Rat Patrol

The first hole appeared at a quarter to ten,
Then the second appeared, I am uncertain when.
But I opened the door, and, oh dear me, there sat,
Quietly grooming its whiskers, a sleek, well-fed rat.
Now eons ago I was given the role
Of captain of our block’s new rodent patrol.
I was proud of what offered me true recognition,
And I glowed in the limelight of such a position.
So, well-known for my calm and complete self-control
I leapt to the phone and called Rodent Patrol.

Well, of course it was Friday. I had a strong hunch
That rodent officials go home after lunch.
Sure enough, I was right, and the answer soon came:
“I am out of the office, leave your number and name.”
Others I called, but I spotted the trend:
They had all gone away for their usual weekend.
So there I was, stymied, and feeling freaked out,
With a scared wife indoors and a fat rat without.

So fearlessly braving the eminence gris
I ran out of the house, carefully turning the key.
The assistant, when told, “I need poison for rats”,
Said, “We’ve pellets for mice and tick powder for cats.
If it’s poison you need, or a trap, there’s a store,
It’s out there in the suburbs, some ten miles or more.”

It was no real surprise or particular shock
To discover, once there, all the stuff was ex-stock.
I was somewhat unhappy, but had to endure
An embattled weekend feeling quite insecure.
But knowing on Monday the problem would end,
We both tried to have a relaxing weekend.

Well, Monday arrived and on Tuesday I knew
What a man who’s a man must eventually do.
So composing a letter with infinite care,
I despatched a complaint by email to the Mayor.

Oh dear! had I known I’d have probably stayed
In the house and put up with the rodent blockade.
It appears I’d awakened an uncertain number
Of rodent pen-pushers from somnolent slumber.
The number of calls from an indignant mob
Proved there’s ten in the office to one on the job.
“I received your complaint, Sir, it was most unfair,
You shouldn’t complain just because I’m not there.
No message was left me. This issue is new,
You’ve probably messed up my Annual Review.
Oh, and if there’s a crawl space that needs a survey
Then you need Yellow Pages; I’m afraid you must pay.”

I received twenty messages, one notable call
From an office that no one has heard of at all.

I explained twenty times, oh my what a chore,
That the problem’s a problem that’s happened before.
“We don’t leave out birdseed, no loose scraps of food;
The waste is all bagged, no old meat bones, half chewed.”

Then I added, with half-hearted effort at wit,
“Perhaps they’re just drawn to an expatriot Brit.”
This latter I posited, tongue in my cheek,
To turn away wrath and to lessen the pique.
And I heard myself, unbidden, anxiously say,
“I’m sorry our rodents have ruined your day.”

So Ratty came down like a wolf on the fold,
And poked with his stick where the earth had been holed.
Ratty, it seems was the sole operative,
A catcher of rats with some wisdom to give.
“Are there pets, who when led on a brief promenade,
Sometimes pause for relief in your well-designed yard?
For rats are attracted to all they can chew.
I regret to inform you, the attraction ain’t you!”
“I scour the garden minutely for mess.”
I beg you,” says I, “All these rats, please suppress.”
“Very well, Sir, “says Ratty, “but keep a close eye,
On the careless dog walker and odd passer-by.
And firmly discourage foul foodstuff creation;
Give neighbors a lecture without hesitation.”

So saying, he treated the ratholes with gas
And he slaughtered the rodents and offspring en masse.

The first bark was heard at a quarter to ten.
When the second was heard I am uncertain when.
But I opened the door and, oh dear me, I saw
His tail wagging hard, a gold labrador.
So well-known for my calm and complete self- control,
I put in a call for the Canine Patrol.

January 2004