Previously unpublished work by Martin Hall.

Content warning: may contain words.
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When Ahab came back to the big old house, the rain stopped like a clock. He came swirling up the grassy slope, his cloak billowing behind him, his face impassive under the tall stovepipe hat.
I've got mail, thought Ahab as he opened the door. He stepped across the littering of holiday brochures, final demands, Christmas cards, magazines, and all the other stuff which had tried to fill the hole left by his long absence. Somewhere among the mess lay a wish-you-were-here card, signed with a salty teardrop.
Ahab walked across the room to his old piano, picked up his battered copy of "Songs of Ahab", sat down and began to play and sing.
I'll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places...
Meanwhile the rain had started up again outside and an angry west wind threatened to blow away the twilight.
...the chestnut trees, the wishing well...
Ahab's unopened mail began swirling around the room. I must have left the door open, he thought, frowning. He was trying to remember something, but he didn't know what it was.
...I'll be looking at the moon...



What if there is extraterrestrial life, but it's even stupider than us?

What if it found its way here by some fluke, and invaded us?

What if it has already happened?






I saw the bear
The bear saw me
And we danced all night by the honey tree

I loved the bear
The bear loved me
And we danced all night by the honey tree

I killed the bear
the bear killed me
And we danced all night by the honey tree

I was the bear
The bear was me
And we danced all night by the honey tree

When The Birds Walked Away From The Sky

When the birds walked away from the sky
There was no time for wondering why
They folded their feathers and wrapped them up tight
They packed up their perches and turned out the light
There was nothing to say but goodbye
When the birds walked away from the sky



they couldn't use my voice
everything else, they used
I fed them, made their clothes
wrapped my hide around their homes
made their weapons of my bones
they worshipped me
after their fashion
and they left my voice
so still it sings
it sings and rings
and rides the winds
across the sacred earth
hear my song, my voice
everything else, they used



Cats are like the French.
They appreciate you trying to speak their language
but they still think you're an idiot.

When Your Old Cat Dies (for Lily)

All your cats who went before her
form a ghostly guard of honor.
Your old cat glides away with them
and your old heart just breaks again.

Hoagy (Bless Him)

a cat and a half
snoring on his dining chair
a cat beyond catliness
a friend in fur

he died and I cried
but I saw him again
on the top deck of a bus
sitting upright in his seat
and wearing spectacles
a commuter cat, off to work
and smiling

a cat among cats
a beautiful boy
gone to join his old playmates

From Chloe

I am the cat who had cancer
You are the people I found
Our time was cut short by my illness
And now I am laid in the ground

I wanted to send you this message
I'm so sorry I had to depart
But I hope that you knew that I loved you
And I hope I may stay in your heart

I hope that you knew that I loved you
And I hope I may stay in your heart

The Owl And The Pussycat

The owl and the pussycat went to sea
And the pussycat ate the owl.

(with apologies to Edward Lear. And to the owl.)


If cats could blow raspberries,
they would.



It was Lady Chatterley's Lover
That they sold in a brown paper cover
But it didn't seem to matter
When they sold Lady Loverly's Chatter


The Great Cities of Europe, on Their Day Off

The great cities of Europe, on their day off,
gather for gossip at the Field of All Sorrows.
Old tales are retold in the rain and the cold,
and Paris has a cat now.
Venice doesn't miss the Ocean. Too big for her boats by far.
Nineveh has leave of absence, invitation left ajar.
Rome remembers the rain and pines.
Brussels dissembles, Athens declines.
The rain remembers them all of course,
attending each with equal force.
London, first to lose her sights.
Berlin, still hugging imagined slights.
So who succumbs and who survives?
It's a terrible time. It's the time of their lives.

Way over there, beyond the Steppe,
the raingoats mumble their nonsense.


In Memoriam : Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875 - 1956)


Robert Frost
Found himself lost
When his road less traveled
Completely unravelled

Richard the Third
Was a man of his word
But Shakespeare decided
Dick should be derided

Delmore Schwartz
Was no good at sports
He wrote some verse
But things kept getting worse

Samuel Pepys
Wrote heaps and heaps
But being contrary
He called it a dairy

Has some gall
Its theory wrecks
Biological sex

Rosa Parks
Deserved full marks
She stood her ground
By sitting down



Digby was a big bee
He married all the flowers
And on their anniversary
They went to Alton Towers

The flowers went on all the rides
While Digby ate some honey
They probably would be there still
If Digby had brought more money


The Disappointment

I saw my former selves today.
They shook their heads. They turned away.