Once upon a midnight dreary, while John pondered weak and weary,
Thinking of his budgie Jeffrey, who had gone before—
As he nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door.
“Tis some visitor,” he muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more.”
Then distinctly John remembered that it was in bleak December
As each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor,
That his yellow bird had bought it, popped his clogs, and—John sobbed, “Sod it!
I don’t want to think about dead Jeffrey anymore!
I shall seek surcease of sorrow—Blast this sadness from my core
For my bird who lives no more!”
Then the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of his purple curtains
Thrilled him, filled him with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of his heart, he stood repeating,
“Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
It’s just some bloke or bird entreating entrance at my door—
This it is, and nothing more.”
Presently, his soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said he, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently came your rapping,
And so faintly came your tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you!” Here he opened wide the door—
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long he stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams he’d never dared to dream before.
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only words there spoken were the words that Lennon swore:
“Fuck! I miss you Jeffrey!” And an echo murmured through the door:
“Fuck…you…Jeff,” and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all his soul within him burning,
Soon again John heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said he, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what there-at is, and this mystery explore—
Still now, heart, while I make certain by the flinging of my curtain—
Is it wind, or something more?”
Open then, he flung the shutter, and with many a flit and flutter,
In there flew a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the slightest greeting made he, nor a moment stopped or stayed he,
But, with mien of lord or lady, flew he to the chamber door,
There to perch upon a rack where Jeffrey often took a crap.
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird, beguiling John’s sad fancy into smiling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance he wore,
Spread its wings and flapped a bit, then raised its leg and crapped some shit.
Then John cried, “Is that you, Jeff? You shat where he always shat before!
But tell me, bird, if you are Jeff, why aren’t you yellow anymore?”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”
Much John marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird upon his chamber door
That could speak in careful diction, truthfully and not in fiction,
The word, “Nevermore.”
“Tell me more, you bloody bird! Or else I shall not clean your turd!”
Cried John. “It’s rude, you know, to crap upon my chamber floor!”
Nothing more the raven uttered. Not a feather more he fluttered.
Lennon sighed, and then he muttered, “Other birds have flown before—
On the morrow you will leave me, to some wood on Norway’s shore!”
The bird repeated, “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so swiftly spoken,
John said, “Doubtless what you utter is your only stock and store.
You’ve escaped some wretched master, just in time to flee disaster,
Flew here fast, then flew here faster, till your songs one burden bore—
To sing into the dead of night your broken song
John then made a quick retreat from bird and bird-shit at his feet
And plopped into a chair that stood a distance from the door.
“If you won’t talk, then I will tell you of my budgie who was yellow.
Jeff, I called him, and the fellow was too fat to soar.
He could not fly, he only hopped. And then, alas, he’d fall and flop
Back on my chamber floor.
“It fell on me, then, to protect Jeff from my cat, who’d wring his neck.
Yes, Tim—my cat—could make short work of Jeff, if I dared sleep or snore.
And so I kept a careful watch, whilst sucking on a butterscotch,
Its yellow hue reminding me to hold fast to my chore
Of minding Jeff, that fat dumb thing, who couldn’t fly, but sure could sing,
Though my green bird sang more.”
The raven cocked his head at John at mention of the green bird’s song.
John cursed, “Just bugger off, you prat! It’s you who have awoken
Me from my napping with your rapping at my window, and your crapping
On my floor just made things worse! Can you not see I’m broken?
My budgie’s dead! He neither sings not swings, alas, and I’ll lament
His passing evermore!
“So I’ll refrain from telling you of other birds of other hues
Which I’ve possessed throughout the years I’ve lived—all twenty-four!
No, Jeff’s the only one I mourn. I curse the day that I was born!
For I failed in my duty that I’d sworn to long before.
I fell asleep while Jeff was bouncing nimbly on my chamber floor.
Then Tim slipped through the door.
“I found Jeff’s body, ripped apart, his belly torn, deplete of heart,
But I could not believe that he was dead, despite the gore.
I called to him, ‘Jeff, do you rest? Please tell me, Jeff, you lie in jest!
Yes, surely you’re just pining for some far Norwegian fjord?’
But he was stiff. He had expired. Bereft of life, he’d joined the choir
Invisible, my ex-budgerigar!”
John’s plaintive gaze fell on the raven. Then he scratched his face, unshaven.
“Damn!” cursed John. “I cannot stand to live here anymore!
Without my Jeff, I’m incomplete. I miss the way that he would tweet
When he would finish up his food, then beg and plead for more.
He was a ravenous, greedy bird of yellow wing and stinky turd.
But, lo!—he’ll crap ne’er more!
“No more will Jeffrey chirp and twitter, when I come anon and hither
To sit upon this cushioned seat beside my chamber door.
An empty silence fills this room. Where once was joy, there now is gloom.
My spirit and my muse have fled to some unchartered shore.
When Jeff was here, my bird would sing that I was part of everything.
But now I am a part of nothing more.”
And then the raven took to air, crapped in John’s hair, then on his chair,
And John knew then the bird possessed his budgie’s soul in blackened dress.
He laughed and called out to the bird, “You stinky cheat! I know these turds!
You’re Jeff, my baby, through and through, though now you’re dressed in black!
And I no longer will feel blue, or ponder what I now will do,
Because my budgie Jeff is here once more!”
Then Tim the cat crept in the room, his hungry gaze foreboding doom,
And John cried, “Get thee hence, thou foul, bird-killing, wretched boor!
Your welcome here has run its course! Now leave, or I will use some force
To boot you from the reincarnate Jeff who breathes once more!”
The chastised cat just licked his paw, retracted his extended claw,
And slunk away, unsated, through the door.
John wiped the bird shit from his head, and smiled that Jeff no more was dead,
And gazed upon the raven he now thoroughly adored.
Ten minutes thus he sat divining, his dirty head at ease, reclining
On the cushion’s crap-stained lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er.
Then at last he broke the silence, shouting with a mighty roar,
“It’s time to feed you more!
“I’ll plump you up, till you are fat, then let you sit upon my cat
And you can teach my Timmy that you are hors d’oeuvres no more!”
Then John stood up and grabbed some sweets, and gave them to the bird to eat.
The raven ate them greedily, then flew back to the door.
Returning to his window then, John tossed the curtain back again,
Looked to his uninvited guest, and swore:
“You’re free, now, Jeff! Free as a bird. I promise you, I’ll keep my word—
I’ll keep my window open—or if you’d prefer—my door.
And you can leave whene’re you want, and fly away on restless jaunts,
Because I know that you’ll come back, returning as before,
Free as a bird, yet home and dry. Just like a homing bird you’ll fly
To give me comfort now, and evermore!”
The raven flapped back to the sill. It stretched its wings and sang a trill,
Then flew into the light of a dark night. And John surmised,
That he’d been only waiting—waiting for this moment to arise!
He settled back into his chair and thought, indeed, that fowl was fair.
“Tis Jeff, in blackened guise, I’m sure. And now I will be lonely—”
Quoth John Lennon, “—Nevermore!”
* * *
Inspired by the poems “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe (1845) and “The Fat Budgie” by John Lennon (1965)