Helen Lyne: ‘Name and Number’


Name and Number

My name is Caterina; I’m a feline and a ghost.
Advising country’s rulers is what I like doing most.
I’ve slipped into the bedrooms of pharaohs, queens and kings
and there I’ve seen and listened to some most peculiar things.

When I purred to Tutankhamun he thought that I was daft
to say that for his burial he had to dig a shaft
and chamber to my orders and then he could expect
to lie there for millennia before he earned respect.

On the Ides I purred to Caesar that he would end up dead
from deep and nasty knife wounds if he didn’t stay in bed.
Napoleon ignored me when I told him not to do
Duke Wellington a favour and meet at Waterloo.

The current king in danger is Britain’s Charles III.
His mum was nice but sometimes her decisions were absurd.
Was her education lacking? Had she never studied history?
One of her decisions I find the deepest mystery.

I was prowling round her bedroom the day the babe was born.
Cannons fired cannon balls, the navy blew its horn.
Liz had put some ear plugs in so perhaps she didn’t hear:
the advice that I was miaowing was excellent and clear.

“Don’t name the baby Charlie, Liz, please give that name a miss.
The second one had lots of fun, then died of syphilis.
The people hated Charles I and so he lost his head
Charles III could very well lose the monarchy instead.

And being third is dangerous; the vibes are very bad.
After losing North America, King George III went mad.
So Liz, with name and number you’ll set up your greatest failure.
Never mind the monarchy, Charles Three will lose Australia!”

My name is Caterina; I’m a feline and a ghost.
I’m the cat that queens and emperors should listen to the most.

Helen Lyne



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