Fortune (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 31 Mar 2020 in Art, Poems

Oil painting of black cat wizard-like rock and rooster





I was a hired paw to rid the land of vermin

I was not idle as accused

Nor so important as to be

The plague and not her servant

Her vector stirred among the coverlets

Ricocheting with her whispers

Into willing ears and lodging

Under eyelids bringing tears

My Hearer, it is so, and enough

I was never out of place

This distaste for tails and whiskers

For the swallowing of fleas

See the culpable, how to each other


They profit under siege


“When they have no other business at their hearthsides

But to gossip and to sharpen

Blades; they have bethought themselves of scythes

Each hand that tried me might have seized

The tyrant’s share, made men his slaves

One carried me to his cot

And this they will not bear, the rest

Nay, bent before their fires, plot―”

Brothers you have then, Child of Fortune


“Ah…sisters too, orphans misshapen

Irons in the forge forgotten

See you, cat, how I have fled

All that, or so my fate had been, for

I was first

And mine to sell, this birthright”


This disorder this nuisance this crowing cock

Feathered without defense no spur

Against a hatchet wards the blow

For under hovels stones will draw

The cold, the peasant’s eye will sink, in hunger

Ere the solstice. Bolsters want their

Filling as the pot wants meat. I am

Not so baneful-eyed, not so

Plumed in pride; they will find in other

Signs the hour… Friend rooster, you fly

Towards haven, as do we… And alone,

My doubtful comrades―chopping block

and snare…I see no gain in bargains

Where a third

Becomes partner


Saith the scythe:

“Churl, by my count, although we have all seen

Hard use, and hard words be excused—

Thou hast bestowed upon new friends two names

Thou’dst well-served be as sneaking thieves’ repast


Thieves…burgesses…in winter starve alike,

The cat puts in. You sound a pow’rful note

To raise alarm, but spurn companionship—

Whose claw will rake the hand closed

Round your throat?

“No world but this.” The scythe speaks thus.

“When usefulness is past, we lose our place.

And all of that you dread;

That human vengeance, born of ruthlessness

Remains your peril with

Or without






Virtual cover for poetry collection Mystery PlaysBuy on Amazon
What Would I Do















(2016, Stephanie Foster)




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