The Blue Preying Mantis

Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

by Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

It appeared during my dear Hypatia’s wedding
Man-size by the pulpit,
Prancing in prayer-like posture,
Its dark green pseudopupils bulging

Out wide
From its bulbous compound eyes,
Its spiky forelegs grasping
The sacred Book of Kells,
Flashing its leathery outer wings
And revealing
The four meaner things behind.
‘I’m Bishop Galloway,’ it cried,
Even though His Grace had gone away to hide.

‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked.
The worthy canon was confounded,
The kilted best man turned around,
The youthful ushers ran up with a bound,
And I was bundled into the Lady Chapel
Where they gave me a rough grapple
And throttled my Adam’s Apple.
Thereupon, Hypatia happily married Damian
Attended by the Rose Gang from Granton
And an alsatian.

It appeared in the Havana
Just as the schemy Aussie
From Sydney with a single kidney
Was trying to get off like a toff
With a bent Dorothy from Tranent
Who wasn’t exactly heaven sent.
It tried to pull tricks without feeling,
Its sensors scraping the ceiling,
Its reptilian jaws munching the treats
With a surfeit of crunching.
‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked,
And two hefty bouncers from Saturn’s Rings
Ran in, with jagged scars on their faces,
And threw me headlong onto the street.

It appeared in the respected Professorial Ward,
While Dr. Heinrich Vespasian was on his rounds.
It was leaping like a cricket,
Scampering like a cockroach,
Ever keen to encroach
On my King Gadeon broach.

‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked,
And two ginormous prop forwards sped in.
‘Yank him, jag him, and make him do the splits!’
Snorted the kindly consultant from Auschwitz.
The guys from Hawick ground my face into the floor,
Koshed me with flupentixol,
Threw me into windowless, furnitureless solitary,

And locked the cast iron door.
What a way to jag a philanthropic young stag!
Thank goodness they didn’t acuphase me with clopixol.
Rat attacks are a snip compared with painful palpitations
And mind-bending heart attacks.

Their witches’ brew paralysed me waist-down
And put me on crutches.
So they switched me to modecate,
With an occasional pill of Largactil.
Now, after eleven years of scorching sunstroke,
Sleepness nights and scary days,
Red multiple scar tissue a posteriori,
And prolonged painful erections a priori,
I chase after every lady in sight,
And heavily salivate
While I give them a fright.
I’m the blue preying mantis,
Who returned in the night.