor then told him the terrible news Ė

He'd picked the wrong spot for his untimely snooze.

He'd slept with the lepers, a cause for the blues,

For first he'd turn white, then his nose he would lose.


"And thatís not the worst," said the doc with a frown,

Your fingers and toes will drop all over town.

You may take to drink, your sorrows to drown,

For Godfrey, youíll finally pee... sitting down."


He took the news badly, weak in the knees,

And sailed back to England, fearing to sneeze.

He languished at Tuxbury, hidden by trees,

And proceeded to turn as white as a cheese.


But Holmes brought in Saunders, a doc in the know,

Who revealed, "Ichthyosis, not leprosy. No!

You were fooled Ė a mistake Ė itís simply not so.

Now here is my bill, letís see what you owe!"