A beck-door man for muddy-water women, 
         he fished with cunning bait: 
‘My hairy arms make very good money. 
         I am cursed,’ he said, ‘with fulfilment!’ 

He promised her joy, bright as a canary, 
         and a long life, like a sneeze, 
until blankly loosening her carnal-strings 
         she fell for that toad-in-the-hole. 

A length of thread that became a riddle 
         grew tangled to hid her fears, 
and grief ran darkly in her veins 
         as he tormented her with a pitchfork. 

But careworn as a sardine without a head 
         she had no bedroom luck, 
modesty her shroud.  Dumb with failure 
         she consulted her almanack 

and departed this life.  He, sparing her clothes 
         left a thermometer stuck in her reputation 
and confessed, ‘No truth in empty nutshells!’ -- 
         ever ready-reckoner-minded. 

* This and the following two poems from INTIMIDATIONS OF MORTALITY are as they originally appeared in FORMAT 1 (1966). INTIMIDATIONS OF MORTALITY eventually appeared as a Gogmagog Press book in 1977. - BH/03